January, 2011


26
Jan 11

Hiding Behind a Religious Veil

I’ve been thinking about Jesus’ words again, “My food is to do the will of him who sent me and to accomplish his work” (John 4:34).

I’ve written about this verse before, but I was struck by it again today. Mostly, I was struck by how easy it is for me to hide behind a religious veil:

  • “I’m praying for God to confirm what I already know to do.”
  • “I need to spend time with God, praying and meditating on His Word. Since that’s important, I’ll do that so I won’t have to do what He’s really calling me to do.”
  • “I’ll pray for God to intervene so that I won’t have to fulfill my responsibility.”

Yes, we are to lean into God! We are called to pray and to meditate! Yes, we should ask God to intervene in our lives. But if God is calling us to something, we can’t expect a blessing by hiding behind empty religion. It’s not merely “good things” that will feed us; it’s obedience to God’s call!

Our faith in God can so easily turn into empty religion that, in reality, is nothing but faithlessness. God does not want to be used an excuse. Rather, He longs to partner with His people on earth to establish His kingdom. It’s through obedience that we will be fed!


20
Jan 11

What Is It?

What is church? What is the gospel? What is the kingdom?

I’ve heard these questions many times before, but now they’re staring me in the face. Acts 2:42 AMP days, “And they steadfastly persevered, devoting themselves constantly to the instruction and fellowship of the apostles, to the breaking of bread [including the Lord’s Supper] and prayers.”

Does that sound like your experience? Are you in an environment that encourages constant devotion to:

* apostolic instruction?
* fellowship?
* communion?
* prayer?

And what is apostolic instruction? When was the last time you talked with a fellow believer and received something you would have called “apostolic instruction”?

How often do you find yourself breaking bread?

Read the next chapters. When was the last time you saw a lame man walk?

Here’s the tension. The things I’ve experienced does not define what I have not yet had the chance to experience. The fact that I haven’t experienced something does not change the reality of what’s out there. It only changes my perception and understanding of it. The challenge is that many times the things of God are not “practical” or “wise” to pursue in our own eyes, but who’s right–me or Jesus?


15
Jan 11

If

Yes, I know I said that I was going to take a break from writing, but the more that I try to keep quiet, the more compelled I feel to write.

In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus:

Who, being in very nature God,
did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage;
rather, he made himself nothing
by taking the very nature of a servant,
being made in human likeness.

And being found in appearance as a man,
he humbled himself
by becoming obedient to death—
even death on a cross!

-Philippians 2:5-8

If…

If starting a church guaranteed a move of God, more people would start churches.

If talking with a lost person guaranteed that person accepting Christ, more people would share the gospel.

If giving a job to a homeless man guaranteed that he’d do something with his life, more people would employ the homeless.

If laying down your life for another guaranteed that they would do it in return, more people would give themselves in covenant to each other.

If giving your best at work guaranteed a promotion, more people would devote themselves to their job.

If forgiving your brother or sister guaranteed that they would quit hurting you, more people would extend grace.

It doesn’t, so we don’t. But we should.

It was that kind of lifestyle that took Jesus to the cross. We are called to spill that same love to those around us, even to the point of losing our lives. It’s not because of some kind of crazy demand that God places upon us, but because it is the very essence of the heart of God, and God is crazy over us and desires our hearts to be like His.

It might get painful. It might get ugly. It might even get you killed.

Jesus did it.

Will you?


14
Jan 11

The Burden of the Lord

Over the past year, God has been teaching me about a new realm for me in the spirit, and it’s only been recently that the pieces have started making sense to me. Depending on your gift and call, some of you will identify deeply with this. For others, it might not make a lot of sense, but here it is nonetheless!

This past year, God began to open my eyes to the ways that I was misinterpreting the spirit of God. Many times when God would lay something on my heart, my mind would interpret it in the context of my current circumstances, current prayers, or current concerns. Over the past several years, God has been taking me on a journey away from unhealthy introspection, and He’s been teaching me that when He lays something on my heart, it’s not about me, but it’s about something that’s on His heart.

Take an experience from this past year. I went from experiencing a spiritual high and enjoying the presence of God, to feeling this burden in my heart. The next day or two, I probably prayed everything imaginable out of my life (and maybe even more!). It felt like something was wrong, and I was intent on figuring out what it was! And I was pretty sure something was wrong with me! At the end of the second day, I joined in a group ministry time. We got to encounter God’s presence and got to see Him reach down and touch some lives in dramatic ways. It wasn’t until after the ministry time was over that I realized that the burden was gone.

That’s when I began realizing just how much these burdens had to do with things that God wanted to do. I found that sometimes the burden had nothing to do with ministry and everything to do with just getting into the presence of God in travailing prayer and intercession.

I began to realize two things:

  • These burdens don’t necessarily mean there’s anything wrong with me.
  • God will lead me into the situation He wants me to minister. If I don’t know what to do, I come into His presence and just lay it back before Him. Until He reveals more, that’s enough.

This fall, one of my friends told me about the burdens that he sometimes carries, and something inside of me connected deeply with that. There are times when I could weep, but I have no words for what or why I’m weeping. I used to go down the psychological road and try to figure out if it was from loneliness, woundedness, or even childhood pain. Don’t get me wrong; I am human. I can get lonely sometimes, I can have bad days, and my childhood wasn’t utopia. But if that’s the place I always go when God lays a burden on my heart, I’ll always be stuck in introspection and confusion, and I’ll never get on to where God wants to take me.

Similarly, I’ve had to learn to separate my feelings from my faith. Many times my spiritual journey doesn’t feel all that great. Sometimes it’s sky-high, sometimes it’s normal, and sometimes it’s outright terrible. If I base my faith on my feelings, I limit God from being able to lay things on my heart.

There was something else my friend pointed out: the Hebrew word massa. It’s used 60 times in the Old Testament. It’s used 30 times from Genesis to Proverbs, referring mostly to carrying objects or loads, being responsible, or being in charge. However, once you get to the prophets, this word is used to refer to the “word of the Lord” or the “oracle of the Lord”. There’s a “weight” or a “burden” that’s associated with the word of the Lord.

I believe that the prophet of God has an unusual connection with the heart of God.  When God laughs, he laughs. When God weeps, he weeps. For the prophet to mature, he must learn to separate the things of his heart from the things of God’s heart. Until he does that, he’s going to be confused because he won’t be able to figure out why his feelings are so crazy. However, once he does that, he discovers that he has incredible access into the heart of God.

The prophet also has to learn to discern between:

  • A burden from the spirit of God, which I’m describing.
  • Part of the flesh that hasn’t died, which you just need to die to, so get over it and do it already!
  • Opposition from the enemy.

For example, if you’re selfish and get offended, it doesn’t mean that God’s laying a burden on your heart. It means that your flesh is alive and needs to be crucified. I can’t tell you right now how to distinguish between those, but you need to be aware of these sources, and God can bring clarity to you.

Let’s get practical. What should we do with these burdens?

First of all, I’ve heard it said (and I believe it true) that it’s easy for the prophet to pick up burdens from other people and carry them for a while. In 1 Corinthians 14:32 says, “The spirits of the prophets are subject to the prophets.” And Proverbs 25:28 says, “He who has no rule over his own spirit is like a city that is broken down and without walls.” We need to learn when to carry burdens and when to lay them down.

Second of all, I think we need to realize that God created us for himself. God talks about His people being friends of His. Part of becoming someone’s friend is getting to know who they are, how they think, and what they feel. It’s much easier to assume a “slavery” mindset that drives us to  “solve” what’s going on. However, many times I find God is looking for someone to partner with Him. He will lead me into the situation He wants me to minister to. Maybe He’ll give me special compassion for someone. Maybe He’ll just invite me into His presence, and I’ll just wait for Him there. When I’m there in His presence, sometimes He reveals something, and sometimes I just get to enjoy being with my Father-God. I find it really hard to put a formula on this, except that it requires a relationship with God!

It feels like I’m throwing a lot out there for you guys. As always, I love to hear feedback.

I might add that this same truth applies to prophetesses. It’s just easier to express myself this way.


13
Jan 11

The Early Church

Is the book of Acts merely meant to paint a picture of what we call the early church?

Read Acts 1:3, “[Jesus] presented himself alive to them after his suffering by many proofs, appearing to them during forty days and speaking about the kingdom of God.”

The church is God’s people on earth, but there’s something here bigger than that. It’s the kingdom of God. God’s people change, but the kingdom of God doesn’t change.

Maybe Acts is more about the kingdom of God and less about the early church. Yes, I know we still need the term “early church” to communicate clearly, but it seems like it makes it so easy  to miss what it’s all about–the power and presence of God.

Maybe Acts is our answer to our question of, “What is Your will on earth (as in heaven)?”


13
Jan 11

Upper-Room Experience

Many believers are waiting for an upper-room experience, but is this Biblical? Isn’t that merely waiting for what has already been given? The Holy Spirit has already been sent.

Yes, some things in Scripture are symbolic, but…? Do we not express faith through obedience rather than agonizing prayers?


9
Jan 11

Words

Once upon a time, there was a Father who wanted the very best for His children.

In fact, He wanted it so badly that He gave them powerful tools to build with. They could use them to build whatever they desired!

However, eventually they placed the tools on the shelf and became indifferent to them. Sometimes they used them for decoration. Many times people forgot they were there, and they accidentally cut themselves on it. Many people were often hurt because they had forgotten what the tools were for.

Today, the Father still desires the very best for His children, and He leaves the tools in their hands. How will you use it?


6
Jan 11

Your Food

Jesus said to them, “My food is to do the will of him who sent me and to accomplish his work.” John 4:34 ESV

Many people look to different things for spiritual food. Sometimes it’s that latest sermon, or that newest worship song, or that bestselling book. It seems we often run to things of God before we run to God Himself. Often it seems we look to those things, and we are fed by them once, but we can’t figure out why they don’t keep feeding us.

Why? Because I believe God, as teacher, wants to choose how He teaches. We want to choose our own way, when God merely wants us to obey.

Why do I say this? I have been asking God to reveal more of what it means to walk in sonship and to be free from spiritual striving (self-effort). In response, I see Him taking me into a season where I am growing in Him, but I am leaning heavily on Him taking me on whatever journey of life He desires in order to teach me what I need to know. As part of that journey, I am finding that many of the things that fed me before don’t feed me anymore.

One of those things is this blog. I am realizing now that I’ve used this blog as a way to feed myself. I feel like God is wanting to take me into a season of doing less so I can listen and obey more. For that reason, I am making the decision to pause my blogging until I feel it’s time to open it back up. (I even came very close to not even posting this.)

In the mean time, obey God, because in doing that, you will be fed. Learn to know Him as your teacher, because He desires to do that for you.

For Christ.