Saturday, July 20, 2019

Stepping Out of the Box

In a dream, I saw Jesus running across a stream. He looked like all of us who have run across a narrow mountain stream landing on each available stone with the ball of our foot. It’s a delicate dance of passage. 

In the dream, Jesus wasn’t landing on stones. His feet were landing inside the little boxes of religious opinion and narrow worldviews we create in an attempt to define who we think God is and how His Kingdom should be manifested through our bias.

The Lord did not look angry as He made the crossing. The look on His face was one of joy. He was moving to the other side of the stream not allowing any small box way of thinking to inhibit His forward progress.

When we create a box of opinion, worldview or alliance and demand that God fits into what we created, we have actually created an idol of sorts. The idol reflects an image of us, rarely of God. These are foolish and limiting creations. God is always moving forward beyond the most expansive edge of our current level of understanding. He steps in and over the little boxes we create where we live with other like-minded people who share that same limited understanding.  

God’s love and plan for humanity can never be restrained or held back by the boxes we create to contain and define our opinions and conclusions. We are the only ones held back from something better when we choose to live inside a small box of preferential thinking that restrains and contains the fullness of God and His Kingdom expansion. 


Friday, July 19, 2019

Setting Up a Defensible Perimeter for Spiritual Battle

In warfare, humans have always constructed their defenses at the outer limit of an enemy's range of effective fire. These defenses were set up in the mouth of caves, moats around castles, walls of a frontier fort and today, with firewalls around our technology. In the natural, this makes sense as an attempt to keep people alive during a conflict.

The weapons of spiritual warfare are different. Their effectiveness is not measured by natural distance or placed in this realm based on what can be seen.   Our spiritual weapons of defensive and offensive action must be positioned from an eternal perspective. Many succumb in a spiritual battle because they fight from within a natural mindset setting up defensive perimeters based only on human measurement. These conflicts create unnecessary casualties because they put us within range of hell's weaponry.

Ten years ago, I began to see images of thrones. After several months of continually seeing throne images, I began to inquire of the Lord what He was saying. He took me to Paul’s writing in Ephesians, where Paul detailed our position in Christ at the right hand of the Father. I came to realize our position in Christ is not some positional theory of placement we will occupy in the distant future. It is a "now" position because we were resurrected with Jesus. 

As a result of that season of seeing thrones and realizing the present-day significance of our position in Christ, my first book, Prayers from the Throne of God, was written.  That new perspective changed everything for me, especially how I pray and conduct spiritual warfare. 

When we fight a spiritual battle, we need to rise above the fight in two ways. First, we must rise above how we see the battlefield and the combatants. It is too tempting to only see people and cultural institutions that need changing and limit our engagement to that lower level. Yes, there are essential things we can do like becoming involved in our culture to bring about change or voting, but these battles are not won in that arena alone. These involvements are the by-products of having engaged a more significant conflict being waged in the spiritual realm.

Secondly, we need to understand the outcome of each earthy battle will be determined by the outcome of a heavenly conflict. This is why we do not set up our spiritual defensive lines or unleash an offensive campaign based solely on natural intelligence gathered through human intellect and thereby constructing our fortifications determined only by input from our emotions, our circumstance, or a religious spirit. We set up our defensive lines and determine their placement in the defined space between Heaven and Earth - the space Jesus ascended through during His resurrection. Some call this boundary line the separation between the first and second heavens and the actual Heaven, the third heaven, as described by Paul.

We sit at this very moment with Christ inside His defensible perimeter in Heaven, a perimeter that is based on His ultimate authority and sacrifice. Our spiritual battles are fought from behind the security of that perimeter. Within that perimeter, the weapons of hell cannot reach our encampment unless, by an act of fear and faithlessness, we step over the perimeter to engage the battle in our flesh. Only those who approach earthly conflict from a heavenly perspective will have the ability to remain safe and secure in the spiritual conflicts that play out on the personal and cultural battlefields of life.

Thursday, July 18, 2019

Dealing with Relational Death and Decay

This week we realized one of our beautiful maple trees had finally died. It has been a slow death. We tried to help the tree, but its disease was stronger than our desire for it to live. The maple stands 65 feet and is positioned at the front of our property. Last night, I sat on the stairs of our porch looking toward the tree and thought of how much I will miss it.  As much as I love the tree, it needs to be taken down. Our arborist confirmed that it was indeed dead and has now become a hazard. We have a date on the books for its removal.

Early this morning, I was sitting once again on the steps of the porch looking out at the dead tree now silhouetted against the early dawn light. It literally fills the horizon. I realized when the tree is removed I will be able to have an unrestricted panoramic view of the late afternoon sky when the light reflects off the clouds and highlights the distant ridgeline of pine trees. If left in place, the dead tree would continue to fill my field of vision with its dead limbs and crispy leaves obscuring a beautiful vista, one I have never been able to fully see and appreciate. 

We have prayed over the tree for the last two years, hoping this day would never come. We sought the advice of professionals, had its limbs and branches cared for by arborists, and now, we have to deal with the reality of the tree’s death. Without its removal, I would look out on a scene of death and decay. In the end, the dead tree will become a dangerous hazard to our home and lives when the winds begin to blow with the arrival of winter storms.

Some situations and relationships in our lives will eventually die, and in their death, they will obscure our vision. They will also become a hazard if not removed. That sounds harsh to some, but it is a sad reality of life. We all need to establish healthy and life-giving boundaries. There are times when we will have to make a decision to define that boundary with the blade of incisive clarity. 

These dead issues will someday become a hazard to our spiritual and emotional life and limb when the winds of change and challenge begin to blow.  Leaving them in a place of influence will create an unnecessary hazard to our lives and to the lives of those around us. Their removal is not a callous act without a process of love that offers redemption options while always trying to believe the best. But at some point, they will need to be lovingly removed from the landscape of our lives. When this happens, we will see something that was hidden by a scene of death and decay, something that would have remained hidden had we had not taken action.

Wednesday, July 17, 2019

The Cost of Doing the Business of Life

Yesterday, Jan was off to meet someone for a counseling appointment, so I headed to a local market to buy some groceries for dinner. In the checkout line, I began to place items on the conveyer belt. When I picked up a bottle of Kinder BBQ sauce, my hand slipped, and the bottle fell to the floor and exploded. If I could have reduced time and let the image play out in slow motion, you would have seen the BBQ sauce splash upward in a beautiful fan-like pattern all across the front of my clean shirt finally coming to rest in a blast zone of smoky goodness on the floor of the checkout aisle.

Like all events of this kind, I stopped and stared in unbelief at the mess I made that was now dripping its luscious BBQ sauce bliss from my previously clean shirt. The first words out of my mouth were, “I am so sorry. Please charge me for the bottle.” The man checking me out said, “No problem. That’s the cost of doing business.” He went on to thank me for offering to pay for the bottle.

When the man said, “That’s the cost of doing business,” I realized how true he was. Some disasters, large and small, are simply the cost of doing the business of life. Like you, I would love to live in a disaster-free zone, but that kind of life is an illusion. The recent arrival of our new puppy, Boone, has harkened me back to the days when our babies arrived and changed our lives into something called parenthood. Boone’s teething teeth and the accompanying puncture wounds up and down my arms are evidence that blood is the cost of experiencing puppy love until they are trained to use their mouths in less destructive ways.

If perfection and a BBQ sauce-free floor or a puppy without teeth is what we are looking for in life or even demanding from God, we will become disappointed and perpetually angry with people and eventually, with God. This world can be a mess at times. That is the cost of being human. 

If you caused a mess in someone's life, confess your part in the problem, offer to pay for the damages and then help clean up the mess. Don't just walk away and ignore what happened. If someone else causes the damage, represent God’s heart regarding their failure. Step in and help them clean up their mess. Jesus modeled this for us when He stepped into our world to pay the ultimate price to clean up the mess of our unredeemed lives. That’s the only way we can live free when human failure takes place. It’s the cost of doing the business of God’s Kingdom.

Tuesday, July 16, 2019

The Arrival of Your Good Deeds

As I read through the 14th chapter of Revelation, I came across verse 13. One part of that verse caught my attention. The text reads, “…for their good deeds follow them.” As I pondered what that phrase could mean for us today, I began to get a sense of what the Lord wanted to say to some of you reading these words.

You have had seasons in your life that were filled with trials and challenges, but you kept moving forward in faith. At times what took place was overwhelming. You felt alone even though in your heart you always knew the Lord was near. It has been a struggle trying to find meaning in all that has transpired.

The Lord wants you to know your good deeds have not disappeared. They have been following you and are about to arrive to manifest something you could not have imagined or even considered as a possibility. These good deeds that have been following you are the acts of obedience and love you did in the name of the Lord when it would have been easy for you to simply bail out on your life of faith. 

Your good deeds have been silently following you waiting for a moment in time when at the Lord’s command, their accumulated goodness would be poured out upon your life. You will be overwhelmed when you see what has been following you.

Monday, July 15, 2019

Crumbing Credibility

Years ago, when I wrote my first book, Prayers from the Throne of God, a man paid me a compliment. He said my book was better than a well-known classic on prayer. When he spoke those words,  I had two responses, both internal. One, I knew the man was not being honest because I was familiar with the classic he referenced and my book would never be a threat to that well-deserved classic status. Secondly, I knew in that season of his life, the man was trying to gain my friendship using false flattery as a tool. It worked for him in his broken past, but now he was in an environment where that was not a value or a virtue. 

The day the man spoke the shallow flattery, his credibility crumbled in my eyes. Not a throwaway kind of crumbling, but it was a reason to weigh his future words with a grain of salt. We continued to have a relationship, but the relationship needed to be more honest and truth-telling before it could be real. The man’s crumbled credibility was eventually rebuilt. It was rebuilt through God-honoring conversations that were a two-way street of honest interaction. 

Many times we try to build our credibility by the improper use of flattery and affirmation.  These ways of communication are the equivalent of an emotional selfie with people we deem to be important. Social media is full of cheesy photos that equate proximity with a relationship. It also happens when we type a comment we know is not fully true. In those instances, we are trying to connect with someone we value to somehow salve a sense of lack we might have regarding our own identity.

I have found the best thing to do in any relationship is to simply affirm the person, not an action or accomplishment. Yes, there are some actions and accomplishments that do deserve affirming, but the deeper affirmation is always apart from what a person does – it’s an affirmation of who they are as a human being valued by God. These affirmations can travel with a person through all the seasons of life – the failures and the successes – and allow them to emerge on the other side emotionally and spiritually intact. 



Sunday, July 14, 2019

A Spiritual Terrorist


Self-pity is a spiritual terrorist who wants to sneak aboard your life. This destructive attitude comes with a bomb strapped to its back. Detonate it in prayer—far away from innocent bystanders. 
The problem with self-pity is that it feels so good. Like a drug, it feeds a false reality and the accompanying illusions that justify its existence. 
Somewhere in this transition, you may feel slighted. You might even feel betrayed or ignored. In these times, your emotions will be intensified. You will need to walk with wisdom so that your response to people is directed by the Spirit, not by your emotions. 
None of what’s taking place is personal. It can feel personal, but most often, what is happening is simply a manifestation of your insecurity during a time of change. 
Your best course of action is to acknowledge self- pity, confess it, and let God heal you. This is best done in private or with a trusted prayer partner before you say something publicly that could wound people who have no idea of what you are struggling with. Deal with your heart. Then, if you do need to approach anyone who hurt you, you will go with a right heart attitude. A right heart attitude makes positive change possible. 
 (An excerpt from the book, A Good Place)

Saturday, July 13, 2019

A Pinball Way of Living

If we are not careful, we can become like the ball in a pinball machine bouncing back and forth between the latest political controversy, moral offense or today’s news broadcast of someone’s wrongdoing. It is like dope. It keeps us spiritually stoned and out of touch with a truer reality. There is a purpose in offering us this pinball form of life. It keeps us distracted from what is really taking place. It also keeps us responding to life at the level of the soul, not the depths of the Spirit. That has always been hell’s plan from that day in Eden when we tasted the foolish fruit of human wisdom and responded emotionally to a deception.

Installing the Door to Your Future

I saw the image of a person walking into a large warehouse filled with construction material. It was Heaven’s warehouse of possibilities. On the floor were stacked pile after pile of doors. The impression I had was the doors were waiting for installation. Dust covered them because they had been there for a long time without anyone present to install them into a doorframe. 

As I came away from that image, I received both an instruction and a correction. Many of us have waited for a door to open before us to reveal a new future or the way into a Kingdom project. While this seems honorable, it has kept some believers from acting in the faith required to actually hang the door and walk through its portal.  God provides the doorways, but it is our faith that installs the door into the doorframe. The doors I saw stacked on the floor of the heavenly warehouse were already provided. They were waiting for someone to take action and install them in the doorframe of God's promise and invitation.

Review your history. Find the promises and invitations God gave you in the past but now lie dormant gathering dust. A doorway was given to you, but God intended for you to work with Him to install the door in the doorframe of His revelation. 

Go back to the doors of your past and ask the Lord if they are still to be hung and opened in this season. If so, pick up the door and, in faith, begin the installation process. If a door is no longer to be opened, another door will appear. When it arrives, pick it up and allow God to show you the place and the timing for its installation. Install door in the new doorframe and walk through it. That passage will reveal the purpose and plan for the next season of your life.

Friday, July 12, 2019

No Longer Ichabod

I just heard the Lord speak the following sentence, “The Ichabod delusion is being displaced by an Issachar anointing.” The Spirit of God is entering segments within the Church where His presence has been muted and ignored, and as a result, the glory departed. An awakening is afoot. The individuals and groups you may have defined as “Ichabod” will become awakened to the Spirit's presence. These awakened ones will join the ranks of an Issachar generation who understand the times and how to engage the work of God’s Spirit. In partnership, they will righteously transform the kingdoms of this world into the Kingdom of our God. Let go of your limiting definitions. They no longer apply. Something new and unexpected is about to arrive.

Choosing Hope

Only a posture of hope birthed from faith can redefine what has been declared impossible. Choosing hope is a critical step in the process of renewing our minds. The determined choice of hope when all appears hopeless is one of our greatest acts of faith and often the most neglected.

Look for hope in every aspect of your life. It is the only way forward in the challenging seasons of life. The eyes of faith will help you see through the fog of fear that has blinded your spiritual sight. Hope will lead you to the miracles, signs, and wonders of supernatural transformation God has planned for you, your family, and our nation.

Thursday, July 11, 2019

A Reconciled Life

Getting even is never an increase. It keeps the participants living at a lower level of mutual dysfunction. Choosing to forgive your adversary will release you from the control of the offense. Continuing to bless your enemy after you make the initial choice to forgive them will move you forward into realms of Spirit-empowered considered impossible by those who continue to live an unreconciled life.

Wednesday, July 10, 2019

Finding Your Reset

Last night, I read an article in our small-town newspaper. The author was writing about the woodland trails that surround our city. He mentioned hiking and pointed out the benches provided along the trails as places for hikers to stop and rest. Then he mentioned something that caught my attention. He said when we hike along trails, the forest inhabitants will grow silent, not knowing if we are a threat. They will wait until we pass. If we stop and sit for a while, the creatures will realize we are not a threat and will return to their normal activities. The author said the forest resets when we stop and rest.

I thought of our lives and how important it is to find a place of rest so the life around us can reset. These resets take place on emotional and spiritual benches we find along the path of our day if we choose to see them. Many times, we walk past these benches never stopping long enough for the situation that surrounds us to reset.  As a result, we are not able to hear the sounds that can make a real difference in our lives and in the world around us.

I recently met a very wealthy man. He is one of the more affluent men in his nation. He owns many corporations. People ask him to speak at conferences around the globe at the highest levels of corporate and government entities. All his resources are focused on helping nations flourish and prosper. His speaking schedule is booked out a year in advance, but each week, for one day he goes into the backcountry near his home to listen to God. He purposefully puts aside his busy life and the demands people place upon him to rest and reflect. He experiences a reset each week. In the reset, he hears things from the Lord that are literally changing entire cultures.

Today, ask the Lord to show you where your resting bench is waiting. Go there and sit for a while. In a few minutes, you will sense your surroundings begin to reset. Clarity will come that is only available in a place of purposeful rest where forward motion is stopped. You will hear things from God not discerned by those who rush past these benches always in motion, wondering why they are not hearing the deeper things of God.

Tuesday, July 9, 2019

Spiritual Elevators

Recently, I watched a video about a new elevator system. Traditional elevators move people up and down between floors. This new elevator adds another function. It can also move passengers side to side, laterally between floors. This up and down, side to side movement cuts down the wait time for passengers because the elevator’s computer can assess the demand between floors during peak use time.

For the last few months, the Lord has been speaking to me about becoming spiritually agile, able to move laterally. People of faith can become trapped in ways of thinking that are up and down – always linear - without considering that a lateral move might be what God desires. 

There are times when we need to move sideways to align our life with a new direction before we move forward in a straight line. I think the elevator designers were somewhat prophetic. Linear movement and straight ahead thinking can make sense to a mind trapped in tradition or logic. Jesus was a master at lateral movement. When people expected Him to move in one direction, He moved in a way not previously considered.

Listen carefully to the Spirit. He may ask you to take an elevator of faith that at first seems like it is moving in the opposite direction from the expectations of your tradition or the mindset of a particular group. Trust His leading. If you are willing to do this, you will find yourself arriving at new and unimagined destinations of Kingdom enterprise before the waiting crowd who took the elevator of assumption and missed God’s timing and ultimately, His intended destination.
  

Monday, July 8, 2019

The Peaceful Touch of the Father

Life with a new puppy is a unique experience. We have been here before, so it’s no surprise. It is a constant vigil for accidental piddles and making sure our little Boone boy knows how to fit into his new pack.  By the way, he is such a good pup. He is a quick learner. Already on day two, he knows how to go in and out of the doggie door to relieve himself. Whew!

We crate Boone at night. For those who wonder what a crate might be, it is a wire cage only large enough for a dog to lie down. It’s like a personal cave where a dog can feel secure. 

The first night home, we put the crate across our bedroom, and Boone howled and howled. After about 30 minutes of this dog-chorus, I had an idea. I slid the crate alongside our bed on my side. I could put my hand down and touch his noisy little nose that was poking up through the wire as he cried. As soon as he felt my touch, he stopped crying, settled down, and fell asleep. He slept through the first night, and now the second. All is well in Elkinsville.

Calming Boone in the middle of the night when he was thrust into a new and unfamiliar environment was a milestone in puppy training. It is also a milestone in our spiritual lives. Every new season will have a night experience when so much is unfamiliar and unknown that we will cry out in some form of anguish not knowing what is taking place. These strange circumstances may not change overnight, and that can be unsettling. The only thing that can calm us is a touch from God. 

Just as Boone raised his nose and poked it upward looking for comfort so it should be with us. The circumstance of our lives may be unchangeable and uncomfortable. In those times, we have control over only one thing.  We can decide where we will reach out for peace and security. Only God can provide those two things. If you are in a new and unfamiliar place, turn your attention heavenward, and you will feel the peaceful touch of God’s hand. His touch is the only thing that can calm the anxiety of life.

Sunday, July 7, 2019

Living Beyond the Obvious

The obvious is not always the right solution. There are times when God will go in the opposite direction from what is assumed to reveal His heart in the most unimagined ways. Jesus did this in His life.                                               

When the religious establishment attempted to destroy a sinner, Jesus extended mercy, gave wise counsel and sent them on their way to encounter a new life. When people tried to trick Him with questions sourced in the obvious, He stepped over their trap and revealed true wisdom.                 

Living and responding from the obvious is limited in its ability to bring real change. It does not allow for creativity in our faith as we explore the depths of God’s wisdom and mercy. Choose to not respond to the issues of life from an obvious bias, and you will be used by God in surprising ways.




Saturday, July 6, 2019

The Revolving Door of Your Future

Many of us are sensing a shift taking place in our spiritual lives. This shift is not always accompanied by a change in geography or employment. It is a deeper shift that takes place in the realm of the Spirit.

As I was processing that idea, I saw an image of revolving doors. When the image appeared, I stepped forward, trying to time my entry. When I stepped into the chamber of the revolving door, I saw someone else walking on the other side going in the opposite direction. I realized I was actually seeing a version of myself from the last season walking into an appointed place in history. When I finally passed through the revolving door I was delivered into a new season in the Spirit.

If you are sensing the same thing, I want to let you know some of what is taking place in this revolving door experience. You are being upgraded. Your past anointing is being upgraded for a new season and a new assignment. What you have relied on in the past for support will no longer provide sufficient support for your new assignment. You are stepping into an upgraded support system. 

You will face two challenges in this transition. The two challenges are an attitude of assumption and stationary thinking. These two if left unchallenged will keep you standing at the entry of the revolving door not taking the step of faith required to time your entry into what God is developing. 

In this transition, you will experience a moment of amazement and wonder when you see the old version of you pass by the new you as the revolving door moves you forward. What you learned in that past has taught you a great deal. Nothing will be wasted. What is coming is even more profound. Take the step of faith and trust God. He will not fail you.

Friday, July 5, 2019

Delayed Detonation

Prophetic words spoken long ago and forgotten by many will soon come to pass. God has not forgotten these words. They have been resting without ignition for this moment in history. When they are released, they will have explosive results.

I was prompted by the Lord to deliver this word by something I read this week. Near Frankfurt, Germany a 500-bomb dropped in the 1940s during World War II finally exploded. When the bomb was originally released it sank deep into the middle of a barley field without exploding. On June 23 the bomb finally detonated creating a large crater 33 feet wide and 13 feet deep. The bomb’s ignition system was a spinning fin on the tail of the bomb that drove a steel rod through a glass plate as the bomb fell to earth releasing corrosive acetone. The acetone dissolved celluloid discs to ignite the bomb. This bomb did not land at the correct angle. The steel rod was not able to penetrate the discs. It took over 70 years for the acetone to finally eat its way through the discs creating the explosion. The story of this bomb is a powerful metaphor for what we will see taking in the coming days, weeks, and months.

Prophetic words delivered in the past and have remained unfulfilled because the circumstance for their release had not yet appeared. Some of those words made no sense when they were initially delivered. Those who released those words were mocked because a context was not yet present to receive their instruction and direction.

Today, listen for the delayed detonations God will bring about to fulfill prophetic promise over your life, your family, and your nation. God can deliver the payload of a prophetic word at a future date. In some cases long after the person who spoke the word has passed.  Some of those words had a moment of fulfillment at a specific time in the distant future. 

Not all things are immediate in God’s Kingdom. A prophetic promise will many times lie buried for decades or even centuries before they make themselves known. When these delayed detonations take place, you will be in awe at the goodness of God and His impeccable timing.

Thursday, July 4, 2019

Free and Unmuzzled

The sound of your voice cannot be silenced if your words are empowered by the heart and will of God. If God has given you something to say, He will make way for you to be heard. Truth spoken in love is the most potent sound made on Earth, and it cannot be muzzled. 
We have all heard of people being blocked from social media accounts for content that did not align with the worldview of the provider. Others have been excluded from strategic meetings where critical decisions were being made. Exclusion because of dissenting content is not new to the human experience. Social architects have attempted and repeatedly failed to control the voice of truth and freedom since the dawn of time.
If, for a righteous reason, you have found yourself on the outside of a relationship, a group or blocked from sharing your opinion to a wider audience do not forget this critical reality - God is still in charge. He will make a way your voice to be heard even if a person, group, or institution attempts to muzzle your voice.
We assume too quickly that the impact and range of our voice are limited by those in control of the social microphone or the gatekeepers of a particular group. Do not despair if you find yourself isolated and on the outside. You carry the sound of Heaven, and that sound cannot be silenced if love is motivating your words and actions. God will lead you to a new platform and new relationships where your voice will be amplified beyond the restrictions you are currently experiencing.



Wednesday, July 3, 2019

Your Coming Reveal

God is creating alliances of believers who realize the current expression of the Church is not agile enough to accomplish The Great Commission. These individuals also know it will not be enough to fill yet another stadium for a stand-alone, uplifting gathering or experience another revival meeting unless those events have something more substantial in mind – the discipleship and transformation of nations.

The revealing of these agile individuals and groups will be the result of a winnowing currently taking place within the Body of Christ. Those who are part of these agile alliances of world changers will be able to move at the speed and impulse of the Spirit. They are being called out from circular orbits of effort that are unable to think outside the gravitational pull of the status quo. These agile teams will be able to move forward at the speed of faith as directed by the Spirit. They will not have to ask permission from those at the top of the totem pole of a religious hierarchy. 

Ask God to reveal His purpose for your life. You carry elements of The Great Commission that are critical to its fulfillment. Once your personal reveal takes place, venture out and search to find those agile, like-minded individuals and groups who are waiting to partner with you. In that partnership, God will do great things.

Tuesday, July 2, 2019

Give the Fire of God Something to Burn

This morning, before sunrise, I got up to prepare for a dinner we would have later in the day. We have some good friends staying with us for a few days, so after being on the road for most of last week, I was hungry for some home cooked barbeque. I had our smoker ready to go the night before, so the first thing I did when I got up was to ignite the charcoal in preparation to put a tri-tip, beef ribs and a few bacon blossoms in the smoker.

I placed chunks of hickory and pecan wood on top to the charcoal that rings the edge of the smoking platform. I have the charcoal set out for a six-hour burn. As the charcoal progressively ignites and begins to smolder, it will burn through the chunks of smoking wood, giving the meat a continuous application of smoke, creating a nice bark.

When I went out to adjust the airflow on the smoker, I was reminded of how life in the Spirit resembles smoking meat. Our job is to prepare our life like the charcoal positioned in my smoker with chunks of smoking wood sitting on top. Our obedience aligns our lives to receive the approaching fire of God. If we align our life-purpose and passion with His fire, a burn can take place that will release a unique testimony. Our acts of obedience are like the chunks of smoking wood I placed on the charcoal. They become investments in our future when the fire of God arrives. A fire might not yet be burning under your acts of obedience, but a time will come when the fire will arrive, and something powerful will take place. 

If you give God's fire something to ignite the aroma of your life will become as appealing as the wafting hickory and pecan smoke currently working its way through our neighborhood. It is making our neighbors wish they were having dinner with us.



Monday, July 1, 2019

A Word of Clarification and Encouragement

God sits on a throne above all our social, political and personal issues. He is absolutely and completely victorious. He is building an army of love to march under the orders of His victory to bring about cultural transformation. The issues you worry about to a point of spiritual and emotional immobilization have been crafted to appeal to the unresolved fear in your heart. Don’t believe and never invite any fear into your mind and allow its voice to tell you God’s redemptive plan is not working. As the Kingdom of God continues to expand across the Earth, the places of earthly authority and demonically-empowered dark strategies will eventually bow their knee to the King of Kings and Lord of Lords as the reality of Heaven on Earth takes place.

Off the social radar and not within the programming of a controlled news narrative God has raised up individuals and groups who are partnering with the Holy Spirit to transform our world in partnership with Heaven to fulfill The Great Commission both individually and nationally. Plans and Spirit-breathed strategies are being formed to align this world with the heart of God. Follow the encouragement of God. Encouragement, goodness, and hope are the only paths that will lead you to your place of active personal participation in this process of transformation. 

Ask God to align you with those who no longer follow a fear-based view of this life, the end of this epoch of time and the life to come. Make an exchange. Give God any fear-based belief you have and ask Him to examine it in light of the Truth. He will hand you back a purified, simple, hope-filed reality. At that point, you will be ready to receive a new set of marching orders that may cost you some relationships that still live in fear and have developed a paradigm of life around that fear. 

Don’t abandon those who abandon you. Some of those who will criticize you and distance themselves from you are destined to someday become your allies. Follow Hope. It is the promise of your future.

Sunday, June 30, 2019

In a Perfect Storm

In a life-transition, you will never find yourself in a situation where God does not have a plan of rescue in place. Trust him. 
Ship captains don’t start their sea voyages by planning to sink. Neither do we start our transitions by planning to sink. However, there may come a time when you experience a storm, a “perfect storm,” when all the elements for disaster come together and threaten the transition. 
These are relational storms that have dangerous reefs of distrust, winds of betrayal, and waves of conflict that seem too high for your current level of faith. These storms break your heart. Your future and family face uncertainty. Havoc seems to fill the air, and you have nowhere to run because you are trapped on the open seas of transitional turmoil. 
In the stormy moments when you think all is lost, call out to God. He has a plan to help you ride through the storm to a safe harbor. And sometimes, he will supernaturally calm the storm first and have you move forward across calm waters. 
(An excerpt from the book, A Good Place)

Saturday, June 29, 2019

On the Verge

Lately, the Lord has been giving me a sense that we are standing on the verge of a significant moment in human history. The days just before any significant event are filled with normal activities of life. The interruptions caused by these significant events have always caught humanity off guard. It is in those unexpected moments when our emotional and spiritual equilibrium is challenged that God will call certain people to carry the significant moment into previously unimagined displays of His glory. Many who are called in these times would never have considered themselves for such a role.

No one can fully know or predict all the details of what is coming. We only see pieces of a much larger mosaic.  What is approaching will be akin to reformation and renaissance. A trigger event will take place setting in motion the falling of a line of dominoes God has arranged. These are not dominoes of fear and dark expectations that some prophets of doom unwisely predict. They are the dominoes set in place by a loving Father.

When the dominoes begin to fall those whose hearts have been aligned to the goodness and faithfulness of God will be the ones He will use in profound ways during a time of unusual cultural transformation. 

Friday, June 28, 2019

The Footprints of Your Faith


This morning Jan and I took our morning walk in the Old Mill District of Bend, Oregon. Near our hotel, we came upon a sidewalk that for at least half a city block, a dog had left his paw prints in the concrete. I am especially dog conscious because in July we will pick up our new Australian Shepherd puppy (by the way, his name will be Boone).
As I walked in the dog’s steps, I thought of some of you who have wondered if the life-path you have chosen to walk upon would leave behind anything meaningful. In the Spirit, your footprints have been set in spiritual concrete for following generations as a witness to God’s faithfulness. You are leaving behind a forever witness of faithfully following the Lord. 
Someday, someone will see your footprints when they begin to walk into a challenging season of life. What you leave behind will be just the encouragement they will need to continue moving forward knowing if it was possible for you to keep going during a challenging season it will also be possible for them.






Thursday, June 27, 2019

The Gateway into God's Secret Garden

This week we installed a gate on a doorway that will lead into an area on our property we call The Secret Garden. I went to town to get a set of hinges for the gate. The hinges I brought back were overly large for such a project. They could hold a gate many times larger than the one we were installing.

When I held the large hinges in my hands, the Lord began to speak. 

“I have increased your ability to carry the weight of a fresh anointing. The challenges in the past season have been preparatory. I have been preparing you and hanging new hinges on your life – hinges able to carry the increased weight of the gateway that will lead you into a new anointing for a new adventure in My of Kingdom.”

I knew this word was not just for Jan and me. The coming season will reveal to many of you a hidden Secret Garden of God’s presence and purpose. A gateway of opportunity into this new place has been prepared and it is about to swing open up before you. You will hear the Lord say, "This is the way, walk in it.” (Isaiah 30:21).


Wednesday, June 26, 2019

The Thread of Our Life

Throughout Scripture, a scarlet thread of the life of Jesus has been present from Genesis to Revelation. This is not just a historic thread to be observed academically from a distance. It is a personal thread revealed to us to help us see the life of Jesus Christ at work in human history. That thread has been used by God to bring together the fabric of torn and damaged lives restoring people when life has ripped them apart.

Just as someone would use a thread and a needle to repair a torn piece of fabric, so it is with our lives. The life of Jesus is offered to us to repair our torn places, but we must be willing to put His thread through the eye of the needle of our faith in order to begin patching together what has been torn apart. A thread of unforgiveness, fear and hopelessness cannot withstand the tension created by the flexing garment of life. 

There is no tear of relationship, no disappointment of an unkept promise or any personal failure so large that it cannot be brought back together by the binding thread of His love. Offering God the sewing needle of our faith is a testimony that tells the world we believe in all things God can rejoin what seems to be forever separated. The scarlet thread of Jesus, when sewn into these painful places, will stand out from the other thread as a heavenly contrast always reminding us that God’s goodness brought things back together.

Tuesday, June 25, 2019

The Detour

Telling God where you will go or not go is the beginning of a detour you might not return from. 
When we begin to demand that God show us what our future and its provision will look like, we begin taking a dangerous detour. This is a road paved with fear. This road is protected by the sentinel of self and closes off the voice of God that says, “Trust me.” 
These demands on God about our future are sourced in the fear that he will not come through for us. A detour begins when we push trust aside and the responsibility of personal provision and direction falls upon our shoulders. We begin to carry burdens that are not ours to bear. 
As the process of your life transition deepens, you will need to focus more intentionally on God’s voice. This is a time to lean in and strain your ear to hear his whispers. His voice is your only reliable source of direction. 
 (An excerpt from the book, A Good Place)

Monday, June 24, 2019

The Top Line

A Kingdom mindset is not limited to the bottom line. Creating a vision and mission around a bottom line is the product of a natural mindset. This way of thinking is limited by what can be measured and considered by human reasoning. God invites us to entertain the top line. A top line consideration invites Heaven’s resources and empowerment to redefine what we do and how we live. Top line thinking is absent in most endeavors until a Kingdom-minded entrepreneur walks in the door. Be that person.

A Boy's Crumpled Dollar

Last weekend, Jan and I were ministering at Won by One Church in Oregon City, Oregon. It was a wonderful weekend. We spent time with the leadership team in several different settings and then we spoke during their Sunday morning worship service. Just before the service began a son of one of the men on the pastoral team came up to me. He is a grade school age boy.  He greeted me and pulled out a crumbled one-dollar bill from his pocket and presented it to me. I asked, “What’s this?” He said, “It’s for you.” I put my arm around the boy and thanked him for his gift. A dollar means a lot to a kid. As I received the boy’s gift, I was actually receiving it for a greater purpose. I didn’t need a dollar. I needed what the dollar represented. 

The parents of this young man had taught him something many older men have yet to learn. The boy was giving beyond himself. His brothers were just like him. All weekend long they were hanging around me and each day they greeted me with smiles. Their young lives were already marked by honor.

Years ago, I remember Jack Hayford telling a group of us about a $100.00 bill someone gave to him. He knew that $100.00 had another assignment rather than just spending it on himself. He gave it away. In a few weeks, another person gave him another $100.00 bill. He gave that one away. This back and forth receiving-giving went on for the longest time. Jack said he could never give the $100.00 bill away no matter how hard he tried. It just kept coming back to him.

The same is true for the $1.00 bill the boy gave to me. I am going to try and give it away because it really doesn’t belong to me. It belongs to honor. The young boy honored me last Sunday and I want to partner with the continued release of his kind gesture. A single dollar doesn’t sound like much to a natural mind, but there is a unique value attached to a dollar given in honor that I want to see released into a world that many times only takes, but never gives. 

The best sermon preached last Sunday was a sermon on giving by a grade school preacher just before the adults did their thing. God will use that young man in profound ways because the Lord has already captured his heart.


Sunday, June 23, 2019

God's Pairing

Jan and I live in a wonderful place. We have bakeries, wineries, gourmet cheese factories and chocolatiers all set in the frame of our beautiful natural surroundings. From time to time an invitation will go out for the community to come and experience a pairing. A pairing is where a wine-maker or chef will pair a wine with cheese, special food or chocolate to show a customer a unique union of food and beverage that might not have been considered.

Just this week, I read of one such pairing taking place in our town. When I read the invitation, the Lord impressed upon me that a unique pairing would take place for some of you. You have been looking for a breakthrough, not a pairing. The word “breakthrough” has become a worn word in prophetic circles. Some have turned off the sound of its promise because it seems to be announced each day by someone with little result. You have doubted if you were a candidate for a breakthrough. God wants to redefine that word for you.

God is about to expand your spiritual palate. A pairing is coming that will actually be the breakthrough you have been praying for but had not considered it would take place in such a new and unusual fashion.  The spiritual pairing of a new relationship will be like a customer at a food pairing who tastes a new food combination for the first time and is surprised something they had never tasted before could be so good in its unique combination and presentation.

Be careful to not reject the coming offering of an unusual pairing based solely on your past experience. This will be something that will at first taste new and unfamiliar to your spiritual taste buds. There is nothing to fear. God has a very diverse family and a wide variety of methods at His disposal to accomplish His will. You are being invited to a pairing that will be a beautiful experience and one that will eventually become the breakthrough you have prayed would someday come.

“Taste and see that the Lord is good” (Psalm 34:8).


Saturday, June 22, 2019

The Top of the Heap

Striving to stand atop the proverbial heap will leave you standing at the summit of just a heap. An elevated position of earthly power and authority is not the only place where significant revelation occurs. 

The greatest revelations are designed to arrive on Earth as it is in Heaven to anyone who is seeking the Lord, not a place atop a human hierarchy. God’s revelation can come to anyone, anywhere no matter who they are or where their life is positioned, top, bottom or somewhere in between. A place of human elevation becomes insignificant in the face of Heaven’s revelation. 

Seek God’s face, not a position of man-made authority. If you do this you will become a Kingdom change agent bringing solutions to situations once defined as impossible before God’s revelation arrived.




Friday, June 21, 2019

Overcoming the Startle Factor

Have you ever wondered why people freeze up and are unable to respond to an emergency? There is something called the “startle factor.” It occurs in a state of emergency when overwhelming outside stimuli takes place like stark visuals and loud noises. It causes people to freeze and in some cases panic losing precious life-saving seconds that could have been used to resolve the problem.

The startle factor was recently brought to light by Sully Sullenberger the airline captain who famously landed his disabled airliner in the Hudson River creating what has been referred to as “The Miracle on the Hudson.” With the recent crashes of two Boeing 737 Max airliners, Sully was asked to comment during investigative hearings. He brought up the startle factor as a contributing cause for the crashes when the aircraft gave warnings in response to an angle of attack sensor that issued an incorrect warning. 

Sully went on to say the warnings in the cockpit created sudden, loud and disorienting noises that became major distractions for the pilots. The noise and resulting confusion masked the real cause of the problem. These distractions made it difficult to quickly analyze the situation and take proper corrective action. Referencing the two Boeing crashes another pilot said, “This is a sudden, violent and terrifying event. Airplanes pitching up and down rapidly and violently. There are bells, warnings, and clappers sounding. Communication is difficult.”

When I read the information about these crashes, I thought of how we can be startled by a painful event or some sad news to the point that we can freeze up and not properly respond. A spouse announces a divorce. A job is lost or a fatal disease is diagnosed. We are not robots without emotion when these issues are thrown in our face, but we can train for how we will respond when these events do occur. In the case of the Boeing 737’s and their pilots, new software is being created to correct the false readings and revised training guidelines are being introduced for the pilots.

The loud and distracting noise of life’s challenging moments can be so intense that the news of their arrival could startle us to such a degree that we freeze up in fear and fail to respond in faith. This leaves us vulnerable to catastrophic failure in relationships and calling. It is important to not live in fear always imagining the worst, but it is important to consider how we would respond when trauma or disappointment comes in a loud and invasive way. 

Consider formulating a statement of faith or imagining a healthy response that would honor God if or when a painful event should ever take place. This will give you time to consider your options while you remain at the controls of your life in faith allowing you to fly the dysfunction through the first few minutes of danger where the course and outcome of your future will be determined. Always believe the best, but do not allow yourself to be startled and frozen in a state of inaction when the challenges of life occur. Prepare now so that you can respond in faith when the unexpected in life takes place.

Wednesday, June 19, 2019

The Arrival of Prophetic Echoes

The echoes of prophetic words spoken in the past are approaching our moment of history. These are words that were assigned to be received and experienced more than once. They are living words that are continually issuing a prophetic echo. 

These echoes carry generational assignments to be delivered and redelivered at various times throughout history. They are like the word Joel spoke about the coming of the Spirit that would be poured out in the last days. That promise first released on the Day of Pentecost would become a continuous prophetic echo - a promise available to each generation that would follow. It has been an echo of prophetic promise heard in each revival and renewal in the last 2,000 years of Church history.

Some of these approaching prophetic echoes are specific for families and nations. Other echoes will be heard by church movements and denominations that once experienced a powerful work of the Spirit, but live today empowered only by good works, well-meaning programs and enough money to mask their lack of power. The approaching echoes will awaken abandoned destines.

Each echo will be as powerful today as when its promise was first delivered. Time and distance will have no negative effect. A prophetic echo carries the same authority and power today as when it was originally released. Only a lack of faith can diminish its intended impact. 



Tuesday, June 18, 2019

Rightly Dividing the News

We have all heard the term “keeping abreast of the latest news.” It’s a fairly common phrase. I have always thought it meant to keep informed on the latest happenings in the world. It has a deeper meaning. 

The word “abreast” is defined to mean “beside one another in a line” or two ships docked “side by side.” The etymology of the word comes from Middle English and is made up of two words a - (“on” or “at”) and breast ("chests in line, side-by-side"). It is a word that infers proximity.

Paul wrote about our spiritual armor and referred to the chest area of our body when he wrote, “Put on the breastplate of righteousness” (Ephesians 6:14). The breastplate Paul spoke about is constructed of the righteousness of Jesus Christ designed to cover a vital part of our spiritual anatomy. In the original language, the word “righteousness" is defined as "integrity, virtue, correctness in thinking, feeling or acting.” This breastplate covers the area of our heart where our emotions, thoughts, and choices come from. The book of Proverbs warns us about the condition of our heart, “Above all things, guard your heart” (4:23). Jesus said of our hearts, “But the words you speak come from the heart—that’s what defiles you” (Matthew 15:18). 

When we receive something from a news source and attempt to interpret the validity of its content, the condition of our hearts will determine what we allow to stand side-by-side with us in our opinion or predisposition. We can too easily dock our opinion alongside what is familiar and accepted by friends and co-workers and never entertain the value of an opposing opinion. At this point, we have allowed human opinion, not the righteousness of Christ to be our heart covering and the ultimate interpreter of truth.

To keep abreast of the latest news and the affairs of life requires that first and foremost we discern the condition of our heart before we try to discern the content of the news. Is the condition of my heart aligned with integrity and virtue? Is the response I am about to release regarding a hot-button social issue in line with the righteousness of Jesus? If not, my heart will be exposed to influences that lack integrity, truth and a right response. My interpretation of reality will be at odds with God’s truth. 

In the end, the uncovered state of our heart will leave us vulnerable to an attack of disinformation and we will not be aligned with what is truly righteous. Above all things...



Monday, June 17, 2019

Warm Summer Nights

Tonight, I’m thinking of the warm summer nights of my boyhood riding in my dad’s 59 Chevy pickup. Mom and dad were up front. My brother and I rode in the back seated in the truck bed. It was a Friday night ritual heading into town to get broasted chicken and milkshakes. 

Dwain and I tossed pebbles at passing mailboxes, told tall boy-tales and dreamed of cute girls. The warm summer air bathed our faces as the truck moved through the night. The clear sky above was filled with bright stars. The hot night air passing across our young faces set the thermostat for our dreaming young minds. It was white t-shirt weather, a 501 Levi’s and black hi-top Chuck Taylor period of life – a time of innocent simplicity. 

The memories of those warm summer nights were given to me as a gift to store away and be recalled toward the end of my life as a reminder of what's important. Those memories remain as tender today as they were many years ago when first experienced riding in the back of dad's pickup on a warm California summer night.

The Whisper of a God-Warning

Jan and I live in a small cottage built during World War II. It was part of an officer's housing unit in a military training facility located in southern Oregon during the war. After the war, our home was purchased at auction and moved to its current location in 1948. Like all older homes, it makes unique sounds. I can tell by the sound of a footstep where someone is walking in our home. We have four wooden gates on our property and each one squeaks and creaks its own sound when opened.

A few nights ago, I was awakened from a dead sleep when a gate just outside our bedroom window made a squeak that would be imperceptible to most people, but I am familiar with its unique sound. When the gate squeaked, I rose from our bed, to listen and to prepare. It would not be a wise move for personal health reasons for anyone to attempt to enter our home without permission at any time, day or night. No other sounds followed. I remained awake for a few more minutes and then went back to sleep.

Sounds of warning in the Spirit can be as quiet as the sound made by our gate. They are not a loud blast from a horn or a strident bell ringing. Sounds of warning made by the Spirit can be like a gentle whisper only heard by those whose ears have been trained and attuned to the voice of God.

There is a great deal of noise being made in our culture. We need discerning ears to navigate through the sound melee to find the substance of truth. God gives us the ability to hear in reverse of how an unredeemed mind hears. An unredeemed mind only hears the noise and assigns a threat level to the loudest noise being made. A redeemed mind hears just the opposite. Redeemed ears hear the gentle whispers of the Spirit embedded in the clamor and take appropriate action.

You have been given the ability to live at rest in the Spirit as I did in natural sleep the night I heard the gate open. The rest of God is a rest that never puts us at risk. It simply leaves most of life’s struggles in the hands of God until He calls us to take appropriate action. God will be faithful to rouse us from a place of rest like it was when I awoke from sleep the night the gate squeaked. In those awakenings, we will hear the kind of warnings a noise-infested culture cannot hear. In these Spirit-empowered warnings are the announcements of the real danger and the specific instructions needed to respond wisely. 

If you have been listening and responding to the loudest noise and the repeated false alarms being issued 24/7 by a nervous culture you have not been at peace. Ask God to show you how to rest. In that place of rest trust God to make the gentle sounds of warning that He will be faithful to bring if and when a real danger approaches. Those warnings can be missed if we have our ears tuned only to the never-ending noise of fear and restlessness being produced in culture and sadly, within the Church

Sunday, June 16, 2019

Night Voices

Nighttime can be the worst time. This is when hell often speaks the loudest and tries to turn your rest into restlessness. 
Fatigue in life and ministry does not come from a packed schedule. We can be busy but live in rest. In times of transition, our fatigue comes when our minds are filled with unresolved conflict and fear about the future. We lay in bed and cannot turn off the voices of fear that occupy our mind. 
Fatigue takes fear to a dark place. That dark place is where our hope is robbed, and our joy is extinguished. To combat this kind of fatigue, we must resolve to not worry about the future. This is easy to say but challenging to do. We make this resolution in the assurance that God is in our future waiting for us with his love and goodness. His presence in our future is what brings peace to this present moment. 
Take your thoughts prisoner. March them to the feet of Jesus and leave them there. This is your place of rest. 
 (An excerpt from the book, A Good Place)

Saturday, June 15, 2019

Trust - God's Spiritual Muscle Car

Today, I took a few minutes between errands to visit a car show that takes place each year in Medford, Oregon. Row after row of classic cars was
lined up on a grass field in one of our city parks. In the middle of all the cars was an Olds 442 muscle car. I stopped in my tracks and stared at the car. Memories began to flood into my mind from a time in my life many years ago. A 442 was the last undercover car assigned to me when I worked in an organized crime and narcotics unit. As I stood in the summer heat I recalled high-risk takedowns, drug busts and crooked politicians who liked their dope and those who trafficked its pain and sorrow. All of those memories were in an around an Olds 442.

One memory with the 442 was of a night when my partner and I followed a lead about a potential drug buy and discovered a dirty cop. The next day after filing our report pushback came from our higher-ups informing us to leave the case alone. The pushback was in the form of a subtle threat. 

Seeing the writing on the wall, my partner and I found employment elsewhere. I ended up going to Springfield, Oregon to take a job with the police department. I had one desire. I wanted to get back in uniform and leave behind my days as an undercover cop with the long hair, a beard, and a false identity. It was in that move that I eventually walked into the doors of Faith Center in Eugene, Oregon to encounter a supernatural God and the rest is history.

You are in a vehicle of sorts at this time in your life. It may not be a muscle car, but it could be a relationship, a job or a season of life. All of these vehicles are used by God to transport us somewhere. Little did I know one dark night in an alley when I almost had to shoot a dirty cop that the vehicle I was riding in that night would be the last vehicle I would use in that capacity. One season in my law enforcement career was being driven to an end where a door of opportunity would open to reveal a new season of my life. 

Whatever life-vehicle you are riding in today trust God to use that vehicle to bring you to a place where the unfolding of the next season of your life awaits. The ultimate spiritual muscle car is a model called Trust. No threat of hell or fear of man can beat it off the line.

Unfollowed

There are times on social media and in our personal relationships when people will unfollow us because they were afraid of where our faith would take them if they continued in the relationship. People can struggle with another person’s faith because it exposes their lack. It’s important to know this is not personal. 

When this happens, pray for them and bless them in their departure. Someday they might return and if you have kept your heart right you will be able to welcome them back because you did not label their departure as a betrayal. Their departure was a need for personal space to figure things out.  If you can give them that gift of space God will be able to do amazing works of restoration in relationships that seemed to be over before they had a chance to truly begin.