City on a hill

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Been to a good Christian conference lately?

Before you answer that,
Let me start off with a few disclaimers;

First and foremost, I’d like to say that Christian conferences are generally a good thing. Sometimes even a God thing. By and large, I like attending them whenever I have the opportunity. Countless lives have been impacted for good and for God at Christian conferences.

But having said that, I’ve still gotta say what else I feel needs to be said about this. And I am absolutely not out to rain on anyones parade, but….

We are all still playing church.

The bigger the conference, it seems, the bigger the game we play. The rules are simple; keep everyone interested and happy. Don’t keep them up too late on the week nights, and make sure they make it home in time for the game on Sunday. 

It’s how we do ‘church’. It’s how we’ve always done church.

We spend endless hours making everything ‘perfect’, but we don’t really want to trust the Holy Spirit with it.
Give God an inch, and He’ll take a mile! (or an hour or two!)

And that is simply not safe, so the reasoning goes. He might violate our schedule or ruin our program.
So, we stick to business as usual, and we keep our schedule and our program intact.
And everyone goes home inspired, inundating Facebook with glowing testimonies.

But I just have to wonder, if it’s this good with us in control, what would it be like if we really, really gave it to God? What would happen If we let God take it as far as He wants, or as long as He wants?

How about radical healing and deliverance for ALL rather than a few? Or lives not only changed, but empowered to bring heaven down to earth?
How would it be if everyone found their calling and commission, and immediately began walking  in it?

It would be the church of the book of acts.
The spotless warrior bride awaiting her beloved.
A bright city on a hill drawing all men to the truth, radiating the glory of God.

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Open Heaven

Oh, that you would rend the heavens and come down,  that the mountains would tremble before you! Isaiah 64:1

“You heavens above, rain down my righteousness;  let the clouds shower it down. Let the earth open wide,  let salvation spring up, let righteousness flourish with it;  I, the LORD, have created it. Isaiah 45:7-9

In my thirtieth year, in the fourth month on the fifth day, while I was among the exiles by the Kebar River, the heavens were opened and I saw visions of God. Ezekiel 1:1-3

After this I looked, and there before me was a door standing open in heaven. And the voice I had first heard speaking to me like a trumpet said, “Come up here, and I will show you what must take place after this.” Revelation 4:1-3

Let it rain, let it rain, Open the floodgates of Heaven!

An open Heaven is quite a concept. It implies that all barriers between our temporal world and the eternal have been removed. We know that as believers, we are indwelled by the fullness of God. But this is something more. It’s corporate. As we each carry and bring Christ into our assembly, He inhabits our praise. When we concentrate the presence of God, something happens on a much grander scale.

It becomes regional.

It begins to affect our neighborhoods and our cities. Maybe even our state. Maybe even the world….

Isaiah, Ezekiel and John all prayed for, and received visions of an open Heaven. But there is a manifestation of Gods kingdom that is just waiting, as it were, for us to come together and usher it in.

As the body of Christ, we can experience more than a vision. We can experience an open Heaven over our homes, our cities and even our nation.

 

Empty Bowls?

God is waiting. All Heaven is holding it’s breath, and all creation groans with anticipation.

And I continue to live my life, much as I did yesterday.

God won’t command us to do that which He is not going to enable us to do. I know it has to be in Him, His Holy Spirit enabling me to walk in His righteousness….

But I don’t always put my best foot forward in my ‘attempts’.

Jesus said that His house was to be a house of prayer for all nations.

But my ‘house’ is often anything but a house of prayer.

On the day of Pentecost they were all in one place and all praying in one accord, when God poured out His Holy Spirit. I’m given to believe they had been at this for some time. Pentecost was four weeks after the resurrection.

There was a single-minded purpose behind this marathon of prayer.

And the waiting was over.

In Revelation 5, the 24 elders are holding bowls of incense, representing our prayers rising up before God.

But given the state of my own ‘prayer-life’ and of the modern ‘church’ in general, I have to wonder just how much Incense is actually in those bowls right now.

Many churches are calling for revival, for a fresh move of the Holy Spirit in their cities and states. And many believers feel they are ready.

But are they?

Am I? Have I counted the cost? Am I ready to throw my schedule, my personal agendas, my preferences aside? Am I ready to place my entire life on the altar, a living sacrifice?

Is the local church I belong to ready to make these same sacrifices? If not, am I willing to lead the way, and be one of the first?

What so many of us want is for God to move, as long as it doesn’t rock our world too much.

I’m not pointing any fingers. change is scary. Big change is even scarier.

But we live in a world that IS changing, and not for the better. Despair, depression, drug abuse and sexual sins are all symptoms of a world of pain, And millions have given up hope. As world events unfold, it becomes ever more apparent that we all stand to lose much of what we cling to. Change is coming whether we like it or not, one way or another.

But we can be architects of change.

The only chance left for so many thousands of hurting people, is in fact revival. A last great outpouring.

I must not make the mistake of waiting for God to just bring revival to my city and ‘fix it’. I have a part to play.

God, you see, is waiting for me to be what He has called me to be. And He’s waiting for you too.

God is waiting for us to bring revival.

It’s time.

The Change

There is a pivotal moment in every life, whether it’s a person, a place or a movement. It is the quintessential point in time when everything shifts, and nothing is ever the same again.

From a purely practical aspect, consider the introduction of the wheel, electricity, and more recently, the internet which have changed the world in which we live forever. This blog, delivered wirelessly to your personal computer or phone, is an example of just such a shift in the world we live in.

Looking at it from an emotional angle, there are many such events in our personal histories as well, such as marriages, births, career moves and so on.

The greatest change of shift you will ever experience, however, is most probably not practical in the ordinary sense. Nor is it entirely emotional, even though it does involve your emotions.

It is spiritual.

Around 2000 years ago, God physically became part of His own creation. Spirit and soul, divinity and humanity, became intertwined in a way never seen before in this world.  Life has been altered forever.

But it doesn’t end here. There is so much more. What is available to us now defies any kind of description! God has made Himself intimately available to us. No, it’s more than that; He passionately seeks a deep relationship with each and every one of us, and that’s still not all. God wants to indwell you and me in all His fullness.

His intentions for us are to feel the total weight of His Glory.

Some of us have had a taste of His Glory, but compared to the fullness, it’s rather like the little samples of food they let you try at the market. There is so much more!

Many people have been waiting expectantly for God to move, to pour out His Glory upon us, to visit us with revival. We wonder when and where it will come.

Please listen carefully my friends. God is waiting for us.

When we are ready, when we are striving and contending daily for His presence, both individually and corporately, It will fall upon us like never before in the history of the world. And then we will know what it truly is, to feel the weight of His Glory.

And the world will never be the same again.

Lion in a cage

There is a lion in your life. Whether you know it or not, He wants you to give Him voice. He wants to roar. He is the Lion of the tribe of Judah.

The word Judah means praise.

There are two things that are essential to your own spiritual renewal or revival. One is prayer. No revival has ever occurred without it. The very first outpouring of the Holy Spirit came during a time of intense prayer on the day of Pentecost.

The other is a lifestyle of worship and praise. This was never meant to be about just singing a few songs on Sunday. This is about being in touch with, and intimately knowing and loving God daily, in all circumstances. This is the type of devotion that will bring real spiritual change to your life.

And personal change is a prerequisite to regional revival.

Each believer must bring the presence of God with them into corporate worship. The power of this type of praise will rend the heavens and change the atmosphere of whole cities. The power of God will manifest in miraculous ways. The Lion of Judah will roar.

While all of this is true, it is not a given. God does not force us into relationship with Him.

Sometimes we pray every day, go to church and ‘worship’, maybe several times a week.

But we keep the lion in a cage.

Other times, He may get out for a while, or we might even let Him out, only to think He’s getting a little ‘out of control’.

Back in the cage He goes!

Let’s get serious about this.

We have to open the door to the cage, and let the Lion out.

Then we need to throw away the key.

Let the Lion of Judah Roar!

 

 

Tis the season

Tis the season!

It’s the season for getting together, visiting with family and friends. Some people you can’t wait to see, others, well…  Sometimes, quite unexpectedly, you find yourself face to face with an old ‘friend’.

And so it was for me when I recognized an old acquaintance I’ve known for years. And even though he wears different faces in different places, I immediately knew who it was.

We’ll call him CRAM, because he is  a controlling, religious and manipulative spirit.

If you’ve had any kind of a forerunner ministry for any length of time, then you’ve met cram. Sometimes he disguises himself as common sense, or uses other ‘legitimate’ and reasonable appeals to work his way into our ministries. Before you know it, he’s working his way to the top, into a controlling ‘high priority’ position. If you are following Gods call on your life, you need to be vigilant, because no one is above being influenced.  Here are some things we need to keep in mind;

A religious spirit can be one of the most subtle. It comes in many guises, even masquerading as common sense and reason..

Once cram gets his foot in the door, he can become very quickly entrenched, and rather difficult to get rid of.

One of crams hallmarks is to ‘tone things down’ in the name of order and propriety.

Where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. The level of freedom you experience in worship is a good litmus test for cram.

Religious spirits can crop up anywhere. CRAM will even show up in the midst of revival to shut it down. We need to be diligent, because, as I said above, we can all be influenced, without fully realizing it.

So….run into any ‘old friends’ lately?

 

the Ghost of new years past

I know it’s not even Christmas yet, but what I’m going to say here is somewhat time sensitive, so I wanted to put this out well in advance of 2012.

So, where will you be at 12:00am, January 1, 2012?

Actually, I’ve always been rather ambivalent, even indifferent about new years eve. I just don’t relate well to all the hype that people attach to it. Out with the old, in with the new, resolutions no one keeps, and of course, Times Square!

I’m not going to even get into all the calendar stuff, or how the date we mark is fairly arbitrary. If you really think about it, YOUR new year starts on your birthday, not Jan 1st.

Bear with me here a moment, and I’ll get to my point, I promise.

How do you feel about past new years eves? Do any stand out? what made them special to you?

If we’re going to mark a day and make it significant, make it the start of a new year, then we should also make it meaningful, and fill it with the essence of everything  we are striving to be.

There have been a few new years eves that I have liked, even loved. I spent them at church, worshiping.

What better way for a believer to celebrate the beginning of a new year than in praise and worship of God? These services started around 10:00pm and ran through midnight, and all we did was worship. No messages, no offerings, no potluck. Just worship. And we were changed and recharged as we began the new year.

I’m quite serious when I say this could be such a powerful event, if churches all over our city began to institute new years eve services. We would all be worshiping and praying in unity, as we ushered the new year in.

If you haven’t already made plans for this new years eve, why not look for a church that is holding a service, or better yet, talk to the leadership at your own church. It might not be too late to set one up and get the word out. I think new years eve would begin to take on a whole new dimension.

So, really, where are you going to be at 12:00am, January 1, 2012?