Why can’t I see him?

On my bike home the other day, I was listening to a message that John Paul Jackson gave at a conference on August 1, 2010.  I wasn’t able to verify but I believe it was given at the Mission Viejo Vineyard.  Here is the excerpt that got me:

A pastor comes and says to me, “I have a 4-year-old son who says he’s seeing angels, and he’s talking to them, like, regularly.”  And he said, “Could that be true?” “Or is he talking to, like a spirit guide?”  I said, “Well, depends on your definition of a spirit guide, but it’s probably an angel guiding him,” thus the definition of a spiritual guide. And he said, “Well, I don’t see him. Why can’t I see him?” I said, “Well, next time you find your son talking to the angel, ask him!”  He said, “I can do that?” I said, “Well of course; you’re his dad!”

So a couple of weeks later the dad went up to get the son for supper—he sees his son talking to the angel.  He says, “Son, are you talking to the angel?”  The son says, “Yeah.”  And he says, “Will you ask the angel something for me?” “Will you ask him why I can’t see him?”  So the 4-year-old asks the angel, and the angel says this—the little boys says what the angel said—”Dad, the angel says for me to tell you,” and he says it in his 4-year-old voice, “that the reason why you can’t see him is that your eyes have beheld too much evil.” And so, after the dad recovered, he then looked at his son and said, “Son, will you ask him this: ‘Will I ever be able to see?’” So the little boy asks, and the angel responded. The little boy said, “Dad, the angel says ‘Yes, the day will come, but the calluses run deep and it will take some time to dissolve them.’”

See we allow ourselves to do things thinking it has no bearing—we’ll still get into heaven, everything is fine—but we have no idea it stops us from living at a higher spiritual plane than we would have lived otherwise. We live in a much lowlier estate.  And I don’t mean humble.  I mean less spiritual state than we would have walked had we allowed the Holy Spirit to discipline us and keep us in a better place.  Calluses form, lack of sensitivity, lack of ability to discern, slowly slowly.  We may have salvation, but slowly, slowly our spiritual life erodes, and we wonder why.  We make poor choices, and we think those choices are inconsequential, but five years later they take a toll.  Ten years later they take a toll.  Twenty years later, they’ve taken a toll.  And we think it doesn’t make any difference, making those kind of choices.  We need to feel His presence, and when it lifts, we need to do something different than we’re doing.

God’s grace covers us when we fall.  I know that from my own repeated experience.  But I want more.  I want to see the angels.  I want to know God at a greater level of intimacy and experience than I do now.  I believe it’s possible.

Lord, dissolve the calluses from my eyes, for I too, have beheld too much evil.  Lord, draw me close to you.  Transform my appetites to hunger for your word and your presence.  Show me how to keep pure eyes and ears and mind in this depraved culture we must live in.  In Jesus’ name.

A “shyness” altar call

I’ve been feeling led to look more at the biblical character Timothy.  I’m not sure what God has for me here.  I did a little background reading on Timothy this morning and came across this:

Timothy is timid at times and thus doesn’t use his gifts as he should.

Thus Paul reminded him in 2 Tim. 1:6: “…to fan into flame the gift of God, which is in you through the laying on of my hands. 7] For God did not give us a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power, of love and of self-discipline.” We too need the same reminder—to fan into flame our gifts and not give way to “…a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power, of love and of self-discipline.” When I used to speak at youth camps, I would often give a “shyness altar call.” Realizing that I wasn’t the only one who shied away from using his gifts because of shyness, I called the shy people to a safe place, and together we dedicated our shyness to God. We recognized it as a gift of sensitivity, with the danger that we use it on ourselves, and not on others as it was intended by God. (Source: Bob Stone)

I have seen this in my own life.  It took me many years to face the fact that God had made me shy, and that the blessing of being shy was sensitivity.  I was occasionally ridiculed as a child for being overly sensitive, cry-baby, etc.  But as an adult engaged in ministry, I realize what a gift this is.  Yes, I am still sensitive and sometimes fearful.  But I think God has used that to express an empathetic sensitivity to others that I wouldn’t have otherwise.

As Pastor Stone points out here, the great danger of being shy is that this God-given sensitivity may never escape the boundaries of our own fears, and never be the blessing to the world that He intended.

Lord Jesus, I don’t want to be limited by fear.  Use me to bless others.  Use me to help empower your timid, shy, sensitive, beloved ones to move past their fears and bring hope and healing to the world around them, as you intended.  Thank you for the gift of sensitivity.  Even when I struggle with the fearful tendencies of that gift, may I never be ungrateful for how you have made me.  I don’t want fear to rip me off from the amazing life you have waiting for me!  In Jesus’ name. 

The WasteLand

In The Dream Giver, Bruce Wilkinson writes about the WasteLand: that time after you have pushed through fear and opposition and are ready to make your dream a reality, but failure or setbacks occur instead.

The WasteLand does not happen because God isn’t paying attention, or because he’s angry at us. It doesn’t happen because we have sinned (although we can lengthen our time there).

Instead, the WasteLand happens for a good and important reason: it is an invaluable season of preparation. It is the place where God transforms you into the person who can do your Dream.

Lord, give me the wisdom to invite you even into my failures. To know that failure does not mean loss in your kingdom economy, because you redeem everything. In Jesus’ name.

The Caleb Prayer for Hacienda Heights

O High King of heaven,
Have mercy on Hacienda Heights.
Revive your Church;
Send the Holy Spirit for the sake of the children.
May your kingdom come to our nation.
In Jesus’ mighty name.
Amen

From Ffald-y-Brenin, a conference center in Wales, that has seen God’s amazing outpouring, as documented in The Grace Outpouring.  This prayer is being used around the globe to ask the Lord to bring revival.  The words are not magic, but God is faithful to answer the prayer of his beloved ones.  Would you pray this with me for Hacienda Heights?  For your community?

Strongholds

2 Corinthians 10:3-6:

For though we walk in the flesh, we are not waging war according to the flesh. For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but have divine power to destroy strongholds. We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ, being ready to punish every disobedience, when your obedience is complete.

From the study notes of The New Spirit-Filled Life Bible:

Strongholds are first established in the mind; that is why we are to take every thought captive.  Behind a stronghold is also a lie—a place of personal bondage where God’s word has been subjugated to any unscriptural idea or personally confused belief that is held to be true.  Behind every lie is a fear, and behind every fear is an idol.  Idols are established where there exists a failure to trust in the provisions of God that are ours through Jesus Christ…

Here is an example:  If we make an idol of financial security, we have fears over not having enough money, and we believe the lie that we must abandon other priorities to earn as much as possible.

Or, if we make an idol of our spouse (believing they will meet our most significant needs), then we are afraid of being unhappy when they can’t/don’t meet our needs, so we believe lies like we have to manipulate them to get them to behave like we want them to.  Or we believe the lie that if they aren’t “making us happy” that we can never be happy, and believe that we face a choice of only divorce or unhappiness (as opposed to finding our joy in the Lord and his provision for us).

One of the greatest joys of doing deliverance ministry is forcing demons to tell their hosts what lies they have been feeding them over the years.  Watching the realization in the eyes of those being ministered to that they are not worthless, or it wasn’t their fault—that the tape recordings that have been playing in their minds all that time were lies of the enemy—is priceless.  To watch them get freedom and know they are loved by God is one of the greatest treasures in this life.  Thank you Jesus.

A Different Spirit

“But because my servant Caleb as a different spirit and follows me wholeheartedly, I will bring him into the land he went to, and his descendants will inherit it” (Numbers 14:24)

Cultivating this “different spirit” of wholehearted devotion to the Lord is so difficult in today’s culture.  I watched a John Stossel video with my 6th period class yesterday about being famous.  They cited a study–most young people today would rather be a personal assistant to a celebrity than be a Senator or a CEO of a corporation.  They did “man on the street” interviews where they asked people two questions:  1) Who cured polio?; and 2) Who was Nicole Richie’s best friend?  Among older people, some knew Jonas Salk, and many didn’t know Paris Hilton. (I didn’t even know who Nicole Richie was; I had to find out from the video.)  But among the young, nobody knew who cured polio, but almost everyone knew who Nicole Richie’s best friend was.

Our media-obsessed culture, in which we vicariously live our lives through celebrities we have never met, is destroying meaning and significance in our lives.  How does a Christian live in this culture with a “different spirit?”

What Caleb did is that he saw his circumstances through God’s eyes.  He saw the same fortified cities and giants in the land they were supposed to conquer.  But He and Joshua argued with those who were afraid:

“Do not be afraid of the people of the land, because we will swallow them up.  Their protection is gone, but the Lord is with us.  Do not be afraid of them” (Num 14:9).

He trusted the Lord to intervene in his circumstances, and acted on it.  He put himself in situations where he would be in trouble if the Lord didn’t act.  Not recklessly so, but out of obedience to God.  He remembered what God had done in the past, and trusted him to do it again.

Lord, help me to walk wholeheartedly before you.  Lord, I want to listen to your voice, and see my circumstances through your eyes.  Increase my faith.  Put a different spirit within me.  As I read the stories of your intervention and deliverance, give me the faith to believe that you will do it again.  Thank you for repeatedly doing it again in my own life.  In Jesus’ name.

Secret Church!

Been reading Radical by David Platt. This idea of “Secret Church” has been really speaking to me.

After experiencing the desperation of believers in the underground church in China, and going back to pastor his megachurch, he writes:

What if we took away the cool music and the cushioned chairs? What if the screens are gone and the stage is no longer decorated? What if the air conditioning is off and the comforts are removed? Would his Word still be enough for his people to come together?

At Brook Hills we decided to try to answer this question. We actually stripped away the entertainment value and invited people to come together simply to study God’s Word for hours at a time. We call it Secret Church.

We set a date—one Friday night—when we would gather from six o’clock in the evening until midnight, and for six hours we would do nothing but study the Word and pray. We would interrupt this six-hour bible study periodically to pray for our brothers and sisters around the world who are forced to gather secretly. We would also pray for ourselves, that we would learn to love the Word as they do.

We weren’t sure how many would show up that first evening, but by night’s end about a thousand people had gathered. Our topic of study was the Old Testament. After our first try we decided to do it again, and again, and now we have to take reservations because we cannot contain all the people who want to come.

One of my favorite sights is to look across a room packed with people with their bibles in their laps, studying who God is and what God has said—after midnight (we have never ended on time). Granted, we still have the cushioned chairs—though we did discuss the possibility of removing them! And we still have the comforts of a nice building with indoor bathrooms. Be we are taking steps, I hope, toward discovering what it means to be a people who are hungry for the revelation of God.

This speaks to me deeply. Lord, raise up in our community and in our churches groups of believers who would hunger and thirst after you!

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