Friday, December 30, 2016

Some Simple Acts at the Close of the Year


This one verse of scripture captured me this week.

One generation shall commend your works to another and shall declare your mighty acts.
 -- Psalm 145: 4

As 2016 winds down, what mighty acts of God I've witnessed can I commend to another generation?  This blog is suppose to collect the mighty acts of God in testimony and written record to pass along and inspire many to worship and praise.  This verse from Psalm 145 spoke again to me of one of my duties in life - declare the Lord's mighty acts.

This last quarter of the year, I've been reminded graciously of who I am.  I'm not a lost soul trying to secure a purpose.  I'm not an ill-equipped, uneducated vagabond.  I am a gifted, empowered minister of the good news of God with a defined destiny.  Though there are days of discouragement and frustration, the days ahead will be greater than the days passed.  

The mighty acts I'll reference here shed light on my identity and how God brought that to the fore for me these last days of 2016.

One night at work recently, I spoke with George, a co-worker.  He wished me and my family a blessed Christmas.  Earlier this year, he was gripped by some illness. I prayed for him and declared health over him standing before him in the break room months ago.  He's since returned to work with the vitality and cockiness he had prior to the illness.
That recent night he wished me a blessed holiday, I was overcome with compassion for him.  I told him to expect this coming year to be full of blessings he'll never expect because God loved him beyond anyway he could comprehend.  I didn't rehearse this utterance.  I didn't prepare myself to say something nice or sweet to a curmudgeon I worked with begrudgingly.  No, I was captured by the grace and mercy of God in the moment, and my prophetic gifting arose to declare a sample of heaven into the heart and spirit of a child of God. It was a wonderful word.

I walked out of the store and to my car for my meal break with a strong sense of fulfillment.  This is what I'm meant to do.  This is who I am.  

Wilma, who's been on medical leave for the last few months, returned this week.  She'll be here for a few more weeks until her transfer back to Florida is completed.

She moved to Alabama to care for her ailing father.  That first day back I asked her how he was doing.  She said he'd passed away in November.  I told her I was sorry.  Later that day, she approached me while I was alone in a room doing some inventory work.  She began sharing about the last few days he was alive.  

She couldn't provide direct care for him because she was recovering from knee surgery.  Her brother called her asking advice because Dad wasn't doing well.  Her response to the details he conveyed of their father's condition led her to advise calling the home care nurse to come and insert an I.V. drip.  

A week later when she could get to her father's house, she discovered the I.V. was never administered.  His organs were shutting down and death was presumed to be at hand.  

She looked at me and said, "He was strong, but not that strong."  She then began to cry and walked toward me with arms outstretched.  We embraced.  She wept and trembled for several moments.  Amidst the tears, she said she'd missed me.  I patted her on the back and said I'd missed her, too.  She then composed herself and said something about not wanting to be found this emotional.  

The next day when she arrived at work and we greeted each other, she thanked me and was glad she'd shared that because she hadn't said that to anyone else since he died.  She felt better.  I responded, "Good!"

This experience with Wilma informed me afresh who I am, what I'm meant to do, and what I carry.  What I possess impacts the environment I inhabit and the people in it.  I'm not looking to manipulate anyone or anything.  

In talking with George, I was overcome with compassion for him.   With Wilma, I initially showed empathy which opened the door for her sharing and releasing her own emotional burden.  George probably needed encouragement to believe good was at hand.  Wilma needed to lay down a load of grief.  None of this was orchestrated.  These were all the mighty acts of God who loves everyone.

These surprising acts of love and power were given to people needing what only God could do in ways only God could.  In God acting through me, I'm greatly encouraged as this year wains and the next one now approaches with increasing expectation of good at hand for everyone.  Alleluia.

Friday, December 2, 2016

When God Comes (Four Years Ago)


It was four years ago today (thank you, Facebook) I preached a sermon that was the public catalyst in my leaving a denomination.  The spiritual impetus to surrender my ordination was being unequally yoked with a denomination that had no value or respect for what I believed, taught and espoused about God.  My calling grew in a direction that was not compatible with the ecclesiology, the practices and comfort levels of the church, its pastoral and lay leadership.

Things like this are so often what happens when God comes.

I called the congregation that day to decide to follow what I'd set as the vision.  If they didn't, we who remained would part company with them but part in love.  By Wednesday of that week, I'd told my district superintendent I was happy to go on leave from any pastoral duties.  By February, I surrendered my ordination and with it dissolved my relationship with the denomination.

Things like this happen when God comes.

The gospel text that morning was from Mary's Song, the Magnificat, from Luke 1.  I said these verses recognized the unfolding plan of God which includes blessings and difficulties. I gave testimony of blessings and a sober warning that difficulties were in the offing.  This was true for Mary many years ago being the mother of the Messiah, and its the truth for anyone or any body of believers that choose to follow what the Lord offers them as his instruments in Kingdom-building.

Things like this happen when God comes.

What's happened recently in your life because God has come?  Perhaps the Lord has revealed the divine nature in loving what appeared unlovable, or corrected what was believed to be uncorrectable.  These are the blessings like a virgin bearing a child outside of marriage, and he becomes the Savior of the world.  Alleluia!

What's happened in your life because God has encountered you, and you said yes to his invitation to believe the unbelievable or attempt with the leading of Holy Spirit the impossible?

There are blessings, and there are difficulties.  Pride, earthly authority, wealth may simply disappear along with friends and relationships you never thought would be shaken.  When God comes, he reveals wonderful, unequaled things.

Soon after digesting these morsels from heaven, you find yourself saying yes to following Jesus like you know you never have before.  In so following, everything else becomes secondary, or such loyalties simply fall out of the playoff picture.  You pledge love and devotion to Jesus above all else including relationships and positions.  This is what happens when God comes.

In traditional, denominational Christianity, its the liturgical season of Advent.  Advent means coming.

I believe God is coming to you and for you.  God is coming to you to reveal his unmistakable will of love and power revealed in the glory of his son, your savior.  Alleluia.  His will revealed afresh will bring things into a clearer focus for you, even if you don't consider yourself a believer.  I just trust God's love will encounter you in such a manner that you will be overwhelmed with his grace, forgiveness and acceptance.  All you'll have to do is be still and know.

And, God is coming for you.  The God of heaven and earth wants you.  You may be a person of great intellect or resource or position.  You may be a person of limited means or experiences.  Regardless of what is or isn't at your disposal, God sees you as his lovely, strong, precious child, and he wants you as his home.  He wants to dwell in you fully, not merely in your intellect or emotions when you hear an ol' hymn that makes you weep.  He wants all of you so he can shape you by encountering you time and time again.

Encountering the love of God repeatedly begins to shape you into his likeness.  You realize the power of love and that nothing is impossible. You then perceive the Lord's will is not harsh but based in relationship and joy.  Suddenly, you realize you're already living in eternity.  This is what happens when God comes time and time again.

What follows is a hunger to know him more.  The Bible becomes a book about a family in relationship with God who ultimately gives all he has to wipe the slate clean for everyone.  You and I are the everyone.  We then long to be with him and to hear from him day and night.  In the midst of that, we end up calling people in whom we have relationship to decide whether they want to be with us, the crazies, all the time or not.  If they don't, that'll be ok because we'll love them anyway, but we know we ain't changin'  We're following Jesus to the glorious end.

That's where I was four years ago, and, in effect, that's what I said.  I invited them.  The cost was too great for them, and I sounded like an egotist.  From my seat, I simply said and did what I was supposed to do.  I was in love and knew of a great life that was in the reach of everybody in the room.  I knew God had come, and I invited them to embrace all he offered.

There was a price to pay. I was among the few who chose to pay it. 

What about you?

He's coming to you to reveal his love and glory afresh.  He's coming for you because he can't stand living without you.  He'll simply want you to express your willingness to receive his steadfast, immovable love for you through Jesus who made this relationship possible.  Its not a matter of religion.  Its a matter of relationship.

May this season of expectation and plans catch you right in the heart, and may you simply relax and allow the joy of a Father, who's madly in love for you, come to where you are.  Just be still and know God is coming.

Merry Christmas!


Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Falling Off

As I laid in bed yesterday morning, I recollected words and promises the Lord has told us over recent years to encourage my spirit.  I focused on the deep, deep calling in God  through Debra who prayed for me at King's Way Church in Birmingham last fall.

She said she just wanted me to take that step off the precipice and fall into the abyss of the deep calling of God which she saw in her spirit as she prayed for me.  Yesterday, I envisioned myself falling off rather than stepping off, falling with my arms out stretched and believing the currents will carry me.  It was a wonderful vision in my soul.  Alleluia.

We've battled with anxiety over the last couple years.  We've taken stabs in believing what we've dreamed or heard in our spirits to be the voice of God preparing us for approaching change.   When nothing appears to have changed at all, we've grown uneasy or discouraged.  In looking at what happened to biblical characters in their relationships with God, anxiety and uncertainty are always a part of their stories.  God is sometimes mysteriously quiet while his children wait and wonder.  Many faithful folks have laid in their beds recollecting what the Lord has told them.  I'm in good company.

Early one morning last week, I dreamed.
I worked in a department store.  I fretted over putting new merchandise out on the sales floor promptly.  The new goods were from Oprah Winfrey.  I really wanted them on the floor.  I was anxious about it.  Oprah then arrived.  I said I was sorry her name brand stuff wasn't on the floor yet.  She thought that was fine.  There was nothing for me to worry about.

The dream then shifted.  I was in a doctoral studies program.  I was anxious about my own progress in the program.  I walked around in what looked like an upper floor of another department store, mostly in the circular area around an escalator.  I asked several students how they were doing, trying to compare myself with them.  I grew more anxious as I walked from student to student and hearing how far along they were.  They had a handle on things.  I didn't, but they each conveyed to me by words or impressions I had nothing to worry about.

I finally asked Oprah if I had anything to worry about.  She conveyed to me I didn't.

Early the next morning, I dreamed again.

My memory of this dream begins with me driving the streets of Baltimore.  I know I was heading for an area of town which I was not familiar.  The car I was driving changed from a blue Pinto to something else.  The Pinto went to the right, and I went left.  I thought why must I mourn the loss of a Pinto, a Pinto, for crying out loud.  I concentrated on the Pinto, and it needed to go and not be cherished.

The streets were noticeably dirty.  The cars were all old and grimy.  After I turned left, the street became one way and narrowed. I then approached a stop light where two signs directed the two lanes to either proceed straight from the right or turn left.  The street ended in a perpendicular intersection.

From the left lane, I turned onto a street named Lower Colossus Avenue.  When I turned, my car became a bicycle.  I then heard a voice, like a radio broadcast, say, Lower Colossus Avenue is known as the most liberal street in America.  The homeless of New Hampshire are drawn here to live.  

The traffic slowed to a stop, and I maneuvered my bike through the lanes.  I got off the street and rode joyfully through the adjoining neighborhood.

The dream shifted to my parents' house in Parkville.  I stood in a dark living room where a buffet table was set with food.  I said, Merry Christmas, to my cousin who didn't look like my cousin.  He was holding a phone to his ear with his right hand and extended his left hand to me.  I shook it and then took a large piece of meat from the buffet without a plate and held it in my left hand.

I then went into the kitchen where a large table was set with numerous place settings.  I walked to the left side.  My brother directed me to choose one of two seats.  I chose the left one.  My sister sat on the back porch talking to others.  My brother said he and my mother and me would be going out the next morning and then asked my father, who stood in front of me, what he would do.  He said we ought to let him eat some breakfast first.  When he said that I saw the numbers three and four.  Three meaning God; four meaning door.

Virtually, all the sides or directions I followed or chose were left.  Left means the work of the Holy Spirit.  When Dad stood in front of me in this dream, it was as it was when Oprah stood in front of me.  I looked at the two of them by their profiles from my left side.  This is reminiscent of a memorable dream I had when I still pastored in the UMC when I dreamed I saw a couple by their right profiles from my left, and I saw Ezekiel 3-7-9.  This proved to be a very formative dream regarding my remaining days in the UMC.

There are many symbols and parabolic meanings from both of these dreams, but space and time just lends me to say both of these dreams address my anxiety and encourage me to relax and wait on the Lord.  The left turns and choices encourage me to believe Holy Spirit is leading me and directing me consistently,  Again, I can relax and wait in confidence.

Standing on the precipice of a deep calling in God, a step, a determined effort, may not be called for.  Maybe, all there is to do is to relax and fall into the active will of a loving Father.  Amen.  Alleluia.


Friday, September 2, 2016

A Fun Job


He asked, “Who are you, Lord?” The reply came, “I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting. But get up and enter the city, and you will be told what you are to do.”- Acts 9: 5-6

Recently, after a difficult work day, I drove home affirming the grace and mercy that surrounded me throughout the day regardless of the outcome of my labor.

I then prayed, "Lord, in light of the grace and mercy I prayed and received today, I ask for a job that is fun and will provide for my family.  I ask for what that job could be because I'm not sure what job it would be that's fun for me, but you know.  I ask you to give me a name, phone number and or an email address I can use to contact a person who has such a job for me.  

"By virtue of the mercy and grace that's with me, I ask you to speak to me of these things today.  Do not be silent, O God of our praise (Psalm 106: 1)"

I prayed this in the car on the way home without frustration but with faith and determination.  Alleluia.

That night I dreamed (Big surprise, right?).  It seemed to be a long dream.  It was in two phases.  First, I was frustrated and anxiety-ridden.  It was based in a church where there was a lot of activity.  I would either preach or teach, and I wasn't prepared or no one would pay attention.

At one point, I was at some public event in a sports arena.  I was frustrated and discouraged for some reason as I paced on the floor of the arena.

The next phase of the dream in the same environment, but I didn't feel frustrated, discouraged or anxious.  I remember the ongoing affirmation of having grace and mercy with me.

At another point, from a higher perspective, I saw myself in the arena pacing in frustration.  I'd never dreamed before of watching myself do exactly what I'd done moments before.  As I watched myself, I wasn't discouraged as the other Jeff was.

In this dream phase, grace and mercy were with me like companions or as items I'd pull out of a box or off my person to dispense or share.  Unlike earlier, there were no church activities or related responsibilities.  I felt free.  Truly, grace and mercy were with me.

That morning, I read from Acts 9 where Jesus confronts Saul on the road.  The phrase attributed to Jesus,
You will be told what you are to do, spoke to me in light of that vivid dream.  He would tell me what to do.


The next night, I dreamed again.  I was on a bluff above a beautiful body of water enhanced by the sunlight shimmering off of it.  I stood with others dressed in light blue shirts and pants.  My colleagues stood in several lines.  I stood slightly apart from the ranks, and all of us were under a canopy.  Kris Vallotton from Bethel Church in Redding, CA stood in front of us.  He spoke to us, but I can't recall what he said.  He then looked at me and said, "Will you pray for us, Jeffrey?"  Joyfully, I did.  This felt like a commissioning.

The scene then changed to me sitting at a table in a large hall.  All the tables were arranged in concentric circles for a banquet.  I sat at a table as a person came along saying names of people who were due to arrive.  The person said a name and pointed between chairs and a new chair was inserted.  I could remember only one name after the dream.

I felt someone could take my place, so, I left my chair.  Later, April said the circles denote eternity, and the chairs symbolized positions of authority.  I surrendered mine in turning in my ordination.  No one told me to leave my chair in the dream nor did anyone tell me to abandon my authority in real life.

I became one of the servers at the banquet.  We all had blond hair, golden vests, white shirts and tan pants.  As a server, I didn't know what to do.  I followed behind other servers and looked busy as a screen was placed between the tables we served and rest of the room.  April believed I was working with angels serving those in authority.  I was to serve, in effect, commissioned to serve a select group in authority and not the whole room.

A day or so later, I searched for anyone with the one name I could remember from the dream.  I found one who shared a mutual friend with me on Facebook.  I messaged that person, telling him his name was mentioned in my dream after I prayed for the Lord to assist me in finding a fun job, perhaps, through that same person.  He actually wrote me back.  We ended up talking on the phone for over an hour.

He was an entrepreneur and the CEO of his own company.  He spoke to me of knowing myself and my passions and seeking God's guidance in discovering what I was born to do.  After an hour long conversation, my heart burned within from hearing someone tell me to follow my passions for writing and entertainment. In addition to what I believe God has called me to do in writing, and he pushed me to consider writing fiction, I've always wanted to find myself in entertainment, though I never thought I had what it took.  I was scared of rejection and taking it personally.

My new friend then prayed for April and me to prosper, foe doors to open and for me to find my place.  He closed our conversation by encouraging me to push aside my worries and pursue what I was meant to be and to do. 

Were these dreams and this remarkable conversation with a stranger, now friend, all from God?  Were these all part of an answer to my prayer on the way home that day?  How could they not be?  Dreams describing where I've been and where I am and where I'm going all of which to bring comfort and hope and faith.  Then I was given a name when I asked for one, and he coached me to believe God had a destiny for me in my callings and passions.  All of this pointed to a fun job, a fun destiny in God.

Finally, as a sign of confirmation to all I was shown and told, this past Sunday, I was prayed for spontaneously by a young man.  As I squatted on the sanctuary floor, he knelled down beside me, placed his hand on my head and prayed, "Unlock his imagination, Lord."  Amidst my tears, I turned my head to him and said, "YES!" as good as Marv Albert ever as.  

That was a word for me.  Someone asking the Lord to unlock my imagination, in effect, so I could step into my fun job, a significant portion of my ultimate destiny in God and his kingdom.  

Have a blessed Labor Day weekend, and trust the Lord has things to show and tell you of what you are to do, too.

Thursday, August 18, 2016

A Parabolic Bale

Last week, I made a bale of cardboard at work all by myself.  I sound like a child, but there's something parabolic about it to me.

I taught two guys how to make a cardboard bale a couple weeks ago without making one alone before, but what I told them worked.  I must admit, I was proud of myself. 

A few days ago, the baler was full.  There was no one around to assist me in making a bale because I had a lot of cardboard to dispose of.  I confidently took on the task.  I succeeded.  I returned to my duties in my department with a sense of pride and joy.

I'm certain many could accomplish this task sooner than me.  Many would have sought out the opportunity to accomplish this necessary task and grow proficient in order to be an asset to the company rather than a shrinking violet sheepishly avoiding the duty.

By contributing and assisting others, I accumulated knowledge and wisdom and, ultimately, confidence to succeed at the task.

Honestly, I believe it is the last challenge for me to face and accomplish in my current job.  I shied away for months from this challenge because I didn't want to risk embarrassment in failure.  Now, I succeeded not by luck but by knowledge and confidence.

As a parable,  I helped two co-workers learn how to make a cardboard bale before I performed it solo.  It was a first for them.  I believe it was a last for me.  I assisted in their knowledge and growth first.

Its not a challenge for me to listen to people and not have an agenda. A co-worker shared with me about her friend's battle with cancer.  She told me her friend's condition is worsening day by day.  I practically stopped her in the mist of her listing her friend's gruesome symptoms.  Believing her friend lost her personal dignity weeks ago because of this insidious disease, I asked my co-worker what her friend might be holding on to as her body is quickly decaying.  Could she be holding on, keeping herself alive, by thoughts or beliefs in the soulish or spiritual realms that leave her unwilling to pass on into eternity and to ever be with her Lord?

My co-worker wasn't sure.  I suggested that her friend may simply need a word from a loved one (like my co-worker) to assure her everything will be alright in the presence of her Lord, and to ask boldly if there was anything the friend needed to share to free her spirit or soul of any weight keeping her in this misery.  My co-worker shed tears and said she might be able to say that to her.  I shed tears by saying, again, everything will be alright for my friend's friend.  The Lord will make all things new.  We then hugged, right there in the back room of the produce department.

This was not a challenge for me.  This is what I'm called for and trained to do.  I am a minister of God.  I've come in closer contact with my original calling over the past couple months than I have in years.  My calling, in effect, has returned.  This encounter with a co-worker and talking about such heavy stuff reaffirms what I know is true.  I have a calling.  I am gifted and full of compassion.  Ultimately, my destiny is in God.

My last challenge was making a cardboard bale all by myself.  Encouraging a friend to speak to her friend about not being afraid of death as a Christian was far from scary for me.  It was not a challenge.  It was a fulfillment of my destiny and anointing in God.

Saturday, August 6, 2016

Entrepreneur



Two emails from insurance agencies arrived in my inbox recently inviting me to apply for position as an agent.  One of the emails asked me to embrace my entrepreneurial spirit.

I'm not entrepreneurial.  My profile on some job search site may fall into such a category, but I'm not motivated in that way.

There are people who are excited to get out of bed every morning because they'll embark on new enterprises and meet new people.  It wouldn't excite me to meet new people and endeavor to satisfy their insurance needs.

That is not me.  I seldom rose out of bed with excitement when I pastored churches.  It was a job, not a passion.

It would, however, excite me to rise out of bed knowing I'll meet new people that day and be overwhelmed with compassion for them, get to know them, pray for them and see God do a gracious and merciful work in their lives.  It excites me to expect to encounter people at the farm encountering God.  This is not embarking on a new enterprise to me. This is stewarding a portal where God comes to encounter his created.

This week, I got a call from someone at a local office of an insurance company.  She said she saw my resume online and asked if I'd be interested in coming for an interview.  After I heard it was an insurance company, direct sales opportunity, I said no.

I woke early for work the next day thinking about my no and regretting it.  At my lunch break, I called the woman back to say I changed my mind.  She scheduled my interview for later in the week.  I came home after work and told April.  She was very surprised.  She knows my history of rejecting direct sales positions.

Why accept an interview this time?  I wasn't sure.  In explaining the change of mind, I said maybe this could be our financial breakthrough; maybe its God doing his thing.  I wasn't sure, but I was more negative about being an insurance agent than being positive,  It was as if I was convincing myself not to do it.

April felt there was something in this I'm supposed to witness or do or share.  The interview, itself, is secondary.  I agreed with her and experienced peace.  I'll freely tell my interviewer I'm not sure why I'm there, but I'm supposed to be.  I'll honestly share my heart.  I appreciate the honor of being interviewed, but my calling is in God alone.  Everything else is a distant second.
 The morning of the interview, I read the Daily Office scriptures for the day.  All of them spoke to me.

O God, do not keep silence; do not hold your peace or be still, O God! - Psalm 83: 1

I was encouraged to hear what God might say to me or through me that day.

Gideon said to them, “I will not rule over you, and my son will not rule over you; the Lord will rule over you.”   - Judges 8: 23

The people of Israel wanted Gideon to remain a judge for the nation after his last victory as their military leader.  He said no (and didn't change his mind).   Only the Lord will rule over us.  Alleluia.

This Jesus is ‘the stone that was rejected by you, the builders; it has become the cornerstone.’  There is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among mortals by which we must be saved. - Acts 4: 11-12

Though rejected, my Lord became the cornerstone.  His name is the greatest, and he loves me.

Then, my verse from years ago that opened my heart to believe great things of the Kingdom were in my future to the glory of God. . . 

Jesus answered, “Do you believe because I told you that I saw you under the fig tree? You will see greater things than these.”- John 1: 50

I attended the appointment.  It was important for me to fulfill this commitment to simply tell my interviewer I changed my mind, but, still, my calling is the most important thing.  Jim was gracious and appreciated my devotion.  He expressed honestly this wasn't for everybody.  The first 90 days are difficult, but it can lucrative. If I was interested in pursuing it further, I could call him.  Nothing about this interview inspired or excited me to running down leads and referrals to sell affordable policies to the uninsured, but something in the spiritual was released in me.  I know who I am afresh.

My calling and anointing has been growing subtly beneath the surface prior to this week.  The interview was a moment to say again I'm called of God and nothing will eclipse this reality in my life.  Greater things than an interview or secular job or position will be seen and known.  

My calling, purpose, mission in God has returned to my spirit in fullness.  I've given testimony.  My spirit is full, and the days of fulfillment are at hand.  I'm an entrepreneur of the grace and power of God in Christ.   Alleluia!

Saturday, July 30, 2016

Belonging

Be merciful to me, O God, be merciful to me,  for in you my soul takes refuge; in the shadow of your wings I will take refuge, until the destroying storms pass by. -- Psalm 57: 1


My last Sunday at a church in Northport, AL nearly 20 years ago as the associate pastor before going on leave of absence (the first time) from pastoral ministry, the choir, at my request, sang this as an anthem, 'Til the Storm Passes By.


Hold me fast, let me stand in the hollow of Thy hand, keep me safe till the storm passes by.

The Daily Office in the Book of Common Prayer has been my daily devotional guide for years.  It provides for me daily scriptures I can read and follow as much or as little as I desire.  Two verses from the Psalms, Psalm 57: 1 and Psalm 61: 4, struck me on consecutive days this week and painted a picture for me.

We can find refuge in the shadow of the Lord's wings until the storm passes by.  Years ago, I knew it was time for me to withdraw from ministry for a period.  There was a storm in my soul.  I was growing more and more unsettled.  A leave of absence was an opportunity for me to rest beneath the shadow of his wings.  The refuge we find in the Lord is a fresh hope for us these days, too.

Let me abide in your tent forever;  find refuge under the shelter of your wings. Selah -- Psalm 61: 4

Again, refuge under his wings, and David prays to be found in God's tent, his presence forever.  A mother bird shelters her young beneath her wings when there is eminent danger.  I'm comforted by this image.

Selah means to stop and consider.  These verses speak to me of what David already knew.  He could ask with confidence to find shelter and refuge in the Lord's presence, under the comfort and safety of his wings.  Its a place where we belong.

April attended worship Wednesday night alone at the church we've been visiting in Birmingham this month.  Due to my work schedule, I had to stay home to go to bed early.  During a time of receiving prayer that evening, April heard in her spirit repeatedly, This is not my place. 


We belong in God.  We're comforted in a time of uncertainty. We belong in the shelter and the refuge of his wings until the storm again passes by. 

Finding a church, a faith community, where we feel we belong has been difficult for us.  A simple explanation of my desire to go on leave years ago is attributed to feeling I didn't belong as a pastoral leader.  It wasn't that I wasn't called to lead in ministry.  It was that I was wearing the wrong clothes.  

Its hard to believe we don't belong in a congregation. We've worshiped at Word Alive International Outreach  near Anniston since we've moved here.  We've attempted to link with leaders and small groups.  There's never been a sense for either April or me that this is home for us, safe beneath a sheltering wing or a tent protected from the storms of life.

We've attended King's Way Church in Birmingham.  The worship has been rich, but this isn't my place.  

We belong to each other.  We belong to God.  We're confident enough to believe we're under the shelter of his wings.  Our callings are unique. We're pine trees planted where no such trees thrive.  We're ruined for anything else.

There will a day of belonging, and a people will come along side us.  In the meantime, we're confident of the shelter we find beneath his wings, protected 'til the storm passes by.

Sunday, July 24, 2016

But Its Not What Will Be

"It is what it is. . . ."

I've discovered over the last few weeks I say this a lot now days when discussing or sharing my own experiences and how they might relate to my giftings or destiny.  As if to say, these experiences and thoughts stand alone.  They are what they are.  It is what it is.

This has now become a folk-saying to me.  Perhaps it has emerged from disappointments over the last couple years.  We've experienced things or heard things or had dreams all of which might have been communication from the Lord, but little if anything has manifested in our movement forward.  Oh well, it is what it is.  It amounts to a fall back position of understanding.  This isn't a denial of what I've heard or experienced lately.  These moments or words can stand alone.  If the Lord conveys to me understanding or an encouragement to believe, cool.  If what I've heard or experienced are merely circumstantial, okie dokie.  It is what it is. 

April has begun adding an addendum to my folk-saying that casts our vision forward.  It encourages me.  I say, "It is what it is."  She adds, "-- but its not what will be.

 
The last two days, I read from the books of Joshua and Romans and Acts of the Apostles through the scriptures from the Daily Office.  From Joshua's words to the Hebrews before his death and the life of Paul, I sensed the theme of an ordained calling in these passages.

Therefore be very steadfast to observe and do all that is written in the book of the law of Moses, turning aside from it neither to the right nor to the left. -- Joshua 23: 6

Now if you are unwilling to serve the Lord, choose this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your ancestors served in the region beyond the River or the gods of the Amorites in whose land you are living; but as for me and my household, we will serve the Lord. -- Joshua 24: 15

For I will not venture to speak of anything except what Christ has accomplished through me to win obedience from the Gentiles, by word and deed, by the power of signs and wonders, by the power of the Spirit of God, so that from Jerusalem and as far around as Illyricum I have fully proclaimed the good news of Christ. -- Romans 15: 18, 19 

After they had set a day to meet with him, they came to him at his lodgings in great numbers. From morning until evening he explained the matter to them, testifying to the kingdom of God and trying to convince them about Jesus both from the law of Moses and from the prophets. -- Acts 28: 23 

There was a mission, a calling, a purpose in the days of Joshua, to maintain the Promised Land's integrity by sustaining the covenant.  Paul fulfilled his mission, calling and purpose that came to him through revelation, as well.


God did all the heavy lifting for the Hebrews, as well as for Paul.

Joshua then says to everyone gathered together, "Choose this day whom you will serve."

Paul explained from morning till evening the Kingdom of God and tried to convince them about Jesus.  Some were swayed, and some were not.  On the Mount of Ascension at the close of the gospel of Matthew, some still doubted as the resurrected Jesus spoke to them.

There's always a calling, a mission, a God-given purpose by virtue of the revelation given and received.

The calling on our lives is real and has not been rescinded.  It is ever with us.  We're at a place of surrender and sacrifice for what we believed to be our God-given purpose.  We were called to buy a farm on Sand Mountain, steward a place to be a portal for the presence of God to come in an environment of worship, giving testimony of the works of God and teaching insights of the Kingdom.  Those who come will encounter a God that saves, heals, delivers, encourages and makes whole.

Our calling remains in tact.We've suffered a cost for coming out from under the mantle of a denominational system, but it was a cost we accepted.   We believed and still believe we received revelation and subsequent confirmation. All of which solidified our calling.

The work of explaining and convincing and calling hearers to choose is not my calling.  It was a yoke of obedience on Joshua.  Paul couldn't help himself.  This was their calling, mission, and God-given purpose but not mine.  It is what it is.

What is interesting is while yesterday and today as I wrote about calling/mission/purpose, the song, For the Sake of the World, played on my iPod.  Callings & missions in God are real.  They are what they are.


Our callings are in tact.  For the sake of the world, burn like a fire in me!  While that's affirmed, it feels, at times, we're under house arrest.  We so want to leave here and do what we're called to do.  Our circumstances of being under employed and underutilized in the Spirit brings its own discouragement -- but its not what will be.

We've asked how long.  We've been led back to a familiar congregation in Birmingham that's brought us a new feeling of being at home.  We've also experienced renewed relationships with friends. The Lord has not told us how much longer we must wait.  He's brought us new liaisons and renewed friendships, instead.  They are what they are, but not what they will be.

What will be will be beyond what we can think or imagine.  

April and I agreed in prayer the Lord would send prophetic people into ourselves to speak to us in person prophetic declarations that would bring us hope in these days.  Before long, April had a vision in prayer which was followed by two people, one friend and one stranger, that confirmed the vision.

Angels have assembled to fight for our sake.  The Lord Jesus will then split the ranks of the angels as our champion and open doors for us which to this point have been defended by the enemy and remain locked.

Our life is what it is.  But today, we are encouraged and blessed, but its not what will be.  It will be much more.  Alleluia.

Saturday, July 16, 2016

First Draft

After a rest, of sorts, I'm back to writing.  I didn't think it was important enough to continue, but I've been told otherwise.

I dreamed one night in late June.  I believe I was a student in a college level class.  The dream was segmented into two days that night.

First day, my class was a small gathering of students.  I never saw the instructor.  We were due to pass in the first draft of a paper.  It made me anxious.  I wasn't proud of my work; in fact, I was embarrassed to pass in what I'd written.

At home, which kind of looked like one of the parsonages we lived in several years ago.  Friends came in checking on me and my assignment.

The next day in the dream, classes resumed.  As before, the classes were small and held in an office building.  While the day before, it wasn't as noticeable, each class or grouping of students was uncomfortably set either in the corner of a large room full of empty desks and chairs or curiously set in a hallway.

Like the day before, I couldn't see an instructor for my group.  At one point, I was encouraged to stand and collect the first drafts from the students.  I was told from an unseen source to ask if there was any student who didn't have a paper.  One guy raised his hand.  I was confused about what to do.  I went to ask some authority what to do next.  I was encumbered in navigating through the room and the hallway and a nearby stairway due to all the empty chairs in my way. I never found anyone to ask.

Earlier in June, I dreamed of meeting a cousin of mine who's a lawyer.  He complimented me on the short pants I was wearing.  Symbolically, short pants mean an unfulfilled calling as the empty chairs in the dream before could mean, as well.  This assignment of a first draft is part of a larger assignment yet to be completed.  I stopped writing on my blogs.  Could this be part of a larger, unfulfilled, uncompleted assignment?  First drafts are necessary in order to complete adequately the full assignment.

In addition to this, I was in a class in order to learn, but I was still given the responsibility to collect the assignments of other students.  A student and a instructor-in-training?

Last week, I dreamed of being at my current place of employment.  A co-worker came to me with a joyful attitude wearing a cartoon superhero costume.  This added to the jovial attitude already in my workplace.  I then found myself on the floor above.  It was a bookstore,  I was an employee there, as well.  The walls were brightly painted.  The windows let in lots of sunshine.  On the ground floor, there were no windows.

There was a square counter in the room.  I stood at the cash register.  Beni Johnson, Bill Johnson's wife from Bethel Church in Redding, CA, was sitting at the counter reading and marking the first drafts of papers from students in the class she taught.  She was my teacher, also.  I never passed in a first draft.  It embarrassed me I hadn't with her reading the other papers and never seeing one from me.  I felt ashamed she'd be disappointed in me.  In this dream, I believe she represented God.

This reoccurring theme of first drafts I can't ignore.

I dreamed of being a student in both dreams.  There is something about callings or assignments being unfulfilled in both dreams.  I really didn't take the assignments seriously in both instances.  By not writing for blogs anymore, I've decided to not take this kind of writing seriously anymore; however, in both dreams, I was a student.  Evidently, there's something I need to learn in this writing exercise.  Unless I'm a student, I won't learn it; if I don't write, I won't be in a position to learn.

Obviously, I'm supposed to keep writing on my experiences, reflections, dreams and encounters with God.  As much as I'd like in theory to write about other things, nothing else interests me as much as my life in God. If you're still reading this, that's probably true for you, too.

I'm back to writing.  What I've ever posted or will ever post may always read like a first draft to you, and maybe to me.  That may never matter a lick.  What matters most to me, right now, is to give testimony of what God is saying and doing in my life, and I'm going to write about some of it.  I invite you to read and comment about it.  It's what I'm supposed to do. What are you supposed to do?





Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Get Together

video

Everybody needs some encouragement these days to hope and believe the best is yet to come.

Also, we grow as people and as communities when we connect with stranger and friend alike to learn to appreciate for who each person is, even in this environment of uneasiness.

This artistic expression in song captures our hope and mission.  Listen, sing along and look for opportunities to be a blessing to everyone you encounter in these curious days of change.

Sunday, April 24, 2016

I'm Ruined for Anything Else


There's one line from Bill Johnson, from Redding, CA, I like to quote, but one shouldn't overdue.  Those who know these words don't live as Christians playfully.

I'm ruined for anything else.

We worshiped on Wednesday night, as we did the Wednesday before, at the church we attend in Calhoun County, AL.  The environment was conducive to free expressions of body movements and utterances in song or word.  I took advantage of the environment both evenings.  There could have been a thousand people in the room or an audience of one.  Regardless, these were just recent examples that affirm the truth I'm ruined for anything else.

On occasion, I've sensed the Lord's intimate and glorious presence that's led me to express myself physically.  I refrain from dancing, usually, but not in bowing or kneeling or even lying on the ground.  I ended up on the floor the first Wednesday.  I was alone in that expression.  The next week, I left my row, moved to the open place behind us as the congregation sang and worshiped.  I dropped to my knees and sang and laughed and cried and prayed in tongues all of which was in praise of our glorious God and King.  I'm ruined for anything else.  

First Wednesday, prior to my descent to the carpet, I saw behind closed eyes silver, white and red jewels shimmering.  The jewels were lined up vertically on could have been a wall.  I didn't know for sure because the room where they were was dark except for the light emanating from the jewels.  They were more beautiful than any photograph or video could depict them.  

The second Wednesday, after I returned to my seat because a Bible study was to commence in the same auditorium, I sat quietly with my eyes shut.  I began to pray for the outpouring of revival in this area.  With my eyes shut, I saw people sitting in the same room where we sat.  Suddenly, ice water pitchers came to each person in the room, but they didn't simultaneously.  As if in phases, the pitchers came to each person and poured out the liquid each held.  Some of the people tilted their heads as if to drink and some didn't as if they know the pitchers were there, but, still the contents were poured out on each.  

Some of the people in the room then rose from their seats and became figures of light.  They left the room while the others remained.  My wife and I got up and went to the large gathering area with seats and tables outside the sanctuary.  The floor is littered with debris of black, brown and golden pieces.  Across the area from us, we saw the figures of light leave the building.

These two visions of mysterious and inspiring images seem to have been born in a rich environment of worship and Holy Spirit's presence.  Such encounters leave me awestruck and humbled.  Overcome, I say little is in comparison to what the Lord shows and speaks.  I'm ruined.



A colleague of mine at work had missed several days due to a family member's illness and frightening diagnosis.  I saw her arrive one day this week.  She looked tired but glad to be back.  I said I'd heard it had been hard for her lately.  She shared about the condition of her father-in-law and the fears of the family.  I said she should take it easy that day.  When I was alone in the storage area I prayed for the Lord's peace to surround her and the family.  She then appeared in the room.  Moved by compassion, I asked if I could hold her hand.  She extended it, and I took it.  I told her I'd pastored a lot of churches, and I knew God was good and wasn't responsible for sickness or accident or the early death of a loved one.  "He's with you in this."  With that she shared more.  We shed tears together and affirmed God was still at work.  When compassion arises for the hurting in my midst, I know I'm ruined for anything else.

The next day was perhaps the most significant of any described in this post. I was standing still at work and then I heard it. In a subtle form, perhaps like a still small voice, I heard within my spirit, "I'm a minister of God."  It had been a long time since I could comfortably consider myself as a minister of God.

Months into years of discouragement with a recent shift in season has now brought its own reward.  I know I'm in a new position with the Father's blessing. I know I've learned to hear and see  as the Lord shows and tells as I never had before.  I want to please the Father, lift up the Son and flow in the Spirit.  I'm ruined for anything else.

Could we be on the verge, finally, of stepping into our destiny as a couple and as partners in the Kingdom?  Time will tell.  We will walk through doors only the Father can open.  We will be placed in positions of anointing and purpose only the Lord can construct and orchestrate.  Right now, I find peace in the simple comfort I know who I am again, ruined for anything else but to minister the grace and mercy, power and love of the good news of God in Christ to the world.  This thrills me and draws me even closer to our God who can always be trusted.  Alleluia.

Friday, April 1, 2016

Two Owls

I'm a huge advocate in encouraging folks to listen for the Lord's voice.  In addition, I believe in this endeavor one should anticipate the Lord speaking in languages we already understand and value. 

April dreamed recently.  We had two infants in our hands.  One was perfectly formed.  One was orange in color and not fully developed, but as large as the other.  In April's research, the color orange in dreams often means perseverance.  Certain clarity about this dream image didn't come until she listened to a recent sermon from Kris Vallotton from Bethel Church in Redding, CA.  He spoke about perseverance.  Those in difficult times shouldn't abandon it, and those in times of favor and prosperity shouldn't fail to persevere, either.  With that, April caught it.

We've persevered through tough times.  We've known our season changed.  We're now in a season of favor.  The undeveloped infant is still ours.  Our perseverance in this season of favor will bring about this infant's full development just as our perseverance of continued worship and belief and pursuing God's face in tough times of lack and symbolic imprisonment brought about the first child's development.  Infants usually mean, but not limited to, new opportunities and responsibilities. Two infants for two different seasons.

Last Sunday in church, as we sang and worshiped the Lord, several images came to mind which I won't document here.  I sensed the Lord's presence and then his pleasure for us.  He impressed on me he's very pleased with us.  I was overwhelmed with joy and laughed out loud.  I like laughing out loud by the Lord tickling me with his pleasure.  Alleluia.

Yesterday, I woke and prepared for work with a sense of discouragement.  I read the morning psalms from the Daily Office desperately looking for a word of encouragement.  Psalm 99: 6 says, Moses and Aaron were among his priests, Samuel also was among those who called on his name. They cried to the Lord, and he answered them.  They called on the Lord AND he answered them.  That helped me.  I prayed throughout the day for me to hear and see like Moses and Aaron did.

Before too long, the simple promise given to April and me years ago came to me of things far beyond what we could think or imagine will come to us in ministry.  This promise was given to us from two different witnesses weeks apart years ago.  

In February, I read from Genesis 41 where Joseph interpreted Pharoah's dreams.  Joseph told him, And the doubling of Pharoah's dream means that the thing is fixed by God, and God will shortly bring it about (41: 32).  The two witnesses of the same promise were brought back to me yesterday.  I was strongly encouraged to believe again it's fixed by God.  All of it will happen.  Alleluia.

After work, April and I went to get some gasoline and a few things at the store.  We arrived back home.  In the driveway, I looked at her and said we're about to experience things far beyond what we can think or imagine.  As we continued to sit in the car, we heard the hoots of one owl to our right, then we heard other hoots from our left.  They continued back and forth a couple more times.  I then noticed a silhouette of what looked like to me something that was perched in a tree just along the tree line in the backyard.  I slowly got out of the car and made my way carefully through the yard until I knew for certain it was our owl from the right.  It then looked to its left and flew off.  So cool.



The Lord speaks to me in subtle ways, even through birds - hawks, eagles, and, now, owls.   I guess its a language I value (like pop and rock songs).  The owl in prophetic language symbolizes wisdom and craftiness.  I believe in hearing two of something is fixed by God and seeing one which I hadn't before mirrors my prayer to learn to see and hear when the Lord shows and speaks.  

I'm praying daily for the Lord to teach me to hear and see when the Lord speaks and shows.  Someone may say sincerely I don't need to pray this because it appears I'm already hearing and seeing as God speaks and shows to me.  Well, I guess I believe the spirit of what is conveyed in Zechariah 10: 1, Ask the Lord for rain in the time of the latter rain.  I'm asking for an increase in gifting without anxiety in a time when its raining.  

Lastly, and I think so much of this comes down to this, I came to the belief recently in asking for an increase in spiritual sensitivity is a desire to know the Lord more of his heart and in his presence.  I ask for your prayers in this journey, and I'll pray for an increase in your desire to know the Lord more, as well.  May the Lord bless you.

Friday, March 25, 2016

Stronger Than Death (Podcast)




I want to share a message from my favorite preacher.  This message was delivered six years ago and is appropriate for Easter weekend.  With it being shared here, I've decided to include podcasts in this blog.  Again, you're always invited to comment, share and, certainly, pray for us and all who are stepping out to bring heaven to earth.  We love y'all and your interest in where we are and what God is sharing.  Click here to listen to the podcast. Use Music Player for Google Drive.

Thursday, March 24, 2016

Teach Me to Hear & See

I've heard sounds of things falling and landing recently.  I'd look around to see what fell and find nothing.  I've prayed recently for the Lord to teach me to see and hear better in the Spirit, particularly in light of a recent dream.

Living in our last parsonage and serving my last appointment in the United Methodist Church was a season of hearing sounds.  The sound we started hearing at the parsonage was the loud closing of a door.  I started hearing it.  I then started hearing it when I was alone in the house, and I'd walk inside and outside the house to determine what was shutting or being shut.  It would happen on days when there was no wind causing shingles to flap or flutter.  April started hearing it, and she'd ask if I heard it.  I'd say I'd been hearing for months, and I'd grown accustomed to it.  In light of what occurred in our lives and how our callings changed, its obvious now what was closing.  The Lord was telling us what was already taking place in the Spirit.



Near the end of last century, I took a leave of absence from pastoral ministry.  My last job prior to my return to ministry was in the hospitality industry - I worked in a hotel in Tuscaloosa.  I was at the front desk on the Saturday morning of The Iron Bowl, the annual football game between Alabama and Auburn.  I was checking guests out of their accommodations. One of the guests was the United Methodist bishop from the North Georgia Conference. I took the opportunity to introduce myself and share my status in the church.  He looked at me and asked me about the condition of my calling.

It was a dreary,  rain-soaked morning.  When the bishop asked me about my calling as a pastor would ask a congregant, I heard the loud sound of a low-flying jet aircraft.  What was a jet flying on such a stormy day as that and flying so close to the ground?  I stopped answering the bishop because the jet had startled me.  I asked, "Did you hear that?"  He just stared at me.  I figured he hadn't heard it.  I went on to answer his question.  He blessed me and my journey in God.  I thanked him.

For the next several minutes, I asked co-workers and a couple guests if they'd heard the low-flying jet.  Nobody had.  I obviously heard something to punctuate his question regarding the condition of my calling which was in flux but not abandoned.  Jet or angel or internal commotion is irrelevant.  I heard something to accentuate the moment and emphasize my need to evaluate my calling at that point in my life.  Today, I all the more want to hear and see what the Lord would want me to know regarding the people and world approximate to my life and ministry.  Teach me to hear and see, Lord.

Back in January, I posted about hearing Rocky Mountain High  in my spirit at work.  This was prior to my current request to hear and see and discern.  After a few days of asking for this particular gifting, I awoke from sleep in my bed hearing internally, Leaving On a Jet Plane by Peter, Paul & Mary.  I know I hadn't heard that song in months, if not years.  Where did that come from and why?

Last Sunday, the guest preacher quoted a parable from Mark 10:29-30,
Jesus said, “Truly I tell you, there is no one who has left house or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or fields, for my sake and for the sake of the good news, who will not receive a hundredfold now in this age—houses, brothers and sisters, mothers and children, and fields, with persecutions—and in the age to come eternal life.

In the spirit of how the preacher used this text in his sermon, the congregation affirmed the Word with "Amen," and "hallelujah" and applauseIn the midst of the expressed approval from the congregation, I heard someone say loudly, "Ponder-Twardys."  I dared not turn around to see who it was that spoke our name.  We're still strangers in this church. Who spoke our names?  In hearing our name, can I trust we who left houses and friends and comforts for the sake of the gospel will receive a hundredfold in this life and eternal life in the age to come?  Teach me to hear and see, Lord.

I trust these are the days to listen and see the Lord conveying truth, direction, conviction and love.  I will position myself to learn what the Lord would choose to communicate and to sharpen my senses in order to perceive that is placed before me.  Lord, teach me to hear and see.  Amen.

Saturday, March 19, 2016

A Fight & A Birth

Without details needing to be shared, its been a fight in the Spirit this week.  Discouragement, degrees of hopelessness and clear uncertainty have shown themselves.  We continue to pray for the Lord to be merciful.

When I was a kid, fights were more pushing matches, trash talk and shouting contests.  We seldom came to blows.  Fights with my older brother amounted to me sucker punching him on the basketball court. I was the hot head.  He was the mature one or simply ignored my idiotic, immature rants and ravings.  When I did engage in a couple fights in school, rage seemed to work best.  I'd scream and holler and hope to intimidate rather than hurt.  It worked, but I'd feel guilt and shame soon after and apologize even when I knew I was justified in defending myself.  Weird.

Wanting a physical altercation with the neighborhood bully seems to describe best how I felt this week. I'm a guy. When things are like they were this week, I wanted to rant, rave and fight. April wanted to cry.  

Spiritual warfare is emotional and internal. So often, the enemy will strike me strategically where I'm vulnerable.  In reaction, so often, I've tried rage as my strategy. I'd just get mad. I don't even feel better afterward after fighting in the flesh.  Sitting down on a stool like a boxer in his corner, I hope the bell doesn't ring and summon me back into the contest.  I'm tired.



On St. Patrick's Day, Ryan LeStrange, a prophet from Virginia, shared this word.  Though I might had been reeling from three rounds with an enemy that reveled in my shadow boxing in rage that wore me out, this word centered and encouraged me to be still and wait on the Lord.

DISCOMFORT BEFORE THE SHIFT:
This has been such a season of divine shifting individually and corporately. I am reminded of the many times in prayer that I have seen visions of a giant checker board and The Lord moving the pieces around. Things are coming into divine alignment.

One of the things that will occur right before a shift is a growing sense of discomfort. You will become so uncomfortable where you are. This often creates feelings of frustration. It is imperative that you have prophetic perspective or you may misinterpret what you are experiencing. The pain that you are feeling may very well be growing pains! There is a birthing to release you into the ‪shift‬. The enemy wants to pull you off the birthing table. You must discern the times/season that you are in. The pains are most likely an indicator of the intended shift. Discern it, hold fast to the prophetic words and navigate it.

I claim eyes to see, ears to hear and a heart that navigates!



He nailed it.  There've been feelings of frustration and discomfort in me which was manifested in anger. Being still and trusting the Lord is moving things around into divine alignment and discomfort is part of the birthing process helps me.  Sitting up and crying or standing up and flailing away gets us out of the birthing position or off the table completely.  Lord, grant us mercy.

After a projected labor/season of warfare, a woman may not have the strength to push on the birthing table.  April said to me after hearing Ryan's word, "The Holy Spirit has to be our midwife."

Knowing bouts with discouragement and frustration are part of this season helps me.  We've heard things in the Spirit recently that gave us heightened expectations.  Last week's counter attack by the enemy caught us flat footed.   We've surrendered our fears along with our expectations to the Lord, and we'll trust in the birthing process.  

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

We Dream, Instead

It would be so smart and tidy for us to hear the Lord's voice with clarity.  My, it would be so much like the encounters Abraham and Moses had.  It would be so much like the teaching and sharing Jesus did with his friends in Galilee; however, we're not hearing things as easily as they did.  We dream, instead.

Psalm 16: 7 reads, I bless the Lord who gives me counsel; in the night also my heart instructs me.  It is at night the heart can instruct us when the Lord desires to share with us.  Sometimes daytime is too full of interference to hear his voice. 

Before dawn on Valentine's Day, April dreamed I was scheduled for an operation.  In fact, she was the one who administered the anesthetic.  To her surprise, it turned out to be a local anesthetic.  I was awake for the operation, and she was there to observe what took place.

The operation was to place a new heart in my groin.  I didn't suffer or endure pain.  April said in the morning, in recapping this for me, a groin in a dream symbolizes fruitfulness, and a new heart symbolizes increase or a new life.

February 16, Bethel Music posted a slide on Facebook advertising their new album, Have It All.  It became downloadable on February 26, my birthday.  The slide depicts a heart, not a Valentine image or a cartoon or artist's depiction of a romantic image often associated with the heart.  It's a sculpture's realistic rendering of an actual heart.  Merely coincidental that the advertisement promotes a CD with a heart on the cover available on my birthday after April's dream of a heart implanted in my groin?  I find it stupid-funny!  



On our way home from church that afternoon, in talking about this dream, April recalled in the last days prior to leaving my last church as pastor she dreamed I was crucified and emasculated.  During worship, she believed the Lord communicated to her what was taken from me in those days was being restored to me in these days.

I dreamed recently all four of us lived in a basement in an old house.  White washed walls in this basement symbolized God's presence. There were no windows, just openings in the walls, which symbolizes to see clearly.  Living in a basement implies things hidden and stored.  A basement can also symbolize the beginning or foundation of something significant. It was the first dream of mine for a while, if ever, all four of us in the family were together.

There were things I couldn't remember from the dream, but there were significant things I could recall.  Eli told me in the dream, "Dad, you dreamed in January of going to Loyola University."  In the dream, I thought that was interesting.  I then told him I dreamed that twice.  April and I told him two dreams was significant because two means something was witnessed as true (In Genesis 41, Joseph said two dreams of the same theme means its fixed by God).  Saint Loyola was gifted in spiritual discernment (1 Corinthians 12:10).  I believe I'm learning spiritual discernment (going to 'college' again), and it's fixed by God.

Later in the dream, Anna went upstairs in the house (ascension).  While moving upstairs, there was standing water in the basement, and her movement upstairs trembled the water.  We believe this depicts Anna's destiny.  She'll ascend and impact environments.

Also, it was raining outside in the dream.  Rain symbolizes the outpouring of the Spirit.  Eli put on a raincoat like one my parents gave me prior to seminary, a Botany 500.  It made me look like an adult as it did Eli.  He and I looked at each other, and he then walked outside.  There was an opening without a door. As he stepped outside, his head turned into a gorilla head.  In researching the images in the dream, I knew there was a referencing to gorillas or apes in the Old Testament.  A source I found referred to two verses.  The Greek word used for ape in these verses means swift, nimble, active, and we would add strong.  This sounds like Eli to us.  Like Anna ascending, Eli moves out into an outpouring as a strong, nimble and active man of God.

Now, it was just April and me (sounds like a dream April had in early February - our kids left us in that dream, as well).  The rain continued.  Water started flowing through the basement swiftly.  Water is always symbolic of the Holy Spirit.  I heard what sounded like a broadcast from a television, radio or computer.  The voice mentioned shutters like on a house covering windows.  I then noticed I was holding an old newspaper clipping where two men were walking and looking at the camera jovially, both carried two broken shutters apiece after an apparent tornado.

Before we left Albertville and moved to Anniston, April dreamed of tornadoes.  We experienced spiritual and other forms of turmoil our first year here.  April helped interpret that for me.  The shutters cover windows and sight or open vision through the windows.  These shutters in the picture were torn off.  Undoubtedly, I now can see.  In the basement, the windows were out - no glass, no frames.   My sight into the world from the basement is now unimpeded.  The newspaper pic was old reporting of tornadoes long past.

The dream in February portrays a new, fruitful life for me.  The dream in March sketches me as one with new sight and gifting as the Spirit begins to flow in our environment and our world. Are these smart and tidy channels of communication of the Spirit?  Dreams remain mysterious.

Dreams are part of the prophetic identity of Christianity's past, present and future.  Dreams are evidence of the pouring out of the Holy Spirit upon all flesh.  
Indeed, these are not drunk, as you suppose, for it is only nine o’clock in the morning.  No, this is what was spoken through the prophet Joel:
‘In the last days it will be, God declares,
that I will pour out my Spirit upon all flesh,
    and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy,
and your young men shall see visions,
and your old men shall dream dreams.' -- Acts 2: 15-17

I wrote about us being in the fourth day as in the creation story in Genesis when the heavenly lights for signs, seasons and times were created (The Year of Leaping [Close to The Edge], posted 2/12/16).  Our dream life is providing for us signs, benchmarks labeling seasons and times. Some may canvas scripture and their favorite preachers and teachers to receive fresh revelations and other spiritual insights that bring insights of a loving and faithful God.  We have done the same for years.  Such work and rich encounters with our God have led us here and opened doors to our destinies in Jesus.  In addition, in the night, our hearts instruct us. In addition, we dream.