Mother’s Day Fantasy

“Can I just check myself into the nursery and sit in the corner with a sippy cup full of wine for an hour or two—or six?”

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The alarm goes off—it’s Sunday, Mother’s day.

You informed everyone the night before that they will all be going to church tomorrow lest there be any doubt. It’s Mother’s day and you are going to have a nice day with your family. You are going to church— let everyone see what a wonderful family you have, that you are the godly parent providing for their spiritual nourishment.

After church your family is taking you to a nice sit down restaurant and you are going to pretend that you are not stressing over how much this is taking out of your budget for the month.

So, the alarm goes off—way too early, you are the first one up and you were the last one in bed because you had to finish the laundry. You jump into the shower, throw on your robe and go wake up the kids. They are all in a state of suspended animation so this takes several attempts over a 25 minute period making you more frustrated and leaving you less time to do something with your still wet hair.

Finally they are all sprawled across the furniture out in the living room, hugging their blankets and making unpleasant mumbling sounds. A few moments later from the bathroom you know they are finally waking up because they are now starting to snarl at each other until one of them screams; “Mom, Johnny called me a poopy head!” You scream back; “Go brush your teeth and find something to eat!”

Your husband shouts above the sound of clanging pans, “I’m making oatmeal!’ Your youngest replies, “I want sketios.” Husband; “You can’t have Sketios for breakfast, you’re eating oatmeal, that’s what’s for breakfast.” The chorus continues as you close the bathroom door to focus on getting ready.

20 minutes later you emerge from the bathroom to make sure the kids are finding the right clothes to wear. Your youngest is wearing her oatmeal—as is the stove top. Johnny is just sitting at the table staring at his bowl determined to outlast his Dad who told him he is not moving until he eats and your teenage daughter is informing you that you are ruining her life by not allowing her to wear the outfit she came home from the mall with last week and she has already texted fifteen of her friends and posted three selfies on Facebook of her new tongue piercing, which is now swollen, possibly infected, and makes her lisp like Gopher on Winnie the Pooh.

You would laugh but you are convinced that she will probably die from the infection and you are already trying to figure out how you are going to get her into a doctor on a Sunday afternoon. But first, ‘we are having Mother’s Day!’ Fifteen more minutes magically disappeartime flies when your frantic—“Everyone in the car, where going to be late!”

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Where’s your youngest? She’s in her room cutting the hair on her My Little Pony. She has already taken off her new dress and replaced it with her Toys R Us  Princess Anna dress, ‘Ughhh!” no time to change, you grab her and a pair of her shoes and head out the door only to find out half way to church that you grabbed the Minnie Mouse shoes and she wanted her Dory shoes and you are going to hear about it the rest of the way there. She won’t keep them on anyway so what does it matter?

Your husband and oldest daughter aren’t on speaking terms right now because of the piercing thing, but at least they’re quiet.

You walk into church half way through worship, send the kids in all the right directions, plop down in a chair way to close to the front because that is what’s left and pretend you are able to focus even for one minute on worship. You hear a phone ring and it about sets you off—“Who could be so inconsiderate!” Then you realize it is yours, you forgot to put it on silence.

‘Can I just check myself into the nursery and sit in the corner with a sippy cup full of wine for an hour or two—or six?’

And that’s just Sunday morning.

Happy Mother’s Day!? I am a miserable mother and I’ll be lucky if my children don’t grow up to be ax murderers.

It Is Enough

I bet if I could took a poll every mother reading this would say they feel or have felt this way. And you can bet your own mother’s often felt this way as well. You are tasked with raising little human beings with all the complexities of emotion and thought that anyone else has, each with a different and unique personality and way of thinking.

Yet, when you get them, they have absolutely no idea how to deal with any of those things. They have all the potential and none of the tempering experience, and you, probably have little or no experience being a mother. and training these needy helpless complex creatures on how to be a functional person in a world that few really understand in the first place now seems way beyond your pay grade.

You went into this with an idea in your head of how it would or should be. ‘Sweet little darlings to nurture and love, entertain and delight with crafts to do, cookies to bake together and eat, board games and activities with other wonderful kids from the neighborhood.’

You are going to teach them how to sew and garden, cheer them on in sports and be the 4-H mom that is able to volunteer for everything. Your kids are going to sing in the church choir and everyone will envy you for having such wonderful children and they will grow up and give you grandchildren who can’t wait to come over and spend time at your knee listening to the stories of your wonderful life and memorize Bible verses.

You might think that because that’s what you hear from your neighbors, you saw it on that Christmas movie on the Hallmark Channel —or that’s what you remember from your own childhood. You just want to give your kids that perfect childhood.

There are no perfect childhoods—at least not by the impossible standards of our fantasy’s. But there are perfect memories. Not that things are remembered perfectly, but that in memory they become perfect.

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You think back and remember the good times you had as a kid, the things you learned, the adventures you had back when everything was new and exciting and you felt safe and loved because your Mom was always there and always cared. She probably remembers the chaos because while you were being covered in love she was being covered in bodily fluids. While you were learning about the wonders of the universe above she was being annoyed by your constant questions while she was trying to balance the check book and figure out how to pay the gas bill.

You get my point, all we can do is the best we can do and by God’s grace, if we indeed care, it is somehow enough, more than enough. You are not tasked with creating the perfect person, there is only one creator and he has already done the hard part and yet he never quits working on until the task is complete. What he is asking you to do is to help them build the foundation.

What you need to do is give your kids the foundation to build on, the corner stone, give them Jesus. How do you do that?—You do the best that you can and you keep caring. You build the foundation by caring, and you keep caring—always.

You keep standing on the rock, loving them, praying for them, being there for them, getting them here to church to hear about Jesus from a teacher who is devoted to teaching them God’s word and giving you the opportunity to be fed as well.

All the Lord asks of us as parents, just as he does in our relationship with him, is that we keep doing our best and never give up knowing that it is not entirely up to us.

You love them for Jesus, and keep knowing that you are loved as well, by him, by your kids and by us. And every day is a new day.

on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not prevail against it.

Cherish this day

If there is one piece of advice I can leave you with—mothers—is this; enjoy this day, cherish the chaos and noise because one day you’re going to miss it. Trust me, my wife will tell you the same thing; each and every day with your kids is a gift, and one day your kids will look back and say the same. Your kids would never trade you for another, you are their mom.

Keep standing on and loving from the rock—you are immovable, and that’s all your kids really want anyway.

. . .you also, as living stones, are being built up a spiritual house, a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. Therefore it is also contained in the Scripture,

“Behold, I lay in Zion
A chief cornerstone, elect, precious,
And the one who believes on Him will by no means be put to shame.” 1 Peter 2:5,6

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Jesus Still Shows Up

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 “Behold the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!”

Jesus doesn’t just appear on the river bank anymore, but he does still show up. I have seen it happen over and over again, when Jesus touches the heart of a person because of the witness I or someone else might bear, it is very evident, often very emotional and I never get tired of seeing it—it always makes my heart rejoice.

Seeing a hard heart melt, the fear dissipate like fog on a lake when the sun rises, seeing the tears of healing and joy flow, often leaving the person having the encounter wondering why they are even crying when they suddenly feel so full of joy. You cannot tell me that Jesus is not real and that he does not reveal himself to people today, I have seen it happen over and over again.

Jesus still shows up today—”Behold the Lamb of God” But this almost always happens after someone comes announcing that he is coming. Before Jesus can come into a heart, can be believed and received, before the Father can melt a cold heart there must be a harbinger, a messenger, a voice of one speaking with the voice of the one.

We are called to proclaim the Lord, just as John the Baptist—the first witness of Christ.

22 Then they said to him, “Who are you, that we may give an answer to those who sent us? What do you say about yourself?” 23 He said:

“I am

‘The voice of one crying in the wilderness:
“Make straight the way of the Lord,”’

as the prophet Isaiah said.” John 1

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The Apostle Paul would also quote from Isaiah later, a follow up question to this answer.

And how shall they believe in Him of whom they have not heard? And how shall they hear without a preacher?”

 And how shall they preach unless they are sent? As it is written:

“How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the gospel of peace, . . .“        

 Rom 10:14,15

Reminds me of a little story I heard years ago.

No Back Up Plan

After Jesus ascended back to heaven following his resurrection the Angel Gabrielle asked him how he was going to get the good news of his resurrection power to the world. He replied, “I left my followers to spread the news and all who hear it will share it as well.” Gabrielle replied, “Sounds kind of risky, what is your back up plan?” To which Jesus answered; “I have no back up plan.”

Obviously this is a made up story but there is nothing in scripture to contradict the truth of it. In fact, the scripture we just read asks the same question; ‘how shall they hear unless someone is preaching the Gospel?’

Who is willing to be the voice of the one? It can be hard, it can be intimidating, it can be a sacrifice, it can land you in trouble and in some places even cost you your life or your freedom—as it did John the Baptist. The eternal fate of humanity depends on it, on us and it often seems like a futile pursuit. But the rewards of seeing hearts set free are unmatched by all the riches and comforts of the world.

I didn’t want to be the preacher, I don’t want to be the odd man at work who doesn’t live and react like everyone else. I didn’t want to have to put others before myself, to give up my dream of ranching or having my own business, of being able to spend all my weekends fishing, camping and hunting.

I didn’t want to have to study and pray all the time to be ready to give an answer for the hope that is in me—and I am not talking about just being a pastor— I am talking about living a life devoted to Jesus Christ and being a witness of his mercy and grace, his offer of salvation for all who call on his name.

I would rather just look out for my kingdom, build a life for my family and not worry about anyone else—but that is not why I was put on this earth, it is not why any of us was put on this earth and the rewards of following Jesus, of being the voice of one “Behold the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world.” And being the voice of the one;—“Jesus loves you and wants to heal your broken heart and make his home with you, he will never leave you nor forsake you.”

Getting to be that voice and seeing Jesus show up because he was proclaimed—there is nothing on this earth, no joy, no treasure, no stimulation, no drug, nothing can compare to the reward of seeing Jesus heal a wounded heart. I know that joy, so now I do want to be the preacher. If I could figure out a way to preach 6 times a week in every small town in Carbon county and make a living, I would do it. I might just do it anyway—but that’s me, I have a fire in my heart and shut up in my bones and I have to speak or it consumes me.

But he is calling you also to speak, to speak words of life, of healing, ‘proclaiming Jesus is Lord, he loves you and he is just waiting for you to recognize him.’  Jesus does the healing, Jesus does the saving, that is his part, he just asks us to let people know that he is coming to do just that, if they will just turn and look to him, if they will just cry out ‘Lord save me,’ if they will just believe.

Then we get to rejoice with them.

John (the Baptist) Replied. . .

29 The bride belongs to the bridegroom. The friend who attends the bridegroom waits and listens for him, and is full of joy when he hears the bridegroom’s voice. That joy is mine, and it is now complete. John 3:29

Let your joy be complete, be the voice of the One.

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Equal and Respected

“There is no room for the subjugation or devaluing of anyone in God’s

Kingdom. . . “

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The following is an excerpt from my newly released book; Barbarians in the Kingdom

I C O N T E N D T H A T Barbarism is a state of mind, one

the kingdom needs—as long as it is a state of mind that is subject to

Christ. As we saw earlier, the name barbarian was originally a term

used to designate a group of people: those unconquered and uncivilized

tribes living north of the mighty Roman empire. In later centuries those

now “civilized” barbarians would reassign this term to reference the

Norsemen who would pour out of the north, taking what they wanted

and answering to no one. We now know them as Vikings. The sword

and the battle ax was their law—at least in regard to the world outside

of their own communities.

Within their villages and clans they did live by a code of conduct, a

strict and honorable code of conduct that honored and protected women

and children and ensured that all could live in security and that they

each had a voice. Within this codified culture, as in nearly all barbarian

cultures, the women had an equal voice and were respected. Many of

them fought alongside the men in battle and some even led men in

battle; hence the venerated shield maidens—a misnomer, as according

to the Norse sagas they did much more than hold shields and bat their

eyes; they led warriors from the front.

The lower class?

It’s really a notion that comes along with civilization, advanced learning,

and religious regulations, that the women should be subjugated and

diminished to a lower class of citizen. We saw that in ancient Israel—a

very patriarchal culture—and in our own country’s not-so-ancient

history. Until just a few generations ago, women couldn’t even vote, and

if they chose to work outside of the house their options were few as they

were relegated to being nurses, teachers, waitresses, or secretaries. We

now see that religious expression of female subjugation to the extreme

in much of Islam where, under Sharia law, women are little more than

livestock.

God has an answer to that: “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there

is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all

one in Christ Jesus” (Gal. 3:28 NKJV).

Paul reiterates this to the Colossians: “ . . . and have put on the

new man who is renewed in knowledge according to the image of Him

who created him, where there is neither Greek nor Jew, circumcised nor

uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave nor free, but Christ is all and

in all” (Col. 3:10–11 NKJV).

There is no room for the subjugation or devaluing of anyone in God’s

kingdom, and again we see the barbarian put on an equal footing with

the “oh so philosophical” Greek and the spiritual and meticulously pious

Jew. Everyone—man, woman, slave, and free—is equal in the kingdom

of God among those who put their hope in Christ. So again I ask the question.

Why do we strive to emulate the “Greek” and the “Jew”—the

sophisticated and the religious?—“Let’s debate and argue theology until

we don’t even remember what the debate is about anymore, and let’s

see how many more rules and rituals we can cram into our written, and

unwritten, personal books of do’s and don’ts until we get so caught up

in the doing, so hung up in the nuances of our theological bents, that

we forget what the purpose of it all was in the first place.”— that we

can no longer see the forest for the trees.

According to this scripture, there is no advantage to being one over

the other, for our identity is now in Christ. The woman should not strive

and desire to be like the man. The Greek should not try to become the

Jew; the barbarian should not try to emulate—to try to act like someone

they are not—as though we must fit into a certain mold; “I must be

sophisticated and highly educated like the Greek. I have to be a shining

example of religious perfection like the God-fearing Jew—always seeking.” barbarian-meme

The point is, be who you are! That’s what this is saying.

If you are of the barbarian persuasion—then be the barbarian! That

is the simplicity of purpose. You cannot spend your life trying to be

someone you are not. If you commit yourself to Christ as a barbarian

and he welcomes you into his arms of love, then be the best barbarian

for Christ that you can be. He loved and called you for who you are. It’s

hard enough to keep the flesh at bay and try to keep the Spirit prevalent

in our hearts—we don’t need to make it all but impossible by trying to

be someone we are not. Playing yourself in the drama of life is much

simpler than playing someone else—someone you wish you were, or

were told you must be.

BAR COVER

Buy now at Amazon.com

 

The Battle is Real

“I think the next generation of warriors are being prepared to fight on a higher plane.”

warrior-armor-helmet-shield-sword-background-renderingThis charge I commit to you, son Timothy, according to the prophecies previously made concerning you, that by them you may wage the good warfare, having faith and a good conscience. . . 1 Tim 118,19

We have the power of heaven at our disposal if we’ll just believe and learn how to wield it. We can command demons to flee, illness to cease, darkness to dispel, curses to be broken, broken hearts to mend, the lame to walk and even the dead to rise—if we only learn to walk in that power, to fight the good fight, to keep striving for, praying for, fasting for, trusting for, the power of God that lies within us to be released, for our will to come into perfect alignment with God’s will, for all fear to vanish and all doubt to be no more.

That is where God is taking us, that is where I want to go. I want to take that sword and shield and wield it like I was born with it in my hand. I want to cleave the enemies skull and watch his minions run in terror as God’s angels rush in to rescue the children of the Lord they have left behind as they fled. I want to stand firm in the face of evil and say “No more, your day has ended, this is the day the Lord has made.” I want to speak the words of God that always find their mark, that never return back void and always accomplish that for which they were intended.

 

I want to find myself standing at the gates of heaven one day, weary from preaching the word, even that very day, still swinging the sword he has given me and feeling the sudden release of pressure as the enemy that had just been pressing against my shield is suddenly not there anymore. I want to see heaven for the first time through the visor of my battered helmet as the Lord comes and pulls it off my sweating brow and says “welcome home warrior. You have fought the good fight, and you have won.” Like I heard one of my heroes in the faith, the late 4sq Rev Jerry Cook, say one time, “When I am finished I want to have nothing left, because I am going to use it all for Jesus.”

I’m not saying work yourself to death—I am a big proponent of not working yourself to death for the church, of knowing when to say when. But the point I am making here is, if we are answering the call in the time and place, if the yoke we are bearing is indeed the one Jesus gave us, we can and should go down still swinging. We are eternal beings created to affect eternity, why would we stop just because this temporary flesh is aging?

I just want to encourage you to keep fighting the good fight. If you haven’t stared, start. If you have stopped, pick up your sword and sharpen it up. The Lord still has some battles for you to fight, and if you are a veteran of many battles, you should be leading others into the fray with you.

Paul ends his letter to Timothy the same way he started it, with an admonishment to keep fighting the good fight of faith.

11 But you, O man of God, flee these things and pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, patience, gentleness. 12 Fight the good fight of faith, lay hold on eternal life, to which you were also called and have confessed the good confession in the presence of many witnesses. 1 Tim 6

We lost an incredible warrior for the Kingdom this last week, Billy Graham, he fought the good fight and rescued many, many souls, but—the Reverend Billy was your grandparents warrior. I think we are entering a new and maybe more intense period of warfare, most likely the last gasp of a defeated enemy as the Lord readies to reap the harvest of the earth and put an end to his days and execute the sentence that was handed down to him the day Jesus walked out of the tomb.

I think the next generation of warriors are being prepared to fight on a higher plane. We have a generation who is hungry for spiritual things, who embrace things past generations feared and recognize that there is so much more than what we can see and touch with the flesh. Even the directions of the sciences are turning in that direction, physics and astrology—string theory, parallel universes, worm holes, black holes, dark matter, wrinkles in time—suddenly science, who had denied for years anything beyond the readily explainable, is peering into the unseen realms just beyond our grasp.

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The God of order and design who created this world of carbon and hydrogen that we live in, also created the spiritual, so chances are it is also put together in an orderly and ultimately understandable way. We, who have been given the eyes of the spirit, need to learn to operate in those spiritual places, to recognize the light and the dark aspects of that realm so as not to be seduced by the evil and live in the power of the good so that we can overcome.

The name of Jesus is more than a get out of jail free card—it is the key to eternity—an eternity that we were created for and are now given the keys to.

The Lord has waited patiently for two thousand years, not wanting to put an end to things just yet as he wants to make sure more and more souls have the chance to hear the message of the gospel and to also have a chance to make the good confession and lay ahold of eternal life. But things are spiraling out of control and The Father will not let that happen, not while Jesus is on the throne.

I believe we are on the cusp of seeing an outpouring of the Holy Spirit that will make the Azusa Street revival and the great awakening of the century before that look like warm up bands. We are being called to the front lines, being prepared to face battles ahead that we never dreamed we could ever win let alone witness. We will see the Spirit do things we only read about in the scriptures and scarcely dared believed could be literal.

We are the church, and we will be victorious, if we remember who we are and who our Lord is and why he called us for such a time as this.

For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty in God for pulling down strongholds, casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, 2 Cor 10

The battle is real, but so are your weapons— hone them.

 

 

I Want a Redo!

 

 What is Good

“What, did God get tired of making souls and have to start recycling?”

So teach us to number our days,  that we may gain a heart of wisdom. Ps 90:12

Living a blessed life of purpose and meaning takes an intentionality. But just living a life for the Lord— let alone one that is fulfilling—a life that is not wasted, is a challenge. We need to be intentional about living a life where you don’t just wake up one day when you are old and say; “How the heck did I get here?– I want a redo!” There are no redo’s.

We are given a precious gift of life, of being a uniquely made being with an awareness of self, an insatiable curiosity about the world around us and an inkling of, and a hunger for, things of the Spiritual realm that we somehow know is there but just can’t quite grasp. We must not waste our days or just coast through life because our days are numbered, whether we acknowledge it or not. You don’t get to come back and try again as someone else, God isn’t practicing on you hoping he gets a version that works out.

And as it is appointed for men to die once, but after this the judgment, 28 so Christ was offered once to bear the sins of many.  Heb 9:27-28

One shot

The futility of reincarnation is a lie from the enemy, you live once, you die once, then the judgement. Jesus died once to redeem you from the sins of that one life, that is all that is needed and all that is available. For those whose names are written in the book of life that one death is but a passage to eternity—continued life. For those who have refused the gift of salvation, they will be judged for their deeds—a fair trial by a just God who knows every misdeed, every rebellious and malicious thought— word and deed— we ever entertained or purveyed. I’ll take the free gift of grace, -thank you. A grace that came as a result of the unjust bogus trial we gave Jesus.

Besides, getting through one life is hard enough, who would want to go through all this again, especially with no memory of past experiences from which to learn? Reincarnation? —What, did God get tired of making souls and have to start recycling? Like I said, it’s one of many lies the enemy promotes to convince us to discredit God and his word. If we just keep getting recycled until we get it right then Jesus death was a complete waste of time and had no relevancy whatsoever.

But my point is, this life is all you get as far as who you are and who you will always be. God created you just the way he wanted you to be, your inner self will never cease to be you, whether you are in this fragile flesh, whether you are in spirit with the Lord or after the resurrection of that same flawed flesh into perfection, you will always be who you are today.

Think back on your earliest memories, playing in your yard, fighting with your sister, wondering how those little singing people got inside of the radio or what the midget who lives inside the base of the street light pole making it change eats for dinner.

Remember that inner dialogue as you started to understand the world around you and marvel at how things are?

Think about that inner voice, the sound of it—has that voice changed, are you someone else now? —No, your soul is the same, it has to be, otherwise you wouldn’t remember any of it—that is the you that will still be you in 50 years, in 100 years, a 1000 years—into forever. Yes it will grow and mature and understand more about the world and itself, but at your core you will still be the little girl or boy God created you to be before the messed up world came in and messed with your mind—God can and will cleanse and heal the mind, heal the heart, starting today and lasting forever. That’s why he used his one life in the fragile flesh of a man to heal you.

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Life doesn’t just happen

So what are you doing with you? Are you just letting life happen to you? Or are you using your limited days in this world to the full. You do have a choice, you can steer the course of your life to some extent. At the very least, if it doesn’t go where you hoped it would, it certainly doesn’t have to be wasted. One of the keys to a fulfilling life is just making the decision to not live just for yourself, but to serve God and serve others.

He has shown you, O mortal, what is good. And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God. Micah 6:8

That, I believe, is the difference between a wasted life and a life that means something. God honors the intent and helps steer you into places where you can make a difference. If you are serving him through serving the people he loves—which is everyone—in his name, you stand a pretty good chance of discovering his plan for your life along the way.

You want to know what to do, while you are waiting for his grand plan to be revealed to you and he hands you the keys to your brand new destiny—act justly, love mercy and walk humbly with your God. In other words, get over your bad self. treat people right and keep looking up.

 

Darkophobia

“. . . suddenly I would hear a rustle and the sound of quick footsteps, the creak of the door. . .  “

Light path

They say that the fear of the dark is one of the most common fears there is, right up there with public speaking, claustrophobia, spiders, snakes and mice.

Why do we fear the dark?

We shouldn’t, we mustn’t. Only a heart still in the dark fears the dark.

 In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it. John 1:4,5

The light that we have, the light that illuminates our hearts, is not the kind of light that can always be seen with the eyes. Rather it is an illumination of the spirit. A light, literally a life, the life of Christ, who resides in us, and does all the things visible light does only better. It guides us, reveals things to us and dispels darkness. With the true light that brings life we no longer have to fear the darkness, in fact the dark now fears us.

Last week I told you about a time when I was five years old and raiding the refrigerator in spite of the fact that I knew Santa was watching me. What I didn’t tell you was that this was a time of darkness for me, in many ways.

The story reminded me of the house we lived in at the time. It was a big old two story house and we lived on the main floor while the top floor was rented out to someone else.

I was living there with my mother and younger sister because my parents had just gotten divorced so we moved out of our nice new house in the country into this rental in town, while my dad moved into an apartment. My world was turned upside down and I didn’t understand any of it—darkness.

During this time I also became deathly afraid of the dark as well. My bedroom had a window next to my bed that looked right into the window of the house next door, which was only about six feet away, and the house was abandoned. Which to me meant that it was surely haunted. So not only did I have to worry about the spooks in my own bedroom who were just waiting for me to go to sleep so they could get me, I had to worry about the ones in the house next door who were also watching me—darkness.

So I would lay in bed afraid to close my eyes, hearing every creek and pop an old house makes, convinced that it was a monster or a skeleton watching me from the closet or patiently waiting under my bed for me to fall asleep so they could come out and get me or do whatever spooks do in your room in the dead of night. Then suddenly I would hear a rustle and the sound of quick footsteps, the creak of the door, and the fearful scream of a little girl fading away down the hall.

It was my 3 year old sister, with whom I shared a room, getting up as she did nearly every night sometime after we were tucked in, to run crying to my mother’s room because she was scared or had had a bad dream. She would then crawl into bed with my mother leaving me all alone in my dark bedroom. I tried the same trick a time or two but was told I was too old; “Go back to bed.” Darkness

I would spend the next several years afraid of the dark. We would move several times and I would end up sharing a room with a stepbrother, but I would still imagine the spooks in the night patiently waiting for me to close my eyes. Thinking about now I see the truth; I had always made the correlation between my fear of the dark being caused by moving into the scary house next to the scarier house because I wasn’t afraid before that. But looking back now with the eyes of the Spirit illuminated  by the true light I think my fear of the dark had more to do with the spiritual darkness that crept into our family and taunted my young heart as my family was ripped apart by divorce and meshed with a family broken by suicide—darkness

 

Darkness is more hiding-1209131_960_720than just a lack of sunlight, it is a spiritual condition. Whether it was caused by an actual dark spirit or simply by the virtue of my Dad not being there to bring light into our home—by the darkness caused by the confusion of the situation, seeing and hearing my parents tear each other apart in a really nasty divorce, or by the new dad whom I was being forced to accept, I don’t know, most likely it was a combination of all those things.

 

Cover

Parents are supposed to be their children’s cover until they are old enough to receive the light on their own behalf. And if that is missing—that cover—God still has a hand of protection on those kid’s souls, but their world will be one of darkness.

 

I was only just understanding this as I was writing it and thinking of no one but my own family as I continue to try to understand the pain of my childhood, so don’t get all bent out of shape here thinking I was out to pick on anyone—just take it as an exhortation to do the best you can in whatever your family situation to keep your kids covered in prayer, to hold the darkness at bay, and do your best to live in the light yourselves.

 

Like I say over and over again and what I tried to stress in my last book, Hope for Families, ‘every decision you make, especially as a parent, affects so many more people than you think.’ And if you have kids it is no longer about you, if you are married it is no longer about you, and if you are a Christian, it never was about you. It is about Jesus—if he is first in all you do, he will take care of you, orchestrate your steps, illuminate your path and keep you in the light, so you don’t have to look out for you, that’s his job, that is why he invited you into his light.

Selfishness is darkness. The world does not want you to know that because it wants to keep you in the dark, keep you hungry so you will strive for and buy more of what it is selling; ‘You deserve this, you deserve that— you deserve to be happy, you deserve a new car, a new phone, a bigger house, time for yourself—a better looking, sweeter, harder working husband or wife who will make you happy. Go find yourself!’

You know what you find when you go find yourself? The enemy waiting for you with open arms saying ‘step into the dark and do what feels good.’

Well, Jesus had something to say about that.

And this is the condemnation, that the light has come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. 20 For everyone practicing evil hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his deeds should be exposed. John 3

You are so much more thaPowerful Bible.n that. You are a child of the living God, a child of the light, the light that shines in the darkness, the light that the darkness cannot overcome, does not understand and cannot stand against—there is absolutely no reason to fear him, to put up with him, no reason why you cannot tell him to take a hike—‘you do not scare me, in fact, you do not even bother me, you just let yourself out, don’y let the door hit you in the ass on the way out and by the way; don’t come back— in the name of Jesus; just be gone! And stay away from my kids as well.’

 

Prophesy

“It’s not a side show talent or something only special people–spiritual super stars–Spirit meme can do. 

29 Let two or three prophets speak, and let the others judge. But if anything is revealed to another who sits by, let the first keep silent. For you can all prophesy one by one, that all may learn and all may be encouraged. 1 Cor 14:29—20

If we are living for and in the Spirit we do not need to conjure up a Holy Spirit official word moment, we need simply to allow the Lord to use our mouths to accomplish his purpose. Whenever I am talking to someone who is seeking help, advice or prayer I always listen to them with one ear attuned to the Spirit and an attitude of prayer.

Then when I do speak, pray or reply, chances are the words are from the Lord. We can all do that. If you have been baptized in the Holy Spirit, if you truly love or seek to love and encourage others in truth, the Lord can and a will use you to speak for him, sometimes without you even realizing it.

Sometimes we are afraid to speak, or speak for him, because we make it such a big thing, like somehow we have to conjure it up or we just assume we can’t, and then we get frustrated—’why can’t I prophecy, why don’t I know which verse to speak, why I am not worthy or spiritual enough to speak for the Lord!?’ Do you love Jesus? Do you love the person you are speaking to? Then yes you can speak words of wisdom and truth that come from the Lord— that is prophecy!

I have people tell me all the time about something I said to them while visiting or praying that I didn’t think was significant at all if I even remember it, but the Lord used the words to change something in their hearts. The Lord wants to encourage and bless us, all of us, why would he not use you to do it? You don’t need to be perfect, you just need to be willing.

Years ago, back in the 80’s, Donna and I went to a Full Gospel Businessmen’s  banquet. Donna’s dad used to invite us to the banquets and even pay our way, he was a big part of their ministry. Full Gospel Businessmen was a Pentecostal ministry started by Demos Shakarian that encouraged men to meet together on a regular basis to encourage and bless one another. There were many men in Billings that I still know that were greatly blessed by this group, many of them went on to become pastors—including myself I suppose.

They were Spirit filled and not afraid to let you know. If you were around them manifestations of the Spirit were expected and frequent. And If you went to a banquet, it was unashamedly Pentecostal.  

heart-fire

I remember one particular banquet quite well, Actually it might have been the first one I went to because Donna and I weren’t married yet, in fact we weren’t even dating. But apparently I had a secret crush on her. You’ll know why in a minute.

The speaker was an older gentleman who had the “gift of prophecy, or words of wisdom,” Honestly, I am not sure what the distinction is, both involve speaking things that originated from God for the purpose of revealing something important to someone that the Lord wants them to know. But anyway, after the really loud and spirited worship and the Chicken Cordon Blue the speaker gets up and just starts giving people messages from the Lord.

This was nothing new to me but I had never seen anyone just spend an hour going around telling people things about themselves that no one could know and encouraging them with good things that were going to happen. I spent the evening scared, not because I thought it was weird, I thought it was awesome and I really wanted to be able to do that. But I was scared because I was afraid he was going to look at me, point at Donna, and say “You are supposed to marry that girl.” Donna was sitting next to me but at that time she was just a sister of my friend Charlie whose Dad had paid for my ticket.

Well, in spite of my fears I wasn’t outed by the prophet and I got to court my future wife at my own pace.

But the reason I tell you that story is because of the first thing I said about that experience; I really wanted to be able to do that. Why? I have to admit that it might have been because I thought it would make me look really cool in a super spiritual way. And, looking back, I don’t remember being encouraged or anyone else being encouraged to share a word, it was all about the “Prophet.” I hate to say it, but it was kind of a Pentecostal side show.

I struggle with things like that, like the big name healers who fill stadiums and TV slots with their get’em healed shows. Get’em on the stage, slap’em on the forehead and tell them they are healed, book the next stadium and see you next time, by the way, we take PayPal and PushPay.

That’s great, I know the Lord is using these people to help but the thing is—we should all be able to do that We look at them as someone special or super spiritual, but they aren’t, they just have a powerful God and realized that they can be used by him. . When we look admiringly at people on a stage or a pedestal God no longer gets the glory and we feel diminished.

A word in time or a healing prayer is not just for Kingdom Super stars, it’s for all of us.

It’s not a side show talent or something only special people, spiritual super stars can do, it is something all of us who have given our hearts to Jesus and accepted the further gift of the baptism of the Spirit can and should be doing. It is one important way that Jesus blesses and encourages his church, by using us to speak into one another’s lives. Words guided by the wisdom gleaned from reading and knowing his word and words given specifically for the person you are talking to, to address a situation in the moment.

Whenever you come together, each of you has a psalm, has a teaching, has a tongue, has a revelation, has an interpretation. Let all things be done for edification. 1 Cor 14:26

Here is a word from the Lord, the one the Lord gave me as I was working on this message.

 “My church is a place to encourage, not to discourage, to bless and not to curse.”  HS

Christian dove
Christian dove with bright sun rays