Thursday, November 14, 2019

The Fog is Lifting

At our best, we only see and understand the events of life in part. The experience of personal and cultural change has deposited people in new places without their full knowledge of how they arrived or what had actually taken place in the transition. Most of life comes as a surprise after a significant change has transpired. In other words, we didn’t see it coming. 
After these significant events have taken place, we become aware that something different is now surrounding our life even though we cannot yet see the fullness of the change. It is like a person standing in a field surrounded by a dense fog. Insight and vision of the encircling environment only come when the morning sun appears, and the sun and begins to burn away the fog to reveal a previously hidden landscape. This is why Scripture advises us to be slow to speak. Premature announcements are many times wrong. No one knows what the current fog of life will reveal once it lifts.
Until the fog lifts, we are to plant and cultivate God’s peace. Peace is not dependent on what we can see or not see. It has the ability to reinterpret the environment within the fog. Peace will adjust our spiritual eyes to see through the mist to comprehend something greater God is doing outside the realm of natural sight. Peace prepares us to see and properly interpret our surroundings without fear and distress becoming our only interpretive tools. 
The greatest work taking place in the foggy places of life is not the work of the enemy, but the work of God. Choosing to live in God’s peace will help us navigate wisely through a foggy experience. Once the fog finally lifts, we will be able to see the greater work God had been doing all along, not the work of fear the enemy offered as our only blinding option. 

I just heard someone begin to laugh in the fog.

Wednesday, November 13, 2019

A Word of Caution

You can turn off your favorite news outlet for a year and turn it back on again, and not much will have changed except the names of the participants in the news stories. While that can be true, I believe we are living in a unique moment of history.  It is important to rightly discern to what wagon we have chosen to hitch our worldview and theology. There are consequences to these choices. 

The prophet Isaiah wrote, “The Lord has given me a strong warning not to think like everyone else does. He said, ‘Don’t call everything a conspiracy, like they do, and don’t live in dread of what frightens them. Make the Lord of Heaven’s armies holy in your life. He is the one you should fear. He is the one who should make you tremble. He will keep you safe '" (Isaiah 8:11-12).

The Lord is issuing a word of caution to all believers, especially to the authors, speakers and those who have a visible and trusted presence in the Church. We can too easily join with a spirit of fear and prophesy a future God does not intend to become our reality. Some prophesying is not verbal, but positional. To become part of the audience of these voices empowers their deception as we join with them in an unthinking head-nodding agreement. 

We are told in Scripture to be as wise as a serpent and as gentle as a dove. We will need wisdom and a gentle spirit to walk through the corridors of our current cultural discontent with any hope of emerging on the other side of this moment in history spiritually and emotionally intact. Let hope, not fear, lead you forward. 

Tuesday, November 12, 2019

The Glove of Faith

Yesterday, I was walking through a sporting goods store and saw some baseball gloves, aka mitts. It had been years since I held a glove. I picked one up and put it on. As soon as my hand slipped into the glove, I sensed the Lord speaking. He said, “Give Me something to throw.” In other words, the Lord is asking us to give Him a target of faith so He can release something that will be a game-changer.  For some issues in our personal lives and within the larger culture, we are living in a "bottom of the 9th" moment. What happens next in our prayer life has the potential to create critical outcomes. 

Raising our glove of faith will require that we go beyond the normal prayers we issue that sound like “God change this” or “change so and so.” We are being asked to craft very specific prayers from the vocabulary of God’s heart, not from our anger, disgust, or a preferred outcome. Our mandate is to pray for His heart to be revealed in the lives of individuals and nations. The encounters with God that will come from these prayers will produce game-changing moments that will be recorded in history.  We cannot even imagine the outcomes of goodness God has in mind if we would pray by His rules. 

At this moment, a runner from hell is sprinting toward first base assured of victory. The Lord is ready to fire an answer to prayer into your glove of faith and when that happens, the game will be over. Raise your glove and pray for the Father’s heart to be revealed. Nothing is over until God throws the final answer. The resulting sting you feel in the palm of your glove will be a sweet confirmation that your prayers have been answered.

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.