Letters

Waging War With Your Prophetic Words

It was a heartbreaking season in my life.

I’d been given some prophetic promises about an area of my life. God had declared some beautiful things: unity and power and intimacy and victory. Yeah, it was a lot of “the usual stuff,” but it came in a declaration from God. Actually, it came in two or three declarations; this wasn’t just a warm and fuzzy thought from one person.

We’ll pause here for a definition. When I talk about a “declaration from God,” that might be a prophetic word; those are the best, and I give them the most weight: when someone with a known gift of prophecy says, “This is what God says,” and the community judges it to be true (1 Corinthians 14:29), that’s the gold standard of prophetic revelation in my view.

But the idea of a declaration from God includes what I hear God whispering to me, and it includes those times that something from the pages of Scripture leap alive and demand my attention. They include when friends tell me what they hear God saying about me, and when the promises of scripture actually, contextually apply to me.

As I said, I had two or three of these, including both the prophetic words and the whisper of my Father. There was a good bit of unity among the declarations. I trusted them.

And then things began to go to hell. I wish I spoke metaphorically. Without putting too fine a point on it I’ll say that just when I expected the promises to begin to manifest, to show up, just when I expected to see things turn toward unity and power and intimacy and victory, they turned the opposite direction.

It was a heartbreaking season in my life. You see, this was an area that was really quite important to me. This was no cute little bonus.

I ran through the demonic logic tests: Can God be trusted? Is he really a good God? You know that list. They came at me hard and fast, and I threw them back in his face just as hard, declaring God’s goodness, his trustworthiness, and my confidence in Him. I went further and rebuked every demon I could think of from every aspect of this promise. I felt victorious!

I thought, There. That will do it. And the promises down-shifted for better acceleration into oblivion.

My heart was crushed, but still I held on. I began to ask better, more honest questions: Did I assume God had promised this, when in fact he had not? No, he’d been quite clear.

Were the promises for right now, or was I rushing him? That one was tougher, as he’d never actually given a date, but if this trend continued, then there was no chance of fulfilling them later.

Was I imposing my own definition of what these fulfilled promises needed to look like? Maybe the fulfillment was so different than my expectations that I didn’t recognize it. I searched my heart long and hard on this, and I examined the circumstances. No, the failure was real. This wasn’t just my misinterpreting it.

My life was pretty much over. I nearly gave up.

And then something whispered in the back of my mind. It was a quiet little whisper, easy to miss. “I want you to give thanks for my promises as if you were already walking in the fullness of their fulfillment, as if everything I said has already happened, even though you’ve seen nothing yet.”

It took rather a lot to take the voice seriously, and it took even more to do what he said. But I did.

In those days, I took my lunch hours in a remote meadow. I parked my truck, and since I pray best when I walk, I’d worn a trail into the grasses and shrubberies of the meadow.

I began to pace my trail, questioning my sanity, and mumbling thanks for these hallucinations, these promises. I recognized the failure of my prayer, so I began to pray out loud. That was better, but I could tell I wasn’t to the point of actually engaging my faith yet.

So I began to shout. It was hard, and it took me days to get there, but before long, I fairly flew into that meadow, locked up my parking brake, and before the truck had fully stopped, I was on that trail, roaring my thanks for these promises, for the glory of having been my experience, for the power that had been unleashed. I screamed my gratitude for a victory I had not yet seen, and I wept in thanksgiving for the intimacy that I still only imagined.

Over the next days and weeks, I watched several changes. The first were in my heart. Eventually, my empty declarations of faith began to actually fill with faith, and I began to understand that I was waging war with these promises (1 Timothy 1:18). Not long after, I realized that the things that I was declaring that had not yet happened, they were going to happen. I began to expect, not fearlessly, not solidly, but I began to expect to see things change.

My prayers expanded. I spent my spare time thinking of what that will look like when these promises are fulfilled, and I prayed every answer to that. By now, I was thankful that my meadow was remote, and occasionally, I checked the trees near the meadow, to make sure I hadn’t roared their bark off.

And still I prayed. I walked and prayed and shouted and demanded and wept and gave thanks like there was no tomorrow.

And then things did begin to change. It was like lighting a match to the tinder of a well-set fire: the change was so very small and fragile, and the slightest breath would extinguish it. I said nothing of this to anyone, so as to not blow out my precious flame, but I gave myself to serving that tiny, flickering flame, nurturing it the best I could.

But gradually, over months and years, it did turn, and today I can say I’ve been walking in the fullness of many of those promises for many years.

I’ve also noticed a change in me. I’m quicker to give thanks than I ever used to be. I think I like that.
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Devotionals, Letters

Why the Law?

Way back when, God proposed a relationship with humankind based on equal access for everybody, one-on-one with God (Ex 19:6).

But the humans involved rejected that covenant, and substituted a counter proposal based on a priesthood and obedience to rules, aka Law (Ex 20:19). What a disappointment that must have been to God.

And so the Law was given, in deference to the only covenant the human species would accept at the time.

And of course, since there was a Law to follow, there had to be enforcement of that law, and that was always done by the people's god. So God, who never wanted the Law, had to either enforce the Law that was not his idea, or walk away from the human race. He said plainly, "I have no pleasure in the blood of bulls and lambs and goats." (Isa 1:11)

Nowadays, though, we have a New Covenant, based neither on a priesthood nor obedience to a Law. So the Law, being fulfilled, has been archived. The entire system of relating to God with the Law was destroyed when Jerusalem went down (70 AD). It could never be revived.

Nowadays, we all have access, face-to-face, with God (Heb 4:16). Even better, we're seated with Jesus, full time with God (Eph 2:6). Just like he always wanted.

Aaah. That's better. That's MUCH better.

--

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Devotionals, Letters

Why the Law?

Way back when, God proposed a relationship with humankind based on equal access for everybody, one-on-one with God (Ex 19:6).

But the humans involved rejected that covenant, and substituted a counter proposal based on a priesthood and obedience to rules, aka Law (Ex 20:19). What a disappointment that must have been to God.

And so the Law was given, in deference to the only covenant the human species would accept at the time.

And of course, since there was a Law to follow, there had to be enforcement of that law, and that was always done by the people's god. So God, who never wanted the Law, had to either enforce the Law that was not his idea, or walk away from the human race. He said plainly, "I have no pleasure in the blood of bulls and lambs and goats." (Isa 1:11)

Nowadays, though, we have a New Covenant, based neither on a priesthood nor obedience to a Law. So the Law, being fulfilled, has been archived. The entire system of relating to God with the Law was destroyed when Jerusalem went down (70 AD). It could never be revived.

Nowadays, we all have access, face-to-face, with God (Heb 4:16). Even better, we're seated with Jesus, full time with God (Eph 2:6). Just like he always wanted.

Aaah. That's better. That's MUCH better.

--

The best part of the conversation will be on Facebook. Come join in.
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Prophecy

Killing Terrorists?

I admit: the murderous persecution of Christians in the Middle East is an ugly thing. I’ve seen photos that make me want to throw up, and I’ve heard stories that make me want to send an army to the Middle East to bomb them back to the stone age.

I’ve been talking to other believers who have been arguing in favor of responding to terrorist violence with a violent (eg military) response. I understand that there are good and responsible arguments that can be made for using force against terrorism.

I’m not saying we should or shouldn’t. I suspect that there are good arguments on both sides of that conversation. I am fortunate in that I don’t need to have the answer to that particular question.

However, I’ve been observing that when the Church faced its first terrorist, God didn’t kill the terrorist. In fact, that terrorist, a maniacal Pharisee named Saul, became the apostle Paul, the greatest evangelist for the Kingdom of God in the history of the planet.

I’m not saying, “use force” or “don’t use force” against terrorists.

But I think I’m ready to say, Whatever you do, pray for their conversion. Pray for a Damascus Road experience for whichever terrorist group has your attention right now.

If it is true (and it is) that “The blood of the martyrs is the seed of the Church,” then there is going to be a revival of epic proportions in several places in the Earth as soon as those seeds hatch.

We’ll need passionate people to lead it, and we’ll need more of them than we have now.

Shoot them or don’t shoot them, as your conscience leads you. But for Heaven’s sake, do pray for them. Pray for their conversion. Pray that they meet the God of the Universe. And pray that he uses them in His Kingdom, like he used Paul.

That’s a response to terrorism with a good track record.

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Prophecy

Fixing Our Eyes on the Good.

There have been some remarkable discoveries in physics recently, particularly in the realm of quantum mechanics (sub-atomic particles: the tiny things that make up every piece of matter in the universe): Oversimplified: The very fact of observation changes reality.

(This video does a pretty good job of explaining this. The first 5 minutes give you the basics.)

The physicists’ conclusion: “The very act of observing [subatomic particles] caused the wave function to collapse and create the existence of matter.” In other words, observation creates real matter.

This has epic implications: what we observe becomes real. In fact, physicist Anton Zeilinger declares that “What we perceive as reality now depends on our earlier decision what to measure [or observe].”

Let’s describe this in Kingdom vocabulary: it clearly suggests that sons of the Most High create reality not merely by their words, but also by simply paying attention.

This gives greater understanding to passages like Philippians 4:8: “Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things.”

Applying quantum physics to Scripture, this explains WHY we are directed to dwell – to observe, to fix our attention on – good things: because our observation of them causes them to manifest more completely in the physical realm.

By extension, the reverse is also true: if we do NOT give our attention to things that are negative or evil – we call them “bad reports” – then we do NOT help those things become reality. What we don’t pay attention to never becomes as real as the things we do pay attention to.

So one of the ways that we accomplish our task of “Thy kingdom come, thy will be done, on earth as it is in Heaven,” is in Hebrews 12: “And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith.”

But the current research in quantum physics has learned even more: just observing subatomic particles not only causes them to actually exist, but it causes them to have already existed, prior to observation (around the 7:00 point of the video), or sometimes, in the future.

I hear this as both a powerful encouragement to focus our attention on good news, on things that are “worthy of praise,” and a clear articulation of WHY we need to pay attention to good things.

As Dr Zeilinger says, This is “a very, very deep message about the nature of reality, and our role in the universe. We are not just passive observers.”



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Prophecy

Terrorism: Father’s Grief

The most famous verse in the Bible declares that “For God so loved the world, that he gave…” God loves the world, the whole world.
Father brought that one back to me recently, as I was praying for his Spirit to move among the ISIS terrorists. “Son,” he said, “Christians are all worked up because the terrorists are killing Christians.”
I listened. “I love the Christians. But I love the terrorists just as much.”
That startled me a bit. And it brought back to my mind a conversation we’d had years ago about martyrs. “Do I not have the right to spend the lives of my servants in the way that I know is best?” I could hear tears in his voice as he said it.
And I realized something. While it’s an ugly thing that terrorists are killing Christians, while it’s a heinous act to crucify or behead women or children for any reason, there’s a reality behind it that is yet even worse.
When the Christians are brutally murdered, they go to run and jump and shout and play with Jesus. They go to a place full of light and love and wholeness and acceptance. The route there was evil, but the destination is glorious.
But for the terrorists, when they brutally murder a Christian, the demons that control him wrap their claws tighter around his soul. And when someone blows up a terrorist camp with a cruise missile, it is not to glory that the dead are destined, and it is most definitely not a flock of eager virgins that they will meet when they arrive.
Here’s what I learned today. I already knew that Father wept over his children’s murders, but I was reminded that their blood would, as it always has, be the seed of yet more revival on the earth. Every time a Christian’s blood is spilled, the grace of God is unleashed to bring even more people into the Kingdom.
Their murderers think they are doing evil, but they are sending individuals to glory and empowering revival upon the earth!
But I learned that my Father weeps more over the murderers than over the murdered. Because these do not know hope, because of what their sin does to their soul and how it enslaves them all the more, because when they are killed, their destiny is far away from Him who died that they could know Him. Father grieves because the terribly costly sacrifice of his Son has not yielded in them the benefit for which he paid that terrible price.
Father weeps more over the terrorists than the Christians they murder.
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Devotionals, Letters

Some Experiences with Judgment in the Courts of Heaven

Some years ago, Jesus took me to a new place that I hadn’t expected: it was a tall, oak, judge’s bench. He took me around the back of the bench, and up the stairs behind it. But rather than sit down himself, he sat me in the great chair behind the bench, and when I sat, I was wearing black robes and I had a wooden gavel in my right hand.
I’ve learned to trust him in that place, and so I didn’t resist him, though my sitting in that chair was more of a novelty that first time than it was about actually judging anything. Since then, I’ve begun to learn some things about judgment, how important it is, how powerful it is, and especially how very good it is.
I was charged with judging my brothers and sisters, but judging from Heaven’s perspective, from the perspective of a King who’s madly in love with them, who’s unreasonably proud of them, who’s amazed and overjoyed with their every step of faith. So the judgments that I’ve been invited to pronounce are about God’s favor on his children; I’ve been charged with finding them guilty of pleasing their Father, and sentencing them to be loved and adored for all their natural lives, and beyond! It’s better work than I first feared it would be; I’ve actually come to love that bench.
But some of the judicial work has been darker than that. Once, I was praying intensely for a dear sister against whom hell was having a measure of success. Jesus brought me around to the stairs and up to the bench. I could see more clearly from up there, and with his help, I saw the cloud of filthy spirits that were harassing my sister. “Judge them,” he said, and I understood.
I began to recognize their crimes, and as I identified them – the spirits and their crimes – I spoke its name. As I did, it was as if the gavel moved on its own, gently tapping, “Guilty!” to each charge. With each tap, a demon was bound and hauled of. Soon, I got into it, reaching into the Spirit for the discernment of each spirit and shouting its name, its crime: the gavel banged and the demon was bound. This, too, was judgment I could get excited about.
I needed to be careful, in my exuberance, to still judge accurately, according to what was true, not merely because I felt bad for my sister’s misery: this was a matter of justice, not pity, and it was a mighty justice that was handed down that day, and other days like it. I’ve developed the opinion that this judge’s bench is an excellent place for intercession.
There was one day, though, that I still shake my head about. It happened some years back, and I’m only now understanding what may have actually gone on.
God the Father somberly walked up to me, and he was looking really quite serious: he was cloaked in a rich black judge’s robe, and his eyes were as intense and alive with fire as I’ve ever seen them. With his eyes fixed on mine, he slowly opened his robe. I was surprised to see a red plaid shirt underneath, but before I had opportunity to react in surprise, he pulled a shotgun from the depths of his open robe, and handed it to me. Startled, I took it from him and glanced at it. Yep, that’s a shotgun, all right.
I looked up again, and now the robe was gone, and with it, the stern look from Father’s face. Instead, he sported a red hunter’s cap and a huge grin, and he held up a shotgun of his own. Movement caught my eye, and I saw Jesus, similarly attired with plaid shirt, red hat, grin and shotgun. Father asked, “You ready, Son?” but before I could answer, the air above our heads was suddenly filled with demons, their leathery wings flapping franticly as they zigged and zagged about the room.
Father laughed mightily, hoisted his shotgun and fired; a demon exploded into a black cloud. Jesus cheered and blasted another one. Soon all three of us were shouting and hollering and laughing uproariously. And blasting demons to tiny black dust. Shotgun blasts were interspersed with shouts of encouragement, great fits of laughter and the soft splatter of the demons shards. They had met their maker, and it had not gone well for them. He is a very good shot, actually.
I had enjoyed this experience so much that I hadn’t stopped to ask what it meant until recently; the answer wasn’t particularly surprising; something about “casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God.” But the experience was, frankly, a great deal of fun. “Spiritual warfare” and “fun”: two concepts I never expected to put together.
That hunting party only happened the one time. I think it was more about teaching me a lesson than a regular part of our business in that place. He’s a good teacher, by the way: I’ve never forgotten that experience, though I’ve been slower to learn its lesson.
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Devotionals, Letters

An Upgrade by way of a Dream

I had a dream. The next morning I told it to a friend, and as I told it, I realized that God was speaking to me.

In the dream, I had visited with my family, at my parents’ home. At the end of that visit, someone
across the way started shooting at us from the undergrowth. Because of the danger, everyone else left, and as he drove off, my dad told me that he had a weapon I could use. It was in the hall closet.

I ran to the closet, and searched under the bed linens. I remember checking the shelf from left to right; I found a tiny handgun, a pea-shooter, really. It didn’t even look like a gun; it looked like a tiny tambourine. It was obviously not going to be accurate at any distance beyond a yard or so, and wouldn’t pack much punch. It was a weapon, but not as powerful a weapon as I needed.


After a great deal of hard work and persistence, which were not part of the dream, I overcame the enemy.

Later, as the family was driving back up the driveway, I realized I stopped looking before exploring the whole closet. I dug into the linen closet again. On the same shelf, a bit farther to the right, I found another weapon: a large, semi-automatic pistol, probably a .45 caliber. Next to it was a package of extra ammunition wrapped to protect it from age. It had been there all along for me to use.

On reviewing the dream, I believe God was telling me that He has made another weapon available to me, beyond the weapon of worship that I’d been using, a new weapon that I hadn’t yet. It was a much larger & more powerful weapon. (And indeed, that was my experience.)

I suspect there’s a fair bit of this going on, God upgrading his kids’ weaponry, training our hands to war.

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Devotionals, Letters

A Purpose for the Battle Against Us

War, it has been said, is hell. It gets tiring.
I find myself looking forward to the end of each battle. I don’t plan to, but I find myself considering “life without a battle raging around me” as a sign of success. Whew! I made it! 
I don’t think Father agrees.
I believe that sometimes God specifically and intentionally brings the battle to me. I get it that I don’t always embrace the “overwhelming conqueror” moniker, and so he needs to help me get there. And yeah, I understand that sometimes I open a door that the enemy would love to exploit.
But I’m coming to believe that he brings the battle to me for another reason. I suspect that he lures the enemy into battle – and it must be with his sons, the enemy wouldn’t survive battle with God for even a nanosecond – as part of His almighty plan to plunder the devil.
In fact, I’m going to go so far as to say that sometimes the battle that I’m in right now, especially the battle that I didn’t expect to be in right now, is really more of an announcement, like the “Coming Attractions” features at the movie house. This is what you’re going to get for plunder after you’ve beaten this puny little stronghold.
We’ve talked about God’s promised wealth transfer. Proverbs 13:22b talks about how “the wealth of the sinner is stored up for the righteous.” I think we’ve misunderstood this.
I’ve heard this taught as a promise we just need to claim: “Receive it by faith,” they shouted (and it wasn’t always during the offering message!). I don’t think it’s as easy as that.
First, I’m not convinced that the “wealth” God is speaking of is merely financial, just as the inheritance we leave to our kids (13:32a) is merely financial (see also Hebrews 12:16).
I’m also aware that Father wants his kids to be overcomers (see Revelation 2 & 3). It’s tough to become a competent overcomer without practice overcoming stuff.
I’m beginning to suspect is combining these two values. He’s luring the devil into our gun-sights so that we can overcome him, and also so that we can take back what he’s taken from us. (Remember that the devil was broke when God threw him out of Heaven; anything he’s gained since then has been by deceit, trickery or outright theft.)
It’s pretty important, and in my own world, it’s increasingly difficult (probably some more of my training, as in Hebrews 12:7-11) to discern exactly what the battle is that we’re fighting. Yeah, stuff is going wrong. Yeah, my soul and my spirit are wrestling with an oppressing thing. Yeah, hope is difficult, or clear thought is a greater fight than usual. But WHAT IS THE REAL BATTLE?
As we discern the nature of the enemy who has been lured against us, we’ll see more clearly how to kick his buttocks up between his ears, but more importantly, we’ll also get a glimpse of the plunder, the wealth, that Father has planned for our inheritance.

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If seeing is believing, then what are you looking at?
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