the valley revisited

    The Lord took hold of me, and I was carried away by the Spirit of the Lord to a valley filled with bones. He led me all around among the bones that covered the valley floor. They were scattered everywhere across the ground and were completely dried out.  Then he asked me, “Son of man, can these bones become living people again?” Ezekiel 37: 1-3

We often hear  about Ezekiels account of the valley of dry bones. It’s one of the most powerful prophetic visions in the old testament. Most of the time we apply the dynamic to ourselves and to the modern church, the body of christ. The concept being that we get ‘dried out’ either through ministry or the cares of the world, and need to get juiced back up and moving again. And that’s a sound interpretation, as far as it goes.

Then he said to me, “Speak a prophetic message to these bones and say, ‘Dry bones, listen to the word of the Lord!  This is what the Sovereign Lord says: Look! I am going to put breath into you and make you live again!  I will put flesh and muscles on you and cover you with skin. I will put breath into you, and you will come to life. Then you will know that I am the Lord.’” Ezekiel 37: 4-6

One can easily see, we need to speak to our dry circumstances (prophetic word) and apply what God is showing us. This should put ‘flesh’ back on the bones.

but they still had no breath in them.

Then he said to me, “Speak a prophetic message to the winds, son of man. Speak a prophetic message and say, ‘This is what the Sovereign Lord says: Come, O breath, from the four winds! Breathe into these dead bodies so they may live again.’” Ezekiel 37: 9

We need the breath of God to fill us, in order to become fully alive. Notice Ezekiel has to speak prophetically once again before this can take place. There can be no mistaking that we have a part to play in all of this. We are co-laborers with Jesus in this process of re-awakening.

All of this begs the question, however, why we get ‘dry’ in the first place, and is this condition really unavoidable. I have to admit that yes, unfortunately, I’ve had some dry spells in my christian walk. Most believers I know have wrestled with this at one time or another, most of us more than once. Considering that we have the fullness of God dwelling in us, you would think this an unlikely condition to fall into. Never the less, it seems rather common, and I think the causes are probably as varied and different as the Individuals that experience them. The real problem is usually the delayed reaction most of us have in realizing exactly whats become of us. It takes time to recognize the tepid state of our  hearts, and then it generally takes a spiritual jolt to fire us back up again.

Herein lies a grave danger. What happens if the dryness, the luke-warm devotion, lasts too long? What happens if the believer has been in this state for so long, they don’t realize their true condition because they’ve gotten used to it? What happens if the bones want to stay dry?

It’s not so far-fetched. We’re creatures who love our comfort zones. We like things to stay the same. We often like the status quo. Why on earth would we want to rock the boat or upset the apple cart? And so we avoid the very things God is bringing to jolt us spiritually back to life.

God wants to breathe his breath into us and make us alive again to live in HIM.

So I spoke the message as he commanded me, and breath came into their bodies. They all came to life and stood up on their feet—a great army. Ezekiel 37: 10

Let’s speak the message as God commands us, receive HIS breath into our lungs, and come alive in Him, a great army born-again of the Spirit, on fire for His kingdom.

 

fire fall again

As we’ve seen before, fire is mentioned in the Bible over 300 times. Some fires are not so good, But there is a fire that’s very desirable. This one we need to seek with all our heart. It’s the one that consumes you from the Inside out, that burns in your heart and deep in your bones. You can’t containe it. Once you’ve felt it, you will know it Intimately, and you’ll never be the same. It’s what we need to bring with us to prayer and worship. It’s what we need to carry with us into the world wherever we go. We will not be able to move forward without it.

Most Americans easily live within a days drive from one of our largest cities. So let’s picture the following;

Imagine you’re looking over the nearest major city from a slightly elevated position. Perhaps one or two hundred feet. As you survey the city, you eventually find yourself looking over the entire metropolitan area. It’s a clear, beautiful night.

Suddenly you notice a small ball of fire coming straight down into the city. Soon there are a few more, and before long the sky fills with an exquisite show of brilliant fire falling like rain from the heavens. Some, though not all, of these fires ignite as they strike the ground, into luminous spheres of pure light. Some of the these globes begin to increase in size, until they look like miniature nuclear explosions, except they move gracefully, illuminating the cityscape with a soft and soothing glow.

If you followed the above images well, you will have noticed that all the falling fire did not light up into spheres on contact with the ground, nor did all of those expand to light up the cities into which they fell.

This, I believe, is because the fire needs a special place that will ignite. It needs a ready alter, one that is complete with a sacrifice, a poured out life, waiting to be consumed.

Even then it needs the nurturing presence of God abiding there to expand and fill it’s surroundings with heavens light.

This is the essence of the kingdom of God, spreading in His body of believers. It is the embodiment of the new church as it rises from the ashes of the old. It will require the passion and heart of the Bride of Christ. It is His fire that will fall, if our lives are a living sacrifice. It is revival.

nine eleven

I never thought I’d be writing about 9/11.

Ten years on, and It’s something I’d rather forget.

But I can’t.

Earlier today I spent some time online, looking at all the hundreds of horrific pictures we have to remind us of that day.

And I nearly lost it.

Generally, I’m a fairly ‘cool cucumber’ when it comes to emotional reactions, but this is different. So very different.

I’m not even sure what to say, or where to start. And, really, what hasn’t been said already, maybe a thousand times? I’m quite sure there are tens of thousands of blogs dealing with this subject today. What more can I possibly add?

But this isn’t so much about being heard, as it is about letting go. I think it’s something we all need to do. Let’s go back…

We live in the ‘Information age’. We have wireless phone service, wireless internet, GPS, and live news feeds from anywhere in the world. You are virtually there.

So it was for millions on the morning of September 11, 2001.

I was working nights at the time. After coming home and showering, On this particular morning, I decided to catch some news on TV. As soon as the set came on, I saw the first tower burning and on fire, with smoke billowing out into the sky. I can still remember thinking how blue it was that morning. The newscasters who were commenting at the time didn’t even know for sure what had happened. They were speculating as to what could have caused it. Some, they said, thought it might have been a ‘small’ plane that had crashed into the tower.

While they were talking, I saw the second plane.

It was a live feed by satellite, the kind of thing we take for granted. I watched as an airliner crashed into the second tower and exploded in a giant black-orange fireball of jet fuel. The newscasters didn’t catch it for what seemed like several minutes, while I sat there on the floor in shock, staring at the television. I think I was saying ‘Oh my God, Oh dear God’ over and over, but I’m not sure. Soon after, everyone was watching as both towers came down, killing many more people.

Later, when I went outside I was watching the sky, looking over my shoulder, as if I thought it would be falling on me and everyone I knew, full of crashing planes.

Of course I had spent much of the day in prayer for the victims and their families. But something all too real had made an impression on my heart, and the hearts of all Americans that day. Something that time has not erased.

This was the largest number of Americans ever killed at one time on our native soil by a foreign agency. History was changed. Our sense of security was shattered, and any idea of Isolationism has gone out the door. But these are just sterile conclusions. It’s really a matter of the heart.

Where were you on that morning ten years ago?

We may never be able to forget, but I believe it’s time for us to start praying for God to heal the wound, and help us to let go of the pain. That is my prayer for both you and I and for all of America on this day, September 11, 2011.

 

 

 

 

 

 

car trouble in paradise

Life in abundance, or to the fullest, can look funny sometimes. Not ‘ha-ha’ funny either. Sometimes it looks like maybe it’s a series of unfortunate events.

It’s not like we don’t have an abundance of ‘stuff’. Most Americans have way too much for their own good. Cars, dishes, bric-a-brac, photo albums, tools, coffee makers, don’t forget the espresso maker, grills, iPods, iPads, internet, cable, I’m sure you get the idea…

But I believe we all know, deep down, that all that stuff is not the key to peace and contentment. Every bit of it is a  distraction to keep us from facing the real issues. That’s the real ‘value’ of entertainment anyway-to make us forget our troubles.

But Jesus said that in this world we would have trouble. And the truth is, we do. The fact that all the above things have such a hold on us tells us a lot about how we deal with it.

I know from personal experience how things can just pile up around you. Do you ever feel like you’re being buried alive by one problem on top of another? It’s like you’ll never dig your way out in a hundred years! This is the nexus of the crises, so to speak, and this is where most of us crumble, roll over and veg-out in front of the tv. This is the worst thing we can do.

Isn’t it strange, that when we need to be in prayer the most, when we need Gods presence, peace and strength the most, is when we often run the other way.

It really betrays us, and exposes our greatest weakness.

Our lack of trust.

I’m sorry to admit this, but God has been dealing with this issue in me for decades. Without faith it is impossible to please God. And how can you have faith in God, if  you don’t fully trust Him? This is a major issue with a lot of christians. We SAY we trust God, but we don’t act like it. We hold back on giving, or we make our own plans without seeking His will, because we’re AFRAID of what might happen. This is not how you act when you trust somebody.

Do you trust God with all your heart? Would you trust Him with your future, your possessions, your family?

Stop for a minute and think about it.

It’s where we all need to be, if we’re going to continue to call ourselves christians…

Will you go to Him in your time of trouble? As in turn off the tv, walk away from the laptop, notebook and iPad, and press into His presence? We should seek Him first, foremost and in everything we do.

This is where the true abundance lies. Here is life to the fullest.

It’s really nowhere else.

Burning Questions

What are you going to do today? How about tomorrow? What are your plans for next week? Where do you think you’ll be next year?

On the surface, these seem like pretty mundane questions…

What are the things you’d like to accomplish? What are your goals? Have you decided on a career? Is there a mission statement for your life?

We’re getting warmer.

What can you do to improve the lives of those around you? Is there something you could do to help with the quality of life for people in general? Can you be of some service to the overall well-being of the human race?

There’s something too think about, but it’s still kind of general, let’s take it up a notch;

How do pictures of the victims of famine, or refugees of war-torn third world nations affect you? Are you bothered by the rise of human trafficking and slavery? Do you have any feelings at all about the living conditions in the slums maybe only a few miles away from where you are reading this?

Think about it for a minute….

Why are you here? Why were you born? Do you believe in God? What are His plans and purposes for your life? Have you found them?

Is there a hunger deep down in your soul for something OUTSIDE of yourself? 

Do you want to make a difference in the world?

Jesus came to give us life to the fullest. But that life is only gained through having a servants’ heart. Life doesn’t become full untill it’s poured out for others.

Depending on the depth to which this has penetrated our hearts, we will feel varying degrees of the emptiness that permeates this world. The freer we are from it, the clearer it becomes. It is a world based on self-satisfaction, instant gratification, and a self-absorbed sensuality. There are millions living in this vacuum of self, waiting to be set free into a world that has meaning. They need to know the truth. They need to feel loved.

They need you.

What will you do?