Sunday, July 15, 2018

Witchcraft Must Exit

Jan and I were driving through Spokane, Washington on freeway I-90. Jan was born in Spokane and I did a couple of years at Whitworth University, so the city holds a special place in our lives.

As we entered the city traveling westbound from Idaho, up ahead I saw one of those large mobile digital signs positioned on the freeway to alert drivers. There is only so much space on these signs so the person who programs them must economize the message because they only have so many spaces on the sign to insert their phrasing. 

I was doing about 80 mph (the speed limit is 75 on that section - I like to fudge a bit). At that speed, I took a quick look at the sign in passing. It actually read, “Wtrcraft must exit” meaning watercraft must exit the freeway to be inspected for invasive waterborne insect species. What I thought I saw was, “Witchcraft must exit”. I took a double take. 

On the second glance, I realized my error. At that moment, the Lord impressed upon me it wasn’t a mistake in the Spirit. As cool and urbane as we in the western Church may want to appear, in that pursuit, we can dismiss the spiritual reality of darkness and relegate it to those unrefined folks who handle snakes and dance on sawdust floors in worship somewhere out in the sticks. The folly of our dismissal does not negate the reality of those who work in partnership with darkness to cast spells on human minds and release interfering works of hell against individuals, families, and cultural institutions. 

When I “mistakenly” read the road sign, I believe it was a promise. The works of darkness initiated against you personally, against your family and against our nation are being commanded to depart the roadway of our future. God wants you to know there are dark agendas taking place in the unseen world that you may never come to realize as you go about the normal affairs of your life. These things are at work with an assignment to destroy you and your loved ones. God knows this is taking place. He is commanding these dark influences to remove their grip from the thinking and decision-making of individuals, cultural institutions, and national politics. A witching presence is being told to depart the highway at the next exit. This departure will become exceedingly evident in the days to come.

God does not expect you to see and understand everything that is taking place in the spiritual realm. The roadway of your future is being cleared of a hellish influence by a compassionate and understanding God. He is clearing the roadway into the future for you, your family and our nation. Trust Him and keep moving forward without fear.

Friday, July 13, 2018

Faith Collisions

This morning, I saw two robins flying erratically around a tree just outside a sliding glass door. A few moments later,  I heard a loud thump as one of the birds collided with the window. The window was reflecting a false reality of blue skies and freedom that lured the bird into the glass. The bird hit so hard the collision knocked him out. I was sure he was dead. After about 20 minutes he righted himself and while still trying to gain his bearings. Two hours later, he was finally able to fly off. Not all birds survive such an impact. 

Be careful who and what you follow. Like the bird that crashed from blindly chasing the lead bird, not everyone will accurately or wisely interpret the course of your life. That is your decision. Each of us has to be responsible for taking the lead of our individual life of faith under the direction of the Holy Spirit with the instruction of Scripture. No one should stand between you and the Spirit or the Scripture no matter how gifted or charismatic they may appear. 

Faithfully follow Scripture, and the leading of the Spirit and you will not collide with a false reality interpreted by someone who may not navigate through life with the same integrity and beliefs you hold to be true. To remain airborne and free in your faith, you have the responsibility to make sure your course of flight is free and clear of obstacles.  God will never ask you to blindly follow a person, the vision of a ministry, a political platform or anything else that may be offered to you no matter how exciting the pursuit of those invitations may appear. 

Thursday, July 12, 2018

Confronting the Demons of Culture

We are at a point in our national history where the hot-button issues we currently face appear like the demon-possessed man Jesus met in Mark 5. The demon was the real problem, not the man who carried the dark presence. The fearful culture tried to chain the demon-possessed man but that natural solution failed. It was not until Jesus arrived and confronted the powers of darkness with the light of truth that real and lasting change took place. Today, the possibility of a demonic element at work in our politics and culture makes some in the Church feel uncomfortable. That uncomfortable feeling may be part of our problem.

Just as the demon-possessed man complained to Jesus that His presence was torturing him, so it is with anyone who holds a position and social posture different than the demonic agenda. We are seeing an increase in bizarre manifestations and confrontations taking place against truth in the public square. This is not just a reaction created by opposing positions and worldviews. Demons and dark agendas are reacting to the presence of light and truth.

Each of the influencing demons affecting our culture has a name. That is why Jesus asked the demon within the man to identify himself. That identification is necessary because it uncovers the influencing presence and identity that is controlling people and helps us see them as victims, not as perpetrators. If this distinction is not made we will continue to fight in the arena of a flesh and blood conflict, not in the realm of the Spirit where real and lasting change is possible. 

When the demons were sent into a herd of pigs and the possessed man was finally set free, he came back and sat at Jesus' feet dressed and in his right mind. I believe part of the reformation taking place in our culture will have a deliverance component. Individuals and institutions will emerge from a season of cultural insanity, delusion and demonic deception and sit before us as someone who has awakened from a nightmare. If you and I have been able to see the conflict as spiritual and not personal, those who eventually come to sit before us, spiritually clothed and in their right minds, will become our allies in the mission of God. That alliance will be the greatest affront to a demonic agenda of darkness.

The Way Forward

Some of the most profound answers to your prayers are waiting on the other side of what appears to be an unrelated question or a random act of obedience. You may find yourself processing something that is so important it is consuming all your time, energy and mental concentration. In the middle of that intense focus be careful to not dismiss what you might prematurely label as an interruption to the assumed process. It is easy to dismiss an interruption, especially an interruption that appears to have no connection to what you are processing. The greatest turnarounds and open doors can appear out of nowhere and may not be on your current list of considerations. These things are not an interruption. They are the way forward. Ask God for the wisdom to know the difference.

Wednesday, July 11, 2018

The Something

Signs announce something. Shadows reveal something. Prophecies declare something. Welcome the signs. Study the shadows. invite the prophecies, but only build your faith on the Something, not the signs, shadows or prophecies no matter how exciting and inspiring they appear to be. 

There may come a season when you will be without any outward indicators to support your faith. In those times, your faith will be strong because you remained faithful to trust only in the One who is your Something, not in the evidence about Him.

Tuesday, July 10, 2018

These Boots Are Made For Walking...And More

Recently, while attending the Hub Nation conference in Bend, Oregon, I took a short walk around the parking lot of Eagle Mountain Fellowship where the conference was being hosted. In an adjacent retail complex is a business called The Boot Barn. As I walked by the front entrance of the store, I sensed the Lord say, “Go into the store and buy some boots.” It was an unexpected request. I have not had a pair of cowboy boots in over 40 years. I hung a right turn and entered the store. After trying on a few pairs of boots, I settled on some Ariats and out the door I walked, two inches taller with new boots on my feet. It just so happened that I was wearing a pair of blue jeans long enough to make the boots work and not look like an urban western wannabe with high-water pants.

While still processing the “why” of the boot purchase – they are expensive – the Lord began to download some thoughts to me and maybe for some of you who are reading these words.  

The Lord began explained two things about the boots. One, He actually enjoyed seeing me wear the boots. He was sharing my joy. Secondly, the boots were a metaphor for the needed preparation of our hearts as we enter the coming months. This preparation will need to take place if we are going to be a reforming presence in culture. 

Paul told the Ephesians part of their required armament for spiritual warfare would be to have their feet covered with the gospel of peace. To walk with the spirit of a peacemaker will become one of the most powerful preparations we can make for navigating the increasing turmoil in our culture. Those who choose peace will literally walk over the plans of the enemy crushing division and destruction. True peace is never a compromise to the truth. Peace reveals things that the two sides in a heated dispute may not yet realize. Peacemakers are cultural prophets who reveal what anger, wrath, and malice cannot see. 

It was comforting to walk back into the Hub Nation conference with new boots on my feet. The boots felt strong and secure. Our spiritual strength and security will not come from flowing in and partnering with the turmoil-creating atmosphere currently taking place in our culture. It will come when we yield to the Spirit’s presence and walk in the ways of peace through the battlefields of life. Your spiritual boots were made for walking into the current cultural upheaval to leave the footprints of God’s heart. Get your boots on! You have places to go and people to see that only peace can reveal.

Sunday, July 8, 2018

The One Simple Thing

This is a time for you to pay close attention to the small details. Your ability to connect with what the Spirit is doing will depend on precise accuracy, complete obedience, and a new level of sensitivity to the voice of God.

I was away for a writing retreat and not using my familiar Internet connection. The productivity of my time away depended on a solid Internet connection in order to do my research and connect with people for various writing projects. It was a real downer to not be wired. I tried everything I knew. Finally, I contacted customer service and after listening to elevator music for half an hour and having to call yet another number, I found the problem. The owner of the place where I was writing had left the Internet account information but used a capital letter instead of a lower case letter for one part of the password. That one misstep wasted an entire day of my devoted project time. 

While we live in a grace covenant there are particulars God will give us that we must align ourselves with or we could miss a vital connection that will make everything work. If something is not working in your life, review what God has asked you to do and complete His assignment. Assignments that are not getting traction may be the result of you not completing that one simple thing God asked of you. Do it and a connection will be established that will reveal what has been hidden in the time of your disconnect.

Saturday, July 7, 2018

The Circuitous Route of Love and Life

In August of 1969, I was driving north on I-5 in my 69 VW bug to return for my sophomore year at Whitworth University in Spokane, Washington. I was reporting early for football camp. As I drove north, I was listening to the song White Bird by the band, Its a Beautiful Day. The song really struck a deep cord of emotion in my soul. I had just left a relationship and felt lost. My 19th year was tough. Little did I know that in the storm of my loss and despair, God was navigating me toward the love of my life - a love I did not know existed. 

Driving north I had no idea the coming semester would be a closure to my time at Whitworth. The Lord would have me return home to Los Gatos, California where I would have an encounter with God in the middle of what would become known as the Jesus Movement. That encounter would take me north once again, this time to Multnomah University in Portland, Oregon where a beautiful young woman named Janice Jean Parry was waiting. Neither of us knew the other person existed. God knew and he would direct both of us along the circuitous of love and life to find each other.

Sometimes we must be cut away from what was to experience what can be. In these moments of painful release is where we have an opportunity to encounter God in a new way. In these encounters, when we are in a state of mourning about what no longer exists, is where God shows up to reveal to us something beautiful and profound. 

If you feel cut away and drifting in an ocean of loss and despair, you will not be adrift forever because God is leading your life. He uses every feeling of loss and each disappointment as rudders to steer you forward to something new and completely off your current radar screen. God is always leading you to a new place of wonder and beauty.

Friday, July 6, 2018

A Dangerous and Promising Prayer

One of the most dangerous and promising prayers we can utter is, “Come, Holy Spirit, come!” It is dangerous to the works of darkness and promising to the one who utters its invitation. The challenge comes when the Spirit finally does arrive and He must work through our assumptions and predeterminations. We can assume the Spirit will manifest in the same way He did in our previous experiences with Him. We can also predetermine who He will touch or how He will touch them and even how they should respond. 

Scripture says, “The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness." Those words are not meant to become a devotional wall plaque. They describe the very nature of God whose newness knows no boundary of expression. He is truly new every day and so are His arrivals in answer to our prayers.

Pray the dangerous and promising prayer, “Come Holy Spirit, come!” but before you pray give the Spirit permission to orchestrate His arrival in any way He so desires. Offer all people to Him along with your assumptions and predeterminations. Let Him arrive in any way He chooses. These unique and unhindered arrivals of the Spirit are what have set in motion the greatest revivals in human history. 

Thursday, July 5, 2018

Spiritual Earthquakes

The most devasting natural disasters typically come without warning. So do the most beautiful works of the Spirit that shift culture toward God and His Kingdom purposes. While some of us move in the realm of the prophetic, on our best day we only see in part and prophesy in part. God has the ability to surprise the most astute of prophets and forecasters of culture.

I like to read a wide range of topics. I just finished reading a book on earthquakes. I discovered a new term, “blind faults.” Blind faults are previously undiscovered fault lines deep within the Earth that contain earthquake potential of devastating proportions. These blind faults are hidden miles beneath the surface of the Earth and do not always reveal their existence through surface fault line evidence. The devastating earthquake of 2011 in Christchurch, New Zealand came from one of these blind faults. Seattle, Washington sits atop the Seattle Fault that runs beneath the city of Seattle. The same is true for the Tacoma Fault. The entire Olympic peninsula sits atop previously unknown fault lines. These blind faults were not discovered until 1992 long after the urban sprawl had taken place. The Pacific Northwest is not alone. All the inhabitants of Earth live atop floating tectonic plates that are constantly in motion. As these plates grind against each other they set off earthquakes revealing what had been long hidden beneath our feet.

As I read about natural earthquakes, I began to sense that nations, institutions, and groups who function contrary to the love of God are sitting on blind spiritual fault lines. God has set beneath their over-confidence moments of spiritual breakthrough those currently in control do not sense, see or believe is even possible. At just the right moment a quaking of the Spirit will erupt under the false foundations causing their structures to collapse.

As blind faults are being discovered across the globe in the natural, look to the Spirit to identify the spiritual blind fault lines that lie beneath what to the natural eye seems unchangeable. Surprises are coming. A shaking of what seems unshakeable is about to take place. When the emotional and spiritual dust settles and the devastation is cleared away, be ready to move into the devastated landscape with the love of God to reform and transform the landscape of what has fallen. You are standing on the next great move of God. The tremors are coming.

Tuesday, July 3, 2018

Bigfoot Traps

We can build traps to capture things that do not exist. We can also build traps to capture what we fear.

Not far from where I live is The Bigfoot Trap. In case you don’t know who Bigfoot is (also known as Sasquatch) he is the mysterious ape-like creature that some people believe still roams the mountains of the Pacific Northwest. The Bigfoot Trap was constructed in 1974 near Applegate Lake in southern Oregon. It was built in hopes of trapping a live specimen. The trap was baited for the first six years of its existence, but only trapped bears. Bigfoot never appeared. Today, the trap is visited by curious hikers who pause long enough for a selfie before continuing their hike along the Collings Mountain Trail.

Some people create an entire life around Bigfoot-like traps. These traps are perpetually empty of the thing their fear wanted to trap. The only evidence to show up and become trapped in the delusion is an overly active and undisciplined imagination. 

People can become pre-occupied with Bigfoot-like thinking, conspiracy theories and all sorts of intriguing diversions. This happens a lot in culture, and unfortunately, too often within the Church. If we are not careful we can become focused on these illusions instead of on God. 

The next time someone tries to sell you a conference or a book with a garish title and advertising scheme or some strange alienesque spiritual concept, read the following verse before you start building your trap. If the idea passes the test of Paul's admonition to the Philippians then invest your time, money and energy. If not, take a selfie and keep hiking.

“And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise”(Philippians 4:8).

Monday, July 2, 2018

At All Costs

At all costs, choose hope. Hope will reveal a God-shaped future. Hope has the power to heal our wounded hearts. Hope creates forward motion in seasons of life when we find ourselves at an emotional or spiritual standstill. It is Heaven's alarm clock that awakens us each morning from the slumber of our despair to see for the first time the new possibilities that hopelessness had masked. Choosing hope is a profound act of spiritual warfare. No condition of human brokenness or any work of hell can withstand its power and influence. At all costs, choose hope!