Sunday, May 20, 2018

Heaven Has No Coincidences

As I sit here in a hotel room in Eureka, California, I find it by no coincidence that several things are happening all at once on the same day. Later this morning, I will take the short drive to where I am scheduled to speak at the First Baptist Church of Arcata, California. The church is physically located next to Humboldt State University.  Thousands of students attend this university. Twenty years ago, Bill Johnson spoke here and prophesied the next Jesus Movement would be birthed in this church. 

This is Pentecost Sunday, the day in Church history when we celebrate the coming of the Spirit in power. I also happen to be staying in the same looking over the same courtyard described in my book, The Sound of Reformation. During that previous stay, as I watched koi fish swimming in circles in the courtyard pond, the Lord said the circle-swimming fish resembled a religious pond of predictability that has invaded the thinking of some in the Church. It is a resulting way of living birthed from a mindset where we no longer expect more. The koi fish are still here doing the same thing they were doing during my last visit. Nothing has changed. They are still swimming in circles. 

God has another plan. He wants to free us from our ponds of predictability and transplant us into the freshwater current of His Spirit where we will experience personal and corporate revival and a resulting cultural reformation.  

This specific day on the calendar of 2018, the koi pond revelation and Bill Johnson’s prophetic word are not a human coincidence. They are divine indicators that God has a plan to execute that no coincidence of human logic could ever imagine.

Today, remove the limited thinking and faithless conclusions of coincidental thinking. Let God lift you out of the pond of predictability and fill you with the same expectancy I have of what God is about to do this morning. You and I are not responsible for outcomes. We are responsible for the measure of faith we carry into situations where supernatural outcomes are possible. Let faith arise and the enemies of God be scattered, especially any faithless expression of faith.  Every day is a new day with God. See today with the eyes of Heaven and you will see the new thing God is releasing upon the Earth.

Saturday, May 19, 2018

The Fruit of a Double Portion

Yesterday, I brought home some cherries. As I was eating the cherries, I noticed most of the cherries in the basket were double cherries. It was hard to find a single cherry in the basket. In all my life, I had only seen a double cherry a time or two. I stopped eating and said to myself, “I need to get a picture of the remaining ones just to show people this actually happened.” It was then the Lord began to speak.

“Don’t allow what surrounds your life to determine your vision or define what your future holds. I am releasing double portions and double blessings to those who have the eyes to see as I see. This double portion will clarify your vision and redefine your future. The double portion is already in your basket. Look again. This is not blurred double vision. It is the double portion of goodness I have planned for you before time began.” 

Today, look again at your life – your friendships, resources, hopes, and dreams. Look at all of your life through the lens of faith, hope, and love, especially those areas where you may have lost hope. Clarity will begin to come. You will begin to see as Heaven wants you to see. That is the vision you need to have in order to step into your future with confidence, trust and expectation.

“Instead of shame and dishonor, you will enjoy a double share of honor. You will possess a double portion of prosperity in your land, and everlasting joy will be yours” (Isaiah 61:7).

Friday, May 18, 2018

Measuring Your Dream

Lately, I have been seeing objects lying on the roadway at intersections. Last week, I wrote about seeing the head of a claw hammer on the ground at an intersection ( Later, in another intersection, I saw a measuring tape, the kind that spools up the metal tape inside a small enclosure.

The significance of both objects was their location. Seeing these things in the middle of an intersection infers a coming change. An intersection is a place of decision and new direction. When I wrote about the hammer the Lord was telling some of you to no longer allow your life to be hammered by people who disapprove of your decision and then voice their disapproval with blows from the hammer of condemnation. In order for a new season to unfold, we must deal with the sound of these voices in our heart and mind before we can move on.

Once we transit the intersection of condemnation we will arrive at the intersection of measurement. In this intersection, God wants you to begin dreaming impossible-sounding things not imagined in the intersection of condemnation. 

In the image the Lord was unfolding, I saw a person stop and pick up the measuring tape. The one I have on the workbench in our garage only measures 25 feet. It comes to an abrupt end and lets you know in no uncertain terms it cannot measure past its designed distance of measurement. When the person in my vision began to unwind the measuring tape, I saw them pulling and pulling on the tape with no end in sight. Like my 25-foot tape measure, they thought it would come to an end, but it kept unwinding as long as they continued to pull. They were surprised and delighted. There was enough tape inside the roll to measure the depth and substance of any dream God gave them as long as their faith continued to pull on the tape.

Every dream has a measurement defined by Heaven. God will provide all the tape you need to measure the cost and summon the resources required to make your dream a reality. He has brought you through the intersections of condemnation and measurement to make you ready to experience the next leg of your journey toward the fulfillment of your dream. All things are possible when condemnation is silenced and when you are measuring your dream with Heaven’s measuring tape. 

Thursday, May 17, 2018

Discerning Hidden Messages

Jan and I live at the edge of our small town close to the forest. It is not uncommon to see all kinds of wildlife. We have seen deer, wild turkeys and on a couple of occasions, a cougar. Last night, I was awakened shortly after midnight to the loud howling of a coyote. He was close – just across our street and up the hill. The howling went on for a few moments.  

This morning, I researched the vocalization of a coyote and realized what I was hearing was a howl from a coyote separated from his group. He was howling to be found. Coyotes have 11 different vocalizations. People who study these animals can tell you what each howl, bark, and yip means. They are able to discern the coyote's message within each sound they make.

It is important for us to be able to discern the message hidden within the sounds being made by individuals and culture. What can be written off as only a complaint may be an appeal for something authentic. A negative comment may hide a wounded heart. An overly gregarious response to life may hide a fear of engagement.

A prophetic person is not just a mouthpiece for God. People who carry a prophetic anointing must be able to discern the message hidden within the sounds of culture in order to accurately discern what is taking place before they speak. Last night, I had no idea what the coyote's message was until I studied the wisdom of those who work with these animals. God wants us to study the wisdom and revelation of the Spirit for the audience of our words before we deliver them. A surface understanding will not reveal the heart and motivation of a person.  Without this depth of revelation, we could easily misinterpret what is actually taking place. 

When the howling of the coyote stopped last night, I wish I could have seen through the darkness. I would have been able to see the coyote rejoin his family unit. The other coyotes would have discerned his appeal at a level my neighbors and I would have missed. That reunion is a goal of prophecy - to reunite separated people with the heart and will of God. 

In life, there are times when people will make strange sounds as they begin a journey toward wholeness. A prophet motivated by love will try to interpret the message hidden within the sound of someone’s voice before they speak.   Seek to understand their message before you deliver a word and God will be able to use you in profound ways.

Wednesday, May 16, 2018

Living the Dream

A few weeks ago, I was shopping and struck up a conversation with an employee. I asked, “How are you?” The woman said in a cynical tone, “I’m living the dream!” After a few moments of conversation it was obvious she was not living her dream. Some of what she shared was painful. Her life condition had placed her on a long and lonesome road of despair. The look in her eyes conveyed to me the depth of her daily struggle. 

At the end of our conversation, I spoke a word of hope to her. It was like cold water was splashed in her face. Her countenance changed immediately. Literally, a different person was looking back at me. She reached out and gave me a big hug and said, “I never saw my life that way before.” After that initial encounter, I went on to do more shopping. A few minutes later, the woman left her department in the store to track me down and said the words of hope I spoke to her had changed the direction of her life. You could see a transformation beginning to take place in how she carried herself and in the lightness of her step. Hope gave her the ability to see her life differently. 

The greatest ministry of the Church is the release of hope. The resurrection gave the early disciples hope when they thought death was the only option available. Hope has been the coin of Heaven’s realm for the last 2,000 years. If you want to know where the next revival, reformation or breakthrough is going to take place, listen for the sounds of hope. Hope is the dream.

Tuesday, May 15, 2018

Distant Sounds

Distant sounds capture my attention. There are times when I am sitting in my writing chair next to the open window that I can hear those distant sounds. The horn of a train sounding as it travels through the city. A dog barking a warning or birds singing in the darkness of the predawn. I remember the tug on my emotions the first time I heard the call of a loon echo across a mountain lake or the call of a foghorn cutting through the dense coastal fog. 

These distant sounds gently capture our attention to remind us of things outside our immediate reality. The Lord will do the same to gain our attention. These sounds of Heaven are an announcement. A testimony, an unexpected blessing or a sense of something approaching not yet fully defined, raise our awareness to look beyond the moment to anticipate the arrival of something new.

The Lord spoke to me this morning when I heard one of those distant sounds. I know the following word is not just for me. It is for some of you. He said, “The new thing I want to do in your life will be announced before it arrives. My announcement will be like a distant sound.  I am releasing this sound to gain your attention. When I gain your attention you will be offered a choice to believe. Once you believe, a connection will be made to what the sound is announcing. Just as certain sounds in the natural realm create a beautiful longing in you so it will be for what is coming. That longing in faith is what I need to perform what I have promised.” 

Sunday, May 13, 2018

Teach Your Daughter Well

One of the most important things a father can teach his daughter is to know the difference between truth and a lie. The truth will guard a daughter’s heart when well-crafted lies are whispered in her ear. A daughter will first learn the sound of that truth or the lack of it when she listens to her father interact with her mother. A strong woman is a discerning woman. Teach your daughter the power of discernment and she will grow up to become a strong woman.  

When the Winds of Change Begin to Blow

In every revolution of culture, the first people to be attacked are the poets, artists, writers, and musicians who express the discontent of the people through creative expression. These voices must be silenced by those in positions of authority if they want to remain control are to remain in power. The same can happen within the Church, 

-  when an Apostle reveals a heavenly blueprint that exposes a weakness in our current expression of the Church.

-  when a Prophet announces the blueprint and that announcement reveals something new and unfamiliar.

-  when an Evangelist recruits people to the blueprint who don’t look, sound or act the same way as our current demographic.

-  when a Pastor rearranges a community of faith to align with the blueprint to ensure a future of life, health and the possibility of growth.

-  when a Teacher explores the details of our belief system to discover and challenge our sacred cows and then invites us to see and understand the blueprint with new eyes.

When God begins to do something new, refuse to join in with the first wave of critics. Many times these critics are motivated by a fear of change or the loss of control. Take time to experience the craft of the spiritual poets, artists, writers, and musicians. In the common thread of their message, you see a glimpse of the next move of God.

Saturday, May 12, 2018

Your Upgrade

I was invited to speak at a conference in Southern California. When I was contacted and provided with the event details, I was given my travel information and asked to make my own airline reservations. I was told I would get a reimbursement check along with my honorarium at the conference. I was asked to book Business Class for both Jan and me. That was a joy! The only problem was, at the time, from Medford, Oregon to Los Angeles there were no flights with Business Class. We would be flying in a puddle-jumper.

Driving to the airport and making the flight, I had to adjust my thinking and my attitude. I was flying Business in Coach, but only in my mind. I was flying with the honor extended to me by the inviting pastor. When we arrived in LA we were treated wonderfully throughout our visit. It was a great conference.

In the course of our lives, we may find that our honored position in Jesus is not always visibly represented as we move from one season of life to the next. We have to choose to fly with the mind of heavenly royalty transiting our time on Earth no matter what our surroundings may indicate. As I sat in Coach, I had to adjust my long legs and feel scrunched for the flight, but that was OK because, in my heart and mind, I was flying spiritual Business Class.

The ticket you hold for this season of your life may not reflect the status you have in God’s Kingdom. You are the royalty of Heaven passing through time on a mission for your King. Carry yourself like compassionate royalty visiting another realm no matter where you find yourself. That mindset will begin to shift the environment around you because it first shifted the way you see yourself and your surroundings. If you ever get an upgrade in this life you will sit in that wide and comfortable place with a humble heart that only comes when you know your surroundings do not accurately represent your status in God’s heart or in His Kingdom.

Friday, May 11, 2018

When There Is Not "Next Step"

I was sending a private note of encouragement to a friend who felt as though their life was stuck. They did not see themselves moving forward in any meaningful direction. My friend felt empty and without emotion. 

As I was finishing up my note of encouragement, I was going to add a final word that said in essence, “just take the next step.” As I was getting ready to type, the Lord told me not to include those words in my note. At that moment, I realized that peace and contentment in my friend’s life, and anyone’s life, is not discovered when we take “the next step.” What has produced emotional and spiritual fatigue is many good people and brought their life to an exhausted standstill is the demand to always be doing something for God that is measurable. The result of this way of thinking is the creation of a history of repeated depletions, both spiritually and emotionally, that if not challenged will cause a person to give up. We are not strong enough to live this way.

In some cases, the need for constant productivity has been part of our problem. We seem to think knowing the next step and having that as the primary evidence of our value and significance will somehow clear away our spiritual malaise. It won’t. What is needed most in these times is the discovery of a rest that only comes when we realize the presence of God, not a never-ending life of productivity and external validation, is what brings us true rest and a resulting peace. In rest is where revelation is discovered. If there is to be a "next step," it will only be found in a place of rest. 

Thursday, May 10, 2018

The Doorway of God's Favor

The favor of God is like a doorway. When it appears, you must choose to walk through its opening. To step across its threshold requires courage. Your existing circle of relationships might not understand the favor of God and demand that you accept the limitations of a false favor called unquestioned allegiance. If you stay within the confines of this false favor you will not experience the fullness of God’s calling upon your life. 

Before you take the step, make sure that honor is securely in place in your heart regarding those who are demanding your allegiance. Your decision will be challenged. A heart of honor will keep you safe when the accusations come.  Without honor and a willingness to bless those who disagree with your choice, the intended fruit of God's favor will not be experienced. 

Someday, when you look back on your life in a moment of reflection, you will see how the favor of God became a rudder that steered your life to a good place. In that good place, you will look around and see some of those who initially demanded your allegiance and questioned your departure. They were able to discover God’s favor for their life when they watched you follow the leading of God. You became a model of hope. Your courage helped them take the first step through their personal doorway of favor to discover something they never thought possible. Favor is powerful. It is the way forward.

Wednesday, May 9, 2018

Running Away

If you feel like running away make sure it is in the right direction. The end of these undisciplined life-sprints will leave you alone, exhausted and without hope. When you cross the finish line you will discover the new destination resembles the starting point where your escape race first began. The scenery will have changed but the issues of your heart will remain unchanged. The only time we are supposed to run away is from evil or toward the heart of God. All other races have sorrow as their prize.

Tuesday, May 8, 2018

Moving Laterally

There are times when a critical discovery cannot be made by continuing to move forward in the rut of the status quo. Some of the greatest discoveries have been made by people who were agile enough intellectually, spiritually and emotionally to move laterally when an opportunity appeared. 

Monday, May 7, 2018

The Hammers of Disagreement and Disapproval

I just returned home from doing some grocery shopping. I saw something that prompted me to share the following word. I believe for some of you it is a time-sensitive word. 

As I was driving home I had to stop at a traffic light. When the light turned green, I began to cross the intersection when I noticed a claw hammer on the pavement. It was just the head of the hammer, not the handle. 

As I drove over the hammer’s head, I sensed the Lord begin to speak. Some of you are crossing an intersection of life that will lead you into a new season. It is an important crossing. In previous crossings, you literally got hammered by the displeasure of people when you attempted to cross the intersection in faith. You were told to not cross and as you attempted to make your passage the blows from the hammers of disagreement and disapproval struck your soul without mercy leaving painful bruises in your emotions. You turned back under the pain of the assault.

This crossing will be different. This time there is no handle on the condemning hammers. It is impossible for your accusers to swing their hammers because there is nothing for them to grasp. Your faith and resulting maturity no longer provide a handle to grasp. You don't have to cower in anticipation of a painful impact. When you get the green light from God to move forward, do it with a fearless confidence. Just as I drove over the hammerhead lying in the middle of the intersection, so it will be with you as you move forward to receive what God has promised.

Sunday, May 6, 2018

If The Lights Go Out

(I wrote this six weeks ago and parked it in my writing file. Early this morning, I was awakened by thunder and lighting that was not predicted in our weather forecast. When the thunder and lighting appeared unexpectedly, I was reminded of the following word. I release it not to create fear, but to remind us to always to be awake spiritually and to place our trust only in the Lord. Everything else is only a fleeting place of false security.)

I saw the image of a huge light switch appear over a map of the United States. A hand found a way to get to the switch undetected and flip it off. When the switch was turned off all electronic and computer-generated mechanisms ceased to function. Cars rolled to stop. Electricity to homes was gone. Computers stopped working. Satellites circling the Earth went silent in their orbit. Cell phones lost their signal. People no longer had an immediate electronic connection with the world. 

The next part of the image was a sound. I heard this sound once before when I was outside a hospital when the electricity was knocked off during a powerful thunderstorm. Immediately after the power went off, I heard the diesel engines of the backup generators start up and re-power the hospital. 

Whatever the image of the light switch over the United States symbolizes, God has a plan in place of supernatural re-empowerment to power up the lives of believers through the exercise of our faith and our trust in God. 

Many of the things we consider secure and unwavering in this world are only held together by the thinnest of threads. Only God is secure and forever. While cultures and power structures will fluctuate over time as they have throughout all of recorded history, God remains faithfully the same yesterday, today, and forever. If an unimagined event should ever take place, either a natural disaster or a manmade event, let your first response be to trust in the God who loves you beyond measure and imagination. For every evil plan a human could execute or any natural disaster that would bring death and destruction, there is in place a far more expansive plan of God to redeem and rescue. That plan is our place of peace and security if and when the lights go out.

Saturday, May 5, 2018

Disciplined Regrets

A regret does not just go away. It must be transformed into something greater by a work of the Spirit in partnership with our will. Every one of us will have regrets for the failures in our lives. What we do with our regrets can literally steer the course of our life. In some case, even more than the sin that created the regret in the first place. Paul wrote, Godly sorrow brings repentance that leads to salvation and leaves no regret, but worldly sorrow brings death”(II Corinthians 7:10). 

Repentance is not, at first, an outward action leading our lives in a new and redeemed direction. It actually means a change in the way we think. Many times people cannot believe that God has fully forgiven them. They pick up a false belief that says self-punishment will somehow prove to God they are truly sorry. Instead of living their life free, they continue to live in a downward, death-producing spiral when an undisciplined regret is at the controls of their life. 

Regret empowered by unresolved sorrow needs to be disciplined into submission by bringing it to the Cross where it can be put to death. This is strong evidence of a renewed mind. If you have done this and you still struggle with regret you are either not believing in the complete work of the Cross of Jesus or you are dealing with a demonic spirit that has attached itself to your thinking. Get with someone who can help you deal with either issue and help you pull out of this death spiral. Once you gain new spiritual and emotional altitude where you are free from the control of an undisciplined regret, you will then be able to reset the course of your life to align with the heart of God and His desire for you to live free from the unresolved regrets associated with your past mistakes.

Friday, May 4, 2018

The Gift of Resolution

Donald Miller, author of the book, Blue Like Jazz, said something profound. He said what drew him to follow Jesus was the issue of resolution. Miller said only Jesus offered a resolution for his personal sin and the sorrows that he and others experienced in this life. I first read Miller’s words years ago and they continue to ring true the longer I walk with God.

The dictionary defines resolution as an act or a process of resolving an issue. I believe it is actually a combination of both. A process of resolution begins when we choose to surrender our right to control people and our demand that God would create a particular outcome. 

Once we choose to step into a process of resolution things will still appear rocky and impossible. At that point, trust steps up and offers us a ride to the finish line. Without trusting God in a process of resolution we will bail out early before the issue is resolved. Our part in the process is to continue to believe the best and never allow hopelessness to write the last chapter.

There is a resolution for our sin if we confess our sins and receive God’s forgiveness. There is the hope of resolution in an offended relationship if we are willing to be the one who takes the first step toward reconciliation no matter what the offense.

At the end of time, there will a resolution of all things that we have struggled to understand.  Even the most painful of experiences in this life will eventually be resolved in the love of God. That is the gift of resolution.

Thursday, May 3, 2018

The Simple Things

The week I graduated from high school, two of my friends and I, crammed our backpacks and bodies into a 1959 VW and drove to Yosemite from our homes in Los Gatos, California.  It was a rite of passage of sorts. We would spend the next 10 days hiking and camping in the remotest parts of the park. The trip was filled with stunning scenery, barbequed Spam, and golden trout.

One night, I remember lying in our sleeping bags looking out across Wallace Lake as a brilliant full moon settled between two distant mountain peaks reflecting its bright image across the lake. As young developing romantics, one of my friends said, “This is just not right. We need a girl to share this moment with!” 

The backpack trip was filled with many similar expressions of newfound freedom that placed our high school experience squarely in the rearview mirror of life. One of my friends was off to Seattle Pacific University in the fall, the other friend had enlisted in the Marines and I was would soon depart for Whitworth University in Spokane, Washington.

About a week into the backpacking adventure, we stepped off the trail to explore a distant vista point in hopes of finding a campsite. It was late in the day. As we arrived at a rocky outcropping, there sat a man who looked to be in his 40’s. He was contemplating the stunning view. He had a bottle of bourbon at his side and a cigar in his mouth. He greeted us and we talked for a moment realizing we would not camp there and interrupt his place of solitude.

We found out he was a high school teacher. Each year, he would hike into the backcountry of Yosemite and spend almost a month camping. Each night after he sat up camp, he would sip a shot of bourbon and smoke a cigar. When the bourbon and cigars were gone, he would head home. I left that encounter realizing we had just met a man who knew how to measure the pleasures of his life. He gave off the impression of peace and contentment. 

Many years later when I was a young church planter, I was driving through the Swan Valley in Montana. As I drove south on the Swan Highway, something caught my attention. I turned my head to see a man in a pickup truck emerging from the forest on a dirt road. His pickup truck was filled with a freshly cut load of firewood and atop the firewood was a nice 3-point buck that he just shot. He was heading home with a truck filled with an abundant provision. His image gave me the same feeling as the teacher with his nightly bourbon and cigar in the backcountry of Yosemite. 

Maybe what I appreciated most about the two men I described was their sense of reflection. Both appeared to be resting from their labors of life having a Sabbath rest of sorts. My guess would be they were reflecting on goodness. I have found in the places where we can reflect on the goodness of life is where God has things to say to us that cannot be heard anywhere else. We need space in time where we can meet God in a moment of reflection.

The older I get the more important it becomes to find the simple places where I can reflect on the goodness of this life. Where is your simple place? It will be in that place, a state of mind, where you can unwind and breath easy and feel the goodness of God wrap itself around your weariness and your concerns. These simple places provide for us the gift of reflection where the most profound revelations can take place. These simple places are worth discovering because they help reset the tempo of our lives and refocus our limited energy on what matters most. 

Wednesday, May 2, 2018

Your Double Portion

The situation you have been forced into through no fault of our own is not your final destination and condition. God always has a plan to prosper His people no matter what their circumstance may seem to indicate. Joseph, who was sold into slavery and unlawfully prisoned, rose to an unimagined place of authority to rule Egypt second in command only to Pharaoh. 

During the time of his restoration, Joseph had two sons and named one of his sons Ephraim, and declared, “It is because God has made me fruitful in the land of my suffering” (Genesis 41:52). The name Ephraim means "double land”, “double fruit”, and, “I shall be doubly fruitful.” These are names and definitions that can seem impossible to imagine in the dark and dank enclosure of an imprisoned season of life.

Begin to live in expectation that knock will soon be heard on the door of your prison cell. You have not been forgotten or abandoned. You have been hidden away for such a time as this. God has a plan to bring you out to receive a double portion of blessing, honor, and provision. This double portion is not just for you. It is to be shared with those who sold you into this place of sorrow and abandonment. You will be released to become a redeemer in partnership with the Redeemer. Your willingness to love and forgive will be evidence that your heart still belongs to God.

Tuesday, May 1, 2018

An Edited Life

The Lord is editing the script of your life. The first printing contained only a partial text and errors in spiritual grammar. God is editing the text of your life to present to you an updated version. He is doing this so you will be able to move forward into your future with increased hope. The Father has written the script of your life in reverse. He has written your story from that place in eternity where you now sit fully manifest in your destiny seated with Christ at the right hand of the Father. This is part of what Jesus meant when He said,  "on Earth as it is in Heaven."