Friday, September 30, 2011

When God shows up...

I've wanted to share some things for a few weeks now about a certain question that many of us have asked.

We see people get sick and die, and we ask it. We see people going bankrupt, and we wonder. Many things cause us to want to know...

Where's the power?

You know what I'm talking about, right? That power that Peter walked in when people laid his handkerchiefs on the road, and when he walked through the Gate Beautiful and said, "Get up and walk." The power that Paul displayed when he flung the poisonous serpent off into the fire, which made those on the island think he was a superhero god.

We all acknowledge that God is a God of power, but many of us will also say that we haven't actually seen much of that power. We want to see the blind healed and the lame walk. We want to see the dead raised.

My question for all those asking that question is this:

Are our priorities wrong?

Jesus did spend much time healing, but is that what He was focused on?

How many verses in the Bible does he talk about healing the sick? I'm sure you can bring several to mind. I can. But how many verses are filled with Him talking about His kingdom? How often did He talk about righteousness and loving others and demonstrating that love? How often did He talk about knowing the Father? I can bring chapters and chapters of those to mind.


Am I saying we're not supposed to be wanting to see His power? Not at all! But maybe we should desire more often to see His power active in the spiritual (and far more important) aspects of life. Stirring up His love in our hearts. Working victory over sin in our lives. Filling us with a supernatural love so overwhelming that the world's opinion of Christians was radically changed. Opening the eyes of the spiritually blind.


We got a taste of God's power and presence last Sunday. Now that I've had a week to think about it and let the euphoria of His presence settle in and wear off, I'm thinking about two opposing thoughts:

1) Many of us will testify about how God "showed up" in our worship service on Sunday.
2) Many more could have been there and thought we were all looney.

You see...there was no outward display of power or signs and wonders. There wasn't really anything you could put in a newspaper or quantify. Rather, many of us can simply testify of His presence. We could also tell of miracles inside our souls that were wrought in a few poignant moments between worship songs...miracles that hours (and perhaps years) of self-help and teaching could not have accomplished.

One would speak of things never understood that suddenly made sense. Another could speak of restoration, peace, and refreshing joy. Another might use the image of a fountain in a desert to try to explain what God did in a dry and weary heart. For me, I was once more given a supernatural taste of something that I've spent this last year waiting on...wondering if that season of my life was over, or if I would taste it once more, some day. And Sunday was the day God chose.

This is God's power, but it wasn't displayed in the way that most of us talk and think about seeing God's power. It was a quieter display of power that could only be seen through the eyes of the Spirit. But how blessed were those of us who experienced it and recognized it!

I wonder what would happen if the church as a whole earnestly sought to see God's power in this way? What if we taught and preached more about what it means and what it results in? What if every time we hungered to see God's power heal someone's body, we hungered even more strongly to see Him heal their soul?

I know some of us do hunger for that...

But what if we all did?

Thursday, September 08, 2011

The dream giver...

I've had dreams a lot on my mind lately. Not the while-sleeping type (even though my pastor has been talking about those), but the while-awake variety...dreams of visiting far off places...dreams of accomplishing things and becoming things.

I've had lots of those kinds of dreams in my life. Some of them have faded as time went by. Others have morphed into something different. Still others, God has fulfilled the substance and the desire behind the dream in a way I never could have dreamed of.

Many of the dreams I've dreamed over the years have been downright selfish. Surprisingly, God has even granted some of those.

But over the course of this last year or so, I've discovered a new joy and fulfillment in ministry. No...I have no big, in-front-of-people ministry like many people think of when they hear that word. I'm just talking about the ministry we're all called to...that of loving people. Actively, sacrificially, (and in some inexplicably way effortlessly), distributing that seems to flow from God to them, depositing wells of joy in my heart on its way through.

That joy is feeding a new dream. It's a dream birthed and fed and only possible through supernatural love, and it's a dream only possible in the natural if/when God approves and provides the resources, the way, the connections, the grace, the approval, the support, and the stamina.

But I don't doubt He has all of those things. He is, after all, God.

I've only shared bits and pieces of this dream with only a few people.Why? would so completely have to be a God-thing, that it just seems pointless to do much other than watch. And wait.  To see if this dream was God-breathed or not. To see if the current version of this dream is just a shadow of what He's intending. To see if it morphs into something that is still currently beyond my wildest dreams. After all...the only One who could orchestrate the fulfillment of this dream is also beyond my wildest dreams. It's also a dream that would involve a lot of life-pouring, and I know that only works when God is the one behind it.

And so I wait.

But I've been handed--in a total God-sort-of-way-- a chance to go to a conference next week that might...just a thread that is part of the fabric of this dream. I'm in a bit of awe about how it dropped in my lap, but in a quiet sort of way. It's hard to get too excited about one small thread. Yet it stirs a bit of joy and curiosity in my spirit just to watch that thread float down from heaven.

Maybe all of this is why this other blog post ministered to me this morning. I haven't followed many other blogs lately, but this morning I ran down my feed reader to see what was there, and for some not-really-all-that-unknown reason, my eyes landed on a post from Justin and Trisha titled "Dream Releaser, not Giver."

Justin and Trisha's blog is more centered on their amazing marriage testimony and ministry, but sometimes they post on other things. Like today's.

Justin talked about his son and the discovery that his son's dream was less his son's, and more his own. And so he asked about his son's dreams, and what he heard floored him. His son's dream is, for a 12-year-old, about the size that my dream is for me.  You see, this 12-year-old dreams of raising $30,000 for Africa and missions.

And you know what God whispered to Justin's heart?

“Your job is to be a dream releaser for your sons, not a dream giver. I am the giver of dreams. I want you to release them.”

In following my resolution, I asked myself, "Is this Biblical?" I believe it is.

Consider Phil. 2:13. My NAS says, "For it is God who is at work in you, both to will and to work for His good pleasure." Several other translations interpret it as "It is God who produces in you the desires and actions that please Him." I can agree with that. The sort of dreams that please God certainly aren't going to come from anywhere else!

God also promises that He gives us the desires of our heart, if we seek Him first. It seems fairly obvious to me that the only way God could/would give that kind of promise is because, as we seek Him, the desires of our heart become aligned with the desires of His heart. And if you want to know God's desires, just read the Bible!  I think that 12-year-old is going to watch God make his dream come true.

There's also these other two little verses I really like.

Exodus 31 and 1 Kings 7:13 talk about the men who would craft His tabernacle and build His temple.

Imagine these men with the skills to create beautiful things out of gold, silver, bronze, and the best of materials.  But they weren't kings. I hardly think it's likely that they had these sorts of materials laying around to do whatever they wanted to with them. Most likely they carved things out of stone and clay and dreamed. I know, because I've done it. You can't have a skill without wishing you could stretch it's boundaries and see just what you're capable of.

If only I had the money to buy the silks I've heard of! Wow, the way they drape and hang and shimmer...I could create such beautiful things with them!  

If only I had a bunch of gold! It's so much softer than this stone...the things I could create with it would be so incredible! And bronze! This tiny piece is amazing to work with. If only I had enough to create this idea I have! But it's not like I'll ever be able to afford that. I'm no king.

But then came the day when the leader of their people called them, and their entire nation supplied the gold and silver and bronze...which just so happened to have once been the wealth of Egypt. Then came the day when the richest king in the world called them and placed the greatest treasury in the world at their create their masterpieces, as worship to God.

But this wasn't just them dreaming and God choosing to grant them their dreams. This was God placing the dreams their hearts to begin with.  God said, “See, I have called by name Bezalel, the son of Uri, the son of Hur, of the tribe of Judah. I have filled him with the Spirit of God in wisdom, in understanding, in knowledge, and in all kinds of craftsmanship, to make artistic designs for work in gold, in silver, and in bronze, and in the cutting of stones for settings, and in the carving of wood, that he may work in all kinds of craftsmanship. And behold, I Myself have appointed with him Oholiab, the son of Ahisamach, of the tribe of Dan; and in the hearts of all who are skillful I have put skill, that they may make all that I have commanded you..."


God is a dream-giver!

He's also a dream fulfiller.

Almost five years ago, I posted here about a new song I'd found. It has the line, "God of my dreams" in it. I wrote:
That phrase, “God of all my dreams” spoke to me so much.

It has a double meaning.

One meaning places God inside the dream, and one places Him outside of it… one meaning originates within us, and the other within God. Our part of it is to make God the God of our dreams… to keep our dreams for our future and for our children and our loved ones submitted to Him and His will... to make Him the center of our dreams.

BUT… oh the wonder of realizing that God is infinitely capable of making the dreams of our heart come true! He is so much bigger than our dreams. Though we should place Him inside the center of our dreams, He can’t be contained there. In fact, He holds our future and the realization of those dreams in the palm of His hand! In reality, all of this is nothing more than what Psalm 37:4 says, “Delight yourself in the Lord, and He will give you the desires of your heart.” I guess it just ministered to me in a fresh way, coming through a song.

I still love that song.

Saturday, September 03, 2011

Still Waiting...

I only posted once last month. I think that’s a first in the five years I’ve been blogging here. The reason…well, I’m actually not too sure. In some ways, I “feel like” I’ve taken a bunch of major steps backwards in my walk with God. I've definitely gotten lost a number of times.

And yet, there are little things here and there that are remarkably clear and perfect. Little things that I so clearly see God's hand in and hear His voice in that I cannot doubt. And I wonder if I'm still in that same season of emptying that I sensed back in May. Except sometimes I see things sprouting.

And so mostly, I'm just waiting. Waiting on Him to give me direction. Waiting on Him to give me new revelations. Waiting on Him to reveal the next layer of the new me that He's been working on for so many years.

Perhaps that's what this year is for me...a year of waiting.

If anyone's really following me closely enough and cares, you might find it interesting to read what I wrote two days before the end of last year. Among other things, I shared this little book called Waiting on God that my friend had given me, and I talked about the test of whether or not we will seek God and want Him even when He doesn't reward us with wow moments.

Here I am, eight months later, still waiting for many of the same things.

I've woken up at 5 or 6 am the last few mornings. I haven't gotten out of bed, but I've done a lot of talking with God. A lot. A have all sorts of things swirling around in me during these hours when I'm awake, but not yet awake to the day's necessities. I can't say that I've heard God speaking very much during these hours, yet I sort of feel Him rearranging my insides, if that makes any sense. By the time 7:30 rolls around and I need to get out of bed, I feel so full of expectation and joy and peace and wonder...and then the day floods in, and I can hardly remember what I was talking with God about.

The one thing I do know is that two songs have filled my heart during these times. You've probably heard both on the radio. One is Lincoln Brewster's "Reaching for You."  The other is a song that, quite frankly, didn't "do much for me" when I first heard it on the radio.

But then I saw it live. Then I realized the reality of what the song is all about. It's not a song for listening to. It's a song for participating in.

Do you want God? Do you want to experience His Presence? Are you willing to wait for Him?

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