Showing posts with label supernatural. Show all posts
Showing posts with label supernatural. Show all posts

Thursday

True Confessions: It's Not What You Think

I have a confession to make. I’ve been leading you astray. I’ve deceived you.

Let me explain.

I write, from time to time, about some of the interesting interactions that I’ve had with God, and about some of the interesting things I’ve discovered as I walk with him.

And that’s where the deception comes in.

I only write about the interesting stuff. I don’t write about the days and days of nothing in particular going on, because there’d be nothing to write.

Let me explain.

I’m a married man. More specifically, I’m a happily married man. Sometimes, Milady & I will spend the whole evening together in the same room, her reading, me writing, neither of us saying a thing. We’re just happy to be in each other’s presence. Seriously, I was in tears the other day, just thinking about growing old with her. It makes me really happy.

When I’m working in my garden, I can really often feel Father’s presence like that: quietly together. He’s taught me quite a lot there: how to transplant tiny seedlings, how to get more produce from a tiny garden, how to nurture the tender plants, and how, if I get the basics done well, the weeds won’t really be an issue.

I’m also a working man. And I gotta say that it’s not real often (though it does happen) that God speaks into the technical details of a project that I’m working on. And even when he does, I don’t write about it, because most of the story is about tweaky nerdly stuff that nobody outside my field is interested in. God showing me the right path to take a big bus through a crowded parking lot, or the best way to make these particular gears fit properly in a watch: this is not the stuff of interesting articles of faith and maturity.

But it is the stuff of real relationship with God.

I’m convinced that the best part of my relationship with God is not the amazing encounters or the awesome revelations or the impressive miracles. Yeah, those are fine, and I’ll not complain about them (this is a good place to say, “More Lord!” I think).

It’s like a good marriage: I love the times we get to go out to dinner, or where we host a barbecue for some friends, times of intimacy together. But the real strength of the marriage doesn’t come from those: it comes from the quiet, daily, almost ritual times together. We don’t have to talk about who’s turn it is to empty the dishwasher or take out the garbage or cook dinner, because we’re together.

And a love relationship with the Creator of the Universe is actually pretty similar: The fancy dinners are great, but quiet times of everyday life are where the real life & health come from.

So I apologize if I’ve left you with the impression that life in God is not all cool revelations and glorious highlights. Those happen, and they’re fun and all. But the day to day time together, not even really needing to form words: those are the places where the treasure’s found.

And those don’t make good stories to write about.


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Come join the conversation at https://www.facebook.com/northwestprophetic. 

Terms and Conditions for Trick or Treating

Have you ever seen the fine print on some of the websites out there: “Your use of this website constitutes your agreement to comply, and be bound to, the following terms and conditions…” If there’s ever a legal issue, the case will be decided by how well you and the other party comply with the terms and conditions of the website where the legal issue occurred.

These terms and conditions are very often tricky to find. Sometimes they’re in very small print at the bottom of the page. Sometimes they’re not even on the page you see, but are hidden away on a “Terms and conditions” page that nobody ever sees. But they are binding nonetheless, on every visitor to the website.

1 Corinthians 15:46 says “However, the spiritual is not first, but the natural, and afterward the spiritual.” So let’s take this natural principle and apply it spiritually.

I expect to have a larger than average number of visitors to my home on the evening of the 31st. I expect that many of them will be wearing costumes that they think of as valiant or funny or scary. (I expect that I’ll think they’re mostly “cute.”) And some of them will be adults waiting on my sidewalk for their beloved munchkin to return with the candy my bride & I have dispensed.

But I’ve been setting up some “terms and conditions” that apply to every single person that sets foot on my porch, or my walkway, or even my lawn tomorrow night. (And I may leave them in place indefinitely.) They are not posted publicly in the natural, but because they’re clearly posted in the spiritual realm they will be binding nonetheless, on every visitor to my property (which by legal definition extends to the centerline of the street, so this includes at least half of those driving by as well).

The terms and conditions that affect them include the following:

● Every visitor to my neighborhood is welcome to bring the Holy Spirit with him or her, their own human spirit, and any angels that submit who are in service to the God of Heaven, but any other spiritual beings, any fallen angels, any demons, must be checked at the gates to my neighborhood, and are not permitted in. (This one’s old news: http://bit.ly/gatekeeping)

● Every visitor to my own property, by setting foot on my property agrees, by coming onto my property, to be targeted for the kindness of God, targeted for grace and mercy by the Kingdom of Heaven

● Every family and every household that receives candy or other nourishment from our home agrees, by receiving from us, to receive nourishment from the Spirit of God and from the Word of God, and to receive New Life from the Creator of Life. If anyone receives something from us by theft, they are still agreeing, by receiving from us, to receive the same nourishment, and the same Life.

● Every guest to our property agrees, by coming onto our property, to receive an angel or angels as their guests and guards, to lead them to the King of Kings, to teach them the ways of the Kingdom of God, and to protect them from harm. 

● Every guest on our property, by coming onto our property, receives freely and without cost or obligation, our blessing upon their lives, their future, their family, and their family’s future, blessing for peace, and not for evil, to give them a future and a hope. 

● These terms and conditions are subject to change and can be modified at any time without notice. Changes may be effective retroactively. Check with the Holy Spirit for the latest terms and conditions in effect.

So I encourage y’all to set up similar “terms and conditions” for your own property.

I’m relying on the resources of the Kingdom to carry out the terms and conditions I’ve specified. The metaphor of “terms and conditions” was something I worked out with Father in prayer, which was also where these specific terms and conditions were formed. I implemented them by walking around my property, declaring these terms and conditions, until I felt I was “done.” 

Have fun. Wreak glory upon your guests!

(Feel free to share this idea with your friends and co-conspirators if you wish.)

Why Does God Speak Cryptically

Anyone who has learned to hear Father’s voice has asked the question: Why does he sometimes speak in strange pictures and obscure messages? Why not just speak clearly?

One of the main reasons (in my observation at least) that Father speaks obscurely is because his goals are different from mine. If he spoke clearly, we’d grab that information and presumably do something with it. But neither the information nor the doing is his primary goal.

Father’s primary goal is relationship. And toward that goal, he speaks to us. Most of what he says to us is about us, or is our personal (and probably private) prayer assignment. Most of the tiny remainder of what he says to us is for our metron, our close circle of relationships: church congregation, home group, family, etc. Very little is to be shared, and so he speaks obscurely, in order that we won’t share private conversation too quickly.

And it is an error, in my opinion, to assume that God is speaking literally. He has been pretty clear about that (see 1Corinthians 13:12, Numbers 12:6-8). And so he speaks obscurely is because he’s more interested in you than he is in the information.

So I encourage you to go for walks with God: talk out loud. Tell him about your day, and how you feel about your day. Ask him about his day, and how he feels about his day, or about your day. Talk about your favorite music, your favorite flowers, and why they’re your favorites. Ask about his.

Avoid talking about prophetic stuff for a long while, either the process of prophesying, or the “prophetic words” he or others have spoken to you. This is about relationship, not the business of prophesying.

This is a favorite topic of mine: intimacy with Father on His terms. Anyway, lest I get overly long-winded, I leave you with these two thoughts. They both apply to the subject at hand, though the application is not overly obvious.  


One more detail: it’s pretty clear that the times, they are a-changing. It’s my opinion that this kind of intimacy with Father will be more important, rather than less important, as the world gets more tumultuous and our lives get busier. 

Preparing for an Uncertain Future.

I’ve been asked recently, “How should we prepare for the upcoming hard times in our nation?” The topic comes up a fair bit in one form or another.

I started to reply to the individual who asked this one, but there are several folks with questions on this topic. Here’s what I observe on the topic:

§         No single prophet will have all the insight on this (or any other) topic. Father promises to reveal his secrets to “the prophets” not “to each prophet.” I won’t have anything close to a complete picture. Having said that,

§         It’s not the prophet’s job [ever] to replace your hearing from God yourself. Take what you hear from the prophets to God to get your instructions for your own situation.
 
§         I believe that fear is the primary danger ahead of us: the enemy is making a pretty strong focus on this sin, trying to drive God’s. If believers resist that temptation, we’ll be positioned to get the rest of it right. (This means, of course, filtering what we listen to, and HOW we listen to it.)

§         It’s my opinion that the disaster prognostications flooding the media are fear-based, and are in error, if only because they’re based on fear.

§         While God is calling some of his children into the prepping community, “prepping” is not the answer. Luke 12:20-21 applies to those who, because of fear, store up all they’ll need to survive Armageddon: I don’t believe that’s actually possible; if we knew all that we needed to store up, that violates the First Commandment, and God has promised to not permit that. (Note: the “first commandment” is more of a threat than a commandment: “You will not be able to have any other gods before me: you set ‘em up & I’ll knock ‘em down!” [http://bit.ly/1nn65Rm])

§         I personally believe that the epic disasters of Matthew 24 and the Book of Revelation are clearly behind us, not in front of us (that is perhaps another conversation, and others believe differently). Nevertheless,

§         That does NOT mean I see blue skies and butterflies. Someone really smart said, “In this world, you will have tribulation.” I suspect that’s related to the fact that we are engaged in the greatest war this universe has ever known. It’s NOT “good vs evil.” It’s about the Kingdom of Heaven vs the lesser kingdoms (of which there are many: “good vs evil” is one; fear is another, and self-sufficiency is a third).

§         It is my opinion that the most critical things we can do are in John 2:5 (“Whatever He [Jesus] says to you, do it.”) and Hebrews 12:1&2 (“Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.”) Key: fix our eyes on Jesus. Having said that,

§         This does not mean “Don’t prepare.” It means look at what Jesus is doing and do what he says. He has had me make SOME preparations (we have gotten out of debt, and we grow some of our own food on our city lot, etc).

§         I’m reminded of stories like Matthew 17:24-27 (and we could choose many others!): It appears that Jesus is invested in provisioning us. Which leads to,

§         I believe we’re coming into a season where we rely on the supernatural for our daily lives. We need to (and are, in fact, beginning to) get used to miracles, so that we can multiply food or raise the dead comfortably and consistently.

§         Whatever troubles that come are an opportunity for the Kingdom of God, not obstacles. Even if there is real persecution against believers, upheaval of any sort open people’s hearts and minds to the King of the Kingdom. If we respond in fear we’ll miss the opportunity (see Romans 8:15).

§         Other people may be called to different responses. I am clearly called to a non-political response, but Father has specifically spoken to me about others whom He may be calling to be involved with politics, or even with forceful resistance to evil. Their calling is not my calling, but I need to not hinder them.

§         The story remains unchanging: God’s goal for us is still intimate relationship, his instruction is still to extend the kingdom, by means of the Great Commission.



So what do you hear God saying to YOU about this season ahead of us? 

The chariots and Horsemen of Israel!

My attention today was drawn to the fact that a whole lot of Kingdom-minded believers are being pummeled by many challenges and problems.

A lot of us are facing formidable challenges. Many of us are facing a conspiracy of thousands of little issues that, taken together, threaten to be overwhelming. Some among us are facing victory that is so different than we expected, that is more complicated than we were expecting that it works as a weapon against our peace, breaking our focus. Some of us are feeling overwhelmed, but when we’re asked, we have a hard time identifying what is overwhelming us.

And as I saw that, I realized that it was on purpose: this is for a purpose. This is strategic. There is purpose for this. It’s not Father’s purpose, but the conspiracy of distractions is the enemy working overtime to distract us.

Father brought my attention to Second Kings:

2 Kings chapter 2:

“When they had crossed, Elijah said to Elisha, “Tell me, what can I do for you before I am taken from you?”

“Let me inherit a double portion of your spirit,” Elisha replied.

“You have asked a difficult thing,” Elijah said, “yet if you see me when I am taken from you, it will be yours—otherwise, it will not.”

As they were walking along and talking together, suddenly a chariot of fire and horses of fire appeared and separated the two of them, and Elijah went up to heaven in a whirlwind.  Elisha saw this and cried out, “My father! My father! The chariots and horsemen of Israel!” And Elisha saw him no more. Then he took hold of his garment and tore it in two.

Elisha then picked up Elijah’s cloak that had fallen from him and went back and stood on the bank of the Jordan.  He took the cloak that had fallen from Elijah and struck the water with it. “Where now is the Lord, the God of Elijah?” he asked. When he struck the water, it divided to the right and to the left, and he crossed over.”
  
As I saw this, I heard Father say, “I’m watching to see if you can be distracted, or if you’ll keep your eyes on the prize in the midst of all of the distractions.” We can’t be overcomers without overcoming, and Father really wants us to learn to overcome.

If we can be distracted, even by amazing things like “a chariot of fire and horses of fire,” then we aren’t ready for the double portion anointing. We will still have the testimony of having seen, possibly even ridden in a chariot of fire, and that’s not nothing! But we’ll miss the bigger prize that comes from keeping our focus where it ought to be.

Some of us have not even recognized, not remembered our heart crying out, “Let me inherit a double portion!” and some of us may never have gotten to the point of using words. But that cry really is in your heart.

May I say this to you: Father heard that cry, and it made his heart skip a beat to hear it! This is HIS heart’s desire, children that want more of him, more of his anointing, more of his ways! So it is with giddy joy that He is permitting the distractions: we really have asked a difficult thing, a thing that is only given to overcomers, and so he is giving us opportunity to overcome.

All that is hard to see, but the other part is more hidden. Father stands back and watches, biting his lip, to see if we’ll maintain our focus, to see if we’ll look past the distractions and the discouragements and see the thing he’s doing. But all the while, his other hand is reaching around behind us, touching us, pointing, drawing our attention, even occasionally grabbing our head and pointing it where we need to be looking. He’s doing everything in his formidable power to keep our attention where it needs to be in order that he can have the joy of giving us the double, the triple portion, beyond everything that our heroes and forerunners have had.

He really wants to have a bride that is not completely distracted by the trials, by the conspiracy of distractions, by the complications and nattering voices. He will have a bride that will overcome, and he wants you.

He’s conspiring, conspiring in favor of the cry of your heart.







How Do You Give Up The Thing You Love?

Oh, baby! I could spend a few years here.

I was wandering through a marina some years ago, looking at the sailboats, imagining the wind in the hair, the splash of seafoam, the smell of the sea.

I’d grown up with a small sailboat. I’d learned early on to love the rock of the waves, the sound of the sea, learning to rely on the sea for my home, my transportation, my grocery store, my schooling, my solitude.

I love the sea. I love who I am on the sea, and who Father is with me when we’re on the sea together.

I was thinking, imagining, planning: how can I change my lifestyle so that my sweetheart and I could adopt a lifestyle on the water. I knew she wouldn’t really take much persuading.

Let's see... It would need to be sailboat, because the wind is cheaper than gas, and I expect to be using a lot of one or the other. It would need to be at least 35’ sailboat, as that seemed the smallest size to house two people as a live-aboard, and we couldn’t afford a boat – a real boat – and a house, too. We’d need to change our careers, but that could be done. I’d need to …

Father interrupted me, tenderly, almost hesitantly. It seemed that he enjoyed how much I was loving his creation, but perhaps there was yet a reason to steer me in another direction.

“Son, would you consider an offer from me?” Oh my. God is deferring to my choice? God has something to say about this plan? This ought to be good! “Sure, Father! What are you thinking?”

“Son, would you consider a trade? If you’ll sacrifice a sailboat – a sailing lifestyle – in this life time, then would you like it if I took you on a sailing trip in the next one? We’ll sail around the rings of Saturn first, and then we’ll explore more interesting places. Would you be willing to make that trade?” Though I heard the words only in my mind, they sounded as if he – the God of the Universe – had his hat in his hand as he came to me with this question: it was clear that this was important to him.

He had me. On several levels, he had me. Sure, it would be completely awesome to go sailing around the rings of Saturn with God; that was an easy choice! The Creator as my own personal tour guide! How cool is that! That would be a no-brainer.

But he had me before he ever mentioned the rings of Saturn. It was clear – he wouldn’t have asked it otherwise – that he had other plans for my life that sailing would interfere with. I could imagine what those things might be, but I chose not to. He wasn’t offering other plans to me. He was revealing his heart to me.

The biggest thing that made me shout “Yes! Of course, yes!” was that my Daddy who loves me foolishly, extravagantly, irrevocably, my lover had just bared a big piece of his infinite heart to me. And for some reason, he wanted me to choose differently than I was beginning to choose; it would make him sad if I continued this path. How can you ever do something that would sadden the one who loves you like that? I couldn’t imagine saying no to a love like that!

This has been a powerful lesson in the decades since that interaction. We’ve come back to this conversation over and over again as he teaches me his ways. What a lesson in how to love well! What a lesson in how he values my free will! What a lesson about how that which is good can get in the way of that which is best.

But most of all, what a lesson in how much, how tenderly, he loves me.

Do I still love sailing? Absolutely.

Do I regret making that decision, walking away from something I loved, with nothing in return except his quiet smile? Not for a freaking second!



Supernatural Gems and A Failure in the Church

You are hereby warned: I’m going to rant. Please prepare yourself. (Conclusions at the… er… conclusion.)

I posted this photo recently, with this comment:

“Interesting night tonight. 
Spent a lovely evening sharing dinner, sharing testimonies, blessing one couple among us, 
and God drops gems all over the carpet. 
These weren't from tonight; they showed up at other times, and they're easier to photograph. 
There were others, larger, more spectacular. 
But together, we probably gathered 60 or 80 small ones (jewelry size) just tonight. 
I stood back, aloof, for a while. "We must honor the Gift Giver more than pursue the gifts!" 
I (a little self-righteously) told myself. 
Father chuckled at me. "If you gave your children a good gift, and they pushed it aside and
just sat there, staring at you, would you really love that? When you give a gift, you want 
it to be appreciated. You want to make them happy. How do you think I feel?"
So I gathered 8 or 10 little ones. I watched some of them appear right in front of my eyes. 
And you know, it really did make me happy. 
We have such an awesome Dad.
And as a bride, we have an awesome groom, and a pretty epic future father-in-law.”


The post generated more response than most of my posts do. A couple hundred comments, maybe hundred folks shared it with their friends. A handful of folks made judgmental accusations which were deleted, but that’s par for the course.


The atmosphere that night was heavily and naturally focused on Jesus, not on gemstones: it glorified God. 

But a couple of folks contacted me privately with some credible questions. The book says not to “receive an accusation against an elder except from two or three witnesses,” but the clear implication is that if there are two or three witnesses, to look into the accusation (1Timothy 5:19). I won’t go into details, but I had some things to look into. That was enough for me to pull the post last night. 

I’m still not going to name names, except to say that a name was accused, so I’ve spent most of the next 24 hours consulting with folks (both people & God). I’ve counseled with some elders, with some accusers, with the accused, and with the accused’s pastor. 

Accusations were made that someone had been caught at a service dropping gems. I’ll just say this: it has happened. The one accused in this story told me how it happened and why it happened, and what happened as a result, including their repentance and the process laid on them for their restoration. Several witnesses, including the supervising pastor and some of the accusers have corroborated the confession and the time frame. I’ve been saying, all along, Any miracle that brings fame or fortune to the people involved will be faked for the fame and/or fortune of others. That does not diminish the value of the miracle one whit.

Well it has happened, and I stand by my statement: we have an awesome God, who gives gems to his bride.

I have testimony from several people (I’m one of them) who have seen gems miraculously appearing; even some of the accusers agree: gems do appear miraculously in this person’s presence. The Book says, “By the mouth of two or three witnesses every word shall be established,” and it affirms the principle in both New Testament and Old, a total of no less than six times. The matter is beyond dispute: we have gemstones miraculously appearing. 

So what we have before us is a child of God who walks in the miraculous, who has failed in ministry, who has repented, who was taken out of ministry for a season, and tested before being released into ministry again, and who has no fame nor fortune from ministry.

In the meantime, this child of God has spent quite a few years enduring the curses and accusation of the saints of the most high God. As a result, we have a beloved family member who has been repeatedly, incessantly wounded again and again by those who call themselves healers. 

In the process of examining the accusation made by “two or three witnesses,” I met an embarrassing number of people who sure sounded pleased that someone got busted for their sin. I had real difficulty not getting more than a little bit angry about this. Those who were making accusations of someone’s sin – both the humble ones and the self-congratulatory ones – I have it on good evidence (Romans 3:10&12) that the accusers have failure in their life as well. 

I know I surely do! Those who are close to me could tell you stories that are different in form than the sin with the gemstones, but easily more nasty. I can tell you first hand that before I was a Christian, I was a very un-lovely person, and even after the Son of God died for me, I’ve still made some heinous mistakes. But so have you. (Sorry.)

I can also tell you that the Son of God DID in fact die for me, and for you, and for everyone touched by this story. And I have the honor of telling you that He still loves you and me and them, even though – and even WHEN – we sin. Think about it: when Adam & Eve sinned the first sin, it was they who hid from God. God came looking for them. And while we were yet sinners – WHILE, I tell you – Christ loved you and me in the mist of our filth and stench and took it on Himself, and killed it. 

My conclusion is this: Yeah, someone faked gems. Yep we know at least one person who did it. I’ll bet you dollars to donuts there are bunches more. I’ll bet someone’s doing it right now, somewhere on the planet, faking a miracle of some sort. 

These are the gems I found.  Several of them, including the yellow oval, I watched as they appeared on the carpet before me.
These are the gems I found. 
I’ll bet it happens not at all infrequently: people so desperately want the miracle of God that they’ll do anything to get it, even if they have to fake it. People so desperately need the acceptance and approval of their brothers and sisters that they’ll do anything to get it, even if they have to fake it. 

Does that mean that gems don’t happen miraculously? Nope. It means that God still uses broken people. Like you and me. 

My conclusion: I stand by my original post: God spread some gemstones around. God did some miracles. It was cool, and it brought glory to his Son. Now, are you going to look for the false? Or are you going to look for the finger of God among the muck and the fuss of the human species? 

I’m posting the original picture because it’s associated with the conversation. In hindsight, I think I should have posted a photo of the little things we found that night. 

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.


Monday

There's a Reason We're So Secure

I've been reflecting on our secure position: we're hidden in the rock, engraved in the palm of his hand. That's pretty secure!

If you are responsible for someone precious to you, but they're in absolutely no danger whatsoever, you take no special precautions. It's only when you're going to be in dangerous places that you put the leash on the toddler, the bulletproof vest on the officer, the rope around the waist of the mountain climber. You don't wear a seat belt in a church pew, or a life vest on your La-Z-Boy in front of your high-definition wide-screen TV. 

God has secured us more surely than any of those. This suggests that he expects us to "Go ye" into more dangerous places than those folks go. We're held securely so that we can go to uncertain places, so that we can stand up in dangerous times and cry, "Follow me! I know the way out!" 

We have the safety line keeping us from drowning, from falling. We have the great and precious promises. What's the worst that can happen: a welcoming party in Heaven. 
It's interesting that the only time that anybody in the Bible walked on the water was during the storm, the only time a box lunch was multiplied for thousands was when facing thousands of hungry people. The only time the dead were raised was when God's representatives were around dead people. The only place that the incarnate Creator chose to go to redeem mankind and pay for their sin was into the middle of the sinful and rebellious world. 

I’m thinking that if we don’t occasionally go places that make our knees knock, we’re missing the point. We need to have days where we’ve got to wash off the slime and the stink from the world, because we’ve been among them, carrying the love and the grace of the King in our bearing, in our words, in our smile, in our hugs, into the very darkest, smelliest, most un-welcoming places we can find. (Most of the time, thats not in another country; probably not even in another city, but I assure you, it’s not in our comfort zone.)

If we don’t spend time in harm’s way, we’re not living up to our calling. And we’re not bringing the Lamb who was slain the full measure of the reward for his sacrifice. 

I want a crown worth throwing at his feet. 

The Gate of Heaven


In Genesis 28, Jacob awoke from his sleep, he thought, “Surely the LORD is in this place, and I was not aware of it.” He was afraid and said, “How awesome is this place! This is none other than the house of God; this is the gate of heaven.”

The house of God is the gate of heaven.

Hebrews 3:6 says  “And we are his house, if indeed we hold firmly to our confidence and the hope in which we glory.” Paul was even more direct in 1 Corinthians 3:16: “Don’t you know that you yourselves are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in your midst?”

So I am [or we are, as a community, depending on how you read the pronouns] the gate of heaven.

Certainly, that applies in the evangelistic sense: it’s hard to become a child of God without having encountered the people of God first. (Possible, but hard.)

But that is clearly not the way that Jacob meant it in Genesis 28. This is his description of “the gate of heaven”:

He had a dream in which he saw a stairway resting on the earth, with its top reaching to heaven, and the angels of God were ascending and descending on it. There above it stood the LORD, and he said: "I am the LORD, the God of your father Abraham and the God of Isaac. I will give you and your descendants the land on which you are lying. Your descendants will be like the dust of the earth, and you will spread out to the west and to the east, to the north and to the south. All peoples on earth will be blessed through you and your offspring. I am with you and will watch over you wherever you go, and I will bring you back to this land. I will not leave you until I have done what I have promised you."

I believe that it is not unreasonable that we, the people of God, the heirs of the Kingdom of Heaven, should expect to be a “gate of heaven,” with these effects:

  • We are a point where heaven and earth connect.
  • We are a place where angels connect with earth.
  • We are a place where God reveals himself as who He really is.
  • We are inheritors of the promises of God: this is OUR land, and all peoples on this entire planet will be blessed through us, and through our offspring.
  • Wherever we go, God goes with us, in us, through us!
  • Wherever we go, God fulfils promises made to us, that infect all the residents of that place.

This is who we are. This is what we need to expect from our life in God. Our goal is not faithful attendance at a Sunday service for 30 years. Our goal is that wherever we go, heaven leaks out of our footprints, and grows into the manifestation of the Kingdom of Heaven every place we go, and in every person we meet.

Our goal is nothing less than heaven on Earth. Through us. 


A Prophet's Failure


Here’s the saddest story in the life of the greatest prophet in the Old Testament. It’s from 1 Kings 19. This is where Elijah fails. As sad as it is, we can learn some lessons from him to help us in prophetic ministry today.

[Elijah] traveled forty days and forty nights until he reached Horeb, the mountain of God. There he went into a cave and spent the night.

And the word of the LORD came to him: “What are you doing here, Elijah?”  He replied, “I have been very zealous for the LORD God Almighty. The Israelites have rejected your covenant, torn down your altars, and put your prophets to death with the sword. I am the only one left, and now they are trying to kill me too.”

The LORD said, “Go out and stand on the mountain in the presence of the LORD, for the LORD is about to pass by.” Then a great and powerful wind tore the mountains apart and shattered the rocks before the LORD, but the LORD was not in the wind. After the wind there was an earthquake, but the LORD was not in the earthquake. After the earthquake came a fire, but the LORD was not in the fire. And after the fire came a gentle whisper.  

When Elijah heard it, he pulled his cloak over his face and went out and stood at the mouth of the cave. Then a voice said to him, “What are you doing here, Elijah?”  He replied, “I have been very zealous for the LORD God Almighty. The Israelites have rejected your covenant, torn down your altars, and put your prophets to death with the sword. I am the only one left, and now they are trying to kill me too.”  

The LORD said to him, “Go back the way you came, and go to the Desert of Damascus. When you get there, anoint Hazael king over Aram.  Also, anoint Jehu son of Nimshi king over Israel, and anoint Elisha son of Shaphat from Abel Meholah to succeed you as prophet.  Jehu will put to death any who escape the sword of Hazael, and Elisha will put to death any who escape the sword of Jehu.  Yet I reserve seven thousand in Israel--all whose knees have not bowed down to Baal and whose mouths have not kissed him.”

Elijah had some reason to be afraid: Jezebel had threatened to kill him. Of course, this was right after he had called fire down from heaven, killed 450 false prophets, and ended a devastating drought in an afternoon’s prayer, so how much threat was she really?

Father has schooled me from this passage a number of times.

First, he contrasted Elijah on Mt Carmel (1 Kings 18) with Jesus feeding the 5000. Afterwards, Elijah takes on two more big and demanding projects: first, he prayed in a rainstorm, and second, he ran from Mt Carmel to Jezreel, ahead of a chariot (that’s a marathon distance!). Then he collapsed in a depression, and ended up in a cave whining at God.

By contrast, when Jesus had fed 5000 men (plus women and children: maybe 15,000 to 20,000 people), he dismissed the crowds, sent the boys home on a boat, and went up into the mountains to pray all night. Think about it: if the Son of God needed to get with God to get recharged after ministry, what makes us think that we can keep running?

The first lesson: when you’ve spent everything in ministry, don’t go do more ministry; get alone with God, and let him minister to you; debrief with him. After that, go walk on the water through the storm to the guys in the sailboat that’s swamping in the storm: miracles are easier then, and prophetic people work in the realm of the miraculous.

 “…I am the only one left,
and now they are trying to kill me too.”
The second lesson that he emphasized was this: whenever our prayers sound like Elijah’s prayers sounded in that cave “…I am the only one left, and now they are trying to kill me too,” then we’re in a very bad place. That’s a really good time to shut up, to stop arguing with God, and to listen. It’s a good time to let angels minister to your spirit. But it’s really NOT a good time to talk.

Elijah kept talking, and God let him talk. Then he asked him the same question again (that might not be a good sign), and Elijah gave him the same self-pitying answer: “…I am the only one left, and now they are trying to kill me too!”

God gave Elijah some assignments: go anoint some people. Notice that he’s sent to “anoint Elisha … to succeed you as prophet.”  Elijah is being fired as the prophet of Israel, and if we can count on the context, he’s being fired because he won’t leave the place of self-pity. From this day forward, Elijah never was the prophet he had been before; he wasn’t completely left out, but he wasn’t involved in any history-making events ever again.

My point is not to bring fear that we’ll get fired as a prophet. My point is that when we start seeing ourselves like the tree in this picture, that we’ve gotten into a place where we can’t minister well. We need to shut up and sit still and let Father speak into our souls. In this place, we really need to NOT declare things from self-pity, not from hopelessness or fear or discouragement. In this place, we need to stop speaking until we can speak life. 

This has been a heck of a season. A goodly number of people I know in the prophetic have been involved in big things. We need to learn the lesson of Jesus, and head up the mountain, not back into ministry.

And a goodly number of the prophetic people I know are as drained as Elijah was. (Some are on both lists.)  In this place, we need to stop speaking and let him speak to us, until we can speak life again. 

A Change of Seasons


I guess that there was a season where God was blessing it, but I think the blessing has moved on. I think we’re coming to the end of the season of the anointing being on those whose full-time work is “in the ministry.”

I suspect that the blessing was less on “full time ministry” than it was on “ministering in His name,” but it sure looks to me like that season – whatever it was – is now over.

There are still some people in “full time” ministry who walk in favor, in the midst of God’s move today. But if you look closely, they are mostly in the work of equipping others, sending out a new generation of “ministers” who generally have no title, have no ministry paycheck. They are spreading the good news, demonstrating the Kingdom at their “secular” (whatever that means) work, and the secular mission-field pays their living.

As a result, they have a credibility among the world that those who make their living from purveying the gospel never had.

I invite the saints of God to work hard, forcefully, to rid themselves of the religious heresy that “full time ministry” is better ministry. It’s not. It’s actually a hindrance, though it is a comfortable hindrance.

The best ministry nowadays, and generally the best anointing, comes to those who live and work and eat and sleep among the world to which they minister.

That means that those whose “day job” gets in the way of “their ministry” probably have the more effective ministry. And many of those whose “full time job” is ministry, find their work less effective, when measured by Kingdom standards. 

Thursday

A Lesson on Our Angels.


I love testimonies. They say so much good stuff about God! And the whole concept of “testimony” (“μαρτυρία,” an interesting word on several levels) includes the concept of “What God has done, he is willing to do again.” I love that.

I was watching over a baby-Christian who was dying. She was 90 years old, freshly saved, and had just been diagnosed with cancer. When I asked, Father said, “The cancer will not take her, but it is her time to go.”

As I said, she was dying, but she was taking her time about it. She had been in dancing on the edge of Eternity for several weeks; it was hard on her and everyone who loved her to watch her suffer. I came to visit her again, and she never saw me, but she grasped my hand weakly as I sat with her and prayed for her. The room was full of a measure of peace, and I loved her. I wanted her to be able to lay hold of that peace.

I needed God’s perspective, so after a while, I walked over and stood by the door, ducked into the Spirit realm, and talked with Father about it. “What’s holding her back, Father?” and immediately I had a vision. There in the spirit realm, she was travelling a winding road in the midst of fields of wildflowers, and she was almost to the bridge. But there were several demons who were holding her back, taunting and tormenting her in the process. I understood that they were gaining some strength from their torment of her. It angered me.

“What do I do, Father? I’m seriously not ready to pray for her to die, even though you’ve already told me that this is her time.”

What followed was one of the more startling experiences of my life with God. He said, “Release our angels to clear the way for her,” and with that one sentence, a whole lesson was downloaded into my spirit.

A little background: I was raised in a liberal church, and then trained in an evangelical church, both of which adamantly, fanatically, insisted that I must never pay attention, especially never try to communicate with or (horrors!) command angels! Oh my goodness! That would be tantamount to abandoning faith in God in favor of gibbering in the corner with tinfoil on my head. Those who taught me had encountered people who had gone way off the deep end about angels, always talking to angels, always listening for what the angels said. Some of them actually had worn tinfoil on their heads and chosen to sleep under bridges. Bluntly, this was a doctrine built on fear, but it was the doctrine I had been raised on, and God was countermanding it.

So with the instruction to “Release OUR angels…,” Father schooled me. He took me through several scriptures, in that nanosecond. The conversation went like this: “Angels are servants of the Kingdom, yes?” “Okaaay.” “And you’re an heir of the Kingdom, yes?” “Yeaaaah.” “Are you doing the work of the kingdom, working to accomplish My will?” “Yes!” “Well, then the angels are available to serve you in this!” “Oh! Okay!”

I stood there at the door, my eyes bugging just a little, thinking through what I’d just heard. If I understood correctly, I had specifically been invited by my Heavenly Father to – not command, exactly – but “release” the angels to do the thing that Father had already assigned them to do. And as a result, again, if I understood correctly, my aged friend would then die. Yeah, she’d be with Jesus, yeah, it was her time, but dang!

I reached over, touched her cheek, stood back up, took a deep breath. I looked Father in his tender-hearted eyes, and spoke. “As a son of the Kingdom, and in the Name of Jesus, I release the angels that Father has assigned to this woman to carry out their assignments and to remove the demons hindering her.”

The next morning, we got the call. “She has passed over.” We met the hospice nurses there. My friend had the most peaceful expression on her face. She'd crossed the bridge in joy. 

When a personal revelation is supported, as this one was, both by scriptural principles and by the way actual facts turn out, I pay attention. But I wasn’t settled on it so quickly.

We talked about it afterward, and as we debriefed, Father and I talked about Matthew 26:53. That’s where, in the Garden, Jesus declares, “Or do you think that I cannot now pray to My Father, and He will provide Me with more than twelve legions of angels?” I’ve always dismissed that verse: He’s the Son of God, He can do things I can’t.

“My child, yes, Jesus is My Incarnate Son. But when He came to Earth, He emptied Himself of the prerogatives of his deity. His ministry on Earth was not as God incarnate: that would be nothing that you could ever aspire to; it would be no model of what you could do and be. Everything He did on Earth, He did as a man. Son, don’t write his example off so quickly.”

So I’m still learning. 

Wednesday

Paying Rent on a Fishing Boat


In Luke, chapter five, Jesus borrows Peter’s boat, pushes out from shore, and teaches the crowd.

But after he was through teaching, an interesting thing happened: it’s as if Jesus performs a miracle in order to pay Pete for the use of his boat: 

4 When He had stopped speaking, He said to Simon, “Launch out into the deep and let down your nets for a catch.” 5 But Simon answered and said to Him, “Master, we have toiled all night and caught nothing; nevertheless at Your word I will let down the net.” 6 And when they had done this, they caught a great number of fish, and their net was breaking. 7 So they signaled to their partners in the other boat to come and help them. And they came and filled both the boats, so that they began to sink

There are several lessons that could be, and no doubt have been, taught from this passage, about obedience, about team ministry, about trials in God’s blessings. But the one that stuck out to me today was this:

Jesus is not afraid of making his kids wealthy.

For some years, I lived in a fishing community in the Northwest. I was surprised to learn that some of the local commercial fishing boats would consider the night’s fishing profitable if they caught eight or ten salmon. They could sell the fish for enough to pay the costs of running the boat for the night, the wear and tear on their equipment, and still make themselves a paycheck.

But here, Jesus gives them so many fish that it swamps two commercial fishing boats. Admittedly they built fishing boats differently in the first century than in the twenty-first century, but it’s very clear that this one catch was way more than the optimistic boat-builders had planned for.

A catch like that could provide enough money to live off of for several months, maybe longer, while the fishermen spent their time hanging around Jesus and learning from him. For the sake of discussion, let’s assume that this one catch was six months’ worth of income for their families: for us, that’s a lot of money, maybe tens of thousands of dollars.

There are a couple of interesting observations about the process which Jesus used to pay rent on Pete’s boat:

  • Peter never offered to rent his boat to Jesus. He never offered Jesus use of the boat. Jesus intrudes: he just stepped into the boat of the fisherman who had failed at his work all night, and asked to be pushed out from the shore. Jesus intrudes on Peter’s failure and expects Peter to comply with his request. I don’t think it’s too much to infer that Jesus just might break in on our own lives, even in the “ungodly” place of self-pity, and use us.

  • “Being used by God” sometimes looks like it did for Peter: sitting on your sore backside, wishing you were doing something else, while he’s talking to other people about things you don’t really understand.

  • Then Jesus told (he didn’t ask) Peter to do something foolish: to waste some more time and energy on something that hasn’t worked, to invest some more in the place of Pete’s failure. Worse: Pete is a professional fisherman, and he knows that this is the wrong time to catch fish (that’s why he’d been out all night: night is better fishing time on that lake), and this preacher-guy is trying to tell him how to do his job.

  • Jesus didn’t just write Pete a check or a bag of silver coins for the use of the boat. He badgered Pete into working some more, and then he blessed the work that Pete did. Jesus used the vehicle of Pete’s own hard work (harder than he expected it to be: that was a lot of fish!) to drop twenty thousand bucks (or however much) into Pete’s checking account. While it’s not the only way Jesus does things, it’s a common one (Matthew 17:27)

  • It was when Peter put the net down at Jesus’ direction that the freaky harvest came in. It happened again, almost the same way, after Jesus had raised from the dead, in John 21.

  • But Jesus wasn’t afraid to drop a large chunk of wealth into the hands of an untrained fisherman. He didn’t give Peter a six-week lesson on How to Handle Money, or remind him about the importance of tithing if you expect God to bless you. He just blessed his socks off; and nearly sank his boat.

  • Peter recognized the presence of God in the sudden appearance of slippery, flopping wealth sinking his boat and his partner’s! His response: “Depart from me, for I am a sinful man, O Lord!” Jesus uses that moment of spiritual openness to give Peter a new job: “From now on you will catch men.”

By way of application, I find myself reflecting on these action points:

  1. It’s probably good to let Jesus intrude on my day-to-day trudging. Maybe even invite him in.

  1. I probably need to re-evaluate what it means to be “used by God,” so that there’s a whole lot less confusion. Sitting on my butt, if he’s asked me to sit, can be frightfully profitable ministry, though it doesn’t look so impressive on the resume or the Facebook page.

  1. I need to guard against resentment: fancy expectations (see #2 above), intrusions on my life (#1 above) and failures.

  1. If I’m asking God for money, perhaps I should ask him to bless my job. That seems to be something he does pretty well.

  1. And I remind myself: when I experience that transition from discouragement to fruitfulness, don’t be surprised if you get a new assignment from Heaven during that season.





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

Learning with the Sadducees

Jesus taught the Sadducees some lessons about the Kingdom. Let’s learn from them.

I’ve been fascinated with the story in Mark 12 where Jesus schools the Sadducees. They came to test him (it seemed to be the popular thing to do in those days), to try to get Jesus to agree with their heretical doctrines. Unsurprisingly, Jesus didn’t play along. But His reply is worth learning from, particularly in these “Last Days” which Jesus himself described as “Then many false prophets will rise up and deceive many.” The periphery of the Church contains so many self-appointed Guardians of the Truth, but many (or most?) of them seem to be speaking with the error of the Sadducees, or the hypocrisy of the Pharisees. Jesus’ response here is a wonderful lesson on identifying Truth.

The fact that Jesus takes the time to teach the Sadducees, rather than rebuke them publicly (he wasn’t afraid of that; see Matthew 23 for a blistering example), indicates something significant, I think. There were two primary theological camps among the teachers of those days: Pharisees and Sadducees. The interesting thing here is that the Pharisees actually had the better doctrine: they acknowledged the resurrection from the dead, they acknowledged the presence and ministry of angels, they acknowledged spirits, and therefore the Holy Spirit. The Sadducees did not acknowledge any of these (see Acts 23:8).

But it was the Pharisees that Jesus blasted publicly, not the Sadducees. Here, the Sadducees come to test Jesus with a hypothetical scenario, and Jesus responds gently, and shows them their error. I observe that when Jesus points out the error of the Pharisees (for example, Luke 12:1), he does not address their doctrine, but their hypocrisy.

I learn from this that I can be theologically sound, and completely messed up: I can have my doctrines correct, and earn the castigation and judgment of Jesus. Apparently, correct doctrine is not the highest and most valuable treasure to the Son of God.

The Sadducees must have had a more teachable attitude; they missed several key doctrinal points, but Jesus gently instructs them. Since I aspire to be teachable more than I aspire to doctrinal perfection, I suspect I can learn from his schooling of these teachable heretics.

The first thing that Jesus does in instructing these guys is that he completely rejects their whole foundation: they came to him with an elaborate hypothetical situation to convince him: he ignores it completely, focusing on the truth instead. I confess: I want to deal with the real world (as Jesus did here) more than with hypothetical situations which can only generate hypothetical theologies.

Before Jesus corrects their erroneous theology, he points out the source of the error: they’re mistaken (the word also means “deceived”) because they lack knowledge of two things: the Scriptures and the power of God.

It is an amazing thing to me that Jesus accuses the Sadducees of not knowing the Scriptures: these men spend their lives studying the Scriptures, and yet, Jesus says, they don’t really know them. Apparently it is possible to study the Word, to know theology, to earn advanced theological degrees (for that is what it meant to be a Sadducee), and still be deceived. Apparently book-learning isn’t enough.

The second thing that the Sadducees missed, which led to their deception, was that they didn’t have a working knowledge of the power of God. It makes sense that not knowing the power of God would be a contributing factor towards a theology that denies the supernatural. If you don’t ever heal the sick, or see people who do, then it’s easier to say, “God doesn’t heal the sick anymore.” I know of one seminary professor who declared, “Well, I don’t experience miracles, so God must not do miracles any more,” as he taught his poor students about the virtues of cessationism.

I believe that the reverse is also true: the reason that people come up with theologies – or excuses – to explain away the power of God is specifically because those people have not experienced the power of God in the way that Jesus expects us to.

For the scholars among us, the word “power” here is indeed the Greek work dunamis, the root word of “dynamite.” This is the same word that is used for healing (Luke 5:17), for resurrecting the dead (Romans 1:4) and for casting demons out (Luke 9:1), and which Jesus assigns, delegates, imparts to those of us who are His disciples (Luke 10:19). Jesus is describing signs and wonders when he describes the reasons for their deception: because they don’t know the signs and wonders of God, they are mistaken, in error, deceived: we must know the supernatural power of God to stay out of deception.

That leads us to a necessary corollary: we must use these two foundations in order to have our theology right: we must really understand the Scriptures – not just study, but letting the Author teach us – and we must have a working, experiential knowledge of the power of God. Indeed, a perusal of the Gospels will reveal that most of the time when Jesus taught the people, he then also healed them, or when he started with healing, he followed up with teaching. Theology teachers and Bible teachers whose ministry doesn’t include the power of God are – according to Jesus’ correction of the Sadducees – missing one of the two pillars of complete theology. Powerless theology teachers cannot teach theology well. That’s a scary conclusion, and it’s driving at least this teacher to pursue supernatural signs and wonders more passionately than ever before: I decline to fall into the deception of he Sadducees.

It is at this point in the conversation that things get really interesting. Jesus has explained what they were doing wrong that led to their deception; now he goes on to correct their theological errors. I’m not going to examine the theology that he’s teaching (it is self-apparent); rather, I want to look at the way he teaches it: He corrects their theology using the same two tools, the same two reference points – the Scriptures and the power of God – that he has just accused them of lacking, though he does so in the opposite sequence.

Second (I’ll cover the “First” in a second), Jesus refers to the Scriptures, using Moses’ reference to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob to affirm the resurrection. While he’s using the Scriptures as his foundation, his interpretation and application of the Scriptures is prophetic, rather than the usual inductive or deductive tools more commonly used both then and now.

But first, he speaks as the Son of God, whose residence and throne are in Heaven, and he speaks to a situation that neither the Sadducees nor we have any way to understand apart from either a resident of Heaven comes to explain it to us, or us journeying to the heavenly realms to see for ourselves. Jesus’ declaration cannot come from earth when says, “For when they rise from the dead, they neither marry nor are given in marriage, but are like angels in heaven.” He’s describing eternity from the point of view of someone who has seen first-hand what the resurrection is like. “This is what it’s like on the other side of death and resurrection.”

That knowledge, of course, is impossible apart from the supernatural. I can think of a few ways that I could have learned those things, but not a one of them comes from studying well. Paul (2 Corinthians 12:4), Jesus (John 3:13) and John (Revelation 1:10 and 4:2) appeared to travel to Heaven while on Earth, though there’s very little teaching on the topic in church today. A whole number of people had things explained to them by angels (beginning with Hagar [Genesis 16], and including Moses [Exodus 3], Balaam [Numbers 32], Manoah [Judges 3:17], Elijah [2 Kings 1:15], Zechariah [Zechariah 6:5], Zacharias [Luke 1:13], Mary [Luke 2], Cornelius [Acts 10:22], and of course, John [Revelation 17:7].

I make two applications from this fact: A) I need to get used to supernatural revelation of information – whether it’s my visiting heaven or angels instructing me. And B) I need to not be afraid of basing theology on that revelation: Jesus did, and he taught it as theology – not just as a testimony – to unbelievers, based on his own revelation of Heaven.

(Of course the usual caveats apply: don’t use personal revelation – or prophetic interpretation of Scripture – to contravene Scripture’s clear teaching [how many cults have started that way?]. But at the same time, don’t run from it either!)

Jesus, of course, has a fine conclusion to this brief teaching. Verse 27 says, “He is not the God of the dead, but the God of the living. You are therefore greatly mistaken.” He summarizes the whole conversation in a single, very obvious generalization of the nature of God: “He’s the God of the living.” If the Sadducees were as open to new understandings about God as it seems, then I can imagine two or three of them slapping their forehead and muttering, “Of course! Duh! God of the living! Why didn't I see that?”