Tuesday, September 29, 2020

A Revealing Move of God

A revealing is taking place. This revealing is happening in the mix of the COVID-19 virus, a heated election cycle filled with social discord, and evolving worldviews. This reveal has been developing over time and remained undetected until uncovered in these challenging times. No longer will the distinctives of a denomination or a familiar circle of fellowship be what motivates our future affiliation or involvement.  Something personal and redefining has taken place as we have been absent from the familiar.

Those who lead groups of people into the future will be challenged as to how they can lead a group that now possesses an unusually wide variety of interpretations of what each individual considers a valid expression of faith and community. Leaders who assume their followers will continue to walk in continued lockstep when it comes to their understanding of theology, worldview, and values are beginning to realize the fallacy of their assumption. 

Not all of this newfound diversity is healthy or biblical, yet some of it is a work of God's Spirit and will reveal the way forward. What is taking place must be discerned over time. Be careful not to prematurely judge what is not yet fully understood. 

The Lord is stripping away layers of our assumptions to reveal a new, and in some cases, uncomfortable reality. This stripping away will reveal where we really stand with each other and ultimately before the Lord. All of this is taking place to set up the next move of God, calling forth participants we would never expect to come into the Kingdom to radically follow Jesus and eventually become the next generation of leadership within the Church. 

This defining move of God will bring needed clarity and understanding of the essentials of our faith.  It will also help us off-load the excess baggage of our assumptions freeing us up to engage this unique moment in history.

Monday, September 28, 2020

A Beautiful Moment

Today a beautiful moment occurred. I had prepared lunch and called Jan to meet me at the table on our patio. It was a lunch like many we have experienced together over the last 48 years. This time it was somehow different. Knowing our years ahead are far less than those we have lived together as husband and wife, a reality and beautiful finality descended over our conversation. 

As a shared emotion arrived and displayed its intent, I said, “I love you, and I am so thankful for what we have had together.” Jan replied, “I feel the same.” In the next moment, tears formed in our eyes and began to release a moist trail of shared endearment. 

These are moments of gratitude that can only occur when a commitment to mutual love has led the way through failure and shortcoming in a relationship. Our tears were a gift from God reminding us once again of what truly matters.

Divine Placements are Taking Place

This is a time when God will intervene in the affairs of our nation. Historically, He has raised up the likes of Esther, Daniel, and Joseph to accomplish His will in similar times. These are people whom God chooses and uses to influence the decisions made in the highest positions of an earthly kingdom and its institutions. 

As passionate as I am to see cultural reformation take place, to create a flourishing future for all, I realize this reformation will not come by the best of our efforts alone. God must intervene so that in the end, the glory that comes from such change is not attached to our best efforts, but to Him alone.  Only by the direction of God’s hand and by His divine placement of chosen individuals in the highest positions of influence within a society will a culture undergo the dramatic and needed institutional change it requires to ensure the inheritance of civil righteousness and justice for future generations. 

 

While the Kingdom of God is very different from the governments and institutions of the world, we are still called to be agents of change for the better whenever possible, whether that change takes place one-on-one in the marketplace or while influencing change at the highest office in the land. In the days ahead, pray and believe that God is at work in our nation. His intervention is taking place.

Sunday, September 27, 2020

God's Amazing and Unexpected Ways

I’m index finger typing these words on my iPhone because we lost power last night and our house Internet connection is down. Last night someone was fleeing from the police and took down a power pole.

At 4:00 am, I walked several blocks to the crash scene and spoke with the flagger who was monitoring the closed street. He said of all the poles to hit this was the one with all the neighborhood connections on it. A new pole is being installed. It will take several more hours for our power to return.
Walking back from the crash scene it was pitch black. When I got to our house, I turned off my flashlight, turned the bill of my baseball cap around, and looked up into the night sky. It was brilliant with stars. I stood there for several moments praying and taking in the beauty. Then a shooting star crossed the sky.
I made a wish that was more of a prayerful declaration. I said, “May the glory of the Lord fill the Earth today in amazing and unexpected ways.”
After an estimated 75,000-100,000 believers gathered in Washington DC yesterday to pray and worship, I am living in a greater expectation that those amazing and unexpected ways of God are closer to becoming a reality than we can imagine. This is a day to believe that God is about to do something beyond our wildest imaginations and most heartfelt prayers. The heavens are declaring His glory.

Saturday, September 26, 2020

Something Has Been Birthed

This morning, Jan said to me, “Something has been birthed.” Around our house, that means the Spirit brought something into our realm that was not present before the birthing process took place.  This process has been very uncomfortable on many levels. Just like it is in the natural, a delivery is intense and fatiguing. At the height of the pain, it can also be disorienting. 

What you have been feeling for months was not the norm of your life pre-pregnancy. You have questioned yourself at times, wondering if something was wrong with you and how you have been feeling. While a pregnant mother can't forget that she is carrying a child in her womb, many of us can forget we are carrying a promise. We forget that a delivery requires a season of gestation and development. We may not have a physical belly bump, morning sickness, or crazy food cravings. However, we can manifest similar issues spiritually and assign our confused feelings to other areas of our life, especially if we have forgotten we are pregnant and carrying a developing promise. 

 

This reminds me of a movie I saw a long time ago. The title slips my mind. In the movie, a young woman was in a war zone nine months pregnant. In the heat of battle, with bombs going off and bullets flying everywhere, she had to stop and give birth to her child in the rubble of the conflict. Her context reminds me of what is taking place in our culture at this moment in our history. 


We all want the birthing of our promise to happen in a clean, calm, and secure environment, but that is not how things happen when conflict surrounds our lives. The promise God has destined for birthing in your life at this time may be delivered in the heat of battle, not in a place of peace and security. This is not a time to worry. Focus on the birthing. God was faithful to keep the promise alive and growing in your life even when you forgot it was there, and He will be faithful to see it through to its final delivery. Trust Him. He has been making these kinds of deliveries since Eden. 

Friday, September 25, 2020

Our Pursuing God

While pursuing God is of utmost value after we become aware of His presence and give our lives to Him, we need to remember it was His pursuit of us that initiated our relationship with Him in the first place. 

Scripture is filled with examples of God’s pursuit of people. Jesus met Paul on the Damascus Road. The Lord called out to young Samuel in the night. Moses heard his calling spoken from within a burning bush. Jesus asked 12 unlikely men to leave behind what was known to follow Him into an undefined future. 


What if the politician we have been told to hate or the violent rioter for whom we might have deep disgust, all of a sudden, were met by our pursuing God? Would we have the capacity in our faith to believe, or would we struggle as the Early Church did with Paul’s conversion?  Our problem is exacerbated when we continually listen to or read opinions from voices that do not believe in redemption, only condemnation. The sights and sounds coming through our computers, smartphones, and televisions are continually confirming and validating our limited understanding of God's love, especially as we move deeper into the current Presidential election cycle and the possible confirmation of a new Supreme Court Justice.

 

God pursued all of us who now know Him. Without His pursuit, we would not have a relationship with Him. The Lord is actively pursuing all those we gave up on and those we might now call enemies of the good. Dismissal, in any form, is never the heart of God. It shuts the door on the possibility of hope and reveals that we do not fully understand the transforming power of God’s love. 


Only God has the final say on what is taking place in the heart of another person, no matter what the evidence of their life might display. His pursuing love is always greater than the dismissals and negative proclamations we issue when someone does not measure up to our standard of what is right.

Thursday, September 24, 2020

We Didn't Know Better

Toward the end of my mother’s life, I sat down with her for three days and taped interviews about her life experiences. One topic that emerged during our conversation was the issue of race relations. My mother grew up in the deep South during the 20s and 30s. 

My grandfather left the family during the Depression to seek work and never came home. As a result, my grandmother was forced to live alone in the South as a divorced woman. The divorce created a stigma for my grandmother, mother, and her brother. My grandmother was forced to open a boarding house to survive. My mom grew up with one pair of shoes that she wore to church and school. The rest of the week, she ran barefoot with her black friends. 

 

In the late 30s, my mom had become a local actress and dancer. As her career began to gain traction, she eventually traveled to Hollywood to seek a career in film. That career did not develop as she hoped, so she opened a restaurant in Los Angeles not far from Angelus Temple, where she would listen to Aimee Semple McPherson preach. Little did she know that someday in the distant future, one of her sons would become a Foursquare pastor.

 

On the train ride from Louisiana to California, my mother would learn a valuable life-lesson. About midway across the country, a black man boarded the train and sat in the same compartment as my mother. After a few moments, she got up and talked with the conductor. She noted, “Sir, a black man is sitting in our train car.” The conductor smiled at the unrealized ignorance of my mother and said, “Young lady. This is the West. Life is different here.”

 

When my mother shared that story with me, she said, “We were so ignorant then. We didn’t know better.” In all my growing up years, I never heard my parents use a racial epithet or slur. The correction of my mother’s worldview that began on a train ride many years ago would become a valuable gift that is still bearing fruit in our family. 

 

Like my mother’s experience, we all live in insulated bubbles of a perceived reality until our bubble is popped. When our bubble pops, hopefully, we will be able to see the reality other people must face each day that we did not realize was there when our ignorance blinded our eyes. Ignorance uncovered is a blessing only if it helps us see others in a new light, and with that resurrected sight, return to our own lives and make needed adjustments in our perspective. 


At some point in our life, all of us will come to realize we could have known better on a wide variety of topics. The lesson my mother learned that day on the train changed her life forever, and it became a life-lesson she passed on to her two sons. We can all be involved in a lifelong process of learning if we are willing to learn something new. Hopefully, in that process of learning, we will all come to know what is better.