Category: spiritual growth

In the mean time

What we do, and who we are, in the mean time…the in between–not just the valleys or the peaks, but when we are not yet there–not “on”. Consider the squirrels and the seasons. What is occurring before the first burst of autumn color; what is the squirrel doing when she is not walking the telephone wire or doing her aerial acrobatics. The careful storage of color in leaves–nourishing the potential explosion of interaction with light; the careful storaging and foraging of squirrels.

I wonder if who i am in the in between is as much who God sees as when i am on stage center in the middle of an obvious spirit moment of splendor or grande transformation? I wonder if what we are becoming–these sons and daughters, kings and queens, is not largely determined by who and what we are in this in between–in the mean time!

Dreams themselves occur in such a space. And, so, I think does character. In the hiddenness, the ways of God are formed. On the way to, just before, just know God in the space between!

The disciple Philip knew God in the in between–in between cities, places, appointments; as did Enoch, who ended his drama with a grande in between–in his case, in between realms!

ruthless exposure: i.e., confession

Last week I had a dream, and it was not so nice. It had things in it, that five years ago, I would have been ashamed to tell anyone. When I woke up, I knew that this particular dream was not the substance of some kind of inner conflict but what I call a “warfare” or “warning” dream. I told Derek about it, because I’m starting to learn that bringing weird things into the light forces you to get past shame or embarrassment, and exposes it out to the light so it can be seen for what it is. There is much more safety in this than hiding something, which can fester and fracture us.

Whether it’s something we struggle with, or an area that the enemy of our souls is trying to insinuate something in a subtle way (which was the case with my dream), there is within us a constant tendency to hide what is dark. But we are really going to have to learn to be ruthless about exposing ourselves to each other–and likewise more merciful in our responses to those that exposure–if we are going to overcome the dark.

This is why we confess! Last week, after reading about Ted Haggard, I wondered how many of my male friends struggle with secret thoughts, images, dreams–many of them not from their own pursuing of it, but the enemy’s temptation. For women, I wondered how many of us struggled with secret lust or desire to be looked at, that caused us to hide our true intentions. How many women also keep their hurts toward others unexposed and instead reiterated in gossip. All of these things will end up kicking us in the butt if we are not ruthless in exposing them.

We need to welcome this exposure. The nature of darkness is that it works to create shame and then an endless cycle of trying to suppress those desires with religious actions or just plain busy-ness, instead of letting the simple blood of Jesus forgive us. How different things would have been if Adam and Eve didn’t hide! Yes, they sinned, but then they hid from grace. Men for example feel ashamed if they are even tempted to look at pornography, and this is where things start to get trapped. I personally believe that the temptation is not a sin, because pornography has what I consider a “demonic anointing” that pulls people to look at it, even if they didn’t intend to. The minute most people look at it, they feel slightly guilty, shameful, lustful, and then this causes them to hide it, and that’s where the inner conflict (sin) begins. A wife might feel threatened if her man exposes this but women need to welcome the exposure, because it stops the cycle of shame and guilt.

Likewise, Christians need to welcome confessions from even their most visible leaders, or else the person is going to get subject to the ruthless mocking of the world, which is what happened with Jim Bakker, Ted Haggard, etc. We still are shocked and surprised that people struggle with things, but why? The temptations are only going to increase, and we can’t hide from them anymore, but we must keep exposing them to the light.

I keep coming back to Ephesians 5–

Have nothing to do with the fruitless deeds of darkness, but rather expose them. For it is shameful even to mention what the disobedient do in secret. But everything exposed by the light becomes visible, for it is light that makes everything visible. This is why it is said:

“Wake up, O sleeper,

rise from the dead,

and Christ will shine on you.”

Be very careful, then, how you live–not as unwise but as wise, 16making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil.

I never read this as a command to expose others. It’s shameful to mention even what *we* think in secret, and we have to be gutsy enough to expose what *we* do or think in secret. We are going to have to be very, very wise–innocent as doves, but clever as snakes. There will be times that you are innocently going about, and some image will present itself without your looking for it. It may come in a dream, as mine did, or come as a person, and you suddenly shameful or icky. You must get very discerning and wise as a snake about the insinuations of guilt. I have learned that any time I feel the slightest amount of shame or guilt about something, it is time to expose. We are not supposed to live in shame, even about our own flaws and sins.

Anyhow, as I was thinking about all this stuff, I read an amazing piece by the founder of Desert Stream Ministries about this very topic. I think it is the best response I’ve read so far on the Ted Haggard subject: the haggard truth. As some of you may know, Desert Stream is a ministry to people coming out of sexual brokenness. These people have learned how to be ruthless confessors, and I feel they will have much to say to us in the coming times about what we hide.

We are going to get exposed one way or another. Do we want it to be public and abused by the rest of the world? The courts of the world will never forgive us, they will perpetually wave our flaws in front of us. Or do we want to practice it with each other so that the enemy has no room to wreak havoc? One thing I am learning, if you expose something hurtful to people, it may hurt, and it may even wreck a relationship. But the healing and forgiveness will happen a lot faster–lightning surgery–than if we are exposed by others.

forming Christ in leaders

“The priest did not say, Where is the Lord? And those who handle the law, did not KNOW ME.” Jeremiah 2

Reading lots on an emergence of true apostolic leadership. The focus I keep getting is to see the church as the habitation of God, and leaders as being responsible for helping to make people into this habitation.

There is little talk of new structures or networks, and more of how God forms His Son inside of His People. So much more emphasis on His Ways and talk of who God actually is, and how He is forming His Habitation or Dwelling. So there is this shift in all the prophetic literature from how men make church, to how God is forming Himself within His People. This is a much more creative and spiritually charged discussion, and is more like overhearing heaven, than a board meeting. To overhear these words, is to start talking Ephesians and Revelation–it is to actually get to know God just by overhearing those who have been above and are starting to get parts of how God is forming His church within us.

There is also a much greater emphasis on His Actual Presence than ten years ago, especially among those who are trying to help form leadership. This is exciting to me!

In Jeremiah’s word, the actual Presence of God had moved out away from their religious practices. They no longer knew the true knowledge which flows from His Presence. The priest, or leaders, who were to carry His knowledge, no longer knew His Face.

And the prophets, alongside them were delivering messages from lesser sources than The One Most High. Both were still functioning–priest carrying knowledge, and prophets carrying messages from the heavens, but both had lost contact and intimacy with His Actual Presence!

Why have your fathers traveled FAR FROM Me? God asked through Jeremiah. At first, they “went after Me”, but gradually, they drifted far away from actual intimacy with Me, and in doing so, actually made idols of their own leadership abilities!

If we are to see true leadership emerge, it will be preceeded by intimacy. You cannot lead by strategy or information–but only by re-formation (actually growing Christ in people), but by having Christ more fully formed in yourself, and then helping form HIM inside of people. The building is people. Until formation of Christ becomes prioritized over doctrine, strategy, methods of church growth etc, we will not see the fullness of what God wants to bring in our day.

Where we are headed is a place where all leadership has the priority of being a habitation for Christ firstly, then being part of Him being formed in people. This will have very little to do with outer structures or frames, though many unique ones will be birthed; it will have to do with the focus being The Head. It will be much less about our ideas of church structure, and much more about speaking from Him Himself and out from that intimate position. Many who have been called leaders but who do not have this spiritual focus, will be seen to not be walking in His Authority. Many who knew the law, will be brought back to WHERE He IS!

For “those who handled the law, did not KNOW ME”. We must come to know Him first, and then lead from that place. If that is not our primary focus, we won’t be able to move forward with our own plans. If He does allow us to do so, it will not bear true fruit! The garden of intimacy must actually be the place we lead out from. Many great leaders who have the ears of man, will topple until low enough to enter His Gates, and come to KNOW Him.

A key in the earlier part of this word Jeremiah got, was that in her youth, Israel, “WENT AFTER” God. There is a time for going after Him which I believe is coming for many who have been in church leadership in this past season. Many will be asked to step down from positions in the institutional church, and pursue God alone, so that they might be made ready to serve Him in the times to come. This is less a demotion and more and re-motioning into His Actual Life!

We MUST know WHERE He is, and be seated with Him, growing up into Him in order to wear His Authority in the days to come! If many are not being protected in their current positions, it may be for the same reason that God lifted His protection from His Children in this passage fo scripture–when Israel was holiness to God, disaster came upon all those who offended her. When this is not happening, it can become clear that we are not in that position of holiness with God–that place where we are “going after Him”. I’m not saying that all lack of protection comes from this, but many will suddenly feel unprotected in the days to come, until they come more fully under His Canopy of Intimacy and Grace.

Many of our seminaries no longer have this focus of forming Christ in people. If they did, many of the structures would loosen to allow The Spirit to make deeper relationships required for Christ formation among and within His People. We will see many of these training centers become nearly spiritually dead, so that they might fall into the ground and be a seed for true training centers of the Spirit, for the formation of Christ within His People. This will be less about man made frames, and more about God formed relationships and creative structures flowing out from these authentic relationships.

God is able to form His Son in His People, but He is much more creative than we are! And we will see many sorts of frames used to birth Himself within us! But first, leadership must actually return to prioritizing knowing God and being formed IN CHRIST, so that they can receive designs and patterns from Him Himself–this is especialyl true of those now called apostolic leaders. Leadership is about to get much more “spiritual” in this sense. Much more time in heaven, and a bit less on earth for a season. Paul was lifted up for an indefinate period of time (including his time in the wilderness) that Christ could be formed in Him–this is leadership training–allowing God to form His Son in us, so that it is His Actual Son who is leading!

The primary concern for coming leaders will be that Jesus have His place to dwell FULLY in His People, starting with ourselves!

reading the symbol of the Jordan

reading the symbol of the Jordan River…

The Jordan river represented the death and work on the cross of Christ–recall the waters were turned back to the city of adam. This is a different river than the Red Sea which was about deliverance from our Egypts. This is about receiving the land!

The priest had to be fully dead to stand in its center. As we approach the land promised to Christ, we must be fully IN Him–all must die that is not in Him, and be placed on His cross.

The book of Joshua gives us a map, not just of where we are at locationally in history, but also what we must go through in order to enter our “lands”. Every area of our lives must go through a death and resurrection in order to cross the Jordan.

The priest, levites and judahites crossed over first. So they had to go through this death to self first. Christ of course experienced death before all of us–He alone could roll back the waters of the Jordan all the way to Adam, so that we might be able to die also, and begin to recieve His inheritance.

Any and every area of our lives which has not experienced the baptism of the Jordan will, if we are going to go into the lands He has promised.

Many of those being asked to enter their “lands” are also having to go through many deaths currently. This is a good sign that we are entering the baptism of the Jordan. The more He brings up in us areas not yet dead, the better. It is a privilege to die first. it is, in fact, like Christ–who is the only one who could really die first. We join Him in His death, so that we may be in and with Him as He receives His lands through us!

Remember also that the general body or other tribes were 2000ft back. Just as we are about 2000 years back from Christ death. He went first as we are being asked to do. We must not turn and ask those not yet near the banks to die. They will see the glory and follow! The general Body of Christ is being asked to prepare to approach the Jordan, but others are at its edge. It is good to be exactly where He has each of us!

The Head

“…grow up into Him who is The Head.” Ephesians 4:15

Something is head, when it is in charge. The spirit is the Head of the soul, as the soul is the head of the body. Jesus is The Head of all! When the head is in place, the rest of the body is in order.

The head of the body is the spirit. Individually, we are to be growing until the head is in charge–until the spirit is in its proper place! On a collective level, we are then to be growing until The Body of Christ is actually led by its Head who is Christ. His Headship means that the whole Body or the church will be led and directed by Christ Himself–not programs, not ideas about Christ, not good service, not homeless programs, not social activism–but Christ Himself who is Our Head.

Just as on an individual level we can do many “good” things, but not from being led by the spirit; on the collective level we can do many good services but not out of His leadership. God is not always asking us to heal or even encounter every person we pass. Our work is to be led from our spirits by His Spirit. Here is the importance of being able to discern our spirits from our souls. For to be led by His Spirit is often to not do what we perceive as good in the moment. Our good is often the worst enemy of His best. Jesus did only what he saw (with His spiritual eyes) His Father doing. Much of our service is soul led, not led by The Head on both an individual and collective level. This must change, and it will as Jesus Himself is established as The Head!

Many have been led by the “good”–even scriptural–ideas of serving others. But Jesus only healed when He saw the Father healing. It is good to do good, but it is best to be led to do the particular good God is having you do that day. The word divides spirit motivations from the souls; and allows us to discern the inner motivations of our hearts (Hebrew 4:13). It is essential for us to allow His living word to do just that–separate the percieved “good deeds” that the soul is leading us to do, from the things which His Spirit is leading us to do!

The church has often suffered from powerless deeds of kindness! It may be trying to do good, but if not led by His Spirit, these very actions bear witness to a powerless spiritual life. So that we participate in separating His Words from His Power. This bears false testimony about Jesus, and can only be overcome by letting Him be Head within us! Our task in this life is to be led by The Head who is Jesus, through His Spirit which dwells within us and lead us through our spirits. When we are led by His Spirit, we are becoming the sons and daughters of God! When we are led by the needs of others, by our bright ideas, or by our desires to do good, we falter repeatedly and misrepresent The Head!

But as we grow up into The Head who is Christ, we will find ourselves led to “do” the exact things He has for us each day. As the church learns to be led by His Spirit, we will immediately see the dynamism of God! God is dynamic and creative, so we will see a much more exciting and thorough work occuring through our lives as He is established as Head within us individually and collectively! As we lay down our own “good works”, and take up His, we will experience the dynamism of God and bear witness to the true life of His Son which He desires to live through us!

Jesus wants to live His Life through us. To do so, He must become Our Head!

can I deal with weakness?

Lately God has been teaching me something that is so complex and yet so simple and it is really changing the way I live with Him. It is called “the confidence of Christ.” It is very old-school, 101 kind of stuff, but I don’t think I ever understood it. The confidence of Christ is all about having a total awareness of weaknesses and yet having more power than I have ever imagined. It is all about freedom to make mistakes. Here is one part of it:

If you’ve been watching the Olympics, no doubt you’ve heard about the scandal in the men’s gymnastics. The American Paul Hamm won the gold medal, but by a sliver of a victory, over Chinese and South Korean athletes, respectively. The South Koreans filed an appeal to the judges; their athlete had performed the same nearly flawless routine on the bars in his preliminaries and gotten a better score. This score that would have changed his outcome in the finals. He would have won the gold and not Hamm. The crazy thing about this whole scandal is that all of three of the athletes seemed to have won their medals as a matter of grace.

Hamm, who was predicted to win a medal, fell dramatically in his vault event. A succession of other gymnasts after him also fell unexpectedly, giving prime medal positionings to athletes whom no one expected to win. Before Hamm made his “comeback,” however, the top two spots were given to athletes who had performed admirably but not in that kind of glittering, soaring, perfection we’ve come to expect out of the top. In the end, it appears, no one who won the medals, really “deserved” them.

Why then, the sore losing?

It has something to say about our typical reactions to loss and failure. I felt like God was pointing out to me that the kind of confidence I stand on every day, the confidence that keeps me writing, keeps me growing, keeps me loving others, is the kind that rests on accepting my weaknesses.