Revolutionary Revelation

The scene is sometime during the american Revolution, and the location is a large fortress, almost a castle in size. The sides of this ‘castle’ are very high, seemingly at least 60 or 70 feet, and I am looking down over the battlements. As I look out upon the scene, continental (american) forces are marching out and away from the fortress down a rather narrow trail. A little to the left of this, and leading up to the front gate is a broad and level road. Marching unopposed up this road towards the castle, are the British forces. The two armies pass each other by, virtually only a stones throw apart. Now the Brits’ are at the gate. For some mysterious reason, they don’t have any artillery with them, and the walls are too high and strong. They must go through narrow passage-ways leading from a small set of doors next to the main gate. I suddenly find myself moving with a detachment of troops into these same passages to meet them head-on. That’s when I woke up.

I have pondered this unusually detailed dream for a couple of days now, and the clarity has not faded over time as one might expect. I feel there are a number of meanings that can be gleaned from this, and I am only now just beginning to understand some of them.

The continental forces represent the ‘church’, the body of Christ. The British forces, just as during the revolution, represent the enemy. (No offense is meant to any English folks, the context is completely historical!) The huge castle/fortress is Gods’ sovereign protection. The narrow trail taken by the American army IS the straight and narrow AS WE SEE IT. The broad and level road, is of course, the way of the world.

There’s a lot here. More than I actually have time to go into right now, but here are some high-lights. Part of what’s being shown to us is the way the church has Isolated itself from the world. Separating ourselves from the world, we march off down the narrow way. There is a need, however, to meet the enemy head-on out in the open. We need to take the battle to the enemy on the broad and level road that leads to their destruction. While we stay on our narrow way (which is where you should be in regards to your OWN conduct), the world just marches right on by to destruction. We need to meet them where they are.

Even though the enemy is slipping by us, God still has a protective hand on us (fortress). The enemy doesn’t have the power (artillery) to blast us to bits. He has to use narrow passages (subterfuge, division, backbiting, Idols) to get to us. We can fight the enemy and win in the passage-ways, but it would be far better to unite and start winning out on the open road BEFORE The enemy is at the gates.

I feel there is much more in this. If anyone has any Input, feel free to comment here or email me at canyondreams7@yahoo.com Thanks -Ron

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CORE VALUES

I had a dream last night, and while that in and of itself  may not be a world-shaking event, it definitely gave me something to think about. You see, I dreamt that someone rather close to me had died, and the reaction that this death caused among family and friends was somewhat less than catastrophic. It seems people were more concerned with how this was going to affect their plans, and how they would fill this persons spot in ministry.

Right now, you’re probably thinking ‘Well, it was only a dream.’ But I believe this dream was showing me something very Important. Something that all Christians should be aware of. Namely our ‘core values’.

Do you know what your core values are? Most of us probably think we know pretty much what they are, but do we?

Let’s take a look at Jesus. I think it’s safe to say Jesus was consumed by doing the will of the Father, and serving and ministering to others. He never ever let His personal needs or comfort enter the picture. Everyone else ALWAYS came first. These were His core values. This is what He was about. As followers of Christ, we are supposed to have those same values. We at least need to be working on it, trying to be as Christ-like as possible.

These should be our core values. So far, so good. Now, to serve these values, It’s natural to want to grow your ministry, your church, your worship team, etc., and this is where it gets tricky. Let me explain. As long as you’re trying to do one of the aforementioned things  to serve others or to minister to them, or because you feel that’s what God is directing you to do right now, great. But the minute it sneaks into your core, and becomes a value in itself, it displaces the true values. In fact, It becomes an Idol. Now service and ministry are taking a back seat to, say, growing your church.

This is very subtle. It can creep in, and slide right under the radar, so to speak. Now your actions and your motives are driven not by the Christ-values you started with, but with the emphasis on the values that have taken their place. This is why even a wonderful ministry can become an Idol to the people responsible for it. What happens is the organization itself supersedes the primary reason it was created for in the first place.

And this doesn’t just happen to people with ‘ministries’. All of us need to examine the motives behind what we’re doing ‘for’ God. We all need to revisit and review our core values. What is most Important to you and me? What motivates and drives us, colors our opinions, attitudes, and actions? Is it the same values Jesus had, or is it something else?

Sorrow at the edge

Yesterday, all my troubles seemed so far away…. Most people will know the next line of this lyric from ‘Yesterday’ by Paul McCartney. While I’m not big on ‘confessing’ that any of our troubles are ‘here to stay’, I think there’s something here that all of us can relate to. Jesus was a ‘man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief’ according to Isa.53:3. While that doesn’t mean He went around looking depressed, it  does mean He knows how you feel.

Maybe today’s turning out pretty good for you. I hope it is. But there’s usually a cloud lurking somewhere on your horizon. Admit it. When’s the last time you could honestly say you ‘didn’t have a care in the world’?

I’m not trying to be a wet blanket, I just want to confront an issue here so that you and I can deal with it and move on to better things. What starts out as a kind of haunting at the edge of your life can creep in and consume your days like water soaking into the edge of a piece of paper. Even if you haven’t necessarily had an experience of this kind, you’ve probably seen it happen to someone else.

This world is not short on bad news; famine, war, natural disasters, hatred and murder, it’s all out there, and more. Add your own struggles to the mix, and before long you may feel like crawling into a hole and never coming out again. Even on a good day it can cling to the back of your mind, and claw at your emotions. What do we do with all this?

The answer is to take heart. Jesus said ‘Here on earth, you will have many trials and sorrows, but take heart, because I have overcome the world.’  John 16:33.

So how do we ‘take heart’?

Left uncontrolled, the heart runs wild. It will even run towards evil, and dwell on things that are not good to dwell on. When you ‘take heart’, you are taking back control of your heart. You do this by filling it with God, and turning it over to Him. He has the only safe place for it.

All of us are works in progress. That means we haven’t arrived yet. We don’t know all the answers and probably never will (not in this life). But we can learn from each other, and from the Word of God. Most Importantly, we can learn from the Holy Spirit, who leads us into all truth. It is in relationship with God that we will find our greatest defence.

Yes, we need to acknowledge that the problems and troubles are still there. Pretending that they are not will do you no good. But if you fill yourself with the Holy Truth of God, those things are not going to be able to soak into you. You’re like a sponge that is already filled with water and can’t take any more in. It keeps it outside of your heart. Then you give your heart to God. He has the only safe place for it. That place is deep inside His own.

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Down in the Valley

It’s a little hazy down there. It’s a little hard to pick out much detail. The view from up here is lovely, but it’s a little Indistinct.

Have you ever been to the mountains? It doesn’t really matter which ones. It’s something you’ll never forget. You feel like you can see forever. When you’re up on a mountain you are able to see literally for miles and miles and miles! But the higher up you go, the less detail you are going to be able to see below. If you really want to know what’s down in the valley, you’re going to have to go down into the valley to find out. There’s also this; what goes up, must come down.

I’ve crossed quite a few mountain ranges in my life. And for a time, many years ago, I lived in Hollywood California. Nothing was better than a hike up into the Hollywood ‘hills’ and Griffith Park. When you got to the top, LA was on one side and the Burbank valley was on the other. I loved to stay and watch the sun set over LA. At the end of the day, though, I always knew I’d have to hike back down in the dark.

Every mountain top experience is preceded, and followed, by a trip into the valley. You really don’t know what’s going to be in the next valley until you get there. You glean as much as you can while you’re on the mountain, but as we’ve all seen, the reality is waiting for you at the bottom.

A hike up a mountain is usually a glorious one day trip, but you never know how long you might have to stay in the valley. It could be for only a day. More than likely, it will be much longer. It’s not the length of time that matters though. It’s what you do with it. If you spend your days pining away, thinking about how wonderful it was on the last mountain, you won’t be very effective where you are now.

Truth be known, we spend most of our time in the valley. No it’s not because you messed up on the last mountain. It’s because this is where you’re needed. We need to bring the beauty, strength, vision and Glory down with us. We need to shine the light from on high down into the lowest places. That’s why you were on the mountain in the first place. It wasn’t to give you goose-bumps. It was so you could be a carrier of all that you were given. That you, in return, would become the giver.

Some of us, maybe most of us, are in our own ‘valley’ of sorts right now. I know I am. Let’s make the most of our time here. You may have an encounter with God on the mountain, but you will best serve Him in the valley.

THE SAVING

This is what it’s all about. Someone needs help because they are unable to rise above their situation. Someone else In a more advantageous position reaches down and lifts them up and out of it. The concept is simple enough. Sometimes that’s all there is to it, and it’s as simple as that. But our experience of salvation, whether or own or a friends, is usually a bit more complicated. There are two major variables; The person needing help has to realize that they do, In fact, need help, and they have to want it.

We are a fallen race. If you’re not convinced check out the news. We all sin. We all fall down. God the Father reached down through the Son to lift us up and out of our situation. Forgiveness was and is provided for everyone on earth. Even someone like, say, Hitler.

But here’s the catch. It’s like this; If a man is drowning, and you throw him one of those life-saver rings, he still has to grab it. He still has to hang onto it. Then you can pull him to safety with the attached rope. If he doesn’t grab hold of  it, and keep holding on, you can’t help him.

You can’t force people to grab the ring. And if they grab it, you can’t force them to keep holding on. All you can do is help them see that the ring is there. Help them see that they need to grab it before they drown. Help them to realize they need to keep holding on and never ever, under any circumstances, let go. That’s discipleship. We need to make disciples.

There’s a lot more to this, and there are a lot of folks better qualified than I am to elaborate on these concepts. Suffice it to say everyone needs salvation. Let’s do our best to make sure they know it.

 

 

MAN IN THE WILDERNESS

     “Sometimes I feel like a man in the wilderness.”

In the mid 70s (I’m showing my age here) the band Styx released an album called ‘The Grand Illusion’. While it generated a string of hits such as ‘Miss America’ and ‘Come Sail Away’, It also had a few more introspective songs like ‘Castle Walls’ and ‘Man in the Wilderness’.

While the lyrics don’t acknowledge any belief system beyond that of ‘the world’, they do reflect a deep longing and searching for something outside of ourselves. Some of these lyrics came back to me this morning out of nowhere, and I wondered why that should be.

We all have battles that we’re facing. We all have ‘trials and tribulation’. But what does that mean? What are the spiritual Implications? Jesus said that in this world we’d have trouble, but to take heart, because He has overcome the world. How does that Impact you and me?

SOMETIMES…

How long have you been embattled? How many battles are you facing right now? We’ve all faced the feeling that things were just never going to get any better. That no matter what we do, or have tried to do, It’s not working. It’s always at this point that depression raises its ugly head. What we do with this makes all the difference.

A MAN IN THE WILDERNESS

After He was baptized, Jesus was led out into the wilderness for a period of prayer, fasting and to be tempted. There is a process in all of this, and we are remiss when we don’t consider it. God refines us in the furnace of tribulation. That doesn’t go a long way towards making us feel any better, unless we look at the bigger picture.

What does the bigger picture look like? How does God see it? God doesn’t just see your entire life laid out, He sees everyone and everything from start to finish. And yet, He has given you choices and a part to play. He needs you to be all that He designed you to be, so that you can function in the calling laid out for you. Does the process always feel good? No, actually, sometimes it feels like hell.

Jesus endured the cross because of the joy of the outcome set before Him. Paul pressed forward towards the prize, in spite of being beaten, stoned, shipwrecked and imprisoned.

I’m not being trite. And I’m not trying to diminish or trivialize whatever it is you’re facing today. I’m right there with you. Oh, if you only knew, I am right there with you. What we do with this makes all the difference.

When you come to the end of yourself is when you will reach out for help. When the physical world and all that it has to offer slips trough your hands, and there’s nothing left, is when you will reach out your hands to Jesus. He knows this, and He’s waiting for you to call on his name, lay everything at his feet, and turn it all over to Him. And then you wait. I don’t know if we’re talking days, weeks or months here, but you wait, and you trust.

Without faith it’s Impossible to please God. In order to have faith in him, you have to trust Him. Job said ‘even though He slays me, yet will I trust Him!’ We need to be of the same mind. We need to trust the one who made us to finish His work in us, and through us.

What kind of battles are you facing today? It might feel like hell. What you do with this makes all the difference. Will you trust Him? He has overcome the world you know.

IS YOUR LIFE CONDUCIVE TO LIFE?

There are basically two kinds of people in the world. Those that make a room come alive when they walk into it, and then, there’s the rest of us. Let that simmer in your mind for a minute.

“A thief comes to steal, kill and destroy, but I came to give life-life in all its fullness.” John 10:10 (ncv) What effect do you think Jesus had on the atmosphere any time He showed up? By way of comparison, what kind of effect do I have?

As a follower of Christ I am supposed to exhibit Christ-like qualities, and Jesus came to give life. He said so. And not just being barely alive, but life in all its fullness. Is my life conducive to life? Or am I a thief? A thief, you see, comes along and steals, kills and destroys.

If  ‘ …The joy of the Lord is your strength!’ Neh 8:10 (nlt), and I steal, kill and destroy your joy, then I am most certainly a thief of the worst kind.

Have you ever walked into a room and ‘felt the love’? I’m not being facetious here. When you get a place full of believers who actually care about others, It’s amazing. 

So, what kind of life am I living? Am I more concerned with the welfare of others than I am with my own Issues? When I ask someone how they’re doing, do I actually listen to their response? Do I pray for others more than I pray for myself? Do I have a passion to see everyone I meet receive life in all its fullness?

OUCH!!!

These are the true keys to real happiness. Bringing it to others is the only way to find ‘yourself’. I may never ‘light up the room’ with my presence, but I can move in that direction. We are to be the bearers of jesus’ light and life. I need to carry that with me wherever I go. If I do not then the Implication is that I might become a thief, someone out to steal your joy.