Monday, February 17, 2020

A Good Kind of Ornery

I have come to appreciate ornery people – ornery people with a good heart. For some of you who might not know what ornery means, the dictionary definition comes in two forms. One definition describes a person who is irritable, difficult to control, or combative. The other usage describes a person as “having a playful tendency to cause trouble, mischievous.” I am referring to the latter kind of ornery.

What is so appealing about this kind of person is the absence of emotional or relational camouflage. You really know what they think and where they stand.  They tell you the unvarnished truth no matter who is in the room. They do it with a wry smile on their face that lets you know they will still be standing with you no matter what happens. In that honesty, the last thing on their mind would be to abandon you by remaining silent when what you needed most was honesty. 

Sunday, February 16, 2020

A Barren Message

A message of contempt will always create barrenness in the life of those who are swayed by its content. No matter how strong an opinion or well-researched a position might be, a message of contempt does not contain the seed of life. 

A barren epitaph was pronounced over David’s wife after she mocked with contempt how David worshipped the Lord when the Ark was returned to Jerusalem. “So, Michal, the daughter of Saul, remained childless throughout her entire life” (II Samuel 6:23). Each time I read that verse, I cringe in sadness for Michal and gain a new measure of respect for the subtle power of unrestrained contempt.

A dictionary definition of contempt reads, “The feeling or attitude of regarding someone or something as inferior, base, or worthless.” Contempt is manifested in anger, disgust, or scorn. Samuel Johnson, the English essayist and social commentator of the 18th century, said this of contempt, “Contempt is a kind of gangrene, which if it seizes one part of a character, it corrupts all the rest by degrees.” Our culture is infected with contempt. The Church is not immune to this infection. 

God desires to plant seeds of life in our lives. We must offer him a healthy womb for those seeds to create life, not division, disgust, or death. Do not open your life up to the seductive spirit of contempt. What at first appears to be a welcomed union of shared emotion will, in the end, become a barren and sad place of stolen potential. 

Saturday, February 15, 2020

Redeemed Failures

Recently, I was asked to write a contributing chapter to a book about prophecy. In my introductory remarks, I wanted to introduce the reader to the reality of my life in the Spirit. I wrote, “In this chapter, I have assembled some thoughts I hope will help you steward your prophetic life well. Most of these impressions and lessons were learned the hard way – through failure. In all the ups and downs of life and ministry, I have learned that redeemed failures can become the most cherished teachers.”

It can be hard to imagine how failure can be redeemed and become a cherished teacher when it is fresh, raw, and humiliating. In our pain, we try to ignore our failures and move on in an attempt to discover our strong points and linger in their illusion. That choice never produces good fruit. God has always done His best work in our weak and broken places if we embrace the responsibilities that go along with partnering with God in a redemptive work.

The older I get, the more meaningful the Lord’s words to Paul have become to me when I read how He addressed human frailty.   “My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness” (II Corinthians 12:9). If God’s supernatural power works best in our weakness, then our weakness becomes a learning environment where we are tutored by the Spirit how to encounter God’s grace and experience the power of His love. Don't waste your failures.

Friday, February 14, 2020

Discovering the Substance Behind Prophetic Predictions

Maybe it’s because I have been doing this for a long time, but I’m no longer impressed with stand-alone prophetic predictions no matter who gives them. What catches my attention is the heart and purpose of God behind the prophecy. If we are not careful, we can miss the deeper reason why a predictive revelation was given in the first place. 

The next time you hear someone make a prediction, ask the Lord to show you why He let you know something before it happens. That "why" is the most essential element in a prophetic word. A predictive prophetic word is simply a spiritual butler who opens the door of revelation and invites us inside the mansion of God’s heart. The Lord's reasoning behind a prophetic word, not the initial announcement itself, is where the real substance of a prophetic word is discovered.

Thursday, February 13, 2020

The Power of Inquiry

What made King David such an effective leader and a man after God’s own heart was his willingness to inquire of the Lord for direction before he took action. On the few occasions when David did not inquire of the Lord, death, sorrow, and heartache took place. Each of us can be effective in our particular Kingdom assignment if we are willing to inquire of the Lord before we speak or act.  On the other hand, like David, we will sow death, sorrow, and heartache when we rely on our own wisdom or follow our unbridled passions without first inquiring of the Lord.

Wednesday, February 12, 2020

No Longer

A significant transition takes place in our relationship with God when we longer see ourselves as working FOR God, but WITH God.

That transition takes place when we no longer see ourselves a - 

sinners, but as saints fully redeemed
servants, but as friends of God
orphans, but as sons and daughters

This change of insight into our true identity will radically upset the spirit of religion that desires to control us with a lesser image of ourselves than how God sees us. It will also challenge our understanding of God's love and require that we step out of the cell of a broken identity into the freedom of a new creation.

Surviving Personal Earthquakes

When you are in the middle of a very erratic season of life where preferred outcomes and emotions rise and fall each day, that is not a good time to make life-altering decisions. If your life looks like a frenetic graph with up and down spikes resembling the needle marks left on a seismometer during an earthquake, step back and try to look at the big picture. The perspective gained from the larger image of chronological time will help you see what can be missed in the blinding emotion of the moment. 

The tremors you are experiencing will not be the final record of your life. They are only reporting what is happening now. There will come a time when the needle on your emotional seismometer will settle down and indicate calm and clarity once again. As devastating as these shakings can be, like natural earthquakes, they don’t last forever. 

When personal earthquakes take place, ride out the shaking with your hope placed firmly in the goodness of God. That is the only safe hope. It can survive any shaking no matter how much destruction takes place.

Monday, February 10, 2020

The Checkmate of God

This morning in prayer, I saw an image of the Lord seated at a chessboard. The chess pieces were ornate and represented the nations of the earth. I looked to see who His opponent was and realized he was so insignificant in comparison to God that I could not even see his head above the tabletop. It appeared as if no one was seated across from the Lord. The enemy’s lack of significance did not allow him to play the game with any hope of final victory.  Each move he made could not stand up against the wisdom and power of God’s strategy. Patiently and peacefully, the Lord continued to move each chess piece around the chessboard, according to a plan none of us can fully understand or comprehend the complexity of its design.

This life and the affairs of humanity are being orchestrated by the hand of God, not by evil. None of what we see taking place on the world stage is without a righteous and merciful outcome. When things make no sense or people issue warnings that the sky is falling, wait in expectation for the next move of God. His hand is always making a strategic play at just the right time that will checkmate the most elaborate plan of hell.

Sunday, February 9, 2020

The Next Generation of Revelation

While the faith once delivered to the Church is unchangeable and true, our ability to grasp the fullness of that faith may not happen in a single generation. What one generation considered either true or false based on personal or cultural interpretation might be challenged by the next generation. The interpretation of matters of faith carries both risk and reward. 

There is something called Meta Induction Theory that suggests our accepted scientific theory can change over time. Pesticides once declared safe are now known to cause cancer. The earth was considered flat until proved otherwise. Germs were unknown because they remained unseen.

Every area of life goes through a process of discovery where our current level of knowledge experiences a process of turnover called “half-life knowledge.” Ideas or our interpretation of those ideas can become obsolete or disproven over time. Some of what our great-grandparents considered as scientific reality is no longer considered true.

A spiritual form of Meta Induction Theory can apply to our faith. In my generation, we have seen the role of women in ministry return to the original intent of God and not be isolated to a few corrective verses that had a specific cultural application. We realized the gifts of the Spirit were for today and not to be left behind in the dusty pages of history. The role of apostle and prophet has stepped back into their rightful place alongside the other equipping gifts.

God is unchangeable. He is the same yesterday, today, and forever. The rest of what was once delivered to the Church might require many generations to unpack its fullness. We are in a moment of tremendous reset where some of what we thought to be true and unchanging was only the first generation of a much larger revelation. Remain teachable. Hold everything with an open hand. God is placing fresh revelation in the hands of those who are willing. 

Saturday, February 8, 2020

Creating a Healthy Prophetic Environment

A prophetic ministry requires two elements if it is to remain healthy and endure over time. It requires revelation and an environment. Some good people put out word after word without considering the environment where a prophecy has the best chance to live and thrive and express the character of God's Kingdom. If you are beginning your prophetic journey or you have been doing it for a long time, make sure that you nurture the environment where your words take root as much as you desire to speak the word of the Lord.  Future generations will thank God for both the content of your words and the healthy environment you left behind.  

Surviving a Spiritual Free-for-all

I was talking to someone recently and shared with them whenever God begins to move, there will always be a mixture of opposing spiritual forces. This is what took place in Acts 16 between Paul and a fortune teller. Paul confronted the demon speaking through the woman, and she was set free. As a result of their actions and the cultural turmoil created by their obedience, Paul and Silas were arrested, beaten, and thrown into prison. 

God is all-powerful, but that does not mean when He first steps onto the stage of a circumstance, all the dark performers will automatically depart. They must be confronted, or they will continue to speak just like the fortune teller did in Paul's day. When God begins to bring wholeness to an individual, a family, or a nation, His presence will expose and dislodge embedded deceptions. It can look like a spiritual free-for-all until a matter is settled by a demonstration of God's power. 

If you find yourself in the middle of a spiritual free-for-all, find out where the Spirit is moving and follow Him. He will be faithful to show you the way forward through the debris field. 

Friday, February 7, 2020

Losing Credibility

If the primary motivator of what we do is the maintenance of credibility among our peers, we will not take our place on the expanding frontier of revelation. Each explorer in history, whether it was the exploration of new geography or a new way of thinking, left their credibility behind with those still trapped in fear of the unknown. Credibility has value when it is sourced in our character. It loses value if it becomes an anchor of fear that keeps us from moving forward into places not yet explored. 

Thursday, February 6, 2020

The Purpose of New Wineskins

When Jesus taught about new wineskins, He wasn’t referring to the latest model of ministry. He was talking about the condition of our hearts. From a repurposed heart will flow new ways of relating to a culture that creates models of ministry to serve the purposes of God. When we equate and restrict the purpose of new wine to the creation of a new model of ministry, we will miss the purpose of new wineskins. New wineskin models of ministry are the byproduct of a changed heart.

Spiritual Diversions

A spiritual diversion can look and sound righteous. In its appeal, a diversion will attempt to keep you from a deeper work of God. A diversion must carry enough truth to draw the na├»ve into the flow of its deception. We will always have a mixture of truth and error whenever the Spirit of God moves against the spirit of the age. Discernment is required to discover the deeper issues hidden under human emotion and misguided allegiance. Not all that appears right on the surface is right in the heart of God. 

Wednesday, February 5, 2020

Beyond an Emotional Response

Hell accomplishes its most significant work in times of confusion. Make sure, at every point, you are responding to what is taking place around you with a word from the Lord, not an emotional response to external stimuli. This point of tactical wisdom kept me alive as a SWAT cop, and it is what keeps spiritual warriors alive in times of spiritual warfare.

True Freedom

Historically, the most culture-shaping moves of God took place when the Church was marginalized and without a position of influence in secular culture. China and Iran are currently experiencing two of the greatest revivals in modern times. Both of those oppressive governments have tried to kill, imprison, and limit the influence of the Church to no avail. 

At our inception on the Day of Pentecost, 120 believers huddled together in an upper room living under the thumb of Rome’s power and the disdain of religious leaders who worked in concert with the government to crucify Jesus. No oppressive thumb of government restriction or any misguided judgment from people who purport a preferred faith could contain the message of Jesus Christ.

Our freedom in Christ is not given to us by any earthly institution. It comes from the hand of God. In seasons of heated social debate, it is wise to maintain a historical perspective on the faithfulness of God across time. He has never failed those who place their trust in Him, and Him alone.  

Tuesday, February 4, 2020

Heaven's Concierge

We are the keeper of the keys of heaven. The phrase “the keeper of the keys” has been used to describe someone who maintains, watches over and defends the interest of their employer. A modern-day hotel concierge - the keeper of the keys -  can trace the roots of their role back to France in the Middle Ages where the word was originally used. A concierge was given authority to lock and unlock the castle of the person they served.  

In Matthew 16: 13-20, an interesting dialogue takes place between Jesus and His disciples. Jesus asks, “Who do people say that the Son of Man is?” The disciples gave a variety of responses revealing how the religious culture of the day viewed Jesus. Then the Lord pressed the disciples personally and asked, “But who do you say that I am?" In typical Peter fashion, he answered for the group, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God. And Jesus said to him 'Blessed are you, Simon Barjona because flesh and blood did not reveal this to you, but My Father who is in heaven.'"

Jesus then told the disciples upon that revelation, He would build His church, and the gates of hell would not be able to stand against the advance of God’s Kingdom. To empower us to accomplish this task, Jesus went on to say “I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth shall have been bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall have been loosed in heaven.”

The revelation of Jesus Christ, who is seated above all things in a place of ultimate authority, is the Kingdom key that can unlock all gates of deception. The keys of our authority are cut to the profile of Jesus Christ. Only the revelation of Jesus has the power and authority to unlock doors of opportunity or opposition. We are not the source of that authority. We are the concierge of Jesus' authority. We open and close doors as directed by the Spirit.

Today, if you are called by God to advance, and you are confronted by a gate of hell, insert the revelation of Jesus Christ into the lock and turn the key by faith.  The tumblers of deception that formed the mechanism of hell's lock will give way to the authority of the Lord. This is the duty of someone who is employed as heaven's concierge on earth. 

Monday, February 3, 2020

Prophecy, Critics, and Comfort Zones

A prophecy was delivered by the late Bob Jones, noting that when the Kansas City Chiefs win the Super Bowl, it will mark the beginning of a revival. For some, prophetic words spark a negative knee-jerk response. No matter how accurate a prophet might be, there will always be those who are determined to find something they do not like about either the prophet or the message they deliver.  

The world and, unfortunately, some in the Church have adopted a spirit a denial choosing as their first response to discredit a prophet or prophetic word that does not align with their narrow interpretation of life. Don’t be one of those people. These nit-picking responses are disguised under a false label called “discernment” or a dismissive wait-and-see attitude that is a form religion-speak used to reject anything outside the critic’s narrow interpretation of spiritual reality. 

The Bereans noted in Acts 17 are frequently cited by these critics as their motivation for rejection. In their defense, they quote, “They (Bereans) searched the Scriptures day after day to see if Paul and Silas were teaching the truth.” These critics fail to mention the first part of that same verse that says, “And the people of Berea were more open-minded than those in Thessalonica, and they listened eagerly to Paul’s message.” 

An open mind and the wise use of Scripture is a healthy combination if we are at least willing to listen to the message bearer before rejecting what they speak. The Bereans "listened eagerly," and so should we.

Sunday, February 2, 2020

A Week of Convergence

This is a week of converging and turning. Multiple events will take place in our culture to create a convergence revealing the will of the Father. This convergence will become an announcement of a new season in our history. Guard your heart and your words. Those not blinded by cynicism, mockery, and slander will be able to see these converging events and hear their announcements.

Saturday, February 1, 2020

A New Book

Have you ever wondered what it would be like to live on the edge of the ever-expanding frontier of God’s revelation on Earth? Our place on that frontier is where we partner with God’s Spirit to accomplish the goal of the Great Commission -  to make disciples of all nations. 

You have a Kingdom assignment in one of the seven spheres of cultural influence, Government, Religion, Economy, Education, Arts & Entertainment, Media, or Family. I have written a book that will help you discover that assignment and your role in its implementation.                                                                                                          

For the last several months, I have been writing a new book titled, “BEYOND – Exploring the Frontier of God’s Expanding Revelation.” It should be ready for purchase around April 1 in both print and Kindle formats on Amazon.

I’m letting you know about the book because today my editor takes possession of the manuscript to begin the editing process. Your prayers would be appreciated. Thank you.