It's Time to Live From Above
It seems these days we are facing challenges and struggles we never could have imagined. The Bible contains numerous stories about the heroes of faith beating the odds by defeating Goliaths, parting Red Seas, and changing their station from Slave to Ruler. These were ordinary people whose struggle and triumph became the stuff of legends. Many were thrust into hopeless situations. Yet, somehow, rather than crumble under the pressure they rose and flourished. A revelation took root and brought forth something beautiful. Proverbial desert roses.
These examples were written for us. Their stories were meant to encourage and inspire us through our struggles and toward our own greatness. Each one reveals not only a journey but spiritual realities, if we have eyes to see them. Over time their stories may have been sensationalized into some kind of ethereal, magical, fantasy that raises them to superhuman status, but this was not always the case. Perhaps we sensationalize those who overcome out of our own fear of failure. It's easier to think that they are special (and we are not) so we are not special enough to try to "bloom in our own desert places". We remain victims of often hopeless circumstances and cannot not imagine that God will flow through us in our brokenness.
This sensationalism coupled with our current climate of rampant deceit in both the religious and political arenas have made these ancient believers seem less ordinary and allowed us to convince ourselves that they are just stories and do not apply to “real life”. Though we may claim the inerrant truth of the Bible, in practice we have treated these Bible stories like fantasies, bedtime soothers, and entertainment pieces. In this era of intellectualism, realism, and modernism, we have lost the spiritual qualities and much of the wonder and mystery of our heroic predecessors. Some spiritual or religious leaders have taught that the secret to their successes involves a lot of scripture quoting/confession, devil battling, holy-living, fasting, sacrificial offerings, and an undisclosed amount of time spent in the “right kind” of prayer. This use of our spiritual senses to manipulate a seemingly unwilling God into doing our bidding could not be further from our Biblically based roots. All the while, Jesus is calling us to walk out out Emanuel, God WITH us. God in flesh did not end at the ascention, it multiplied into you and I.
The call is louder than ever to be Jesus where ever we find ourselves. So, here we are, on this Earth, with the commision to "bring Jesus to life".
The Nature of Transition
Life really is just one transition or change after another. Even our natural planet is in constant motion, rotating on its axis and simultaneously revolving around our sun which is itself moving throughout a vast galaxy among galaxies. Our culture also seems to revolve around a frenzy of activity at an exhausting and nauseating pace. The addition of technological advances such as computers, airplanes, and smart-everything has all but eliminated the need for waiting for practically anything. Is it a wonder that we struggle with any transition that takes more than three seconds? Waiting on “slow change” has become agonizingly painful. We are like toddlers who can’t wait for dinner to be served. Our emotions throw temper tantrums - not only when we don’t get our way but also when we don’t get it fast enough.
Another side effect of this instant generation is that our mood, perspective, and outlook can change in a split second. What we were once excited about and rejoicing over turns to disdain or even disgust in the midst of a transition to something newer, better, or more suited to our current (yet ever-changing) needs or situation. Most of the time we don’t even notice what is going on. We are so focused on moving forward to the “new thing” that we think the “old” one was always inferior. We moan, complain, berate, and even curse it with our words and attitudes even though (in reality) it was once a blessing and an answer to prayer...the product of our faith, blood, sweat and tears.
Every once in a while, we are tuned in enough to notice what is really going on. Our eyes are opened and we have the opportunity to be blessed “coming in and going out”. Recently our family bought a house. This was the desire of my husband’s heart since we married 23 years ago. Life’s circumstances never seemed to allow for home ownership. When the opportunity came to buy we had been renting the same place for about 10 years. God really moved on our behalf, and from the time we started looking until we gained possession was about three months. Down to the backsplash in the kitchen, this house had every detail we had dreamed about together. The place we were renting needed quite a bit of work. Four children and poor/old plumbing had done a good deal of damage. As we were packing and moving, a new phrase entered my vocabulary. Not that I had never complained about the short-comings of our rental home, but it became almost a catch phrase: “Not gonna miss that!” I started it as a rejoicing for the new home was in pristine condition and needed absolutely nothing done to it. The phrase caught on and soon my husband started saying it too. No harm done, though, right?
Something interesting happened, as our signing date (and our anticipation of moving grew), the slightly sarcastic catch-phrase started taking on a more bitter and ungrateful tone. As in most transitions, it became harder and harder to want to go home to the rental, it became a litteral “stench in my nostrils”.
I did not notice this subtle transition until one day as I was scrolling through my Facebook memories and ran across some photos of the first couple years we lived in the rental. We had just moved to Grand Rapids from Traverse City and were so blessed to find a four bedroom, two bath house that was in our price range and big enough for our family. There was no kid damage yet as Ben had not yet started his rocky transition through puberty. Little did we know at the time how aggressive and destructive his behavior would become in a couple years.
As I walked down memory lane, recalling all that our family has endured, and God’s faithfulness and healing we have received through it all, I suddenly realized that this house suffered as well. Holes in walls, broken down doors, cracked light fixtures, over-flowed bathtubs and toilets, water damage, every exit locked up tight, and never able to air out had aged the home. As much as we needed a new start, this old place needed respite and care as well. Over the course of the rest of the move, I endeavored to change my confession. It didn’t happen all at once, and I still caught myself in the old refrain (“Not gonna miss that!”). Slowly, instead of “Not gonna miss that!” I began to replace it with a new catch phrase: “Thank you for your sacrifice, and 10 years of memories and growth. I’m sorry for the abuse you endured. May you be a blessing to another family.”
We’ve since moved and are enjoying God’s blessings in our new space. We are in a very different place as a family than we were when we first rented the Grand Rapids house. The new place is definitely more suited to our current situation. Someday this place may not be “the place for us.” I hope by then, I will have learned my lesson and I can move to our new normal with a heart of gratitude and a more life-giving perspective. Until then, “Thank you old blessing (Grand Rapids House), in you we grew individually and as a family, and our wounded hearts were healed. You were a blessing for our past season and we honor you.”
This is true for so many aspects and seasons of our lives. It is true for past relationships, ages and stages of child rearing, jobs and church communities. So, in this new year, letting go and moving forward with a grateful and grace-filled heart is top of my list.
Prophecy for 2020
The time is come yes its already here in that the Word of the Lord the shining of His bride is coming not from the gifts but from the everyday person. It’s not that the gifts, the pastors and leaders won’t shine, oh they will shine, but they will shine as the bride, the person not the gift.
The Word of the Lord and the Glory of the Bride will again come from those who are ordinary: the fisherman, the postman, the store clerk, the housekeeper, and student. The lawyer, the school teacher, the highway patrolman. Both the overlooked and unexpected will come into the light with direction and revelation that is revolutionary and out of sight. The fresh and the revolutionary is not in a pulpit or on a tv screen. Don’t look to the “known”, the famous, and usual. It is found in the hearts, minds, souls, hands of the ones on the streets.
Fishers of men, even tax collectors, ordinary folk, like Jesus’ disciples of old. You are hearing “Come, follow Me!” Arise and turn the status quo on its ear. You carry the light and revelation of the the Lord’s year. Not a year as in a number of days, but a year as in a cycle of seasons that repeats (Winter, Spring, Summer, Fall). A year as in a growing process with times of rest, new life, growth, and letting go of what is no longer necessary to make room for new life after another season of rest. Not a year/cycle of fear, destruction, and woe. A “year” or cycle of love, light, and unity to grow. For you know the Shepherd and you know His voice.
He leads gently and not with threats. Calling patiently, with a whisper and still small voice. Your Shepherd enters in with the flock, and does not stand above, far away, looking on. Your Shepherd does not grandstand, self promote, or make flashy claims.
But what of the miracles? What about signs, wonders and such? Remember an evil and adulterous generation seeks after signs. Signs will happen, they are a byproduct of eternal life. Natural cannot help but respond to Spiritual. Signs and Wonders will not be the hallmark, but lives changed, for ego must surrender in order to reflect the image and likeness of the eternal one. Like the loaves and the fish, miracles and signs will happen in and through the hands of the many, in the crowd, who are feeding the hungry followers of truthful words of life. No one disciple could take the credit, all they knew is that Jesus blessed it.
So shall be this new normal. All any individual will be able to claim is to be a part of something impossible that became possible because Jesus blessed it.
********************* En español *****************************
Ha llegado el momento, sí, ya está aquí en que la Palabra del Señor, el resplandor de su novia, no proviene de los dones ministeriales sino de la persona común. No es que los dones, los pastores y los líderes no brillen, oh que brillarán, sino que brillarán como la novia, la persona no el don.
La Palabra del Señor y la Gloria de la Novia vendrán nuevamente de aquellos que son comunes: el pescador, el cartero, el empleado de la tienda, el ama de casas y el estudiante. El abogado, el maestro de escuela, el médico y el patrullero de carreteras. Tanto los que se pasa por alto como lo inesperado saldrán a la luz con una dirección y una revelación que son revolucionarias y están fuera de la vista. Lo fresco y lo revolucionario no está en un púlpito o en una pantalla de televisión. No mires a lo "conocido", lo famoso y el fuente usual. Se encuentra en los corazones, mentes, almas y manos de los que están en las calles.
Pescadores de hombres, incluso recaudadores de impuestos, gente común, como los antiguos discípulos de Jesús. Estás escuchando "¡Ven, sígueme!" Levántate y gira lo que ha sido comúnmente acceptable cabeza arriba. Tú llevas la luz y la revelación del año del Señor. No un año como en varios días, sino un año como un ciclo de estaciones que se repite (invierno, primavera, verano, otoño). Un año como un proceso de crecimiento con tiempos de descanso (invierno), nueva vida (primavera), crecimiento (verano) y dejar de lado (otoño) lo que ya no es necesario para dejar espacio para una nueva vida después de otra temporada de descanso. No es un año / ciclo de miedo, destrucción y desgracia. Un “año” o ciclo de amor, luz y unidad para crecer. Porque conoces al Buen Pastor y conoces Su voz.
Él lidera gentilmente y no con amenazas. Llamando pacientemente, con un susurro y todavía pequeña voz. Tu Pastor entra con el rebaño y no se para arriba, muy lejos, mirando. Su Pastor no te disminuye, no se promueve a sí mismo, ni hace afirmaciones llamativas.
Pero ¿y los milagros? ¿Qué pasa con los signos, las maravillas y tal? Recuerda que una generación malvada y adúltera busca los signos. Las señales pasarán, son un subproducto de la vida eterna. Lo natural no puede dejar de responder a lo espiritual. Los signos y las maravillas no serán el sello distintivo, sino que las vidas cambiadas, ya que el ego debe rendirse para reflejar la imagen y la semejanza de la eternidad. Al igual que los panes y los peces del niño, sucederán milagros y señales en las manos de la multitud que alimenta a los hambrientos seguidores de verdaderas palabras de vida. Ningún discípulo podía tomar el crédito, todo lo que sabían era que Jesús lo bendijo.
Así será esta nueva normalidad. Todo lo que cualquier persona podrá reclamar es ser parte de algo imposible que se hizo posible porque Jesús lo bendijo.
Happy Easter Everyone! I pray that today the reality of what Jesus did on the cross will resonate within you deeply! My deepest desire is that we all with “unveiled face” behold his image both individually and corporately that we might be transformed through this unveiling and go from glory to glory as we walk out this path through the realities of His unending grace. Let us not go back to superficial legalism or fall into egoistic lawlessness: for by grace are you saved through faith, and not of your personal works – what a God-sent gift!
Galatians 2:16-18 in the Mirror Bible states:
“16. As Jews we should be the first to know that no one will achieve a blameless standing before God through personal performance according the requirements of the Law. What Jesus Christ believes concerning our innocence matters most; he is persuaded that he did enough to declare man righteous. Our best intentions to do good cannot add any weight to our righteousness. Righteousness is not a reward for our good behavior. As Jewish believers we know this! We have no advantage over any other person. Jew and Gentile alike were equally guilty, now we are equally justified because of Jesus and for no other reason! 17. However, if in our quest to discover righteousness by faith in what Christ did for us. We find that it is still possible to stumble; do not now label yourself a sinner yet again! The fact that you sinned does not cancel the cross of Christ and gives you no reason to abandon justification by faith as if Christ is to be blamed for your distraction! That would be absurd!
18. Only a con artist will try to be a law-man and a grace-man at the same time!”
Here in lays the good news of the Gospel – Christ died for all: saint and sinner, Jew and Gentile (Ro. 6:10; 2 Cor. 5:15)! I have many friends who balk at the attempts of my fellow believers who try to evangelize them (get them saved) from a stand point of: “turn or burn…join us in declaring that God is angry at you until you agree with Him and become one of us…Then you must struggle your whole life to please Him by living the way we say even though we all know that you cannot do it…”
My friends, this is not the heart of God nor the reason Jesus died on the cross. Let us turn away from the bondage of egoism and sin-consciousness and awaken to the reality of Grace and Faith: we are created in God’s image and likeness and all we are required to do is acknowledge this truth and walk the journey toward unveiling the Image of the Limitless One through transformation not conformity to some self-impose moral code (Rom. 12:1-2).
Let us move past the superficial, hypocritical, vicious/endless/mad cycle of sin-repent-sin-repent and open our eyes to a pathway of transforming our egoistic, self-serving, self-protecting, self-exalting and sin-conscious way of living and being into Christ’s selfless, others-preferring, self-sacrificing, humble and life-giving reflection of the true nature of the Godhead. What Jesus offers us is so much more that a religious code and rule book to attempt to live by and measure up to. Jesus offers us the opportunity to become WHO we truly are, on the inside, free from failure, condemnation, and guilt…and to walk that path with us toward the Light who is the Life of mankind.