Thursday, August 13, 2020

A Time of Defining and Refining

One thing that will emerge from this time of social isolation and cultural shutdown will be a clarification between the Gospel of Salvation and the Gospel of the Kingdom. 

Those who follow the Gospel of the Salvation believe that Jesus came to Earth solely to lead people to Himself.  While that is true, and thankfully so,  it is not the only reason He came. When Jesus spoke the Great Commission, the Lord instructed us to go and make disciples of all nations. The assumption is He must first bring people to Himself before they can begin to reach the nations. The Gospel of the Kingdom casts a much wider net. 

While the Gospel message includes the salvation and discipling of individuals, it does so with a mission in mind to disciple nations. A Kingdom-focused gospel will call people to Christ and then send them out to speak the truth in love to those institutions of a culture where the dominant sound may not reflect the heart of God. All of this must be done while keeping our eyes on Jesus, or it will become selfish, partisan, and self-centered.


Bill Bright of Campus Crusade for Christ and Loren Cunningham of YWAM met in 1975 and spoke of the seven spheres of cultural influence where the Church needs to be involved if a nation is to be discipled. Much of their ministry focus that followed reflected that shared understanding. The areas of culture Bright and Cunningham discussed, where the Church is called to be a transforming presence, are Government, Religion, Education, Economy, Arts & Entertainment, Media, and Family. The current 7 Mountain understanding of the Great Commission mission flows from that meeting 45 years ago.


Each believer is already an influencing presence in the area of Family and Religion. Some who believe in a salvation only Gospel are not comfortable with believers involving themselves in areas like politics. Those same critics celebrate a recording artist becoming a believer and staying in the sphere of media as a witness for Christ or an educator who contends with a local school board that wants to introduce an unrighteous curriculum. It’s okay for a believing economist to attempt to direct tax funds toward an inner-city project by changing a funding policy. Still, somehow a believer “getting political” is out of bounds. It makes no sense when viewed through the lens of the Great Commission.


The Lord is currently defining and refining His Church. None of us will go through this process without stumbling, many times, offending each other. In this unusual time, our most challenging task will be to monitor the condition of our hearts and the character of our response to those with whom we disagree.


Jesus came to seek and save the lost so that once transformed, we could go into all the world and declare the heart of God under the influence and power of the Spirit. Hopefully, our efforts will lead to the transformation of the institutions within each nation to more accurately reflect the heart of God. As a result, each citizen will have an opportunity to flourish and prosper. If that freedom is ever taken from us, it will not stop the Gospel from being released.  The Church in China and Iran are current examples of that truth. While we have such freedom, we should use it. 

"The kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord and of His Christ; and He will reign forever and ever” (Revelation 11:15).


Wednesday, August 12, 2020

Keep Your Eye on California

As a native Californian having lived in Oregon now for more years than I spent in the state growing up, I have watched California's life and politics with interest. Yesterday, Kamala Harris was selected as Joe Biden’s running mate. Again, my focus was directed to California. 

I was born and raised in California. I love the state’s diversity of geography, climate, and culture. The state is now large enough economically to represent the status of a nation. It is also a state in trouble. Some of its cities are revealing deep despair. People are leaving California in droves. It is not the state of my youth. California has been described as a national indicator of the future direction of the nation. At this moment, it is indicating trouble. It is also destined by the Lord to become a spiritual indicator exhibiting potential for revival and transformation. God loves California, and its people and He has something good planned for the future of the state. 

Four months ago, I wrote a blog article titled, “Out From the Shadow” (linked below). At the time, I knew what the Lord was saying to me, but did not have permission to write in detail. My words appeared like a riddle by design. At the time, I told Jan I felt Kamala Harris would be selected as Biden’s running mate. In the brief article, I said, “One will come forth and walk in the shadow of another. This shadowed one is the primary, not the secondary.


Like some have already expressed they believe Mr. Biden may not have an extended stay in office if elected, for whatever reason. Behind Vice-President Biden now stands Kamala Harris and behind Harris in the shadows, stands the Governor of California, Gavin Newsome. Harris and Newsome both came from the seedbed of the San Francisco political arena. Harris was the city’s District Attorney and later became the state’s Attorney General, and was eventually elected to the state Senate. Newsome was the mayor of San Francisco and later ascended to state politics as Governor. Newsome has been seen by some political observers as a person with presidential aspirations. Also hailing from San Francisco is Speaker Nancy Pelosi. San Francisco is a powerful and well-funded political machine that has produced state and national leaders.


What California is revealing to us is the course of a nation’s future in natural terms. Politics, whether you like them or not, do not accurately reveal a nation's spiritual future. Keep your eye on California, not for its politics, but for its spiritual potential. Politics are only natural indicators, not the future spiritual potential of a nation. People in office from any party are not an enemy. They are people loved by God who deserve our prayers. Look past the personalities and platforms to see what God is doing in the state. Begin to pray for those in power and those aspiring to power. Don’t limit your prayers to simply a change of those in office or a particular policy with which you disagree. Keep praying for the hearts of the state’s leaders to experience God’s love. Also, keep praying for God's justice to be revealed so that real change can take place.


I am believing in something beautiful and transformative to happen in my home state. God wants to show us that those we might deem as enemies of the good can actually become partners in righteousness. For some, this will be a leap of faith to believe it could be possible because they only know and have been led to believe a negative narrative, not a Kingdom narrative.


God is creating a new narrative for California, and that sound is being heard by those with ears to hear. That is the narrative we need to pray into and its where we should invest our resources and energy. Keep God’s heart for California in the forefront of your thinking and call to remembrance the prophecies of goodness spoken over her.

Tuesday, August 11, 2020

Walking Away

You have wondered if there was a purpose for your life in this time of unusual cultural transition. Yes, there is a purpose. The Lord has allowed you to become frustrated with an angry and contentious expression of faith. The constant social discord has wearied you. A change is now required if you are to emerge from this time a whole person. 

The Lord is taking you back to something simple. He is inviting you to return to a place of simplicity where you can endure and prosper in His presence and not be drained of your emotional and spiritual energy by the constant turmoil created by a religious spirit. Arguments about religion and the defensive camps they produce no longer hold your attention or devotion. They are spiritual death camps where faith and hope are put to death. You now see them for what they are - a thin vine of bickering and backbiting that creates the fruit of another kingdom. It is time to walk away. 

You are walking away to return to your first love – a simple faith expressed by loving God and loving people, no matter who they are or what they believe.  This kind of love is not a noisy or contentious way of living, but one of solitude, invitation, and trust. It is the only kind of faith that will endure over time, ever-increasing in hope and joy.

Monday, August 10, 2020

An Approaching Moment of Singularity

I listened to an interview with a scientist describing the concept of Singularity. Singularity is a moment in history when seemingly disconnected events happen at the same time with such rapidity, they seem to the human mind as a single event. It would be like all the scientific and technological advancements made in the last 100 years happening in a single moment. It will be an overwhelming experience to a mind not accustomed to such rapid revelation.

A moment in human history is approaching that will challenge our understanding of life and how the future will unfold. When this time comes, the Lord will be the only safe harbor as these events unfold, seemingly out of control. 

This is not another end-times scenario. It is a moment of transition where the Church will be revived and reformed to engage culture with hope and offer solutions that will solve many of the struggles faced by humanity. The opportunity these events offer will become gateways into Ephesians 3:20 moments in human history where God will accomplish more than we could imagine. These events will lead us to a hope-filled future.

On the world stage, events are beginning to cluster into what will become a moment of singularity. The prophets have spoken of these events many times but as isolated revelations. A moment of singularity is being formed that will bring together the fulfillment of multiple prophecies that seemed wild and questionable at the time of their initial delivery. This single moment of mass fulfillment will create confusion and in some cases, delusion for many whose eyes are not focused on the Lord, even among those whose faith appeared strong in the past.


As this moment of singularity appears, there will be only one way to survive emotionally and spiritually. As the psalmist said, “I keep my eyes always on the Lord. With him at my right hand, I will not be shaken” (Psalm 16:8). As the world shakes in a moment of unexpected singularity, we have an opportunity to live with an unshakeable faith in the One who is never shaken by the turmoil and transitions of humanity.


Sunday, August 9, 2020

When Corny is Good

Last night, Jan and I watched a movie that was different from our typical fare of drama, action, and intrigue. It was a western. At first, I thought it might be too corny to endure, but it grew on us as the minutes rolled on. The theme of the movie was redemption, honor, and integrity. After the movie was over, I turned to Jan and said, “That was refreshing. I’m glad we watched it.” Jan agreed. Perhaps we are all at that place emotionally when filling our eyes with simplicity, authenticity and a bit of corny emotional input is just what we need. A detour into the simple and pure things of life in these complicated times will offer us an intermission of peace and a moment of rest when life becomes heavy and dark, polluted with a never-ending broadcast of evil and wrongdoing. 

Saturday, August 8, 2020

Politics and the Kingdom of God

Recently, someone asked me for advice on how, as a follower of Jesus Christ, they could wisely navigate the emotional terrain of the upcoming presidential election cycle. The person asking was sick and tired of the games both sides were playing as displayed on the various news outlets, 24/7.

I said, “Look at the platform of each party and align your vote with the issues of the platform that most accurately reflects your values. Don’t focus on the antics of any candidate who stands on a particular political platform. Antics are a diversion.” I went on to say, “Once you make your choice, don’t put your hope in the outcome of any election. The Lord will still be sitting securely on His throne after the election no matter who wins, and He will remain there for the remainder of human history and beyond. The Lord is able to exercise His will no matter how dire or disappointing the outcome of an election might appear.”


I ended our conversation by telling the person the only thing they had control over was their response to the issues of life. I said the mark of maturity for a follower of Jesus Christ is the ability to speak and live the truth in love. Once they have said and done all they could do, they had one more choice to make - to rest in the faithfulness of God. 


I remember many years ago a word spoken by Jack Hayford to worried congregants assembled the Sunday after the November election. Someone was elected to the office of President that most evangelical believers did not support. Jack said from the pulpit, “God didn’t lose the election. He wasn’t even running.” That message will still preach.

Friday, August 7, 2020

The Scales of Truth

Many are feeling overwhelmed and confused with the flood of “evidence” that supports opposing positions and opinions. The Lord is bringing clarification that will reveal what is true and what is a lie. At first, the evidence of Heaven will appear small and insignificant, but that revealed truth will change the imbalance on the scales of social order that is causing so much concern.

As I pondered these thoughts, I saw the image of a set of scales. They looked like the scales of justice. One side was heaped high with false evidence. It was an overwhelming amount of false evidence – a severe imbalance. 


Into the image walked a solitary figure. In their hand was a very small weight. It seemed insignificant as it was placed in the center of the unweighted side of the scale. As the truth was placed on the scale, it caused the scale to move down with such speed and force that it created a surprising crash. The items of false evidence heaped on the other side of the scale had no corresponding weight to resist the weight of truth. All the false evidence fell off the scale and no longer remained.


Nothing is over until the Lord reveals His truth. The content and timing of that revelation are His to determine, not ours. The weight of truth is coming, and when it does, the justice of Heaven will be revealed. God’s justice is empowered by His mercy.  His mercy is a heavy spiritual substance. It has the power to unweight the darkest plans of Satan.


Thursday, August 6, 2020

Alone for a Reason

Some of you find yourself standing in a lonely place. You are in that place because you heard a word from the Lord and walked into its revelation.  That act of obedience has moved you in a new direction, not of your choosing. 


Previously, you followed the developing events of life, as many still do. It was easier then because you moved with a group where you experienced support and consensus. Now you seem to stand alone. You see the movement of culture and the transitions taking place in the Church from a prophesied future. It seems odd and frankly, a bit uncomfortable.  


The events that will take place to confirm what the Lord has revealed will bring clarity and answer some of your "why" questions. God is at work in the lives of those making their way to the revelation you carry. Give this process time to develop. The Lord is working on the hearts of people and adjusting their worldview.


You have been called to this lonely place to make announcements of hope as the culture and the Church move into a new and yet to be explored future. Hope will be the only safe pathway to lead people to that future where they will arrive, having experienced transformation and reformation. 

Words polluted by fear, angst, and despair will not lead people into the future God has planned. He has entrusted you with a message of hope that people will need to hear as they move through the unfamiliar terrain of change and transition. 

You were never alone. The Lord has been standing with you and speaking through you. Take heart. Your lonely place will soon be populated.

Wednesday, August 5, 2020

In Those Days and In These Days

“In those days Israel had no king; all the people did whatever seemed right in their own eyes” (Judges 17:6).


The spirit of rebellion manifesting in our nation has arrived and displayed its presence because many have become their own lords, believer, and non-believer alike. Just as Micah did in Judges 17, we can lose our way to such a degree that we create shrines and idols to honor our rebellion and begin to worship a false image of freedom. This indictment is for all from masked anarchists wanting to tear it all down to someone sitting in a church pew wringing their hands in disgust at what is happening in the streets and placing their hope in the outcome of the next election.


We don’t do well when we become our own lords and rulers. Only God can be Lord, and only He can rule righteously. This is why His Kingdom is not of this world but invades this world, displacing shrines of deception that rob us of real hope. 


A great apostasy is afoot, and the apostate spirit revealing itself is a practiced deceiver. Be careful where you hitch the wagon of your commitment. At some point, that commitment will require your worship. 




Tuesday, August 4, 2020

Beware of Accusation

Satan is described in the Book of Revelation as an accuser. He makes accusations based on false evidence. He is afoot today in ways that seem credible until you pry back the layers of deception and discover the hidden truth. Be careful before you toss out an accusation against anyone. Only God knows the truth no matter how persuasive the first draft of evidence might seem. A biased and profit-motivated media is not always a reliable source for truth, neither are frustrated and angry people. We may never know the full story upon which accusations or acquittals are sourced. At that point, it will seem counterintuitive to rest and wait for the Lord, but that is the way of spiritual discipline and self-control.

Your New Orbit of Understanding

Your attempt to process what is taking place in the world has been a dizzying experience. Life has been spinning with increasing velocity. It has been a challenge as you tried to hold on to the sense of stability you enjoyed within the familiar orbit of the past. 

As the speed of this emotional and spiritual orbit has ramped up, you feel as though you have lost control. You have been shot out from the security of your previous orbit into a universe of thought you did not know even existed. 

This loss of control is actually a work of the Lord. He has audiences that need to hear your voice. In the old orbit, you held on revolving around a limited understanding of a greater truth. What you have processed in the last few months will become the core of a message God will have you deliver to those who have been waiting for your arrival.  

Monday, August 3, 2020

That All May Flourish

I remember the day when I found a word that accurately defined reformation. The word is "flourish." It is a word used by a group of men and women who had invited Jan and me to join them in a strategy session unpacking the subject of cultural reformation. We discussed how to fulfill the Great Commission, where Jesus instructed his followers "to go and make disciples of all the nations" (Matthew 28:19). That day my eyes were opened to previously unimagined possibilities.


What made this group so unique was that they actually possessed the collective wisdom, finances, and technologies to accomplish their mission. This was heady stuff because it carried the potential to direct the course of nations. Defining the goal of their endeavor was critical, or it could be highjacked by wrong motives and aim at a destination of results far from the heart of God. The purpose of the group was to positively affect a nation and its institutions to such a degree that it would begin to reflect the love of God no matter the social status, ethnicity or political persuasion of the recipient. They wanted to be the hands and feet of Jesus' prayer "on Earth as it is in Heaven."


This kind of reformation will seem impossible to those who look to human-inspired political solutions or the desire to make everyone look, talk, and live the same way. True reformation is not about creating our preferred version of an earthly theocracy. It is about creating an environment where God's love is expressed by seeking the highest good for others.


God's timing is impeccable. When our culture seems to have reached its lowest point of fatigue and distrust, the Lord is preparing to reveal templates for a reformation that will lead individuals and nations toward a hope-filled future. Committing our lives and resources to a mission that allows all people and all nations to flourish under God's loving hand will help us decide where to invest our energy and resources in the days to come. All is not lost, no matter how sideways our world seems at this moment. God is illuminating a path toward a future we cannot yet imagine.


"May the Lord cause you to flourish, both you and your children" (Psalm 115:14).

Sunday, August 2, 2020

Chasing After God

There has been only one principle that Jan and I followed when needing to discover our next step in life. That principle has been to follow the Lord at all costs. We had a few times when we stumbled, but when we finally stepped out in faith, that single principle has led us without fail in the last 47 years of marriage and 40 years of service in God’s Kingdom.

At times chasing after God made no sense financially or logically. It created challenging times with good friends who did not understand. It changed how people viewed us, and in some cases, radically altered the trajectory of our lives.

As someone on the last lap or two of life, I can look back over the previous four decades of life and say, following the leading of the Lord has been the single most important decision we have ever made. It has been our key to fulfillment in all areas of our life. Today, Jan and I have no needs, but if tomorrow should a need arise, we know that in Christ, we lack no good thing. 

If you want to know your next step in life - chase after the Lord. His is the calling of your life, not what you do to express that calling. Follow Him wherever He leads no matter the cost or the jeopardy that choice creates. The place where God is leading you and how you will execute that calling will be the by-products of obeying His voice. That choice will challenge your faith when your doubts and the counsel of others tell you to take a safe and predictable course. 

Each day, Jan and I wake up and thank God for our life together, knowing we did not get here on our own or by our wisdom. We were brought to this place by a faithful Lord who invited us to follow Him. He is waiting to take your hand and show you how to move forward to something you could not imagine. Take Him up on His invitation, and you will never live with regret.

Saturday, August 1, 2020

Cities Surrounded by Angels

Evil, like water, will find seek the course of least resistance. In my state of residence, Oregon, evil manifestations of a spirit of rebellion, have found that place of least resistance in some of our cities. Evil will continue to manifest if not challenged. It has now moved its activities from civic structures in the heart of our cities to suburban neighborhoods and has even threatened to destroy a cross that sits in the midst of a Christian college.


What I just described are the obvious realities of how evil works. Anyone can see and understand what is happening on a natural and visible level. A rational person knows evil must be confronted with all resources available, both spiritual and natural. What we can miss, as our fear and corresponding anger rises, is what God is doing out of sight as an answer to our prayers. If our faith is too practical and earthbound, we will not consider that angels are being commissioned and assigned by the Lord to stand between us and the forces of darkness. These are not nice or polite angels. They are powerful warriors who will aggressively slice through the works of darkness at the command of the Lord.

There are more angelic forces present in Oregon at this moment than we could imagine. Their numbers would boggle our minds. I have friends who will be prayer-walking today in the streets of Portland and Eugene. For every believer who walks in prayer and worship in opposition to these demonic forces, 10,000 angels will be at your side fighting an unseen battle. The evidence of that victory of that battle will be seen in the transformation of hearts and lives.

The reason why these evil spirits are appearing more volatile and demonstrative is that they can see what many of us have failed to see in the realm of the Spirit. They know their time is short and Heaven’s resistance to their activities will be swift and overwhelming.