Friday, February 27, 2009

Running the Race

Last night, a group of us were sharing, among other things, about the concept of running this race in such a way that we might win the prize, not looking to the left or the right.

Sometimes this "looking to the left or the right" can be when we compare ourselves to others, criticize one another, or constantly compete with one another. I believe equally as detrimental is when we look to the right and to the left for our salvation. This message seems to have been capitalized, emphasized, and screamed LOUD in our ears throughout this season of faith!

Our help comes from only One (look at Psalm 121.) He desires to use those around us but His influence, direction, protection, and purpose are not dependent upon fallible humans around us! He is the faithful One Who will not fail us. According to Paul's words to the Ephesians (chapter 4), it is as we are unified in our faith in the One who is the Head of the Church that we become transformed into His likeness. Eyes set like flint on the Truth. No looking for a more tangible, seemingly easier way. No more compromise! Following hard after the One who follows even harder after us.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Prayer & Responsibility

We wanted to post a response in relation to the dozens and dozens of emails that are being currently circulated on some of the following topics. This post is not a response to any individual or intended to offend in any way! Please read with an open heart and ask Father to show you any truth He may have for you here.

These days, the Internet is streaming with urgent pleas from Christians far and wide, urging us all to come together and intercede for the land before the enemy takes over completely and we are all destroyed. We are bombarded with information from any number of sources, all of which is designed to put fear in our hearts and, for lack of a better word, manipulate us into prayer.

How is this any different from the religious institutions from which so many of us have been called away? Some of the main tactics used in the institutional religious setting are fear, shame management, and emotional manipulation. And yet Jesus is showing us in this pilgrim-trail that there is a better way. His way. Do we believe that He can speak to His children and draw them into prayer for His purposes without our help?

We serve a God who is not on an equal playing field with Satan or his principalities. While the enemy is certainly powerful and always up to no good, he is and will always remain limited. Yahweh, on the other hand, is unlimited. Although He at times limits Himself, He is not limited by us and He is certainly not limited by Satan.

Are we called to intercession and prayer? Absolutely! “The effective prayer of a righteous man can accomplish much.”

While coming together is encouraged in the new testament scriptures, I have found that the emphasis is far more on sharing life together, so that we can encourage one another, edify one another, and even remind one another of the calling with which we have been called. This has to do with everyday, living, breathing LIFE as the living Body of Christ Jesus.

I believe we are in an era where we will be responsive rather than responsible, expectant rather than trying to live up to the expectations of others. Our God is so much bigger than what we have ever realized. As our sister Beth Moore says, “the lion of Judah cannot be tamed!”

So the question is, what is He asking you to do? False responsibility, as I have learned through painful lessons, is, after all, idolatry at it’s finest. - J

Praying Afraid?

Fear. This is the word that I have begun using as a God-led, self-diagnosis for everything that I do. It is remarkable to discover the extent in which that word motivates my daily actions. I had no idea…until the Holy Spirit had me pay attention. I am not necessarily talking about “obvious” fear. The kind that is so blatant that the demonic is not even bothering to disguise itself. It is the more under-the-surface fear that has a longer-lasting, more devastating effect…because I don’t even see its ugly face.

I think, simply put, that fear is the opposite of faith. Think about it? If we fear something, is it not simply because we are not trusting that God is who He says He is in that area of our lives? I really believe it to be that simple. We believe Him, or we believe the lie that makes us afraid.

This little self-diagnostic is quite simple. I ask a question. “Am I doing this/thinking this because I am in fear?” If we are really honest with ourselves, we always know when we are acting out of fear. God is very quick to reveal those hidden places. I guess we first need to ask ourselves just how honest we want to be?

If we are not paying attention, we can be doing the most natural things, and be operating in fear. In fact, we can be doing the most “spiritual” things…fearfully.

We can be praying in fear.

Every now and then I catch a glimpse of “a call to prayer” that has the feel of Lassie running into the town barking madly because Timmy has fallen into a well. Try as I might, I just can’t bring myself to imagine God in such a panic. Does He call us to pray? Of course He does. But I believe the self-diagnostic works just as well here. Is there a sense of fear in the call?

I am forced to think that something is “off” when the church is summoned to pray immediately or else some great evil will befall us. If it is the Father, then a summons to pray will always have his divine calm attached to it, even if the call is a serious one. That is just the way He works.

We are called to be people of prayer, but that prayer is to exemplify the intimacy he desires with us above all other things. In that place, He can direct us to pray to stop any calamity the devil can throw at us, and the spirit of the prayer will be entirely different. Resting in His peace, our prayers become powerful.


Sunday, February 15, 2009

The Last Camp & The Summit

The following is a vision the Lord gave me many years ago that He has added more revelation to year after year. I feel the time has come to write it down.

I was on one of my frequent forest walks with the Lord when He opened up what can only be described as a "movie screen" before me. He showed me the base of a very large mountain where I noticed a camp. A number of tents, supplies, and people milling about. He then began to move the scene upward, where I noticed a number of other camps situated on plateaus along the way. Each camp had a small number of tents. I was reminded of Rick Joyner's vision in "The Final Quest" which also involved different "stages" on a mountain trek. I asked the Lord what the camps were, and He said, "these camps represent the various seasons I will take my sons and daughters through as they journey with me". I then asked Him what was at the summit, and He replied, "the summit of this mountain represents where I desire ALL of my sons and daughters to be." Seemed pretty straightforward. "Show me the summit?" I requested. "Not yet," He said, "First, I want to show you the last camp before the summit."

The scene moved up the rocky face of the mountain, all the while showing only a close up view of the small camps as they appeared and disappeared from view. "We are here," the Lord said. Suddenly the scene panned back dramatically to reveal the entire upper portion of the mountain. What I saw was not another camp made up of a few random tents. What I saw could only be described as New York City!

A huge metropolis built into the sides of the cliffs with the peak of the mountain emerging out of the center like a jagged skyscraper. Millions upon millions of people living, working, and going about their lives. "What am I seeing?" I asked the Lord. "The summit," He began, "may be where I desire to bring my children, but this last camp is where the vast majority of my sons and daughters stop!" I was confused at His words. "Why do they stop?" I asked. I felt the heaviness of His answer before they left His mouth. "They stop, because the last path to the summit, is where I take everything else! Their journey with Me thus far has brought life, truth, and undeniable fruit, but this last climb is where I remove every hidden thing. The very roots of all personal ambition, pride, intellectual security and false beliefs. But most importantly, on this path I remove all fear."

"Why do they not take that path?" I inquired. Instantly, I was flown from the skyward view of the city into the bustling streets and wayward busyness. I was taken right into the heart of the metropolis where the mountain rock became visible. It was a dark, foreboding place with a deep fog coming off the cold mountain rock. I noticed through the subdued light, what appeared to be a door set right into the rock face. A more menacing door I could not imagine. It was made from thick, wooden timbers, with black hinges that looked older than time. I felt compelled to open the door despite the deep desire to run as far from it as possible. The hinges popped and creaked violently as I pulled the ancient gate open and peered inside. I saw what appeared to be a dirt path between two rock walls that faded into a wall of green. It did not appear unwelcoming, until I noticed the thorns! The wall of green was a briar patch!

"Well, it's obvious why nobody wants to take that path" I thought to myself. "And yet I call all who wish to follow me to it." The Lord replied, answering my thoughts. "While it is true that this path will bring pain, those who choose it for my sake will never regret their choice at the end of it. No flesh can glory in my sight. This you know. This is the path that will tear that flesh away. Will you go?" Somehow, in the gripping fear of the moment, I knew I could trust Him. I said yes. My spirit then lead my flesh through the ancient door and onto the path...kicking and screaming.

The pain of the briar patch was very real! On this path I felt every part of me exposed. The flesh being torn off my body representing such intense fear. Fear I had no idea I even carried. Fear that kept me safe in my own prison. Fear that kept me from Him. Every known or unknown issue in my life seemed to come back to being afraid. In some way, shape, or form, fear was riddled through me, and these thorns were performing surgery.

I remember thinking to myself that there had better be one huge party at the summit of this mountain, should I make it! I wanted dancing angels, trumpet blasts, singing choirs, and a loud booming voice saying "this is my son, in whom I am well pleased!" I figured that would certainly be my reward.

After what seemed like an eternity, and with my body torn and battered, I could see the path open up. One last push up the rock face. One last patch of thorns. Let the celebration begin!

I lifted my body onto the flat rock of the summit. The rock red from my wounds. I managed to stand. I stumbled to the center of the rock table and looked around. No angels. No trumpets. No choirs. No booming voice. Just the soft whispering of a summer breeze, and a greater peace than I could have ever imagined. Men dream of living with the absence of internal fear. I doubt it could feel any better than at that moment. It was then that I heard Him. "Come to the edge of the cliff." said the Lord. As I walked over I realized I was suddenly full of strength. I looked down at my arms. Where the wounds were gaping, there were now only scars, but the scars remained.

I stood at the cliff edge and looked down. Below me was the city, sprawling and dramatic. Full of my brothers and sisters. The Lord directed my eyes to an alley in the city, close to the mountain. I could see three men there, though at a great distance. To my surprise, they were all looking up at me! They were angry and very animated. I could hear them. I was the target of their anger. "Who do you think you are?" they shouted. "You are so self-righteous, but we know who you really are. We know what you have done." Their words were very accusatory, judgmental and critical. I stood at the cliff edge shocked! I have carried a great inability to be able to handle accusations from other Christians, having been repeatedly hurt. Historically, attacks of that nature would reduce me to a fetal position. That, however, was not why I was shocked. What was eye-opening about that moment was the fact that I did not feel hurt. Not at all. I looked down at these three men with what seemed like eagle's eyes. I saw past their angry faces, their accusing words, and right into their hearts. I saw their damage! My emotions were of intense love and compassion, and absolutely nothing else! It was the most liberating moment I had ever experienced.

"On this summit," the Lord spoke, "you will see as I see. You will feel as I feel. The scars you carry from the briar patch give you my gift of compassion, heavenly wisdom, and love that surpasses understanding. Those who come here will become my most trusted vessels. They will be men and women who have not loved their lives unto death. They will be the broken jars of clay that I can pour My spirit through in this hour. They will be my chosen ones. I have called many to join me here, but few have come. For many are called, but few are chosen."

I have spent the years since the Lord showed me this on the thorny path. It has been painful. It has been revelatory. The more my fear is torn from me, the more my spirit lives. I regret not a single moment of that choice. The clearing is just ahead...


Monday, February 9, 2009


There has been a lot of talk about the "A" word lately. Brothers and sisters who are in support of the concept are very enthusiastic, largely because forming accountability groups or making themselves accountable to a few trusted fellow Christians has shown real fruit in their lives. They have been able to experience degrees of victory over different areas of temptation that, in some cases, had had control over them for years.

Those opposed to the idea of accountability within the Body are equally strong in their standpoint that accountability is more like control and a superficial solution to a deeper problem. My good friend David put it this way: "Accountability is like a prison. Sure it keeps you from sinning but it doesn't solve the problem in your heart."

Could it be that some of us would be better off to royally mess up and have our hearts exposed and healed than to keep everything in check our whole lives by a valiant effort of our flesh? Can God be trusted to keep us from temptation that is too great for us?

On the other hand, I wonder if sometimes prison is necessary for us when we find ourselves exuding behaviour that is causing unnecessary pain to ourselves or others. I suppose then the question would be, how effective is the rehabilitation process? It is not enough to lock ourselves up and throw away the key. In that place of being supported by brothers and sisters whose primary objective is to love and not to control, are we playing an active role in praying for one another and truly bearing one another's burdens to the point that we are committed to walking arm-in-arm, through thick and thin, until the victory has been had? Have we created a model for a "good Christian" that shames anyone who doesn't measure up and excludes anyone with an honest struggle from being viewed on an equal playing field?

Perhaps the invitation is not so much to "accountability" to one another but rather real, honest relationship. Where we relate to one another in our daily lives, without pretention, confessing our sins to one another and bearing one another's burdens. Fighting for one another and along side one another as we move corporately toward the only One to Whom we most certainly will give an account one day.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Of Gold and Fishes

Did anyone ever notice that little story in the book of Matthew, chapter 17, where Jesus and Peter have a dialogue regarding the problem of the tax-collectors who are about to come looking for money? Jesus sends Peter fishing, telling him the first fish he catches will have enough money to cover both of their taxes, resting in its mouth.

I've always found encouragement in that story, in that there is the knowledge that God can provide for us even from the most unlikely sources. We just have to trust Him.

A little while ago, He brought this story to mind again. This time, we went a little deeper. Stressed out about money and bills and people who needed money to pay their bills, I asked Him to show me how to pray. He said, "go fishing." I knew he was referring to the Jesus-Peter-fish story. But at first I wasn't exactly sure how to relate this advice to our current situation.

He asked, "what did Peter do for a living?"
"Well, Lord, He was a fisherman."
"Yes. A fisherman. A seasoned fisherman. Catching fish was one of the few things he knew really well."
"Okay. I think I'm getting this . . ."
"Just do what you know to do, child. Do what is in front of you to do. Be faithful, and not anxious, in your everyday tasks. In the profession I have placed you in."

And then there came the kicker.

"If you will be faithful with what I have given you to do, and choose to 'only believe', you WILL see my glory. There is a time coming and is at hand where My people will reap generous rewards from the work of their hands, when they have chosen to move forward in obedience and faith. The return from their labour will be MUCH GREATER than what it is worth in the natural realm, just as the coin in the fish's mouth was much more valuable than the fish itself."

Well, that seemed easy. Choose to believe and then do what I know to do, in obedience to Him.

The next day, He pointed out something else about this fishing excursion. Peter was used to fishing. He was used to having to catch a substantial number of fish in order to make a decent living. And yet, in this story, Jesus says, "the first fish you catch." It was not going to be difficult for Peter to catch that fish. One fish! I believe the LORD is showing us that we do not need to strive or be anxious about our work, as though we have to do our part in earning His favour. I believe He is showing us that we need only believe in Him and His great love for us. He is the One who will provide ALL THINGS. We must only believe and be obedient to what He has called us to do!

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Waiting for God

You know, the Apostle Peter wrote in 2 Peter, "The Lord is not slow about His promise, as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance." I believe he was referring to the promise of Christ's return here but I was thinking He is speaking about the character of God and how He is always patient with us and for us.

Sometimes it seems as though He has waited for too long to answer our prayers or even to fulfill His promises to us. And yet He is not slow about His promise. He is patient ~ He's actually holding back on those promises because of His patience. He allows time for repentance ~ time for us to turn from the things that are not of Him. Time for us to come in line with His purposes so that we will not miss out on the fullness of the fulfillment of those promises!

Just think of the sorrow of loss we would experience if He came with the answers and the promises and we were not ready to fully receive them! Our desperation for comfort does not mean we are ready to receive HIM!! We could very well be sitting in the muck and mire of our self-serving lives watching His promises pass us by because our hearts are hard and unable to receive Him. The answers to our prayers are multi-faceted, always taking into account the lives that are effected by our own. He carefully weaves the tapestry of redemption, always keeping in view the precious ones around us. He patiently waits for them, as He patiently waits for us . . .

Papa, bring my heart to total surrender. Let me have the gift of repentance. Cover me with Your blood of atonement. Make my heart of stone into a heart of flesh. Make me ready to receive and walk in the fullness of your promises and in the light of the revelation of the GLORIOUS Son of God!