Saturday, April 29, 2017

The Lord Hasn't Been Silent

Sometimes peace and comfort for my soul only comes to me when I write.  For some, this may be true when they play their musical instrument or draw or paint or exercise or eat a cheese burger.

I was told to write years ago by, who Bob Dylan called in his 60 Minute interview years ago, the Chief Commander.  When I write, I feel his pleasure.  The problem arises when I believe I have little to nothing to share, but something stirs within me to write, regardless.

This is one of the reasons I live and breathe, to give testimony to what God is doing so that many generations now and in the future will join in worshiping the Lord (Psalm 102: 18-22, The Message).   

To this point in writing and posting, I thought I'd be recording significant acts and events attributed only to God.  I thought I'd be documenting miracles and manifestations of glory and power from heaven to earth.  In actuality, I've recorded mostly what I've dreamed or heard in my spirit or what my loved ones have encountered in the Spirit. This isn't disappointing.  Its curious.  

Again, I find myself motivated to write what I saw in a recent dream.  I believe it was the Lord giving me a pearl of wisdom to direct my faith and passion.  

For the last six or so months, I've prayed two verses regularly.

Do not be silent, O God of my praise. - Psalm 109: 1

And

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

Well, the Lord hasn't been silent.  My prayers have evidently linked with what the Spirit wanted to do, to speak.  My prayers have led me to be more attentive to what the Lord has wanted to say, or has been saying already.  Perhaps, I've paid more attention.

In the aforementioned dream, I simply saw a scripture reference, Isaiah 40.  The Old Testament chapter is attached to John the Baptist's ministry.  He proclaimed a baptism of repentance and Luke associated some familiar verses with John's message:

      He went into all the region around the Jordan, proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the    forgiveness of sins, as it is written in the book of the words of the prophet Isaiah,“The voice of one  crying out in the wilderness:‘Prepare the way of the Lord, make his paths straight'". - Luke 3: 3, 4

I've read and meditated on this chapter repeatedly.  I've come to the conclusion this chapter was given to me, to us as a fresh word to focus our attention.  This chapter is a signal that things have changed for us.  I want to share what I believe the Lord is telling me about these days.  Again, I'm giving testimony of what the Lord is doing.  He's speaking, and I'm doing my best to listen.

With the text of Isaiah 40 as the blueprint, I believe I'm told, first, comfort is due us.  Second, we've endured double in our waiting (verse 2). This echoes the double portion promised in Zechariah 9 spoken to April on Christmas morning.

Recently, in a prophetic word, we were told to get ready.  Verse 3 speaks of a voice saying for the hearers to prepare the way of the Lord.  For us, I believe, this says the same thing.  Get ready. Prepare the way.  I simply trust this calls us to believe steadfastly, believe he is about to act decisively for us and through us as he's promised.

Every valley filled and every mountain made low, all made level like a plateau, like Sand Mountain (a true plateau).  Perhaps we now can say the roller coaster times, highs and lows, are ending.  

We're to look for opportunities to be bold to announce his appearing, "Here is the Lord! (verse 9)" Our Lord is coming with might carrying his reward and gathering his loved ones to himself.

In the verses that follow, the prophet asks the hearers to consider what the Lord truly is, what the Lord can do, and do we compare anything or anyone with the Lord?  This caught me because when my faith has waned, I'd ask myself if God could or would do what he's promised.  Really, in moments of shallow faith, did I really know the Lord?

In between these questions, the nations are referred to as nothing, a drop in the bucket (vss. 15-17); idols for the rich and the poor abound (vss. 19-20); princes are nothing but dust (vss. 23-24).

These verses describe for me what is and may yet go on in these days.  The nations seem to be in tumult, but we're reminded they are nothing in these days (not necessarily a target of our focus). The rich can purchase what they want (even idols), but the poor must make do (even with the idols they can afford).  Finally, princes in these days come and go simply because of how the wind blows (Gov. Bentley comes and goes, Presidents come and may go as easily, UM bishops believe they're secure by virtue of their consecration or maybe not).

We've said for years it appears we've been hidden.  As if we've said, “My way is hidden from the Lord,  and my right is disregarded by my God” (verse 27).  The Lord says through the prophet the Lord is everlasting and does not grow weary but gives strength.  Then we who've waited for the Lord shall experience renewed strength.  Like the word I received from a friend years ago, we shall mount up on wings like eagles.  We'll run and not be weary, walk and not faint.

The Lord has not been silent.  This chapter from scripture was given to me, I believe, to direct our faith to what is at hand for us and through us in these days.  I haven't been able to document the miraculous, but I've compiled a record of words and accounts of spiritual encounters both awake and asleep.  


The Lord has not been silent in our lives.  How has the Lord been speaking to you these days?

Saturday, April 15, 2017

Prepare Your Minds for Action

I awoke Friday after dreaming.  I was in a house of happy, playful people in the dream.  The environment itself was sloppy and chaotic.  I had some form of authority there, but I can't recall the degree.  As the dream progressed, I knew I had plans on leaving and going oversees, but I didn't want to tell anyone. I was just about to leave their company, the dream began to fade to black, and I heard a voice say, "You're called to do this."

The epistle lesson in the Daily Office in the Book of Common Prayer on Good Friday was from 1 Peter 1.  Verse 13 struck me.

Therefore prepare your minds for action; discipline yourselves; set all your hope on the grace that Jesus Christ will bring you when he is revealed.

The preparation and discipline for coming action I like a lot.  With a comforting sense of hope today on me, I can easily focus and trust in the grace from Christ coming to us in revelation.  Alleluia.  I am truly encouraged!

Is it merely because of my dream?  Is it by virtue of scripture confidently received and digested into my spirit?  Yes to all the above!  God has spoken to me in language I understand and value.  First, my dream life is an avenue of the Spirit's communication to me I've learned to appreciate. 

Verse 13 comes from an author who followed Jesus and is quoted in the Good Friday morning's gospel lesson conveying self assurance that he'd never leave Jesus, but its Jesus who tells him in the next moment he'd be the one to deny Jesus three times that evening.

Secondly, the language of irony to bring a point to light has always been a means of communication I've valued.  The Lord is speaking to me these days.

April and I are becoming more aware the Lord wants us to grow more comfortable with who we are as a couple and as individuals with callings on our own lives. We're preparing our minds for action.  As I've written recently, I believe the Lord has spoken to us who we are and not to forget. Again, the words of Peter, Therefore prepare your minds for action; discipline yourselves; set all your hope on the grace that Jesus Christ will bring you when he is revealed.

Though traditional, liturgical Christianity calls believers to temper down the celebratory nature of Easter the days before in Holy Week and recall the suffering and abandoned Christ on the cross for the sins of the world, I remember our Christ died on the cross once for all.  I was struck with two videos and a song on Friday that spoke to my spirit and mind.  These artistic expressions I embraced passionately and reminded me who I am and whose I am.  My mind is being prepared for action.

The first was a song that played on my shuffled playlist of 12 hours of music on my iPod.  It played twice in ten minutes.  I'm inclined to believe the repetition of this song was the Spirit's language to me.  God often speaks to me in music.

The song, Jesus, We Love You, from Bethel Music on the album, We Will Not Be Shaken, is a simple contemporary worship song.  It encouraged me to openly praise my savior I love by name, Jesus.  It also came to me that morning as I felt the fresh wind of hope in my life.  For this alone, I was moved. 

I heard it once, then I heard it again.  This time the verses spoke to me.

Things that we thought were dead, are breathing in life again.
You cause your Son to shine on darkest nights.
For all that you’ve done we will pour out our love,
This will be our anthem song.
Jesus we love you,
Oh how we love you,
You are the one our hearts adore.

One could think and believe things are dead, but Jesus breaths life into us and shines despite our darkness.  We pour out our love in song and speech.  Jesus, we love you.  In experiencing his grace first, I respond in love.  This is who the Lord is to me, and this is who I am, a child of God who loves his savior.  This prepares my mind for action. I shared this lyric video on Facebook Friday morning.

I then posted a video from the movie, War Room.  Its a story of a family that learns the spiritual life and power in diligent prayer to our God who hears.  This scene shows the wife defiantly declaring to Satan in her home Jesus is Lord of this home, and he cannot have her husband, marriage, children or her joy.  

Many in Christendom do not believe in the personification of evil, but this belief is not necessary to be a Christian.  I believe Satan and his minions exist.  We've suffered from spiritual attacks and warfare over the last few years like never before in our lives because, we believe, we've said yes to God and his callings on our lives.  This scene spoke to me Friday. It is vigilant and encouraging.  My mind is preparing for action.

Lastly, I posted on Facebook a video from Puddles the Clown singing Pinball Wizard to the tune of Folsom Prison Blues.  It simply made me happy.  The fun and slightly creepy performance entertained me a lot.  It spoke to me.  It told me, again, who I am, what's fun for me, and that's ok.  God still loves me, and this is how God made me. 

Sometimes being prepared and disciplined for what's coming begins with knowing afresh who you are.  Simply stated, I love Jesus who first loved me.  I'm aware of what evil lurks in darkness, and there is necessary combat.  Finally, joy and fun can be found in this world in various, innocent forms.

Am I called to travel overseas in a calling from God?  I can't say for sure, but I'm preparing for action by thinking and knowing you I am and whose I am.  I invite you to join me in preparation.

Monday, April 10, 2017

Return

Several years ago when I was reading, again, Psalm 102 in The Message translation, I was captured surprisingly by the simplest of words. The word was, "Write."

Write this down for the next generation so people not yet born will praise God:
God looked out from his high holy place; from heaven he surveyed the earth.
He listened to the groans of the doomed, he opened the doors of their death cells.”
Write it so the story can be told in Zion, so God’s praise will be sung in Jerusalem’s streets
And wherever people gather together along with their rulers to worship him.
- Psalm 102: 18-22, The Message

I'd been journaling for years and blogging for not quite as long.  I wanted to share what I believed the Lord was telling me, showing me or what I was witnessing and then giving testimony.  This blog was conceived to do this. The single word got me back on track. 

My passion returned to write, share, declare what I believed God was saying and doing in and around us.  To be honest, the voice was often a whisper and the divine actions were subtle and small, but I returned to one of my God given purposes with passion, to record what God had done, and it will ultimately inspire worship all over the world (That was a bold statement!).

I link in this post that single word and related inspiration to another single word that came to me this weekend.

First of all, like I wrote in 2014, I didn't think I'd write again after not recording anything significant for months.  Something's been stirring in my belly for a couple weeks, but I couldn't put words to it.  This weekend gave me a set of ideas and experiences to string together that depicted for me what God wanted us to capture afresh.  I now find myself writing what I believe God has communicated to us.  Write, Jeff!

April and I watched Friday morning the webcast of The Voice of the Prophets, an annual conference of Global Awakening.  Larry Randolph preached on the importance of securing or recapturing your focus in ministry.  It is so often related to a location and always related to adaptability, to be able to change the hows and whens in ministry. 

After the message, April and I debriefed.  She asked me what I thought.  I said we'd forgotten Mary's first word to us.  Mary is a woman who approached us after worship at a church we were attending for the first time in February.  She said, "The Lord is not through with you.  Don't sit down."

The last several weeks, we've looked to sit down at this wonderful, gracious church and the husband and wife that pastor it.  We've nestled ourselves in this congregation because we've experienced the love and acceptance we've looked for these last couple years. 

We went on to agree together Larry's message was for us.  We've ignored the vision and calling to minister on Sand Mountain to stay intimately connected with this church and make strategies to secure our own housing in Anniston.  Such a plan is a short term abandonment of the bigger vision and calling.  Larry said for us to posture ourselves so we don't lose sight of our calling.  We've been on the verge of losing our vision.  God brought this message Friday through Larry for our sakes.

Christmas morning, April believed she heard the Lord give her a scripture verse for us for this year, Zechariah 9: 12:

Return to your stronghold, O prisoners of hope; today I declare that I will restore to you double.

I then told her as The Message translation of Psalm 102 expressed simply to me years ago, "Write," Zechariah 9: 12 says, "Return."  We're supposed to return, focused on  the return to Sand Mountain and our calling.

Saturday afternoon, we drove to Sand Mountain on US Hwy 431.  It had been a year since we visited the mountain, to listen for the Lord's voice to perhaps give us direction or inspiration for our return to establish a base for ministry first on a farm and then in a regional church (Last year, April encountered Jesus in worship where he asked her if she'd pastor a regional church on Sand Mountain, and she said yes).

As we approached, ascended and traversed Sand Mountain on 431, both of us felt the Lord's presence, prayed out loud to hear his voice, cried off and on and worshipped.  Of all the roads we travelled and places we entered and left that afternoon, it was Albertville and Boaz, to our surprise, that felt most like home.  It was driving through the middle of Albertville I heard April say out loud, "I love this town"  Of all the things we said to each other and to God that day, this surprised us most.

Evidently, it will be on this end of the mountain and this section of Alabama we'll find the farm, buy it and steward the portal of God's presence, the thin place, to see the deliverance, healing and salvation of so many in the years to come.  This trip secured this in our spirits and souls. 

We've been refreshed in our faith to believe we're suppose to return to Sand Mountain and engage in ministry.  Our calling is renewed within us to stay focused and postured for our return to where God has called us.

Have you lost your focus or vision for where you're suppose to go and who you really are in Christ to be?  It could be just a single word that'll come to you that will reorient your spirit to what God had originally called you to do or be.  A single word can get you back on track. 

I'll believe with you the Lord will posture you to pursue his will afresh.  Don't worry, nothing's been lost or forsaken.  Just look again and return to the path.