Showing posts with label faith. Show all posts
Showing posts with label faith. Show all posts

Thursday

A Measure of Faith

Romans 12:3b: “God has dealt to each one a measure of faith.”

Measure: μέτρον Metron. “determined extent, portion measured off, measure or limit.”  This is the same word that describes our “sphere of influence,” also a limited extent.

We learn several things here:


• Our faith is “dealt” or distributed to us from God. We are not the source of our faith. Ephesians 2:8 affirms this.

• God has dealt faith to each one of us. Nobody is left out.

• We’re given a measure of faith, a certain amount. No one among us has infinite faith. It’s possible to increase our capacity for faith, of course, but I’m thinking in other directions right now.

If we reference the mustard seed in Matthew 17:20, we know that a little bit of faith goes a long ways. But if we have a measured amount, it is possible to spend it all, whether a little bit at a time, or in great big battles. This suggests that it’s possible to run out of faith.

That leads me to some questions:

○ Is this the reason we feel depleted after a great fight: we’ve spent a lot of our faith?

○ I wonder if this is why some folks wander away from the faith? Maybe they’ve just run out of faith. Perhaps they’ve squandered it?

○ Does this suggest that maybe we want to be frugal in our spending of faith? (For example: sure we can believe God for every dollar we need, but if we get a job, we spend less faith, so we have more faith to invest in other areas.)

○ Is faith refillable, like my truck’s gas tank? When the gauge is reading low, just go fill it up, remembering that faith is dealt from God. (No pat answers please.)

○ Is faith sharable? It’s awkward to siphon gas from my truck to put into your gas tank, but it’s possible. Can that be done with faith too? Can faith be rented out?

I think we’ve got rather a ways to grow before we know it all. 



Opinions About Pornography


OK. Let’s go step onto the scary trail. Let’s talk about pornography, and about porn addictions.

I’m going to speak about things that I have no training in. I have opinions, based on experience. I’ve not put this into words for a long time, so this may get overly-detailed (that’s how my process works).

Comment: I’ll be speaking as a guy (I generally do, but this time it may make a difference).

Another Comment: I’m not going to talk about how icky porn is. You already know that.

Warning: This isn't complete. Not sure it's actually possible to be complete on this topic. This is more of an outline, notes, rough thoughts.

Personal opinion: neither accountability nor inner healing will solve porn addictions. They may address some symptoms, but not solve the problem.

Personal opinion: solving symptoms is never a substitute for solving the core issue. If one symptom is solved, but the core issue is not, then the core issue will build pressure, and pop out in another place, or (more likely?) blow the scab off the same symptom.

Personal observation: when “church folk” respond to any addiction, their response is generally in the realm of “self control.” This does help a small number of people. 

Personal opinion: a porn addiction is not primarily about sex or about discipline. These are merely symptoms.

Personal opinion: the core issue is identity, specifically intimacy in relationship. Intimacy, in this context, is NOT a euphemism for sex: it’s about being known and accepted fully, and about knowing and accepting fully. And the first place for this intimacy is with God:

Personal opinion: if a man does not have an intimate relationship with God, if a man does not have confidence that he is fully known and fully accepted by God, then he will try to meet that very legitimate need by illegitimate means. Pornography is one of those illegitimate means.

Personal opinion: that business of being known fully and being accepted fully by one’s wife (or wife-to-be) is supplemental and very helpful, but does not replace the need for this relationship with God. Neither does sex replace real relationship with God. [That’s covered in the DUH-101 course.]

Personal opinion: This inherently creates a problem: the only solution is to know and receive the actions/choices of someone else. Fundamentally, no man can solve this problem on their own, by their own strength. There’s room for a sermon there, but this is not the time for that sermon.

Personal Opinion: the only thing that a man can do to facilitate others’ meeting of these needs is to initiate that sort of relationship. With God, that’s only about making one’s self as open as possible before God, and that is a scary process. With a bride that’s a terrifying thing, because it’s the same kind of vulnerability, but vulnerability before a fallible human being who has her own needs. Scary. But that’s all he can do to help her offer that to him: offer it to her, both for her well-being, and by way of being an example.

Personal opinion: the only things I’ve ever seen work appear to be two sides of the same coin: It can be described as “Develop this kind of relationship with God” or it can be described as “Know – really know, not just study – who you are in Christ,” but these are (IMHO) really the same thing.

Personal opinion: there is a bit of good news in an addiction to pornography: you were made for intimate relationship with God, and this addiction demonstrates that you have a real hunger, and a real readiness for that intimacy. You’re ready to develop a close relationship with your Maker. And God is ready to develop that close relationship with you.

I say again: a porn addiction is rock-solid proof that you are now ready and able to have the kind of intimate relationship with God that you’ve always wanted.

Is it scary? Hell yes!

Are we guaranteed a life of ease and no problems? You’re kidding, right?

But is it possible? abso-freakin-lutely.

And yeah, it really is the better deal! Oh my goodness, yes!

Responding to the Covid Virus

I’ve been watching the foolishness and the panic in the news, in the streets, in the grocery stores. Sure, I’ve been embarrassed (haven’t we all?). Yeah, it’s a serious virus, but I still marvel at the degree at which a society crumbles in the face of a disease.

But something else is rising up, too, and this is fascinating.

I’ve been working to keep my perspective, to guard my soul. Here are some things I’m meditating on:

• The promises of God are still “Yes!” and “Amen!” [2Corinthians 1:20]  God is not caught off-guard by this stupid disease. Nor by the irresponsible media whipping the people to a frenzy of fear. God has not been side-tracked.

• God will not let me be tempted (to fear, to foreboding, to panic, to hate) beyond my ability to resist that fear. And he’s a perfect judge of [my] character. Circumstances may feel overwhelming, but my Father who loves me promises me that they are not. He will provide a way of escape [1Corinthians 10:13].

• My Father is both amazingly capable, and passionately in love with me. And he’s good. Really good. I can trust my life to him, even in the midst of fear and panic [ibid, Mark 10:18, 2Corinthians 9:8]. I’m safe entrusting myself to his care [Isaiah 49:16, Psalm 121:4, Luke 12:32].

I observe that the daily routine of billions of people is disrupted. Yeah, for a small fraction of the population, it’s disrupted by a trip to the hospital. But for most of the rest of the people, it’s disruption by a government decision.

When daily routine is disrupted, all kinds of interesting things become possible. Sometimes people begin to think. Certainly, people are more open to new ideas, new beliefs, new practices. That’s really quite exciting.

And I have this growing sense that God is on the prowl, working in the background, behind the scenes, in significant ways. I find that I want to believe that his actions will break out into the public, and maybe they will. But if I’m honest, when he does that, human beings quickly administrate and publicize every little thing he does. I’m not convinced he is thrilled with that response.

The truth is that I don’t know what’s going to happen. I’m OK with that because I trust my Father to keep me in his hands (which is not the same as keeping me from anything bad happening).

But in the midst of all of this three-ring circus, I can’t shake the feeling, the growing excitement, that God is up to something good.


Mixing Promises with Faith


I have been meditating, unexpectedly, on Hebrews chapter 4 for a while, the second verse in particular. I was listening to it in The Message when it first hit me.

“We received the same promises as those people in the wilderness, but the promises didn’t do them a bit of good because they didn’t receive the promises with faith.” TMB

This is a topic that Father and I have been cogitating on together for many months. Now, I know that The Message is not the most literal translation of the scriptures, so I wanted to see if the same idea existed in a more precise translation.

“For indeed the gospel was preached to us as well as to them; but the word which they heard did not profit them, not being mixed with faith in those who heard it.” NKJV

Yep. It’s still there.


The topic I have been working on for a while is this. That God’s promises are not the whole story. There’s more to this story, than just God declaring wonderful promises to us.

Clearly, there has to be. There are so many amazing promises, in Scripture, in public prophetic words, and our daily devotions. If God making the promise was all that was needed for that promise to be fulfilled, we would be living in a Heavenly Utopia right now.

But we’re not. Therefore, ipso facto, there must be more to it.

And this verse tells us what that “more” is. If we don’t mix the promises that he has given us with faith, then the promise goes unfulfilled. The limitation is not his. It is ours.

Hebrews four declares that it has been this way for thousands and thousands of years, since the journey to the promised land. This is the reason that Israel did not inhabit some of the things that she was promised.

And this is a reason that you and I have not experienced the fullness of every one of our promises.

It is probably worth mentioning that the thing that is holding us back is almost certainly not the thing that we *think* is holding us back. It is almost certain that what we think is responding in faith to our promises is not actually the same as what God thinks “mixing those promises with faith” actually is.

We think we are responding to the promises with faith, but either we are mistaken, or God is a liar. I know who I am going to believe in this situation, and it’s not me. I’m going to believe that God is not a liar. So I clearly have missed it on this one.

It is beyond the scope of this brief missive to discuss what actual faith really is, what really will empower all of our promises. But if it was the thing that we call faith, that we have called faith all of our lives, then we would not be living the life that we are currently living, would we?

For the record, it’s pretty obvious that my own definitions of mixing promises with faith have been inferior, or insufficient, also. I suspect that this will be a topic of conversation between Father and myself for quite some time. You are invited to join in this search with me.

Angels Support the Values of the Kingdom


It was one of those days where it seemed there were more crazy people on the roads than usual: cars pulling out right in front of me, crowding me off the street, the guy turning right from the left lane right in front of me.
 
I was not amused.

Eventually I made my way to the freeway, and took a deep breath. “This feels like an attack,” I realized.

So I prayed. I invited angels to protect me as I made my way across town to my appointment.


And as soon as I prayed, I knew I was wrong: I didn’t need to invite them to protect me; they already were protecting me. They were the reason I hadn’t actually been hit by any of those crazies on the road. That green Volkswagen had stopped so suddenly was because an angel was stopping it from running into me.

So I thanked the angels for their effective service, and invited them to continue. And I went after any assignment against me, cancelling that. That felt better, and I encountered no more crazies that day.

And Father & I talked about this as we drove. I was thankful for the protection of his servants – our servants – on the roads, but if the angels are protecting me, why were there so many near misses if they were on duty? Why not just keep things safe and sane, why not stop the green Volkswagen five or six feet earlier so I didn’t jump out of my skin with that near miss?

This is the part I’d like to share with you, see what you think.

Angels are (essentially) employees of the Kingdom of God, serving those who will inherit salvation, right? So their actions will be consistent with the values of the Kingdom, yes?

It floated into my mind: “What is the currency of Heaven? What is it that moves His hand?”

Faith. Faith is the currency of Heaven. It’s the prayer of faith that changes things.

In fact, Romans goes so far as to declare, “without faith it is impossible to please God.” [11:6] More, that’s how this whole adventure began: “Abraham believed God and it was credited to him as righteousness.” We enter the Kingdom by faith and ever after, the Kingdom continue to work by faith.

Then it hit me. The employees of the Kingdom of God won’t be working in such a way as to bypass God’s values, in such a way as to invalidate the currency of the Kingdom. That means that angels won’t be working in a way that removes the requirement for faith, for my trusting God.

In fact, it’s more likely that they would choose their actions in such a way as to increase the faith of those they minister to, to encourage me to trust God more, in this case, rather than trusting my own driving skills.

In fact, it appears that angels are aware of the level, the maturity of our faith, and treat us accordingly. Their actions will be different for a new believer than for one who has walked with God for several decades, because it takes more to grow the faith of the seasoned saint, while the babe in Christ is challenged by even the simplest things.

In some cases, God (perhaps through the ministry of angels) provides for us, but his provision might show up at the last second. (“God is never late, but he sure misses a lot of opportunities to be early!”)

Why? Because if the provision showed up early, we’d never have to exercise faith. We’d stroll along comfortably, content that our provision was in the bank, rather than trusting our Father.

Us trusting our Daddy. Yeah, that’s part of his goal for us. Us being comfortable? Nah, that’s not a priority.

And God’s work in our lives, angels’ work in our lives, will never work against the need for us to walk (or drive) in trust.



Wednesday

Waging War With Your Prophetic Words

It was a heartbreaking season in my life.

I’d been given some prophetic promises about an area of my life. God had declared some beautiful things: unity and power and intimacy and victory. Yeah, it was a lot of “the usual stuff,” but it came in a declaration from God. Actually, it came in two or three declarations; this wasn’t just a warm and fuzzy thought from one person.

We’ll pause here for a definition. When I talk about a “declaration from God,” that might be a prophetic word; those are the best, and I give them the most weight: when someone with a known gift of prophecy says, “This is what God says,” and the community judges it to be true (1 Corinthians 14:29), that’s the gold standard of prophetic revelation in my view.

But the idea of a declaration from God includes what I hear God whispering to me, and it includes those times that something from the pages of Scripture leap alive and demand my attention. They include when friends tell me what they hear God saying about me, and when the promises of scripture actually, contextually apply to me.

As I said, I had two or three of these, including both the prophetic words and the whisper of my Father. There was a good bit of unity among the declarations. I trusted them.

And then things began to go to hell. I wish I spoke metaphorically. Without putting too fine a point on it I’ll say that just when I expected the promises to begin to manifest, to show up, just when I expected to see things turn toward unity and power and intimacy and victory, they turned the opposite direction.

It was a heartbreaking season in my life. You see, this was an area that was really quite important to me. This was no cute little bonus.

I ran through the demonic logic tests: Can God be trusted? Is he really a good God? You know that list. They came at me hard and fast, and I threw them back in his face just as hard, declaring God’s goodness, his trustworthiness, and my confidence in Him. I went further and rebuked every demon I could think of from every aspect of this promise. I felt victorious!

I thought, There. That will do it. And the promises down-shifted for better acceleration into oblivion.

My heart was crushed, but still I held on. I began to ask better, more honest questions: Did I assume God had promised this, when in fact he had not? No, he’d been quite clear.

Were the promises for right now, or was I rushing him? That one was tougher, as he’d never actually given a date, but if this trend continued, then there was no chance of fulfilling them later.

Was I imposing my own definition of what these fulfilled promises needed to look like? Maybe the fulfillment was so different than my expectations that I didn’t recognize it. I searched my heart long and hard on this, and I examined the circumstances. No, the failure was real. This wasn’t just my misinterpreting it.

My life was pretty much over. I nearly gave up.

And then something whispered in the back of my mind. It was a quiet little whisper, easy to miss. “I want you to give thanks for my promises as if you were already walking in the fullness of their fulfillment, as if everything I said has already happened, even though you’ve seen nothing yet.”

It took rather a lot to take the voice seriously, and it took even more to do what he said. But I did.

In those days, I took my lunch hours in a remote meadow. I parked my truck, and since I pray best when I walk, I’d worn a trail into the grasses and shrubberies of the meadow.

I began to pace my trail, questioning my sanity, and mumbling thanks for these hallucinations, these promises. I recognized the failure of my prayer, so I began to pray out loud. That was better, but I could tell I wasn’t to the point of actually engaging my faith yet.

So I began to shout. It was hard, and it took me days to get there, but before long, I fairly flew into that meadow, locked up my parking brake, and before the truck had fully stopped, I was on that trail, roaring my thanks for these promises, for the glory of having been my experience, for the power that had been unleashed. I screamed my gratitude for a victory I had not yet seen, and I wept in thanksgiving for the intimacy that I still only imagined.

Over the next days and weeks, I watched several changes. The first were in my heart. Eventually, my empty declarations of faith began to actually fill with faith, and I began to understand that I was waging war with these promises (1 Timothy 1:18). Not long after, I realized that the things that I was declaring that had not yet happened, they were going to happen. I began to expect, not fearlessly, not solidly, but I began to expect to see things change.

My prayers expanded. I spent my spare time thinking of what that will look like when these promises are fulfilled, and I prayed every answer to that. By now, I was thankful that my meadow was remote, and occasionally, I checked the trees near the meadow, to make sure I hadn’t roared their bark off.

And still I prayed. I walked and prayed and shouted and demanded and wept and gave thanks like there was no tomorrow.

And then things did begin to change. It was like lighting a match to the tinder of a well-set fire: the change was so very small and fragile, and the slightest breath would extinguish it. I said nothing of this to anyone, so as to not blow out my precious flame, but I gave myself to serving that tiny, flickering flame, nurturing it the best I could.

But gradually, over months and years, it did turn, and today I can say I’ve been walking in the fullness of many of those promises for many years.

I’ve also noticed a change in me. I’m quicker to give thanks than I ever used to be. I think I like that.

Thursday

The Test: Do I Really Believe What I Post?

So I posted something on Facebook the other day.

·    If God is really our provider, and that’s not just a religious saying, then why must we always worry about getting the very best price?

This is something Father and I have been talking about. I guess I shouldn’t be surprised when he tests me on it.

I’ve been looking for a piece of equipment; my “to do list” has a hot link to a Craigslist search for the piece. And over the weekend some gave me some money, enough to buy the piece. And what do you know: there’s one for sale, exactly the sort that I’m looking for.  

On the way there, Father & I discussed this. I decided that “the best deal” was not the goal, but “the best honor” was a better choice. I had a price in my mind – not sure why it was there – that was well below his asking price.

So looking at the equipment, he offered to sell it for less; in fact, it was the exact amount I had in my mind (and in my pocket). Imagine that.  

But we tested it first. Oops. Not pretty. Needs new blades. He agreed and lowered his price again (I haven’t pushed him on price even once), this time to an odd number. I said no, and insisted on the next higher even number: all I had were $20 bills. He was happy with that.

I got home, tried to sharpen the blades on it: No go. Needs new blades.

Ordered blades from a little shop online. With shipping, that brings the total back up to the number that I had in my mind originally. And in my pocket.

What a funny process. But I think I learned some things here:

·   I really CAN trust Father’s provision.
·   Honor is more important than “the best” price.
·   The path he takes me on may at times be circuitous. But it WILL be interesting.

The Ministry of Broken People

Here's an interesting observation. I've been with a number of broken people recently. Some of them are regular folks, and some broken people are leaders, occasionally famous leaders.

I'm noticing a trend about some of the broken, messed-up and damaged Believers: God doesn't appear to give a rat's hindquarters about their brokenness. He doesn't seem to be offended by the outcasts, the rejects, the jerks.

If they’re hungry (and that seems to be a clue for all of us!), he is really happy to fill them and use them and empower them. He makes a freakin' mess changing the world through them. He's downright extravagant in showing out through them.

I've been with a number of clean and tidy and well-educated people recently. I'm noticing a trend about some of them, too. They look good, they sound good, they are comfortable to be around.

And there's a whole lot of us in between there.

But really, I see more of God's signs and wonders, more people healed and delivered, more completely unexplainable "coincidences" in the aftermath of the first group. They go places I don't like to go. They take on circumstances that make me uncomfortable. And the glory of God drools out from their brokenness, their foolishness, their awkwardness in ways that most of us aspire to.

It's interesting how our culture labels the beautiful people as the big successes. There's more of us in-betweeners, so we win the popularity polls.

But it's the broken, socially inept, rude, crude and socially unacceptable ones, the ones who actually believe God and His Book, the busted ones trying to do the stuff: these are the ones I think are actually getting it right.

Stupid Chickens

Chickens.

I have some chickens. They make good eggs and good soup.

But chickens are dumb. Stupid. Completely unintelligent. Goldfish are smarter than chickens. And so I learn a lot about myself from them.

These chickens are domesticated. Really domesticated. They know me as their provider, almost as if I were their god. Any time I open the back door, which they can see from their chicken yard, they cluster around the near side of their pen, eyes on me.

Any time I come near the chicken yard, they cluster around near me, knowing that I am their provider, knowing that very often, when I show up, I bring good things for them to eat. 

They’re constantly looking to me for their provision: what will I bring them today? They remind me of the apostle’s promise, “Every good and perfect gift comes down from the Father of lights,” only in this case, every good and perfect gift comes from me.

The other day, I brought a large handful of their favorite vegetable, kale, and I tossed it into their pen. They ignored the kale. They didn’t even notice that I’d tossed their favorite veggie into their pen. They just kept their eyes on me, knowing that I might give them something good to eat.

I explained to the brilliant birds: “I already brought you something good to eat. I have already provided for you. Go enjoy what I’ve already given you!”

And they clustered even tighter around that side of their fence, watching to see what I’d give them.

They were so intently focused on the fact that I am their provider, focused on what I might provide for them, that they completely missed the fact that I had already provided for them.

And as I watched them, I heard Father clearing his throat, drawing my attention to their actions. And I knew I was guilty.

There have been times that I’ve been so focused on God, who is my good provider, focused on what God is going to provide for me, that I completely miss what he’s already provided for me.

I’m learning to give thanks more, and to solicit provision less.


When Darkness Comes Into the Light

For a long time, I’ve been praying that the things that have been hidden in darkness would be revealed in the light. Many of you have been praying similar things.

I’m not stopping those prayers (please, don’t you stop either). But I’m adding to it: I’m praying that those that see the things drawn out into the light would recognize them, would understand them, and would take wise action based on what they recognize and understand.

There’s a lot of dark stuff going on in hidden places in our world. It has to: there’s so very much light increasing all around, that the darkness is not just where dark things are most comfortable, but now, that’s the only place where the dark things can survive.

As I pray these prayers, I expect hidden things in governments to be brought into the light and recognized. I expect people to recognize and condemn atrocities in the Middle East and in Asia. I expect that dark things in the medical community and the business world will be revealed, perhaps most especially where those two worlds overlap. As I pray, I expect that hidden things in the education systems will come to light and surprise many.

Demonic strongholds will be uncovered, and – if we’re attentive – torn down. Demonic plans will evaporate to dust. Sins and influences that have been hidden in darkness will be uncovered; some will scurry away to find more darkness, and others, unable to hide, will find their end when a Saint notices them and wields their sword of the Spirit on them.

But it won’t only happen “over there.” This trend toward disclosure will also happen “over here.” And it’s probably good that it does. There’s darkness in the Christian religious system as well, and if we’re violently honest, there’s probably a measure of darkness in most of our lives that we’ve completely lost track of.

I suppose these will come into the light as well.

But I also expect that we’ll see our hopes and desires come to light, and surprise many, even surprising ourselves. And it won’t just be us, it will be many people, shaking their heads, as if awakening from a dream, and marveling at the dreams and visions that are in their own hearts.

I expect that as we pray, we’ll see the “sons of God” emerge from their hidden place, and take their places in the Kingdom of God, and no, I don’t really know what that will look like.

And best of all, our Magnificent Bridegroom, who has been hidden by the weeds and distractions of the world will no longer be hidden. He will be seen as he really is, and as we see him, we’ll be transformed.

I look forward to walking in the fulfillment of these prayers. Would you care to join me? 

My Times with God

Sometimes it was in the morning, if I was able to drag myself out of bed. Mornings were my preference, and before too long, this confirmed night owl was up before the sunrise. Sometimes it happened before retiring for the night.

More often, I just grabbed an hour or so wherever I could. I remember many times in an abandoned church building near where I lived, at my dining room table, in an empty classroom or lunchroom or conference room or a table at the library. Often times I parked for a while in a rest stop, or some wide spot in the road between here and there.

The first thing after I sat down was usually a sigh, and I’d just sit there for a few minutes. Then I’d open my knapsack or reach to my bookshelf and pull out three things: my Bible, my journal, and a mechanical pencil.

But before I opened any of them, we’d talk. “Hi Dad. Love you! I’m looking forward to what you’re going to show me today. Help me to see, eh? Help me to recognize what you’re showing me, please. Thanks. You’re awesome!” And I’d open both books at the ribbon.

In my Bible, I was working my way through one of the books, section by section. Most translations have headings dividing up the text: I’d tackle no more than the space from one heading to the next.

In my journal, I listed the date and the passage, and then I pushed that book out of my way, and I devoted my attention to the Bible.

I read the passage through. You know the way you read a text book assignment that you don’t love? Yeah, this was not that. I read it slowly enough that my attention didn’t drift. If I could, I’d read it quietly out loud.

During this time, I turned my imagination loose to walk among these people, hear the sounds, smell the smells of the story I read. If I was in an epistle, I’d listen for the apostle’s tone of voice, and I’d imagine how the people it was addressed to felt as they read it. If I felt like it, I’d look at a few cross references, but I guarded against bunny trails.

But more than anything, I waited for the light to go on. Invariably, one verse would catch my attention, as if my Father were pointing to it, and saying, “Look here, son.” Sometimes it was just a word, or a phrase. Maybe it was a repeated word. Or an idea that never actually made it into words.

If it didn’t happen the first time, I’d go back and read it again. I’d often underline the verbs, using a set of markings I developed for myself after years of this. If there was a list of things or a progression, I’d number the points. Sometimes I circled adjectives and adverbs. Sometimes I’d ask questions, of the text, of Father, about what was going on. But everything was just keeping me involved with the text until my attention was drawn to one part.

That signal was like arriving at the X on a treasure map. It meant “Dig here.” That was the real assignment.

The first part of digging was to write – legibly – the verse that stuck out to me into my journal. And then I go to work to interact with that verse, that passage, to dig for treasure in that spot. I figure that the investment of an hour was just about right, and good success would probably show evidence of at least one full page, more or less, of reaction in my journal.

So I looked closely. My personal Bible always has cross references, but is never a “Study Bible.” I don’t want to hear what other people think. I want to discover what God thinks, and see if I can make my own thinking line up with that.

My first step was pretty often to “center myself” and to dig into that little nudge itself, the nudge that said, “Dig here.” Often, that would give me some direction for my searching or meditation.

I used different tools to dig. Sometimes I would literally outline the sentences, like in English class in high school. Sometimes, I chased down the cross references, both those in the margins and especially the ones in my own heart.

But sometimes, it was just meditating on my one verse, reflecting it, asking questions of it, that brought the reward.

For example, when reading through Mark 8, I was caught by verse 31: “And he began to teach them that the Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders and the chief priests and the scribes and be killed, and after three days rise again.

This time, I found myself outlining what I saw in that verse:

1)      What are the “many things” he would suffer? (I listed them, cross referenced to Matthew 20:19 for details.)
2)      Who rejected him? (I listed them.)
3)      He would be killed: he doesn’t say by whom.
4)      He’d rise again after 3 days.

And as I was writing the outline, I realized I was thinking most about the fact that Jesus had never discussed this before. He was only free to talk about it after verse 29: after they realized that he was, in fact, the Messiah they were looking for.

I wrote for a while on what it must have been like, knowing that this terrible stuff was coming, and not having anybody – not a single person on the planet – that he could talk to about it.

I meditated for a while on how he himself learned of it, since he had been born as a normal baby (cf Philippians 2 and Hebrews 4:14,15) and he had to learn all this stuff in his own times with Father. I reflected on what that first conversation might have been like, when Father talked about what was going to happen.

And I realized that Jesus got his direction from – more or less – from the same thing that I was doing just now.

And I was done. Either I was out of time, or “the anointing lifted,” or something else. And that’s the point: I’m not looking to write a pretty article from this (though that came from it once or twice). I’m not looking for some big and powerful conclusion.

The big conclusion isn’t the point of this. The point is that Father and I have time together in his Word. Years later, I realized that he was training me – through these times – to hear his voice, and that it was remarkably effective. But even that training wasn’t the point. The point was our time together, our relationship.

Now, why have I just told you all this? It’s because of something I heard in our time together: I had the sense that some folks are pretty well grounded in hearing Father’s voice, but others are still scratching their heads and wondering how we do that?

Father showed me that during our times together, he was teaching me how to hear him, how to hear his voice and how to recognize his voice. And it seemed to me that he was suggesting that someone might want to follow the trail that he and I cleared together.

If you want to learn how to hear Father’s voice well, this is one way to learn. It has the additional benefit of giving you a solid grounding in the Bible.

If you decide to follow this trail, you have my blessing, and more important, Father’s. May you have as much fun in your time with Father on this trail as I have! I know he’ll enjoy his time with you!




Responding to “Melchizedek Means You Must Tithe!”

Does Abraham's tithe to Melchizedek mean we must tithe?

When teaching on the topic of tithing, pastors generally refer to Genesis 14, where Abraham was just finishing wiping out four kings in a war to recover his captive family. Melchizedek, a priest, came out to congratulate Abe, who gave that priest 10% of the plunder. Here’s the story:

When Abram heard that his relative had been taken captive, he called out the 318 trained men born in his household and went in pursuit as far as Dan. During the night Abram divided his men to attack them and he routed them, pursuing them as far as Hobah, north of Damascus. He recovered all the goods and brought back his relative Lot and his possessions, together with the women and the other people.

After Abram returned from defeating Kedorlaomer and the kings allied with him, the king of Sodom came out to meet him in the Valley of Shaveh (that is, the King's Valley). Then Melchizedek king of Salem brought out bread and wine. He was priest of God Most High, and he blessed Abram, saying, “Blessed be Abram by God Most High, Creator of heaven and earth. And praise be to God Most High, who delivered your enemies into your hand.”

Then Abram gave him a tenth of everything.

The king of Sodom said to Abram, “Give me the people and keep the goods for yourself.” But Abram said to the king of Sodom, “With raised hand I have sworn an oath to the LORD, God Most High, Creator of heaven and earth, that I will accept nothing belonging to you, not even a thread or the strap of a sandal, so that you will never be able to say, 'I made Abram rich.’” - Genesis 14:14-23 

“The tithe precedes the Law!” they declaim. “So when the Law went away, the tithe stays: You must tithe because Abraham tithed before the Law!” (And they’ll often reference Hebrews 7, where the story is mentioned in passing in support of a whole different point.)

I hate that argument: it’s 98% irrelevant to the topic. (A little bit is relevant: One guy did tithe once before the law.)

But he tithed only once. One time only, Abraham gave 10% of the spoils of one war to Melchizedek, while he gave 90% to the kings of Sodom & Gomorrah. He never tithed from any other source, either before or after that day.

So we’re supposed to make application for our lives from this story. Here are some ways we can apply Abraham’s example of tithing to Melchizedek:

* Does this mean that we should tithe on the spoils of our war? Do we get the Pentagon involved in this, or do we limit ourselves just to wars that we ourselves lead? Are we limited only to foreign wars, or does a fight with my wife count?

* Does this mean that we tithe after we kill people? If so, whom shall we kill on Sunday morning? Abe killed people who held his family captive. Who would that be today?

* Does this mean that we should tithe when a priest brings bread and wine to our workplace and blesses us (as Melchizedek did here)? In that case, I should tithe to the traveling sales reps, I suppose. They bring food to my workplace, though they’re not really priests.

* Does this mean we should tithe only one day in our lives, as Abraham did? If so, how do we choose which one day we should tithe? Should it be when we’re young and strong, or when we’re old and wise? And should it be a work day, or a weekend day? If it only happens once, we should be careful to pick the right day.

* Does this mean that we should give 90% of our income to the leaders of “Sodom & Gomorrah”? I thought we were opposed to the pornography industry or the sex trade? Or are you saying we should just pick some worldly politicians and give them our life savings? (Sure glad that happens only one day in our life!)

My point is this: it is foolishly disingenuous to say, “You must apply this one detail out of this story, but ignore all the rest of it!” That’s religious manipulation at its worst! It is completely unworthy of the People of God.

Conclusion: This story is clearly not appropriate to use as a tool to demand that people give you 10% of their income.

But don’t take this too far.

I am not trying to say, “Do not tithe!” Nor am I saying, “Don’t be generous!” as some mistakenly say.

I’m saying that the People of God are not subject to the extortion that the tithe teaching has become: “If you don’t obey this Law, you’re a lousy Christian!” Many churches today deny members opportunities to serve, or to receive ministry, unless they’ve submitted to the extortion.

Christians are not under law. We are not required to tithe.

However, note that the law of sowing and reaping is part of our lives in the New Covenant. Consider 2Corinthians 9:6: “Remember this: Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously.” That's for us. That’s real.

And the need for believers to be characterized by generosity, particularly to the poor, is incontrovertible! Really, 10% is a pretty wimpy standard for people who have generosity in their soul. Giving from a free heart is completely encouraged! And we’re free to give where we want to: to missions, to local congregations, to a benevolence group, directly to needy people, or to a secular group that does worthy things. And we’re free to donate money, or time, or sweat, or influence, or anything else we have to give.

So, if people read the story of Abraham and Melchizedek and then they say, “Well that proves it. I must give 10% of my income to you every week because Abraham gave 10% to a priest one time!” then somebody is not thinking clearly. That’s just the spirit of stupid.

But if they read the story of Abraham and Melchizedek and then they say “That’s cool! I want to do that!” then more power to them! That’s a beautiful thing! 


Just don’t try to make it a law. That would be a lie. And it’s not good to lie to the people of God.

Fixing Our Eyes on the Good.

There have been some remarkable discoveries in physics recently, particularly in the realm of quantum mechanics (sub-atomic particles: the tiny things that make up every piece of matter in the universe): Oversimplified: The very fact of observation changes reality.

(This video does a pretty good job of explaining this. The first 5 minutes give you the basics.)

The physicists’ conclusion: “The very act of observing [subatomic particles] caused the wave function to collapse and create the existence of matter.” In other words, observation creates real matter.

This has epic implications: what we observe becomes real. In fact, physicist Anton Zeilinger declares that “What we perceive as reality now depends on our earlier decision what to measure [or observe].”

Let’s describe this in Kingdom vocabulary: it clearly suggests that sons of the Most High create reality not merely by their words, but also by simply paying attention.

This gives greater understanding to passages like Philippians 4:8: “Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things.”

Applying quantum physics to Scripture, this explains WHY we are directed to dwell – to observe, to fix our attention on – good things: because our observation of them causes them to manifest more completely in the physical realm.

By extension, the reverse is also true: if we do NOT give our attention to things that are negative or evil – we call them “bad reports” – then we do NOT help those things become reality. What we don’t pay attention to never becomes as real as the things we do pay attention to.

So one of the ways that we accomplish our task of “Thy kingdom come, thy will be done, on earth as it is in Heaven,” is in Hebrews 12: “And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith.”

But the current research in quantum physics has learned even more: just observing subatomic particles not only causes them to actually exist, but it causes them to have already existed, prior to observation (around the 7:00 point of the video), or sometimes, in the future.

I hear this as both a powerful encouragement to focus our attention on good news, on things that are “worthy of praise,” and a clear articulation of WHY we need to pay attention to good things.

As Dr Zeilinger says, This is “a very, very deep message about the nature of reality, and our role in the universe. We are not just passive observers.”

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Sarah’s Faith

Before they were “Abraham and Sarah,” they were “Abram and Sarai.” They were on the first, and in some ways, the most amazing, adventure with God of all time.

Abe was the first guy to relate to God by faith (as opposed to Adam and company, who went for walks with God, and didn’t really need faith). Abe’s made it, by now, into the history books as The Father of Our Faith.

But it’s the story of Abe’s bride, Sarah, that inspires me today, though I’ll confess it’s from an odd perspective.

In Genesis 18, God promises Abe & Sarah, now old enough to be grandparents or great-grandparents, that they’d have a child, a son, next year. Abraham was a hundred years old; Sarah was ninety. There aren’t a lot of ninety year old women having babies even today with all the miracles of modern medicine.

But in those days? Not only unheard of, it was legitimately unthinkable. These guys knew and understood the birds and the bees. They knew there wasn’t a chance in the world of having a baby, and they’d made peace with that fact decades ago.

No wonder Sarah laughed. (“Therefore Sarah laughed within herself, saying, “After I have grown old, shall I have pleasure, my lord being old also?” ” Genesis 18:12. Apparently, by now they weren’t even doing the “pleasurable” things you do to get kids.)

Now here’s where it gets really interesting to me: God calls out Sarah for laughing at his promise (even though she only “laughed within herself”) and reaffirms the promise. And the best part (v15): Sarah lies to God about it “I did not laugh.” God, who apparently likes truth, called her on it again.

The story moves on to other interesting things, like God submitting his plans to Abraham, but that’s the part that caught my attention: Sarah essentially calls God a liar, and then when she’s exposed, she lies to his face. “Nope. Not me!”

Now skip ahead a couple of thousand years, to Hebrews 11, the “Hall of Faith.” These are the Heroes Of Faith, the great men and women that God holds up as examples of how to believe God. And Sarah is there! But this time, the story is told from God’s point of view:

“And by faith even Sarah, who was past childbearing age, was enabled to bear children because she considered him faithful who had made the promise. And so from this one man, and he as good as dead, came descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky and as countless as the sand on the seashore.” (Hebrews 11:11-12)

From Sarah’s perspective (and from Moses’ perspective, as he wrote the book), Sarah appears to have called God a liar, surely didn’t believe him, and then flat-out lied to him, to protect her reputation (or Abe’s).

And God calls that an act of faith. God sees that as “considering God faithful” and believing the promise. God apparently, from the phrase “and so” in v12, considers Sarah’s mighty faith to be the foundational reason that there was an Isaac and a Jacob and the Children of Israel.

If Sarah had been as full of unbelief as she sure looks like in Genesis 18, and as it appears she thought she was herself, then the story would stop right there. There’d never be anybody to Exodus out of Egypt, no Joshua, no David, and no Jesus.

So it occurs to me that we have kind of a messed up definition of what “faith” actually means.  Read Hebrews 11 again, and read it carefully. These are not people that we’d normally consider giants of faith, at least not until Hebrews identifies them for us.

Noah, says Hebrews, “condemned the world and became heir of the righteousness that is in keeping with faith.” No he didn’t! He built a thing called a”boat” in a desert to preserve his family from some strange event that the Voice called a “flood.” He did it to save his life!

Moses “refused to be known as the son of Pharaoh’s daughter. He chose to be mistreated along with the people of God rather than to enjoy the fleeting pleasures of sin.” No he didn’t! He fled for his life, afraid the Egyptian cops would have heard about his murder when he tried to help an unfortunate slave out.

This is what sticks out to me: faith – real faith – doesn’t very often look heroic. There aren’t movie cameras rolling, and audiences watching as we Do The Mighty Deeds Of Faith.

That’s NOT at all what God refers to in his only chapter about Faith in the entire book.

Real faith seems to come with knocking knees, sweaty armpits and perhaps soiled undershorts. Real faith appears to sometimes be accompanied by laughing at God’s promises, doing stupid things for reasons you don’t understand, even screwing up in your good ideas of helping unfortunate people.

Here’s my takeaway: I’m going to try to not laugh at God so much anymore. But if I do, I’m not going to beat myself up over it. And if I feel really stupid for following a hunch, or for fowling up a good idea, I’m not going to beat myself up over those either.

And I’m going to try to not give up on God’s promises when it looks like there isn’t a chance in the world of them happening.

Just maybe, God’s writing those stories in his Book.



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The Cleaning Lady

The Cleaning Lady


I’d like to tell you the story of a friend of mine, whom I’ll call Chantelle.

Chantelle had just found a roommate and a nice apartment, and they were in the early stages of moving in, when she called me. “I’d like your help in praying over our apartment before we move in.” She and I had dealt with some things together before, and she understood that teamwork is valuable.

So we began to pray. We prayed over the kitchen, the dining room, the living room, and declared the destiny we heard Father speaking about for the rooms and their activity. During the prayer time, I slipped away, and tossed a large handful of Dove’s chocolates into her empty room, just so she’s find a nice surprise.

When we finished praying about the public rooms, we headed down the hallway, and we both felt something strange, an unhealthy, unclean presence back there, and we both felt it at the same point, right as the hallway turned the corner.

Cool! A teachable moment! So we discussed it, discussed what it felt like, and I proposed that we check the back rooms individually for more sense of it.

We checked her room first, and there was no sense of that particular darkness, but there were wrapped dark chocolates scattered on the floor. She laughed and picked up a couple of them, and we agreed that this room wasn’t the source for the sense of the unclean that we felt. She offered me a chocolate and we moved on.

We prayed over the bathroom, blessed it, and ruled it out as a source of darkness, and moved on, while she nibbled her chocolate.

The roommate’s room. As Chantelle opened her roommate’s door, we felt the unclean darkness inside. “Aha! I suspect we’ve found a clue!” The roommate wasn’t home, of course; she wasn’t a believer, and wouldn’t understand what we were doing. In fact, there was just a small stack of boxes in the middle of the room.

We discussed the situation. We both sensed that there was uncleanness on the walls, though they appeared a clean white to our eyes. Chantelle stepped into the room, spiritual senses wide open, looking to sense where the unclean stuff was coming from. The closet? Nope. The window? Nope? This place where the bed obviously went? Nope.

That left the boxes in the middle of the room. They were just moving boxes, and only two or three of them; they looked innocuous enough. She popped the last of the chocolate in her mouth and touched the top box. Bingo! This is where the darkness came from! As we talked about the source of the presence, she straightened out the foil that had wrapped her chocolate, and read the quote it contained: “You are exactly where you are supposed to be.” We laughed!

We didn’t get into the boxes; they weren’t our property, but we felt the need to address the darkness, particularly, the darkness clinging to the walls. So we prayed that it would be removed. Nothing happened. We commanded it to leave. Nothing. We prophesied blessing on the room and its future. Nada.

I had an idea. “Chantelle, why don’t you ask Father for the right weapon to remove the darkness?” She gave me a funny look, but we’d done stranger things than this together. She prayed, and I could see from the look on her face that she’d seen Him give her something.

“What is it? What did he give you?” She scowled. “A washrag.” We laughed some more.

But she began to wield the washrag that she saw in the Spirit against the darkness. In reality, she began to wash the walls with it, and it was the first time that we saw the darkness give way, though it was a fight.

After a few minutes, we recognized that this was going to take all night, and I couldn’t help her, as I was still standing in the hallway (out of respect for someone else’s room).

Another thought presented itself. “I wonder if that washrag is for you to wield, or if it’s for someone else?” We prayed. “An angel is to wield it.” “OK. Why don’t you invite that angel in?” She did, and she laughed. “What do you see?” “A cleaning lady!” We laughed some more.

So Chantelle handed the washrag to the cleaning lady angel, and invited her to wield the weapon. Immediately, she began washing the walls, and by the time Chantelle had reached the door to the room, the first wall was halfway clean; we could both feel the darkness lifting. That was better! We blessed the cleaning lady, and invited her to stay. It seemed to us that her assignment was the back of the apartment, particularly the hallway and the bedrooms.

We felt the freedom to invite a couple other angles to the house. A big armed one was stationed outside the downstairs entrance, and Chantelle assigned another, whom she named Cheese Grater Guy, to the front door, to remove any “Klingons” from guests to the home.

When we left, we looked back at the bedroom windows, and we both discerned what appeared to be a cleaning lady waving happily to us from the roommate’s window. We laughed and waved back.

The really fun part of the story came weeks later, when the roommate cautiously reported that she “could feel a presence” in the back hallway. Chantelle replied, “Yep, and she’s staying here! We’re not going to get rid of that one!”


And the cleaning lady likes cats. Both Chantelle and the roommate had pet cats, kittens, really, who loved to play with them. But from time to time, both women could see the cats in the hallway, playing with someone they couldn’t see with their natural eyes. 

Walmart: To Shop, or Not to Shop


A few years back, a familiar and none-too-pretty tale was played out yet again in the Northwest. (It is by no means exclusive to the Northwest, except that I am more in touch with what happens in the Northwest than other areas.) I’m going to use Walmart as an example, but the issue is not about Walmart. It’s about us.

It started with an announcement that Walmart was considering building a store in a modest-size town. The next phase was outrage from a great portion of the community, various lawsuits filed, for which Walmart had amply prepared and easily won, and sales of bumper stickers proclaiming, “I don’t shop at Walmart!”

Behind the scenes, Walmart built their store, stocked their store, hired employees and quietly opened for business. The Walmart haters still hated. People bought stuff. Employees earned paychecks. Life went on.

It strikes me that there are legitimate reasons for communities to not love Walmart’s influence in their community. Walmart does business differently, and that has social and economic effect on the community.

There are also legitimate reasons for Walmart to do business the way it does, and those business decisions have made Walmart incredibly successful.

And there are people who legitimately need the infamously low-paying jobs that Walmart offers, if only because they can get work nowhere else.

Father whispered to me about the protests recently:

o          If I refuse to shop at Walmart, then I have judged Walmart in my heart and in my actions. That’s not actually good Christian behavior, partly because it opens me up to judgment, and I’d rather that didn’t happen.

o          If a community joins in loud and apparently united outrage against Walmart, then we make its employees (and applicants) outcasts from the community. We create a caste of “untouchables” in our community. I don’t think we really want that to happen, either.

o          If we declare that “Walmart is evil!” (as I’ve heard many times), then we’re also making declaration that they become evil, and we’re releasing the power of evil into those people who are part of Walmart; we’re giving evil a measure of freedom to work in our community. I surely don’t want that to happen!

o          If there’s truth in the declaration, “Where your treasure is, there will your heart be also,” then the prayers of my heart regarding Walmart will be more effective if I spend a bit of my treasure there. I bought some supplies there this weekend; I consider that an investment in my prayers for this economic powerhouse in my community.

In fact, I’ll confess: I’ve been praying for and prophesying to my local Walmart since the very first announcement that they were going to build. I’ve walked through the building’s foundations, declaring that this store, at least, would be founded on righteousness and truth. They had to cap a well to pour that foundation, so I declare  springs of living water in them, particularly that they would be a spring of life to their employees.

I don’t spend much of my treasure there. I believe strongly in doing business with companies that are locally owned, and Walmart doesn’t qualify for that one. Besides, I don’t love the quality of a lot of the products they sell. (There’s a difference between “inexpensive” and “cheap.” I tend to prefer the former.)

Now, I am absolutely NOT trying to tell others whether they should shop at Walmart or how to spend their money. I’m describing some results of our choices.

I was actually shopping at Walmart when Father began to speak to me about this. It was funny, but I felt his blessing flowing through me to the store, it’s employees and its very interesting customers.

But as he spoke to me about Walmart, he included other issues in the conversation. The movie Noah was one. There are many others.  We’re giving away influence in the marketplace when we protest market leaders for acting like market leaders.

We believers have the freedom to spend our money where we wish. But there are real effects to the words of our protests, and there is an authority in our prayers that follows the spending of our treasure.



The Vision of the Wooden Spoon

The vision began with a quiet stream, in a quiet, green meadow; it reminded me of Narnia for some reason: that peaceful. The stream was wider than one could jump across, and deeper than you’d want to wade across, and its flow was smooth and fairly fast. All in all, it was a very peaceful environment. The birds were singing.

Then a giant hand appeared in the sky, holding a giant wooden spoon, the kind of spoon that people use in the kitchen to mix cookie dough. The spoon dipped into the stream and stirred.

For a while, nothing much happened, except the stream became more turbulent from the spoon’s motion. After a minute or two, the stream darkened, and soon I could see things in the muddy stream: old tires, boots, cans, bottles, sticks and stones, jars, bags of rubbish. The hand with the spoon withdrew into the heavens.

I was kind of appalled. This had been a peaceful stream, in a beautiful meadow, and now it was full of trash and garbage and muck and mess. Well, actually, the peaceful stream had always had the trash and muck and garbage and muck and mess, but it had been lying hidden in the mud on the bottom of the stream. Now the stuff was out in the open.

The vision continued, and the stream kept flowing, and then I saw it: the garbage was flowing downstream with the flow of stream. Some of what had been stirred up came to the top of the stream, and was carried far downstream, out of the picture. Other things, heavier things, were carried a little ways downstream but they settled back to the bottom of the stream. Soon the stream was clear and peaceful again, but I knew that old tires, discarded shoes, bottles and cans were still there, lying on the bottom of the stream.

The hand with the spoon appeared again, and stirred the water again, and again the stream darkened with mud, again tires, discarded shoes, bottles, cans, and other detritus were stirred up, and again they floated various distances downstream.

The cycle was repeated several times, until eventually, the stirring from the almighty spoon did not bring up muck and garbage.

The stream returned to peace, but it flowed smoother, faster, than it had before, and I realized that it flowed cleaner than it had before. The garbage on the stream bed had settled under so much mud that the stream flowed smoothly over it, but still the garbage had polluted the stream.

Now the stream was actually clean.

I believe that this is what Father is doing in some of our lives. He’s stirring things up in our lives, and it’s uncomfortable. It’s easy to be appalled or offended at what he’s doing, because he’s good at what he does. Things are being stirred up, memories, habits, relationships that have been in our lives are being stirred up from the dark depths of our lives, and brought into the light.

And the reality is that much of what he’s stirring up is garbage: shame, embarrassment, memories of foolishness, of sin, histories of unwise choices, character weaknesses. It’s easy to resent these coming to the surface after how many years of being hidden in history.

But he’s bringing them up in order to wash them away, in order to remedy the issues. Trust him. Have hope, rest in the confident assurance that he does know what he’s doing, and that he’s working for good in you, for the purity that we really have wanted. He’s answering our prayers.

We can trust the spoon. More specifically, we can trust the hand wielding the spoon.


Beggars Can’t Be Choosers. But We're Not Beggars

There’s an old saying: “Beggars can’t be choosers.”

Sometimes, it’s actually right. If you’re living on hand-me-downs, you don’t get to choose what kind of fashion statement to make. Whoever’s handing it down to you got to choose that. You’re stuck with their decision. If you’re begging for food on the street corner, then you can’t choose if people will give you something, or if they do, what they will give. The most you can do is attempt to look more pitiful than other mendicants, so that you’ll get more donations, but you still can’t choose.

I’ve known a number of people who have “lived by faith” and it’s looked like that. Heck, I’ve done it myself.

But that principle is only true for beggars. It’s only true for people who have no provision themselves, who must depend on the generosity of others for their food and drink and the roof over their head. It’s true for slaves, too: a slave only gets what his master gives him.

In fact, it works as a test. If I hold the perspective that I’m stuck with whatever someone else will give to me, then that’s a good indication that I consider myself a beggar or a slave. If I believe that the only way that I’ll ever be provided for is if I can persuade other people to provide for me, then that says that I see myself as a beggar.

And of course, that suggests that some of the TV preachers – those who are regularly asking for money – have the heart of a beggar inside them.

There are alternatives, of course. Being a beggar isn’t the only choice before us.

We could choose the Older Brother Syndrome: “I have to work for anything I’m going to get.” We all know (heck, some of us ARE) people who expect that nobody else will provide for them, so if it’s going to happen, they’ve got to make it happen. But this isn’t the choice I want to recommend.

I think the place we need to get to is the place of sonship. Galatians 4:7 says, “Therefore you are no longer a slave, but a son; and if a son, then an heir through God.” We are not beggars, not slaves, and not even employees, working hard to provide for ourselves.

We’re heirs to the Kingdom. And as heirs, the wealth of the Kingdom is ours to use for the purposes of the Kingdom. (A son of the Kingdom doesn’t spend the Kingdom’s wealth on his own pleasures, but provision for the sons and daughters is a major purpose of the Kingdom’s wealth.)

That is not to say that we never work. Sons of the Kingdom work! We just don’t work in order to be fed. We work to administrate the Kingdom. In fact, Paul indicated that work is a principle of the Kingdom: “If anyone is not willing to work, then he is not to eat, either.” (2 Thessalonians 3:10) And this is not just talking about “ministry work.” Paul’s own example was building tents for a nomadic people (Acts 18:3).

And of course, there’s the difference between theory and practice. There’s the minor detail that, as Jesus said to Pilate, “My kingdom is not of this world.” So there will be a correlation between how much we’re in touch with the Kingdom and our ability to draw provision from that Kingdom to this world.

Beggars can’t be choosers. But sons are required to choose.


Handling The Power of the Tongue

One of the reasons I teach Hebrews 12:2, Philippians 4.8, Ephesians 1:18, Matthew 6:22-23, etc so very much is because I experience them so powerfully in the everyday. (The Philippians verse will illustrate the theme: “Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy—meditate on these things.”)

The wisest man in the history of the planet once said it this way: “Death and life are in the power of the tongue.” That's not a metaphor.

If I am involved in a conversation that's filled with reports of problems, of failure, conversation that’s focused on the work of the devil, then that conversation wounds me, like a knife or bullet would. The closer I draw to the heart of my Father, the more these reports hurt me, rather than the opposite.

I've figured out that there's a terrible and powerful reason why Jesus and the Boys teach us to guard what we see, what we hear: it’s the difference between life and death.

This is one of the reasons that when I teach people to prophesy, I teach them to prophesy the solution. “Anybody can prophesy the problem in this day and age. Even the evening news does a pretty good job of that.”

If we’re prophesying, and we hear of a sin in someone’s life, Holy Spirit did not tell us that so that we could accuse them of that sin. Accusing the brethren is someone else’s job, and our job, like Jesus before us, is to destroy his works. So we prophesy the solution. We don’t pretend, and tell the adulterer “You’re faithful.” We declare God’s heart, “God’s call on you is faithfulness. He’s given you an anointing for that.”

And if we have a vision or a dream of destruction, then our job is not to prophesy death and destruction, panic and mayhem. Our job is to change the future. Speak to the storm: “Peace, be still.” Don’t shout, “Aack! A storm! Run for your lives!” There’s no faith in that, and as Romans 14 declares, “whatever is not from faith is sin.”

This is also one of the reasons that when people want to know how I’m doing, I don’t immediately barf on them about the things that are not going my way. (Or I try not to. I don’t get it right every time.)

Sometimes, I’ve been accused of not being in touch with reality, because I won’t follow the evening news, because I don’t want to hear all the reasons for every “prayer request.” I want to ask these accusers, “Which reality do you want to be in touch with, anyway?”

For myself, I live in the physical world, but I am a citizen of the Heavenly one. I choose to be more in touch with, I choose to extend the reign of, the Kingdom of Heaven.

Which means that I will listen to the news from Heaven’s point of view, not from the accuser’s perspective. I will choose to respond to people from the perspective of Heaven, not from the accuser’s view. And I choose to fill my mind with the things that Heaven’s Instruction Book tells me to fill my mind with.

I choose to see Heaven manifested. I can't do it all, but I intend to do my part.

Monday

Partnering with the Promises of God

There have been a number of prophetic words that have spoken about God doing something cool this summer.

This one (http://on.fb.me/13ql6aY) talks about kingdom advancement in June: hold your ground because help is on the way.

This one (http://on.fb.me/14eNmMz) talks about this spring & summer as a season of spiritual transformation. Many of Gods people are being transformed from what they have been to where they are going next.

There have been a lot (like this: http://on.fb.me/ZyCqgz) that talk about the move of God like a tsunami. In fact, there are a lot of these.

But there are always promises from God. The real question is how do we respond to those promises?

So what do we need to do? Do we just sit around and drink coffee until God hands us the fulfillment of these promises? In other words, is it all up to him? Or do we have some responsibility in their fulfillment?

Let’s ask that question another way: Are we created to sit still and let him do everything, or are we created for something more? (Hint: check Ephesians 2:10: “For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.”)

We might think of the Kingdom of God as “The Kingdom belongs to God. It’s all about him.” And in that, we would be mistaken. The Kingdom is the rule of the King, the realm where he’s given leadership.

Jesus taught us, “Do not fear, little flock, for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom.” So whose Kingdom is it? Or who’s inheriting it? It makes God happy to give it to us! (Note: he’s excited to give the Kingdom to a “little flock.” We don’t need to be “Mighty warriors” or something; just part of the flock.) We’re part of the realm of the King’s influence.

Here’s where I’m going: we share some responsibility to accomplish “Thy kingdom come, thy will be done, on Earth as it is in Heaven.”

And in these prophetic words – as in nearly all prophetic words – God has revealed a little about the Kingdom, about His will, that he wants done on Earth as it is in Heaven. But being that we-re co-heirs of that Kingdom, we are co-responsible for bringing it to pass.

How do we do that? Well, Ephesians says it’s by “good works,” a term that the Bible uses regularly, but never defines.

As I’ve been praying into the question of “How do I advance the Kingdom during June?” (I encourage you to ask the question for yourself!), I found myself facing several things:

I’ve been reminded that one of the reasons I’ve seen so many prophetic words remain unfulfilled is very likely because I’ve sat on my hands, waiting for God to wave his Magic Kingdom Wand. That’s a good way for prophetic words to remain unfulfilled, and for God’s people to lose hope: by not taking a measure of responsibility for the words.

I need to live a life that’s a good representation of the Kingdom. Wow. No news there; that’s been my assignment for decades. It reminds me of Saint Francis’s words: “Preach the gospel [of the Kingdom] at all times; if necessary, use words.” If I expect the Kingdom to expand, then I need to walk the walk, not just talk the talk.

I’ve been moved to partner with these prophetic words with my own words, to agree and affirm that the Kingdom is advancing in me, in my relationships, in my family, in the communities where I have some influence. I think I’ll be making some declarations, not empty words (“I declare thus…” without engaging myself or engaging with God relationally in the process), but sitting with Father and discussing it with Him. “You know, I don’t see it, but I still think you’re right!” If I expect the Kingdom transformation, then I need to talk the talk, not just walk the walk. I need to make sure my words are full of life and hope and encouragement, not criticism, unbelief or irrelevance.

And here’s the secret: the best way for me to accomplish most of this is to spend my time with the King of the Kingdom. I’ll spend some of that time not doing anything else, just being with him, but more important, I stay with him when I mow the lawn, when I work at my job, when I deal with frustrating circumstances. If the Kingdom is the real-world realm where the King’s rule is present, then staying tight with the King is an awfully fine way to make it work.

I’m looking forward to a great summer!