Hit the Trail!

They were the days of the westward expansion of the United States, the era that history books talk about wagon trains and pioneer settlers. If you were done with “the old ways,” or if you wanted to be part of the new movement, the new explorations, then you moved to Missouri.

In the nineteenth century, Saint Louis, Independence, Westport and especially Saint Joseph became departure points for those joining wagon trains to the West. They bought supplies and outfits in these cities to make the six-month overland trek to California, earning Missouri the nickname "Gateway to the West". This is memorialized by the Gateway Arch in St. Louis.

These weren’t the only places you could begin your trek from. But Missouri was the place where you could find like-minded individuals to travel with, where you could gather your supplies, where you could learn the safe routes, and dangerous places. Here, you could buy (or learn to build) a Conestoga wagon, hire a scout, consult with others who have made the trip before you, and come back to teach others.

You could actually leave from any place you wanted, but if you wanted to succeed best, you’d leave from Missouri. People didn’t move to Missouri to settle (usually). They moved to Missouri so they could move beyond Missouri. Or they moved to Missouri to equip others who would be going further.

In many ways, the people of God are in a season not unlike that one. There is indeed an expansion, though it’s not toward the west; it’s toward the Kingdom of Heaven.

But the model today is not dissimilar to the model then. If you want to discover the new territory that God is unveiling – and Oh! What territory it is! – then you’ll need to prepare yourself, to stock up, to learn new skills. It will be wise for you to travel with others who have been exploring further afield, or at least to learn from their experience.

Today’s exploration isn’t physical, so we don’t actually need Conestoga wagons (which is kind of too bad, because they’re really cool!). Instead, our exploration is primarily in the realm of the Spirit. But there are still launch points, cities, strongholds where knowledge – vital knowledge, if you’re going to explore – is far more accessible than it is in the rest of the “civilized” church.

Bethel Church, in Redding California, is one such departure point. It’s not the destination, but it’s a good resource point. The people of Bethel Church – not just the leaders, the people! – are often well experienced and well equipped, and willing to share their experienced insight regarding the trails we face: Yes, God is good. No, you don’t need to preach about people’s sin. Yes, you’ll want to develop key relationships. No, don’t pay attention to the detractors who won’t take to the trail themselves.

There are other departure points, every bit as effective, as knowledgeable, as well-stocked for traveling explorers. The point is not that we must launch from this city of Bethel, the point is that the departure city is for departing. Stock up, gather together, and hit the trail.

There are new lands to discover, new freedoms to explore, new aspects of the King of Heaven and the marvelous Kingdom he’s sharing with us to experience, and then to share with others back home.

Aslan said it best: “Come further up, further in!”

The War For America: It’s Not What We Thought

I had a dream recently, a dream about what may well be the War for America.
I believe we’ve been (or at least, I’ve been) thinking the wrong way about the war that’s shaping up for America’s future. We’ve been thinking in terms of previous wars. I’m not sure we’ve been learning from the right previous wars, though.

I know that a lot of people are watching the changes coming from the top down in America, and are thinking Germany went through when Hitler came to power. And frankly, there are a lot of similarities, and this metaphor is not completely wrong. But it may not be the main battle.
of the changes that

And I’m aware that there are a whole lot of people who are thinking in the vocabulary of the American Revolutionary War, that a number of people are thinking about a Second American Revolution. Frankly, there are a number of similarities here, too, and this metaphor, also, is not completely misplaced. But this, too, may not be the main battle.

If my dream last night means anything meaningful, the primary metaphor may be more along the line of the Arab Spring civil uprisings from 2010/2011. I suspect that this may be the model that a number of government agencies most fear, and it may be the model that a number of principalities may be most specifically targeting. (

This may be the war that American intercessors most need to pray against.

The other part of the dream addressed more of the strategies that the enemy (I’m speaking in terms of Ephesians 6:12) may be using in preparation for an American Arab Spring revolution.

I saw minor battle after minor battle, skirmishes, in which the enemy would attack smaller groups: occasionally geographic groups, neighborhoods, cities. More commonly, the attacks came against social groups: groups of friends, social sub-cultures, workplace communities. And occasionally, these would be national in scope (eg. “The Gay Community”), but more often the demonic attacks were much more localized in their scope (eg. “a group of friends, many of whom are gay-friendly, who work in retail sales in this county” or “Conservative Christians in this online community”).

The nature of the battles was interesting as well: the enemy would come among their target people group an sow strife, dissention, bitterness, accusations. And of course, the targeted people would respond, and generally they fought back: fighting against the works that the enemy was doing among them.

And very often, more often than I expected, the enemy would be overcome, defeated, and would withdraw. But when he withdrew, it was always with a knowing smirk, and I realized that his goal was not to win the battle. His goal was to leave something behind among the people that he’d targeted.

There was nearly always less unity among the group the enemy attacked, after the attack was over, and he had withdrawn. But more toward his goals, there were spirits left behind, minor strongholds among the people, unseen, like a fifth column (, awaiting later, more significant battles.

In the dream, Fear was the most common stronghold that the enemy was using against people, and he was sowing minor, even tiny, strongholds of fear all over the country, in individuals, in small social communities, in any people group he could influence. And while he waited for some sort of greater conflict – and he almost didn’t care if it was a Second Revolutionary War, or an American Arab Spring, or if some egomaniacal leader tried to follow the model of Hitler and conquer the world – his minions of fear worked among the people, and that was his real tactical objective.

Fear would manifest as suspicion of others, as dissention from others. Fear would open people’s ears to his lies, and close their minds to the truth. Fear made people hate and distrust and separate themselves from other people.

I invite the prophetic community to judge this as a prophetic word: do you hear something of God in this? I’m not so concerned about every little detail as I am about the big picture: that the enemy is sowing fear among people, specifically among the American people, at a prodigious rate, often “below the radar,” out of the public eye: this is a primary strategy.

And I invite the intercession community to take this before the Lord, and ask Him how to respond: how shall we pray against these kinds of things? More importantly, what, specifically, shall we pray for?

A Curious Contrast

It's a curious thing to walk in great weakness and in great peace simultaneously.

Heads up: a bit of self-disclosure going on here. It’s probably good that I’m comfortable with not “feeling the victory” every minute of every day. Right now, I’m more-than-usual in touch with my weakness as a man, my vulnerability as a human being. I’m really aware of the myriads of enemies coming against me.

Don’t jump to conclusions here. We’re used to interpreting these kinds of things as some sort of failure, where we need to rescue the person feeling such things. I’m not sure I need rescuing. I’m not sure I’m in trouble, really. Sure, enemies are there, always. I'm maybe more aware of it now, but I'm still separated from it, like watching it on a TV; a small, black & white TV: it's there, but it lacks reality, it lacks impact.

I’m not broken. I don’t really need fixing.

I know who I am in Christ. I know my victory in Christ. I’m not a victim of emotions or of demonic interaction; in fact, there are some demons hobbling around with my boot print embedded rather deeply in their buttocks right now, because they though I was vulnerable. Their mistake.

At the same time that I’m experiencing my weakness, my vulnerability, I’m completely clear that I’m SO much more than a conqueror in Christ. I am absolutely, positively, gloriously loved by the most amaaaaazing Daddy in the Universe, and I LIKE it that way!

This is an illustration in irony: it’s going to sound religious, but I think what may be going on is a peeling away of some of the religious “Man of God” garbage that I’ve grown up with. You know: “God’s man for the hour, filled with paste and flour.” I think some of that religious persona, some of psychological buffalo sprouts are landing in the recycling bin where it belongs.

What a wonderful contrast the Kingdom is. I can be in touch with my own inability, my own vulnerability, and still be a full participant in the almighty, awesome, kick-the-devil’s-teeth-in power of my Papa.

Do we have any Firefly fans among us? Any Browncoats? I’m sure you remember how River Tam is the weakest, most dependent character in [the best science-fiction TV series ever! And…] the movie, Serenity.

Do you remember River’s interaction with the demonic bad-guy Reavers toward the end of the movie? Here's a refresher of her great weakness:
( [warning: violent content!])

Maybe that’s a decent illustration of what it means to be weak, dependent. Maybe it’s OK to be weak and dependent, after all. Particularly when we're passionate.