Thursday, February 25, 2016

'Til I'm Old and Gray

O God, from my youth you have taught me,
    and I still proclaim your wondrous deeds.
So even to old age and gray hairs,
    O God, do not forsake me, until I proclaim your might
    to all the generations to come.
Your power 
and your righteousness, O God,
    reach the high heavens.
You who have done great things,
    O God, who is like you? -- Psalm 71: 17-19, NRSV

I'll keep at it until I'm old and gray.

I don't feel there are tell-tale signs of my age.  My face does have wrinkles.  My hair is graying and virtually gone from the top of my head.  Well, I guess there are signs of my age, but I don't feel old.  I feel I have so much more to do and learn and see.  

This self-disclosure of feelings and signs of age come at a time of my 54th birthday.  These physical indications of age do not cause feelings of regret or anguish in me.  On the contrary, I'm rather mystified at how I've changed.  

My bald head is not too surprising.  I've felt I was a candidate for that for quite a while. Some aches and pains after a hard day at work are not so surprising, either.  I rebound rather easily, but I do appreciate days off more than I used to.  The graying of my hair I'm rather pleased about.  I kind of like it.  Socially, people are more prone to call me sir at work and other places than I remember when I was younger.  

At this, the start of my 54th year of life, there are two things that strike me about this passage from Psalm 71.  First, when I read this yesterday, I frankly affirmed I was closer to old age than I was to my youth, and that was o.k.  

The psalmist said in youth the Lord taught him or her, and he or she proclaimed God's wondrous deeds.  Looking to old age, the psalmist didn't want to be forgotten by God until the psalmist proclaimed God's might to all generations to come.  That's what I want to do, too.

Psalm 102: 18-22 in The Message translation, which revealed to me the Father's heart when I needed to know it, was revelatory to me.  Those verses also revealed to me a significant aspect of my calling in this world.  I'm suppose to write of the wondrous deeds of God in order to inspire multi-generational and multi-cultural worship of the God who does great things.  Thus, I was inspired to create this blog (see Psalm 102 In The Message - A Review, posted 1/16/15).

These verses from Psalm 71, again, reflect this purpose and calling.  It struck me yesterday that I'll be doing it when old and gray.  One might say that's now.  One might also say it will never stop in my lifetime.  This thrills me!  

A large piece of my calling in God is still in tact.  I'm acting on it.  I'm praying over it.  I want it to bring God glory and praise for what he's done and is doing.  I still want and believe many people will worship God freely with many other people they'd never had met or known or loved if it wasn't for inspiration to worship our God from my recording, and the recording of many others, of what he's done.  

Secondly, on this my 54th birthday, I say comfortably I'm unique.  I'm not being prideful to write this (that's usually what the prideful write).  April and I are people of our own choosing because we've heard the voice of God and known the Lord's inspiration and directives.  

We've sacrificed, but we've endeavored to remain steadfast.  We've asked for help to survive, at times, and we've received assistance and benevolences when we didn't expect it.  We've stood still and looked foolish in believing God has selected us to carry a unique calling (see God's Salvation On This Holy Mountain, posted 7/20/15).  We've used our voices and positions to declare what the Lord has called us to and asked others to join us.  We've also used such positions to correct error and call some into accountability.  

All of this standing and believing and sacrificing and suffering has left us different.  We're different people then we were in years past when I had more hair and less to trust God for in this life.

What's going to happen now? 
I'll keep at it until I'm old and gray.  God has promised and revealed and spoken and shared his heart to us.  Our destiny is to steward a portal where heaven will come to earth on Sand Mountain, continue to be conduits of healing and deliverance and salvation and inspiration in name of Jesus Christ, tell of how good God is, and he can be trusted.

When its irrelevant to describe me as old and gray, April and I will be described as those faithful Christians who dared to believe when it was hard, and God continues to use them in mighty ways to bring heaven to earth. Amen.  Alleluia!

You got me when I was an unformed youth,
    God, and taught me everything I know.
Now I’m telling the world your wonders;
    I’ll keep at it until I’m old and gray.
God, don’t walk off and leave me until I get out the news
Of your strong right arm to this world,
    news of your power to the world yet to come,
Your famous and righteous ways, O God.
God, you’ve done it all!
    Who is quite like you? -- Psalm 71, 17-19, The Message

Friday, February 19, 2016

We Said Yes (Close to the Edge)

Now, we're close to the edge.

A couple Sundays ago in church we were encouraged to say yes to the will and plans of God.  I nudged April and said everything in our lives and how we live, right now, is shaped by our yes to God.

Last Sunday, while I was listening for the Lord's voice in reading scripture, the quiet impression from the Spirit told me Yes was the rock group that recorded Close to the Edge.  It dawned on me it was YES!  The joy of the Lord came upon me with spontaneous laughter.  It was wonderful.  Close to the Edge has inspired me this past month because it relates symbolically with what I was told.  I'm on the precipice of stepping into a deep, deep calling in God.  Close to the edge.  Yes!

Our original callings were in a denominational schematic including pastoring congregations. We said yes to the voice of God however it came to us. We said yes to our formal affiliation to a denomination as leaders in training, and, then in practice in ministry. Our yes was reciprocated with salaries, housing and other benefits. My yes to God included a yes to a denomination.

My own calling in relationship with God had ebbs and flows.  After years of service to congregations and the denomination, my passion grew cold and passive, and, then through a series of encounters with God via scripture, worship, prayer and small group gatherings, I was positioned to say yes again.

A dear, spiritual woman said to me every time we crossed paths for a about a year, "You're a prophet."  I was still in ministry, sitting in my office, preparing for a Bible study at church and thinking about what Karen told me.   Suddenly, as if someone spoke into my ear, God ask me, "What if you are?"  After crying and in a state of shock, I said out loud to God, "If I am, you need to bring people into my life that show me what it is to be a prophet these days."  With tears in my eyes after the most pointed encounter I'd had with God next to my original calling into ministry, I said yes to God, and people came into my life.

Bill Johnson, a pastor and author from Redding, CA, preached at New Freedom Church  in Webb, AL outside Dothan. Months before he came into my life through CDs and the internet.  He taught me about the roll of prophets in instructing and empowering believers to hear the Lord and act on what he says.  That first night I heard Bill preach in person he said he believed he came to this region to ask communities of faith and individuals if they would say yes to God for what the Lord was preparing to do in these days.  That night, I said yes.

April and I learned more about our giftings and expressing them in love in the years that followed.  This also involved risk.  We risked our reputations as educated, dignified clergy persons, in addition to careers and related benefits, to defend, and even host, manifestations of the Holy Spirit, revealing the Father's heart in expressive worship, laying on of hands for healing and impartation, and preaching with boldness.  We called congregations to step into deeper relationships with God in Christ through the giftings, power and love of the Holy Spirit.  We'd said yes to God.  We asked fellow believers to say yes, as well. They didn't merely refrain from saying yes.  They said no. 

We grew in a new perspective of seeing ourselves in God being instruments, conduits of bringing heaven to earth.  I was given a prophetic word from a friend who told me a vision he had of me at a fork in a road. I went down one spur that was full of debris. I turned around and went the other direction. I went very quickly to the end. He also told me of seeing me in his spirit traveling fast on an interstate.  I came around a bend where there was an exit ramp.  If I took it, I'd be taking a route few took, but I had to decide quickly.  He later saw me ascending a mountain.  If I took the path, I'd get to the top eventually, but it took a long time.  I decided to get off the path, scale the mountain through underbrush and made it to the summit much more quickly.  On the summit, I laid aside bags I carried but didn't need anymore, sprouted wings and soared to unknown destinations. Even with mysterious dreams and visions conveying fully what only God knows, I still say yes to God.

Everything is shaped by the yes.  We're living where we are because we said yes to God.  We knew what it was to have abundance in the past and to have little in these days because we said yes to the Lord.  We know what it is to live on rich moments of worship in the Lord's presence that trumps human wisdom because we said yes to God.  We know what it is to look absolutely foolish, immature and stubborn by the world's standards because we said yes.  We know what is to lose friends, comfort, stability and sleep because we said yes to the Lord.

There is a cost to saying yes and not being moved.  There is also a reward biblically for not relenting and being faithful to what you believe you've heard from the Lord.  We're close to the edge.  What lies ahead still remains only in the heart of God.

April dreamed recently of an operation. I was to have a new small heart implanted into my groin.  I'm told when one dreams of a groin that symbolizes fruitfulness.  The heart symbolizes new life.  We're close to the edge of falling into a deep, deep calling in God that involves supernatural fruitfulness.  We're not sorry for saying yes.

Friday, February 12, 2016

The Year of Leaping (Close to the Edge)

I looked forward to Christmas for weeks.  I said to April prior to the holiday, though there's serious illness among loved ones and Eli's in England and we remain in Anniston, I felt renewed in the season. Perhaps something was about to change.

I told April its no longer a matter of waiting for the open doors to be brought to us or for them to fall open.  The matter now is realizing momentum is in play, momentum in the sphere of the work of the Spirit and the voice of God.

I dreamed the week of Christmas of the date, "February 29, 1972."  It simply appeared embossed over a photo of a sunset as if it were a PowerPoint slide.  This year is a leap year so there's a February 29, 2016.  The difference in years is 44.  I googled the date in history.  Nothing popped up in significance or importance to me. In my search for a biblical meaning of 44, I found it to mean a chosen people.  Perhaps we have been chosen, and this is our season to emerge.

The number four symbolizes in scripture, to a limited degree, creation, earth, angels and Holy Spirit.  This is a portion of an inexhaustible list. On the fourth day of creation in Genesis, God created the greater light to rule the day and the lesser light to rule the night.  We've heard this year in prophetic circles referred to as the year of light.  April had a significant dream in December of two moons in the sky simultaneously.  One fading and one rising quickly, shrinking, growing in brightness and then shooting off quickly.  This sounds like greater and lesser lights symbolizing pending changing. 

Clemson faced Alabama in the national championship game in college football in January.  It dawned on me New Year's Day this game pairs two schools from the two states in which we ministered as United Methodist pastors for over 20 years.  We started our careers as ordained ministers in South Carolina and, after serving in Alabama for 20 years, our callings shifted, and we turned in our orders.  This game, as a parabolic symbol, occurred in the leap year of 2016. Perhaps it symbolizes the decisive end of what ministry was for us.  Now, it'll ALL be different and unprecedented.

I was in the shower one morning last week.  Knowing this was a leap year, I wondered what day of the week February 29 was to be.  I figured out it was a Monday.  At that point, it dawned on me it was "Leap Year!"  It wasn't merely an occurrence revisited every four years.  No, it was "Leap Year."


This a leap year for us.  More accurately, its a year of leaping.

Last week, April dreamed many things. Among them, she dreamed of driving a blue car (car symbolizing ministry and blue symbolizing heaven and visitations).  Suddenly, a large white bird flew along side to her right and then to her left.  It then flew ahead of her and began to rise.  As it did, she began to lift off and ascend like the bird.

We appear to be positioned to lift off the ground to either ascend or fall into God's purposes.

This is leap year for you, as well.  What is your destiny in God this year?  As it appears in Psalm 95: 7 this Lenten season, O that today you would listen to his voice!
From the album referenced earlier, I continue to feel inspired these days as the Lord's voice continues to be heard, and as I read or listen to these words and images:
Close to the edge, down by the river
Down at the end, round by the corner
Seasons will pass you by
Now that it's all over and done
Called to the seed, right to the sun
Now that you find, now that you're whole
Seasons will pass you by
I get up, I get down