Monday, November 11, 2019

When Life is Falling Down

Things will eventually fall into place. In the process of finding that place, it is the “falling” part of the process that can seem confusing, and at times, overwhelming. A final destination in freefall can be undefinable. It will require trust, especially when you and the things you hold dear appear to be falling together without a known destination or outcome. In the falling times, your only peace will come by trusting in the goodness of God. The knowledge of His goodness will be your peace in the turmoil no matter where you end up landing. In this uneasy transit, declare His goodness to your soul and to all the things falling with you. Those declarations have the power to change the environment of an uncertain transition.

Sunday, November 10, 2019

Our Flight of Freedom


Yesterday, a sad image was posted of a dead eagle lying face down in a creek in western Oregon. Authorities are seeking information that would lead to the arrest of the person responsible for killing the magnificent creature. When I first saw the image, I was filled with sadness, anger, and disgust. At the same time, I felt it was a call to prayer for our nation at this moment in our history. 

The eagle is a symbol of the freedom God has given to us as a nation. Like any nation, we have done some things well, and in some cases, we have failed. Those successes came because we walked with God expressing His heart for all people no matter what politic or lifestyle they choose. When it comes to freedom, God is no respecter of persons. All are promised freedom. It is that healthy image of freedom that dark forces desire to bring down and portray as the legacy of our nation. 

All nations throughout history rise and fall. Some have fallen before the completion of their God-given assignment. The premature demise of a nation can be caused by many issues. When I first looked at the photograph of the dead eagle and had such a visceral response, I prayed that we would not fall from our flight of freedom because we failed to pray for our nation and those in places of authority, no matter what our political preference.

“If My people who are called by My name will humble themselves, and pray and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and heal their land” (II Chronicles 7:14).


Friday, November 8, 2019

Trustworthy Encounters

Each night, I kneel by our bed and pray for my family that we would have dreams in the night birthed by the Spirit. Last night, I was the recipient of that prayer.

In the dream, I was sitting across from someone known throughout the world, not only as one of the wealthiest people on the planet but as someone who is a social engineer in his particular area of expertise. He kept looking across the table at me and finally asked, “Would you teach me?” In the dream, I knew he was drawing on my background as a combat firearms instructor. He wanted me to show him how to safely and wisely use a handgun. His request was a metaphor for something deeper.  I told him I would take him to a private place in a forest to learn his skill away from inquisitive eyes. A public shooting range would put him in a visible place where unwanted attention would come his way, and as a result, he would not be able to learn.

When the man asked me to teach him, the Spirit informed me through the unspoken language of dreams that he was actually asking me to train him in the ways of the Kingdom. He was free to extend the invitation because he trusted me to protect his identity and not expose him to any jeopardy. I knew the dream was a message for the Church.

Those with apostolic or prophetic anointing are being positioned next to people in positions of power and influence in our culture. If you are one of these people, do not be intimidated by the wealth and power you see. You are not being placed in these opportunities because you have the technical skills or specific training required to move within these spheres of influence.   You are being placed in these opportunities because of your anointing - an anointing that carries the personal and corporate breakthrough these individuals seek.

As these influencers get ready to invite us into their world, we need to ask ourselves a question - can we be trusted? Can we be trusted to care for the vulnerability and privacy of someone with social influence and not treat them as a trophy of our ministry? This is a selfie-free zone that needs to remain secret and not advertised.  The interactions that take place in these relationships will carry significant cultural implications.  Our personal agendas, our undisciplined need for self-advancement, and our slavish social alignments can cause us to violate this sacred trust and close the door on something with the potential to release a significant Kingdom impact. 

Thursday, November 7, 2019

Distant Sight

I was looking at a photograph of a favorite surfing spot of mine from my younger days in Santa Cruz, California. As a young man waiting for the next set of waves, my attention was focused only on what was immediate and soon to arrive. 

Now, when I look at the ocean, I find myself looking beyond the next set of waves approaching the shoreline to the distant horizon. This is where faith looks to reveal what is approaching beyond our natural ability to visualize. 

This distant sight reveals the tsunamis of faith that are mounting up and beginning their run toward the shore. Don’t get caught up in the obvious, those things that are soon, immediate and close to shore and visible to all. God is asking you to look in faith beyond the obvious to see what is not yet seen with natural sight and intuition. These are the things that will have the most significant impact on your life and an unsuspecting culture. 

God has given you distant sight – the ability to see in faith beyond what others have assumed to be the only reality.  Make your preparations based on what you see with the eyes of faith, and you will never be caught inside being tumbled and crushed under the weight of the unexpected. 

Wednesday, November 6, 2019

God is Raking the Seedbed of Prophetic Ministry

God is raking the prophetic landscape as a master gardener would carefully rake the soil of a delicate flower bed. He is removing the debris that gets in the way of fully appreciating the beauty of what He has planted. The Lord is removing assumptions we have allowed to craft our message and the invasive species of human pride that could eventually take over the simple beauty of the garden if not challenged. 

In this raking time, some will be surprised at what the Lord’s rake will remove from the prophetic seedbed. We have come through a season where much has been planted in the name of the Lord. Some of these words have come from the seed pouch of the Spirit as an authentic word of the Lord. Others have been formed from human opinion crafted under the influence of a religious or political spirit.  

When the Lord finishes this time of raking, He will turn to each of us who speak in His name and hand us His rake. He will ask us to rake at His direction through our motives to prepare our hearts as a seedbed for the critical words He is about to plant destined to bloom in the coming harvest of revival and reformation.

Tuesday, November 5, 2019

Breakfast Choices

I do most of the cooking nowadays. Tonight, I asked Jan what she would like for breakfast, pancakes, or cheesy grits, both accompanied by eggs and bacon. Looking across the living room at me, she smiled and said, "Your call." I'm having a cheesy grits thing going on, but the thought of sweet maple syrup and a slathering of butter dripping over a stack of cakes are also making their culinary appeal. For my health-conscious friends, a few mornings each week, we also do oats and blueberries along with few avocado toast offerings tossed in for good measure, so...we will be OK.

Making a Way

In the sphere of cultural influence called Arts & Entertainment, people are being touched by God. Each day more and more celebrities are coming forth and publicly confessing Jesus Christ. This is a Barnabas moment for the Church. Some are concerned with the authenticity of these testimonies. God asks us to embrace any evidence of faith, even a young and still developing faith. When Paul was touched by Jesus on the road to Damascus, many in the Church were afraid to him, thinking Paul was still an enemy and had not changed. I am thankful Barnabas was willing to stand in the gap and open up the way for Paul to enter into fellowship. That introduction made by Barnabas is still having a profound effect on the Church.  

"When he came to Jerusalem, he tried to join the disciples, but they were all afraid of him, not believing that he really was a disciple. But Barnabas took him and brought him to the apostles. He told them how Saul on his journey had seen the Lord and that the Lord had spoken to him, and how in Damascus he had preached fearlessly in the name of Jesus" (Acts9:26-27).

Monday, November 4, 2019

What Happened When I Stopped Reading The Bible

For 18 months, I did not read the Bible. I listened to it on a Bible audio app. I wanted to experience the Word like someone sitting in a home meeting 2,000 years ago when a letter from Paul was read to the small group gathered. Not everyone present in those meetings was literate. No one had Bibles. I wanted to hear the Word without input from commentaries, word studies, and people's opinions on how to interpret what I was hearing. It was a challenge to hear through the deafness created by my own history and biases.  I wanted to receive a raw and pure transmission of truth. 

At first, I struggled not holding and reading the familiar leather-bound Bible I had grown so familiar with over the years. After a few days, something changed. I awoke each morning and discovered a hunger to hear Scripture with new ears. In some ways, it was like I was hearing the truth for the first time.  

I remember the day the Lord told me the season of just listening to the Word was finished. I left those 18 months knowing something had shifted in my heart, yet, to be honest, I could not tell you what it was. I have returned to reading Scripture, but now I read it aloud. There is something about the sound of God’s Word entering the environment of our home that is creating a fresh visitation of God's Spirit. 

The Lord is asking many of us to entertain different ways to experience our faith for the new season that is unfolding. This is not just about how we receive the Word. It is about all the things we have assumed. Something new is afoot. A reset is taking place. All our assumptions are up for examination. None of what is taking place will compromise the core of truth, but it will make the parts of our lives that have been enslaved by a religious spirit nervous and uneasy, and that is a good thing.

God is Writing the Story of Your Life

When I write a book or an article, it is rarely done in a linear fashion. I am not a traditional author who works from an outline. Donald Miller, the author of Blue Like Jazz, once said of his writing style, “If you want to see where my next book will come from, read my blog.” I am not a novelist who develops character profiles and plotlines. I write like a prophet who is creating a dish of revelation from a variety of ingredients with a dash of apostolic insight tossed in here and there to provide structure to my writing.

The way I write can resemble how we live our lives. Not much of life is lived in a straight line forming a predictable route of travel. Our journey is filled with detours, collisions, and misdirection.  Our lives are a collection of what can appear to be isolated events. These events feel separate and disconnected until God steps in and threads His needle with the scarlet thread of His loving interaction in our life and pulls together each isolated event to create the timeline of our unique story. 

If you are feeling a bit fragmented, I want to encourage you that each stand-alone and seemingly disconnected experience of your life will someday be brought together to reveal a script you could not have imagined nor written. God is the only one capable of writing an accurate account of your life.

Perhaps I am sharing all of this with you because it was just this morning that a writing project finally began to fall into place as God tugged on the scarlet thread, and all the pieces seemed to come together. If we give God the time and space required to knit together the narrative of our story, we will live without the frustration and angst that comes when we try to write our story without the help of His merciful editorial wisdom. Only God can bring together the fragmented seasons of our life and create a bestseller.

Sunday, November 3, 2019

The Woke Church

After spending 46 years sharing the same bed with Jan, we have learned how to discern the difference between our sleeping sounds and when one of us is beginning to wake up. Early this morning, I quietly called out to Jan, “Are you awake?” She replied, “Well, it sure sounds like you are.” Such is life when the clocks get changed.

In the natural cycles of sleep and becoming awakened, we all make unique sounds. The same is true in matters of the Spirit. The sounds we make with our life will let those around us know our status of awareness. In our culture, the term “woke” is being used with more frequency. The definition of the word can be broad. Simply, it refers to someone who is socially awake to issues of justice, discrimination, and human need. Being a woke person is not a bad idea if we are being awakened to issues that are on God's heart. Many times the term is used to define people who are not aligned politically with a particular worldview. At that level of understanding, little traction is gained, only further division.

There is a spiritual awakening taking place in our culture. The awakening has the potential to be a woke moment for the Church.  Believers who choose to live isolated, nervous, and fearful of a changing culture will retreat into irrelevance. Those not under the umbrella of a traditional definition of faith will toss “woke” bombs at the Church, seeing their irrelevance as a lack of social engagement. This divide is growing wider each day.

The awakening taking place within the Church looks a lot like the ministry of Jesus. He gathered 12 people who were not filled with the Spirit and not yet believers in a traditional sense of the word and called them to be His first disciples. Disciple is a word that defines a person as a learner. Jesus gave His disciples authority to cast out demons, raise the dead, and perform miracles. All of this took place before they would fit neatly into our 21st-century evangelical definition of what it means to be Christian and signing them off on each point of our preferred doctrinal statement. Jesus did the same thing with the 70, and with anyone willing to learn the ways of Heaven. The early disciples belonged before they believed. They belonged because they were invited by Jesus to follow Him. 

You will see evidence of this awakening when spiritually woke believers begin inviting people from outside the familiarity of their community of faith to follow them in the Kingdom's mandate to make disciples of all nations. These woke believers will see people from every walk of life as a potential learner who just needs someone to give them a chance to taste and see the goodness of God. Believers who are willing to do this and risk the condemnation and wrath it will bring are the woke ones God will use to advance His Kingdom. They are the people making the noise of someone being awakened from religious slumber.

Saturday, November 2, 2019

Becoming a Trustworthy Prophetic Voice

If you are a prophet who loves and cherishes the Lord's Church, you will see and announce things long before those who hold positions of power and influence can see the need for what you declared. A test of the condition of your heart may come, days, months, even years after you prophesied something and it finally comes to pass. The test will be passed when you no longer have a desire to issue an "I told you so," or claim original authorship when a prophetic utterance comes to fruition. That will be something that will distinguish you as a trustworthy voice.

The Clean-Up and Set-Up

In a dream, I saw a large conference center. It was just used to host a gathering of hundreds of people. When the event was finally over, and all the attendees had departed, a stillness settled over the facility. Looking around the room, I could see it needed straightening up, the trashcans emptied, and the floor vacuumed. The structure was architecturally sound, and its design appealing and inviting. Nothing had changed in those areas. It merely looked used and in need of refreshment. Before the next group arrives, the facility will need a thorough clean up from the past and a fresh set up for the future.

I know the dream had to do in part with the busy season Jan and I experienced in the last couple of years. It has a broader application for some of you who have been running hard. Like us, I invite you to not let the busyness you experienced in the past or the emotional debris that still clutters your thoughts to get in the way of the new events that are approaching your life. God wants to use this time to prepare you to be ready to receive the next gathering He is bringing your way. 

At the end of the image, I saw a lone janitor quietly working through the empty meeting room. He was enjoying the quiet space and the alone time as he picked up trash, straightened chairs, and swept the floor. He was singing a song as he worked, its melody echoing throughout the emptiness. His song was a prayer. 

The last season was filled with the execution of essential plans and activities that will produce significant fruit. This time of quiet work and reflection has equal significance. In this interlude of clean up and set up, God will whisper to you what He has planned for the next season.  He enjoys this alone time with you as much as He enjoys the events themselves.  

Friday, November 1, 2019

God is Increasing Your Spiritual Range of Motion

You feel like you are being stretched to the breaking point. That is not what’s taking place, nor is it the purpose of what you are experiencing. 

God is not causing your pain. That is your response to the rigidity and inflexibility He wants to remove. He is using what is taking place to loosen you up in preparation for a future that will require you to move in new directions. This current season of stretching is designed to increase your spiritual range of motion. 

This new range of motion will allow you to view life with fresh insight enabling you to see from Heaven's perspective. These stretching moments will be repeated again and again in your future as you grow and mature. In the future, they will not appear as daunting as what is taking place at this moment. Your fear will give way to expectation. 

When future challenges arrive, you will be able to reach farther and adapt more easily to the twists and turns they present without breaking and succumbing to fear when they begin to exert their initial pressure and resistance. God is making you ready to fully engage what He has planned for you to encounter in the future. Let Him have His way and you will arrive ready to engage the goodness He has prepared.

Thursday, October 31, 2019

Defeating a Dark Agenda

In prayer, I just saw a demon spirit called Dark Agenda running through an open door into the heart of our nation. As the demon ran forward he was focusing his attention on the beating heart of America. 

As he ran forward, he stumbled and then stumbled again and again. He was stumbling over all the prayers offered throughout our history destined for this moment in time. One after another, each prayer became a stumbling obstacle to the completion of the demon's mission. Finally, he stumbled one last time and fell flat on his face exhausted in defeat. Then I saw the Spirit of Truth approach the prostrate demon and cut off his head with one swift cut of His sword. 

Do not become weary in prayer. What you have released by faith in prayer is bringing down a dark spirit that assumed his way forward was secure. God is about to surprise the cynics and enliven the faith of His people. A moment of divine intervention has come.

Our Provision - Our Provider

For the last 46 years of marriage, I have wanted to provide a life for Jan that would give her security and comfort. That meant going to work when I didn’t feel like it. Getting enough life insurance just in case I passed away before the kids were raised and our home was paid off.  It also meant saving for retirement and doing all the other things required of a faithful husband and father. It gave me great comfort to know Jan would have enough financial security to live comfortably in case I was no longer present. These are the things we expect a man to do who loves his wife and family. It’s part of leaving behind boyhood and engaging the responsibilities of manhood.

Every man should try to do these things to the best of their ability, but there is something more important that I discovered along the way as I tried to fulfill my commitments. I discovered it was God in His great faithfulness that carried us through the last 46 years when life did not work out as we had planned. Yes, I worked and continued to provide for my family, but it was God who carried us through the tough years when we didn’t have enough to live on, save or invest. It was God who was there when our best-laid plans failed miserably and left with us with little to show for our efforts. It was God who gave us hope when things seemed hopeless and beyond repair. 

In those painful moments, we discovered God had always been at work behind the scene of our failures, revealing a new way forward when all we saw was a brick wall of impossibility. When I failed and discovered the depths of my immaturity and ignorance, God in His mercy always came through, never allowing my limitations to restrict His expressions of love.

We should all try to be faithful in the life-roles we have, but it is God's faithfulness that carries us from the start of our journey until the end and in His great love, delivers us into places we never thought possible when we first started out. Do your best with what you have and then choose to trust God with the rest. Jan and I have learned from years of personal experience that God's never-ending faithfulness was always present and walking with us through each season of our journey. That understanding makes for the best kind of life and it is the only place where true security and comfort are experienced.

Wednesday, October 30, 2019

A Greater Purpose

Nine times in the first six chapters of Ecclesiastes, Solomon uses the phrase “chasing after the wind.” He implies that to chase after even the good things in life without a greater purpose on the horizon of our efforts will enslave us to spend our lives chasing only after the purposeless winds of life. That ill-fated chase takes place because we were pursuing things and experiences that have no lasting meaning and were not aligned with a greater purpose.  It would be wise to discover that higher purpose as soon as possible in this life so that at the end of our days, we will leave behind a testimony of meaning and substance that happened because somewhere along the way we changed the course and direction of our life-experiences to align with God's greater purpose for our existence.

Tuesday, October 29, 2019

A Divine Reversal

This morning, I was sharing with Jan a dream I had during the night. The dream had content similar to what awakened Jan to pray earlier in the morning. As we talked and compared what God was saying, we sensed a reversal was taking place. This is not a negative reversal rather it is a reversal directed by the Lord. He is asking some of us to go back and review the events and relational interactions of the last season to see if anything of importance was missed.

The past is never “just the past” in the spiritual realm.  We can carry unresolved or neglected issues of character and honor with us like excess negative baggage into the future. God is taking some of us back into our past to deal with these issues so He can move us forward. This freedom of an unencumbered forward motion will take place once we are free of the things hell had planned to use somewhere in our future to divide and misalign our most significant relationships. 

Just days before the dream, I was reviewing my book God-Whispers. It is a collection of life proverbs. I stopped on the page you see in the attached photo and read about demons shuddering over acts of reconciliation between people. Today demons will shudder because they will see you returning to the history of broken relationships to undo those things you missed or chose to ignore the first time around. Hell's plan to use these issues against you and those you love will be thwarted in this reversal. The emissaries of darkness are beginning to shudder at the thought of your obedience. 



Monday, October 28, 2019

Choosing to Recognize Dark Realities

Using words like witchcraft, demon possession, and spiritual warfare will cause some people to roll their intellectual eyes like they are talking to a mentally deficient hayseed. I’m glad the first followers of Jesus didn’t feel this way or leave those encounters out of the biblical text. They are real, no matter how they make us feel or how we choose to dismiss their reality. Perhaps one of hell’s most effective tactics is to have us dismiss these issues, maybe not in our theology placed somewhere on a distant bookshelf, but in how we choose to see and engage these battles in everyday life.

Just yesterday, I was reminded on a personal level about the reality of spiritual warfare. This morning I felt the freedom of God’s Spirit as a result of Spirit-directed prayer and communion with Jan last night. A subtle work of hell no longer has influence in an area of my thinking. I can feel the freedom. Yes, you can feel freedom.

If you are moving forward into relational or cultural strongholds held and protected by the enemy but destined to become part of God’s Kingdom, you will meet head-on the full force of hell. These are battles over spiritual territory, and they are not relinquished without a fight. For a person to have lived a life never contending over personal spiritual territory means some areas of that life are held in tolerable captivity, the kind of captivity a person learns to live with, in either ignorance or dismissal. 

In the pursuit of a hipster, need-to-be-cool-at-all-costs kind of faith, we can end up not entertaining the possibility of an encounter with dark strongholds because they are considered outside the realm of natural thinking. These unchallenged spiritual realities will continue to influence our lives and the world in significant ways until their right to stand in our way is challenged. Unchallenged, they will ride across generations of families and cultures on the back of a powerless expression of faith. It is too easy to dismiss these dark realities and just move on, thinking everything will eventually work out. That thinking itself is evidence that hell has been at work. As a result of faith without engagement, we can end up walking around the very encounters that would have resulted in our personal freedom and the freedom of our families, friends, and the institutions of culture.




Sunday, October 27, 2019

The Accelerated Dismantling of Our Faith

Perhaps one reason for much of the angst and concern in certain quarters of culture and within the Western Church has to do with a dismantling that is taking place. God is dismantling ways of thinking, theologies, and worldviews we have accumulated in the last few generations that do not reflect God’s heart or His mission on Earth.

When Gutenberg invented the printing press, Scripture no longer remained in the hands of a few clerics who told the people what to believe. When the Word of God was released to the masses in written form, it brought about the Reformation. In scope, impact, and immediacy, the Internet far exceeds the potential of Gutenberg’s printing press. We are living in a moment of history where an accelerated dismantling of our assumptions is taking place – assumptions we have carried defining them as truth. Much of this dismantling is taking place because new insight, information, and historical context are now available at the click of a keyboard. 

As the known and familiar is being taken apart, don’t allow fear or anger to direct your response to the discomfort of the process. The things being dismantled are not sacred in God’s eyes. We have made them sacred in our tradition. Our misconceptions are being dismantled and reconstructed into a way of faith that many of us have never known in our lifetime.  If we are willing to follow the leading of God’s Spirit and not allow the spirit of fear and control to have its way, we will see God do remarkable things in us and through us once we have been dismantled and put back together again. 

Saturday, October 26, 2019

Unexpected Heroes

Unexpected heroes, emerging.
Those given up on
by the masses, proven
in moments reserved
for others, the presumed.
Unexpected heroes stepping
into destinies not imagined. 
This is the work of God.

A Copy and Paste Vision

God will ask some of you to cut and paste a portion of an old vision into the new thing God is doing in your life. You will need to bring some things forward in order to move forward. Other things that had a purpose in a single season of your life will remain in the past.

I’ve completed the research for two new books. It’s one of those moments in my life when I am asking God which one I should move forward with, or should I actually shelve both ideas all together and call it good. I’m not interested in writing another book, only if directed to do so by God.

I am working within a formatting template graciously supplied to me by my editor-daughter, Anna. At this stage in these projects, I am cutting and pasting unedited content into the template to get a feel for how each book would look and flow as I structure the primary substance and format.

Your life and the unfolding vision God is revealing to you is like the process of writing a new book. As you consider moving forward into the new thing God is revealing, it is not wise to prematurely hit the delete button on your past before you inquire of the Lord about your future. 

Some of the items in your history were not given to you to carry for only a single season. They are part of your spiritual and visionary core. They should migrate with you into the future. Vision is accumulated and crafted over a lifetime. It's not a static one-time event created in an afternoon workshop on life-planning. With each new season, you will need to discern what is to remain with you as you move forward and what you should leave behind. The Lord will be faithful to show you which critical core issues you will need to cut and paste into the developing template of your future. 

Friday, October 25, 2019

The Plan for Your Future

Jan and I just finished a 20-year assignment. God revealed that assignment to me one morning in Athens, Greece, in 1998. He awakened me early and invited me into the kitchen of a condo we were renting.  I sat down with my cup of espresso and literally took dictation from God.  That plan was birthed in 1999 precisely nine months after its conception. In the last 20 years, the plan God revealed has worked out with uncanny accuracy, accurate to the very day in its detail.

We now are on the threshold of our next 20 years. Jan and I have been listening intently to the Lord. This time it feels different. A measured and marked vision for the last 20 years made sense, considering how God positioned our lives during that time.  The coming decades do not have the same feel. There is a profound simplicity with this new assignment. That simplicity will enable Jan and me, and I believe some of you reading these words, to remain mobile and immediate to the voice of God’s Spirit for purposes you might not have considered.

Futurist David Houle said we have entered the Shift Age. In the 20 years from 2017 to 2037, Houle predicts more change will take place in those 20 years than in any 50 year period in human history. This is a Habakkuk moment of unimagined newness where our vision must be so simple and immediately executable that it allows the carrier to run without any encumbering issues, including a mission statement or vision that is labor-intensive and hindering in its design and execution. 

This is how the Early Church rolled. They awoke each day, not having a plan. They only had the moment. They also had a commission – a Great Commission that required freedom of movement to reach the uttermost parts of Earth with the Gospel. That mobile and unstructured commission would not sit well with many life-planning seminars we attend today that invites us to create our own future. 

If you are feeling unsettled and a bit anxious as you consider your future, those emotions could actually be your initial response to something the Spirit is doing in your life. Once you realize it’s God at work and your emotions are responding to an unfamiliar call, the unsettled feeling and anxiety will be replaced with a peaceful trust and expectancy.  Those two components – trust and expectancy - will become your mission statement as you arise each morning and move forward in a rapidly changing and shifting world.

Thursday, October 24, 2019

This is a Time of Reset

The Lord gives me a word to carry for each season. It is a personal word but also a word I share in each setting where I am invited to speak. I minister the essence of the word with specific additions of content that would apply to a particular audience. The word I am carrying in this season is “reset.” God is resetting the course of individual lives, businesses, ministries, and governments. Without a reset, we will enter the next season guided by assumption, not revelation.

This reset is actually part of an equation that will allow us to receive the fresh revelation required to enter and navigate through a new and unfamiliar future. Here is the equation: Reset + Refocus + Rest  = Revelation.

RESET: A reset moves us back to the original intent or meaning of something. This is not going back in history. It is actually resetting us to be able to move forward and create a new history. Some have drifted away from the original intent of God living in a static representation of Kingdom life. God is resetting our priorities to His original blueprint to get us moving forward directed by His original intent.

REFOCUS: Each new season requires a refocusing of our efforts. This refocus will create simplicity. It allows for a greater focus on those few things God has called each of us to accomplish. It will require that we say no to some things currently on our plate and yes to things we had not considered before the refocusing took place.

REST: Many have allowed the busyness of life and the demands of others to rob them of rest. Rest is where God does His most significant work in us. Those who have learned how to rest will be used by God to engage great exploits in His Kingdom. This rest is purposeful, calendared and sacred. It is larger than just taking a day off each week. It must become a lifestyle - a 24/7 way of thinking and living.

REVELATION: This is the product and goal of the equation. This is not a repetition of past revelations. It builds upon what has been revealed in the past and adds new insight not previously considered before the reset took place. These are breakthrough revelations that will show us the way forward through the obstacles we face in culture, in the Church, and in our most intimate personal relationships. Some good people will not experience these revelations because they are unwilling to enter the initial reset that might radically shift the focus and current direction of their life. 

Fear will be your greatest enemy as you move through the equation. Fear will create errors in our spiritual math if allowed to remain unchallenged. Fear has no place in your future or in any spiritual math you might calculate as you consider the next season.  God will be faithful to walk you through this equation if you ask Him for help, obey His instructions, and trust Him in the journey.



Wednesday, October 23, 2019

The Gift of Women

When Jan and I first came to Medford, Oregon 20 years ago, to pastor what would become Living Waters Church, we were met by a strange phenomenon. Our valley was a stronghold for male-dominated church leadership. A woman behind a pulpit preaching was anathema to many who lived under the dominion of a patriarchal leadership structure. 

About 15 years ago, I taught from Scripture the examples of women preachers, teachers, and prophets and how valuable their contribution has been to the unfolding mission of the Church on Earth. I also taught the contextual reality of what some have misinterpreted as a prohibition against women exercising a teaching gift. A simple study of the historical context sheds much-needed light on this misunderstood topic. A woman who had previously been part of a fellowship in our valley that did not believe women should be teachers came up to me after the Sunday service when I finished preaching about the gift of women. With tears in her eyes, she said, “I finally feel good about being a woman.” I was shocked and angry.

About the same time, a young couple visited our church on a Wednesday night. After service, they introduced themselves to Jan and me. They carried big leather-bound Bibles and appeared to be devout note-takers. After about 5 minutes of conversation, I realized they were from a local church that did not allow women to teach men. They asked about our "position" on the topic. I turned and looked at Jan, and from the expression on her face, I knew she was the one to address the issue.

Jan asked, “Did the church you came from have missionaries?” “Yes,” was their answer. “Were any of those missionaries women?” Again, “Yes.” Jan pressed it farther, “Did they teach the men in the cities and tribal areas where you sent them?” At this point, I could see the dismantling of thought was taking place. A concerned look crossed over the face of the couple, and one more time, they answered in the affirmative.

Finally, Jan said, “So, you are willing to let a woman go to another country as a missionary to teach both men and women, but you restrict that same gift once she returns to the United States?” The false teaching this young couple had been indoctrinated with was so deep they could not fully process the reality and cultural discrimination of its error. They left and never returned. And neither did a pastor from the same school of thought who visited my office one day when the topic of women in leadership arose. He stood up and marched out of my office, declaring, “Allowing a woman to teach a man is akin to denying Christ.” When my office door was slammed shut in my face, I felt deep grief for the pastor.

Imprisoning women in the shackles of limitation not only affects the women under its cruel dominion, but it also cripples the men who propagate the message. These men will walk through life spiritually stumbling in this area because they only see a limited view of God's Kingdom through a narrow lens of spiritual discrimination that was never present in the Early Church, and most importantly, in the heart of Jesus Christ. 

Tuesday, October 22, 2019

The Enough Line

Jan and I are at a place and time in our lives where we don’t need anything more. Twenty years ago, as two missionaries returning from Europe to pastor a church in Medford, Oregon, we stepped off the airplane with most of our earthly possessions in our luggage. We had stored a few boxes of books and Christmas decorations and a single chair in my mom’s attic in Montana, but that was it. Today, in a remarkable witness of God’s provision and faithfulness, we can honestly say we need nothing. God has provided everything. We have enough.

Yesterday, I was reading in Proverbs when I came across this verse, “Don’t wear yourself out trying to get rich. Be wise enough to know when to quit.”
(Proverbs 23:4). As soon as I finished reading those words, the Lord said, “It is important to know the meaning of enough.” 

Everyone needs to know what “enough” means for them personally and for their place of assignment in God’s Kingdom. I know believers on both ends of the financial scale – from those who have little to millionaires. God has helped them define what is enough for them based on what He has asked them to do in their unique place of Kingdom assignment. In each case, these individuals have drawn a line to define enough. Everything above the enough line has been dedicated to a purpose – to expand God’s Kingdom.

Until we draw the enough line, we will waste our precious time and energy chasing after an untethered standard of living determined by a consumer culture, not by God. In the end, if the line was never drawn, someday we will look back and see that we had worn ourselves out, pursuing vain and worthless things at the expense of something greater and more worthy. 

Monday, October 21, 2019

The Honor of Maturity

At some point in any relationship, a lack of discipline will be interpreted as dishonor. Living with a long list of failed promises and inadequate provision begins to wear thin. To be timely, appropriate, and sensitive to what is expected of us is called maturity. Mature people do not burden those within their sphere of influence with the negative consequences of undisciplined spiritual, financial, and moral choices. Discipline is not slavish. It actually produces freedom. Mature ones no longer hide under excuses provided by the nuances of a particular personality type, upbringing, or life challenges. They simply do the right thing at the right time.

Sunday, October 20, 2019

Precision Fire

God is calling forth precision prayer warriors who will move past generic prayers to very specific forms of prayer that God will use to turn the course of significant spiritual battles. Many of these individuals will be so removed from the actual conflict they will not be detected or even considered to have been part of the battle. There is no such thing as distance in prayer because prayer flows from the realm of the Spirit through a believer and then enters our world by faith to engage a particular target. 

The General Accounting Office (GAO) reports that each year, soldiers in combat are firing 1.8 billion rounds of small arms ammunition – that is a billion with a “b.” One statistic indicates that 250,000 rounds have been fired for each combatant killed in Iraq and Afghanistan. There is a difference between soldiers involved in a hot and mobile firefight and a sniper pressing the trigger once from an extreme distance. Both have their place. They are simply a different application. We have expended a great deal of prayer that has been generic. God is calling forth a special kind of prayer that will strike the enemy with a new level of precision on a global scale.

This precision prayer will come by specific and time-sensitive revelation from the Spirit to be released with the precision and calculation of a military sniper. Dark agendas that are active and confidently at work in secret will be fired upon by intercessors from great physical distances. These individuals have learned how to acquire a strategic target while being led by the Spirit as a prophet would hear a word from God.

Those who pray with this level of precision will not give away their location through pride and self-advertisement after the object of their prayer has been taken out by a well-placed shot of prayer. They will simply slip away and reposition themselves for the next engagement as led by the Spirit.


Saturday, October 19, 2019

The Faucet of Rage

A faucet of rage has appeared and is within reach. As tensions rise and the cultural dialogue heats up, you have found yourself wanting to reach out and open the faucet to let your unbridled emotions and opinions join the current of rage that is flooding our culture. Resist the urge to open that faucet. Once open, it is hard to close. Wait for the Spirit to direct your response to every invitation. The Spirit does not speak through the outflow of that faucet, no matter how convincing the invitation to rage might appear.

“The mature children of God are those who are moved by the impulses of the Holy Spirit” (Romans 8:14 TPT).


Friday, October 18, 2019

Raking in a New Season

Yesterday, I was raking up mounds of colorful leaves that covered our back yard. While raking the leaves, the Lord said, “You are raking up the shade of summer.” I knew what He meant. I was raking into piles the very things that provided us with the cool shade we so appreciated during the hot summer months. Some of you are currently raking up a good thing from a previous season. What has fallen was not intended to accompany you on the next leg of your journey. It has served its purpose. Like the limbs on our trees, an area of your life seems bare as you look out upon your personal landscape. That bareness serves a new purpose. It allows light to enter your world to help you see things once hidden in the summertime shade of your recent history. This is all part of a healthy life cycle in the Spirit. It’s not a final destination. It is part of a larger process. Rake it up and move on.

Thursday, October 17, 2019

You are Srtonger than You Realize

If you have learned how to survive in a broken place for an extended season of time, you are stronger than you realize. Your life is living evidence that your faith is working and you are strong even though you might feel weak. In situations of civil unrest, natural disaster, or when someone lives in a nation where poverty and lack abound, those who have learned how to make life work in a difficult place are the strongest. They are the ones most likely to survive until conditions improve. If someone is thrust into a challenging situation from the “right” side of the cultural tracks and has never learned how to live outside the cocoon of abundance and ease, they are typically the first ones to succumb to adversity. In your struggle, you have developed hope and resilience that only comes to those who have learned how to trust God in a place of difficulty. 

Breaking Camp

Jan reminded me of something we don’t often consider when we enter a time of change and transition. Using the Israelites as an example, they had to break camp before they could move. Transition is not always immediate. It is a process that involves breaking camp with our current way of thinking and allowing God to reset a new course for our life. A reset helps us leave behind the old encampment and begin moving in a different direction. If you are feeling a bit unsettled, it may be God getting you ready for something new.




Tuesday, October 15, 2019

The Language of Revival

Wallace Henley, a revival historian, shared an interesting note about the Welsh Revival of 1904-5. Henley wrote, “The transformation was so profound and so personal that the mules pulling the coal out of Welsh mines had to be retrained. They only knew the foul curses by which the miners drove them. But the converted miners quit cursing, and even the animals had to learn a new language.”

God wants the evidence of His presence in our lives to break out of our meetings and move into the streets. We love to fill up what I call our three C’s – conferences, coliseums, and churches. While it is wonderful to see and experience a full venue, it will do little to steer the course of culture toward a flourishing future if these remain as standalone events. Our gatherings will cease being isolated events only when they are purposefully connected by vision and mission to the Great Commission of Matthew 28, calling us to disciple nations.

We will know our faith has broken out of the orbital pull of attending just another meeting when from the depths of a coal mine, or behind the closed doors of a backroom political deal, or around the table of a corporate board meeting, the sound of personal integrity is expressed with the language of a different Kingdom. The evidence of these transformations will be so profound those involved will have to learn a new way of speaking to conduct business because the old language no longer communicates the content of their heart. 

Monday, October 14, 2019

Turning the Cultural Tide

At some point, each of us may be called to resist the downward slide of society toward further manifestations of insanity by saying no and standing immovable in our convictions. This kind of courage has been the hallmark of freedom, both politically and spiritually, throughout history. A single act of courageous resistance can begin to turn the tide of culture toward a righteous outcome.

Our Sacred Trust

Just because a journey begins with excitement and hope that is not a guarantee that it will end as such. Only God remains unchangeable. Every human being and cultural institution is subject to decay if not living under the Lordship of Jesus Christ. Only God’s Kingdom remains secure because God is the one ruling. From time to time, we need to reposition our hope not in the outcome of the next election, an upturn in the stock market, or a season where we are experiencing some level of personal success. All of these things are fleeting and foolish places to place our sacred trust.

A Moment in Time from The Jesus Movement

A request was sent out over social media by Wheaton College requesting stories from anyone involved in the Jesus Movement. Wheaton is conducting a research project about that time in history. I copied a chapter from my book, The Prophetic Voice, and sent it to the researchers for their review. It is about the first encounter I had with someone speaking in tongues over me during a conference a Bethel Bible College in Scotts Valley, California. I believe the interpretation of that prayer has been used by God to bring me to this current season in my life.

**************************

DECLARING THE MYSTERIES OF HEAVEN

As a nineteen-year-old in the middle of the Jesus Movement, I was like so many other young people of that era: we were all searching for something.

The summer of 1969 was an unusual time in the culture of the United States. Everything was changing. God was reaching out and touching thousands of young men and women, and I was one of them.

I was living in the San Francisco Bay Area at the time. I couldn’t get enough of the Bible and fellowship. I attended Bible studies in coffee houses and church services at places like the Peninsula Bible Church. I sat with hundreds of other young people in standing room only crowds listening to Ray Stedman preach. One of these journeys took me to Bethany Bible College in Scotts Valley, California. Bethany was hosting a conference open to the public. A friend and I got into my VW bug and made the drive to Scotts Valley from my home in Los Gatos.

When we stepped into the auditorium, it was packed wall to wall. Young people with long hair and sandals stood around the perimeter of the main seating area. We found an available place to stand in the very back of the auditorium.
I grew up in a very conservative church. I had never experienced the Holy Spirit moving during worship in the ways I was seeing. It was strange and uncomfortable, but it was also right and good. Despite the strangeness, nothing was out of order. For the first time in my life, I felt the manifest presence of God being welcomed in a public gathering. I was drawn to this new and unfamiliar work of the Spirit.

The people conducting the service sat in rows of chairs on the platform. I don’t recall who they were, but they looked important to my nineteen-year-old self.

About halfway through worship, one of the men sitting on the platform raised his head and looked out past the platform lighting and across the audience. I watched him as he scanned the crowd. He stopped and looked in our direction. I thought nothing of it, thinking he could be looking at a hundred other people who were standing along the back wall.

I watched as the man stood from his chair and walked through the worship team and down onto the main floor. He began walking in my direction. It was still impossible to think he was walking toward me, but he continued in my direction until it became more and more obvious that he was. When he was about ten feet away, he locked eyes with mine as he closed the remaining steps between us.

The man looked to be in his late seventies. He was wearing a suit and tie and carried a blend of authority and gentleness. He came and stood directly in front of me. Then he did something that made me really uncomfortable. He put his arms on my shoulders and pulled me close. He began to speak into my ear in a language I had never heard before. I would later come to know this heavenly language of the Spirit in a very personal way. On that day, the foreign language the man spoke into my ear was as strange as the meeting that was taking place.

The man only spoke briefly. He then pulled away and looked into my eyes for another second, turned, and made his way back to the front. I knew something holy had just taken place, but I was not sure what it was. At the close of the meeting later that evening, I drove back to my parent’s home in Los Gatos, still pondering what had taken place.

I parked that experience in the back of my mind and forgot about it. Ten years later, Jesus would visit me in the middle of the night, supernaturally transforming my life forever. Within weeks of that visit, the Lord took me back to that time when I was nineteen and attending the conference at Bethany. The Lord said, “I am bringing the interpretation of the words the man spoke into your ear. Your life will be a living interpretation of what was spoken to you that day by my Spirit.”

These experiences are mysterious. We can forget we are interacting with the God of Heaven who spoke galaxies into existence by just a word. Much of what God does remains in the realm of mystery until we find ourselves living out a new reality we never imagined was possible.

When the elderly man made his way toward me, he did not have the full picture of what would take place in my life. He was simply responding to the Spirit. When he prayed by the unction of the Holy Spirit in his spiritual language, he did not know what he was saying. He did not give me the interpretation. Like the Apostle Paul said in I Corinthians 14:14: For if I pray in tongues, my spirit is praying, but I don’t understand what I am saying. Like Paul, the man who prayed into my ear only knew he was praying a message from the Holy Spirit.

You will need to become comfortable with the mysterious part of prophetic ministry. Much of prophecy is straightforward and simple to understand, but it will carry a dimension of mystery you want to leave alone and not try to explain. God is the only one who can accurately unpack the mysteries of Heaven.

Remain open to the nudges of the Spirit. Like the elderly gentleman, you will sometimes go to a person being highlighted—maybe someone you have never met before. Speak what the Spirit gives you and trust Him with the outcome. As you release the mysterious and wonderful words of the Spirit, they will help direct the course of someone in ways you could never have imagined. 

Sunday, October 13, 2019

Recalling History

My grandfather riding
home in a horse-drawn buggy
one sunny afternoon
when, as a young boy, 
saw a man swinging from
makeshift tree gallows 
in the fall of 1889.

My father, born at night
in a sod house in ‘08
on the Oklahoma plains
west of Guymon. 
Horse and buggy hitched up
outside, waiting, just in case
granddad needed to fetch a doctor
for my grandmother’s labor. 

Family on my mother’s side ran
into their house one night, in fear. 
A “machine" seen for the first time trundled 
down Chicken Row 
headlights flashing in the distance, approaching
the family farm outside
Quitman, East Texas.
That first generation of automobile, 
a spacecraft occupied by
alien lifeforms of modernity.

Each family carries similar
histories, revealed if explored, 
oral transmissions of life-legacies 
from another time.
Our own history now developing, 
familiar to us, will be viewed 
someday in a distant future recalling
days long past, distant vapors
of history and experience.

We are living our moments
to be recalled ahead of us,
stories heard by future hearers
as strange to them as 
a man swinging on a rope, 
sod houses and horse-drawn buggies, 
machines riding through 
an East Texas summer night,
headlights bouncing along a dirt road.

Available To God

Jesus loved people, but there were times when he needed to get away to process life alone with the Father. Some answers only come in times of separation. The deeper you get into this transition, the more you will need to make yourself available to God. 
When Moses went to the mountaintop, he was enveloped in the cloud of God’s presence. We are told the people heard him talking to God, and they were able to trust him because of that dialogue. People trust us more when they know we have been with God. 
Look again at your schedule. Make room for time away with God so he can make those subtle adjustments with you when he has your undivided attention. 
 (An excerpt from the book, A Good Place)

Saturday, October 12, 2019

Dusty Gravel Roads

You were moving forward untroubled and at peace on a long road of smooth pavement. All of a sudden, you entered a rough gravel stretch. It’s raw, noisy, and uncomfortable. Slow down and steady your grip on the wheel. Smooth pavement is returning in just a few more miles. Don’t let the gravel road experience throw you. It’s only a challenging section of road on your life journey. You are still moving forward. Soon, the cloud of dusty memories will be seen in your rearview mirror when you finally hit the smooth pavement once again.

The Gritty Side of Life

When I am in the mood for the gritty side of life – the side of life that is unvarnished, real and gutsy, I set my Pandora app to the music of Lucinda Williams, Willie Nelson, Kathy Mattea, and others who sing from the soul. These artists create songs about people living in the margins of life where pain and loss are real and in your face. This margin place is where Jesus did some of His best work with those rejected and marginalized by the religious establishment. 

Those trapped in a religious spirit cannot go there because they think they will be stained by something their religious detergent can’t scrub off. To sing or express how we really feel about a life-struggle is evidence for them that our faith is somehow in jeopardy. It doesn’t take much Bible reading to discover this sound expressed in David’s psalms or the life of Job and others.

Our spirituality is the healthiest when it looks freshly sanded and rough, not smooth, varnished, and all together. Somewhere in this gritty side of life, hope must be present, or our song will become just another hopeless dirge. Hope is expressed in its clearest form when heard in the deep and painful trough of life’s margins. It is there where our best music is played because our songs of hope have become the most distinct and beautiful when sung in a place of despair.

Friday, October 11, 2019

The Fire of God is Announcing a Change of Seasons

When the fire of God’s Spirit begins to burn to announce a new season, the first response by those not aware of how the Spirit works might be less than joyful. In fact, some may consider it distasteful and even unpleasant, but there is a reason for that response.

This morning, I turned on our gas stove for the first time. It is a stove that looks like a log burning stove except that it runs on gas. It happens each fall, a musty, kind of funky smell fills the room the first hour of burning after several months of inactivity. The smell comes because of dust that gets in the stove’s system over the summer and is burned off with the first fire of fall.

As believers, we can accumulate the dust of spiritual inactivity when we live for long seasons of time without a personal encounter with God’s Spirit. These encounters heat up our life, relationships, and the environment in which we live.  The accumulated dust of our inactivity can create an unpleasant disruption and reaction until the Spirit can fully have His way in those situations. 

Don’t run when the Spirit's fire begins to burn. Stay put until the Lord says otherwise. Choose to look beyond what is taking place in the natural realm. When the fire comes, it will burn away the inactivity of the previous season, preparing us for something new, warm, and inviting. This will be our announcement that a new season has arrived. Whoever runs from these encounters will end up out in the cold spiritually. Those who remain have learned the burning and our resulting reaction will always take place as an announcement that a new season in the Spirit has arrived. 


Thursday, October 10, 2019

The Dispersed Ones

Between the Day of Pentecost mentioned in Acts 2 and the persecution noted in Acts 8, a span of 3-4 years had transpired. During those years, the Church gathered around Solomon’s Collonade. It was a beautiful time of sharing resources, feeding the poor, and seeing signs, wonders, and miracles taking place. The Church was being added to daily. In all that goodness, there was a problem. The Church was not dispersing into the cultures beyond the familiarity of Jerusalem. The fulfillment of the Great Commission mentioned in Matthew 28 was in jeopardy of being stalled. That all changed when the persecution of Acts 8 happened, and a scattering took place.

Every new season in Church history will experience a moment of dispersal, either physical or theological. We can struggle with the idea of being scattered away from what is familiar, especially when we might be experiencing a good season like the gathering of the first generation of believers around Solomon’s Collonade. 

We are in a moment of dispersal within the Church. This dispersal can appear confusing to some who do not understand the Great Commission and the ever-expanding nature of God’s Kingdom on Earth. It is too easy for us to remain in a good place at the expense of the best. If you are being dispersed, do not fear what is taking place. God could be repositioning your physical life or challenging a point of your theology to increase your effectiveness in God’s Kingdom. If you allow God to have His way, He will show you the way.


Wednesday, October 9, 2019

The Embalming Fluid of the Spirit

I had a funny thing happen last night. Jan and I were asked to be part of a prayer team to pray over pastors at a conference in Bend, Oregon. Each of us on the prayer team was handed a small tin of anointing balm infused with frankincense and myrrh. The balm was a solid paste-like substance more convenient than oil that can be a bit messy when applying it to someone’s forehead. For any legalists reading this, the balm is actually an oil, just a solid version.

Jan and I had already prayed for several individuals when I said to the next person in line waiting to receive prayer, “I want to anoint you with this embalming fluid.” I had no idea what I said. The woman looked at me with a wry smile, and then I realized what I had said. We all broke out in laughter at my slip of the tongue. Then Jan said, “Where there is death, there is a resurrection.” 

That evening a lot of resurrection life was taking place during worship, from the conference speakers and in the prayer lines that wrapped around the front of the stage. There was a fourth Person with us when I tripped over my language. He was laughing with us. There are times when laughter is evidence that healing is taking place.