Horns or Craftsmen?

Recently, there have been a number of prophetic words about a season of shaking that has been coming on the people of God. We’ve been living out of Hebrews 12 for a number of years, in that God has been disciplining / discipling / training His children, requiring us to grow up.
Now, the prophets have been saying we’re living in the latter part of the chapter:
At that time his voice shook the earth, but now he has promised, "Once more I will shake not only the earth but also the heavens." The words "once more" indicate the removing of what can be shaken – that is, created things – so that what cannot be shaken may remain.
If God is shaking both the earth and the heavens, then it is likely that many of His people are feeling shaken. But He declares that He’s shaking for a reason: He’s removing the things that can be shaken – the things that tempt us to trust them rather than Him – so that we will trust in the things which cannot be shaken, the only things left to us.
It is into this context that I ran across Zechariah, chapter one:
Then I raised my eyes and looked, and there were four horns. And I said to the angel who talked with me, "What are these?"
So he answered me, "These are the horns that have scattered Judah, Israel, and Jerusalem."
Then the LORD showed me four craftsmen. And I said, "What are these coming to do?"
So he said, "These are the horns that scattered Judah, so that no one could lift up his head; but the craftsmen are coming to terrify them, to cast out the horns of the nations that lifted up their horn against the land of Judah to scatter it."
The prophet has been writing the prophecies of comfort for God’s people that God is speaking to him. He looks up and what does he see: the horns that are coming against God’s people. He’s in the midst of prophesying blessing on them ("The LORD will again comfort Zion, And will again choose Jerusalem.") and he looks up from that and the first thing he sees is trouble; he sees horns scattering God’s people. The horns are a symbol of strength, in this case, specifically of peoples (“nations”) that exalt their own strength against the people of God.
But God corrects his vision: God shows him the rest of the picture, four craftsmen that the prophet had not yet seen. The enemy had indeed scattered God’s people, shaken their focus, divided them. But the craftsmen God pointed out had stopped them: first they terrified the horns (and presumably the powers that wielded them), then they cast them out of the land.
We’re like that sometimes, especially when things are getting shaken: we look around and see the things that are coming against us better than we see the provision of God. We quickly see the strength of the enemy and miss the greater work that God is doing.
Often we whine, “God, make it stop!” and the result would be enemies in our midst that are not as effective at what they’re doing: they’re still working, but their work is limited; we tolerate a degree of the enemy’s work, and we have the strength in ourselves to resist him.
God, however, is seldom satisfied with compromise in us, and does not appear to value our capacity to accomplish things – even good things – in our own strength. Therefore, He lets the enemies run rampant for a while, teaching us that our own strength is insufficient; then He terrifies them and boots them out. So instead of partially effective enemies among us, we have terrified enemies that have been completely removed from us. So tell me, which is the better condition?
In this season of shaking everything that can be shaken, it’s easy to see the shaking first and best. It’s easy to feel shaken, to feel our grip slipping from the things that we turn to for comfort, to feel the panic rising. Those things are in fact actually happening; in fact, they’re the goal of the process: that we would trust in nothing except God. These are actually answers to our prayers. And still we feel the panic as our grip on our habits and our crutches slips.
I’ve been praying, “Lord, show me the craftsmen. Let me see the things that You’re doing, not just the things that scare me, not just the things that the enemy is doing that shake me. But whether I see it or not, please complete Your work!” For when the enemy shakes us, he’s usually indirectly accomplishing the purposes of God, and in fact, it’s happening in this season.
Some of us are doing especially well at discerning the shaking, and we need to better see the provision of God, the results that He’s leading us into. Others among us are hardly noticing the shaking, whether because they have such a light hold on the temporal things being shaken, or because they have such a good grip on God; I admire them, and I aspire to be more like them: fixing my eyes on the things that God is doing, even when I have to push the horns out of the way to see Him.

The Clock on the Computer

I have a friend who is really enamored of the clock on his computer. It’s his favorite thing about his new computer.

It’s kind of weird. He spent thousands of dollars on the computer. It’s got several gigabytes of memory, dual quad-core processors, many terabytes of hard drive space, a luscious 24” high resolution LCD monitor, and a pair of studio monitors for speakers. I have had some difficulty not being jealous.

And his favorite part is the clock in the task bar at the bottom of the luscious 24” high resolution LCD monitor. The clock! He really loves his computer because of the clock. He spends a lot of time online, looking for ways to tweak it: now his clock displays the time in fancy script, that changes typeface and color along with his whim.

I understand that, as they say, “Time is of the essence.” And I know that his task-bar clock is synchronized with the atomic clock in Denver on a regular basis, so it’s always accurate.

He doesn’t know what he has. He certainly doesn’t appreciate it. I’m afraid this fascination makes him look rather foolish to his friends, especially those that know computers.


I have another friend that married his wife because, well, frankly because he wants to have sex with her. She’s beautiful, and as he points out, she has big … er… feminine characteristics which are … um… quite prominent.

It’s kind of weird. She actually is a fascinating person: erudite, congenial, funny, thoughtful. She has written a couple of books; they weren’t bestsellers, but they pay her a small, steady income. She keeps a blog that has some amazing insights into our culture and government.

And she completes him in ways that he has no comprehension, enamored as he is of her … “prominent feminine characteristics.”

He really loves his wife, though I think it’s mostly that he loves her enchanting feminine qualities. He spends lots of money on her, and on events where his friends get to see him with her. He buys her lots of clothes, many flowers; his jeweler owes his success to my friend's purchases for his wife. He even encouraged her to consider cosmetic surgery recently, to enlarge those famous feminine qualities. In his devotion, he is missing most of the finer qualities of this stunningly patient and loving woman.

I understand that the physical aspect of marriage is delightful, even spectacular (and no, I’m neither single nor a newlywed!). And I know that loving your wife is a glorious thing for a husband, and that enjoying it is part of His command.

He doesn’t know what he has. He certainly doesn’t appreciate her. I’m afraid this fascination with her physical attributes makes him look rather foolish to his friends, especially those that actually know his wife.

I know some folks who have experienced quite a bit of the revival that God is pouring out right now. They travel from meeting to meeting looking forward to shaking and quivering and falling down when the presence of God touches them, or to receiving yet another prophetic word from the minister-of-the-week.

It’s kind of weird. It seems that there’s so much more to God than just shaking when He touches you. They aren’t particularly growing in character or maturity, though they certainly are in love with God. Often enough, they fall to the floor under His presence. It’s not fake, either on their part or anyone else’s.

They’ve stood in line and received prophetic words and impartations from hundreds of ministers in perhaps thousands of revival services, and yet they haven’t caught on that the prophetic words have mostly been God inviting them to intimacy, to a deeper personal relationship with Him. They’ve fallen deeply in love with one aspect of a relationship with God, and an aspect that looks to me to be fairly shallow: it's true, but it misses so much of who He is and what He's done.

They don’t know what they have. They certainly don’t appreciate all that God is and does for them. I’m afraid this fascination makes them look foolish to some of their friends, especially those who are looking for a greater relationship with God themselves.

OK. True confessions: the first guy isn’t real. The others actually are, though I’ve obviously over-simplified their stories. (The guy in the second story has grown beyond the middle-aged puberty of this illustration, thank God!)

The point is real simple: we get so caught up with some of the good things God has done for us that we forget to go deeper with Him. (Well, maybe with our spouses, too, but that’s only a side point.)

And the antidote is equally simple: let’s ask God to show us new things about Himself, about His love for us, about how He would like to reveal Himself to us this year. Let’s look for new breadth, new depth in God. I know a man (true!) who prays every January, “Lord, who do you want to be for me this year?” and it changes him: he walks in a greater intimacy, a greater wisdom than most of the men and women of God I know.

Too many of our Christian brothers and sisters know God, but have stopped learning, have become comfortable with our limited view of God, and therefore a limited relationship with Him. Let’s not do that. Let’s keep learning who He is, what He’s about. How can we upgrade our worship? How can we Know Him better?

Joy Dawson used to say, "God is greater than your current understanding of how great He possibly could be!" Let's go find out!


Honor in our Relationships

Our culture has grown to embrace a whole lot of technology that previous generations neither had nor imagined. It’s changed our society, our culture, our families.

I really don’t like the fact that so much of our culture is informed by television. Now our kids learn about relationships from sitcoms, reality shows, and made-for-TV dramas. They used to learn about how to relate to their friends by watching their parents relate to their friends, or by relating to others themselves. Now, we learn how people relate from America’s Next Top Model or House MD.

I have to admit: I have pretty much never regretted blowing up my TV a few decades ago. The fruit has been very pleasing.But I’m not talking about television today; I want to talk about our relationships.

I have a core value that says that relationships – particularly relationships among believers – need to be things that work for our growth, our well-being.

The relational skills we pick up from Gregory House make for engaging entertainment (we love to hate misanthropes like him), but such relationships fail to “encourage one another.”

The catfights on Top Model (or The Apprentice, or Project Runway, or how many others?) don’t qualify as encouraging relationships.

This may come as a surprise, but the relational skills we learn from the television are not good examples for our lives. They’re designed, crafted, for entertainment, to capture our attention, and to discourage us from flipping the channel to some other over-the-top show.

I’m fascinated by the reverse lesson: those are the world’s ideas of relationships. What would godly relationships look like?

I’m captured by the idea of relationships among us that are focused on building each other up. Since we live in an era in which prophetic gifts are commonplace, I’m captured by the idea of prophetically discerning the calls, anointings, plans for blessing that God has established for others, and relating to each other on the basis of what God says about them, rather than what we see or hear.

In fact, I’ll go this far: we can relate to each other from at least three different perspectives, three different viewpoints that I can work with as I relate to you:

· What’s best for me in this relationship? What do I need in this? How can I relate to you in such a way that I get my own needs met? I see you as a means to my ends, as a repository of resources to meet my needs. Sounds pretty ugly.

· What’s best for you in this relationship? I’m not sure that this perspective has any real value beyond the theoretical. I have neither the capacity to discern what it is that you truly need, nor the means to provide it, but it always sounds good to say I’m working for your best interests.

· How does God see you? I think of this as the prophetic perspective: I can’t know all that God knows of you, of course (my brain would explode), but I can know what He chooses to show me. And if I choose, I can relate to you as if you already were the person that God has described you as.

I wonder what would happen if we stopped trying to persuade each other of how we’re right (and therefore you’re not), and instead focused on “What can I do to help you become this person God sees you as today?”

For example. Let’s assume that you’re an ordinary with ordinary issues, like you get angry when people treat you unfairly, or if you haven’t had enough sleep. Or whatever.

Now let’s imagine that we have a chance to pray together, and in that process, God reveals that a) He loves you a whole lot (no surprise there), and that b) He sees you as a leader among His people. Now if I’m working on the concept of relating to you according to a prophetic perspective, then I’ll treat you as someone loved by an omniscient God, and as a leader and teacher.

I’ll treat you with honor. Yeah, I really don’t want to piss off the guy that’s in love with you, but that’s the short view. More significantly, as a lover of God myself, I probably want to love the people that He loves, and that includes you. It’s true theologically, but if He’s pointed it out personally, then it’s an even more powerful motivator.

I’ll also regard you as a leader, even though right now the characteristic that’s most evident about you is that you get angry a lot. God sees you as a leader, and if I’m going to agree with Him, then I’m going to see you – and therefore treat you – as a leader as well. I’m going to respect your opinion. Heck, I’m going to listen to your opinion!

Note that God has not put you into a position right now of leader. Those are your calling, your destiny. You can grow into those (or not), but they’re part of how God sees you. I don’t defer to your leadership above that of my existing leaders.

In at least three ways, I treat you differently because I now see you according to the revelation of your calling as leader:

A) I treat you with the respect that a leader and teacher would deserve. If the President walked into our room, how would I respond? If a business leader I respected walked in, how would I respond? How much of that response would be appropriate with you? More, how far can I push it: How much of that respect, that honor, could I get away with before it became inappropriate or excessive?

B) I look for signs of a leadership anointing in your life. I expect leadership gifts from you. Subject to a whole lot of other things (like the role of established leaders in both of our lives), I look for the gift to show up.

C) I look for opportunity to equip the gift. If I have the authority, I might give you opportunity to demonstrate the gift in a limited setting. I might see if I can find an environment where you can benefit from training in leadership; I might invite you to hang around with leaders, and talk with leaders.

If we want to do what God is doing, to agree with what God is saying, how can we do that in our relationships?