June 29, 2009

Prayer at Thirty Thousand Feet

7/25/08 - Taken from my journal on the way out to a three day Veil Arms event with The Glorious Unseen and The Ember Days - "30,000 ft. above sea level en-route to Amarillo, TX via Dallas via Nashville". This prayer really hits home as so much has changed in my life in less than a year's time. Much of the change was prayed about in this prayer, of which I had no idea at the time, that God would so willingly and quickly respond to.

Come Lord Jesus! Meet me here as I'm closer to heaven now than I've ever been. The skies reflect the beauty of your hands. The clouds are perfectly set to the rhythm of your voice. Peace abounds in this space between the dimension of earth below and vast blue sky above. I feel as though I'm nothing more than an ant or a speck of dirt in the grand scheme. You extend power and opportunity, in one single breath, to transform even dirt into refreshingly vibrant life.

Teach me to pray, teach me to serve, teach me to speak, to write, to trust, to believe in the impossible, to see potential in every person, place and time. Teach me to prophecy Your kingdom come and will be done on earth as it is in heaven. You have my heart, please perform the surgical work of minimizing what is mine and maximizing what is Yours. Give me eyes to see that in You, all things are converted from the formula of impossible to the all-caps, POSSIBLE! Forgive me for years spent doubting your plan and ability to put me to work. Praise you for using me even when I've brought nothing to offer. Would you pour open the blinds of heaven to shine forth glory to a people so quick to hide themselves from you? Do a work that could only be attributed to the inspiring creativity of your plans. Move anything/anyone out of the way and please shine forth.

Give us eyes to see and ears to hear. Teach us to live so differently that we can't help but run to you under any situation or circumstance. Set the devil and his friends under the watchful weight of your feet. Give them not an ounce of leash with which to disrupt your plans. Teach us to be on guard, quick to drop to our knees - ready at any time to rush into battle. Not quick to judge or deflate but nimble to move according to the Spirit's voice. Speak. Speak. Speak.

Holy Spirit, you are recognized here as my much-needed helper. You are invited to be my guide. Counsel me in all God's truth. Fill this mind and heart with a burning passion to see the Father glorified in the Son. Teach me diligence, teach me devotion, teach me total reliance on you. The burden is not mine to carry but you offer to carry both the man and the burden. Thank You. What can my words express without the firm action required of true faith? Keep me close to the humble and far from the proud. Pour out salvation that the lost would once again be found, that sight would be returned to the blind.

Have mercy God, in Your Son's name. Have mercy on the hungry and bring hunger to those who believe the lie that they are full. Teach me true hunger. Remove distractions from holding me back. Empower me with a Spirit of boldness. Lovingly bold, truthfully blunt. I have no options outside of faith in Your Son's death, resurrection and glorification. Here I am. Not as anyone other than servant to all and undeserving friend of the only Almighty Power that is able to keep me flying forward. I am forever grateful. Thank you God.

May God direct each of your path's this week and would you once again lay all of your cares on Him.

June 24, 2009

Upon the Grindstone

Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? As it is written:

“For Your sake we are killed all day long;
We are accounted as sheep for the slaughter.”

Yet in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us. For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Romans 8:35-39)

This excerpt is taken from a book written back in the 1930's that I can certainly relate to as I'm sure many of you can as well:

The best steel is subjected to the alternatives of extreme heat and extreme cold. In a cutlery you will notice that knife-blades are heated and beaten, and then heated again and plunged into the coldest water in order to give them the right shape and temper. You will also observe a large heap of rejected blades, rejected because they would not bear the tempering process; when put upon the grindstone little flaws appeared in some that up to that point had seemed perfect; others would not bear the tempering process.

Souls are heated in the furnace of affliction, plunged into the cold waters of tribulation, and ground between the upper and nether stones of adversity and disaster. Some come out ready for the highest services; others are unfit for any but the lowest uses.

Would you be of account among the forces which are working out the salvation of the world? Be still in the Hands of God until He tempers you!

"Stop Now!" says the knife-blade to the Cutler. "I have been in the fire often enough! Would you burn the life out of me?" But again it goes into the glowing furnace and is heated to white heat. "Stop hammering! I have been pounded enough already." But down comes the sledge. "Keep me out of this cold water! One moment in the fiery furnace, and the next in ice water. It is enough to kill one!" But in it goes. "Keep me off the grindstone! You'll chafe the life out of me!" But it is made to kiss the stone until the Cutler is satisfied. Now see! You may bend it double; yet it springs back straight as an arrow. It is as bright as polished silver, hard as a diamond, and will cut like a Damascus blade. It has been shaped, tempered and polished; it is now worth something.

Be still, and let God temper and polish you, and you will be worth something, too. Allow yourself to be prepared for usefulness. He will give you a post of holy renown if you will let Him fit you for it.

Be still in the furnace fire while the Holy Ghost moulds and polishes your soul.

Rev. R.V. Lawrence

Lord, forgive us for the many times that we've assumed our every trial and tribulation is something to be avoided. For all those times that we run from distress or persecution, questioning how in the world we would manage. Jesus, help us to survive life's beating and come out on the other end completely transformed into useful tools in your service. Would you allow us this week to be still and know that our hardships are designed by You for the perfecting of our faith. Had they not been from you, or had they not been meant for us, You never would have allowed them in the first place. Thank you for not giving us more than we can handle. (1 Cor. 10:13)

June 15, 2009

The Peril of Not Progressing

Therefore, leaving the discussion of the elementary principles of Christ, let us go on to perfection, not laying again the foundation of repentance from dead works and of faith toward God, of the doctrine of baptisms, of laying on of hands, of resurrection of the dead, and of eternal judgment. And this we will do if God permits. For it is impossible for those who were once enlightened, and have tasted the heavenly gift, and have become partakers of the Holy Spirit, and have tasted the good word of God and the powers of the age to come, if they fall away, to renew them again to repentance, since they crucify again for themselves the Son of God, and put Him to an open shame. For the earth which drinks in the rain that often comes upon it, and bears herbs useful for those by whom it is cultivated, receives blessing from God; but if it bears thorns and briers, it is rejected and near to being cursed, whose end is to be burned.

But, beloved, we are confident of better things concerning you, yes, things that accompany salvation, though we speak in this manner. For God is not unjust to forget your work and labor of love which you have shown toward His name, in that you have ministered to the saints, and do minister. And we desire that each one of you show the same diligence to the full assurance of hope until the end, that you do not become sluggish, but imitate those who through faith and patience inherit the promises. (Hebrews 6: 1-12)

Are you being constantly driven forward by the Spirit of God or are you finding yourself in a frustrating position of being stuck? Do you see signs of fruit in your life and in the lives of those you spend time with? Is God your utmost priority or has He taken the back burner? All of these questions beg to be answered and I'm personally challenged in the asking. As much as we're all well-trained to put on a smile and cheerfully declare that "everything is fine", most of us fall prey to the condition of half-hearted living. It's all too easy, especially in the times of testing or trials, to trade in the "love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control" fruit-of-the-spirit (Gal. 5:22-23) for a lack-luster attempt at just getting by. I've been guilty of this recently and I'm so grateful for God's undeniable mercy. He never let's us sink to the point of no return....but He does allow us to sink. More times than not, the Lord wants us to sink to a point of realizing that we have not a single glimmer of hope other than His deliverance.

This passage starts out by speaking to the position that tempts any of us who are striving to be more Christ-like. That temptation is to make the quick turn into theological debate over what seems like deep, intellectual (even spiritual), conversation - that, at the end of the day, lacks the vitality of true Spirituality. We will only move into the place that pleases God IF He wills it. Which, by the way, He absolutely wills. How do we know? Because Jesus himself made it clear; "For my Father's will is that everyone who looks to the Son and believes in him shall have eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day." (John 6:40) The difference between a real relationship of not just understanding, but mostly practicing, are:

1. Being enlightened
2. Tasting the heavenly gift
3. Becoming partakers of the Holy Spirit
4. Tasting the good word of God and the powers of the age to come
(For deeper study go here)

The warning for those who have experienced all of the above, and then turn their backs on Christ, is powerfully frightful. But, as frightening as it might be, it should also be reassuring. Reassuring in the sense that many of us have claimed Christianity but lack in experiencing one or more of these areas. The commentary by Matthew Henry says it far better than I ever could.

Every part of the truth and will of God should be set before all who profess the gospel, and be urged on their hearts and consciences. We should not be always speaking about outward things; these have their places and use, but often take up too much attention and time, which might be better employed. The humbled sinner who pleads guilty, and cries for mercy, can have no ground from this passage to be discouraged, whatever his conscience may accuse him of. Nor does it prove that any one who is made a new creature in Christ, ever becomes a final apostate from him. The apostle is not speaking of the falling away of mere professors, never convinced or influenced by the gospel. Such have nothing to fall away from, but an empty name, or hypocritical profession. Neither is he speaking of partial declinings or backslidings. Nor are such sins meant, as Christians fall into through the strength of temptations, or the power of some worldly or fleshly lust. But the falling away here mentioned, is an open and avowed renouncing of Christ, from enmity of heart against him, his cause, and people, by men approving in their minds the deeds of his murderers, and all this after they have received the knowledge of the truth, and tasted some of its comforts. Of these it is said, that it is impossible to renew them again unto repentance. Not because the blood of Christ is not sufficient to obtain pardon for this sin; but this sin, in its very nature, is opposite to repentance and every thing that leads to it.

If you feel as though you haven't truly experienced the four conditions listed in this passage as descriptions of the true believer, than as Henry' suggests, cry out for mercy and ASK God to help you. Pray through each of them and ask that He would open your eyes and ears to what He has in store for you. "For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened." (Matthew 7:8) God WILL help you and He will give you what you need.

What I need more than financial breakthrough (much-less financial "security"), greater opportunities, more friends, nicer belongings, good health, or anything else on earth is "faith and patience to inherit the promises". We can exist on very little but we can't even begin to breathe eternal oxygen apart from a "full assurance of hope" that, by faith and patience, will bring us through to the very end. There's not a thing we can pull off on our own strength other than God's divine ability to strengthen us for the journey.

Join me in asking the Lord to draw us deeper into all things that bring Him glory. Progress is not a good thing, a noble accomplishment, or even a lofty goal. Progress in our spiritual maturity is ESSENTIAL.

God, please empower us to enter your work and labor of love which we desire to show toward your Son, Jesus. Strengthen our feeble hearts so that we long to minister to the saints. Keep us from our own natural tendency to fall into the trap of sluggards, even the kind who seem to busy themselves in every way but in pursuing You. Take our focus off everything around us that is not essential towards our progress as kids acting in quick obedience towards their Daddy. We love You and desperately need You. Enlighten us, allow us to taste your heavenly gift, to become partakers of the Holy Spirit, and to taste your good Word along with the powers of the age. Forgive us our unbelief and overcome in us any hurdles that might prevent your desire to force us along in progress.

June 10, 2009

The Promise of Wings

Have you not known?
Have you not heard?
The everlasting God, the LORD,
The Creator of the ends of the earth,
Neither faints nor is weary.
His understanding is unsearchable.
He gives power to the weak,
And to those who have no might He increases strength.
Even the youths shall faint and be weary,
And the young men shall utterly fall,
But those who wait on the LORD
Shall renew their strength;
They shall mount up with wings like eagles,
They shall run and not be weary,
They shall walk and not faint.

(Isaiah 40:28-31)
Keep silence before Me, O coast lands,
and let the people renew their strength!
(Is. 41:1 - the passage that immediately follows 40:31)

The latter portion of this passage is all too familiar to most of us. We've probably seen the countless plaques, posters, and other random merchandise inspired by the verse of Isaiah 40:31. But, have we ever stopped to consider the context or implication of this verse? Do we even believe this to be true in our lives? This verse is Christian "cliche" but I'm not convinced that we take it seriously enough. Have we ever noticed the passages both before and after 40:31? Before (my paraphrase): Everlasting God, creator of the entire universe, never faints in giving power to the weak. After (my paraphrase): I can silence the earth just to renew their strength.

There is a certain cause and effect in this passage that, simply put, looks like this:

Reality: God is so strong that He never tires or grows weary from helping us.
Condition: waiting on the Lord
Result: fly like eagles, run and not grow weary, walk and not faint.

I know I'm guilty of passing up this promise of endurance because I lack the patience to wait on God's timing and perfect will. Usually I'm in such a hurry to make something happen that I'm willing to step out on my own flimsy limb, assuming it will hold. It never does, and time after time, God teaches me the lesson of total dependency on Him. Earlier in the chapter a verse really caught my eye; "Who has directed the Spirit of the Lord, or as His counselor has taught Him?" (vs. 13). Who are we to think we can push our agenda on the Spirit? It's so simple and still so easy to lose track of. We are not at all captains of our own ships, steering our lives in whatever direction we please. Instead, we're more like helpless passengers who, once on board, learn to enjoy the voyage trusting the Captain is in charge with a crew who are fully aware of the conditions. In our case, even after waiting this short vapor we call life, and the ship goes down, we are still being held by the Anchor of our very souls. I don't know about you, but there is such confidence and reassurance in the thought that God lacks nothing, He is stunned by nothing, He is held back by nothing, and He spares no expense to come to our aid. It is best said here:

Behold, the Lord GOD shall come with a strong hand,
And His arm shall rule for Him;
Behold, His reward is with Him,
And His work before Him.
He will feed His flock like a shepherd;
He will gather the lambs with His arm,
And carry them in His bosom,
And gently lead those who are with young. (Is. 40: 10&11)

If you feel (or think) as though you are failing in your walk as a believer in Jesus, maybe it's time you surrender your own efforts to please God (or especially others) and begin to wait on His renewing strength to take you up in flight, to run life's marathon, or even to endlessly walk without ever growing tired. The beauty of this passage is that He doesn't just promise wings, which at times, seem nearly impossible to fathom, much less, achieve. He gives us what we need, when we need it - even if that is helping us with only the simple act of walking. We might be praying that God would turn us into spiritual giants who are gifted at soaring high like eagles but He might see fit to teach us first how to walk or run. Regardless of the sequence of flying, running, or walking - God promises supernatural help along the journey IF we wait on Him. Don't get ahead of yourself. Stop trying to strap on your own wings. It's not worth the battle to run (or even walk) on your own, you will collapse in the end. Wait for the Lord to come upon you with His strong hand and even the most daunting of impossibilities turn optimistic possibilities.

The major difference between the promise of wings and that of weary less running or faint less walking is that, with a lot of practice and hard work, most of us could run and walk fairly well. Growing wings is in a category all together impossible apart from the supernatural supply of God's power.

"Those who wait upon the Lord shall obtain a marvelous addition to their resources: they shall obtain wings! They become endowed with power to rise above things. Men who don not soar always have small views of things. Wings are required for breadth of view. The wing-life is characterized by a sense of proportion. To see things aright we must get away from them. An affliction looked at from the lowlands may be stupendous; looked at from the heights, it may appear little or nothing. This "light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory." What a breadth of view!" - (Springs in the Valley, Chas E. Cowman)

For deeper digging, read Isaiah 40 & 41 - both are loaded!

June 3, 2009

Waiting On The Lord

I would have lost heart, unless I had believed that I would see the goodness of the LORD in the land of the living. Wait on the LORD; be of good courage, and He shall strengthen your heart; wait, I say, on the LORD! (Psalm 27: 13&14)

I can't even begin to tell you how much I can relate with this passage. Yesterday morning I awoke with such a heavy feeling of desperation, heavy enough that I just couldn't shake it. As I began to seek the Lord and ask Him what in the world was going on and how much longer I could take this testing in my life, He responded with the phrase, "Wait on Me". The feeling of desperation and despair didn't leave me instantly, but within a few hours I really began to understand what God was doing in my heart. He's been in the business of breaking me down, to the point where I am utterly and hopelessly dependent on Him. I can attest to the fact that I've never been at this place of brokenness before the Lord, ever. As hard as the daily trials can be, I find such comfort in the simple truths of God's word, the peace He places over me to "guard my heart and mind through Christ Jesus", and the massive encouragement from friends and family who realize the depth of my struggle. This waiting is not of the kind that we can all easily relate to, whether it be in an airport, at a bus-stop, or in a long line. This is the kind of waiting that is fixed on the hope of a divine breakthrough, an expectation for a supernatural release. Waiting, when it is fueled by hope and expectation, should feel more like the child who is eagerly on edge to see what gifts he's received on his birthday. Waiting proves and refines our faith. If all we were required to do was pray a simple prayer and wait 10 seconds for our desired response, what faith would we really be setting forth? "Without faith it is IMPOSSIBLE to please God!" (Hebrews 11:6). I believe it pleases the Lord to see us waiting with great expectation on His deliverance. It proves that, despite the odds, we are holding fast to the only God who hears, and answers, our cries.

We recently posted a video clip (you can view it here) that briefly summarizes the vision and heart of what God has called me to. One of the points I make is that there is just no way to compare my past, present (or future) sufferings with the possibility that even ONE single soul would come into God's Kingdom for all eternity. When I made that statement, I really believed it and meant it. But now, I actually feel it. I believe the Lord is allowing me to feel desperation for Him so I can relate His desperation towards others. He loves and pursues every opportunity to lead even one lost sheep back into His heavenly fold. "I say to you that likewise there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine just persons who need no repentance." (Luke 15:7) God is teaching me to feel His heart for the lost. I've always had a passion for sharing the Gospel with others, so there has always been a part of who I am that is drawn to those lost and in need of finding their way home. It's an entirely new process and position to allow God the room to do whatever He wants in my heart, though. He is pulling out of me all those deep roots, some of which I didn't even know to exist. One of those areas is pride. I've always considered myself a fairly humble person. A very humble person by music industry standards. But God is teaching me humility based on the standard that Jesus alone was qualified to set.

As I learn to wait on the Lord for pretty much everything in life right now, but especially the establishment of the vision He's given me for Come&Live!, I find that, now more than ever, He is strengthening my heart with a determination and passion that I could never muster on my own. On a good day, I feel as though I'm standing on a mountain and can see for miles in every direction, just breathing in the crisp air of God's height and depth, His length and width. On a bad day this vision seems like nothing more than a late night dream, one that passes quickly by, leaving hardly a thing but a faint and distant memory. Through the good and the bad there is a strength in my heart that believes that God is best defined by the word POSSIBLE. "With man this is impossible, but not with God; all things are possible with God." (Mark 10:27) So, once again, God allows His Spirit to intertwine with the depth of who I am, shedding off all things that do not bring Him the utmost glory, reminding me that I am already victorious by choosing to arm myself with the weapon of faith.

If you are wondering where God is or why He hasn't shown up just yet (especially in the ways you assumed He would), ask yourself whether there might be a grander work that He is interested in building within you. He cares about us more than the birds of the air or grasses of the field, to the point where He will allow us to be tested and tried for His greater good in us. "Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything." (James 1: 2-4)

God is on your side, even today. Even when it feels like He has ended all communication with you (which I have certainly experienced). It is not for any other reason than the required work of transforming you from child into Man (or woman) of God.

I pray that God would release His presence to you, that He would strengthen your heart even right now, that He would give you the grace, peace, and patience to "Wait on The Lord". That, through it all, you would be of good courage! Your testing will not last forever. Breakthrough is on it's way, even if it would tarry until He carries you through Heaven's gates. Wait on Him (He is deliverance), and be of good courage (He is strong when you are weak). Wait on Him (Help is coming)!

May our cups overflow with love for our neighbor and Savior today.



A few other sweet "Waiting" verses are:

Psalm 130:5
I wait for the LORD, my soul waits,And in His word I do hope.

Isaiah 8:17
And I will wait on the LORD, Who hides His face from the house of Jacob; And I will hope in Him.

Isaiah 25:9
And it will be said in that day: “ Behold, this is our God; We have waited for Him, and He will save us. This is the LORD; We have waited for Him; We will be glad and rejoice in His salvation.”

Micah 7:7
Therefore I will look to the LORD; I will wait for the God of my salvation; My God will hear me.

James 5:7
Therefore be patient, brethren, until the coming of the Lord. See how the farmer waits for the precious fruit of the earth, waiting patiently for it until it receives the early and latter rain.