Monday, August 20, 2018

The Never-Ending War of the Worlds

Some people prefer a fear-based message because it gives them a sense of purpose. It also sells books and gets hits on blogs and social media. In some ways, fear, conspiracy, and constant intrigue give people a reason to believe that something important exists beyond their daily struggle as they navigate through uncertain times.

If the classic War of the Worlds radio broadcast of 1938 were performed today, I am certain many who have been primed to believe a variety of conspiracy theories, government deep state agendas and hordes of invading zombies would be a susceptible and attentive audience. In 1938, our nation was nervous in a pre-war environment of uncertainty. Orson Welles was brilliant in his fictional radio broadcast, so brilliant that many people who listened were sure a Martian invasion was actually taking place. Pockets of panicked citizens huddled around family radios and began to exchange nervous glances as the broadcast continued entertaining the possibility of The End. 

When I was a cop, I trained rookies that reaction to a threat was always slower in response than the attack made by a threat. A bad guy only had one mental process to consider - pull the trigger. A cop would have to analyze the threat and plan a reaction. That one added thought process gave the bad guy an upper hand. 

The same is true regarding our faith. When we live in a reactionary mode to all the negative possibilities swirling around our lives, the negative issues will be able to gain the upper hand even though we are supposed to be the ones living from a place of victory. Our minds become occupied with reaction to the threats of darkness, real or imagined. 

Are some conspiracy theories true? Maybe. Could there be a hidden agenda working within the institutions of our culture? Possibly. Hell has always been at work throughout human history. None of this is new to humanity. When I look at Jesus, I don’t see Him reacting to negative stimuli or the latest conspiratorial threat. He only responded to the Father. This kept His prophetic voice from being hi-jacked and making sounds similar to the fear-based culture that lived in a state of constant suspicion. Protect your voice. It has announcements to make that are assigned to bring freedom, not fear.

“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world, you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world” (John 16:33).

Sunday, August 19, 2018

In Search of Religious Formulas

This morning, several hours before the sun rose, I walked out of my home and stood on the front lawn. I looked up into the night sky. Stars filled the black of night from horizon to horizon. As I stood in my bare feet looking up, I began to ponder God and His immensity. I was over-taken with awe. 

It is human nature to seek formulas to make life work or attempt to solve the mysteries of our faith. Some natural formulas, like scientific problem solving, actually work. In the realm of spiritual matters is where our formulas lose their consistency. They require no faith to see what has not yet arrived in this realm from beyond the veil. A formula can only work when we have available and visible components. 

People trapped within the confines of various forms of theology can reduce God and His Kingdom down to rational, human concepts. As a result, they produce religious theories that only work if the formula is properly exercised. In the end, this creates an image of God who comes and works only in response to our formulaic way of thinking. Doctrines and theologies are then crafted, and those who live outside the formula fence are considered ignorant to the truth and therefore easy to reject.

When we produce formulas regarding God, it reveals the end of our search of His depths and our pursuit of deeper understanding because we feel we have arrived at a place of final truth. 

I just read part of Psalms 139, and it reminded me of the God we serve who cannot be reduced to a formulaic simplicity. He is beyond the reductive thinking of formula.

“I can never escape from your Spirit! I can never get away from your presence! If I go up to heaven, you are there; if I go down to the grave, you are there” (Psalms 139: 7-8).

Early this morning, any semblance of formula dissolved under my bare feet as I stood on the dew-laden clover of our lawn looking up into the heavens. I saw no formula that could create the impression I was receiving. Only awe and wonder-filled my heart.

Saturday, August 18, 2018

The Sound of a New Season

A few moments ago, I heard a flock of Canadian geese fly over our home. They were heading south. To me, this is always the first indicator of the coming fall. Listen for the changing sounds of a new season, not just the natural sounds like geese honking, but the sounds of the Spirit that foretell of change. Those who are sensitive to the sounds of a new spiritual season will be able to position, and in some cases, reposition their lives and resources for the most impact once a new season arrives. 

The In-Between Revival

We talk a lot about bringing Heaven to Earth, and rightly so. That one experience can change everything. But, what are we going to do with Heaven once it arrives? Heaven and its accompanying glory do not arrive on Earth so that we can attend yet another impactful worship service or take part in an information-loaded conference without the goal of employing our transformed lives to the task of transforming culture. 

The arrival of Heaven on Earth in any form is a precious gift we need to steward well and then purposefully deliver that experience into each sphere of culture. The next time you walk into a worship gathering, ask these questions – Where will I take this experience once I leave the building and how can it be applied in the marketplace of my life-assignment? These two questions will break the cycle of standalone worship experiences that celebrate Heaven on Earth without an attached mission. 

Jesus said, “Go into all the world.” He said this to people who were already worshipping Him. They had the passion, but hey needed a mission. Right after uttering these words, this took place, “So then, when the Lord Jesus had spoken to them, He was received up into heaven and sat down at the right hand of God. And they went out and preached everywhere, while the Lord worked with them, and confirmed the word by the signs that followed” (Mark 16:19-20). This “preached everywhere” assignment was literally everywhere, in each sphere of the culture at that time.

Obedience to this “Go into all the world” mandate may actually be the revival many have been looking for – a revival of personal realization that happens in the in-between space when we leave an encounter with God and return to our place of influence in the culture. This revival of our thinking happens when we discover our unique place of partnership with God, “while the Lord worked with them,” to transform the kingdoms of this world into the Kingdom of our Lord. That is what Heaven on Earth looks like when an in-between revival of our thinking has taken place.

Friday, August 17, 2018

Following the Path of Our Wounds

 I remember the first time I responded to a shooting call as a rookie cop. A family disturbance turned into a violent confrontation. A husband shot his wife in the pelvis with a .22 revolver. Upon our arrival, my partner and I secured the suspect and the scene. We went back into service after the detectives arrived to process the evidence. 

Later that week, as the woman was recovering from her gunshot wound in the hospital, she unexpectedly died. During an autopsy, it was discovered the bullet had entered her pelvic region striking a bone and then glanced upward into her chest. When the bullet hit her pelvis, the impact chipped off a piece of bone pushing the bone fragment out of her lower back making it appear it was the exit wound for the bullet. A larger X-ray scan would have revealed the totality of the bullet’s path and where the bullet was actually lodged, but it was missed. A fatal assumption led the attending physician to believe the bullet had exited her body. The bone fragment was false evidence.

The assumed path of pain is not always the cause of emotional or spiritual death. A harsh word is like a bullet fired in rage, it enters the human soul and moves around looking for a place to create the most destruction. It requires Spirit-led discernment to discover the deadly course of these projectiles and the final destination where they are embedded in a soul. Undiscovered, they will attract lies that will create an infectious slow bleed that can lead to the death of a marriage, a dream or a person’s spiritual health.

Today, as you meet wounded people, make no assumptions based on natural sight or physical evidence. The first evidence is not always the most accurate evidence. Allow the Spirit to reveal the deeper wound paths that your natural sight cannot see. Like a skilled spiritual surgeon, once you see the hidden reality, the Spirit will guide your hand to make a gentle scalpel cut by speaking the truth in love. This incision of love will cut through the assumptions and false evidence to reveal the location of a deadly lie embedded in a person's life. Truth and the reality of God's love will dislodge these projectiles of darkness and allow the process of healing and recovery to begin.

Thursday, August 16, 2018

Breaking Free

As I was praying, I saw the image of a pendulum swinging back and forth in long measured arcs. The metronomic sequence was limited in range by control barriers set at both ends of the pendulum's movement. 

As I continued to watch and pray, the pendulum approached the end of one its sweeping motions. When the arm of the pendulum touched the barrier, it broke through the restriction shattering the barrier into fragments. Bits and pieces of the barrier flew through the image in detailed slow motion allowing me to see each piece as they passed by. Once free, the arm of the pendulum became airborne like a hammer tossed by an Olympic hammer thrower. Off into the distance, the pendulum arm flew disappearing from sight. 

Restricting barriers are being crashed. Your pendulum mechanism is being dismantled and decommissioned. What was once a predictable barrier on both ends of your life-spectrum is about to be shattered by an unexpected work of the Spirit. You have lived and planned your life inside the restricting arc of this pendulum and been faithful to its measured vision. All of this will catch you by surprise because while you knew it was possible, you thought that possibility was for someone else. This is your time to break free from restrictions and limitations.

As you fly forward, you will land in a new space emotionally and spiritually. New instructions will come at the place of your landing. In your time of flight into the future, enjoy the ride. This is a work of God. He will determine the course of your flight and the place of your landing. You are in the hands of Goodness. He is delivering you to a good place.

Wednesday, August 15, 2018

Merging the Fires of Revival and Reformation

On July 15, 1,700 lightning strikes occurred in our region sparking fires that will most likely burn into the fall with no immediate end in sight. Two huge wildfires have now merged to create a conflagration of great concern. Our valley has experienced only a handful of clear skies, literally just a few hours each, over the last month. 

As I read the news account about these two merging wildfires, the Lord began to share with me about a coming merger of revival and reformation. Someone once said, “Revival is for the Church. Reformation is for the culture.” I have parroted that phrase myself without thinking it through. While it is correct on one level, it needs to be examined on a deeper and more critical level. 

Revival and reformation are not two separate things. A revived Church will become a reforming presence in culture. Until these two join forces, there may not be a fire of significant size to bring the kind of change required for cultural transformation. The revivalists need to move out of church buildings, conference halls, and stadiums because the culture that is waiting to experience transformation does not live within these structures. Those pursuing a reformation need the heart and passion of a burning revivalist, or they will not have the spiritual energy required to bring change to the controlling summits of the 7 mountains of culture. 

On July 15 when the 1,700 lightning strikes took place, some strikes found a fuel source and became a wildfire. Others struck bare ground where there was no fuel and petered out before they got started. So it is in our spiritual life. The Spirit can “strike” a life, but if that life does not offer God the tender of submission to a greater Kingdom agenda, no fire of revival or reformation will ignite. 

This is how a revival leading to a reformation takes place. Individuals burning for God come to realize they are not burning alone. Once ignited they seek to join with other burning ones to become a Spirit-empowered move of God, similar to the two large fires that merged in our area. Before the fires merged into something more substantial, they remained isolated without the potential of a major, region-wide conflagration.  

We are at a point in time when we will begin to see the merging of two fires sparked by the Spirit - revival, and reformation. This will be an indicator of a new season for the Church. When these two groups are burning toward each other, in the region where this burning merger takes place, something explosive will transpire.

The fire of God is cleansing His people from the underbrush of lesser things that occupy our time, energy and resources so that we will be ready to accomplish more than we ever imagined. Once this fire of revival leading to reformation begins to burn, the wind of the Spirit will move the fire into the streets of our cities and into the boardrooms of corporations and media empires. This fire will be so powerful it will jump the fire lines created by restrictive and fearful thinking and begin to burn in love within the cultural institutions that have remained untouched by the fire of God’s presence.

Tuesday, August 14, 2018

Seams of Significance

Even though I have been writing and speaking for many years, I am still surprised where my words, either in script or video, end up. With the advent of socil media, it is easy to create a “trophy case” displaying where some of these words have been delivered. That would feed my pride and if not correctly discerned could cause me to fail an integrity check.  When God wants to carry our words to a unique audience, He can find a seam through which the word can pass that no plan of human intellect could predict.

A seam is that place where two fabrics meet and are sewn together. Some of you reading these words belong to neither fabric where a word you shared is waiting to be received. God will give you access to these unfamiliar garments by allowing your word to find your unique seam of significance through which to pass and be received. When God does this, there is no tear in the fabric. When we are the ones doing this, our pride tears open the seam in an attempt to make a way for ourselves. 

This morning, I was shown one of these seams for something I wrote that entered a new audience field that surprised me. The Lord said, “Leave it alone.” In other words, it is not for public consumption. These moments can become integrity checks to see if self-promotion or Kingdom promotion is our priority. I am beginning to see with new eyes my own brokenness in this area. Just when I think I have a grip on it, another seam of significance is passed through, and I get, once again, a choice to choose what I promote.

God has significant and transformative things to say and accomplish through your life. Give God the reins of your significance and let Him lead your gifts and calling into unique and unexpected places. If you can learn to live this way, you will be amazed at where the fruit of your life is being shared and enjoyed. 

Sunday, August 12, 2018

When Life Gets Dry

When we moved into our home 16 years ago, our trees were not as large as they are today. One maple tree grows in the center of the lawn in our backyard. As the rotating sprinkler fans out its spray, the trunk of the maple tree blocks a narrow slice of the stream of water. Each time we water, the presence of the tree casts a waterless shadow across one portion of the lawn. That part of the lawn remains dry. It is most noticeable when the rest of the lawn is wet. 

The tree reminds me of our lives. Some things in our lives were not a problem when they were small and still growing. The demands of a career, the needs of the people we are called to serve, and even our individual calling in the Kingdom of God all seemed manageable, and each got watered. In those early seasons, life could work around them without any noticeable detrimental effect. But there came a time, as these areas of life continued to grow that we begin to notice a dry place developing on the landscape of our life. Some areas were starting to die in the dry shadow while the surrounding areas looked alive and vibrant.

If there is a dry place in your life, it may be time to add another spiritual sprinkler. The demands of life that are causing the dry places will only get larger over time and continue to cast an ever-increasing shadow of dryness in your life. God wants all of your life well-watered by His word, wise self-care, and relationships honest enough to point out your dry places. 

Every area of your life has been designed by God to live as a green and luxurious-looking follower of Jesus Christ, not a life of dry and brittle shadows. Do what you need to do to make this happen. Deal with the dry places, and new life will soon appear.

Saturday, August 11, 2018

Your Coming Moment of Lift

The season that is now coming to an end has been like an airplane gaining speed on a very long runway. You have been increasing momentum in the Spirit and have reached a critical point. Lift is about to take place. Unknown to you, God has been adding additional runaway in front of your faith to bring you to this moment of ascent. 

The wing of an airplane flies because of how wind travels over the surface of the wing. When an aircraft wing moves through the air, the air splits upon impact with the leading edge and then travels along the top and bottom of the wing to meet once again at the trailing edge. 

The top of an airplane wing is arched. The bottom is typically flat. Because of the arch on top of the wing, the wind on top has a longer distance to travel than the wind along the bottom. The air on top has to move faster than the air on the bottom to meet once again after the wing makes its pass through a section of the atmosphere. This is called, Bernoulli’s Principle of Fluid Dynamics. This faster-moving air atop the wing creates a low-pressure system that produces lift allowing an airplane to experience flight.

You have thought that high-pressure and stress would be what elevates your calling. God works in the opposite way. He moves us upwards, like the lift created by an airplane wing, toward a place of low pressure where peace, trust and rest create the spiritual lift that striving, doubt, and unrest could never create.

The end of this long runway season is in sight. God has been moving you forward toward a place of low pressure. In a Spirit-directed moment, you will experience a lift that could never be produced by adopting principles of life filled with the human-empowered, high-pressure efforts of striving and worry. Let go of those things, and you will break the natural bonds of Earthly wisdom and fly into the higher altitudes of calling and mission you never thought possible when you were still making your long takeoff run. 

Friday, August 10, 2018

Spiritual Wildfires

God has stopped a spiritual wildfire you did not know was burning. He did this so you could continue focusing on your current assignment without interruption. God has been doing this throughout your life, most of the time without your knowledge of the pending danger. If you knew all God was continually doing to save and deliver you from peril, you might become overwhelmed at the scope of the surrounding and never-ending spiritual fires that swirl around your life. 

Earlier this week, during a hike in a remote part of a large abandoned WWII military base, I came across the remnants of a small fire that began to burn but had been extinguished. It had tremendous potential to burn hundreds of acres. It was stopped before it could mature into a major conflagration. What I noticed was a prominent fire line dug in the soil by firefighters who stopped the fire from advancing. I could also see the tracks from their emergency vehicles that sped across the grassland toward the developing fire. At the declared fire line the fire could no longer advance because the line dug in the dirt had starved the fire of its demand for fuel. At the fire line, the fire lost its flame.

The Lord has created fire lines in areas of your life where you have no knowledge that wildfires exist, let alone are currently burning. Angelic fire crews are always on alert to fight these fires at the direction of the Lord. Each of these hidden fires could take you out had not God intervened and declared, “This fire will burn no farther!” 

Today, live confidently knowing that God is at work in the spiritual realm protecting you and your loved ones. This protection is taking place behind the scenes and without your knowledge. You don’t have to be concerned by events that transpire that you cannot see. This creates worry and robs you of your faith. You may smell a hint of distant smoke, but don’t let it detract or derail your commitment to what God has assigned for your life. God has your back, and He is watching over you. Rest in His love and protection and keep moving forward.

Wednesday, August 8, 2018

When the Demons of Culture Begin to Shriek

The initial indicator that a reformation of culture is actually taking place will not be the arrival of new business models, fair and unbiased news media, creative trends in art and entertainment and so on. These are all by-products of a deeper change. Listen for a change in the sounds coming from the summits of the 7 mountains of culture. You are about to hear a new sound - a sound of displacement coming from the spiritual forces that currently inhabit and control these spheres of cultural influence. 

This process of displacement will be a re-education for some in the Church who may have forgotten or dismissed Paul’s admonition that we do not fight against people or institutions but against spiritual forces occupying high places in the spiritual realm. These spiritual enemies have stepped from the second heaven to inhabit places of influence atop the summits of culture in our realm, the first heaven. From these positions of influence, they are administering a counterfeit authority contrary to the will of God. 

Carriers of reformation are scaling the slopes of these mountains bringing with them the transforming presence of God's love. A shift of influence is taking place, and with that shift, a chorus of desperate shrieks is being heard from the forces of darkness who are beginning to lose their grip on the minds of people. These sounds of defeat will be heard as an encounter with the overwhelming power of Jesus Christ begins to confront each controlling presence that currently sits atop the summits of cultural influence. 

Walk Away

Unrighteous conflict requires two parties to engage in a battle. Choose to not participate in these conflicts, and simply walk away. For the people whose life is an ongoing invitation to conflict, this will be your surprise attack of love. It is an indefensible strategy in spiritual warfare. These conflicts will become raging wars only if you remain present on the battlefield. When you walk away, take with you every negative thought and each prepared response of retaliation. This will be your victory.

Tuesday, August 7, 2018

The Older I Get

The older I become, the more I am able to shed a quick tear over a country ballad. I find myself holding a special attachment to a pair of old weathered boots on their third resole. The memories of a faithful dog now gone and of friends whose relationship I hope to someday retrieve after things fell apart. Of a wife who grows more beautiful to me with each passing day. Each of these memories has a unique place in my life history.

There is a sweet surrender in the process of growing older. Somewhere in your future, it is my hope you will feel these tender embraces.  They put so much of life in a right perspective. 

In all the years I have lived, God has always been present in each passing moment wanting me to see what I see now so clearly. Open your eyes early in life to the goodness of God and to the goodness of life itself. It will change the taste and feel of your present, and it will make the journey into your future one of a profound and growing thanksgiving.

When Life is Always a Crisis

On both sides of the political spectrum, we are continually being told by talking heads what we are to be alarmed by. If you have no crisis in your life just tune into your favorite flavor of news commentary and before the first commercial break you will be knee deep in conflict with people you never met.  If you want to step into the arena of political opinion you must have enemies and agree with a list of crisis points in order to enter the conversation. In the Church-world there are entire movements created by and dedicated to the latest crisis in theology or how the Church is supposed to relate to culture. Some families have lived an on-going crisis mode in their family line for so many generations that a life of peace, when described to them, seems alien. Crisis and enemies sell. They also pollute the emotional and spiritual air we breathe.

In southern Oregon where I live, we are surrounded by forest fires. Our air quality has been listed as the worst in the nation. Week after week of smoke-filled skies has become a real health hazard. There appears to be no immediate relief in sight. The presence of smoke also begins to affect your psyche and how you see life. To look out where blues skies and green forests once dominated the landscape and now only see the muted colors of a brown and persistent haze can begin to affect a person on many levels. At some point, this can change a person’s perspective on life.

If you want a breath of fresh air in southern Oregon you have to get out of the area. Several of my friends have gone to the coast to breathe in some fresh air.  Some have looked at wind current maps and changed vacation plans based on the air quality. A change of location is the only hope of taking in a lung full of clean air. Fresh air has become the new vacation destination.

The prophetic voice of the Church in culture is under assault. The entities that continually create the next crisis have no power to steal our voice.  We have to give permission for this theft to take place. The thief is smart. He will simply bring in wave after wave of smoky air fueled by the latest crisis-fire of fear and despair and cause some to believe this is our unchangeable reality. He wants us to stay put in this hazardous air thinking we only have a single option. 

There will always be the presence of a never-ending supply of hazardous spiritual air fueled by the next burning crisis. We can get so surrounded by this deceptive smoke that we assume it is our lot in life. That is the masked lie we are being led to believe. That deception takes hold of us when we allow anyone but God to define our reality. 

It is time to change our emotional and spiritual location. The clean air of prophetic hope is waiting to fill our lungs. That fresh breath will fuel the sound and quality of our voice to those coughing in the unhealthy air of hopelessness. That sound will announce to a suffocating culture that hope is possible and available even in the middle of all the smoke.

Sunday, August 5, 2018

The Steel of Healthy Relationships

One of my favorite movies is Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves. In the film, Morgan Freeman plays Azeem a Moorish warrior who is a companion to Robin Hood played by Kevin Costner. In one scene attention is drawn to the sword carried by Azeem. He comments it was made from the finest Toledo steel, referring to Toledo, Spain. For centuries the small city of Toledo produced some of the most battle-worthy swords in the world. They were known for their strength and durability in combat. “Toledo steel” meant a sword made of layered steel with an iron core. This gave the sword flexibility without breaking in battle.

When Jan and I lived in Europe, we traveled through Spain several times. On one trip, we visited Toledo. A goal of mine was to purchase a chef’s knife made by the craftsmen in one of the Toledo cutlery shops. The knife in the attached photo is that knife. I have been using it for over twenty years. It is of such quality that it appears to never have been sharpened though it has many times. It will last the rest of my life because of the quality of material and craftsmanship.

I shared the history and photo because they remind me of healthy relationships that last over time. There is a unique quality about these relationships, whether as friends or spouses. These relationships are not cheap stainless steel serrated edge junk masquerading as a quality chef’s knife. There is a quality in the materials of these relationships that give them strength over time and durability in seasons of intense use. They last a lifetime because they were crafted by people who honor each other and offer the gift of forgiveness and mercy repeatedly over a lifetime. Those relationships will be able to cut through any challenge that comes their way because they were forged with the steel of two hearts yielded to the will of God. Choose to be that kind of steel.

Saturday, August 4, 2018

Mirrors of God's Glory

In the middle of all that is swirling around you – your emotions, your challenges and your doubt, and all that is taking place in the world – the sorrow, the suffering and the despair, you are reflecting the glory of God. You are mirroring the image of the risen Lord Jesus Christ. This reflection is offering to the world a glimpse of a future not imagined with natural sight and imagination.

The largest telescope in the world is the Magellan Telescope. Once completed, it will be positioned in the Chilean Andes. This will be a perfect location for the telescope offering clear skies, a dry climate, and almost no pollution from artificial light. The Magellan will be able to produce images 10X sharper than the Hubble Space Telescope. 

At the heart of the Magellan Telescope is an arrangement of 7 large mirrors. To make each mirror requires individual pieces of clear glass be positioned by hand atop a circular plate where the finished mirror will rest. Once all the glass is placed on the plate, it will be put in an oven to melt the glass forming the smooth face of the mirror. Each mirror will weigh 17 tons and span 24 feet across. 

When the melting process is complete, the mirror will need to cool for 6 months before the polishing process begins. It will take another 2-3 years of precision grinding to prepare the reflective surface of each mirror to make it ready for the telescope. Each of the mirrors will take 7 years to produce from start to finish. There is another kind of mirror that is infinitely more powerful than the Magellan and that mirror is currently in operation on Earth. 

Each follower of Christ is a mirror reflecting the glory of God to the world. We are mirrors who reflect a witness. The word “witness” in Scripture does not only mean a verbal witness of our faith. It can also mean, “to show forth”, “to display” like the reflective surface of a mirror. At the beginning of the expired old covenant, Moses came down from the mountaintop reflecting the glory of God to such a degree the people could not bear to look at his face. Consider the superior reflecting power of the new covenant we have with God in Jesus?

Your reflection of God’s glory infinitely dwarfs the most powerful technology that will ever be created by the most brilliant human innovation. Never underestimate the significance of the One who lives within in you and is reflecting His glory to the world through you. You are God’s mirror upon the Earth. Always live with that reflection in mind. It will change how you see the world.

So all of us who have had that veil removed can see and reflect the glory of the Lord. And the Lord—who is the Spirit—makes us more and more like him as we are changed into his glorious image” (II Corinthians 3:18).

Friday, August 3, 2018

Embrace the Change

Every season of life has an expiration date. Don’t fear the closure of a relationship, a ministry assignment or a season of life that has come to an end. Fully embracing our God-assigned reality requires courage and faith. As you face the challenge of change, never forget that God is able to open a new door into your future just as faithfully as He did when the doorway to this expired season first appeared. Trust Him. Let go and move forward. Your future is anticipating your arrival. 

Thursday, August 2, 2018

Winning the West - A Fresh Move of God

This month, Jan and I will celebrate our 45th wedding anniversary. Today, as we typically do each day, we took communion. Between passing the bread and the wine, I heard the Spirit speak the words, “Colt 45.” Immediately, I saw the image of a Colt 45 revolver. For those of you not familiar, the Colt 45 Peacemaker has been dubbed “The gun that won the West.” When Samuel Colt created his single-action masterpiece he could not have imagined the impact his revolver would have in the taming of the Wild West of the American frontier. I have always admired the Colt .45 for its beauty and power, though I have never had the privilege of owning one of these treasured revolvers.

When I first heard the Lord speak the words, “Colt .45”, I realized He was talking to Jan and me about the 45th year of our relationship and what our future holds. I got the sense that just like Samuel Colt’s revolver won the West in the natural something in the Spirit is about to be released to win the West to God. So much is taking place spiritually in this region of our nation. Revivalists are relocating here. National and international leaders in the Church are holding citywide meetings. God is stirring our region. 37 years ago, Jan and I planted our first church in Kalispell, Montana in the Colt 45 room of the Outlaw Inn. God was getting my attention about the number 45.

As I continued to ponder the number “45”, the Lord said, “45th Parallel.” When I did some research, I almost fell out of my proverbial chair. The 45th parallel on the Earth crosses the State of Oregon. I recalled seeing a marker along Interstate 5 near Salem, Oregon that states the following, “45th Parallel – Half Way Between the Equator and North Pole.”

2018 will mark the beginning of the winning of the West for Jesus Christ. A unique move of God’s Spirit is beginning to take place. Pay attention to the “small” things God whispers. Follow those whispers to a place of unexpected revelation where your faith will be strengthened as mine was just a few minutes ago during communion. God is on the move in the West!

When The Mean Dogs Come Running

Bicyclists who ride along country roads have a saying, “The biggest and meanest dogs are always waiting at the top of the steepest hills.” In essence, when a bicycle rider is tired and slowed down near the top of a steep climb, the biggest and meanest dogs will appear. At this point, the rider feels trapped and unable to escape and as a result, they are an easy target.

Some of you are in a long and steep climb into a new season of life, business or family relationship. You know that if you slow down, or worse, quit, the situation will chew you up. There is a problem. You are out of steam. Your natural abilities have been exhausted. 

There is a way over this steep section of the road without being consumed by what is lying in wait for your arrival. As you enter this steep and most challenging section of your journey, ask God for a second wind of His Spirit. Ask Him for a strength you do not naturally possess. In faith, once you ask, believe that you possess what you asked for and then place your trust in God. Faith coupled with trust will allow you to speed past the dogs of your defeat and eventually crest this daunting section of life’s road. Once you make it over the top you will be rewarded with a joyful descent filled with praise and worship for what God has accomplished.

“But those who trust in the Lord will find new strength. They will soar high on wings like eagles. They will run and not grow weary. They will walk and not faint” (Isaiah 40:31).

Wednesday, August 1, 2018

A Season of Sifting

A sifting is taking place in the Church, especially among those who walk in the gift of prophecy. The voice of a prophet must be clear and refined by the Spirit free from too much personality or a pre-planned ministry agenda. It must be sifted of any corrupting presence able to pour freely into the mold of what God desires to reveal.

Bakers will sift flour to discover lumps. Sifting refines and aerates the flour. As a result, it is easier to mix with other ingredients. The more delicate the baked goods, the more necessary the sifting process becomes. The presence of unrefined lumps will affect the quality of the end product. This is not a problem for those who bake a cake from a prepared box of ingredients, but it is a problem for those who desire to bake exquisite creations. 

When God sifts the thinking of His prophets, He is sifting us to find out where our thoughts and methods have not yet been refined enough to be used fully and freely for His purposes. There are times when we might withdraw our permission for God to continue the sifting process. In fear or because of an assumption that we already operate at prophetic depth, we stop the process and withdraw our consent for God to take us deeper to a new level of personal refinement. 

The sifting can be so radical it may change the tone, content, and style of our prophetic delivery. Some fear this depth of sifting because those who are accustomed to the familiar sound of their voice and the style of their ministry will be put off by the change.  This becomes a turning point for a prophet. Unless we give God this permission, the prophetic gift we carry will become hi-jacked and compromised if it remains unsifted and unrefined in its present form. 

Let God have His way when He invites you into a sifting process. God sifts us in love. If you serve Him over the span of a lifetime, you will encounter His sifting on several occasions, usually just before a season of breakthrough. When the sifting is complete, the attitude of your heart and the sound of your voice will have experienced a transformation. It will not be easy, but it will be worth every shaking you experience during the sifting process. A new refinement and clarity are coming. Embrace the sift.