Showing posts with label words. Show all posts
Showing posts with label words. Show all posts

Thursday

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.

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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.

My children were born for such a time as this.

I’ve been reflecting on some of what Scripture says about the nature of believers’ words in difficult times. Well, our words should be this way in all times, really, but I’ve been thinking about them in difficult times.

“Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God.” [2Corinthians 1:3,4]

“But he who prophesies speaks edification and exhortation and comfort to men.” [1Corinthians 14:3]

This phrase has been ringing through my spirit the last couple of weeks, as hysteria about the Covid virus “pandemic” has been spreading through the news, through our civilization:

“My children were born for such a time as this.”

We’ve been comforted by our Heavenly Father, who happens to be the King of the Universe. We’ve had so much comfort heaped upon us that we have enough to comfort every person around us.

More than that, we have His own words in our heart and in our mouth, carrying his comfort, carrying his creative power as we speak them into the tumult and cacophony of this world.

“For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.” [2 Timothy 1:7]

It’s harder to speak with people when we’re all quarantined in our homes. It takes more intentional effort to check on the folks around us, to speak peace into their world. It’s worth the effort.

Speak the power of love. Speak the power of sound thinking. It’s a beautiful way to derail the spirit of fear that’s trying desperately to run rampant.

You were born for such a time as this.


Believers Who Find Fault

A favorite activity among some (not many) Christians is fault-finding. When someone makes a positive comment about certain topics, the faultfinders are quick to point out all the reasons we shouldn’t be positive, all the bad things that are associated there. 

Favorite targets for these people include:

a) Famous Christians (“Did you know that this famous leader once sinned? Gasp!”),

b) Politicians (This doesn't need much explanation; there aren’t many Christians who can say positive things about all three: Trump, Clinton and Obama),

c) Poignant Facebook posts (“Martin Luther is an evil man because some of his followers did bad things!”)

I’m convinced that this is a model given to us by the accuser of the brethren, since these are indeed accusations, and it’s aggressively marketed to us by the secular (and, to a lesser extent, Christian) news media.

When I run across people who have to begin their conversation with criticism or “We need to know both sides of that!” then I’m afraid I make the assumption that this is a person who is more influenced by the news media than by the Spirit of God. (I don’t like assumptions, particularly in myself.)

Our Instruction Book gives us certain standards for our behavior, and for our conversation with each other, standards like “Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt.” (Colossians 4:6)

And one of those standards is not fault-finding: Proverbs 11:12 “People without good sense find fault with their neighbors, but those with understanding keep quiet.” & Jude 1:16 “These people are grumblers and faultfinders; they follow their own evil desires; they boast about themselves and flatter others for their own advantage.”

Another of those standards is the solution: fixing our attention on whatsoever is good and right. Philippians 4:8: “Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.”.

Faultfinding is a fundamental failure to meet Scriptural standards, I’m afraid. It’s also something I aggressively discourage in conversations on this page (as I am doing in this post).

Off the record, my motivation for discouraging this is not Scripture: you are responsible for your own response to that standard; that’s not my job.

I speak up because being around that particular work of the enemy (the “accuser of the brethren” Revelation 12:10) is like swimming in a sewer for me: it’s incredibly distasteful, and more importantly, it’s really quite dangerous to my own health.

If you want to find fault with people, living or dead, do it somewhere else. If you to take a crap, don’t use my swimming pool for that purpose.

Thanks! 

Saturday

Responding to this Election

There are maybe two primary kinds of people reacting with distress to the election results.

One kind is all about outrage. That outrage has occasionally been public and violent. There’s much evidence that at least some of the protests are paid events, staged for prime-time television, but the outrage is still real.

Many of the faces and voices in the media are outraged, of course, and in the halls of power. Some are willing to express it; others less so, hiding behind explanations and accusations.

The other, larger, and often younger population are nearly invisible, feeling wounded and betrayed. How could these neighbors whom I’ve trusted vote for such a hateful man and such a hateful agenda. They truly fear for their future, for their lives and well-being and those of their friends. Their fear – whether we understand it or not – is very real, their pain is real.

This is the group that I’m most concerned about.

Many of these are Millennials, the generation that is only now stepping into power. They are young enough that they don’t understand what this election was reacting against. And while they recognize that there’s bias in the media, they are still a media generation, and the media still speaks to them and for them.

If we wanted to alienate these good people, if we wanted to drive them away from us, from ever respecting us, then we should condescend to them, we should disrespect their fears and mock their pain. A number of Christians, a number of conservatives are doing exactly that.

And of course, Internet memes are good for this. And while a few are genuinely humorous and make us laugh, they drive a wedge deeper between people, and a thorn deeper into their hearts.

“But they’re believing a lie! I must convince them instead of the truth!” Balderdash. Do you remember the Bible-thumping trolls who haunt Facebook and other online communities, mercilessly wielding their version of Truth? Do you remember Westboro Baptist and their hate-fueled vitriol? This need to “convince them of the truth” is what motivates them. Don’t be like them.

Honestly, we don’t have the authority to speak truth to anyone until we’ve helped them deal with the pain they’re feeling. Have you ever noticed that whenever Jesus taught truth it was always in the context of healing their pain: healing the sick, driving out demons, raising the dead, multiplying food. The only exception was when he was talking privately with his disciples.

That’s a really good course of action: start with healing. We can heal supernaturally; that’s always good. We can heal through social means: food banks and street missions need our help in this season more than any other. We can heal through personal means, listening to their pain, and loving them eye-to-eye, heart to heart.

We can be Christians: we can be Christ to people.


Thursday

Accusations Against God.

I was thinking about God’s provision. Provision is something that God is really quite good at.

If I ask my Father for something to eat, and then I complain about what he brings me, my complaint is not merely against the food. My complaint is also against my Father who brought me the meal.

My words address the food: “This is yucky! I don’t like this.”

But the accusation continues further: “Your provision for me is yucky! I don’t like how you provide for me!” It’s inescapable.

The Israelites did this regularly during the Exodus. “Where’s the water? I’m thirsty!” “This water isn’t good enough; it’s bitter!” “I’m tired of manna; I want meat!”

We do this pretty often, don’t we?

We complain about God’s provision for us, because it’s not as generous or as comfortable as we want. We ask for a ministry, but it’s not as effective as we think it should be. We ask for a home, and then complain that it’s uncomfortable. We ask for a job, and then we fuss about the people we have to work with.

In all these things, we’re not just complaining about the things that God has lovingly and carefully provided for us. We’re also complaining about the God whom we accuse of such inferior provision.


The obvious solution to this problem, after we’ve repented (changed how we think about God’s care for us), is to practice giving thanks. “Thanks, God, for this adventure in the desert, away from the Egyptians. It sure is exciting to think about how you’re going to take care of us!

There’s one more place that Father’s been speaking to me about our whining:

I was visiting with a friend about how the Saints are pretty unhappy with the candidates for president in this election cycle (and I’m guilty of mocking them, too!), and Father whispered this verse to me:

“Let everyone be subject to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God.” Romans 13:1. Then he added,

“These are my provision. I’m sorry that you don’t like my provision. But you’re going to need to learn to work with them. You’re going to need to bless them, and not curse them.”

When I complain about the poor choice of presidential candidates, I’m accusing God’s fulfillment of Romans 13:1. With every complaint about Donald or Hillary, I’m accusing God of being a failure as a provider! And I haven’t even asked him about why He provided these candidates. 

(Even worse, when Paul wrote this verse, and when Peter wrote “honor the emperor,” they were referencing Caesar Nero, unquestionably one of the cruelest and most evil rulers in the history of this planet. We are without excuse.)

I’m thinking we have room to grow in how we respond to God’s provision in our government.

Let the lessons begin. Are we ready to learn? 


Do We Still Pray for the Peace of Jerusalem?

Recently, a friend asked me, “Are we still required to pray for the peace of Jerusalem?” (as Psalm 122:6 says). I stopped to think about that question, and about Zionism in general. Here’s how my thinking went.

When the Old Covenant was in place, it was between one family – the children of Jacob – aka Israel) and God. (In fact, they resisted being called a “nation” until the 20th century.)

When the Old Covenant was in place, that family was the vehicle by which God related to the rest of the world. We’ll overlook the fact that Israel failed miserably in that task: it was their task. (Note that “The Law” was the “terms & conditions” of that Covenant. Note also that Israel failed so completely at that, that God was required by the terms of that covenant [which the people proposed, it was not God’s proposal] that he was required to judge them and punish them for failing to keep their covenant with Him. See http://nwp.link/1Ggenc6.)

And because Israel was the one primary means by which God related to humanity, they were the victim of many attacks, both political and demonic.

In that context, praying for the peace of Jerusalem – Jerusalem being in proxy for the nation/family of Israel – was praying for peace in the conduit between God and man. If Israel was at war, then Israel could not well represent God to the nations.

The Old Covenant is now over. It was “obsolete and growing old [and] ready to disappear,” [Hebrews 8:13] two hundred decades ago. And it was completely obliterated, totally eliminated when Jerusalem was destroyed in AD70 (the mortal wound: the destruction of all genealogical records of who’s qualified to be priest or Levite).  

Fortunately, 40 years earlier, the Old Covenant was replaced by a New Covenant. In contrast, the New Covenant is not between God and one family, or between God and one nation, or between God and ANY nation. The New Covenant is between God the Father, and God the Son, and we’re included in the Covenant by being “in Christ,” in the Son.

In the New Covenant, there is only one commandment: John 15:12: “This is My commandment, that you love one another, just as I have loved you.” That’s it.

Paul, expounding on our covenant, urged Timothy, “First of all, then, I urge that entreaties and prayers, petitions and thanksgivings, be made on behalf of all men, for kings and all who are in authority, so that we may lead a tranquil and quiet life in all godliness and dignity.” This is, in his estimation, part of how we “love one another,” and he’s right.

So the question is: “Is Jerusalem part of “all men”? Are there leaders who qualify as “all those who are in authority”? Do they need prayer? In my perception, the answer is “Yes!” to all three.

So yes, we pray for Jerusalem, for the same reason, and in the same way that we pray for Tehran, or New Orleans, or Milan or Pretoria.

We pray “on behalf of all men,” and we pray “for kings and all those who are in authority.”

But really (and I suspect some people won’t like this), Jerusalem is no more special than your hometown, and Israel is now no more special than Iraq or Dubai. And simultaneously, no less special.



Fixing Our Eyes on the Good.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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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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A Season of Healing

This may be more of a “prophetic observation” than a prophetic word.

I’m observing that God is putting a substantial emphasis on healing his kids right now. It’s not like he ever walks away from this topic, but it seems to be near the top of his “to do” list now.


He’s certainly healing us physically, but I believe that the emphasis is on healing the wounds in our souls and in our spirits. Everybody can see if they’re missing a leg. It’s much more difficult to see it when we’re missing the foundations in our inner life.

There have been other seasons where a priority was placed on understanding new revelation, or on learning to hear his voice, or bringing the good news to those who haven’t heard it. And he’s not forgotten those: that’s what we’re all about: knowing our Father and making him known!

If I may extend this a bit: it’s my opinion that we’re entering – rather rapidly – into a new season where it will be “All hands on deck!” as “Life as usual” and “Church as usual” completely lose the “as usual” part.

And if we’re going to be ready to partner with what he’s revving up to be doing, then we really need our souls strong and healthy. Honestly, the likely alternative is to be content to be one of the “last move of God” that persecutes “the next move of God.”

I feel a particular need to urge folks that have been putting off dealing with issues of the soul: it’s time to quit ignoring the issue and take specific steps to get healed up.

As a first step, I encourage you to get alone with God and ask two questions:

1) Father, how do YOU see me? (Hint: if the answer isn’t about love, then it isn’t God speaking!)

2) Father, what is getting in the way of my fully experiencing that? (Hint: it’s most likely about some lies you’ve believed, either about you or about God.)

It is really appropriate to get help with these. Where? Cheat: Ask God to bring you help. But don’t run when they come to you, asking pointed questions about your inner self.


It’s no longer cool to walk with a limp.


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The Wordless Prayer of Faith

It happened during a gathering in our home. We’d had dinner some time ago, finished the dishes together, and now we were gathered in the living room, with mugs of hot tea, and the warm glow of good friendship.

It seemed good to us and to the Holy Spirit to pray for individuals, for healing. We were all good friends, so there was much laughing and interaction while we prayed. That’s just who we were, and we didn’t feel the need to be different when we were with God.

We’d just finished praying for one person, and they got up from the “hot seat” (really a “hot hassock”: a place for them to sit in the middle of the group, so we could all see and all lay hands on if called for).

One of the women kind of hobbled to the center of the room and sat gently down on the hassock as soon as it was vacant. She announced that she’d hurt her back lifting something incorrectly, and needed it healed, please. We turned our attention to her, and asked God for his prayers for her; if Jesus only said what he heard Father saying, we figured that was a good model for us, so we waited for those prayers.

And we waited.

The silence went on for a while, and it became kind of awkward. The fact that it was silence was unusual: there wasn’t laughing or joking going on; people were listening for God’s prayers for our sister’s back.

And we waited. I asked a couple of the more prophetic people if they had anything, but they didn’t. This was unusual. So we waited.

Then, quietly, a teenager in the back of the room giggled. Yeah, I thought, this is rather odd: all these adult believers can’t even pray for one woman’s back. I can see why she’d laugh.

And her laughter continued. She tried, for a moment, to stifle it, but that never works, and it didn’t work this time. OK, so she’s laughing. What is God saying, for how to pray for this back?

But the laughing teenager was herself funny, and a couple more people glanced at her and chuckled. And they fought it, and they, too, were unsuccessful. And the laughter spread. And nobody knew why.

And soon, nobody was even trying to pray for the woman’s strained back; we were just laughing, loudly, uproariously. We didn’t know why we were laughing, but it was clearly not something we had the capacity to stop!

And after four or five minutes of unrestrained hilarity, the laughter slowly faded back out, ending as it began, with the happy teenager in the corner. Maybe five or ten minutes had passed.

And the woman who had sat down with the hurt back now stood up and stretched. “Aaaah.” she announced. “That’s much better. No more pain. Thanks guys.” And she walked, confidently, completely upright, out to the kitchen for a fresh cup of tea.

We looked at each other, shrugged our shoulders, chuckled again, and decided that we like hanging out with a sneaky God.



Feast on the Bread He Provides

Have you ever seen something in a couple of different verses, and missed putting the two together?

I had that happen this week, and I felt God breathing on it. When I feel that, I try to take it seriously, even if the thing he’s breathing on isn’t exegetically pristine.

Someone pointed out this verse to me recently:

"If the Lord delights in us, then He will bring us into this land and give it to us, a land which flows with milk and honey. "Only do not rebel against the Lord, nor fear the people of the land, for they are our bread; their protection has departed from them, and the Lord is with us. Do not fear them." [Numbers 14:8-9]

Read that again: the enemies of the fulfillment of the promise of God are our bread. Our nourishment. Provision for us.

This reminds me of something Father said to me one time when I was asking him to take these kind of enemies away from me: “Son, how do you ever expect to become an overcomer if you never have anything to overcome?” May I be honest? That wasn’t actually comforting to me at the time.

But he’s talking about enemies as bread. Bread. That reminds me of another verse:

“Give us this day our daily bread.” [Matthew 6:11]

Together, these verses are suggesting a couple of truths to me:

♦ I’ve misunderstood the enemies and obstacles to the fulfillment of God’s promises. I’ve thought of them as evil, bad, nasty things. It sounds like they’re something I should embrace: my nourishment, my provision, the stepping stones into the promise.

♦ There’s a connection between these enemies and obstacles, and the provision that Jesus specifically instructs me to pray for. Seriously? Am I supposed to pray for these? Well, if the Book is true (consider Matthew 5:44) Now I’m not convinced that he’s necessarily saying, “Pray that enemies come into your life” when he commands “Pray for your enemies,” but I don’t think I can stretch it to “Pray that you’d never have enemies” either.

♦ And what’s this about *daily* bread? I heard something the other day: “A day without an enemy to overcome is a wasted day.”

♦ Can I be honest? Learning how to receive nourishment from bread is easy. Learning how to receive nourishment from enemies is more difficult. It might be, though, more important.

Father is not, I’m convinced, all that excited about us having enemies to overcome. I’m convinced that he’s far more interested in the “overcoming” part than he is about the difficulties of handling the enemies. I’m convinced that part of the reason that overcoming is interesting to him is that it brings plunder into the Kingdom.

It also rubs the enemy’s nose in God’s victory in us. That’s cool too.

But the enemies in your way, the obstacles between you and your promises, those are your bread. Learn to feast on them.



No Wonder The World Doesn’t Love Christians.

No wonder the world doesn’t love Christians.

Many of the members of the Church of North America are the loudest an most vitriolic when pointing out the sins of others: the sins of a president they don’t like, the sins of other political leaders they don’t agree with, even the sins of their own brothers and sisters, Christian leaders whom they find fault with.

No wonder the world doesn’t take Christianity seriously.

“But they’re in sin! I must warn them of their sin!”

Bosh! If you bring me a wheelbarrow of that, I can fertilize my petunias, but I won’t use it on my vegetable garden. Ewww.

First, if you’re a child of God, then you carry some of the authority of God’s family: what you declare is, in some mysterious way, empowered to come about in the world of men. If you constantly speak of their sin, guess what’s reinforced? Their sin.

But it impacts you, too: if you’re constantly pointing out sin, then guess what happens in you: your life, being focused on sin, becomes sin-centric. I can’t imagine any good thing that could come from that. I sure wouldn’t want to live with you.

If a prophet or, even better, a friend had stepped in and warned some of those we’re describing, if they were speaking with the heart of God, then they'd be speaking TO the leader they were warning, not speaking evil of him to folks on the outside. You don’t warn somebody of anything by spouting nasty things about them on Facebok.

I hate to break it to you, but President Obama doesn’t follow your Facebook page. Neither does that televangelist that you think is spending money foolishly.

It is ABSOLUTELY part of the Kingdom to go to a brother and say, "Hey, friend. I see a problem here. Can I help you with it?" This is where a real friend can really help. It may be the only place. And it isn't really an option to strangers. Sorry, but unless I know them, and know them personally, I don’t qualify.

It is ABSOLUTELY part of the Kingdom to go over their head. Instead of slandering them, we always have the option of praying for them. (Now *there’s* a radical concept!) And the reality is that my words before Father will change their behavior far more than my words before my friends.

It is ABSOLUTELY from the pit of hell to go to the highways and byways, to the coffee shops and the interwebs, and spread slanderous accusations about them. There is no good that can be done by dragging their name through the mud on Facebook. Even if the accusation is true, it's still slander, it's still the work of the Accuser of the Brethren. And let’s be honest: those who actually do need to repent will not repent just because someone posted foul things online about them.

I get it that some of the slander posted about political leaders is intended as humor. And some of it – a pretty small fraction, if I’m honest – actually is funny. But really, it’s still slander. It’s still exercising whatever “kingly anointing” that I carry as a child of God, not for their freedom, but to keep them enslaved in their sin.

The hardest part is remembering that ultimately, the only one who can make choices for their life is them. You and I cannot, no matter how deeply we care. It is not, in the end, our choice.

Does that mean that I need to shut up and submit to what I believe is terrible and unconstitutional devastation done to my country? Oh, Heavens no! Please, no! But whining accusations are not the answer.

Handling The Power of the Tongue

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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