Tuesday, December 31, 2019

The Challenge to Our Peace

A wise mentor once said, “Your authority will never be established until it is challenged.” Over the years, there were times when I wanted so badly to respond in fleshly tones to the challenge but held back my negative response.  Through personal failure, I learned it was a response crafted with integrity and honor that would eventually disempower the threat.

My mentor’s statement can also apply to our ability to maintain personal peace. Our sense of peace will never be experienced to the fullest unless we deal with the issues of life that challenge its existence. These threats can be the unresolved personal issues we carry, whispers from hell, or individuals and groups determined to make our life miserable. All of these issues are powerless to rob our peace unless we allow their thievery to take place unchallenged. 

In 2020 we will be offered the blank canvas of a new year upon which God wants to paint peaceful strokes of His presence. His peace surpasses all we can consider or calculate as a remedy for the challenges that will come our way. The peace of God quietly arrives and fills our soul when we take our eyes off the threat and look into the face of God. Only in that image is true peace possible. No challenge can withstand the power of His gaze.

Sunday, December 29, 2019

My Father's Hat

When my father passed away 30 years ago, I wanted to keep one of his hats. He was from a generation where if a man went outside, he wore a hat. I remember several years after his passing that I picked up one of his hats and held it to my face. I could still smell a faint hint of his presence. His distinctive dad-smell still permeated the hat, releasing a flood of memories. A few years ago, I gave my father’s hat to my daughter Anna. The hat no longer carries the scent of my father.

A lot of the physical representations of life will fade over time. Just like my father’s hat, the image of a loved one’s face might require extra effort to recall after years of their passing. The memory of their life will never fade.

As I prepare to celebrate my 70th birthday in a few days, I am pondering my life and legacy more and more with each passing day. Someday, my wife and children will hold a garment or one of my baseball hats to their face and take in a lingering reminder of my life. At some point, that physical reminder will be gone just like my physical body. What remains will be the memories we shared together.

As the New Year approaches, ask the Lord to help you build memories that will last forever and not require your physical presence to maintain their remembrance. Some of my favorite memories were created with my father in the spur of the moment without a plan. They are memories we experienced simply because we loved each other in the moment and allowed that love to find its expression in the daily events of life. The simple memories in our lives can carry the most profound impact.

Saturday, December 28, 2019

Seeing 2020 with Prophetic Eyes

In the remaining days of 2019, you will be invited to look back over the events of the last year. Publications and newscasts will have special end-of-year reports. While a review has some merit, God is asking many of us to look ahead into 2020 and see the coming year with His eyes. He is waiting to reveal things only forward-looking prophetic eyes can see. This Spirit-empowered sight is available to anyone indwelled by God’s Spirit. God has no favorites when it comes to receiving revelation.

Mockers and Mockery

Those who mock you are mocking from a place of personal sorrow. They are not sure they will ever have what you have, so their defensiveness uses mockery as a form of emotional insulation distancing them from their sad reality. Be willing to look past the mockery into the heart of the mocker. The insight that comes from that Spirit-led understanding is where God wants you to engage your mockers. Some who mocked Jesus would eventually become His followers. That transformation could only happen because Jesus did not take the mocking personally. He saw through the human brokenness and defense mechanisms into a heart where the hidden human turmoil exists. He spoke words of love and hope to his mockers. Those words, not a witty rebuttal or a well-crafted putdown, went into the heart of the issue and that response changed everything.

Friday, December 27, 2019

The Revival of Rest

Rest will be the place from which the next revival will spring. We enter this place of rest when we choose to lay down our undisciplined ambition and our need to always have to produce to validate a lesser identity. We enter rest through the gauntlet of mocking voices and self-doubt. Those who cross the threshold and enter rest will step into the arena of the miraculous where only if God shows up can the impossible take place.

The Promise You Carry Together

Last night, I had a dream. I had forgotten about the dream, and just now, the Lord reminded me of its content. I was going to wait until tomorrow to share what I saw, but I feel it is time-sensitive and needs to be shared today.

It was a simple and very brief image of a husband and wife walking off into the distance, hand-in-hand. I could tell they were carrying an extra load of emotional weight, but their faith was not wavering. The Lord allowed me to see with a form of spiritual x-ray vision into the area between their clasped hands. They were carrying a seed of promise. As they walked together, they were moving forward into a new season where the seed would be dropped in fertile soil that had been prepared for the arrival of the seed by their prayers and faithfulness.

The seed you are carrying has potential beyond your imagination.  All of God's promises for you are yes in Jesus. The small seed of promise you two carry has a "yes" written on it. Right now, you don't know where or when the seed will drop. God will let you know the right time and place. Until then, keep moving forward in faith. You will experience an increasing joy that comes from living in an expectation of God's goodness and faithfulness to perform what He promised.

Your Case Has Been Settled

The court of Heaven will always have the last word over the affairs of Earth. Heaven's court is eternally in session and never takes a recess. There is only one righteous Judge, and He adjudicates the cases of humanity with mercy, grace, and love. 

Look to God for the final disposition of your case, no matter how much the odds seem to be stacked against you, making a fair earthly trial seem impossible. Seek the peace that comes from relying on God's merciful judgments above the temporary and short-sighted judgments made by angry and unforgiving individuals and the lynch mobs of culture that blindly follow the heat of the latest hot-button issue. 

God's peace will allow you to contend for righteousness and honor even if it appears that justice is not possible, and the hangman’s rope is being placed around your neck. That choice will open the door for you to experience rest in your soul no matter what judgments are issued from individuals or the institutions of society. Peace comes because you know your case has been settled in the court of Heaven, and nothing that transpires on Earth can change that final judgment.

Thursday, December 26, 2019

2020 - No More of the Same

This time between Christmas and the New Year is an interesting week. It is like an intermission, a pause before we do it all over again. 

This morning, I sensed the Lord saying, “No more of the same.” Some of you have grown accustomed to life moving forward as usual, with each calendar year reproducing a familiar and numbing sameness. That has been your expectation. A lack of expectation is what God wants to address and dismantle as you enter 2020. 

You are serving the God of supernatural intervention. Expect His intervention in things that appear out of your control. If you can live in that expectation, the coming year will be one for the books in terms of what God can accomplish when you expect the intervention of His goodness, not just more of the same.

Tuesday, December 24, 2019

The New Year Has A Message

It has been a long and tiring journey for some of you as you made your way through the calendar of 2019. Something different will take place in 2020. The new year is aggressively coming to you with excitement like a person working their way through a crowded room, pushing people aside to get to someone to deliver an important message. In this remaining week before the arrival of 2020, fill your mind with an expectation of what is to come. Ask God to tune your ears to the frequency of Heaven. Expectation will give you the ears to hear the word of the Lord.

Sunday, December 22, 2019


As we get older, something visits us with increasing regularity. That visitor is closure. Seasons of life come to an end. Places we once lived change over time and close behind the door of our history. The lives of friends and loved ones end transitioning from this life to the next in life's final closure, but the memories remain. A great treasure of growing older is being able to collect a lifetime of memories. I have noticed a sweet sorrow associated with those memories. Their sorrow tells us we have lived well and long and wanted life in all its forms to remain forever even though we knew better. The sweetness comes because we are thankful for the honor to have lived through a lifetime of openings and closures.  At this later time of life, we begin to reflect on the privilege we had to carry our memories to the end - to the moment of our own closure, always thankful for the journey, beginning to end. 

A Raw and Vulnerable Beauty

A friend of our family shared this painting of the nativity scene by the artist Gari Melcher on her Facebook wall. When I saw the image, I stopped and stared, stunned by its raw beauty. It conveyed to me something more profound and impactful than any other nativity scene I had ever seen.

Melcher captured the reality of that night. In the image of Joseph, I see the weight he was carrying, knowing the story of a virgin birth would sound like a lie. Mary is asleep exhausted at his side from the pain of the delivery, and the King of Kings has allowed Himself to become a vulnerable infant under the care of a mother and father He created.

What makes this image so profound is the lack of addition. We have added so much interpretive license to our understanding of God and His Kingdom that we have lost an essential ingredient - reality.  

In the portrait of our lives, the most beautiful representations are created when we live raw and exposed to the reality of our circumstances. Like the painting, God is with us in the midst of our difficulty even if His current manifestation seems inadequate to help us through the night. 

Never allow personal fear or the demands of someone’s religious ideal to paint your reality out of the image. The Immanuel principle of God with us is the most beautiful and impacting when painted on the canvas of honesty, expressing the raw and vulnerable beauty of its reality.

Saturday, December 21, 2019

Our Worst Enemy - God's Chosen Instrument

Look across the landscape of your life and ask, “Who is the least likely person I know who might become a devoted follower of Jesus Christ?” This is a question the first believers in Jerusalem would have no problem answering. They would have said, “Saul!” Saul, who would later become Paul, was eager to kill believers to squash what he perceived to be a band of rebellious apostates. He went house-to-house dragging believers from their homes in chains. He continued his rampage until he had an encounter with Jesus on the road to Damascus. Jesus described Paul to Ananias as “my chosen instrument.”

More than ever before, I realize the ills of our culture and the struggles resulting from human brokenness will only be remedied by an encounter with the risen Christ. No amount of good deeds, political correctness, or strained agreement can accomplish this kind of transformation.

Today, when you hear the voice or see an image of a person you perceive as an enemy to all you hold dear, ask the Lord to meet them on their personal Damascus Road. That kind of prayer only comes from a heart living and responding to life under the Lordship of Jesus. 

Perhaps one reason why we see so much angst and division in the world is that we have forgotten the admonition of Jesus to pray for those who we perceive as our enemies. Some of those individuals are God’s chosen instruments who will be used in astounding ways to advance His Kingdom. 

Friday, December 20, 2019

Resting and Waiting

The intersection of life you have been seeking will not be discovered by your effort alone. God is doing something you have not expected. He is bringing the intersection to you. He wants you to stand still and rest, waiting for Him to perform the promise He made to you. Resting and waiting is your act of faith.

Above All Things

Patriotism, in its purest form, can be honorable if it lives in submission under the hand of God. When patriotism becomes a tool to craft a product and create an industry within the Church, it will end up polluting our soul and diminish the effectiveness of our message. 

This is a critical moment for the Church, even more so than for the surrounding culture. Our version of patriotism is always constructed through our personal interpretation of reality and truth. That personal construct becomes our place of jeopardy. 

In the Book of Judges, a repeated theme occurred, “People did whatever seemed right in their own eyes.” We need to ask God to help us see the world through His eyes. What we see with that adjusted sight might alter our reality and realign our understanding of rightness with something we did not expect before our eyes were opened. God is above all things, even our patriotic view of life.

Thursday, December 19, 2019

The Tremors of a Landslide

Tremors are being felt. A landslide is coming. Our land is about to slide toward the heart of God. The weakened topsoil of evil will give way to the Spirit's power rising within the institutions of our culture. Just before the landslide takes place, many will predict the future with their assumptions declaring everything is secure, that our argument and our evidence is rock solid. There will be a public declaration of this false victory that will become the final tremor setting in motion an unstoppable landslide that will sweep away a surface deception to reveal the bedrock of God's heart.

A Designated Path

For years, I have been hiking a section of trails above our home and today, I noticed a new sign. It was just put in place by those who manage the trail system. As soon as I snapped a picture, the Lord impressed on me, the sign was a metaphor for something He wanted to say. 

Some of the familiar paths we have walked in the past will no longer lead us to our God-ordained future. These trails have been marked by the Lord as no longer designated pathways when it comes to the future direction of our life. Many will be redirected in 2020 to align in a new direction with the purposes of God for the next decade and beyond.

As the New Year approaches do not follow assumptions from the past. Inquire of the Lord and follow the signs He places on your pathway. For some of us, it means returning to the trailhead of a previous revelation and reviewing the original map of our calling. In that review, a designation and a resulting redirection will be discovered. Follow it. It is your only safe and sure way forward.

Wednesday, December 18, 2019

Honor Boxes

For the last 20 years, I have driven past a small sign announcing homemade jams for sale. Just off the main road sits a small table at the end of a dirt driveway where homemade jams and jellies are for sale. I passed the table as I have always done, but this time, I turned around and went back. It was time to find out what was on the table.

When I got out of my car, I saw a small wooden table where jars of pumpkin butter, apricot, and berry jams waited for customers. Each jar was decorated with a little bow since it was Christmas time. On the table was a handwritten note announcing the cost of the items along with a small box to place your money. No one was there. I bought several jars and dropped a twenty in the box.

The most impacting thing I saw on the table was a small box with a slot where you could deposit your money. I named it the “honor box.” 

Every transaction of life has an honor box somewhere. While the last thing on my mind would be robbing from what I perceived to be a little granny making jam, there are areas in my life where passing the honor box test might actually be a challenge. Maybe it is discovering something a speaker or writer used from a book or article I wrote quoting me verbatim without giving me credit for original authorship.  It can happen when I pretend to listen to a conversation waiting just long enough for my turn to interrupt and give my two cents worth of input, not really hearing what the person was trying to express. My list of honor box failures goes on.

Every person has honor boxes lining the path of their life. Most of these are not recognizable by others. They are placed in the private moments of our life-experience where no one but God is watching.  They resemble an unguarded jam stand.  We can take advantage of the honor they offer if we have not allowed God to have His way with our character. Like the honor box at the roadside stand, each honor box requires that we make a deposit before we move on. Those deposits or the lack of them will direct the course of our life.

Tuesday, December 17, 2019

Discerning What Lies Beneath

Prophets are not called to be parrots repeating a prepared speech or puppets dancing at the end of a puppetmaster's string. True prophetic insight is no respecter of persons or political parties. A prophetic message must be crafted from above and delivered into this realm with courage and clarity.

This morning in prayer, I saw people standing on platforms - political platforms. The attention of the audience was focused solely on the people on stage. The voices of those speaking began to fade away, and then the Spirit spoke.

As the 2020 election cycle increases in speed, visibility, and ferocity, each party has constructed a platform upon which their candidate will stand. Our attention can be distracted by the performers on these platforms drawing us away from the significant issues that are at stake. 

Choose to look deeper, beyond the personalities, platforms, and stagecraft. Discern the spirit behind the creation of the policies being represented. Some will unfortunately never explore the issues at this depth and remain embroiled in the surface turmoil. The end of discernment is to only see what is being presented in the public square and then respond in a Pavlovian manner to the stimuli being offered. 

A great deal of diversion is taking place. It is a distraction causing people to not see the deeper issues upon which each platform has been constructed. Ask God for discernment to see through the demands of your emotions that have been responding to the prepared material of the media, the algorithms of your social media feed and your circle of friends who think like you.  

Pray and ask God for prophetic insight. The answer to that request will alter your current perception of reality and help you see what has been hidden beneath all the noise and posturing currently being displayed on the platforms of culture. 

Monday, December 16, 2019

Guarded Hearts

Years ago, in my previous life, I guarded lives as a profession. Once, my team helped guard the President of the United States. I have guarded celebrities as part of their security detail and stood in courtrooms guarding a judge and jury during the trial of international terrorists. I’ve guarded the lives of hostages as a hostage negotiator. 

The most challenging guarding assignment of all has been trying to guard the condition of my heart. The human heart carries an arsenal of weaponry waiting to be fired in an undisciplined moment of anger or impatience. It requires the guarding presence of our will and the empowerment of God’s Spirit to safeguard others from its deadly impact. Guard your heart well. Guard it wisely. The lives of those you love are on the line.

“Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it”
 (Proverbs 4:23).

Sunday, December 15, 2019

Seeking the Highest Good

A wise mentor once described love in a way that changed my understanding of love. It changed how I view other people, especially those I might not like or agree with. He said, “Love is seeking the highest good for another person.” I wish I could say I have always loved this way, but sadly, I have failed more times than I want to admit.

What would it look like if we sought the highest good for another person? To answer that question, we would need to understand the difference between God’s highest good for someone and our demand that people live as we do, choose our particular flavor of politics, hold our worldview, or agree with our religious beliefs.

Today, you may have an opportunity to view the face of someone you have been programmed to view with disgust. How would you seek the highest good for that person? Some of you might go to work returning to an environment created by an emotionally unhealthy supervisor where division and malice fill the air. How would you seek the highest good for that person?
Seeking the highest good for another person is easy when we agree with each other. To seek the highest good for a relationship or situation outside our sphere of comfort and approval is where the real test of the quality of our love is discovered. This is the place where Jesus does His most exceptional work. It is a painful Cross-like experience where we allow ourselves to be nailed by love to relationships where we continue to seek the highest good of another person no matter what the response.

Take a Second Look

I write every day either for a social media posting or for a writing project that might end up becoming a book. I have noticed something that we all do from time-to-time. We read something through the lens of our bias, and it ticks us off or runs contrary to what we perceive as truth. It’s human nature and we are all guilty. In our shared guilt, we do have an option. We can draw upon patience and wisdom and do a second read-through to make sure our biased comment is valid and something we really need to post.

A few years ago, I had someone leave a negative comment on Amazon about one of my books. The person labeled the content of my book as false teaching and left a one-star rating. I’m a big boy and can handle honest criticism, but for the life of me, the object of the criticism was written nowhere in the book. It was a head-scratcher. In other instances, I’ve had people fire off critical comments on my social media accounts that made me wonder if they actually read what I wrote. In some cases, the article addressed their actual concern, but they could not see it because either they were having a bad day, or they wanted to use my public platform as a place for their voice to be heard by a wider audience. Who knows?

We owe each other a second read. These second reads are not to search for verification and affirmation of our bias, but to see if what we are commenting/complaining about is really there. This is not limited to our comments on someone’s social media account. It applies to all our human interactions where it is always better to believe the best before we assume the worst. 

Friday, December 13, 2019

Gifts of Access

Many of us have lived with a misunderstood interpretation of Proverbs 18:16,  “A man’s gift makes room for him and brings him before great men.” We thought this verse meant our personal ministry gift is what opens a way for us to gain access to important relationships that a non-gifted person would not be able to enter. While that can be true in some cases, it is not what the verse is saying.

With the advent of more readable translations of Scripture, the understanding of Proverbs 18:16 has being clarified, “Would you like to meet a very important person? Take a generous gift. It will do wonders to gain entrance into his presence.” The verse, when correctly interpreted, means if we are being led by God to meet with someone in a place of authority, we should prepare a gift to bring with us. The gift will open the door and grant us the favor of an audience.

The word “gift” is used elsewhere in the Hebrew text to describe the dowry gift given to obtain a wife, offerings offered in worship, a gift given to a ruler as a gesture of goodwill, or a gift given in secret to pacify someone’s anger. In its original usage, it had nothing to do with our ministry gifts. 

Some of this misunderstanding has created an unhealthy hierarchy in the Church, leading some to believe only certain people with certain gifts can be used by God to speak to people in places of authority. Proverbs 18:16 is actually a verse about wisdom. There are times when a natural gift will open a relational door to deliver a spiritual gift. We need to discern under the guidance of wisdom what that gift might be. This makes all of us, not just the visibly gifted ones, a potential deliverer of a breakthrough word - a word released after the delivery of a gift had opened the heart of the hearer.

Thursday, December 12, 2019

When God Steps In

The last verse of the following text from Isaiah is where I have parked my hope at this moment in history, “So he himself stepped in to save them with his strong arm.” 

For many who have not considered the intervening aspect of God’s strong arm in human affairs, injustice and despair seem to be increasing with no hope in sight. They have forgotten it will be the Lord who has the last word. 

Do all God has asked you to today for righteousness sake. Be faithful in all things, but never forget that real and abiding change only comes when God steps in and redirects the course of history for His purposes and His glory. 

“Our courts oppose the righteous,
   and justice is nowhere to be found.
Truth stumbles in the streets,
   and honesty has been outlawed.
Yes, truth is gone,
   and anyone who renounces evil is attacked.
The Lord looked and was displeased
   to find there was no justice.
He was amazed to see that no one intervened
   to help the oppressed.
So, he himself stepped in to save them with his strong arm,
   and his justice sustained him” (Isaiah 59:14-16).

Wednesday, December 11, 2019

Led by the Impulse of God's Spirit

For the last few months, the Lord has been directing Jan and me by the impulses of His Spirit. While we have tried to live that way all of our lives, it has not been as purposeful as it has become of late. A shift in the spiritual realm is taking place. We believe living only in response to the impulse of the Spirit will position our lives to be of greater use to God and His Kingdom purpose.

Our understanding of the way God is prompting us to live was given greater clarity by the Passion Translation's interpretation of Romans 8:5, “But those who live by the impulses of the Holy Spirit are motivated to pursue spiritual realities.” The word “impulse” jumped out at us and captured in words what we have been experiencing.

Our world is filled with impulsive reactions and reasonings. Not all of these impulses are from God. To discern the source of an impulse, we have to step back into the protective enclosure of emotional and spiritual rest where God’s peace can surround us and become a buffer to the constant onslaught of negative impulsive reactions. Even well-meaning believers can fall prey to these impulses, wanting us to join with them in a slavish response to every impulsive newscast, advertisement or invitation we receive.

When I read about the life of Paul and the other early disciples, I do not see a frenetic form of faith running in all directions responding to each impulse offered by a nervous culture or dysfunctional people. They lived waiting for the impulse of God’s Spirit to direct their steps. They refused to live under the influence of the unsettled emotions and the undisciplined responses of other people.

Choosing to live in response to the impulse of God’s Spirit will bring a peace that is hard to explain to those who continue to live each waking moment in slavish obedience to the constant tug of impulsive people and unsettled cultural institutions.  Today, choose to enter a place of restful waiting and only allow the impulse of God’s Spirit to draw you out and to offer your response.

Monday, December 9, 2019

New Vision for a New Year

It will be so easy for some of us to overuse the numerical designation for the coming New Year in a prophetic sense, but the number 2020 is real. It’s on our calendar, and it does mean something. 

This morning, after standing at our living room window and praying into the early morning darkness, I finally sat down to begin writing. As soon as I sat in my chair, I saw a faint image in the Spirit. This was an image similar to what Elijah experienced when he was told the Lord speaks in a still, small voice. I have learned to pay attention to the faint images and quiet sounds of the Spirit.

As soon as I sat down, I began to see an image of people arriving at an ophthalmologist’s office to have their eyes examined. The Lord was the examiner. He was leading them into the office to have their spiritual eyesight adjusted to a 2020 level of discernment. The Lord measured each individual’s quality of sight and prescribed new glasses that would correct their bias, prejudice and unhealthy ways of seeing life to align their vision with how God sees individuals and cultures.

In 2020 a form of spiritual ophthalmology will take place. In the United States, the depth of our division seems at first glance a negative, but in some ways, it is the result of increasing clarity of vision for our nation. G.K, Chesterton, the British theologian and philosopher who lived during the last century, made a profound statement. He said, “Art like morality consists of drawing the line somewhere.” God is adjusting our vision so we will know where to draw lines of definition that will honor the Lord’s original intent in all things. Some of us may begin to see issues in our own lives that will require a greater correction that what we have seen in culture as a dysfunction. This clarity of sight will spare no one, even those of us who think we see this life so clearly. 

The visible theatrics and personas on all sides of important issues have blurred the sight of many who live responding only to the theatrics and personalities of those in the public square. These distractions and their blinding effect keep us from seeing beneath the surface to view with discerning sight what is really taking place in the spiritual realm. This is why we need our vision adjusted.

2020 will be a year of greater clarity and insight as the Spirit works to bring new levels of perception to critical issues that will affect our ability to carry out the Great Commission.

Sunday, December 8, 2019

The Messes We Make

When the mess you made finally catches up to you, God will be present in that painful place ready to redeem the negative outcome others have predicted over your life. He will turn the negative mess into something positive because that is His nature. It’s not over until God speaks. Listen to His voice, not the voice of your graceless critics.

Watch Your Backtrail

I hike a few times each week on the woodland trails above our home. I will occasionally turn around and check my backtrail. I do this for a reason.

The cougar population in Oregon has increased at an alarming rate since legislation went into place, limiting the ability to manage the cougar population. One report said before the legislation went into place, the cougar population was 1,500. Now it exceeds 5,000. Because cougars hunt in personal terrain, this has pushed young, inexperienced cougars and old and sick ones into more populated areas in search of food.  Each time I see a hand-drawn poster for a missing pet, I wonder. Just last week, a local friend posted a photo on Facebook of a group of four cougars walking down a gravel driveway.

It always amazes me how situationally unaware some people are walking in a forest with earbuds on listening to music or a lecture oblivious to their surroundings. The same is true on city streets where even more dangerous predators walk upright on two legs.

There is a spiritual application for what I just shared. Not every dangerous spiritual encounter is ahead of us. Some will approach us from our backtrail, waiting for an opportune moment to attack. These attacks can be in the form of a lie that says we are unworthy of forgiveness since we just committed the same sin again after asking forgiveness. Other lies slink up behind us to tell us our failed past will become the pavement on the road leading to our future. Lies are opportunists that take advantage of our unbelief.

Some of us need to do what forest service personnel advise hikers to do when they encounter a cougar. Raise your arms, shout loudly, and slowly back away. The goal is to make yourself look big and too large a threat for the cougar to engage. The worst thing to do is run. 

In the realm of the Spirit, we call this faith. It is faith in the One who stands beside us as our Redeemer. He makes us strong and courageous and spiritually large because He paid the price for everything. That payment includes defanging the lie currently trailing behind us trying to find an opportune moment of personal weakness and disbelief to pounce on us and sink the fangs of a lie deep within our soul.

Today, turn around from time-to-time and check your backtrail. If you see a lie, shout at it in faith, and get big in Jesus. In that moment of confrontation, you will see the lie scurry off into the forest. Enjoy your hike.

Saturday, December 7, 2019

In the Middle and Waiting

The challenging situation you are facing is not as bad as it seems or as good as it can get. You are waiting for something to move one way or the other. You have thought you might be confused or indecisive. You are not. This is just the way some circumstances unfold. A few things still need to fall into place, and certain people need to make personal choices before you will see any movement. No matter which way this goes, God is already present in the outcome with a new assignment for you. Until the final direction is determined the only thing you can do is trust God. Of all the options you have, it is the only one that will bring you peace in the process no matter what happens with the outcome.

Friday, December 6, 2019

2020 - A Year of Suddenlies

2020 will be a year of unexpected and sudden intervention by God in human affairs. It will be unexpected for those who have forgotten the word of the Lord. The prophet Isaiah wrote what the Lord said at a time in human history similar to ours, “Long ago I told you what was going to happen. Then suddenly, I took action, and all my predictions came true” (Isaiah 48:3).  Carry expectancy with you as you cross over the threshold of the New Year. Sudden things are about to happen.

Thursday, December 5, 2019

No More Worry

For those who worry about the outcome of an impeachment hearing, the 2020 election or whether a nation will rise or fall, it would be wise to read the following verse from the prophet Isaiah who recorded the word of Lord during a troubling time in Israel's history. "For I am ready to set things right, not in the distant future, but right now!" (Isaiah 46:13). We are in a moment of heavenly timing. That timing will release supernatural intervention as a Kairos moment upon the predictable Chronos timeline of human reasoning. The answers to the dilemmas in our culture are coming from above, not from below. Align yourself with the heart of God and all the things causing you concern will find their place of submission under the mighty hand of God. God remains sovereign in all things.

Writing the Story of Our Life

Whenever I write, whether it is a short article or something more substantial, like a book, I do two things in the process. I write the piece first, then I read it. In the writing part, it’s not that I don’t actually read while I am writing, it is just a different phase in the process. When I finally read the finished product, I read the text as someone reading it for the first time. I read as a seeker. It is in that final reading where I see problems with my logic, the delivery of an unhealthy tone, or at times, the need to hit the delete button and start over.

We all write (live) portions of our lives before they become a readable text. In the writing seasons, we are living things out for which we have no prior experience. It is a messy process filled with mistakes. We use the wrong punctuation and words that created unclear text. Because of these error-filled seasons, we can begin to think we will never be able to publish a worthy life. It is in these early stages of editing where our life develops the content of its story. In this private place where we work with the Editor of Heaven, we are fine-tuning the content of our life so that someday it will become a readable testimony bringing hope to others as they write the story of their own life.

I’m hard on myself when it comes to my writing, and unfortunately, I am also hard on myself during the first draft seasons when God is doing something new in my life. We all need to give God the time He needs to turn an immature and incomplete first draft manuscript of our life into something that is easily read by others. In these gut-wrenching times of editing, we develop the text of the finished manuscript. This is where the text of our life becomes readable and relatable and without a lot of fluff. Being willing to work with God through seasons of intense life-editing is where the best sellers in His Kingdom are written. Keep writing. Your story is still developing.

Wednesday, December 4, 2019

God is Bringing Comfort and Rest to Afflicted Minds

This morning as Jan and I took communion, we prayed that our minds would not be divided. We anointed each other with oil to heal anything in our thinking that would separate us from a singlemindedness with the Lord. 

As we prayed, I saw the image of a person struggling with dark and confused thinking. Their feeling of confusion and divided thinking had become a real concern. They did not know what to do and even wondered if they were losing their minds. The person had prayed, rebuked the evil one, and stood upon the promises of Scripture, but the problem seemed to persist. 

I saw the top of the person's skull had been removed, revealing the two hemispheres of their brain. A spirit of division was attempting to gain a foothold in their thought life. In the next moment, I saw the Lord approach the person, and like someone wrapping their arms around a troubled child, the Lord embraced the vulnerable and exposed brain. He began to speak words of comfort to the afflicted one. The freedom I saw beginning to emerge on the countenance of the person being embraced did not come from their effort to try to do better or think the right thoughts. It came because the love of God had appeared and surrounded their restless mind in an act of mercy speaking words of assurance and peace. When the Lord spoke, the sound of His voice silenced the spirit of division.

Tuesday, December 3, 2019

Understanding the Detour

Take a moment to reconsider the detour that is taking place in your life. You are being detoured, not abandoned. 

The word “detour” is of French origin. It was created from the word “tour” which means “to turn.” God is turning your life in a new direction. A tour of something new is taking place. A dictionary definition defines a detour as “a deviation from a direct course or the usual procedure.” You are being detoured to experience a tour through regions of your life and faith you had not considered before this detour began. 

As the detour moves forward, focus on the landscape of God’s heart, not on what you are leaving behind or what awaits you in the future. This is why the detour is happening. It is not to rob you of your joy or destroy your dreams. You are being detoured to see the heart of God, and that image will change the way you view your future and interpret your past. 

Monday, December 2, 2019

Reseting Our Spiritual Clock

This morning, I walked into our kitchen to start the coffee. In the darkness, I noticed the digital clock on the stove read 3:39, and the clock on the microwave was reading 3:40. When the time changed in November, I set the clocks back an hour and thought I did it at a precise moment, but there must have been a short lag. I did not notice the difference between the two clocks since the time change. But, when I entered the kitchen this morning, the two clocks revealed their difference for just a moment before returning to proper alignment. Had I not been standing in the kitchen at that precise moment, I would have missed the error.

Like the two digital clocks in our kitchen, not everything in our life will always align when it comes to our perception of time. Our expectations and assumptions can create miscalculations in our understanding of time. When we realize those misalignments, we need to trust God that He has the timing of our life held safely in His hands. 

On one of our trips through London, Jan, and I visited Greenwich, a suburb of London. Greenwich is where the Royal Observatory is located and where Greenwich Mean Time (GMT) is kept using an atomic clock. In most of the non-English speaking world, this time keeping is referred to as Coordinated Universal Time (UTC). The Greenwich clock is the timepiece from which all world time is set, plus or minus hours depending on where you read the current time on the globe. Incorrectly setting our wristwatch or the clocks in our home does not affect GMT/UTC. Greenwich remains constant as a global reference point for all time measurements.

Whenever we set our spiritual and emotional clocks, we create a frame of reference for the timing of the events in our life. Our settings will always contain a human error. This doesn’t mean we failed. It merely means we missed the timing for the realization of a desire of our heart or the fulfillment of a dream. Life is not over because we set the wrong time. In God’s Kingdom, a correction of a timing error is always possible because God is the merciful keeper of time. Just as someone who wants to set their clock to the proper time would set their timepiece to the atomic clock in Greenwich, so it is with you and me when we want to align the timing of our lives with God. If we realize we made a mistake in our perception of time, we need to give God our clock to be reset. He will lovingly reset our clock to His timing and hand it back to us.

Sunday, December 1, 2019

Keep Moving

Last night, I had a dream. In the dream, I saw someone slowing down to cross an intersection cautiously. Then the Lord stepped out into the intersection and waved the person through declaring, "The way is clear." A lot of our understanding of faith is caution based. That is not a negative thing unless it is how we always approach the intersections of life. When you approach the next intersection, never forget that God's ability to lead you in the right way is greater than the devil's ability to lead you in the wrong way. God will tell you when to slow down. Until then, keep moving forward in faith.

Depositing Sweetness

Our marriage is filled with small rituals. Each morning after Jan and I greet each other, we enjoy a long hug and a kiss. Then we move to our second daily ritual of morning writing. Jan heads off to her chair in our bedroom, and I enter our living room where my writing chair awaits. After about an hour of writing, I make breakfast and take it to Jan. Every morning, I place a small piece of chocolate on Jan’s plate to be savored after breakfast as it melts in her mouth under the warming influence of her last cup of coffee. 

It’s that little piece of daily chocolate that I am thinking about as I write these words. In case you might have some idyllic thoughts about our marriage, it’s that little piece of chocolate that I hope will create some relational equity when later in the day I say something stupid or hurt Jan’s feelings. 

Buying your wife flowers for no reason - just because, or doing the dishes without being asked or putting a piece of chocolate on a breakfast plate is what I call “depositing sweetness.” Anything we do to express our love to another person is like making a deposit in a savings account. Over time it collects interest.

My father was a rough and tumble kind of man. He grew up in the depths of the Great Depression, just trying to survive. He hopped freight trains to find work and boxed a few rounds on Friday night for a $5 purse. Yet, in all his manliness and strength, as a young boy, I watched how he tenderly treated my mom with on-going expressions of his affection. He did the little things that mattered.  When he did fail as a father or husband, it was the interest gained from those loving acts deposited over time that kept our family together in the tough times. Witnessing those small expressions of love given to each other over time created a respect that my brother and I have for our parents who have long-departed this life.

It’s never too late to start expressing your love. Today, look around and discover a place to deposit a little sweetness in the lives of those you love. That deposit may seem small, but it will not go unnoticed.

A few weeks ago, I got busy with our breakfast preparation and forgot to put the little piece of chocolate on Jan’s plate. When I walked out of our bedroom to return to my writing chair, I heard Jan say, “A little piece of chocolate would be nice.” Nothing we do in love for those we love ever goes unnoticed.