Wednesday, December 12, 2007

A Heavenly Knighthood

One of the great classic scriptures describing the Christmas story is found in Luke 2:8-20. The problem with such passages is that they take on such a legendary and mythical status that they can cease to be present day truth that can kick our butts out of bed and light fires of destiny. Let’s spend a few moments and challenge that notion…

Angels catch shepherds in the graveyard shift and stun them with a rock opera blast in the heavens. The original language strikes a chord in me on several levels here; “…the glory of the Lord flashed and shone all about them and they were terribly frightened”. “Frightened” in the “check your shorts” category of screaming, “mommy!!!!” Then the town-crier angel attempts to correct the problem he caused by saying, “Do not be afraid, for behold, I bring you good news of a great joy which will come to all people. For to you is born this day in the town of David a Savior, Who is Christ, the Messiah, the Lord!”

This next account has always been a favorite of mine. It has always brought a passionate and vibrant sense of heaven’s dynamic expectation of what God is about to do on earth. I have such a holy ache for us to be like this heavenly blast of excitement; “And suddenly, there appeared with the angel an army of the troops of heaven- a heavenly knighthood- praising God and saying, ‘Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace’”

A HEAVENLY KNIGHTHOOD crashed through the night skies. Imagine with me the closing scene of the movie, “Braveheart” where warrior poets run to the battle field with reckless abandonment. A HEAVENLY KNIGHTHOOD ripped the curtain off the threshold between that world and this and in essence said, “God be PRAISED! LOOK OUT earth, here we come with Heaven’s Messiah King in tow. The final invasion begins NOW and everyone who receives this is about to have their world rocked. The earth is about to be repossessed by its rightful Owner and there is no turning back”.

The Christmas story tells me that I will never understand or even begin to appreciate the Second Coming of Christ if I have not become a full partner in and an active participant with the First Coming of Christ. A Heavenly Knighthood preceded His First Coming and they are still here to this day to pick a fight for peace on earth with any interloper or intruder who opposes Christ’s rightful claim to the planet for which He died.

His Second Coming will not be announced by the whimper of a Church clutching to our memories of Christmas Past when we could say, “Merry Christmas” without signing petitions. His Glorious Return will be attended by the same Knighthood of Heaven who will be savoring the Marriage of the Messiah King to a Glorious Bride whose brilliance will be comparable to His own. “On earth, peace!” is not just a song to be sung but a war to be won!

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

All Things Are Possible...

(Be forewarned: this blog is longer than usual, but I believe the length is well worth your time)

In Mark 9:23 Jesus said, “All things are possible to him who believes…”. This is one of those statements that will just sit there, staring at you, daring you to do something with it or just flat out throw it away. No middle ground. Or, I should say, no honest middle ground.

What I mean by honest middle ground is the found in the context of this outrageous statement. The story goes like this; a desperate father brings his demonized son to the disciples for help. We aren’t told what they did, just that whatever they did, did nothing. (Sound painfully familiar?) It is clear that they tried because the man said, “…they could not do it…”. Another thing that is clear is that the man at first says that he brought his son to Jesus, and then later clarifies that he really brought the boy to the disciples. This isn’t a contradiction but rather a striking clarification; when we are impotent, observers will account that to Jesus and that absolutely, positively must NOT be OK with us for it brings dishonor to His fully honorable Name.

Jesus underscores this point by sharply rebuking His boys: “How long shall I put up with you? Bring him to Me!” The phrase “put up with” has a meaning akin to fierce restraint; not just an average case of patience. When they bring the boy to Jesus, the demon acts out in convulsive self-destructive violence. Later in the account the father warns that this behavior has thrown the child into fires and water to destroy him. You know what I mean when I say, “Somebody call 911!”?

Then Jesus does something that we all need to think about: He calmly asks, “How long has this been happening to him?” Are you paying attention? Jesus, Son of God, able to read thoughts and unlock the secrets of our hearts seems to want information unavailable to Him. Or is there something deeper going on?

Can you see this in your mind’s eye? The disciples are toeing the ground, embarrassed and maybe trying to think of something spiritual to say. Like, “It’s not about us anyway, right Jesus? We tried but You must increase, we must decrease. After all, this way You will truly get the credit…right Jesus? Uh, Jesus…shouldn’t You hurry up and do something? This is getting messy…Yo, Jesus, do You see the campfire right behind us? Oh yikes! This crowd is getting huge. Tick-tock, Jesus….Wait a minute…hey Peter….maybe Jesus isn’t going to do anything about this. Yea, that’s it! Jesus just wants us to know that this is a life-long struggle for this family.”

As the pregnant pause reaches a crowning, painful birthing point, Jesus does not yet push when the father begs, “If You can do anything, take pity on us and help us!” Then, when the tension has reached an unbearable crest, Jesus answers, “If You can?” Now bear with my imagination again as we turn back to the disciples; Jesus might have said, “I don’t know…what do you guys think? Can I?” I believe that every second of pause in this discourse is for the sake of driving home a life long lesson in the 12.

“All things are possible to him who believes.” And while this should be the battle cry of the church, we have all too often defaulted to the next words; the despondent cry of the father, “I do believe; help my unbelief.” Please hear me; I have been as given to this as anyone reading this, but I am pleading with you and myself to pull ourselves upward for the prize of the call of God in Christ Jesus; “All things are possible to him who believes.” Where would you rather live the rest of your life?
The conclusion of this account is that Jesus commands the spirit to leave and in an instant the boy is so still he seems dead. (Side note: some of the crowd must have thought that Jesus killed the kid because of the way Mark records it; “most of them said, ‘he is dead!’”) When the disciples finally get some privacy (which I’m sure was none too soon for them) they asked Jesus why they could do nothing. Listen to me; WE NEED TO BE ASKING THE SAME QUESTION!!

Last summer I posted a blog that asks, “How dare we be powerless?” The world we live in is serving up thousands of opportunities every day for the Kingdom of God to demonstrate the absolute goodness of God. But we keep looking for spiritual sounding words instead of paying heed to the answer Jesus gave 2000 years ago in this prophetic story; “This kind cannot come out by anything but prayer.”

Notice, Jesus never prayed over this boy!! He was not saying that when we really learn how to pray about problems they will leave. He is saying that when we learn to be people who live and breath in prayer, unceasingly, we will have a bank vault full of the intimacy and reality of God that will catapult every dark thing that comes anywhere near our sphere of influence.

The humbling of the 12 in this story is ours too. But the difference is, they didn’t have the convenience of the pages I just used to teach the principles of the Kingdom. They had a matter of months to learn what we have had a matter of centuries to absorb. If Jesus felt “fierce restraint” then, what must He feel today?
Here’s my passionate cry on His behalf; arise and slay the unbelief holding you back! Every time you hear yourself being the victimized father in this story instead of being the fully discipled son or daughter of God, do whatever you must do to run to the manifest Presence of God and pray. And when you pray, do not pray the problem! Prophesy the solution of the Body of Christ becoming the abiding Temple of the Holy Spirit through prayer….and then…..


Thursday, November 15, 2007

Demand Reality

In 1976 I was hired as a gopher (slave, errand runner, do anything you are asked to do boy) and speech writer for a congressional campaign in Texas. A pastor friend of mine was taking a run at the office and, interestingly enough, one of the other people in the run was a young political upstart named George W. Bush. We, along with "W", lost in the primary. What I saw behind the scenes will never leave me.

We hired an image consultant from New Jersey (get a rope). It fell my duty to go to the airport and pick up the two sleaze bags sent to us to create an image. I drove our candidate's Cadillac. As we were pulling away from the airport curb, a New Jersey accent asks, "Whose car is this?". I grinned and said, "What...don't you think I look like the owner? (no response; I cleared my throat)It belongs to our candidate." "Store it, hide it, put it away until after the campaign. We don't need a preacher driving a Caddy". I quit the campaign 2 days later.

Recently, a government agency held a press conference with employees from their own agency standing in as reporters. Then last week a presidential candidate was caught in the common practice of planting people in the crowd with "questions". I would love to see the behind the scenes image consultants scramble to make that look like something it isn't.

Make no mistake about it, these things happen because we allow it to happen. There is something wounded and broken in the American soul that is vulnerable to being conned and it must be healed! Somewhere, somehow, someone will arise and call into reality the demand for reality that will heal a nation.

Jesus lived as one whole and real Human. So completely at rest with Himself that He did not need anyone's acceptance to feel any better about Himself. So, when a rich man approached Him with what seemed to be a simple question about the afterlife, Jesus felt no compulsion to hide His Caddy in the garage. "Sell everything you have and follow Me". The rich man was not used to people who did not kiss up to him. He was more acclimated to a song and dance to win his favor. He walked away from Jesus and he walked away from his own ultimate reality check.

Demand reality of yourself. Don't play to the expectations of anyone who is not vitally connected to your best interest in Life! Be Holy; one person on stage or back stage. This does not mean that you get to be nasty or grumpy, it just means you need healing deep inside yourself to be at ONE with God and your true self.

Demand reality of political candidates who have an enormous stake in winning your vote (and a job promotion from your vote). I remember when Bob Dole ran for president and he suddenly changed from this guy who was clearly comfortable in his skin to this "thing" that needed to look like a president. After he lost I saw him in an interview, relaxed, joking and laughing at himself. The interviewer said, "Wow. Where was this 'Bob Dole' in the election? I think this Bob Dole would have won". And the crowd applauded...

Let's each one of us give the crowd something to applaud by being real and demanding reality through the self assurance that stands as a sharp contrast to the cartoon characters trying to be something they are not.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

3 Teeth Pulled, 1 Dry Socket and a Funeral

Once again, too long no blog. Hang in there with me. Here's what last week looked like in my life:
Sunday the 4th I got out of the shower at 6am to grab the phone. 2 young
men in our church were in an accident. One died at the scene and the other
one was in the hospital. Alcohol was involved. The day became a blur of
church services, tears, holding grieving and frightened family members and
much prayer.

Monday the 5th I have 3 teeth pulled in preparation for some much needed
dental rebuilding.

Thursday Funeral and Triumph as the mom of the deceased young man stands
bravely in front of 300 in attendance to declare that our church has
declared war with the monster of alcoholism in Wisconsin and this set
back is a set up for victory. I stood at her side proud to be her pastor.

Thursday night pick up guest speakers from Atlanta for the weekend.

Thursday, Friday and Saturday = One dry socket and loads of pain. ER trip
Saturday night.

Monday morning back in the dentist chair.

I have not forgotten my loyal readers, I just need to catch up on life and send you some love real soon......stay tuned.....

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Love's Absolute

Something has to change....wouldn't you agree? I mean, isn't the whole world running hard after some kind of change? Diets, global warming, politics, the fall TV schedule, fashions, new car models, makeovers (extreme or otherwise), the emerging church (a new term but an ancient pursuit), name it, its changing. If it isn't changing its probably dying.

However, the key to being part of a change that isn't changing just for change sake is being changed by something Absolute. After all, radical Islamic fundementalists want change too, but their brand of change is death to the infidels and, well, I guess they don't mind dying too.... which pretty much leaves us all dead. My point is that change has to grow out of a deeper transcending Truth because, as stated at the top of this blog, something HAS TO change.

Here's what I believe; If you will give God a handful of change, He will give you an acre of life. God is the only One who can change everything instantly but, He won't impose change where we don't invite it. Hence, giving Him the handful. You and I don't have to change everything today, but we do need to change something.

So here is today's challenge to change: Loved people are extraordinarily and daily changed. Love indeed changes everything! But I hasten to add, not just human love. Don't get me wrong, I enjoy loving and being loved by my wife, family, church and friends. It's just that I have discovered that even if those factors are in place, I am still looking for Love. Love's Absolute is God.

Too often when we approach the subject of the love of God, we smile it off with a warm feeling (at best). At worst, it hits an empty detached wish for an experience. Jesus and Paul prayed for something dramatically different: Read John 17 and Ephesians 3:14-19.

TALK ABOUT ABSOLUTE!! Jesus wants us to have the same love that the Father had for Him, from the beginning, when They lived in the mystery of the Trinity....that Holy Community of Absolute One, though Three. What held Them together? Love. And that Love, Jesus prayed, would be ours. Do you believe Jesus always gets His prayers answered? And Paul gets even crazier because he prayed that we would actually experience God's Love so much so that we would be filled WITH ALL the FULLNESS of God! That's outrageous!
I John 4:16-19 says, “God is love…”. God doesn't just love, He IS Love. This sets an arresting base-line for ALL of our dealings, all of our vision and all of our pursuit of God. This passage also says that this Perfect Love violently, forcefully and furiously "casts" out fear and every related anecdotal deviation even remotely resembling fear.

This kind of Love will ruin us. Sick, dysfunctional, manipulative posers of love won't stand a chance. The human condition is uniquely vulnerable because God created us to be Loved,not just loved. In absence of Love, we become reckless. In the aberrations of Love, we become abnormal. But in the full on Transcendent Supremacy of God's Love we are free to become the full on human we were all destined to be.

So whether you have put yourself in the vortex of this Love for years or you have not at all, in either case, dive in NOW! I know that some of you want to know how, but the truth is, if I knew how, with western scientific precision, I'd borrow all the money I could and advertise it everywhere I could buy the time and space to shout it out. Why? Because something has to change!

The value of any person, place or thing is in direct proportion to the Love that is allowed into on and through that person, place or thing. Allow it. Make room for it. Get out of your own way. Get on your knees and accept it. Go out in the woods and open wide your mind and heart to receive it. Just do something to ALLOW IT!

Jude 20,21 says to keep yourself in the Love of God.
"ARGGGGHHH!", you say. "Tell me how!", you say. I can only tell you why.


Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Did you know?

Michael Angelo, our church web artist, asked me last night if I would use this forum to invite you to visit our church web site at, . (Thats lower case L W C and the number one). From there you can download my Sunday and Wednesday sermons for free. If you want to burn a CD and give it to a friend, just please write the web site address and this blog site on the CD. And, by the way, there is also a link from the church's web page to this blog.

We are constantly updating that web page and striving to make it as much of a service to as many people as possible. It is important to us that the vision and message that God has entrusted to us is seeded out as far and wide as possible. That is all....

Monday, October 08, 2007

Nasty Cat in the Basement

In my 35 years of pastoring I have found that there are very few productive options to hold to when it comes to the subject of the "end-times". The following is a basic sampling to illustrate what I mean:
*ignore it because it is too complicated
*ignore it because it isn't my gifting to teach it
*ignore it because it is too scary
*ignore it because it is too controversial and it might split my church
*go after it and sink into the multiple complications (and sinking genuine discipleship)
*go after it and pretend it is my gift to teach it (while secretly using one of many books written
by the specialists on the dates, timelines and current geo-political dynamics)
*go after it and scare the pants off most thinking people and ignore the terror in the eyes of
women and children
*go after it and identify my church as one of the "Pre", "Post", "A", "Mid", etc. catagories

Ignoring it is like greeting guests into your home and warning them that you have a nasty cat in the basement when and if you see them approaching the basement door. "Trust me. You don't want to go down there. The stench alone is bad, not to mention the rabies. Why do we keep it? Well, it was my grandmother's cat.....she mysteriously died from rabies....but we promised to care for dear old Nasty."

Going after it can be like keeping Nasty on the main floor. "Oh-oh...there he goes again, claiming territory! Don't worry. Your shoes should smell better in a month or so. And by the way, do you have your rabies vaccinations up to date?"

I've chosen an entirely different path. I euthanized old Nasty several years ago. The basement was a beast to clean but my house smells much better these days. Occasionally, a guest shows up at my house with their own cat. It's really annoying, but I've learned to keep a cat euthanizing kit right at my front door. Through the years people have learned that they are always welcome in my home but they better leave their nasty cat in their own basement. Apparently, some folks prefer a living vicious, smelly, rabid cat over living the abundant life.

As for me and my house? Well, lets put it this way; The Lion of the Tribe of Judah lives triumphantly in every room and His Kingdom is coming, day by day, ON EARTH, AS IT IS IN HEAVEN. The smell is heavenly......

Monday, October 01, 2007


We have trained ourselves, intentionally, but more so, unintentionally, to expect a marginalized amount of Good and God in our lives. In more ways than I can count, Christianity has allowed for a faith that says that there is only so much of God’s goodness that you can expect in this life, and that it may even be wrong to "over-expect" or put God to the test. As a result, "going to heaven" and, when we "get to" heaven becomes our default for anything that extravagantly challenges our faith. (Another one of these safe zones is the millennium, but that's a topic for a different time).

This is a far too convenient way for Christians to have a lack of faith and then validate it in spiritually accommodating terms. This can sound so spiritual, even “mature” and then quietly, but tragically, invalidate mountain moving, history making, nation healing faith. Limiting, portioning and budgeting our faith then becomes, “mature”. I read somewhere, however, that real maturity is coming to the full stature of the image of Christ and, frankly, His kind of faith scares the khaki pants off most of us.

As a result, I don’t believe we’ve expended the kind of concentrated, corporate, cultural faith for a significant amount of time consistently to really know what God might pour on earth from heaven. Are you aware that Moses saw sapphire floors in the presence of God, right here on earth? What are we seeing? I watched a popular national TV broadcast last night that put new wood floors under a family that neglects their own needs in order to meet the needs of others. That's great, but I'm tired of being a part of a church culture that accepts an impoverished view of what we can do while the outside world dances circles around us.

I wonder what would happen if, in the church, a delightful core of warrior believers found their way to a corporate, kingdom, cultural mindset and they learned to establish among themselves a covenant to speak the same things, sing the same things, to believe and agree together on the same things (in kindness and love) to hold ourselves true in prayer, with a line drawn, that every good and perfect gift comes down out of heaven; if it’s evil, we did it or the devil did it and by the Kingdom's power and glory, we will overcome it!

I don’t know if we have fasted toward this kind of community. (Read and reread Malachi 3:10-18; Isaiah 58:6-12) All too often we allow the delusion of little compromises and diluted down versions of the Kingdom among us. Even our "Christian" media sometimes is so subtle in these errant messages that we miss the watering down of badly needed world changing truths. Christian sugar flies at us and sticks us in sugary holes. People all around us are living in hell while we sing about how much fun we'll all have when we get to heaven. Shouldn't we rather dare to dream about bringing heaven to earth for the healing of the nations?

We are called to a fierceness of spirit, of faith and of a cultural covenant kingdom communication to war against those things that war against us and to be collectively drawn to a REAL focus of heaven on earth. What would happen if we focused on just how far do we dare go with this!? What would happen if we (and I mean, at least, a core of us) would end all the shaming and blaming of people groups and politics and take up the command to examine ourselves and our own works to see if WE are in the faith? What faith is that? The faith that aims at discipling the nations (not a few in every nation, but the whole nation), raising the dead, healing the sick and the confident announcement that the Kingdom of God has come near because it lives and breaths IN US!

We need a vision of our calling that requires God's presence and power in us to accomplish it. By the way, and for the record, I'm not talking about TV ministries or buildings. It seeems to me that too much of what we church folks do could have been done with or without God. Billy Graham is credited with saying that 95% of the activities in today's church would continue if the Holy Spirit were removed from us, but in the book of Acts, 95% of the church's activities would have stopped if the Holy Spirit was removed.

If that burns you like it burns me, lets change it.

Monday, September 24, 2007

Expectations Watered Down to the Level of Our Disappointments

If we are not diligent, we tend to water down our expectations to the level of our disappointments. Pastor Kris Vallotton says it this way, "When your memories are greater than your dreams, you've already begun to die". To be a "believer" is just that, to be a believer!

It is potentially a wild privilege to be a believer in a culture of unbelief. The vacuum that unbelief creates is an astonishing opportunity for people of faith to step forward with the clarity of a contrast. (I'd like to refer you to a couple of my previous blogs on this matter; "How Dare We be Powerless" and "Too Much Faith".) In Matthew 24:14 Jesus makes it clear that before any kind of an "end" to anything, that God seeks someone who will clearly preach the Kingdom of God as a witness and demonstration. In another place (Luke 10:9) Jesus told His disciples to heal the sick and tell them that the Kingdom came near enough to do the healing. This tells me that the Kingdom of God holds explosive spiritual treasures waiting for the hungry, curious, insatiably and voraciously eager seeker who comes with irresistible desire.

But remember, it is impossible to be cautious and extraordinary at the same time. What disappointment is worthy of carrying for another day that will lock you into a truncated and marginalized vision of God? What failure has you frozen in time in an endless analysis of what went wrong? If you keep focusing on yesterday you are going to make your tomorrow look like your past.

Try this on for size; Jesus lived as one man completely fixated on the reality of the Kingdom of God in the face of the One World Government of His day. He never signed a petition against Rome, much less obsessed with its very real evil. He went about doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil (Acts 10:38) and, today, Rome is better known for being the headquarters of the world's largest church. Good overcame evil. If it did it once, it can do it again. Sign me up for that team.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007


An incredible account is given to us in Matthew 17, Mark 9 and Luke 9 of the transfiguration of Jesus. I have eagerly poured over this account more times than I can count in my near 4 decades of loving God and His Word. I have tried a few times to bring some kind of adequate teaching as a pastor from this treasure. Commentaries help with some discussion of location, greek grammar and lexical assistance but in the end, they bore me. My soul cries out for a spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Him. What's really here? In II Peter 1:16-21 the apostle gives us the only personal accounting of this event in a teaching format. For me, this is the only trustworthy commentary. I'll come back to this momentarily.

Romans 12:1,2 urges us to refuse the current cultural mindset, but it doesn't stop with a negative. Paul takes aim at another mount of transfiguration for every believer. "...but be transformed by the renewing of your mind...". Paul revs up the spiritual engine of command and shouts that each one of us needs a regular furnace blast of a meta or glorious moment. The prefix "meta" means over, or beyond. The greek word for transformed that Paul chose to use is the word "metamorphoo". In biology it would be used to describe how the tadpole becomes the frog. This word that Paul used is the same word used to describe what happened to Jesus on the Mount of Transfiguration. Let's splice these accounts together, just for the heck of it, shall we?

Jesus, looking down the barrel of His impending death, is perhaps feeling very human. Remember the last time you faced the prospect of a root canal? Or, some serious life changing or even life threatening event was hanging in the air before you? Take that sensation and multiply it by a thousand and maybe you've got an inkling of Jesus' post in life at that time. So, with complete intentionality, He took Peter, James and John in tow up the mountain to pray. Luke's account says that, "while He was praying, the appearance of His face became different...". Let me tell you, baby, that wasn't the only thing that changed.....but I'll write too much for one blog if I go there now. Read for yourself and if you will read it with the Holy Spirit's eyes in your eyes get ready to find your own mountain. Right now, my mountain is right here in my office.

Jesus needed a meta moment for a metamorphosis. He also knew that Peter, James and John needed a teachable meta moment so He took them along to fry their circuits. Just for the sake of keeping my composure while I'm writing this let me draw to the conclusion I promised you earlier by returning to II Peter. Peter says of that moment that he isn't trying to sell a philosophical page turner for the New York Times best seller list. He says, "we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ....we were eyewitnesses of His majesty...". And then he pushes me off the cliff of credulity when he says, "...we have the prophetic word made more sure to which you do well to pay attention as to a lamp shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star arises in you hearts."

I've been telling my church and you who read this blog that we need a baptism in Absolute Goodness and Glory if we are to have any credible refutation of the absolute bad and evil that soaks our world. If Jesus needed a metamorphosis in a cloud of glory because He prayed it into and unto that mountain, we dare do no less for our often pitiful mindset. Jesus said that we are the light of the world and this little light of mine, baby, I'm gonna LIGHT IT UP.

I am arising, I am shining because the glory of the Lord has risen upon me. BECAUSE deep darkness is upon the people of non-transfiguration, the Lord has risen upon me and His glory is appearing on me, to such an extent that entire nations are seeing it and coming to that light. Oh, and one more thing: after the resurrection of Jesus Matthew records that His appearance, His "fashion", His aspect, the very sight of Him was "like lightning". That potential is latent in you and me. OK....I'm done talking to you now....I gotta go get me some o 'dat. The world around me has been dying for too long. I've got an assignment.

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

For the Greater Good of Many

About two months ago the Holy Spirit dropped a truth in front of my eyes that all at once delighted me and distressed me. If you've been reading my blogs or attending my church or downloading the messages from our church website you know that I am teaching and preaching on a Baptism in Absolute Goodness and Glory. I think its obvious why the subject material would delight me but I want to explain why there was and still is a lingering distress.

I can not bear the radio-voiced, sugar coated, yippee-skippy, glad-handed, fake smiled, kaki pants, buttoned down image that current Christianity seems all too often determined to defend with a cliched, "Hey! God is Good! (and the antiphonal comes back...) "All the time!" Sorry, but I think I just threw up a little in the back of my throat....there....I'm better now. The sheer remote possibility that someone would relate me into that kind of self styled stereotype distresses me, to say the least.

The Goodness and Glory of God can not be relegated to a safe zoned level of understanding, because if it is, it ceases to be anything even remotely resembling the genuine Goodness and Glory of God. In fact, as I have been ministering out of this incredible understanding, I have discovered that the True Goodness and Glory of God will seize you and demand of you a complete surrender to it that can only be accurately pictured in my mind as a baptism. All or nothing.

Consider Moses. At 80 he is repeatedly racing up and down the 7500 feet of elevation of Mt. Sinai. There he enters a fire storm, a cloud and sees the ground under the feet of God that looks like saphire. He comes down the mountain with the stone tablets of the law (personally handed to him by God) and throws these 100 pound beauties (at 80!) in a holy fit of disgust at the people of God. Then he runs back up the 7500 foot ascent, pleads for God to forgive the folks he just threw the tablets at and even offers himself as the first to be vaporized if God does not forgive the people. Then he spends the night carving out new 100 pound tablets (at 80!) for God to rewrite the 10 commandments. And with all that amazing face to face encounter with God Moses still realizes that he does not know, by experience, the Glory and Goodness of God!! How do we know that? Because Moses asks to see the Glory of God and God granted his request with a blast of radiance that had to be partially shielded from Moses so that the sheer Goodness of it would not kill him.

Moses was raised in the American dream of his day; Pharoah's opulent court. But his later baptism in the Goodness and Glory of God, starting with the burning bush and rounded off with the aforementioned radiation treatment, ruined him on cheap imitations of good. This explains why to this day so many people linger around the edges of God's Glory and Goodness. They love to say how good God is, but they hold back from any real encounter with it for fear that they too might be compelled to climb mountains, carve stone, haul and heave heavy weights and passionately intercede for otherwise unworthy masses. God forbid that our face would shine. We might lose the right to disobey God if our face is otherwise advertising our availability for the distribution of His Glory.

The true desire for a Baptism in Goodness and Glory is found in its purest form when it is to see an atmosepheric shift and a change of climate for a greater good of many. The evil of our day dares us to present any challenge to its seemingly undefeated prowess. If all we have in response is some giddy cliche we will soon be thrown to the dump yard of irrelevance and incompetency. But if someone will, for God in heaven's sake, read II Corinthians 3 and leap into the chest of Christ's compassionate passion, they will come down from their own mount of transfiguration with a radiance of the Holy Spirit for the greater good of MANY. But, we cannot give what we do not have and we will not keep what we do not GIVE AWAY.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Mud Pies in a Slum

C.S. Lewis once said, "Our Lord finds our desires, not too strong, but too weak. We are half-hearted creatures, fooling about with drink and sex and ambition when infinite joy is offered us, like an ignorant child who wants to go on making mud pies in a slum because he cannot imagine what is meant by the offer of a holiday at the sea".

In other words, we are far too easily satisfied. We inhale the empty calories of so much artificial stimulation that when reality comes calling, our hunger is ruined. It’s like mom used to say to you about eating before supper time, “Put that cookie down! It’ll ruin your appetite!”

Absolute Goodness and Glory is on the table. The aroma is filling the air and the lions in my spiritual stomach are growling. God has sent the Holy Spirit on a venture of availability trolling for people who know how to have an honest, heartfelt internal dialogue; “If I just touch His garments, I shall get well.” (Mark 5:24-34)

Some versions of the story I just referred to describe the event as Jesus perceiving in Himself that “virtue” had just proceeded from Him. The definition of the word virtue is, “moral excellence and goodness of character”. Absolute Goodness trumped temporary badness WHEN someone took the Holy Bait of that Goodness and put a pure hearted demand on it! Think about this; someone in a crowd seized Jesus’ clothes for a brief moment and that act of a focused appetite became a conduit for Absolute Goodness and Glory to flash into her body sufficient enough to expel and vaporize a 12 year long sickness.

If you are tired of “making mud pies in a slum” then its time to set your imagination free to explore what an infusion of God’s transcendent Goodness and Glory would vaporize if you gave Him just a handful of opportunity.

Reach, grab, pull it in…

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Dipped in Absolute Goodness

What would you look like if daily and for the rest of your life, you were bombarded with absolute goodness and glory? If it is true that when bad events happen to us over a prolonged and intense period of time, that it changes us, even our appearance, then, what would you look like if for the rest of your life, you were bombarded with absolute goodness and glory? And, what would your scope of influence look like if you then became a channel through which God could bombard daily your surroundings with absolute goodness and glory?

In Exodus 33, when Moses passionately cried out to see God's Glory, we are told that God responded by showing Moses His Goodness. That's why I like to use these two words (Goodness and Glory) together and interchangeably. II Corinthians 3 teaches us that God is not budgeting out His Goodness and Glory. He is ready to bombard and baptize anyone who is in a willing pursuit.

Someone once said, "God will always fulfill His promises to your life but He is not obligated to fulfill your potential". This matter of being blasted with the full dose of God's Goodness and Glory is both promise and potential. The promise is seized by faith and the potential is realized by works. Someone else once said, "We don't work for love but we do work FROM love." When I seek to "do good" (look for those 2 words throughout the Bible) I become a sower of the seeds of goodness and glory and those seeds become the target of a greater blast of Absolute Goodness and Glory from Heaven.

Proverbs 11:23 says that the desire of the righteous brings only good but the expectation of the wicked brings wrath. Let me throw this at you: why would any "righteous" person want to be involved in the expectation of wrath? I'm just asking a question because Romans 2 says that the goodness and kindness of God leads us to repentance. I'm not saying there won't be any wrath, I'm just saying that it seems to me to be a terrible waste of faith for us to expect wrath when we could be desiring GOOD! And not just any ordinary, garden variety good....but an Absolute Goodness and Glory that is wildly attractive and extravagantly available.

I'll be back for more on this soon. Read my blog, "So Good it Must be True" from last week. I don't mind saying so myself; I'm on to something here.

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

I Love Ginger Ann Dean

33 years ago today, Richard Nixon was on national TV announcing his resignation from the presidency which would be official the following day, August 9th 1974. It seems like yesterday to me but that event was not terribly important to me at the time. What was most important to me was the fact that on August 9th 1974 Ginger and I were getting married.

Up to that time she had lived in one house her whole life, not counting the dorm room she lived in for one year of college. Since that time I have moved her over a dozen times and literally cross country. Today she is happily and contentedly at my side even though she is 1200 miles away from her parents (who are struggling with the daily realities of Alzheimer’s disease in her dad).

I don’t exactly know what she saw in me 3 decades ago and what she still sees in me now but I’m sure glad she sees it and I’m thrilled that she is still my girlfriend. I love her passionately.

33 years and growing more in love; I’m a blessed guy.

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

So Good it Must Be True

"Too good to be true". We live by it, make decisions by it, validate cynical behavior by it and generally keep ourselves on the "straight and narrow" by it. I recently heard a speaker take this on by saying, "We always hear that something is 'too good to be true'. I'm learning to say, 'It's so good it must be true". That statement flew right into my heart and splashed right into a stream of revelation in which I am enjoying a lovely summer swim.

First of all, READ THE FOLLOWING CAREFULLY! All caps means I am typing at the top of my lungs. When we say of money schemes, "If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is", I believe that is generally good advice. There is no Nigerian prince looking to send you a million dollars as soon as you wire him the $3000 transfer fee and all your bank account numbers. Multi-level marketing turns your friends into objects of reaching your sales goals. Stuffing envelopes at home will give you more paper cuts than dollars. Zero down real estate investments will make you a landlord who gets middle of the night phone calls to come jiggle the toilet handle because the toilet has been running for hours and the water is starting to drip through the floor and your tenents downstairs are complaining (and that's on a good day). Got it?

Where we need some fresh spiritual air is in regard to the possibility of Absolute Goodness being accepted and lived as it is poured into our thirsty souls from a Prodigal Father God Whose Goodness makes the best human goodness look evil by comparison. Some definitions here would be helpful. The word prodigal means, "wasteful". The next time you read the parable of the prodigal son, turn it around and think about the prodigal father in that story. He is so wasteful that when he sees his son returning from, "a long way off" he runs at him, leaps upon him, kisses him again and again and that's before the boy utters one word of apology. In another place Jesus said that we earthly fathers, though evil, know how to give good gifts to our children, but how much more does our Heavenly Father give GOOD gifts. Our best good is evil by comparison. How Good is that? Too good to be true?

The human soul yearns and aches for Good. We are drawn to the stories of heroism and survival in the middle of the I35W bridge collapse because something in us is scanning the bad reality desparetely seeking for the Good. We love gazing at a new born baby because she is hope incarnate. A dog dials 911, a man wakes up from a decade of being comatose, a lost letter from a World War II veteran arrives on child's birthday, a cloud formation seems to say, "X marks the spot" are tiny examples of "so good it must be true". But what would it look like if we pulled the veil off our eyes and began to explore and seek a massive deluge of God's Prodigal Goodness?

What would we begin to look like if we were exposed to a greater light of all His Good than we have ever dared imagine? How would we intrinsically change? What subterranean shifts would take place in our impoverished souls? What images of God would be blasted out of our thoughts? Where have we been projecting our dysfunctional behavior into the character of God? And, most importantly, how far would God go with a Baptism of Goodness and Glory if now, under a better covenant than Moses enjoyed, we prayed what Moses prayed in Exodus 33:18? Let me say it in ALL CAPS; IF WE ARE GOING TO OVERCOME TODAY'S EVIL WITH GOOD, WE NEED A BAPTISM IN ABSOLUTE GOODNESS AND GLORY IN AN UNPARALLELED MANNER. WE HAVE NOT BECAUSE WE ASK NOT. Now, dream.....

Monday, July 30, 2007

How Dare We Be Powerless

Last week I spoke to another youth camp. I'm spent, but everything in me is shaking with desire. My mind, will and emotions are stormy. The Holy Spirit is flying in and around my vision. I can't shake the lump in my throat and, frankly, I don't want to. Maybe I can make some sense of it with this blog.

Youth camps typically bring students out of some sampling of our society's misery. This camp was no different. But what is different for me, at any rate, is that I've been focused on the call and ministry of Moses and how he miraculously led Israel out of Egypt. God has had me dipped in the various nuances of what happened; a shepherd's staff becomes "the rod of God" and eats serpents, splits seas and generally shakes a world super power into surrender. After our week of camp was done and I sat listening to these teenagers share their stories my heart cracked wide open and my eyes haven't stopped pouring a river of prayer ever since.

How dare we, the Church of the Risen Lord, be powerless? How can we accept our impotency in the face of the raging devourer who is eating children and families alive? What excuses will we bear in our trembling hands before our Father when He asks an account of our stewardship of His Kingdom on earth? He declared that His Kingdom will ultimately become the Kingdom of this earth, that EVERY knee will ultimately bow and EVERY tongue will ultimately confess and that there is a surpassing greatness of His power aimed at us who believe which is the same power that raised Jesus from the dead. Yet, we are all too often powerless in Pharaoh's presence as he slumps in his throne and giggles under his breath at our demands to release God's people.

Please don't read in my words any shame or blame at you who give me the time to read this word. I am in an inventory which requires me to ask real questions in order to find real answers. Last week, while I saw some physical healings that made me dance with joy I also heard stories of teenagers who will go home to the potential of hell greeting them at the door. I gave as much instruction as I know to go home with power and confidence but I also know that the rest of us, on the outside of those stories, must be equally, if not more, empowered in order to become part of a tipping point in history!

Which one of us will be that tipping point? What moment of deep calling out to deep in God will light a burning bush? Who will open his or her spiritual eyes to see God, high and lifted up, at precisely the right tick of the clock that will cause the pillars of the Throne to shake at the cry for justice on earth from the God Whose Holy character will not long wait to heal the great leprosy of the children of His making? He baits us up into His presence that He might ask, "Whom shall I send and who will go for Me? Have you dared to live long enough now with tokens of My power? Are you ready now for a burning coal of Heaven to permanently blister every word you speak?"

I dared my church yesterday with these words; "The culture of unbelief we live in demands a faith and a believing from us that is uncommon so that we might put on display a God we can never intellectualize or debate a watching world into believing." In the fullness of time, God sent His Son. Now, in another fullness of time, we are here in this hour. How dare we be powerless?

Monday, July 16, 2007

Too Much Faith

I'd rather risk the potential foolishness of too much faith than to live the tragedy of a life lived by my own strength and resource. Only the mediocre are always at their best because they never risk anything, they rarely try something new and they believe only in what they can see, feel and hear for themselves.

It is a telling commentary that almost everyone believes in the inherent power of evil to spread its influence but few believe the same about the transcendent power of Goodness to infect, infiltrate and permeate its surroundings. Don't believe me? The next time someone sneezes on an elevator ask yourself what the following few minutes feel like for everyone trapped in that box. Or take a quick inventory of your faith after you read about or hear of another shooting in a tough neighborhood.

The uproariously good news of the Kingdom of God, as it is displayed and purely taught by Jesus Christ, stands waiting for a company of renewed minds to take it at its core value and conquer nations with righteousness, peace and joy by the regeneration influence of the Holy Spirit. The potential spread of Absolute Goodness and Glory is far greater through us than any seed of evil ever dreamed of being.

For this, we MUST risk the foolishness of too much faith. For this, someone somewhere must inspire at least a few everyday. Do not wait for extraordinary opportunities but seize the common and ordinary to put an extraordinary God on display.....TODAY!

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Dump a Toilet on His Head or Pray

OK. Just bear with me for a few minutes. I need to say something unpopular and clearly outside the culturally acceptable norm. Yesterday on MySpace one of those stupid baiting ads wanted me to play a game to win a ringtone. The object of the game was to dump 3 port-a-potties on the head of President George Bush. That did it for me. Did what, you ask? Pushed me to write this blog.

It is now the easy, culturally acceptable, popular, "hey look at me I'm smart like everybody else" thing to do to bash and insult the president. If you don't, people look at you like you are wearing clothes from the '90s. "Eeek! You aren't cool!" If you say anything positive, anything even remotely complimentary you surely must be stupid or naive or just blind as a bat Republican. Don't believe me? Go ahead....experiment with the notion of saying anything, and I mean anything decent or kind about President Bush in a group of more than 5 people. Or, if that's too daunting for you, read this blog to someone or follow the potential comments that will be added....

I am absolutely frustrated out of my mind by the war in Iraq. I hate the growing death toll of both war fronts. But the only thing we accomplish by our immature carping and whining and publicly humiliating the president is a diminished capacity for honor, esteem (if you want self-esteem, you must first learn to give esteem outside yourself) and the courage to stand alone against "approval ratings".

Those who know me best will tell you that I started this rant during the Clinton administration. I said then that the greatest danger of the disrespect for that president (that became like a sport for some evangelical Christians) was that we truly devalued our own sensibilities. II Peter 2:9-16 is a striking indictment that warns against being dishonorable even against the most dishonored. Why? Because we marginalize the potential beauties of our own soul by coarse behavior toward any in authority. The greater damage is far greater than any one president.
"Honor the king" (I Peter 2:17) was written in day when kings were pagan monsters. Honor given is holy humility received. Pilate and Herod make all of our politians look like God....yet, Jesus kept His own dignity intact in their presence. It deeply troubled me 10 years ago when high profile preachers dishonored President Clinton. It is even more troubling to me now when we are told that 70% of our nation is doing the same thing. I believe that the "toilet dumping" is on our own head.

There you have it. I am now officially unpopular. While I'm at it, I'll go home and dig out my old clothes from the '90s and start growing a mullit. "Eeewwwwww, gross!"

Monday, June 25, 2007

Only the Mediocre are Always at Their Best

Back in the middle '80's the Dean family lived in Austin, Texas. One of the coolest towns on earth. Art and entertainment venues, natural eye-popping sights and a variety of people and cultural types that live in one of the best kept city secrets in America. I'm proud to say I lived there for a short time. One of the best and free entertainment spots was the State of Texas Capital.

I went there at least once a week to pray and people watch. When the legislature was in session, the variety show was better than anything on TV. One time sitting in the balcony and watching the dog and pony show going on the main floor, I was laughing hard and trying not to be a disruption. Suddenly from behind me someone tapped me on the shoulder and I thought I was going to be kicked out. Instead, I turned around and here was Ann Richards (then State Treasurer, soon to be Governor and nationally a Democratic Party power player) laughing with me. Through her own laughter she said, "Pretty good show, ain't it?"

Not long after that incident I was in that same spot when a local Southern Baptist preacher was asked to open the session with prayer. His words were short and riveting. He took the podium, simply said, "Let us pray", and proceeded to hit a grand slam with one of the shortest prayers I've ever heard. "Lord, remind us today that only the mediocre are always at their best. Amen." The legislative floor was stunned into unusual silence. I wanted to laugh and shout, "Amen" at the top of my lungs!

Allow me to take a leap of truth from that statement and offer my own; I would rather fail at attempting the miraculous than to succeed at mediocrity. Lately, my insides are on fire with spiritual desire. The youth camp I spoke of in my last blog is history and the young people from it are about to make history. They were challenged to find their own voice by the power of the Holy Spirit and attempt the miraculous with every step they take.

One story I heard from camp was that a group of teenage boys were praying into the morning hours after an evening service and the suggestion came up that if Jesus could walk through walls, we should too. So, one boy got up, prayed and walked full force into a door. The door did not yield. He picked himself up, declared it must be his lack of faith and took off for the door again. The door won again, but this little band of brothers was not discouraged. They declared that someday, they were going to win this challenge! I can already hear the growlings of the religiously mediocre; "Someone should instruct these children to temper their expectations". Why? So that Pharoah's magicians can continue to eat our shepherd's staff? NO! Keep experimenting with your faith, boys. One day, you'll get it right and Pharoah's serpents will be consumed by a shepherd's staff.

My point here is that for too long Christianity has allowed for a mediocrity at almost every level of its expression. We screwed up the motto, "Failure is not an option" by reversing it into a call to be safe and never daring. I would rather fail at attempting the miraculous than to succeed at mediocrity. Good has always been the greatest enemy of the best and the best was never intended to be leveled off at mediocrity.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Finding Our Voice

Next week I'll be speaking and ministering at a youth camp with the theme, "Finding Our Voice". I actually suggested the theme a few months ago and it immediately resonated with everyone at that planning session. For me this has been a life long passion because it has to do with far more than the words I speak. It has to do with the prevailing influence, weight and power of who I am.

We all know people whose mouth moves and sounds are emitted from that cavern but no one is interested in spending any energy to actually hear and decipher what was just said. That's because the words are not vitally connected or rooted in any living dynamic. If I say, "war is hell" and you ask me how I know that and my only response is tell you where I found that quote and who originally said it, we might end up having an enlightening conversation but little else is likely to come from it. But if I'm a marine being treated in a military hospital for multiple fresh wounds from an ambush I just survived, and I look up into your eyes and fight to reach for enough air to say those same 3 words, we are going to have an altogether different exchange of thoughts. In fact, those 3 words might be all that is necessary.

In grammar, the concept of voice has to do with the form of a verb showing the connection between the subject and the verb, either as performing (active voice) or receiving (passive voice) the action. "The dog bit the boy" is the active voice because the subject is the dog and the dog is active. "The boy was bitten by the dog" is the passive voice because the subject is the boy and he is on the receiving end of the action. I'm going to strain the analogy for a moment because I hate the word, passive. To find our voice we must learn that all of life is waiting to be lived. We are the subject and we must act or we will be acted upon. I hope the grammar works here because I don't want you to miss the point.

Jesus said that we, His people, are the light of the world. When you enter a room that is pitch black, you don't ask, "Where did all this darkness come from?" do you? You enter the dark room reaching around the corner with the demand, "Where's the light?". If we fall for the notion that our voice is for the purpose of informing the darkness of its varying shades of dark, we are wasting our breath. Our voice IS the light!

The Voice of Jesus calmed storms, forgave unrepentant people, healed sickness, awakened the dead, rebuked religious bigots, raised hopes, loved losers, spoke when silent, silenced ignorance, blessed those who cursed Him, prayed heaven into hell, changed names, called the unqualified, drove demons into pig prisons, opened prisons, lit fires of the heart, whispers peace and trumpets triumph.

Psalm 29 says, "The Voice of the Lord is upon the waters; the glory of God thunders...the Voice of the Lord is powerful, majestic. The Voice of the Lord breaks the cedars...the Voice of the Lord hews out flames of fire. The Voice of the Lord shakes the wilderness...strips the forests bare and in His Temple everything says, 'Glory'." This is the Active Voice. This is the Voice that calls us to be a Voice of equal harmonic beauty, power and true influence.

This boy bites dogs.

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

King's Quote

In my previous blog I referenced Martin Luther King Jr. For a full reading of the context of this quote you can use the internet to look up, "Paul's Letter to American Christians, November 4, 1956 by Martin Luther King Jr." I distinctly remember reading this entire letter in the library of my middle school in 1965. I felt like the room had suddenly entered a heavenly realm and that I was all alone with this man of God. It was many years later before I understood the words or the spirit of what happened to me that day. King's words are distinctly and profoundly Christian. I fear that too few today appreciate the depth of his faith and the width of his covenant to Christ.

Anyway, here is the portion of that letter and the quote for my blog:

"I still believe that standing up for the truth of God is the greatest thing in the world. This is the end of life. The end of life is not to be happy. The end of life is not to achieve pleasure and avoid pain. The end of life is to do the will of God, come what may."

Monday, June 04, 2007

Passionate Desire

Passion is rooted in knowing the will of God and doing it, no matter what the cost. This is a definition I extracted from a quote attributed to Martin Luther King Jr.; " The purpose of life is not found in avoiding pain and seeking pleasure. The purpose of life is doing the will of God come what may." I live in and love this kind of passion.

Then, there is this quote, which I believe comes from the movie, "Braveheart"; "Everyone dies, but not everyone lives". Add to this another word I have recently heard by Kris Vallotton from Redding, California; "The greater tragedy is not that 3000 brave people have died in Iraq, but that many millions back home will live for nothing." Shortly after I heard him say this, I picked up a newspaper and read an article about vets of the Iraq War who have lost a limb. They've been sent home for recovery and are being fitted for prosthesis and yet they desparetely long to get back into the battle. The reporter was perplexed but I understood their passion. Once placed in a circumstance where life and death is determined by your focus and by the focus of a passionate team around you, you'll never be happy with life on any other level. Channel surfing or sitting in a bar listening to people laughing at inanity is unacceptable.

Don't get me wrong, I like having fun as much as anyone. But isn't "having fun" the reward at the end of some term of sacrifice and not a prolonged end in itself? I thought that the word, "recreation" was based on a need to re-create when we've been spent on a worthy cause.

C.S. Lewis once said, "You can hardly open a periodical without coming across the statement that what our civilization needs is more 'drive,' or dynamism, or self-sacrifice, or 'creativity.' In a sort of ghastly simplicity we remove the organ and demand the function. We make men without chests and expect of them virtue and enterprise. We laugh at honor and are shocked to find traitors in our midst. We castrate (the beast) and bid the geldings be fruitful." I am caught once again in a season of my life where I am carefully inspecting the boiler of my soul. I'll do my best to blog while I carry out this inspection so that anyone interested can join me for a re-firing. I need to warn you, however.....I will not go gently through my own inspection, much less, leave you in a "ghastly simplicity."

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

$10 Rambler Theology

When I was 16 my dad promised me he would buy my first car. The only caveat to this tantalizing teenage dream was that he would observe my driving behavior and purchase a car that he felt was equal to my level of maturity. Four months into my test, dad drove up with a 1959 Rambler which he found rotting in a backyard and bought for $10. Painted with house paint and 2 of the 4 doors rusted completely into useless oblivion (the 2 useful doors were on the passenger side) this finely crafted piece of automotive genius was my dad's way of trying to tell me something.

When it rained, the house paint drooled off the fenders of this Rambler and onto the driveway. The chrome letters in the grill that once proudly spelled, "Rambler" were diminished to "amle". Since my humility was not so much chosen as it was imposed upon me, I took the low road approach to my father's object lesson. I decided to run this "thing" into the ground. I drove it harder than any car should ever be driven. I'll spare you the details, but suffice it to say that I was a geeky, yankee duke of hazard with a Private No Class Amle and not a General Lee. That dumb car had no better sense than to last a complete year! My dad had successfully taught me a valuable life lesson.

At the risk of straining an analogy, let me pose a few questions. I walked past a "Christian" section of a book sales rack the other day at Wal Mart. On the cover of the most prominent book for sale in the Name of Jesus, for all of the millions of middle America to see, is a full color picture of a nuclear bomb. The author wants us all to know that God is fixated on His wrist watch, the middle-east is in the oven and our "goose" is almost cooked. So I ask you, with the apparent popularity of this kind of tripe, is it possible that God, our Heavenly Father, has allowed for a theology that matches our maturity level?

Is He standing back and allowing for us to be sufficiently humbled by this embarrassingly shallow interpretation of the treasury of the scriptures? How many widely varying predictions of the late great planet earth have to be dead wrong before we look to the Holy Spirit for a more complete and soul satisfying revelation of Jesus Christ? If the devil can not get us interested in out right miserable lifestyles, wouldn't it stand to reason that he would have us obsessed with self-destruction which is labeled "holy" so that we can not effectively exercise our faith for the healing of the nations? Why would I pray or believe for a nation to be healed if I am taught that that nation is just a pawn for the "showdown" at high noon? Here's another intriguing question for you: why would I have any true vested interest to pray and act for the Kingdom of God to come on earth, just as it is in heaven, if I am convinced that everything is just hooked up to God's time table for a group of angry little nations who have been bitterly fighting each other for the past ka-zillion years?

What if God's time-table (if such a thing exists) is connected to the Body of Christ growing up and becoming a magnificent partner of and mirror image to Jesus Christ? What if the metaphors and the artistic, poetic majesty of books of the Bible like "The Revelation of Jesus Christ" held explosive spiritual secrets waiting for hungry, curious, insatiably and voraciously eagar seekers to find a True and Irresisitible Spirituality? What if some of us decided to walk to that goal rather than to drive a contribution to the spiritual pollution that has been killing the ozone of God's Highest and Best?

And, by the way, hasn't the greatest enemy of "Best" always been "good"?

Wednesday, May 16, 2007


I grew up with a love-hate relationship with my name. “Randy” just never seemed cool enough or tough enough. I had friends named, Bob, Joe, Al, John, Roger and David and for some reason I saw them as regular “guys”. It was like I had a mental image in my head that said, “Their name can beat up my name.” The “y” on the end of my name had a girlie sound to it in my thinking. Of course, it didn’t help anything when in 7th grade a new girl showed up at my school with my name. The fact that her name ended with an “I” did nothing to ease my angst.

For a little while I tried my legal name, “Randall”. That was until a junior high teacher started saying, “Good morning Ran-doll” and all the Bobs, Joes and Johns around me started having way too much fun at my expense with the “doll” part of that equation. So, did I say I had a love-hate relationship with my name? Maybe if you figure it as 10% love and 90% hate.

Somewhere in high school everyone started calling each other by their last names and that came just in time to save some of my tattered self-image. “Dean” felt cool. But then the summer before I went to college I got a job working with a couple of British seminary students and all it took was a moment of weakness on my part when I introduced myself, “Hi. I’m Randy”. Do you know what I mean when I describe that awkwardly long wait for someone to stop laughing at you so you can ask them, “Did I say something funny?” only to have them start laughing again? If you aren’t sure what’s funny about my aforementioned introduction look up my name in a British friendly dictionary.

Well, all of that is to say that I have always been fascinated with how quickly and easily God took to changing names in the Bible. Abram to Abraham, Simon to Peter, Saul to Paul. I completely understand why God needed to do this in some cases just from the standpoint of the need for these folks to drop their previous self-loathing behavior. A name was a prophecy and a name was a destiny.

So, without going to court for a legal name change, I have, a long time ago, found my way to be renamed. I am convinced more people need the same spiritual therapy. Self-prophecy, empowered by the Holy Spirit, will do you more good than you may be able to imagine. In fact, one scripture says, “making melody with (and in) your heart”. That means change the internal dialogue, find your name and every time you hear it….say “AMEN!”

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Releasing the Power of Forgiveness

Right after His resurrection, Jesus "popped" in on the disciples. I like to think of it as a playful moment on His part. In some measure just to leave a lasting impression of what He was about to say to them. John records that Jesus breathed on the group and said, "Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive the sins of any, their sins have been forgiven them; if you retain the sins of any, they have been retained."

I have no interest the doctrinal debate that can swirl around the Words of Jesus. Quite frankly, I don't think Jesus had any interest in that sort of debate either. He came to give us Life, not doctrinal statements. He was laying a principle of Life in these pregnant Words. He was daring all of us to search out the Life inherent in this principle.

Receive the Spirit and release forgiveness. To me, this is not about dealing with someone who hurt my feelings which in turn requires me to forgive them. This is about the larger picture of what is loaded into this scene. A recently butchered man is now alive again! He has just passed through a locked door. His body still bears scars and His first Words are, "Peace!", followed by the quote from the previous paragraph. Jesus clearly wants His statement to have a lasting and profound impact!

Here's what I believe that impact should be; get loaded with the reality of the Holy Spirit and then blast the world with spiritual shock waves of forgiveness. Walk through market places and intentionally "oooze" forgiveness, especially when you see someone who is easy to judge by appearances. Aim the devine power of forgiveness at every cultural and politically charged issue that comes across your line of sight. Frankly, I believe that one of the reasons so many people remain so incredibly sinful, by our own definitions, is that too many people who call themselves the people of faith choose to retain sins upon groups we deem either deserving or too guilty of their failures to be helped. We have too rarely given them any other air to breath around us.

The crippled man lowered through the roof in the gospel of Mark had not spoken a word, but Jesus started the conversation by telling him that his sins were forgiven. The woman caught in the act of adultry and brutally dragged to Jesus had not whispered a word of repentance when Jesus just took charge of the situation with the anointing to forgive her. The butchers standing around the cross were likely barely coherent due to their vile task but Jesus spoke to the mountain of their sin and commanded forgiveness upon them.

So, what would Jesus do with the next political petition against a group of people that we get asked to sign? What would Jesus do with the next anybody "caught in the act" and taken to the town square of the evening news? What would Jesus ask us to release with every footstep we take protesting abortion on one side of the politcal spectrum or war on the other?

Let me help you; He would breath on us, command us to be genuinely, radically, ridiculously and uproariously filled with the Holy Spirit so that we could become clouds filled with the water of heaven! Forgiveness, in this context, is an atmosheric shift, an environmental energy and a transcendent domain placed within our charge.

Friday, April 06, 2007

A Culture of Life

The death of Jesus Christ was brutal and vulgar. It demonstrated the worst of human systems gone mad. God allowed all of our most confused, bureaucratic, religious stupidity a full and tortured expression on the Body of Jesus. Every human system participated and Satan kicked back at the end of the day, looked up at heaven and asked, "Hey, God! What do You think of Your creation now? Still think its 'good'?"

God answered three days later. With the physical resurrection of Jesus God has forever stated, "What I have made IS GOOD. Creation was kissed in the beginning and now it has been twice kissed."

Some elements of Christianity today are obsessed with original sin and total depravity. They are fond of announcing that we are born in sin. The follow up to that is the mantra, "We are just sinners saved by grace." My response is, "Alright, already. We get it. But what about resurrection. Aren't we born AGAIN? This time, born again RIGHT and righteous?" At some point we have to start being the New Creation!

I love the cross and its message, but the cross is not God's final statement. LIFE is God's final statement! And since it is, the implications are off the charts for what we have been called to be and to do. Jesus said, "The thief has come to steal, kill and destroy. I have come that you might have life and that with flourish, dynamic and complete animation!" The church is called to be a culture of life. Not a parenthesis holding cell awaiting life after death.

We are a culture of life filled with belly laughs, loud glorious singing, expansive divine curiosity, entrepreneurial inventiveness and a passionate exploration of the Life and Character of God that might challenge safe theological boxes. The vacated grave of Jesus is the genius of God which calls every hungry heart to reject death in all of its expressions. Somebody, somewhere is going to leap into this culture of Life and live it for all its worth, someday. I believe this is my destiny, will you join me?

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Heirs of the World

I'm enjoying Romans chapter four these days. Massive doses of "oh, my lanta" come to mind when I allow the raw material from these words strike me with any reality or honesty. Need a for instance?

Abraham is called an heir of the world and we are collectively considered partnered heirs with him. Now, the difference between him and most of us is that he acted like an heir of the world and too many of us don't give it much thought. The upshot of that is that God saw Abe's faith, liked it so much (what's not to like about a 100 year old man believing for a baby) that He just decided that Abraham should get a free season pass to being a righteous man.

Now, mind you, Abraham got this righteous season pass NOT for believing for being forgiven of his sins, going to heaven, etc. That's the stuff we spend an inordinate amount time obsessing about. Abraham believed God for becoming a father at 100 and through that miracle, becoming an heir of the world! That kind of absurd faith just made God's mood elevate right through His heavenly roof. God said, "Whatever else this guy does or does not do, I declare him right."

So I've been thinking about giving God another reason for a good mood. I've been considering raising my own faith to some absurd level. Praying outside safe boundries. Preaching like my life depends on it. Living spiritual abundance enough to leave hands full of the Kingdom of God in my wake. Some goof balls stare at spoons and try to bend them. I'm staring at mountains and I am determined to see them move.

Here's the way I've got it figured: if I am nothing else except a man believing God absurdly, I figure that God will, at the very least say, "Wow. He's entertaining. Let's give him one of those free righteous passes....Hmmmm....and, hey! All heavenly hosts and resources. Listen up! Let's vaporize a mountain for Randy just to see the expression on his face!"

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Too Long, No Blog!

My apologies for the long pause between blogging. Hang with me. Google has had some "issues" with their blog site and I've been locked out of my blog for almost 2 weeks. Stay tuned...

Thursday, March 01, 2007

It's Not About "Them"...

It's not about them, it's about us. It's not about the "world", it's about the church. "They" aren't the problem, we are. If we shine, they will see. If we are salt, they will taste AND see. We must get off the world's back, get on our knees and repent.

What if we loved "them" the way God loves "us"? What if an epedemic of forgiveness swept through the people of God, so widespread, so contagious, so prolific, and so virulent that no sin, no wrong done, no past issue, NOTHING mattered more than being a river of God with trees growing on our banks that produced leaves that healed entire nations?

It's not about their sin, it's about our ignorance.

I'm not the least bit concerned about a documentary claiming to disprove the resurrection of Christ. That's the nature of unbelief. I'm far more concerned about Christians whose living shows no evidence of resurrected life. The uninformed may be convinced by this documentary, not because it is compelling, but because we have not been compelling.

It's not about "them".

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Heaven's Lent

Today is Ash Wednesday, the traditional start of the Lenten season of being serious, giving up something "for lent", repentance and reflecting on the life of Jesus (especially leading up to His trial and crucifixion). This traditionally culminates in Good Friday, where, traditionally speaking, believers are supposed to wrap themselves in the sadness of Christ's death so that, traditionally, on Easter Sunday we can finally whoop it up.

C.S. Lewis said, "Joy is the serious business of heaven." I am more and more and more and more convinced that Christianity has yet to fully tap into its truest potential. "On earth AS IT IS in heaven" is packed with truth waiting to be revealed in sons and daughters of God who are ready to be revealed as true sons and daughters of God. And, of course, there are elements of truth to everything in the first paragraph, BUT....

Unfortunately, Lent has played into the natural mind that says, "If we regularly beat ourselves up over bad behavior and allow for a sufficient amount of 'holy self-loathing', we can get right back to all that bad behavior we enjoy so much. And, of course, next year start all over again."
If you have any doubt that this is true you have but to look at "Fat Tuesday" celebrations.

Here's my Lenten challenge: give up joyless, unhappy behavior wrapped in the Name of Jesus! Turn on and tune into the serious business of Heaven's Lent. Sing loud. Worship hard. Pray passionately and genuinely. Love furiously. Hope like a kid. Laugh in the Name of Jesus. Going back to prayer; ask, seek and knock with delirious abandonment. Ask big. Seek widely and knock the door off the hinges. When you are through, walk as though you believe that you have received those things that you have prayed. Celebrate the results before you "see" them with your eyes.

Heaven can not do a thing that earth will not allow. If the serious business of heaven IS joy, and I believe that it is, then let's loose on earth what is loosed in heaven. Unspeakable joy.

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

The Mystery of Potential

The western rational mind gets nervous around the mysterious, the mystical and the spiritual. As such, American church circles are quick to label such things as "of the devil" or "false teaching". Interestingly enough, however, God did not chose the western rational mind as the platform for the launching of the scriptures. God, from His eternal perch, could see that the eastern, tribal mind would best serve His purposes through out human history. Ever read about tribes in the Bible? How about Wise Men from the East?

That's why the Bible poses several challenges for us. Let me offer a sampling of some of these challenges and examples of the ones that annoy me the most. If you are bothered by these questions or concepts , or you bother other people with these "Where are the dinosaurs?" "How old is the earth?" "Where did Cain get his wife?" "The Bible's version of Creation should be taught in our public schools as a counter balance to evolution!".

Ignorance in these matters is not bliss. It's a pain in the tail. The Bible is not a book of science. I repeat, not a book of scientific explanations, scientific data or anything remotely related to science. To impose western scientific questions upon it is like looking for the meaning of life in a calculus textbook. If people of faith taught and lived the Bible from its truest value we would actually fight to KEEP it out of public schools for fear and concern that the public school system would dumb it down into science! It MUST be handled by the hearts and hands of people born from ABOVE and genuinely born of SPIRIT. Our silly fear of evolution (and a myriad of other modern boogie men) is rooted in our lack of BEING people of SPIRIT! Dare I say that the best way to resist the theory of evolution is for church people to stop acting like religious monkeys?

The Bible intentionally raises the bar of mystery to call out to and from the human condition the spirit factor. God's Voice is calling deep unto deep waiting for a child to respond. The Holy Spirit seeks hearts first, not minds. The resonance of the human heart echoes back to the chords of God's mysterious Voice. Listen. Stop imposing formulas and lists and shallow bureaucratic filters on God's passionate language of love.

In his book, "Leading Without Power", Max De Pree says that organizations of all types and kinds degrade and suffer, "when poets are terminated and bureaucrats promoted". The American church has allowed this virus to truncate our truest power and value in the name of rational debate and even for political purposes. I say its time to reach for our core values of the sweetly mysterious Spirit and let the Wind blow "where it wishes" so that once again we can "hear the sound of it" because, "so is everyone who is born of the Spirit". Read the source of these quotes again, for the FIRST time; John 3:8.

I'm ready for the mystery of our potential to be released and realized! How about you?

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Mo' or Jo'?

Moses had a relationship with God that bears little or no resemblence to anyone, anywhere I see today. Yet, curiously, I hear people invoke how God dealt with Israel under Moses' leadership as a parallel for what God is speaking to America today. Things like destruction upon our country for its sin and evil deeds. I promised myself to aim high with this blog and avoid going head to head with the prophets of lets just move along before I brake my promise to myself.

Back to Moses. When Israel decided that Moses was gone too long on his mountain retreat, they invented a new religion and made a golden calf. God slipped this into the morning devotional with Moses and said, "Let Me alone, that My anger may burn against them, and that I may destroy them; and I will make of you a great nation." Did you catch that? And not just a one "that" but there are two "thats" here...

First of all, God said to a man, "Let Me alone..." or "Get out of the way..."! And secondly, in a naked appeal to the man's pride, God offered to make a "great nation" out of that man. On the first account, Moses did NOT get out of the way so that God could smoke Israel and on the second account Moses made an equally naked appeal back to the character of God and said, "Turn from Your burning anger and change Your (almighty) mind!" (I added "almighty" just for grins). In fact, Moses later added that if God was going to fry Isael, then He should start with Moses.

Too many current religious leaders would have stepped aside, with a smug smile and given God their blessing, found the nearest TV camera and announced, "God told me..." To say nothing of the fact that they would gleefully accept becoming the founder of a new great nation/ministry. Aw shucks...I think I just broke my promise.....

There's another Old Testament story that comes to mind here as well. God told Jonah to give the city of Ninevah a 40 day notice that a terrorist act would blow them up...or something akin to that. Did Jonah do his best Moses imitation? No. He looked more like us. He ran right into the digestive tract of a fish in order to hide from his God given responsibility. When it finally occured to him that being obedient might be better than becoming fish manure, he repented and the fish puked him up within a 3 day walk of Ninevah. Upon his arrival, he preached, Ninevah did some serious repenting and the terrorist plot was canceled. End of the story? No....

Jonah pouted and prayed to die. In the midst of his praying to die, he admitted that he knew the character of God so well that he said, "I fled...for I knew that You are a gracious and compassionate God, slow to anger and abundant in lovingkindness, and One who relents concerning calamity (terrorist attacks)". In other words, he wanted them to get what they deserved so that the end result of destruction would make him look like a real prophet. As it was, nothing bad happened like Jonah hoped it would....hmmmmmmm...

It seems to me that God is looking for something deeper in those of us who represent Him than just the ability to scare the pants off the nearest bystander with predictions of doom or pronouncements of God's "will". I know there is much more that needs to be said about all of the above, however, for the sake of this one blog let it be summed up that more of us need to look like Moses and much less like Jonah!

What if your one life means the difference in historic change or historic calamity? Would you chose to pay the price to introduce change or would you take the path of least resistance and step aside and watch calamity with the explanation, "Oh well, it must have been God's will..."?

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Fight Like Hell

Lance Armstrong, cancer survivor and Tour De France champion, is credited with saying, “If children have the ability to ignore all odds and percentages then maybe we can learn from them. When you think about it, what other choice is there but hope? We have two options, medically and emotionally: give up or fight like hell.”

Of late I am in the process of God’s yanking me upward in my faith and hope. Last week I read the book, “Rees Howells; Intercessor” by Norman Grubb. It was like a spanking that made me laugh and cry all at once. When I was a kid growing up in the harsh realities of Milwaukee’s ‘60s I had a good friend who bragged that when his dad spanked him he would laugh. I knew his dad to be a brute and I didn’t believe him until one day I was a witness to one of these weird rituals. Now, I know the illustration fails to be entirely accurate to the character of God (God is not a brute; although you might think so if you managed to push Him hard enough) but the idea of a spanking making you laugh at yourself is the best way I can describe what I learned from this incredible book. Read it for yourself….I think you’ll discover what I mean.

Anyway, all this takes me to Lance’s quote that finishes with, “fight like hell”. I’ve fought like hell. In fact, going back to my Milwaukee roots, one of the survival tactics I lived by was to spread far and wide the following information: if you pick a fight with me, you will likely win. Just know this: you will never forget me! I’ll be the skinny little white guy who left teeth and toe-nail prints on any part of your body I could reach. Think ‘Tasmanian Devil’. You’ll always wish you had not enjoyed the pleasure of beating me up!” That strategy probably saved my life.

Now, I’m no Lance Armstrong and the following musing is with all due respect to him. I’m just Randy Dean and from my perspective I’ve learned that there is a better way to fight. It IS fighting in the same spirit that Lance suggests except with a different root source in place. I’ve found out that Heaven fights too. The difference is that heaven always wins and uses temporary loses as stepping stones toward greater victories. One story in the Old Testament says that ONE angel from God went to battle and killed 185,000 skilled and successful warriors in one night. I’ll take those odds.

My point here is this: GET YOUR HOPES UP! Refuse to live by resources short of heaven’s bounty! HOPE like crazy. HOPE like there IS a tomorrow. HOPE in spite of every haunting doubt. Grab, claw, scratch and snag at heaven’s extravagant treasury. And if by some definition, you “lose” (whatever that may mean!) for God in Heaven’s the very least, LEAVE SOME TEETH MARKS BEHIND AS A TOKEN FOR YOUR ENEMY TO REMEMBER YOU BY!