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…..