Friday, August 30, 2013

One Flesh

A reoccurring thought I’ve had lately has to do with the one-flesh of marriage.  On one occasion, Jesus quoted Genesis 2: 24, “’For this reason a man will leave his father & mother and be united to his wife and two will become one flesh.’”  He then said in verse 6 of Matthew 19, “So they are no longer two but one.”  This is what was intended at the beginning, but divorce, as well as disunity regarding anything in marriage, breaks this bond.

There is suppose to be unity in marriage, one-flesh.  The fall produced imbalance in the relationship in Genesis 3: 16, “To the woman he said, ‘I will greatly increase your pains in childbirth; with pain you will give birth to children.  Your desire will be for your husband, and he will rule over you.’”  Imbalance, yet, one-flesh.

An evening recently, April and I went to hear Chuck Pierce at a church in Selma, AL.  A former United Methodist colleague, but current friend, of ours came and sat beside me before the worship began.  He told me that that day was his last day at a church where he served on staff.  No honor by word or deed was paid to him by anyone who knew he was being let go.  All of this came as a shock to me.  He felt hurt & very disappointed.  When he went back to his seat, I felt a strong sense of compassion arise within me for him, and I knew I’d pray for him and declare peace and blessing over him before he left there that night, which I did later.

During worship that night, April, who didn’t hear him tell me any of this, felt shame & disappointment well up on the inside of her.  She knew these emotions were not from her but didn’t know where they came from until I told her about what our friend told me. 

Honestly, I believe much of this can be chalked up to April’s gift of discernment.  I also believe this episode is exemplified by the fact that April and I are one flesh.  Since we are one flesh, we have the potential in the Spirit to see and hear the same things in the Spirit or to experience connects in the Spirit even if we’re not involved jointly. 

This is what the Spirit does in us as a married couple, one-flesh.  This is, also, why divorce or disunity in marriage is so counterproductive.  A wife and husband can unite and become remarkably formidable in the Spirit to bring heaven to earth and destroy the works of the devil in the name of Jesus Christ.  Divorce tears that unity apart and weakens what could be a force for the Kingdom. 

Thinking about a pending divorce or separation?  How about thinking better of it?  How about fasting and praying for your unity as a couple to grow strong again so that y’all be what God intends you to be – one flesh? 

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Yes, Amen, So Be It!

I was praying yesterday, and a thought came to me that was not mine.  “Say, ‘Yes” to that which God has promised.”  The more I thought about that, it turned into “Yes, Amen, So be it!”  So, this is what I say yes to today.

When I heard for the first time Bill Johnson preach in person at New Freedom Church in Webb, AL, he said one reason he was there was to raise up an army in this region of people who’ve said yes to the things of God in these days.  I then remember joining with others in raising my hands over my head and saying, “Yes” to God.

I’ve written about this before, but it connects with the call-to-say-yes theme today.  I was driving down to Montgomery to pray at the state house at the start of a session of the legislature.  While I drove, I called to mind all the people we’ve met in ministry in Alabama, and where we’ve lived in this state.  I then openly thanked God for these years in ministry and related experiences.  With that, I then heard the Spirit say, “You can have this state if you want it.”  I believe it was the voice of the Lord because it made me laugh and ball like a baby simultaneously.  As I drove and cried, I collected myself and said out loud, “Yes, I’ll take it.”  In recollecting this encounter, I still say out loud, “Yes, I’ll take it.”  In remembering this event while praying, I’ve started requesting in prayer for an anointing to accomplish what the Lord would want me to accomplish in Alabama.

My brother-in-law had an experience while driving up on Sand Mountain in June.  The Lord told him that our ministry on this mountain will be beyond anything we can imagine.  He said it was beyond words to describe.  One recent Sunday morning, a friend of ours was worshiping with us in our house.  She had a visitation with the Lord.  As she lay on the ground, she took me by the hand and told me what the Lord wanted to convey to me that day.  Our ministry on this mountain will be beyond words to describe – beyond anything I could dream or imagine.

This reminds me of what a colleague in ministry told me a couple years ago.  He saw me going up a mountain (already sounds familiar) on a path and then moving off the path.  It was a tougher climb, but I was moving faster up to the summit.  Before I reached it, the satchel I carried was proving to be a burden.  There were things in the bag I might need, but I decided to drop the satchel and leave it behind.  I made it to the summit quicker than I would have if I stayed on the path.  Once there, I sprouted wings and took off to parts unknown.

The question is, “Do you want to be a part of what is to happen and what is happening?”  My answer is, “Yes, amen, so be it!”  In hearing what your destiny could be, do you want to be a part of this?  My answer to my destiny in the Lord is yes!  What about you?

It’s an important prophetic, committed act to say out loud to what is believed to be the voice of God inviting you to step into your destiny, “YES! I WILL!”  Or “YES! I’LL TAKE IT!”  Or “YES!  AMEN!  SO BE IT!” 

The Lord is looking for believers to do more than believe.  The Lord is looking for hearts, minds & spirits to say yes to what the Lord is looking to do in and through a company of committed children of God.  With passion and faith, say yes to what the Lord wants to do in and through you.  Fear not.  He’ll never leave you or forsake you.  You’re too important in God’s plans to advance his Kingdom agenda through you.  Say, “Yes, Amen, So be it!”

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

The Will of God (Part 2)

Recently, I was leading a devotional/Bible study at a boarding house I’m very familiar with.  We found ourselves talking about prayer.  It was my intention to use the Lord’s Prayer as a model for prayer that Jesus taught.  I, also, intended to talk about the will of God.

As we moved from discussing prayer to knowing the will of God when it comes to prayer, I asked if it was possible to know the will of God.  It surprised me that a couple dominant voices in the room to this point were quick to answer, “No, we don’t know the will of God.”  Usually, that would be followed by a statement like, “That’s why we pray, ‘If it be your will.’” That wasn’t added in this case, but it did surprise me they spoke so candidly about not knowing the will of God.  It’s remarkable that many Christians say that the will of God is unknowable, and they, obviously, take comfort in that.

We’d just talked about the Lord’s Prayer.  In the Lord’s Prayer, we know what the will of God is.  I quickly referred again to the prayer to show God’s will ABOUT SOMETHING! 

“Give us this day our daily bread.”  It’s God’s will that no one starve.

“Forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive . . .” It’s God’s will that we seek forgiveness and be quick to forgive others.

“Lead us not into temptation; but deliver us from evil.”  It’s God’s will that we not fall into the clutches of temptation and evil.

The will of God is not a mystery.  It sounds rather religious (I gave up religion a couple of seasons of Lent ago) to not say we know the will of God or to say God’s will is God’s business.  Being religious is more of a curse than a help when it comes to stuff like this.  In fact, when it comes to anything, religion is boring and cruel (a quote from Bill Johnson, lead pastor, Bethel Church, Redding, CA).

It’s pretty remarkable, if we’re honest with ourselves, how much of the will of God we already know.  In Mark 1, a man with leprosy comes to Jesus and says, “If you’re WILLING (If it’s your will), you can make me clean.”  Jesus said in response, “I am willing.  Be clean!”  Immediately he was cured. 

I’m about to be controversial.  It’s taken me several paragraphs to get here.  It’s God’s will to heal.  How come more aren’t healed?  How come hospitals are full?  Someone may actually say about me that I’m boring and cruel.  One of my answers to this is, “I don’t know, for sure.”  Another answer from me is, “Many Christians constructed doctrines to discourage other Christians to believe in healing when a couple people died after prayer, anyway.”  Seriously, in order not to be cruel and criticize unbelief, these doctrines were constructed (“It was the will of God.”) and encouraged so that members are not lost to other churches.

Knowing what the will of God is doesn’t mean it’s always fulfilled.  The King James Version of 2 Peter 3:9 reads, “He is patient, willing that none should perish, but all come to repentance.”  Its God’s will that no one perish, but all repent, but souls perish everyday. 

Libraries are full of theology explaining the will of God in all circumstances.  I’m actually comfortable with divine mysteries.  I’m, also, comfortable with seeking and finding the will of God and doing my best to participate in the divine will in given circumstances.  I believe that’s what contemporary disciples are called to do – seek and find the will of God and do it.  He’s looking for partners in doing his will in the earth.   Simply saying and believing that the will of God is unknowable is what drives me crazy.