Tuesday, November 23, 2010

A Work of Art

A thought occurred to me, as I was explaining to my girls that it is always a good idea to stop and ask Papa for ideas when trying to be creative.  There we were, surrounded by an array of dollar store paint, brushes, and canvasses, donned in Daddy's old dress shirts, ready for action.  Hope had decided she'd like to try abstract art, while Promise was going to work on this vision she'd had while praying earlier, and the two little ones were eager to find faster and more elaborate ways of creating the colour "brownish" at the centre of their masterpieces.

As we stood there, brushes in hand, I found myself sharing with them a concept He had been working on in my own heart for quite some time.  We are all creators.  Made in the image of the Creator. When the earth was formless and void, His Spirit moved across the surface of the waters.  In the darkness, He spoke, "Let there be light," and there was light!  The massive canvass, with no form, no shape, no colour, lay stretched out before Him. Endless possibilities.  And He created something magnificent.

That same Spirit breathed life into mankind.  That same Spirit raised Jesus from the dead.  That same Spirit lives inside of us!  The very same.  The one and only.

He surrounds us like the air we breathe.  He is in all and through all and surrounding everything.  He is infinitely powerful, infinitely creative, and infinitely loving.  When we receive Him - accept His precious gift - when we turn from darkness to light, it is like being born again.  For the first time, as a newborn baby exits the warmth and dark of the womb, opens her little mouth, and takes in that first blessed gasp of air, she is born.  As a human, we have this opportunity and this experience to exit the darkness and enter into the Kingdom of God.  We come up out of the perceived safety of our understanding and we open up our precious mouths and take in an enormous breath of Him.  From that moment on, we breathe Him.  He's like the wind.

So we stopped for a moment, looking at our own blank canvasses, and we held our breaths.  We held them for ten seconds or so.  And then we took in a big breath.  That's better.

Some things in life call for the intensity and tenacity of fasting and focused prayer for a significant period of time.  And yet, so often, I find it is in those simple moments of every-day; those tasks that may seem mundane, or those opportunities that stretch us a little (or a lot), when I just need to remember to stop and to breathe Him.  In and out.  Out and in.  And let the light come.

"Father, live in me to day.  Explode out of my being with your creative energy and love.  Show me how you see things.  Show me how you see "them".  Let me be the one you designed me to be.  Alive and vibrant and overflowing with your goodness."


Thursday, October 28, 2010

Light in the Darkness

I believe we are in a season that the Lord is birthing many things, and this is going to involve things which have been hidden being brought out into the light.  I keep hearing the verse in Luke where Jesus says, "There is nothing hidden that will not be revealed."

This can be very frightening for some, especially if you are terrified of the hidden things in your heart being brought into the light.  I am writing this to say, do not be afraid!  The fear of exposure has kept Christians and the Church at large in bondage for far to long!

Jesus is fiercely passionate for you and He will not humiliate you.  He fights for your freedom.  I believe this is a season of invitation and birthing.  The invitation is to surrender to Him, and to allow Him to bring His perfect glowing light into the secret places of pain in your heart.

There is a verse in Ephesians that goes something like this:

"Do not participate in the unfruitful deeds of darkness, but instead even expose them . . . but all things become visible when they are exposed by the light, for everything that becomes visible is light. For this reason it says, 'Awake, sleeper, And arise from the dead, And Christ will shine on you.'"

And here's the part that we so often miss.  Not only does His light bring healing to the dark places in your soul, BUT THE GLORY THAT HAS BEEN HIDDEN INSIDE OF YOU WILL BE RELEASED!!  There is great brightness and power inside of you that lingers, waiting, almost trapped behind the darkness.  This is the brightness that Satan has opposed and sought to keep hidden, even from you.  But now we are in the season of release.  The season of exposure.  And the season for His manifest presence to be made known to the earth!!


Saturday, October 16, 2010

What Happens if we Deny Him?

The Truth Unveiled ~ The Mystery of a Loving God
What Happens if we Deny Him?

26"So do not be afraid of them. There is nothing concealed that will not be disclosed, or hidden that will not be made known. 27What I tell you in the dark, speak in the daylight; what is whispered in your ear, proclaim from the roofs. 28Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather, be afraid of the One who can destroy both soul and body in hell. 29Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground apart from the will of your Father. 30And even the very hairs of your head are all numbered. 31So don't be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows.”
Matthew 10: 26-31 (NIV)

I hear Jesus speaking to a group of intimate friends here. He sits on a nearby rock, leaning forward with his forearms resting on his knees. He whittles a piece of wood. These are men that he has made himself known to. Men that he has walked with, laughed with, cried with, triumphed with. They have lain with their head on his chest. They are his best friends. His mighty men.

Now he will send them out on their first mission without the comfort of his physical presence beside them, and he speaks to them with fierce compassion. He is inspiring his friends before they go out into battle.

He reminds them (and us) that he is speaking truth and mysteries to them in the secret places and is releasing them to proclaim what he has shown them. The truth that will usher in salvation to a lost and dying world.

He sees their fear and he laughs. Imagine His fiery eyes flash with loving passion as he says, “Why are you afraid of men that can threaten to kill your body? It’s meaningless! Empty threats. You serve the God of the universe. You belong to Him. The all-powerful, ever present, all knowing Father, who happens to be fiercely in love with YOU. He could wipe out the entire planet, including you and your would-be assassins, with a single breath. And yet, of course, He will not. Even a little bird that you wouldn’t give a second thought to, does not go unnoticed by Him. Nothing can happen to that little creature that is outside of His power. His love is that expansive. That magnificent.

“Because of Our great love for you ~ the love that I have shown to you ~ you never need to be afraid. Nothing escapes Our notice. Do not EVER be afraid.”

32"Whoever acknowledges me before men, I will also acknowledge him before my Father in heaven. 33But whoever disowns me before men, I will disown him before my Father in heaven.”
Matthew 10:32-33 (NIV)

The word translated here as “disown” is also translated as “deny” in the KJV and NASV.

1) to deny
2) to deny someone
    a) to deny one's self
        1) to disregard his own interests or to prove false to himself
        2) act entirely unlike himself
3) to deny, abnegate, abjure
4) not to accept, to reject, to refuse something offered

For years and years, God’s children have read these verses and they have incited fear. “If I deny Him ~ if I do not tell all my friends, neighbours, and grocery store clerks about Him ~ He will deny me. I could go to hell! Or at least I will suffer.” And fear is a great motivator, isn’t it?

Unfortunately, it is also short-lived, isolates us from God, and leads to performance mentality and a misguided belief that we are saved by works and not by grace.

Did we forget what Jesus just finished saying? “Do not be afraid. You are infinitely valuable to me and to my Father.”

The very next place the word “deny” or “arneomi” is used in Matthew’s book is when Peter denied Jesus. Several times, and with vigor. And yet, does Jesus deny him? No! In fact, he is on his way to suffer violently in his stead.

And not only that, but after he descends into hell, defeats death, and rises from the grave, he seeks Peter out. He invites him again into a lifelong love affair. Three times Peter denied him before men. Three times Jesus asks Peter, “Do you love me?”

Do you remember that Peter confessed to Jesus earlier that day that he would ‘die for him’? And Jesus looked at him and said, “No you won’t. Within the next 24 hours you will deny me three times.”

Peter loved Jesus and recognized him as the Messiah. With all of his heart, he wanted to die for him, just as with all our hearts we want to stand up for him in front of our peers. But works of the flesh are never enough. In fact, they are actually sin (“Whatever is not from faith is sin.” (Romans 14:23, NASV))

For all our failures and misguided attempts to earn our salvation, we are loved by a Good Father. A God whose love for us is unmatched, unrelenting, and has only been glimpsed briefly by a people who have been taught to fear Him and regard him from a distance.

So having established that it is not as cut and dry as we have thought, and that Jesus is not strumming his fingers, waiting for us to deny him so he can reject us, I wonder why he would use this language.

I wonder if this doesn’t have to do with independence. That the denial that Jesus is talking about, while pointing at his friends with the end of the whittled wood, one by one, has to do with them choosing their own path. Perhaps this is the reason NIV translators have chosen the word “disown.”

It is also of note that the literal translation for verse 32 goes like this:

“Everyone therefore who shall confess in Me before men, I will also confess in him before My Father who is in heaven.”(NASV)

I am reminded of one of my favourite places in scripture when John records these words:

“I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you. After a little while the world will behold Me no more; but you will behold Me; because I live, you shall live also. In that day you shall know that I am in My Father, and you in Me, and I in you. He who has My commandments and keeps them, he it is who loves Me; and he who loves Me shall be loved by My Father, and I will love him, and will disclose Myself to him . . .

“Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, unless it abides in the vine, so neither can you, unless you abide in Me. I am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in Me, and I in him, he bears much fruit; for apart from Me you can do nothing.”
(John 14:18-21, 15:4-5)

Perhaps these verses that talk about confessing or denying, acknowledging or disowning, speak of abiding. Jesus is always in communion with His Father. He is the Father. On a moment-to-moment basis, He communicates with the Father and Spirit about each one of us. They are one.

“Is Peter acknowledging Me right now in this moment? Is he ‘in Me’? Or is he in his flesh, trying desperately to please me?”

We can to nothing apart from Him, including “acknowledging Him before men.”

“Everything I have offered you: peace, righteousness, joy, empowerment ~ all of these things are yours if you choose to abide in me and enter into this marriage with Us. But it must be your choice. Just as a husband and wife stand up before men and choose one another openly, you too are given the choice to choose. I will honour your choice. I will deny you these gifts and this empowerment if you try to operate apart from Me, because of My great love for you. There can be no other way.”

The kicker is, we know from His response to Peter’s denial, that he looks directly into our souls and sees our hearts’ desires. Even if we have a moment of weakness or fear, He will find us. Even if, like a lost sheep, we wander away from the flock, He will find us. His love is relentless. He took on every consequence of sin upon Himself. He descended to hell in our stead. And He will never stop fighting for our hearts.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

When God Stops Running

I loved the books by Tommy Tenney that talked about "following hard" after God.  They started me on a journey into His heart from which I have never returned.

Somewhere along that journey, I realized that sometimes I run out of steam.  Sometimes I can't follow hard.  Sometimes I stop believing.

And then I found out something amazing.  He stops moving.

Imagine running beside Jesus, through a mighty wind and rain.  You are both dressed in battle gear, ready for war.  Ready for the War on Religion.  Ready for the Love War.  And you lose strength.  He does not run ahead of you though, but stops.  Turns.  Lifts you by the shoulders.

He looks into your eyes and all you can see is peace.  Peace in the storm.  And you realize that He is not in a rush at all.  He will wait there, seeing right into your soul, right into your very core, for as long as it takes.


Monday, August 23, 2010

Our Good, His Best

There was a common phrase floating around in the 1990's and it echos still, from time to time, among friends and Christian acquaintances, normally met with nodding heads and renewed resolutions to apply its truth to our everyday lives and decision making.

The phrase is, simply, "Our good is the enemy of God's best."

I wonder though, if we have really thought about the implication of this statement.  I always nodded my head as well, agreeing that I should hold out for what God had for me and not push my way or what I wanted.  I believed (and still do) that He has a view that far surpasses mine, and I would do well to just wait for His good and perfect will to come about in my life.

As I was pondering this question and, in fact, explaining it to two of my children, I realized that I had not paid enough attention to the word "enemy" in this statement.  As I went over the meaning of the words and how they might affect our lives and decisions, I realized, the good things that we go ahead and work out for ourselves instead of waiting for Him are not just a distraction or a meaningless alternative, they are actually fighting against that which He would have for us.  Our plans and choices that we make outside of Him ~ independently from Him ~ because we are tired of waiting or just plain don't trust Him; they are the enemy of His perfect will in our lives.

Our good is not just an inferior choice to waiting for His best.  Our "good" opposes His best.  It is simply another way in which our insidious independence holds us back from the glory that He is constantly inviting us into.

And once again, as I ponder this truth, I realize that the only answer to this problem ~ the only way that we can stop insisting on barreling forward and pressing our will upon Him ~ is if we will learn to trust Him.  And we can only do that when we know how deeply and immeasurably we are loved.


Wednesday, July 21, 2010

The Fight

I believe built into the heart of every man is the desire to fight.  To fight for justice, to fight for victory.  To protect the helpless, and to win the beauty.  No matter how damaged his heart might be, or how deeply the lie has been rooted that tells him he is no warrior at all, a warrior he is and always will be.

How does our enemy divert the warrior then?  For certain, he works hard to convince us we are not as glorious as we once suspected.  And what other trick does he play?  How does he keep us from inflicting the kind of damage that cripples his forces and takes back the ground that was never meant to be overrun by darkness?

Perhaps simply by providing the opportunity for a counterfeit victory?  Is it possible that a spirit warrior could become so entranced by his virtual game, so devoted to his winning sports team, so wrapped up in a player who actually defeats no one of consequence in the spirit world ~ is it possible that his God-given drive to defeat the true enemy of our souls, is satiated by victory that is only a mere shadow . . . a reflection . . . a diversion?

What if it is a trance?  A socially cultivated, acceptable, and perpetuated trance?  What if there is a darker force behind it all?  An enemy who sees your value ~ your potential ~ your threat?  The glory you once suspected might be hiding inside your skin and bones might actually be even stronger and larger and of more consequence than you ever thought possible. . .

A great awakening is coming . . . be among those who hear the call.  It's time to fight a battle that will mean something.  A battle of epic proportions.  A battle that will make you come more alive than you could ever dream.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

The Narrow Path

I love the line from Robert Frost's Poem, "The Road Not Taken":

"Two roads diverged in a wood, and I-
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference."

It reminds me of when Jesus said, "Enter through the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and the way is broad that leads to destruction, and there are many who enter through it.  For the gate is small and the way is narrow that leads to life, and there are few who find it."

I think sometimes we think that God's perfect plan for our lives is broad.  That we can dance around and across this great breadth of His will and still experience every good thing He has planned for us.  And yet this is not the example we see in scripture.  It is not what we see in the lives of countless fathers of faith, or even in the life of Jesus Himself.  There seemed to always be one true way; one true path, always waiting, always inviting the Believer to follow, and often alone.

 It is also not the experience of my life.  Many times, I have found myself at a convergence of paths, and there is, more commonly than not, a broad path and a narrow one.  Our nature wants to take the path of least resistance, and to follow the beaten trail.  Why does He beckon me down the narrow path, into the unknown?

Perhaps because it is an exercise in faith.  Perhaps it is simply evidence that the majority of mankind doesn't dare to ask.  Perhaps it is because we don't realize that the reward for following Him through that narrow, needle-like gate is an intimacy with Him that cannot be obtained any other way.

We were created for the unknown.  We were created to have our lives cast in reckless abandon at His feet.  To surrender our independent will to Him, and to live in constant communion with Him.  The broad path requires much less reliance upon Him.  It promises clearly conceivable results and the myth of control.  The narrow path, on the other hand, is a mystery, with the only solace being found in the eyes of the one who leads us.

Have you found yourself at a crossroads in your own life?  Do you hear the voices of your comrades urging you onto the well-beaten trail that they all have taken?  Listen harder.  Linger a moment.  Can you hear Him whisper?  He is there, just beyond the other gate.  Mystery.  Risk.  Adventure.  And the most trustworthy guide you will ever know.


Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Counterfeit Lover

Are you afraid to imagine that God really is that good?  Have you caught a glimpse of the reality that all your hopes and dreams are captured with one look at His face?  Do you know that He is not a "He"?  That the Creator is not just male or just female.  God is the "I am".  He is everything.  We see glimpses of Him when we see a valiant soldier rush the battle field in defense of innocence and justice.  We see glimpses of Him when we see a father dig his shovel into the ground for the millionth time, sacrificing to provide food and shelter for his family.   We see the warrior, the prince, the saviour.

We also see God when we see dance ~ we hear Him move through tones and beats and heartfelt lyrics.  And yes, we see God when we catch a glimpse of a three-year-old turning circles in the middle of the room, or when we see a stunningly beautiful woman walk gracefully with her bare feet, breaking gentle waves on a shoreline. And we see God when she grasps the side of a hospital bed and wails as she gives birth to a beloved child.

Because we were all made in God's image.

If you are married, you may know that your spouse has the opportunity to funnel God's love for you in a tangible way.  And you will most certainly know that he or she will fail miserably from time to time.  This does not change God's love, intentions, or intimate presence in your life.

Is there a chance that I can have every need met by God?  Is there a chance that you can?  Can God be the rescuer?  Can He be the comforter?  The best friend?  The lover?  The nurturer?

From the beginning of time, Satan has offered up counterfeits to the real thing.  The trouble with counterfeits is that, they are not only disappointing and "not as good" as the real thing, they are actually completely worthless.  They offer nothing but the promise of something that will never materialize.

How many of us have experienced this in life?  Always hanging on to this hope that the spouse or the friend or the job or the idea will pan out?  It will never pan out.  Because we were not made to be filled or fulfilled by anything but Him.

Look around you and consider your disappointment in life.  Consider how others have failed you.  Your husband didn't protect you.  Your wife didn't nurture you.  Can you squint your eyes just a little and see?  Can you see Him come riding into the battlefield of your life, sword in hand, swinging wildly at all the idols you have set up that have done nothing but keep you from the joy that He has for you?  If you will let Him, He will free you.  The sound of the broken stone hitting the ground may be more than slightly daunting.  But it will be worth it.

Are you afraid that you are letting your imagination run too free?  Afraid you are hoping for too much from Him?  That maybe God can't be everything you need or desire?  Afraid He couldn't possibly fill that gaping hole in your chest?

Rest assured, He can, and then some.  He is able to far exceed anything you could ever hope for or even imagine.  Even the apostle Paul thought so (if you want, you can read it in His letter to the Ephesians.)  So dream away.  Dream that the Creator is closer than your skin, more enamored with you than Romeo and Juliet.  Dream that God is the most beautiful, most all-encompassing, most fulfilling being in all of creation.  Don't be afraid to imagine too wildly because you can't.  Every hope and dream in your heart is, and always has been, a cry for Him.


Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Resting Place

Once there was a day when I lost everything else

The day my life-raft drifted away
And left me drowning
What I thought was certain
Became a shadow
The secret princess stopped her dancing
I lost my grip
Interlocking fingers fell apart
And there I was alone
Days turned into months
And I sit and watch an old friend talk
about remaining true to his heart
No matter what the cost
And I realize this is not what I want
What I want is Him
He burned a cross into my heart
Years ago
And I don’t want what I want
I want what He wants
I want Him
Because I was not made a whole
I was made a part
And I only fit Him
Every other piece torn away
Left His place open
My broken heart exposed His resting place
And now the secret dancer rises
Only it’s not as much a secret anymore
The sound rises
Her arms lift
The light strengthens
And she realizes she doesn’t need her life-raft
An eternal spirit touches
the fingertips of God
The earth trembles
And even as the pain intensifies
The brokenness reveals a greater glory
A magnificent surrendered beauty
That will not die