Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Tell Me Your Vision For the World...

Tell me your vision for the world, not your vitriol against it. Please don’t explain to me how wrong your opponent’s ideas are, tell me how brilliant your ideas are. Why do we love the blame game? Because in faith, politics and relationships blaming others pays off a huge bonus to our ego.

Isaiah 58:9 says, “Then you will call, and the Lord will answer; You will cry, and He will say, ‘Here I am.’ If you remove the yoke from your midst, the pointing of the finger, and speaking wickedness…”. We all want God to answer our prayers and respond as quickly as we can cry out. It might surprise you to know that this is what He wants too! Jesus proposed that we would always get whatever we have asked for in prayer (John 15:7). Heaven wants this more than we want it but we have too easily overlooked our culpability in the failure.

We are culpable for unanswered prayer in that we have spent our energy on blame and not progress. In the case of Isaiah’s words God is calling for a fast, not of food and drink, but of negativity that feeds the ego. The prophet’s vision is of a people who become like a spectacular garden glistening with the water of encouragement(58:11). This vision is built upon the premises of the words in verse 9. Look again;
1. Remove the yoke—the yoke of our own making! Which is…
2. Pointing the finger – externalizing the reasons why we can not make progress. A over-fed ego loves to reason why the wide world is conspiring to keep its host down.
3. And speaking wickedness – this Hebrew expression goes to the notion of describing how nothing you do matters or works. It literally means, “nothingness”, the ultimate negative energy.

New Age teachers love to talk about negative and positive energy. Avoiding these terms is surrendering them to that venue and I will not do that! It is clear that this principle is a core value of the Bible. Philippians 4:4-9 concludes with, “…whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of a good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, let your mind dwell on these things.” Let everything that has breath (could be translated as energy), praise the Lord (Psalm 150:6).

Blame is the ultimate negative energy and praise to God and honor for people is the ultimate positive energy. When we fast the former and furiously embrace the latter our lives will spiritually and psychologically blossom with a beautiful flourish. Blame will easily feed your ego with always being right even at the expense of truth to the contrary. You will not maintain vital connection to God and others in this spirit, however, praise and honor will heal your ego by connecting it to every outside source designed to sustain the real and only you.

Bill Johnson loves to say, “You can not go in faith where you have not gone in intimacy.” Simply put, the more profound my love for God, enthusiasm for life and passion for Kingdom Come reality in my world the more explosive my prayer life will be. If I’m routinely sour about politics, life and relationships it is likely my prayers are extensions of my unpleasant mood.

If I’m lit up through worship and love for Daddy, if I’m drinking in the glory of life all around me, if I’m energized about being a servant with solutions then my life becomes a prayer because positive living is a sacrifice worthy of the King!

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Just One Thought Away...

For the last 3 weeks I’ve been soaking in the words of Mark 8:31-33. In the past they have seemed almost anecdotal, off the main subject and only there to prove how all knowing Jesus was and is. This is Mark’s version of when Jesus asked, “Who do people say that I am?” After Peter hits the bulls eye and is winding up for an astronomic miss, Mark records this, “And He (Jesus) began to teach them that the Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders and the chief priests and the scribes, and be killed, and after three days rise again. And He was stating the matter plainly. (Amplified Version says it this way, “and He said this freely, frankly, plainly, and explicitly, making it unmistakable) And Peter took Him aside and began to rebuke Him.”

I drew this passage as the starting point for a sermon series on supernatural psychology. I have gone after a few other points from these words, but I didn’t expect to be wonderfully caught by a picture of Jesus standing there with the 12 stating freely, frankly, plainly and explicitly, making it unmistakable how this journey with Him would culminate. I’ve always known that He had warned the disciples but I’ve never been drawn to really calculate the implications of this incredible and altogether missed point of truth.

In order to take you where my mind is (brace yourself) look at the possibility of what would have happened if the Holy Spirit had been allowed to continue with the spirit of revelation that briefly bumped into Peter prior to this. The following is a summary of how different the gospels would have been:
1. At the garden of Gethsemane the disciples could have been riding the wave of the Spirit’s revelation of Christ’s death, burial and resurrection. As such, they might have stayed awake to see the angels ministering to Jesus in the depths of His prayer.
2. No one would have reacted to the arrest of Jesus with anything but subdued yet profound worship.
3. After Jesus’ beating and mock trial Peter might have stood his ground about knowing this man. He might have even been arrested himself; only to be released by a band of angels sent to insure that God’s purposes and promises for Peter would not fail.
4. All but Judas would have been standing at the cross with Mary unafraid and surrounded by the legion of angels that would rather have been rescuing Jesus.
5. And best of all, perhaps, just maybe, they would have all been at the tomb, night and day until the triumphant moment when the angel blasted the stone away and Jesus stepped out. Their shouts would have moved clouds as they declared to one another, “YOU SEE! He told us! He has never lied to us, never mislead us, never given us false hopes! He is LORD!”

Now, we all know this didn’t happen. It would be easy to teach and expound on the reality that the Holy Spirit had not yet been poured out on them in order for them to be this powerfully and profoundly illuminated. We know that it wasn’t until the Day of Pentecost that their collective eyes and hearts were slammed open and they became an army of invincible world changers. But here’s where it gets really interesting….

We live on this side of the resurrection and the outpouring of the Holy Spirit! We have this illumination for the determination of the destiny of the Kingdom’s invincibility! We are the extension of the army they began when at long last they could see, really see the truth that was always there, always teeming with divinely pressurized potential. We have the Holy Spirit on us to lead us into all, all, all truth. There is now no reason, no excuse for any freely, frankly, plainly, and explicitly, making it unmistakable promise to be missed which could otherwise alter history and determine our destiny!

We are all one thought away from achieving our destiny; and that one thought, that one revelation may very well have been laying on our mental book shelf for the past several years! It is that thought which was always a promise that seemed so irrational, so impractical, so far-fetched and even comparable to Jesus saying freely, frankly, plainly, and explicitly, making it unmistakable that His death was not final.

Is your forward progress waiting for your revelation of one simple promise? And is that one simple promise been with you all this time, while you may have been seeking more promises, more prophesy, more encouragement, when all along your greatest revelation has always been with you?

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Supernatural Psychology

Some church folks have nasty habits. Listing all of them would require a large book; maybe I’ll start that manuscript as soon as I’m done with this. One of our many bad habits is that of trashing anything that does not come from us, or even what someone from among us has deemed to be from the unsafe list of us.

Here’s an example: church man A is looking for a good attorney. He meets church lady B at, of course, a church function. He asks her for the name of a good lawyer and she gives him one with these words, “This lawyer is a Christian!” And church man A is off to the races.

What’s wrong with this logic? Three basic fatal flaws: 1. Too many church folk already spend too much time with each other. 2. Being a Christian is no guarantee of being good at anything else, and 3. It ignores the glorious resourcefulness of the wide world around us. We may live in an evil world, but make no mistake about it, we live in a world full of valuable resources!

Psychology is an easy target for some church folks because it comes from “out there”. We really need to get over that fear on several fronts.

Modern medicine has been on the historic map for over a thousand years while modern psychology has only been around for about 150 years. In terms of classic research and development, that qualifies as very young and it may explain some of the idiosyncrasies resident in some psychological circles. But the idiosyncrasies of some is no reason for demonizing an entire profession.

It’s not my purpose here to endorse all psychological enterprise. My purpose here is to turn some lights on for Christians to take a look at the possibility of our cynical review of psychological endeavors. More importantly, I want to make a clear call for the church to be a people and a place of supernatural resource for any and all healing pursuits!

What would happen if the church became known as an environmental influence of profoundly beautiful mental health? What would it look like if the world around us heard that if you hang out with us church folks you’ll feel more secure and lucid? How would our reputation change if pure happiness was known as our most identifiable trait? What would it take for us to be free enough to acknowledge that all of us could stand a wide spectrum of input from the Wonderful Counselor, Jesus (Isaiah 9:6)? And, perhaps accept the assistance of some of His counterparts on earth for a check-up from the neck up?

Isaiah 51:11 says, “So the ransomed of the Lord will return and come with joyful shouting to Zion; and everlasting joy will be on their heads. They will obtain gladness and joy, and sorrow and sighing will flee away.” This sounds to me like God is offering us Supernatural Psychological health and I’m crazy enough to believe this kind of promise has outrageous ramifications for any of us willing to take a dive into the deep end!