Bring the Light

How many times have you heard this warning: “Brother, we got to be careful because Satan comes as an Angel of light.”

I’ve been “warned” by sour-faced people not to trust my Father’s voice, warned not to trust Holy Spirit, warned to stay away from Father’s angelic messengers, warned against healing the sick or raising the dead or any of the fun things that Father has prepared for his children. 

Apparently, because the devil, who is a copycat and a corrupter, copies and corrupts some of God’s generous gifts, there are some who think that the right answer is to avoid the gifts.

That’s like warning me to never use $20 bills, because criminals counterfeit $20 bills. Or never to drink water, because vodka is clear like water, and you know vodka’s not as good for you as water. What? 

First, let’s abandon this foolishness that we need to run screaming away from anything the devil does. Yeah, I get it: he’s a pain in the butt: he’s a liar, and his work is about stealing, killing & destroying. And yeah, I have figured out that those are bad things. I get that. 

Heres the thing: if I’m watching to make sure that I never do anything the devil is doing, then A) my eyes are on the devil, not on Jesus, and B) the devil is directing my actions; Jesus is not. That would, under normal circumstances, mean that I was being led by the devil rather than by God. Thats not acceptable to me.

You see, the devil’s under my feet. He and his realm are required to submit to me and the authority I carry from my place in Jesus, from being the Creator’s beloved son, with whom He is well pleased. 

In fact (and this will be scary to some folks), the devil and I have one job description in common: we are both working to expand our kingdom as far and as wide as we can. Of course, he’s working to expand the “kingdom of darkness” and I’m working to expand the Kingdom I share with my Father: the kingdom of light. And you know what happens when light and darkness collide: nothing. Light shines unhindered in the darkness; if anything, the enemy’s darkness only serves to show off God’s light better.

So should I be afraid because the devil counterfeits some of the good gifts Father gives me? No way! Fear is not my inheritance! 

Should I at least try to avoid the devil’s deception? Um… duh! Of course. 

But just because I’m avoiding the counterfeit doesn’t mean that I run whimpering away from the real thing that is being counterfeited. The fact that there is a counterfeit proves that the real thing is valuable, it’s profitable. In fact, it’s worth the risk of counterfeiting and getting caught.

Yes, there are false spirits. I don’t listen to them. Yes there are demons masquerading as angels of light. I don’t fall for that. Yes, there is such a thing as demonic healing. I don’t go there. In fact, don’t even pay attention. 

My job is not to run from darkness. My job is to bring the light.


With Visibility Come Critics

I started this blog on a bit of a lark. Father was challenging me to write consistently, and I created a new identity for that writing just to separate my passion for the Kingdom of God from my family. (In my mind, one of the cruelest things a father can do to his children is make them “preacher’s kids.”)

But it seems that people are eager to discuss things of the Kingdom, and so this blog has gained more of an audience than I ever expected, and therefore more influence than I ever imagined. 

And as I’ve gained influence, I’ve gained critics. Whoa. What a new concept! Some of them have been enemies. I’ve never had enemies before! Some have just been passionate about their bondage, and hate the freedom in God that I’ve been writing about. Some want to advertise their products to the people who read my wall (in a word: no!). And some of them want to fix me.

Now let us be clear: I’m brand new at this business of having critics, enemies, fixers. I have clearly not responded with maturity every time: to become mature, one requires experience, and I lack that experience. (But I’m growing in it. I think that’s good....)

The last group confuse me the most: the people who want to fix me. Honestly, I don’t get it.

First of all, I’m not aware that I’m broken, at least not by Heaven’s standards, which are the primary standards I care about. But that’s normal: most people think they’re not broken. And for that reason, I treasure a large handful of relationships with men and women whom I have learned to trust. They know me, and they have both permission and invitation to speak into my life. I submit my doctrine and my practice of Kingdom life to them. I regularly seek out their criticism and course corrections, which they are kind to share with me. When they do, I try to I try to respond well, but I’ll admit to struggling sometimes. I’m as human as anyone else that I know.

But these “fixers” decide on their own that I have one glaring fault or another (usually related to the radical concept that God is actually good), and they find ways to barge into my life with an agenda of fixing me. Some of them have been relatively forthright about it. Some have been more surreptitious about it, not revealing that this was their goal until I stopped listening to their endless criticisms. Some complete strangers have offered to “mentor” me. Many have acknowledged that the only reason they’ve friended me was to fix me. Manipulation has been common.

Not infrequently, their attempts to fix me, a complete stranger to them, have been completely works-based, have been littered with abuse and accusation, and have been clearly targeted at bringing me back into the bondage from which Jesus has set me free. Many of them are clearly dysfunctional themselves, though that’s not necessary a complete disqualifier (Peter was pretty dysfunctional, when you think about it; Paul had a hideous past life!)

I bring this topic up for two reasons:

First, to state publicly that I am not currently seeking new mentors, and I do not, in fact, submit myself to complete strangers for correction. If you do not know me personally, you’re not a candidate to fix me; if we have not been friends for a number of years, you are not a candidate; if you don’t know my name, you are not a candidate; if you haven’t opened up your life in the process of building relationship, you are not a candidate.

This is not because I’m trying to keep correction out of my life (quite the contrary!). It’s because correction – or ANY ministry – must come through relationship. If we don’t have a relationship, then it ain’t gonna work, no matter how hard you try, and no matter if I invite your criticism or not. Ministry flows out of relationship. No relationship, no ministry.

The second reason I bring this up is because many other people around me are also moving rapidly and publicly into freedom. I’m not special: if the fixers come after me, in order to “repair” the freedom that I’m enjoying, then they’ll probably come after you, too, in order to “redeem” you from freedom, from grace, from the Kingdom.

So I’m trying to pull the sheet off of the deceiver, I’m trying to shine a light into the shadows: if you see someone skulking there, my advice is: Don’t invite them to speak into your life from the shadows.

Yes, it is wise to seek counsel, and counsel to whom we’ll actually listen and submit to. And since this kind of a relationship is foreign to most western Christians, we’ll have to be very intentional as we seek it out. But this needs to be a relationship-first kind of thing. Just because someone has a big ministry, or a big reputation or a big mouth does not qualify them to mentor you.

And anyone – ANYone – who is trying to take you or me back into the shadows is not worthy of listening to.


A Brief Guide to The Rapture.

A little history about the doctrine of the Rapture. (Note that this is not a theology paper; this is an article about following God.)

First, the term "rapture" does not appear in scripture. The general idea is there (specifically in 1 Thessalonians 4:17), but it is not the same concept that is taught today called “The Rapture.” It has nothing to do with the “Left Behind” books’ theology!

Much of our concept of The Rapture comes from Cotton Mather, the 17th century Puritan, and master of the Salem Witch Trials. It gained traction in the teaching of John Nelson Darby in the 1830s, just after he left his denomination, the Church of Ireland; some historians report that he used this sensational new teaching to garner more speaking engagements (a practice that continues today). Contemporary church leaders, including Charles Spurgeon, rejected Darby’s teaching. But he wrote a translation of the Bible and started a minor denomination, so people take him seriously. 

The reality is that the Bible has very little to say about the Rapture, apart from acknowledging, in the context of the dead being raised, that one day we will be “caught up” with God in the air. Note that this was expressly given as comfort to those grieving dead loved ones, not as a theological foundation for eschatology. (As a general practice, we don't build major theological points on minor, unclear passages that are focused on other issues!)

Having said all that, it does appear that some points about the Rapture could do with being emphasized:

*        The big point in Scripture is that believers who die before Jesus returns will not be separated from Him. The Resurrection of the dead is for real. This is the main scriptural teaching about “The Rapture.”

*         The idea of being caught up with Jesus seems worth pursuing, even today. A number of contemporary prophets (and many believers) encourage pursuing the experience, though not in a physical sense, rather in terms of what might be called “day trips to Heaven.” This sounds like a great use of our time. “I believe in the Rapture,” says Bob Jones. “I do it every day!”

*         The Bible - and therefore the earliest apostolic doctrine - carefully avoids clear teaching on the subject, which should be a clue to us. Moreover, Jesus clearly said (Acts 1:7) that figuring out the details of the end times was a distraction of the real work that he has set before us (Acts 1:8). It could be reasonably concluded that end times theology (including the Rapture) is largely a distraction from our actual assignment: a theological time-waster.

*         The current teaching of the Rapture (The Left Behind version) is completely contrary to God’s ways: it’s taught as an escape from persecution, sneaking out the back door before a season of tribulation starts. God has never demonstrated the value of keeping some favored people from having to deal with difficult times, while letting other, less-favored people suffer from them. The idea of removing the only people who can bring comfort to afflicted people is not in him. If anything, he has historically sent his people into the midst of the trouble in order to be light in the darkness. Therefore, it is more likely that he would send his people into the midst of the tribulation. (See 1 Corinthians 16:8-9 and 1 Thessalonians 2:2.)

There are two clear action points that I can see, when thinking about the Rapture.

1.       God has apparently not intended that we understand the details about the end of the world. It would be wise, therefore, for me not to focus on what he is not focusing on.

2.       It will be a much better use of my time either working to prevent trying times, or preparing people to cope with trying times, rather than teaching people to expect a “Get Out of Tribulation Free” card.

Our job is “Thy kingdom come, thy will be done, on Earth as it is in Heaven.” At least within our sphere of influence.

An Expanded Understanding of Corporate Worship

In my experience with God, coming to Him in worship is a glorious thing, and there are several interesting things that happen when I'm in his presence worshiping.

One of the things that I've observed that happens in that place is what I am calling freedom in creative expression. I noticed it first when playing an instrument in a worship band: it's like I'm a better musician in His presence than I was ten minutes before. It's certainly easier to sing spontaneously in that place, and my instrument is more responsive to me there, too.

In some places, we've recognized that other creative expression is released in worship, and some worship events now have artists painting during worship. Occasionally a dancer will be part of the worship ream, too.

Prophetic expression, which I would argue is also a creative expression, is also freer when in association. That's why Elisha said "Bring me a minstrel," when he needed to prophesy to an ungodly king, and why prophetic ministry often comes during or after worship.

And that's about as far as I've ever seen it taken, at least publicly.

The question occurs to me: why should the musicians (and maybe a painter or prophet) get all of the fun? Do we think that the other gifts don't count as much, or that they wouldn't benefit from the anointing as much?

Occasionally, I've taken it a little further. Sometimes during corporate worship, I've snuck off in a corner and drawn on the anointing that is in God's presence with my writing, or in study, wielding my teaching gift. I'm sure that others have done this, too; I've just never met them. (I know: now my secret is out!)

I'd love to experiment with: how far could we take the idea of exercising whatever gift we happen to have as an expression of worship?

What would happen if we blessed teachers and scribes and writers and poets to worship in the corporate gathering with their gifts, too? What if we made room to experience the results of their gifting, like we listen to the work of the guitarist's and the drummer's giftings?

What if we gave space to tattoo artists, to graffiti artists, to mimes, to potters and sculptors and chefs and jewelry makers and leather workers and wood carvers and pipe makers and hair stylists and massage therapists? Who was it that decided that their gifts weren't appropriate to worship our Heavenly Father with?

Obviously, I'm just letting the thoughts run free here (as I'm worshipping, actually), but I can't get away from the question: how far can we take this? How many more people can we release to worship God in the community with the gifts that God has given them?

(Curiously, as I sat in a small corporate worship environment, compelled to write these thoughts on a mobile device, at the same time a prophet friend of mine, a writer, was outlining the same topic, having been drawn into it unexpectedly in a private time with God.)