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.

Advertisements

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.

Weapons of a warrior

Recently, I had a dream in which I saw a warrior, or more like a knight, in full armour. He was holding a bow and had a quiver full of arrows. He was being waited upon by a pair of squires, who took away his bow and arrows and instead placed a large sword into his hands. Here the dream ended.

A bow can be a most effective weapon. It has been the deciding factor in numbers of battles throughout history. But it is best employed when the enemy is still some distance away. As the enemy closes in, it becomes less proficient.

At close range, hand to hand, a sword is much more desirable. And the enemy is much closer than we think.

I believe there is something very proactive in the bow and arrows. It is a way to weaken or even halt an attack. Prayers for peace and protection before the conflict do more good than we probably realize. But once the enemy closes in, we need the sword, the living Word of God. (Eph. 6:17)

We need to pray and speak the word, but most importantly, we need to believe the word. Just reciting scripture will not win the fight. It has to be who and what we are. It has to be in us for the power to come out of us. Then the enemy is confronted by the authority of Christ and he flees.

We are at war, and we must be warriors. To do battle, we must put on our armor, pick up our shields, and take up our swords. It is the power of God in our hands.

Heart of Worship part II

So, what does real worship look like? Depending on your point of reference, you might be thinking of almost anything, from shouting out praises to God at the front of a church, to kneeling quietly at home behind your locked bedroom door. Everyone has a flavor, if you will, that they prefer, for expressing their love for and to God. Shouting out praises and kneeling silently are two bookends for a wide range of expression that blends everything in between, all of which can be forms of true worship. In fact, you may run the entire gamut of expression during a single time of prayer and worship. This is because true or real worship is a matter of your heart.

God is Love. He is light and life. He is the Truth and the Way. He is also the Living Word and a thousand other ‘things’ right on into Infinity. Eternal. When you truly enter into His presence, you will know it, and you will feel a tangible difference deep within your inner being. Love, conviction, repentance, forgiveness, mercy, grace, peace, healing (mental, spiritual, and yes, even physical), are some of the things you should be experiencing as you enter into real, true, and honest worship. How you’re standing, or if you are kneeling or even face down on the carpet, are secondary to the reality of communing with god. The Important thing to ‘do’ is to follow your spirit. If you feel the need to kneel or go face down, do it. Don’t worry about what everybody else is doing. the minute you become self-conscious or fearful of what others might think, you’re slipping away from worshipping in spirit and in truth.

True worship will stay with you. It’s not just for the church service or the prayer session you’re involved in. It’s meant to transform you from the Inside out. As I’ve said before, it is instrumental in making you into the person God created you to be. We should feel the effects for days, with each prayer time strengthening and confirming what we were given, right up to the next time of worship. In the time in between, this also equips us to minister to and serve others.

God dwells in the midst of our prayers, and in our worship. It is the natural manifestation of our supernatural relationship. We need to press in, and receive all that God intends for us, so that His kingdom may truly come.

The Sound of Heaven

This is not a time of quiet worship and reflection. There is a time for that, perhaps in your prayer closet, or with a group of believers who want to ‘soak’ in His presence. But this is something else, something that draws on and draws out the power of God.

6 Then I saw a Lamb that looked as if it had been slaughtered, but it was now standing between the throne and the four living beings and among the twenty-four elders… 7 He stepped forward and took the scroll from the right hand of the one sitting on the throne. 8 And when he took the scroll, the four living beings and the twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb. Each one had a harp, and they held gold bowls filled with incense, which are the prayers of God’s people. 9And they sang a new song….Rev 5:6a,7-9a

It starts with the four ‘living creatures’ and 24 elders holding harps and bowls, representing worship and prayer (intercession). They sing a new song, Inspired by the presence of the Lamb (the Son).

11 Then I looked again, and I heard the voices of thousands and millions of angels around the throne and of the living beings and the elders. 12And they sang in a mighty chorus… Rev 5:11-12a

Even a few angels praising God can shake the ground;

1 It was in the year King Uzziah died[a] that I saw the Lord. He was sitting on a lofty throne, and the train of his robe filled the Temple. 2 Attending him were mighty seraphim… 3They were calling out to each other,

“Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of Heaven’s Armies!
The whole earth is filled with his glory!”

4 Their voices shook the Temple to its foundations, and the entire building was filled with smoke Isaiah 6:1-2a,3-4

So, is it safe to say that thousands of millions of angels would be fairly loud? I’m thinking that would be the case. In fact, this goes beyond what any human can Imagine (on earth anyway). But we’re not done yet.

13And then I heard every creature in heaven and on earth and under the earth and in the sea. They sang:

“Blessing and honor and glory and power
belong to the one sitting on the throne
and to the Lamb forever and ever.” Rev 5:13

If it wasn’t loud enough for you before, with thousands of millions of angels, well, how about every creature in Heaven and Earth (and ‘under’!) joining in?

This is the worship around the throne witnessed by John. That someone still ‘in the flesh’, so to speak, was able to take this in, is no small miracle. I believe my mind would have been completely blown to bits.

Now here’s where the rubber meets the road. We need to see the manifestation of Gods Kingdom in the earth, and we need to see Gods power manifest in His church. We need the kind of worship that pulls down the heavens and shakes the foundations of the temple. We can not afford to shy away from powerful times of worship out of fear of offending those who may not understand. We must not fear loosing control. God will be in control, because He will be present. This model of worship is in the book of Revelation because It’s time for us to enter into it.

I am going to have to get a bigger amp…..*

 

 

*in case you’re not a musician, that’s an amplifier.