Friday, July 31, 2009

Woosh . . .

Imagine a room, filled with people in a kingdom buzzing and chatting, and suddenly the double doors at the room's end open and in comes a son or daughter of the king. There is, somehow, a sudden shift in the atmosphere and everyone pauses and takes notice. If you are on their good side and love them, you find in their presence a strength. If you are on their bad side and hate them, you tremble and glare because you know they carry royal authority, and you know that authority is over you. Whatever you feel about them---good or bad---you are affected by them. You can't help it. They are royalty . . .

Tonight I wasn't going to be able to be with Mary Ann as she read to the girls, prayed with them, and tucked them in. I suddenly felt compelled to pray over her before she went to do it (sometimes it isn't as pretty as it sounds if the girls are tired or push it). As I was praying over her I found myself saying, suddenly, out loud, something to the effect of, ". . . and I remind you, Satan, that Mary Ann is a daughter of the King. She is the daughter of the Creator of the Universe. She is related to Jesus of Nazareth, who defeated you and whom you hate. Where she is you have no authority because she is the King's own."

I don't know how to describe it---it wasn't like it was a vision or anything---but suddenly, as I spoke, I saw her in my mind "gliding" into the girls' room and as I saw that I felt(?) "woosh" (a highly theological term, I know) as I suddenly felt/perceived the power of her royalty as the daughter of the King. It sounds funny, but it is really the best word: woosh. I literally could feel the spiritual presence she would carry into the room that, like a wind, would touch the farthest corners of the room and alter the entire room. As I reflected on it in the moments that followed, I thought, "I'll bet that is how it is in the spiritual realm when a follower and lover of Jesus comes in. Woosh, and the room takes notice as someone royal just entered and the entire room's atmosphere and attention shifted."

I think we don't realize who we are in the spiritual realm as God's adopted children who carry His authority and Holy Spirit. I think this is because we too often interpret who we are by how we FEEL about ourselves, and not by who God says we are: forgiven, loved, adopted, sealed, His children, joint heirs with Christ, those with bold access to His throne, His chosen people, His ambassadors, those who operate in His name (authority). While, in reality, we carry HIS righteousness, HIS authority, HIS seal, HIS Spirit, we FEEL all OUR darkness, OUR failures, OUR aging bodies, OUR lack of faith, and we identify that as who we are.

I wonder if, when we enter a room, feeling like we are just sort of dragging ourselves in, there maybe really is a "woosh" in the spiritual realm---the angelic hosts notice and, marveling at this love of the King they can't quite fathom, say, "There is one of the King's children---one whom He died for and loves and whom He has a covenant bond with and who speaks for Him," and the hosts of darkness draw back and tremble and hope that we don't realize who we are or begin to exercise our place of authority over them and their works.

I don't know how theologically correct all that is, but I have a feeling it might be more true than we realize.

---Think about who our God is, and who He has made us to be. It is actually amazing!

---Reflect on the testimony we have from the Gospels and Acts of the early disciples and Apostles when they understood and walked in the authority Jesus gave them. We don't see drawn out, flamboyant, long-winded, fever-pitched battles and screaming. They simply spoke and commanded (I get the sense probably quietly and confidently) and darkness and its works (sickness, bondage, torment, etc.) submitted.

---Think about Genesis 20 when Abimelech (a gentile) was right and on the higher ground and Abraham (God's covenant partner) was at a low point of faith and conduct. It was still Abraham's prayers that were required to heal Abimelech's household! Even at his weakest, Abraham carried more influence in the spiritual realm than Abimelech did at his strength! What a lesson in who we are in Christ that is for us, the children of God in the New Covenant!

When we meditate on these things it becomes no wonder the Bible promises that the devil WILL flee when we resist him. It is no wonder Bill Johnson could say that when a Christian enters a room the entire equation and situation changes because the Spirit (presence) of God Almighty enters with him (or her).

I wonder, if we really realized who we are in Christ and actually walked it out each day bringing that awareness and authority to bear in every situation we are in, what this world would look like . . . I wonder what might happen if we spoke in Jesus' name and actually expected something to happen---expected it to the point where we would be shocked if it didn't . . . I wonder . . .

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Another Blackaby Quote . . .

Here is another passage from Henry Blackaby's book, Created to be God's Friend, about Abraham. I put it out here for your reflection.

He writes (page 126, the previous post's quote was from page 131): When I was just a little boy, God convinced me that He is God, and I was not! This realization shaped the rest of my life. I have never entered His Presence without this strong awareness. So I cannot remember arguing with God, or demanding of God, or doubting God. I cannot remember fussing with God, or debating with God. He is God! And I am not! Therefore, I choose to let Him be God in and through my life. I constantly stand amazed at God's consistent blessing in my life and in my family!

This means that at every point in my life I have only one decision to make---is this clearly God's will? If it is, I confirm it with my wife and children, and then proceed. There are always a hundred details to work out. But I am, and have always been, confident that since I know His will, each and all of these details He will work out or help me to work out in my life.

Many have said to me about their situation, "If these four things work out, I will know it is God's will!" I try gently to suggest that if this is God's will, those four things will work out! The key is God, not circumstances. Abraham was learning this one day and one circumstance at a time.

A Quote from Henry Blackaby . . .

Hello! I have been reading through a book by Henry Blackaby (the author of Experiencing God) called Created to be God's Friend. It is about the life of Abraham and how God built him in to His friend (James says that Abraham was a friend of God---is that an awesome statement or what?!?). Blackaby talks about the part in Genesis 18 when God asks if He should tell Abraham what He is about to do (to Sodom and the region) and then decides to share His heart and plans with Abraham.

Blackaby says this: It is a moment of trembling to realize the Heart of God, but this comes to the one who chooses to let God draw him closer to Himself. Often this will occur in one, while others around him do not know anything at all about the seriousness of the moment with God. But God desires such a relationship, where He can share His heart. This is the “friend” He is looking for. This is the kind of relationship He is shaping in the one He calls. This one will see farther, see clearer, and see more than others around him. This, too, will often separate him from those around him, especially because of the intensity with God this revelation creates. It is sometimes lonely being a “friend of God”!

I found this paragraph really spoke to, and stirred, my heart. I want to be a friend to God. I want to be one whom doesn't just tell Him my heart, but who is available to hear His. One who listens and doesn't just talk. One He can trust with His heart. One who will take seriously the things that make Him rejoice, and the things that cause Him sadness. I know that is sometimes lonely---I imagine at times Moses and Noah and Peter and Paul felt very alone among men---but I want to be willing to trade all of the friendship of man for the friendship of God if it was required. I don't want to be this for more of His praise or to earn anything from Him---I am so, so glad that He loves me just as I am, and that He has such grace for me just as I am---but I want to do this because being a friend of God seems to me to be one of the most amazing things a man (or woman or child) could be . . . and it would mean that I had come to the point where what He had to say to me and share with me had become as important to me as what I want to say to and share with Him. I can say it is, but if I don't position myself to receive it and to be faithful in its trust then it doesn't mean much to me to say it.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

The Pain We Cause . . . The Pain We Feel . . .

I went out to eat the other night and the people I went with pointed out to me a young lady who was working at the place we were eating. They said that she had recently excitedly married a young man who was a youth minister and worship leader. A short few months later they had asked her how she liked married life and she said that she was getting a divorce. Her husband come home one day and just said that he didn’t want to be married any more. She’d asked if he wanted to try counseling and he said “no”—he just didn’t want to be married anymore. (I will share more about this young lady at the end, but first I want to share some reflections this led me to.)

As I sat there distractedly visiting, I couldn’t get past the pain this young lady must have felt, and been feeling. I found myself watching her as she walked back and forth, and thinking about, and feeling, the pain people who carry the name of Jesus have caused others. I know that I have let down and hurt so many people. In fact, it seems that the longer I go on the more people I disappoint and hurt. As God’s children, trusted by God to carry His image in the world and show the world who He is, we so badly, so often, fall so short, sometimes knowingly, sometimes without any intention. What a tremendous responsibility and privilege we have to guard our actions and words, as what we say and do is not just a reflection of us, but it also reflects on the One whose name we carry.

I also thought about how the flip side of this is when WE are the ones who are hurt or betrayed by ones carrying the name of Jesus. Just as, the longer I go on the more it seems like I hurt and let people down, the longer I go on the more hurts and disappointments I inevitably collect from people who carry Christ’s name and who I have opened my heart to as well in one form or another. When this happens I have a responsibility on the receiving side, as well, to carry the image of Christ faithfully. Just like He forgave those in the act of wounding Him, and reached out in love to those betraying Him, I must choose to reflect His heart and image here as well—and to offer to others the grace and love and forgiveness and gentleness and mercy I so desperately, daily need others to offer me. Again, how I choose to respond when I am the one wounded and betrayed doesn’t just reflect me, but also reflects on the One whose name I carry. I am learning something that I can never afford to forget if I want to faithfully serve and reflect Jesus: When we join the body of Christ we become inseparably linked to Him the head and our brothers and sisters—the rest of the body—and our actions from that moment forward are never, ever, anymore just about us—they always reflect on and affect the Head and the body we are now a part of, linked to, and mutually dependent on.

As I sat there, watching her efficiently go by and work, I found myself thinking about the challenge to not reject or harden our heart toward God because of those carrying His name who aren’t reflecting His image. I wondered what she (and maybe her friends and family as well?) thought about God after having been betrayed by a man of God she trusted her heart with. Unfortunately, the world is filled with people who have rejected God because those representing God have failed to do so correctly. We can argue until we are blue in the face about how this isn’t right and how we shouldn’t judge God by Christians, but the reality is that Christians are the ones Jesus has trusted to represent Him to the world, and they are often the closest encounter a person may have with Christ, and the first step they will take of judging Christ. As someone once said, “Every Christian is the strongest Christian at least one person knows.”

I know that everything I have posted here could be criticized, critiqued, expanded on, and picked apart with a thousand “what ifs”—“What if the person isn’t repentant? What if the person is hurting you? What if the person refuses to look at God and only looks at Christians?” etc. I know that there are a million “what ifs” and caveats to what I have said—and that we could discuss the theology and accuracy of it forever—but, at the most basic, “walking out our faith in a broken world” level where theology and theory and classroom discussion meet real life, there was the simple fact that my heart broke for that young lady who had been so betrayed by a man carrying God’s name and representing God to others. All correct theology and arguments aside—in front of me was a fragile, broken, hurting heart that desperately needed God and His tender love. And isn’t that what Jesus did?—He found His time to teach in the synagogue, but spent most of His time representing the Father’s heart in the lives of everyday people struggling to find love and meaning and healing in a broken, hurting, wounding world.

So, what did I do about it? It wasn’t much, but it was all I had. As I left the restaurant I found a rare moment when the young lady was alone. I told her, “I know it isn’t my business, but I am a pastor and _____ told me what recently happened to you in your marriage. I just wanted to say that I am so sorry. Please don’t reject God because of the people who carry His name. God loves you so very much. Please don’t harden your heart to Him.”

She guardedly thanked me and quickly moved away and back to her work. I don’t know what will happen to her, or whether she will draw closer to God or farther away through this experience. I don’t know if her heart will grow harder or softer through this. I don’t know if she will experience the joy of forgiveness and being set free, or become entangled in the roots of bitterness. I don’t know anything about the future of this young lady, but I do know this—God deeply loves her, He knows and shares the pain of betrayal and tears, and He will always be there for her—and maybe, just maybe, she was brought to my attention so God could use me to tell her that.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Nothing Ordinary . . .

Yesterday I was visiting the blog of Denise Mira ( She is a mother of five boys who has homeschooled them and written the book, No Ordinary Child. We haven't read it, but the little we have heard about her intrigued Mary Ann and me. I went to her blog to check it out, and I really liked the paragraph she has as her standard paragraph at the top of her page. I found it reflected my heart as well, and I thought I would share it with you. It reads:

When I read that I thought, "Wow, that expresses my heart, and the heart I have for why I started my blog and have invited others to read it and take part in it." (This is not about the job you have, or don't have, or the house you live in, or anything like that---this is about your heart and excitement and joy.) Really, Denise's quote is a reflection of my heart for my life, and ultimately the lives of my family, and the church I pastor. (For me it is absolutely critical that things don't end with my blog, but that the things I write and share in this blog find their end lived out in a life, beginning with mine---otherwise it is theology for theology's sake and I desperately need to have the fruit of my meditation and discussion be ultimately transferred in to my daily life. My prayer, as I pass what God has shown me down to my girls, is that, as Bill Johnson says, "My ceiling will become their floor"---that they will begin at their tender young age where it has taken me 43 years to get.)

Reflecting on Denise's quote, I have found that, in my life, I have let so much slip in to ordinary that could be extraordinary---whether I am "doing" or just resting. Like I have said to Mary Ann so many times when things are rough or we're just in a rough place, "The devil steals enough. We don't need to gift wrap things and hand them to him." So much of my life I have allowed to just go by, sort of mundane, when every moment has the potential to be an adventure with my Father, the King. I don't beat myself up for those lapses, I just want to make them fewer and farther in between.

Just this morning I was sitting with Mary Ann (with two mugs of fresh ground drip coffee, of course!) in our garden area under some misters talking and watching the water collect on the leaves of the tomato plants and strawberries. Thinking over Denise's quote I thought, and then shared with Mary Ann, "We could just sit here and think, 'this is pretty,' or we could notice the way the water pools on the leaves, the colors reflected in the mist, the bees and hummingbirds that flit around performing their essential roles, the deep blue of the immense sky above, the intricate pattern of the leaves of the plants, and find ourselves in awe, at this moment, of our amazing God and Creator."

I thought about all the times I have swam in my pool of worry and stress and glumness and routine when I could see each overwhelming moment as an exciting chance for the King of Kings to break in and show off how the impossible bows before His presence.

I thought of how many times I just "exist" when, if I paused to reflect on it, wherever I am, having asked Christ in to my heart as my personal Lord and Savior, God is with me. God is right next to you, right now, as you read this! How can THAT be ordinary!

If we bring our thoughts captive to true reality, every moment is a moment with God who is with us. Every broken heart or body or life is a chance for God to perform a miracle through us. Every glimpse of creation is a reflection of God. Every breath and everything good in my life is a gift from God. Every encounter with darkness or the results of darkness is a chance to exercise our privilege and authority as the children of God. Every person we meet---at work, in a store, at school---is a chance to show them the image of God. Every opportunity to love is a chance to partake in the heart of God. Every moment of stillness is a chance to commune with God and hear the voice of God whisper His secrets to us. Every second of our life we are, as Christians, soldiers in a spiritual war raging around us with a very real enemy who seeks to devour not only us, but that which we love and that which God loves. Every prayer we lift goes in to the throne room of God. Every miracle Jesus did is a landmark for us to aim for---we of whom He said greater things than even He did we would do.

I, and you, if you have Jesus as your Lord and Savior, have the same God as Moses, as the children of Israel, as Elijah, as Peter, and as Paul. You have the same God as all the millions of people who have had Him work miracles in their lives. You have the same God who brought love and hope to an adulteress, acceptance to social outcasts, healing to lepers, life to the dead, forgiveness to sinners. He is your God, and He is mine.

No. I really, really don't want an ordinary life. I want to live, with great expectancy, as the child of the King I am, for however many years I have left here until He takes me home for eternity. I want, wherever I am planted, to reflect Him and His love and His power in all I do, and be aware of His love and presence in every moment. And I am so blessed to be able to walk out this journey and adventure with all of you. What a privilege to be a part of the body of Christ. May we lift up, encourage, and love one another into who God calls us to be! As, Bill Holdridge, a former pastor of Mary Ann and mine who spoke at our wedding and was instrumental in my coming to Christ shared recently in his blog ( ---Pass the Chocolate), we need to live in the moment, aware of the moment, secure and resting in His love, not dwelling in the past which He has paid for, nor in the future which is in His hands and eternally secure, but in the moment---aware that we share that moment with the Creator of the Universe who is absolutely crazy about us and calls us His very own!

Saturday, July 11, 2009

He Cares for Me . . .

Tomorrow at the church I pastor I am going to be leaving the ongoing study of Genesis I have been teaching to spend a morning in 1 Peter, specifically Chapter 5, verse 7, which encourages us to cast all our cares/anxieties on Him, because He cares for us. This was written to a persecuted, dispersed church who would have, I believe, desperately needed to be reminded of that. I don't know why God has so quickened my heart to this verse this week, but it is the one that my thoughts have repeatedly returned to.

We use the word "love" so loosely in this day and age---we love a movie, we love a food, etc.---that the word "cares" almost carries, for me, more power and tenderness. I have found myself having to stop and take time to meditate and focus on that line---God CARES for ME! I encourage you to stop on that today, and this week, as well. Don't just read it past, or nod and move on. Stop and let that sink deep into the core of your being. God CARES for YOU! Not just "you"---the body of Christ at large---but "you" meaning "you"---the person reading this right now.
HE cares for you!
He CARES for you!
He cares FOR you!
He cares for YOU!
Only the Holy Spirit can bring that truth to life in your heart, but I pray right now that He awakens that truth in your heart to such a level that it becomes the foundational bedrock of your faith and trust in Him. Then, you can cast/throw all your cares upon Him, knowing that He cares for you.

What a wonderful God we love and serve! May this verse become a hook in your heart that you can't shake or let go of, but that your heart and mind are drawn back to over and over in this coming week as you go deeper and deeper into the layers of all that means and means for you!

Friday, July 10, 2009

I Couldn't Not Share This . . .

I received this picture from a lady in our church. It was taken, I understand, in Montana. It was too fun to not pass on. In case you have trouble reading it, it says, "PRAYER is the best way to meet the Lord. 'Trespassing is faster'. "

God bless you all.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Part III of "Cages" . . .

As I have reflected over these weeks on the necessity and urgency of taking our thoughts captive to God's Word, God's promises, God's character, and God's testimony (see last two posts), I have been struck with the underlying, critical foundation for this, which is accurately KNOWING God's Word, His promises, His character, and His testimony. It doesn't do us any good (in fact it may hurt us more) to take our thoughts and feelings captive to a misconception about God. That is one of the reasons I so value looking at the life of Christ in the Gospels because He is the image of the Father—the representation of the Father's nature. He is a wonderful focal point for people who have trouble relating to a "good" Father. He is the perfect representation of the Father's love, His goodness, His compassion, and His embracing of people who turn to Him no matter where they have been or what they have done. He shows the heart of the Father in all that He is, says, and does.

God tells us to study and meditate on His Word, and diligently doing that is the only way to determine the full (and accurate) picture of our Father's character and heart (I say "full" knowing that we won't know His "full" picture, but in the context of knowing all that we can). Just like we make a major mistake to take God's promises out of context and apart from the precepts and conditions attached to them, we make a major mistake to ignore parts of God's character. It is only in a full picture of God that we start to understand His holiness, His awesome majesty and power, His jealous nature, His hatred of sin, and His love that sent His Son to die to fulfill the covenant-breaking curse of death we should have fulfilled. As we understand His different names we start to understand different aspects of His character. As we see Jesus we see Him. As we study His Word we see His heart expressed.

The more accurately we can know God, the more accurately we can take our thoughts and feelings captive to Him. If we take them captive to a false idea about Him we have set ourselves up to follow a lie and take a fall which can actually lead us to bitterness or anger toward God because we feel like He "didn't come through" or "didn't do His part" when, in fact, He never gave us a true reason to believe He should or would. Another danger of not accurately knowing God and His Word and His character is that we tend to blame on God things the devil did, and accept things thinking they are from God that are in fact from the devil. Just as I am blessed and honored the more I learn about Mary Ann and her heart, or my girls and their hearts, I am most blessed and honored when I learn more about God's heart. Isn't He awesome!

Monday, July 6, 2009

Cages, Part II . . .

I had no idea there would be a "Part II" to my last post, but it was pretty amazing how God opened my eyes to the exact topic of that post in the portion of the Genesis study I was going to teach next at church, and that I hadn't remembered before. Genesis 18 tells us how Sarah laughed (and lied!) when God said she would have a baby in a year. Genesis 21 tells us she had the baby. A reading straight from Genesis would seem that God did it despite her unbelief.

But, reading most of the major translations (other than NIV), we find Hebrews 11:11 telling us something like this (which is from the ESV): By faith Sarah herself received power to conceive, even when she was past the age, since she considered him faithful who had promised.

If you didn't catch that, read it again. It is huge! Somewhere between Sarah's laughter and lie and unbelief, and the conception of Isaac, Sarah took her thoughts captive and chose to believe God even though nothing had changed in her physical condition. I believe her battle occurred on two fronts. One, could God do it? She laughed like, "Yeah, right. That's too hard for even God!" But Genesis 18 records the Lord challenging that and saying, basically, "Is anything to hard for God?" Faced with that blunt challenge we would all agree that nothing is too hard for the God who envisions galaxies and ecosystems and bloodstreams and then speaks them forth.

Then, Hebrews 11:11 reveals the second front of her challenge. God's character. Believing now that God could, would He? She then decided that He who had promised was faithful. That is exactly what the cages I talked about last time are like. I don't even have a "cage" for "can God" because I believe He can. My doubts and fears and feelings originate in trust issues and when I look honestly at God and take my feelings captive to Him using the cages I talked about last time I realize that, yes, I can trust God even when nothing has changed in my physical situation.

The awesome conclusion to all of this is that AFTER Sarah chose to trust and believe God, ultimately choosing to put His character as her highest truth, this faith awakened the power to bring God's word to pass! By faith she received the power to conceive! Wow!

Think of the Israelites who had the promised land "given" to them by God in His spoken Word but who, on the 10 spy's reports, chose fear instead of faith and rejected God's character to fulfill His Word. They wandered in the wilderness and missed their destiny until a new generation arrived that chose faith instead of fear. The enemy hadn't changed. If anything the land was more fully in his hands. What changed was that they chose to believe and trust God. They received the fulfillment of God's Word. Their faith brought out the life in God's Word. So did Sarah's, and it began with taking thoughts captive and not allowing in her heart any thought that she realized didn't originate with God or wasn't consistent with God, His Word, or His character.


Related Posts with Thumbnails