Showing posts with label power. Show all posts
Showing posts with label power. Show all posts

Thursday

Grey Haired Rockers?


There were some remarkably talented musicians in the heyday of rock & roll, back in the 70’s and such.

Have you ever noticed that a whole lot of the “big name” 70’s bands are still on tour, still singing the same songs, still riding that wave. And in all honesty, they’re still making a good living that way, reliving their past successes.

Other artists with just as much of a heyday in the past, are not riding on the past successes. They’re still pushing forward, still staying fresh, still developing.

Don’t worry, this is going to make sense in a minute.

I was listening to one of those “golden oldies” (ironically, it was a song called “Comfortably Numb”) when Father caught my attention, and pointed out that there are at least two lessons to learn here:

1) The artists who made the turn and are still fresh and creative have generally spent a season or three in a hard place before they were able to move on in their craft.  

2) This principle is true in the kingdom (and this one really kicked me in the gut). There are lessons for me (and maybe you) here:

                2a) There are some remarkably gifted ministries of the past heydays of one revival or another who are still singing the same (basic) message, still riding that wave. And in all honesty, they’re still making a living that way, reliving their past successes.  Some are big names; others still have regional or just informal spheres of influence. We notice the big names more.

                2b) There are other ministries (the ones that come to my mind tend toward prophetic ministries, though that may just be my perception) that have had just as much of a heyday in the past,  but are not riding on the past successes. They’re still pushing forward, still staying fresh, still pressing in for a fresh revelation for this fresh season.

                2c) The difference very often is about who has been willing to be allured into the wilderness, away from busyness and “success,” to sit with the Almighty, to listen to his heartbeat, to understand more of his heart, particularly his intents for today.

I remember that after his baptism, Holy Spirit “drove” or “compelled” Jesus into the wilderness [Mark 1:12] for a remarkable and memorable challenge. But at the end of that adventure, “the angels ministered to Him.” And afterwords, he “returned in the power of the Spirit.”

Apparently seasons in the wilderness are valuable.


I observe a few things here:

• Wilderness seasons seem to be God’s timing [cf Mark 1:12 & Hosea 2:14], not ours.
• But our choices are incredibly powerful here:
                ○ Do we choose to go to the scary, uncomfortable place that he’s leading?
                ○ Once we’re in that place, do we stand up and resist the evil that (mistakenly) thinks we’re weak? Do we whine and beg for people to pray for us, or do we stand  in the devil’s face and plant ourselves on the foundation of the Word (both scripture and prophetic words)? [Note: Community is precious in these times, but wildernesses are generally solitary events.]
                ○ Do we let angels minister to us? (Do we know how?)
                ○ When we come successfully through the wilderness, we walk in more of “the power of the Spirit.” What do we do with that power, that influence?

If this feels rough, that’s only because it is. I’m in the midst of these lessons myself. I don’t have all the answers anymore. I only share this in case others are going through such a time, or will shortly, and might benefit from some signposts along that trail into the wild places.

#AlMacksJournal

Be Holy. Be Healed.


The first words spoken in the Scriptures sound like a command to our Western way of hearing (1). We translate those two words (אוֹר הָיָה) as “Let there be light,” but  translating it “Light, be!” is perhaps more literal, though it feels odd to command light.

And that’s largely because it isn’t really a command in the “obey this rule” sense. Light didn’t even exist and it couldn’t obey a rule, not until God called it into existence. When God said, “Light, be!” he was releasing his power to create light, causing “reality” to conform to his will. It would be silly to expect the light to hear this as an agenda item, and to work hard (can you imagine light sweating, feeling guilty for failing?) to conform to the directive?

His words caused the thing he said to become reality. It was not reality until he said it. He did the same thing a few more times, and then he took a day off to reflect on his “very good” creation (2).

In the beginning God established the pattern: he commands a thing to “be” and suddenly, by the release of his power, it is. And it is good. This is the way God began this whole creation; this is the pattern he uses.

Years later, he speaks to a family he’s trying to adopt as his own (and just like in our day, there were lots of complications). He makes a similar statement to that family, releasing his power in them to accomplish what he was describing, but this time, they were terrified, and out of their fear, they interpreted his release of power as a directive (3), as a rule for them to obey.

“Be holy,” he said (4). And they tried. They sweat and made laws and practices (5) and did everything they knew to do. And they failed miserably. They failed because they tried to do in their human obedience what was released as a disbursal of heaven’s power. They did not receive the power, therefore they were not able to actually “be holy.”

A few millennia later, he did it again, this time while he was walking on the planet: he spoke several times in the same ways, releasing the same creative power.

Nearly a dozen times (6), he declared to various people, “Be healed!” He’s not telling people to live up to a standard of healed-ness, he’s not giving them a rule to obey. He’s releasing power. We get it, because we understand that we don’t generally have the power to “be healed” on our own, apart from the power of God.

Only twice (one woman literally caught in sin, one man with a history of brokenness and disappointment) (7), he released the power of God to remove the bondage of sin: “Sin no more,” he said. We make the silly mistake here of thinking that we can do this apart from God’s power (we cannot) (8), and therefore, we think this is a rule to follow (it is not), and we teach others, “You must be holy! God commands it!”

All of these statements were declared by the same person of the Godhead (“Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made” (9) ) and they followed the same pattern: it sounded like a command, but functionally, this is about the Creator God releasing his power to create the thing he speaks about, causing “reality” to conform to his will.

When the Godhead declares for something to “be” (whether it’s “be healed” or “be holy”) it’s not a commandment, not a rule. It’s a disbursement of his power, a declaration of our destiny. Our response is not to grunt and sweat and fail and then condemn ourselves for failing to do the impossible. That’s foolish. We cannot do what it takes the power of God to do (10). If I may say so, it is the Christians who think they can accomplish in their will what God has offered his power to  create, whose “gospel” is the least hopeful and the most ridden with condemnation: their “good news” has the least “good” in it.

When the Scriptures say, “Live this way,” it is a release of the power of God. Our job is not to make that word come about. Our job is to set our sights on that target and it is God’s job to pull the trigger, to release the power to accomplish that word. And that will only come about as he and I are one, are in actual unity.

And when a prophetic word declares, “This is your destiny,” it is a release of the power of God. Our job is not to make that word come about. Our job is to set our sights on that target and it is God’s job to pull the trigger, to release the power to accomplish that word. And that will only come about as he and I are one, are in actual unity.

When God speaks, it releases God’s power to accomplish what he’s saying. If he thinks I need his power to accomplish that task, then it is extreme arrogance to attempt it in my own will; the only greater arrogance is teaching others that they should live as I live.

----
Footnotes:
1 Genesis 1:3
2 Genesis 1
3 Exodus 20:19
5 see Exodus through Deuteronomy
7 John 5:14 & 8:11
8 Romans 3:23 & 5:12
9 John 1:3
10 Mark 14:38, Romans 8:5-13, 1Corinthians 15:50, Galatians 2:20, 3:3, 5:16, etc.

The Private Use of Miracles


It’s right there in Mark Chapter 8, but I’ve never heard anybody teach about it. Here’s the relevant part of the text:

Related image13 [Jesus] left [the crowd], got back into the boat, and crossed to the other side.
14 Now the disciples had forgotten to take bread, except for one loaf they had with them in the boat. 15 “Watch out!” He cautioned them. “Beware of the yeast of the Pharisees and of Herod.”
16 So they began to discuss with one another the fact that they had no bread.
17 Aware of their conversation, Jesus asked them, “Why are you debating about having no bread? Do you still not see or understand? Do you have such hard hearts? 18 ‘Having eyes, do you not see? And having ears, do you not hear?’ And do you not remember? 19 When I broke the five loaves for the five thousand, how many basketfuls of broken pieces did you collect?”
“Twelve,” they answered.
20 “And when I broke the seven loaves for the four thousand, how many basketfuls of broken pieces did you collect?”
“Seven,” they said.
21 Then He asked them, “Do you still not understand?”

-----------------

I get it that the warning (v15) about the influence of the Pharisees (religious spirit) and Herod (political spirit) preaches really well. That’s cool.

And I get the encouragement (v18) that there are three ways of building faith from miracles (seeing, hearing, remembering). That preaches nicely, and I’ve benefited from that lesson.

But in the midst of all this, Jesus is chiding the disciples for their concern about provision (food: bread). The clear implication of the conversation is that Jesus is completely comfortable with using the same miracle that he used twice before for thousands, but using it this time to provide for himself and his 12 disciples. He doesn’t actually come out and say it, but it’s pretty clear nonetheless.

This challenges a belief that I didn’t recognize I had, and it makes me uncomfortable. I find that I’ve believed that miracles are for evangelism, or for public ministry, that somehow using them to cover for my mistake of poor planning was disrespecting the miracle.

But Jesus rather blows up that false belief. (And if that weren’t enough, he does it again in Matthew 17:27, where he sends Pete to get their tax money from a fish’s mouth! And he walked on water just to meet up with his boys who had left earlier.)

As I reflect on my crumbling misbelief, I realize that it includes the assumption that God loves “them” (whoever “them” is) more than he loves me, that he is pleased to provide for hungry masses, but for some reason, I don’t qualify for that sort of miracle.

I call that out as a lie. That’s not true. God loves me. Period. And since he’s an infinite God, with infinite omnipotence and stuff, therefore his love for me is infinite: it is not possible for anyone ever to be loved more than he loves me. Not crowds of sinners, not the 12 disciples, not that missionary in Africa who gets to raise the dead so often. Not even you. He loves me fully, completely, infinitely.

It’s OK. He loves you that much, that way, too.

And apparently, he’s OK with relying on miracles for everyday life, for lunch, for taxes, for meeting friends. Wow.  


The Echoes of Greatness



Back when Seattle’s Kingdome was still up, I had an interesting experience there. I was with some friends who were setting up for a Promise Keepers thing (yeah, that long ago).

They shushed all the workers, and waited for it to get quiet. Then they dropped the lid on a huge equipment case. It made a formidable “Bang” as I expected. Then it echoed. And echoed. And echoed. It was nearly a minute before that single bang stopped rumbling around that room.

Another time, I was with a musician (a gift I do not have) at a canyon with a solid echo. She made music with the canyon. She sang some things, and the canyon echoed them back later, and then she sang harmony or rhythm with it. It was amazing. She was literally singing with herself through the time warp of that canyon’s echo.

While I don’t have the music gene, I do have the science gene. Did you know that both radar and sonar are both examples of creating pictures using echoes? Sonar uses echoes of sound under water. Radar uses echoes of radio waves in the air. It’s amazing how much detail they can come up with if they’re careful.

Sound is an interesting thing. It’s just stuff vibrating. Most commonly it’s air vibrating, but sound travels through most anything that will pass vibrations on. Water is especially good. Even space is not completely empty; many kinds of vibrations do still pass through space.

Another thing about sound is that it takes time to get from here to there. Light takes time too, but compared with light or electricity or radio waves, sound is really slow. That’s why when we see a lightning strike, the crash of thunder is delayed.

(You can measure the distance to the strike: every five seconds of delay indicates a mile; a twenty second delay means the strike was four miles away. Physics is also useful!)

One more factoid about sound: it loses volume as it travels distance (and therefore time). It’s a logarithmic scale, so every time the distance doubles, the volume drops by another six decibels, or about half of it’s energy.

So if the thunder you heard twenty seconds after you saw the lightning strike was 90 decibels, then twenty miles further away it will drop to 84 decibels, but it won’t drop that much again until it hits 78 miles from the source, but that won’t happen until almost a minute and a half after the strike. The next time it drops by half will be 160 miles (and almost three minutes) away. And it keeps going.

Sound loses half its energy every time you double the distance (or the time) since it was created. But that means that no sound ever goes away completely. It just keeps losing a portion of its energy. In fact, science nerds have actually measured the echoes of the Big Bang, from 13.8 billion years ago. It was very quiet, and they had to listen closely, but they did hear it (and they won a Nobel Prize for it),

OK. Sorry for the nerd-fest there. But we’re not quite done yet.

When God spoke and said, “Let there be light,” he made a sound. (My screwball personal opinion is that this sound actually was the Big Bang, but who knows.) Because he made a sound, therefore by the laws of physics, the echoes of his voice are still rattling around the universe.

The other thing that happened when God spoke and said, “Let there be light,” was that light was, in fact, created. When God speaks – and this is one of the basic facts of the universe – God’s voice carries not only information, it also carries power; it carries the power to accomplish what is declared. Think of it as the design for the creation and the funding to make it happen.

(And that, of course, is why our own words are so important. Being created in God’s “image and likeness,” our words also carry both information and power, though maybe not as much as his. We need to wield that power intentionally, not carelessly, but regardless of our means, power is wielded when we speak.)
Now here’s where I’m going. If the echoes of God’s creative statements are still echoing around the universe (and they are), does that also mean that the information and the power that they carried is also still echoing around the universe?

Image result for star nurseryI recall that there are a whole lot of places in the universe (seriously: trillions of such places) where ordinary matter is condensing into big blobs of matter, where friction and gravity ignites them and a new star is born, spewing forth newly created light where no light had been a moment ago. That looks to me like an echo of “Let there be light.”

The part that really captures my attention is a little later in that same Bible chapter, where God spoke again. Part of those words included, “Let us make mankind in our image, in our likeness.”

What if those words that resulted in the creation of mankind are still echoing around the universe, echoing around the Earth? Would that mean that God’s creativity is still at work forming mankind, forging mankind? Or do you think our creation was a one-time thing, and God isn’t still refining his masterpiece?

I have begun to wonder if we as a species are still in the process of creation. We’re not just starting out, but neither are we finished and done. I’m thinking that God is still molding and forming and making us into the mature Sons and Daughters of the Kingdom that he’s always planned for us to be.

The human race is pretty untidy. But it’s not broke. It’s just not finished yet.



Beloved, now we are children of God; and it has not yet been revealed what we shall be, but we know that when He is revealed, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is. 1John 3:2

Sunday

Whose Holiday Is It Anyway?


Whose Holiday Is It Anyway?

Point One: Plunder. When you conquer an enemy, the enemy’s property becomes your property.

Plunder has been defined as “the indiscriminate taking of goods by force as part of a military or political victory.” Foot soldiers viewed plunder as a way to supplement an often meagre income and transferred wealth became part of the celebration of victory.

On higher levels, the proud exhibition of loot formed an integral part of the typical Roman triumph, and Genghis Khan was not unusual in proclaiming that the greatest happiness was “to vanquish your enemies ... to rob them of their wealth”. [Wikipedia]

Point Two: Naming rights. When you conquer a territory, you have the right to rename that territory, and to assign new purpose to that territory.

“When the territory of the Danites was lost to them, they went up and attacked Leshem, took it, put it to the sword and occupied it. They settled in Leshem and named it Dan after their ancestor.” [Joshua 19:47]

See also: Constantinople Turkey, Ponce Puerto Rico, Ho Chi Minh City Vietnam, Lviv Ukraine, Valdivia Chile, Puerto Cortés Honduras, Al-Sadiyah Iraq,

Point Three: We are “more than conquerors” and we are children and heirs of the One who has conquered the world. [Romans 8:37, John 16:33]. “The kingdoms of this world have become the kingdoms of our Lord and of His Christ, and He shall reign forever and ever!” [Revelation 11:15]

As conqueror of the systems of this world, Jesus has – and since we are in him and he is in us, we have – the right to rename and re-purpose conquered territory. This is ours.

Point Four:  There once was a “goddess” named Ēostre, an obscure Old English “diety” of the dawn, and by some records, the source of our dawn-related celebration we call Easter.

Ēostre has been well and truly conquered. So has Ishtar, whose name does not contribute to our holiday, but who has fallen before our conquering King.

We have the right by conquest to rename the conquered earthly holidays, to cancel their earthly origins and publicly display our King’s victory over them.

Yeah, Easter used to be something else to somebody else. But it’s not theirs any more, unless we, as the spokespeople of the Kingdom of God give it back to the conquered demons. Same for Halloween and Christmas and any other holiday you care to name.

They’re ours now. Don’t give ‘em back!




Thursday

Managing Natural Disasters

I confess, I have some obstacles with how we pray about those events we refer to as natural disasters.

First let me clarify: it's clear to me that we do have both the obligation and the authority to speak to natural disasters and effect change there. I'm just not convinced it's wise planet management to always speak to every act of nature that inconveniences man.

Our species, the race of mankind, is responsible for what happens on this planet. We were delegated that responsibility by the planet's Creator. It's a pretty serious thing, and I take that seriously.

So yes, natural disasters are within the sphere of our responsibility.

Thus far in our maturation as a people of God, I observe three primary ways we deal with natural disasters:

 1.  We ignore them, because they happen to other people, other places (or because we don't know any better), or

 2.  We panic before the disaster and mourn and wail after it. or

 3.  We decide that this event is a bad thing, and rebuke it (with varying results; we're still learning).

In point of fact, an argument can be made for each of these reactions at different times, though I have hesitation about how healthy each of them actually is as a default response.

But the issue that's got me scratching my fuzzy head today is this: where, in this process, do we perform our evaluation of the situation? Where do we assess how much our involvement is actually necessary, and what the best intervention might be?

We live on a planet that has a very long history of things happening to it. Since before Adam and Eve took their first job assignment, the planet has been active: storms spreading water around, volcanoes adding to land masses, forest fires cleaning up the leftovers of life in a busy forest, earthquakes from tectonic plates jostling. You know, those things.

And when mankind stepped onto the stage, we renamed them. Suddenly, they were no longer our planet doing what our planet has always done. Now, suddenly, these are "disasters."

If we want to get overly anthromorphic, we can talk about whether it's fair to the planet to suddenly redefine what had always been its healthy processes, I suppose. I figure that's something analogous to deciding that poop is icky, and making the decision never to poop again. There might be side effects.

Or we could consider how reasonable our expectation is that the planet should suddenly change how the water cycle works, or how it cleans up after itself, or how the planet's geology works, just because our species is covering the planet now and might be inconvenienced by the planet's natural processes.

Here's my point: I don't subscribe to the concept that just because there's a storm, just because that storm soaks soaks cities, blows down houses or destroys a season's crops does not automatically mean that we need to shut the storm down.

There were three experiences that led me to challenge my previous (and in my opinion, irresponsible) practices:

The first lesson came on an extended canoe trip. It had been raining hard enough that we couldn't safely travel the unfamiliar river, so we were stuck in our tiny tents in the rainstorm. The third day, I'd had enough, and I asked Father to stop the rain so he & I could go for a walk.

After a wonderful three hours with him, I noticed the sky: a huge rainstorm was coming in from the east, but just before it reached me, the clouds parted and went around me. I turned around and saw where the storm joined together just west of me. Every place around me was getting well watered, but I'd walked in sunshine for several hours, because Father pushed the storm aside for a little while. The storm was not stopped, only diverted for a couple of hours.

The second lesson came when a couple of very credible prophets warned about a devastating earthquake coming to my region. We live on The Ring of Fire, the planet's earthquake zone, so quakes aren't terribly rare, but this was going to be terrible.

A few intercessors for our region got together, sought God's counsel, and diffused the threat. His instructions were to a) cancel the assignment of the spirit of fear that was riding the (very public) conversation about the quake, and to b) redirect the pent-up tension in the tectonic plates involved so that the release of that tension would not be a terrible quake, but would be diffused in a large number of small quakes.

We did that and the stories stopped, the prophecies stopped, and the USGS commented on the unusual number of moderate quakes in the region. Crisis averted, but not by the brute force of stopping the tectonic plates from moving; by redirecting that energy to nondestructive symptoms.

The third lesson involved a very scary storm heading for a busy coastline. Father instructed us not to pray to stop the storm, but to turn the storm. The next day, the weather forecasters scrambled to explain the unexpected change in the storm's path to their thousands of relieved viewers.

In addition, I've taken some lessons from the realm of physics. I've realized that a great amount of "potential energy" or a great "inertia" can be more easily redirected than simply stopped in its tracks.

To stop a great storm in its tracks would literally require the equivalent atmospheric energy of several hundred thermonuclear detonations, and even if you managed to handle that power well with your prayers, you'd probably end up with scraps, several smaller storms spinning off causing less news-worthy damage in a number of smaller locations. That's a lot of work, whether it's in the natural or in the supernatural. And it's likely to be untidy.

But to change the storm's path, that requires a much smaller miracle, some say the flap of a butterfly's wings, properly applied, might be enough.

So if I've got a family picnic scheduled for this weekend, and there's a very wet weather front on a collision course with my picnic, is it appropriate to exert the requisite energy to stop the weather front, or to stop the front from dropping its rain? That might be a serious disappointment to the farmers in my region who are counting on that rain for their orchards and crops, and to the fish who live and breed in the streams and rivers.

And then, what would happen to the water that would normally have fallen in my region? It would be carried to some other region that isn't used to as much rain. How does the importance of my picnic stack up against frightening and unexpected weather patterns for my neighbors?

Or would it be better to just shift the storm? Shift it early enough and you only need to bump it off course by a few degrees. Not being omniscient myself, I confess that I don't really know what the effects of that would be.

Or should I leave Father's watering system in place, and just find a new location, perhaps one under cover, for the family gathering.

I'm not arguing that one answer is better than another. I am arguing that if we're going to take our responsibility to rule over creation seriously, we need to ask these questions.

"Yep. That looks like a problem. What are the available options to deal with it? Which option looks to be the best, and how do I implement that option?"

I recommend consulting with our omniscient Father on such matters. He has millennia of experience dealing with weather (and forest fires and earthquakes and floods and....). And he likes to keep his hand in matters of this sort.

Clean Off Your Boots

Father has had something on my heart for a few days, now. I’d like to share it, in case this is talking about you.

Some folks are in a formidable war, and they know it, but they’re misunderstanding the war.

Some of the battles are about overcoming a sin that’s been besetting you. You’re fighting back, and mostly you’re succeeding, but you surely wish the temptation wouldn’t be so strong and so in-your-face.

Some of the battles come in the words of our neighbors, our leaders, even our brothers and sisters, but they are surely not God’s words. Instead they’re words of accusation, words of manipulation and control, words of rejection and abandonment. You keep shaking them off, but it’s hard to dismiss them entirely.

A small number of the battles are when we’re pressing forward to walk in the fulfillment of God’s promise (and maybe you’ve heard God well, or maybe you’ve missed some of it, it doesn’t matter here), and you encounter opposition and discouragement and ridicule and slander. But still you still fix your eyes, if not on the promise itself, then even better: on the giver of the promise, and you are trying to press forward into your calling.

 Some of the battles that we’re fighting aren’t even our own battles. We’re fighting for sons and daughters who, despite our prayers, are still making foolish choices, partners who have chosen to no longer partner with us. Some of us are fighting on behalf of those who have hurt us, and may still be hurting us. They seem to be trying to fight off our prayers and reject our best intentions for them, and how discouraging that is.

Some time ago, Father spoke to me as I woke, and he’s been bringing it back to my attention recently.

“Tell them that they need to clean off their boots,” He said.


“Wha? Hunh?” I mumbled reflectively. I hadn’t had any coffee yet.

“Tell them to clean off their boots. They’ve been kicking the devil’s ass for so long that their boots carry his stink.”

So I tell you: you need to clean your boots. The devil has told you that you’ve been losing the fight, that you have no hope of winning this particular fight. The devil has been lying to you. (Imagine that!)

The devil has been hiding from you the fact that you’ve been making hamburger of his hindquarters, and he can no longer walk straight because of the beating you’re giving him. He wants you to think you’re losing, when in fact, he’s already lost, and you are, in fact, successfully enforcing our victory over him.

I tell you that you have been more successful in your battle against the evil one than you can know. Keep fighting, he cannot maintain the illusion forever.

His promise is certain: “I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son.”

He’s talking about you. http://nwp.link/1SjebvW


Counterfeits in the Kingdom

One of the signs that says to me, “Hell is scared,” is the immense quantity of spiritual forgery going on. 

Nobody in their right mind counterfeits $3 bills. What gets counterfeited are $20 bills and $100 bills. Why? Because they’re the most valuable.

There is more value tied up in US $20 bills than all of the other American bills combined, except the $100 bill. And of course, there is more value tied up in the US $100 bill than all other US bills combined!

When things are valuable, they are counterfeited. When they are meaningless, they are not counterfeited.

And it’s not just the “most valuable” things that are counterfeited. Nobody counterfeits ten-thousand-dollar bills. That’s silly. The bills exist, but they are so very rare, that they stand out. And there are so few of them that all together, they aren’t worth as much as $1 bills.

No, people counterfeit what is valuable, and they counterfeit what the public can regularly expect to use and handle.

In the Kingdom, nobody is counterfeiting God’s work in Genesis 1. That’s too very rare, and let’s be honest: it’s hard to fake that. And nobody is (seriously) counterfeiting the Cross of Christ. Yeah, people have themselves crucified every Good Friday, but nobody believes they’re Jesus: it’s obvious that they’re fakes. Besides, that particular counterfeit leaves the counterfeiters dead, and it’s hard to make a profit when you’re dead.

But the things that Father is releasing, unveiling in this generation, the treasures that he’s giving (has already given) to every single believer: these are getting counterfeited.

God is speaking about sonship, about how we’re legitimately God’s heirs. So the enemy is showing several counterfeits claiming to be Jesus Christ in the flesh. Here’s one: http://nwp.link/1uLEuNa

God is speaking about how hell isn’t what we’ve always thought it was, so these false Christs are denying hell.

God is showing us how weak and helpless the devil really is, so these false Christs are denying the devil himself.

Our response is not to get all excited that there is yet ANOTHER false Christ. They’ve been around for millennia, and there will be more. Yawn. Our response is not to tell everybody about why this false Christ or that false Christ is actually false. Neither is our response to declare that just because there is a false Christ, therefore all Christs are false, and then deny that Jesus came in the flesh. (Don’t laugh: there are many who have done this!)

Our response is the same in this situation as it is any other time the false is declared: we focus on the real.

If the devil is parading false Christs, we fix our eyes on Jesus, the real Christ.

If the devil is raising up false healings and false miracles, we become skilled in wielding the healing gifts, the gifts of miracles that come from the real Holy Spirit.

If there are New Age mystics who talk about being transported to other places, whether spiritual or physical, either in their own spirits or actually in the flesh, then we press into these gifts (all of which are described in Scripture) and we learn what Father is releasing to his children today.

Bottom line: if the devil is leading people astray, we drawer closer to God to be led by Him (and not by our reaction to the devil) into what is true.

What does the Word say?
Little children, it is the last hour; and as you have heard that the Antichrist is coming, even now many antichrists have come, by which we know that it is the last hour. … But you have an anointing from the Holy One, and you know all things. – [1 John 2:18-20 NKJV]


Our response to the antichrist spirit that is pretty busy in the culture around us is the anointing from God, to know what he knows, and (since he’s talking about experiential knowledge, not book-learning) to practice what we know from Him.

Let’s follow God, shall we, wherever he shall lead us.

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Wielding Authority to Change the World

I have been reflecting on the changes going on in the United States and in the world. Those are both many and substantial.

But my thoughts focus not on what those changes are, but rather how we should respond to them.

Let us assume, for the sake of this conversation, that many of the changes are inappropriate, even evil, and should be opposed or reversed.

The question at hand is this: how shall we oppose the things we need to oppose. More specifically, what kind of power shall we exercise.

The changes are being made by the exercise of political power, the power of manipulation and intimidation, the power of deception, the power of public opinion, and some would argue that spiritual power is involved. Many of the changes have been by the use of a combination of these forces.

The question that appears to be neglected so often is this: what kind of power shall we wield as believers, to oppose the inappropriate or evil works in our land? Shall we exercise political power, or manipulation? Shall we wield the power of public opinion with petitions?

Let’s back up for just a moment, and ask a slightly more foundational question? What power has God given us? Or what kind of authority has he given us to exercise on his behalf?

In this whole conversation, I’d argue for these truths:

·         Some forms of power are simply not appropriate for sons and daughters of the Kingdom to use: deception and intimidation, for example.

·         The primary tool Jesus gave us was authority, which is not the same as power (that’s a topic for another article), and the authority he gave us is in the realm of the Spirit. Let’s acknowledge, however, that authority wielded in the spirit realm will manifest as changes in the physical realm.

·         Having said that, there are some believers (I emphasize: not all believers) who are specifically called by God to represent his Kingdom in the political realm. These brothers & sisters have the right to exercise authority in that realm.

My tentative conclusion, therefore, is this:  we as believers, when we see a political crisis (such as laws against Christians) or the exercise of violence (I think of ISIS or Hamas), we are not called to exercise the same force that is being used for evil. We are, instead, called to exercise authority in the spiritual realm, with the result of change in the natural realm.

This is the model of the New Testament.

When they experienced a political crisis (for example, Peter jailed, in Acts 12), their response was not to petition the government, and it was not a prison break); rather, they exercised spiritual authority in prayer, and angels were released to carry out the results of that authority in the natural realm.

The result was, ironically, a prison break of sorts, which was what the believers had been praying for, but also a testimony of supernatural power, which spread throughout both the church and the government.

And when they experienced violence (in the person of the Pharisee, Saul persecuting believers), they again went to prayer. In this case, Jesus himself appeared to Saul on the Damascus road (Acts 9), knocked Saul off his ass, and confronted his erroneous ways.

The result was a conversion, which stopped Saul’s “threats & murder” (Acts 9:1), which was what they were praying for, but it also resulted in arguably the greatest preacher of the gospel that has ever walked this planet: the apostle Paul.

I know that we have brothers and sisters who are called to exercise authority in the realms of political power, or of public opinion, or other forms of power. I contend that these are few, and are specifically called by God to those positions of authority.

But all of us, the whole Body of Christ, we have all been given authority to wield in the Spirit. We learned long ago how to wield that authority to lead others out of sin and into salvation. We’ve learned more recently how to wield that authority to heal the sick and raise the dead.

It is time to wield the authority that God has given us – and by doing so, to lay down the power and authority of the world – in the spiritual realm on behalf of nations, and people groups and regions.

It’s time for us to walk away from the weapons of the flesh, and to pick up the weapons that God has given us, and with them, to change the world.


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Why the Cheap Stuff?

In recent months, during times of God’s tangible presence, a cloud of what appears to be gold dust has appeared in a church in the region. It’s showed up several times.

A couple of years back, I was in a meeting where an apostle spoke. He spoke from his apostolic office, from his place as a father in the faith; his message was powerful. I watched as gold dust appeared out of thin air all over his black suit. By the end of the message it looked like he was wearing a rhinestone suit.

I ran to the side of the stage, and watched from up close. It was still amazing. Afterwards, I went up to rub my hands in the glittery stuff that was all over the pulpit, all over the stage where he had stood. A friend of mine had a brush and a container, and was gathering the dust up.

One recent weekend, at a friend’s birthday party, as we were sharing testimonies of God’s goodness, I watched cut gems show up on the carpet. Some of them appeared in front of my eyes. I gathered up a small handful. They don’t look to be anything spectacular (though they are pretty) until I remember that I watched them appear from thin air. Whoa.
I watched many of these appear from thin air.

Any time something unusual like this happens, myriads of voices shout “deception” and point to the fact that they’ve never seen this happening in the Bible! But then we’ve never seen flush toilets or computers in the Bible either, and we seem to be OK with those. And then there’s the detail that the Bible itself says that it doesn’t tell nearly all of the story (John 21:25). I don’t pay attention to those nay-sayers. But that doesn’t answer the questions.

Here’s where it takes a left turn I didn’t expect. A friend gathered up some of the gold dust from the cloud that appeared in church, and had it analyzed. It’s not gold. That didn’t surprise me, as it was swirling around in a way that the heavy metal couldn’t, but to have it confirmed: this is some sort of plastic. That’s weird.

My friend that gathered up the gold dust that had showed up around the apostle in the black suit had a unique view. As a videographer, he was watching the gold dust through the lens of his high-quality video camera. Zooming in close to the man’s shoulders, he looked to see where the dust was coming from. He watched it appear over his shoulders, from little disturbances in the light over his shoulders; he called them little portals, pouring glittery dust out, all over the man standing there preaching.

Some of the gold dust made its way to a jeweler, who analyzed it: this wasn’t gold. It’s not even a metal. “It’s a polymer of some kind.” Wait. What?

And the gems. Some gems have been analyzed by jewelers. Some are perfectly cut, so perfectly that it confused the jewelers. Many were not. A few appeared to be topaz or amethyst or other gems suitable for jewelry.

I’ve had some folks get in my face and declare that because it’s not real, metallic gold, because they’re not real rubies and sapphires, that proves it’s fake. Nonsense.

I suppose some of it could be faked, but not all of it. Seriously, I watched – I watched closely – as gems and glittery stuff appeared from thin air. I saw it happen with my own eyes, while I was on guard for falsehood and pretension. I’m convinced, both in my spirit and in my observations that at least some of what happened is absolutely real.

But then, why plastic instead of real gold? Why cheezy gems? Isn’t God capable of raining down diamonds and doubloons on his children?

As I asked the question, Father pointed me to the statement that often dominates the conversation when these topics come up: “Oooooh! I wish that happened to me! I want gems. I want gold dust!” These kinds of things, even when they’re cheezy plastic gold, poorly cut tiny gems, draw attention to the gifts.

Now I’m convinced that it’s good to appreciate the gifts Father gives, but I suspect that he’s not real fond of it when his gifts bring out the avarice in his children: “I want! I want!” And if there’s that much avarice with the cheap stuff, what will happen when he does pour out rubies and Krugerrands?

Honestly, I don’t think we’re ready for the real thing. If every time we worshipped Father, millions of dollars of worldly wealth (often referred to as “pavement” in the language of heaven; cf Rev. 21:21), would we worship God for his worth, or for the gold and gems? How about the people around us? Would they be paying attention to Him who sits on the throne, or to the stuff clanking on the floor around us?

And I suspect that this is part of the reason why signs and wonders – though they are increasing – are still relatively few and far between. We’re not really ready for the real.

If every person we touched was healed, if hospitals were emptied when we walked past, we’d never have a moment’s peace. We’d be offered millions of dollars just to come to this person’s mansion and heal this corrupt politician, that movie star, kidnapped for drug lords or terrorists.

Nope. Not ready yet.

Borrowing an Anointing in Rizal Park

There’s a principle in prophetic ministry: even people with no real prophetic gifts can prophesy when the Holy Spirit is present and manifesting that gift. The clearest example I can think of is King Saul, and it hit him twice: in 1 Samuel 10, and again in chapter 19. When he was around prophets, King Saul flopped on the ground and prophesied. “Therefore it became a proverb: “Is Saul also among the prophets?”

It appears that it happens with other gifts as well. I’m not really gifted as an evangelist, but let me tell you about one time that I was numbered among the evangelists. There’s no great lesson in this; it’s just a testimony.

Some years ago, I was part of a YWAM evangelistic outreach in Manila, the Philippines. If ever there was an organization with an evangelistic anointing, they would be included on that list.

Coming into this “Outreach,” I’d been praying for an anointing for whatever I was going to do. I was assigned to be one of the “street preaching” team, and occasionally part of the drama team. Everybody was on the personal evangelism team.

My friend Connie was there. Connie is an evangelist. She looks across the restaurant and you can hear the sobbing break out. (OK. That’s an exaggeration. A little bit.) She has flaming red hair, and she lives up to it.

One afternoon, we were sharing testimonies of what God had done, and Connie shared this story: she’d led a college student, we’ll call her Kim, to faith early in the outreach, and now, she was discipling her; they met every afternoon after Kim’s afternoon college classes.

The second day, Kim shows up an hour early: it turned out the college professor hadn’t shown up. Connie asks, “Does that happen often?” “Yeah, fairly often.” Connie’s eyes sparkled. “May I go with you to your class tomorrow?”

So Connie accompanies Kim to class, and sure enough, the professor doesn’t show up. And now Connie has a captive audience of 30 college students. She stands up, calls for their attention, and launches into the good news. As she was finishing, before she could ask “Who wants to believe in Jesus?” the professor comes in, sees someone else – a white woman! – speaking to her class. Of course she demands to know “What is going on here?”

Connie says, “Just a moment, please. I’m almost done,” and explains that they need to believe, but rather than praying with them, she instructs those who want to follow Jesus to speak to Kim and tell her.

The next day, Kim brought 28 other students with her to be discipled in the ways of Jesus.

I heard that story, and I’m thinking, “I wanna be successful, too!” so I ask God for effectiveness in evangelism.

The next day, we take an outreach team to Rizal Park, downtown. The team outreach was structured in four parts: three songs, one drama showing the gospel, a 3 minute “sermon” presenting the gospel, and Bam! Everybody splits up to share one-on-one with someone, hopefully leading them to faith.

I didn’t really know what I was doing. My attention was drawn to one old guy, in a group of old guys, seated on some planters. I asked his permission, and then shared the basic gospel story with him again. In those days, some of the people really wanted to please foreigners, so I explained the gospel, and then I outlined the costs of following Jesus. Twice. And he was old, so I had to speak up while I did it, so he could hear me. He kept looking down, as if the ground were more interesting than what I was saying.

When I couldn’t put it off any longer, I asked, “Would you like to follow Jesus? Would you like to give your life to Jesus?” And for the first time, he looked up, he locked his eyes on mine, and he said in a shaky, but strong voice, “Yes. Yes, I will follow Jesus.” 

I cleared my throat, and prepared to lead him in that great Evangelical theological pillar, the Sinner’s prayer, but before I could get started, the guy next to my guy looked at me. “Could I follow Jesus, too?” Oh! Oh, yes!

And then the next guy tugged at my sleeve, and pointed to the three guys with him. “We’d like to follow Jesus, too.” And then several more guys sitting on the next planter over, asked if they could as well.

I shared the gospel, quite hesitantly, actually, with an old guy that wasn’t interested. But rather than judge him myself, I kept going. That afternoon, I led nine men in the sinner’s prayer, and then introduced them to a local pastor who was traveling with us.

It’s my opinion that it worked because I was “under the influence” of a group that had a substantial evangelistic anointing. And because I was faithful to do what I really didn’t feel like doing.

When I returned home to the USA, I was, I confess, rather impressed with myself. I headed out onto the streets of my city one Saturday afternoon, fresh from successes like that one (and yeah, there were others).

And I “shared the gospel” with a whole bunch of people. Actually, I attempted to share the gospel, but they saw me coming, and dodged me before I could talk with them. I didn’t lead a single person to faith. Actually, I didn’t even have a serious conversation with even one person that whole day.

I’ve ministered under that anointing again since then. I joined the Full Gospel Businessmen in a booth at the regional fair, and watched God move powerfully. I joined with some gifted evangelists in the same city where I had failed, and watched God move semi-powerfully, but way better than I had done by myself.

Nowadays, I teach people, if you want to move in what I call “the juice,” then go be with someone who has what you want. If you can join them in ministry, then by all means do, but if you can only stand next to them, and learn from them.

For myself, it’s only worked when I’m with them. But when I’m with people who are evangelists, I can exercise that gift. And when I’m not, I’m embarrassing. 



Walking in Authority

The scene was an AA Allen meeting, back in the day. At Allen's tent meetings, he regularly had demons manifesting. So it was his policy to set up a second tent, where his assistants would take the people manifesting demons and get them delivered, out of sight of the main meetings.

One day, the young men had delivered everybody of their demons except one old cuss, whose demon obdurately refused to leave. They tried everything they knew, prayed every prayer they ever heard, quoted every scripture, and still the demon mocked them.

They’d been at it for hours, determined to see this man set free. The main meetings finished, and people left, and still the demon resisted them. They determined to keep at it – all night if need be – until this poor man was free.

Finally, the last car leaving the parking lot stopped by the deliverance tent, and out stepped AA Allen himself. In a glance, he saw what was happening, and walked over to the demoniac. He bent over, and whispered a sentence, and the demon fled, screaming. Allen stood up, and walked back to his car.

The young men were astounded, and one ran up to him. “What did you say? What authority did you use? How did you do that? Why couldn’t we?”

Allen paused. “I said, ‘My name is AA Allen. Now get out!’” and he stepped into the car and drove off.

There’s a reason that we’re told to walk in the authority Father has given us. Some of us handle Father’s authority like it’s precious china, or like it’s an expensive and complicated tool: we must be careful and we must use it exactly right!

And Father is calling us to just walk in the authority: we’re his kids, so of course we carry his authority. It’s not something we do, it’s not about the right words, the right prayers, as if they were incantations.

It’s about us being his beloved children: we speak and we don’t even need to mention his name: all of heaven and all of hell already knows that when we speak, we’re speaking in his name.


Friday

Fixing the Eyes

If I dwell on, if I feed my spirit on, if I meditate on, the things that God has NOT done, or not done YET, then it creates an offense in my heart, whose result is unbelief, and it wars against the Kingdom of God, and everything in my life is tainted by unbelief. I don’t really want that!

Judas had a problem with this, or at least I think that he did: he really wanted the Triumphant Messiah, but Jesus didn’t come as that. Jesus came as the Suffering Servant. All the Boys struggled with this disappointment, but it would have been easy for Judas, the man of action among them, to focus on what was NOT being done.

When Mary broke the Nard on Jesus, Judas saw that poor people weren’t being fed (and that his own pocket wasn’t being enriched) with what that box of perfume must have cost, and that is the only part of that magical evening that he talked about. If you had eyes for it, you could see the Incarnate Son of God being prepared, being encouraged by a heart of love, for the Battle of Eternity that was about to unfold in the next few days. Mary was preparing Jesus to rescue Judas and the entire human race, and all Judas saw was that there were still hungry poor people.

Jesus taught, “Out of the abundance of the heart, the mouth speaks.” When I talk about – when I notice – what God has not done, or what is wrong with the world (which God created) or when I discuss the failures of the Church (which he declares he will build), then it reveals where my heart is: focused on problems, ensorcelled by failure. My words reveal that my thoughts, my emotions, are wrapped up with what’s not right, and they empower it. In the same statement (Luke 6:5), Jesus identifies this process as “an evil man, out of the evil treasure of his heart bring[ing] forth evil.”

Ouch. When my words and my actions reflect that I’m meditating on unbelief, it’s evil. When I’m talking about what’s wrong, it’s evil. When I tell people why my day was bad, it’s evil And it brings forth evil. It spawns evil. Evil multiplies because of my talk, and it brings forth evil results.

Saul wrestled with it. In 1 Samuel 13, he fed his spirit only on Samuel’s delay and the people’s unrest, and his resulting choices cost him his dynasty. In 2 Samuel 15, having not learned his lesson, he dwelt on the wastefulness of God’s command, and instead kept “only the best”, and that cost him his kingdom. The divinely-chosen, supernaturally-aided mortal king of God’s own favored nation was destroyed because he was focused on what he saw as wrong with God’s servant, with God’s people, with God’s plan.

That was an easy takedown for the enemy.

And in fact, this is a very old strategy of the devil. The serpent’s temptation of Eve was about what God was not giving (experience of both good and evil), and ignoring what he had made available (everlasting life, intimacy with their creator), and they both fell prey to it, and it cost us (and Jesus) everything, absolutely everything!

If you want to discourage someone, tell them all that’s wrong with them. Tell them about their mistakes, their poor choices. Bring their attention to the injustices around them, to the uncomfortable circumstances that they’re in. Help them see what is wrong, and you’ll help them become what is wrong. Evil will win.

If the enemy was looking for the simplest, most efficient way to destroy an anointed man or woman of God is to get them to focus on their problems, the bad events in the news, the oversights of their family, the bad habits of their co-workers, the idiots on the freeway, the mistakes of the government. There’s lots of very real “wrong stuff” out there. If I put my attention on that evil stuff, then evil will grow in my heart, and I’ll make a small mistake that will cost me – and those around me – everything.

Someone wise once said, 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.(Somewhere in Philippians 4, emphasis added.)

If you want to make someone dangerous, if you want to make them into somebody that can change the world, that can send hell running for cover, that can actually demonstrate the Good News of the Kingdom, then tell them what’s right. Tell them of their destiny in God; reach into Heaven and prophesy it by faith if you have to, but tell them. Tell them of the greatness of God in them. Show them the good choices they’ve made (they already know about the other ones!), and show them how good came from them, from their choices. Tell them how they’re changing the world.  Better yet, tell his wife, tell her husband, tell their friends, their kids, their pastor, and let them hear you telling them.

The Book says, “Keep your eyes on Jesus, who both began and finished this race we're in. Study how he did it. Because he never lost sight of where he was headed—that exhilarating finish in and with God—he could put up with anything along the way: Cross, shame, whatever. And now he's there, in the place of honor, right alongside God. When you find yourselves flagging in your faith, go over that story again, item by item, that long litany of hostility he plowed through. That will shoot adrenaline into your souls! [Hebrews 12:2-3, MSG]

Don’t prophesy the problem. Anybody can do that. The evening news does a pretty good job. Prophesy hope. Prophesy destiny. Prophesy the solution.

When we speak of the good, then we’re thinking, meditating, feeding on the good. And when we speak out loud of the good, then we’re feeding others on the good. And when we feed on what’s good, what’s true, what’s noble, there ain’t hardly nuthin’ that can stop us. 

Saturday

Knowledge Puffs Up. Love Edifies.

I have a principle, a value that influences me, that shapes me, in the area of knowledge and wisdom. The value is this: there are better tools that knowledge, than learning, to work with in accomplishing the goal of “Thy kingdom come, thy will be done.” This might sound controversial; hear me out.


1 Corinthians 8:1 says. "... Knowledge puffs up, but love edifies." This doesn't say that "secular knowledge puffs up" or “ungodly knowledge puffs up;” it says that knowledge, any knowledge - apart from love - brings a puffing up, an inflation, a pride that prevents useful ministry, useful relationship, or even a meaningful life: this comes from knowing, from building up knowledge.

It is not by chance that Father said, "Don't eat of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil." It isn't about good and evil; it's knowledge itself that kills. Knowledge of good and knowledge of evil are equal in this tree: the fruit of knowledge brings death. We were meant to eat from the other tree: We were meant for life, not knowledge. (Now, don't take this too far; don't assume that knowing stuff is bad. That is not where this is going.)

2 Corinthians 3:6 says "[God] also made us sufficient as ministers of the new covenant, not of the letter but of the Spirit; for the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life." Same story: knowing - by itself, apart from the Spirit, even knowing the truth - that kills. It brings death.

We have a lot of knowledge in us. It's killing us, killing the people we minister to. To be fair, I have a great deal of knowledge in me; I'm beginning to learn how to exercise it in love, how to be led - really led - by the Spirit of God. I have a whole lot of un-learning to do; I'm getting a start.
There are some forerunners helping. When I listen to them, I'm listening for the life in their words, the Spirit in their words. Their knowledge is good, but it's knowledge: I'm allergic. I get all puffy with too much of it. It's not good.

The goal here, is to move from the tree of knowledge to the tree life. To move from knowing good and evil to experiencing life. To never (again) minister the letter of the law, the letter of truth, even the letter of the Word. There really is much done with the Word that brings death; a lot of it is online; a not insubstantial portion is done from pulpits.

I say again, knowledge is not evil. It's only evil by itself. With the Spirit, led by love, knowledge is a tool. Frankly, it's a minor tool, but not an insignificant one. There are other, more powerful tools. Paul disdained knowledge, even knowledge of the Word, choosing power instead, for his preaching of the gospel, and he valued love over power.

My purpose is not to judge them, these ministers of the tree of knowledge. Nor is my purpose to disdain or diminish the Word of God; it is the fount of our lives.

My purpose, instead, is to depart from the Tree of the Knowledge, to move to the Tree of Life, to minister the Word with life, but to minister love more.

Care to come with me?

Sunday

Spending Power


There’s an interesting story in Mark 5:
25 Now a certain woman had a flow of blood for twelve years, 26 and had suffered many things from many physicians. She had spent all that she had and was no better, but rather grew worse. 27 When she heard about Jesus, she came behind Him in the crowd and touched His garment. 28 For she said, "If only I may touch His clothes, I shall be made well."
29 Immediately the fountain of her blood was dried up, and she felt in her body that she was healed of the affliction. 30 And Jesus, immediately knowing in Himself that power had gone out of Him, turned around in the crowd and said, "Who touched My clothes?"
I rather love the fact that this woman was healed. I love that she was healed by her faith, and that her faith was focused by her words and activated by touching Jesus. I love that she immediately knew that the condition she’d lived with for twelve years was instantly healed. All that is well and good.
I’ve been reflecting on a single concept, quite apart from all that glorious stuff: Jesus knew that power had gone out of Him.
That’s an interesting thought, or rather, an interesting group of thoughts, for it says several things:
1. Power (greek dunamis) had been transferred.
2. The transfer was out of Jesus.
3. The transfer of power was discernable.
4. The transfer was a surprise to Jesus, or at least a mystery.
Jesus was walking along in the midst of a crowd of people (v31), minding his own business, and suddenly he knew (or “perceived”: epiginosko) that power had gone out of him. It’s interesting that the Lord didn’t say “power has come from God and gone through me.” He said, “out of me.” Strongs describes the language as “a primary preposition denoting origin.” It means “out of.”
His behavior (“Who touched my clothes?”) suggests that he didn’t even know where it went, though that may just have been an invitation for the woman to declare herself. It is was simultaneously acknowledging both ignorance (“Who did it?”) and familiarity (“This happened through touching my clothes.”). I wonder if it had happened before in one of the untold stories of Jesus.
Power (dunamis) is always an interesting subject. Here it manifested as an instantaneous physical healing. Other places it manifests as deliverance, and it was the stuff that came upon Mary that made her pregnant with Jesus. I tend to look on power as the energy from Heaven that accomplishes the work of Heaven on Earth.
It seems to me that if Jesus could have power drawn out of himself when he was not expecting it, then is it not possible that you and I could have power drawn out of us when we weren’t expecting it. Have you ever known people that are so hungry for more of God that it’s nearly impossible not to prophesy over them? Or people that so desperately need a father that it’s difficult not to father them? Or a new believer that is so eager to grow that you find yourself talking about the ways of God while they listen with rapt attention? Or have you ever been those people? I know I have.
Or even when we are expecting it, when we impart something of God into the lives of someone else, power is spent. Paul says in 1 Corinthians 4:20 that the kingdom of God is ‘not in word but in power’: in other words, power is what this kingdom is about. Our job is to handle power, to dispense power, so that there is more God-like stuff and less stealing, killing and destroying stuff when we’re done. I must walk in power!
Here’s where these thoughts have taken me: if this woman was able to draw power out of Jesus, and people are able to draw power out of me, then where does that power come from, and what happens to me when the power is gone? If doing the stuff of the kingdom spends power, then what happens when the power is spent?
I can see three options here, and I’m not sure I like the implications of some of them.
Option One: Hoard. We don’t spend power; we keep it ourselves. I’ve seen people who don’t seem to spend any power, for whatever reason. Whether they’re hoarding it, or whether they just don’t have any, they don’t spend power: people’s lives are not changed; healings (physical, emotional…) just don’t happen. I’ve been concerned lest I find myself here.
Option Two: Powerlessness. When the power is all spent, then it’s gone, and we’re done; we’re out of business. When we’re out of power, we find ourselves in option one: we got nuthin to give.
Option Three: Reload. We go get more power. Once we have spent what we have, we go back and get more.
There are only a couple of places where the New Testament talks about power on the increase.
· After his temptation in the wilderness, “Jesus returned in the power of the Spirit to Galilee….” (Luke 4:14)
· The disciples were encouraged, “You shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me” (Acts 1:8)
· God told Paul in his weakness, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My power is made perfect (teleióo: accomplished, completed) in weakness.” (2 Corinthians 12:9)
It’s easy to fall back on lazy theology and say, “Well, it’s God’s power, so it must come from him!” TBI: That’s True But Irrelevant: it doesn’t answer the real question; it just throws religious vocabulary at it. Let’s dig a little deeper: what does the Book say about how to increase the amount of God’s power in us and available for use? Let’s make some observations from these few verses:
1) Power comes from the Holy Spirit: it comes from relationship with God that lets Him be in charge.
2) Power is connected to my being a witness to Jesus (note that “witness” is something that I am to be, not something I do.)
3) I receive His power. It comes to me. I’m not just a mindless tool in this process; I’m a participant in it. One could say that it’s His power, but I wield it.
4) Power is an expression of God’s grace: the free stuff God gives for accomplishing His will on earth.
5) His power shows up best or most when my weakness is evident.
Some of the appropriate conclusions here are easy: if I want to have the power of God working in my life & ministry, I need to be in a very fresh relationship with Holy Spirit and I need to live a life that is a witness to Jesus.
I sometimes hear sermons about the power of God. I don’t often hear it preached that the purpose for the power of God is to accomplish that thing that we pray mindlessly in unison in thousands of churches: “Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done, on Earth as it is in Heaven.” It’s not for me. It’s for Him, for His will – though His will includes me.
Another conclusion that I haven’t often heard taught is that one of the best ways to lay hold of the power of God is to practice weakness.
One of my mentors was a man who, for nearly 30 years now, has worked at nearly minimum wage as a part-time teacher in a child care center. His shift starts at 6:30 in the morning, but he’s usually there a couple of hours early to pray for each staff member, each child, each classroom. I suppose it wouldn’t be surprising that he has changed the lives of hundreds of fellow teachers and thousands (more likely tens of thousands) of kids. Wherever he goes, there is peace, there is perspective, there is wisdom. Wherever he goes, fear flees, hopelessness gives up, love thrives.
I have another friend who has lived surreptitiously as a client in a recovery house. Officially, she’s there to clean up her life. In point of fact, she pastors the other women in the house. She’s chosen a life of weakness, of brokenness, and as a result, her life is full of miracles, to the point that the women there regularly ask her why she has so many miracles.
My personal application for this is a change of my own perspective (as good a definition for ‘repentance’ as any). As an American, I’ve been taught to seek my own will, my own good, my own strength. As an American Christian, I’ve been taught to use my own will, my good standing, my strength to help “those less fortunate.”
Rather, I hear here to abandon those goals entirely: instead, seek the lowest places, the places that make room for others to be esteemed, not abandoning what’s good for me (certainly not persecuting myself!), but making room for weakness in myself – and not hiding it. In those places, I can expect the power of God to work for His purposes.