Transformation Time

Dreams & Visions

2018.08.07 Transformation Time

HIS TIMES & SEASONS

Everything has its time…

To everything there is a season (an appointed time/appointment),
A time for every purpose under heaven.
Ecclesiastes 3:1

Our reality was designed by a wise and benevolent Creator Who exists outside of the boundaries of time and Who sees the end from the beginning, and everything in between. His intention in creating us was that we would remain in continuous relationship with Him and together we could multiply and cultivate this beautiful planet we call earth.

From the very first chapter of the book of Genesis we see that God set a time clock in place that would reveal specific “appointments” for humanity through time…  

Then God said, “Let there be lights in the firmament of the heavens to divide the day from the night; and let them be for signs and seasons (appointments), and for days and years; and let them be for lights in the firmament of the heavens to give light on the earth”; and it was so.

Genesis 1:14-15

With the Lord’s wise decision to grant us free will, He was well aware of the choices we would make along our journey and the subsequent pain and suffering that would result. He understands the best way to guide humanity on a journey which would result in a group of people who ultimately and willfully choose to stay in continuous intimacy with Him. Through that chosen, continuous relationship this earth can become the expression of the King of Glory and His Kingdom that was intended from the onset.

In my life and walk with the Lord, I have experienced a number of “appointments.” Starting from the morning in late 1993 that I first perceived a “still small voice,” beyond my mind, telling me it was “time to go to church,” to my wedding day with Lindsay, and to even this very day as I write this blog with the awareness that it is a “work prepared beforehand for me to walk in” (Ephesians 2:10).  As I have learned to lean back and look more thoroughly at the “big picture,” I recognize so many instances of personal and worldly events that are speaking about the timing of God.

KNOWING OUR TIME: Hints, Clues and Signs

As chapter 1 in Genesis expresses, the Lord has placed “signposts” along our path to awaken, guide and protect us. These “signs” can come in just about any form and serve as hints or clues as to the Lord’s will in our lives. It is our job and blessing to perceive the signs in relationship with the Holy Spirit to properly interpret them and walk more deeply into God’s will.

Although any true sign from the Lord is good, we need to be intentional not to elevate our reverence of the signs above the One who gives them, any more than we should elevate God’s messengers (i.e. Billy Graham/BGEA, Bill Bright/CRU, Loren Cunningham/YWAM, etc.) above the One Who sent them. True signs and messengers should always be pointing our attention to the Living Messiah, Yeshua (Jesus). Jesus himself told us not to “look for” (or pursue…we are to pursue Him) signs while at the same time telling us to be willing to recognize them when the Father gives them (Matthew 16:3 – discerning the signs of the times). With that in mind, let’s explore some personal signposts that have come to my attention over the last 17 years that may help encourage us as to the timing of our generation’s significant “appointment” with the Lord.  

After 6 years of walking with the Lord, in 2001 I noticed a dramatic increase in the number of “encounters” I was having with our Creator. That is the year I began learning to be still and wait quietly upon the Lord to let Him do more of the “talking,” so to speak. I began growing in the ability to let the Holy Spirit be my Guide through the “road map” of the written Word of God. Our ancient brothers and sisters were given many hints and clues to pass along to us in the Holy Spirit inspired writings of the scriptures.

One of the key ways the Lord has chosen to speak to me is through the use of numbers. He even moved on a young girl (around 10 years old at the time) in Portland, OR to draw a picture of me with numbers falling all around me. This served as an encouragement to embrace the Spirit’s use of these indicators. I recognize that there are many inappropriate uses of numbers such as in the Occult and we need to be operating in the correct spirit. And no, I am not into numerology. I have also matured over the years in the understanding of the Lord’s design of the celestial bodies and constellations as a story to be understood by us. Though I did take Astronomy in college 😊, I am also not into Astrology (although apparently the Wise Men in the Gospel of Matthew chapter 2 were astrologists and numerologists as they studied the heavens to know the time and location of the birth of the prophesied King – https://www.christianitytoday.com/history/holidays/christmas/magi-wise-men-or-kings-its-complicated.html)

The following are cursory overviews of some of the appointments, indications and confirmations I picked up along the journey…

9/11 – About 45 days prior to September 11, 2001 the Holy Spirit highlighted verses in Isaiah 30 that referred to a time of “the towers” falling (the Twin Towers coming down on 9/11 are not the only towers being referred to here but are one major indicator). Isaiah continued on to write that after the towers fall there would be a time of healing for God’s people while at the same time the Lord would be dealing strongly with the nations (Isaiah 30:25-33). Since 9/11, I have witnessed a dramatic increase in healing in my life and in the lives of Christ followers I walk with and the experiences continue to grow.

777 – In the month of August 2001 between the time I received those Isaiah 30 verses and the fall of the twin towers in New York, I had a very unique encounter with the Lord. In that experience He told me very clearly to “go to Danville Virginia where you were born and see your aunt and uncle”.  Interestingly, the last name of my aunt and uncle was literally “Angel.” During that visit several significant things happened and among them I was given a tour of Danville (I had only lived there the first 6 months of my life). On that day we found the house where I was born and the house number was 777. At the time numbers didn’t mean that much to me but the “still small voice” gave me a very needed message for where I was at that time in my walk.

Over the subsequent years I have had so many unusual confirmations using this number set that I can’t even count them and it would take a small book to share them in writing. Some special ones include receiving a picture of a license plate from Tennessee with the message “ABBA 777” on Father’s Day 2016 (Abba meaning Father).  This year on my birthday my wife saw a South Carolina license plate with the message “IAM 777.”

The Lord has also shared some key understandings with me around these numbers (for another writing). One notable piece of evidence came on a specific date on the Hebrew calendar in 2008 known as the Shemitah/Shmita (7 years after 9/11). Our nation experienced a record decline in the stock market. The fall was 777 points. The significance of this event has been documented and taught on by various leaders in the Body of Christ (including Rabbi Jonathan Cahn). Finally, early in 2016 the Lord brought to my attention that the upcoming Fall marked the start of the Hebrew year 5777 (Oct. 3, 2016 – Sep. 20, 2017). He shared with me that the 5777 year would serve as a significant demarcation in time that will result in a noticeable difference in Kingdom productivity from that point forward. I can honestly say that it has been like a night & day shift for me personally since that year. In short, the numbers 777 speak of the invitation from the Lord for us to now fully yield our lives to him, individually and corporately, and experience transformation in spirit (7), soul (7) and body (7).  

11:11 – Another significant “wonder” in my life also initiated in 2001. I began noticing the number set 1111 in extraordinary frequency and I felt impressed in prayer that it had purpose. As with the 777, over the years the Lord has used 1111 at key moments to facilitate awareness of His intentions. One special occurrence happened in 2009 after a dependable Spirit-filled leader in Charlotte prayed for me and told me that my name, Matthew, had been given to me on purpose by the Lord. He went on to say that it is very important for me to focus on the book of Matthew because it is all about “the Kingdom.” Well, a few weeks later while reading the Bible I felt led to start at the beginning of the New Testament again (Book of Matthew) and wouldn’t you know that it starts on page 1,111 in the bible I was reading at the time. Another instance happened on the date 11/11/11 during a time of waiting on the Lord silently. Holy Spirit showed me a man’s face and I perceived His voice saying “I am sending you to Chicago.” Upon researching to track down the face online I discovered the man was Dr. G.E. Bradshaw and he was living in the greater Chicago area. We met the next year and he has been instrumental in my life in so many ways as the President of the G.E.M.S. Network (Global Effect Movers and Shakers), as a mentor and as a friend. Finally, I have recognized several key verses in scripture at the 11:11 marker in various books that speak to these latter days. Not the least of which is the following…

It shall come to pass in that day
That the Lord shall set His hand again the second time…
Isaiah 11:11

3…2…1 – During my first 40-day fasting season in 2008, the Lord shared with me elements of His plans for our Day that are spread throughout the Old & New Testament. As He took me through them I became aware of a designated season of “Restoration” that has been spoken of by His prophets from the beginning and I learned that Yeshua was waiting in Heaven until the time comes for the “Restoration of All Things” (Acts 3:21). In the humorous way the Lord works with me, He kept showing me the number set 321 in mass and gave the concept of a countdown “3…2…1” referring to the inevitable timing for this Restoration. I have uncovered other 3:21 verses that speak powerfully of God’s intentions for us including in Ephesians and Revelation.  More recently, I have heard a couple globally established prophets (James Goll & Johnny Enlow) proclaim that we are now in the “Times of the Restoration of All Things.”

100 Years – In 2013 I was doing research on some of the key leaders in the Holy Spirit movements of the early 1900’s. I discovered that some particular ministers that were moving powerfully in the Spirit of God (signs, wonders, healings, miracles) had received a “heads up” from the Lord that the full “outpouring” they were expecting would not come for another 100 years. One of these leaders was Maria Woodworth-Etter in Chicago who received this revelation in 1913…100 years exactly to the year I recognized these facts – http://greatawakening.blogspot.com/2012/03/100-year-old-prophecies-of-revival-is.html.

In all this, I would have to say that the greatest sign of our timing that I have seen over the last many years is the metamorphosis under way in my own life and others with whom I walk with in relational proximity. We may still be a good distance from where God is taking us but I cannot deny the change as I observe myself from a 3rd party perspective. Through my early adulthood I found myself experiencing tremendous outbursts of anger, seasons of depression, frequent fear, a psychiatrist’s diagnosis of bipolar, low levels of self-control, and cycles of destructive behavior.  As my relationship with God deepened and my submission to Him ensued, I found these shackles falling off my life to the point of knowing such a living daily Peace beyond my imagination.

These leading indicators along with many others (eclipses, blood moons, constellation arrangements and global events) have convinced me that the Lord is, at this moment, up to something major…so what is He up to?

BUTTERFLIES & GEMS

You can hardly find a better expression of Transformation than the process of a caterpillar becoming a butterfly. I believe the butterfly is a sovereign design of God to display what is destined for mankind.

In 2016 as I worshipped the Lord with my eyes closed in a corporate setting, I caught a vision of people as gems/jewels. I saw us full of color and light as our insides were becoming gel like in consistency. It was like our chemistry was changing and our physiology was being transformed into something very different than we had been. Eventually our composition was fully transformed into a new substance and we solidified into colorful shining gems. I perceived the words “Chrysalization and Crystallization.” Like the process of the chrysalis covering the forming butterfly until the time of manifestation, in the vision we were protected by the shell of a crystal while our internals were experiencing a complete metamorphosis soon to be revealed.

As written earlier in part 1 of this blog, I had a God appointment with Dr. G.E. Bradshaw in 2012.  Interestingly, before I realized he was leading a global network called G.E.M.S., the Lord was highlighting the following verses…

“They shall be Mine,” says the Lord of hosts,
On the day that I make them My gems/jewels.
And I will spare them
As a man spares his own son who serves him.”
Then you shall again discern
Between the righteous and the wicked,
Between one who serves God
And one who does not serve Him.
Malachi 3:17-18

As I searched the scriptures, the eyes of my understanding began to open and I saw other key references to “gems/jewels/precious stones” laid throughout the Bible…

O you afflicted one, Tossed with tempest, and not comforted, Behold, I will lay your stones with colorful gems, And lay your foundations with sapphires.
‭‭Isaiah‬ ‭54:11‬

I will greatly rejoice in the Lord,
My soul shall be joyful in my God;
For He has clothed me with the garments of salvation,
He has covered me with the robe of righteousness,
As a bridegroom decks himself with ornaments,
And as a bride adorns herself with her jewels.
Isaiah 61:10

The Lord their God will save them in that day,
As the flock of His people.
For they shall be like the jewels of a crown,
Lifted like a banner over His land.
Zechariah 9:16

The foundations of the wall of the city were adorned with all kinds of precious stones: the first foundation was jasper, the second sapphire, the third chalcedony, the fourth emerald…
Revelation 21:19

As the Bride of Christ we are becoming His Gems and the City He is bringing down out of Heaven (Rev. 21:2) is made up of US!!

IT IS T-TIME!

A couple weeks ago we released a blog I wrote entitled “Your Provision is NOW” where I shared about how staying consciously present in Christ each moment is one key to receiving His provision. Well, as I am writing this blog I felt led to take a break and walk the neighborhood to deepen my immediate focus on the Lord’s Presence before continuing to write. During that time I received some insights and “signs” encouraging me as to what the Lord would prefer I share in this writing.

After deciding to use the sub-heading in the section above “Butterflies and Jewels,” I ended my walk around the neighborhood with an actual butterfly encircling and landing in front of me to get a picture…

Transformation Time - Butterfly

I also decided to pull up Youtube to search for something and as I did a series of videos from David Wilkerson popped up.  After watching the brief video, this is what I gleaned…

But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being TRANSFORMED into the same image from glory to glory, just as by the Spirit of the Lord.
2 Corinthians 3:18

Let us each focus frequently (until continually) on beholding the Glory of God to let Him Transform us into what we were designed to be. I believe the Holy Spirit and the Word of God is proclaiming to us that the time for our transformation has arrived. And we being transformed into maturely operating children of God is the key to seeing city transformation and the Restoration manifest. The change in our communities is a function of the change in us and between us as Children of God.  

In closing, and in fun, the Lord has determined that it is T-Time, Transformation Time (individually, organizationally and communally). As in the game of golf where there is a Tee Time (time to tee off and start the game), our God has put the earth on His “Tee” so to speak and is ready to take a swing at us becoming (a) “WHOLE in ONE”. 😉

Originally published:
Transformation Time (Part 1)
https://nc-c3.org/2018/08/07/transformation-time-part-2/

 

Your Provision is NOW

Texts & Topics

2018.07.17 Your Provision is NOW

YOU ARE PROVISIONED

The Lord’s ways are truly higher and different than our human ways.  And yet, there are so many elements of our modern life that He uses to teach us more about how He thinks and operates.  Along my professional journey, as I was developing a deeper relationship with Yeshua, there were many spiritual understandings that would be revealed to me through the mechanics and technologies of the products and services I was allowed to represent.  One of those revelations came through my time working with Motorola radio systems and cellular technology.

I was in that industry during the release of early smartphone technology.  When you purchase a new smartphone from a wireless carrier, the language they use for the process of activating your phone is the word “provisioning.”  That is when the hardware, operating system and preloaded software on that phone are connected wirelessly to their main server and the device becomes fully functional.  At that moment the latest updates and upgrades are installed on your device and you can download various applications for improving the performance and experience of the unit.

It was while working in that industry that the Holy Spirit taught me that as with those devices, we were created by Him and invested into the earth, each for such a time as this, with the necessary hardware and operational software built-in.  But not until we let Him “Provision” us through an active, continual relationship with the OEM (Original Equipment Manufacturer, a.k.a. God) can we become fully activated and walk into the works prepared beforehand and fulfill our unique missions in life.

Take a look at the powerful definition of the word “Provision”…

a : the act or process of providing

b : the fact or state of being prepared beforehand

c : a measure taken beforehand to deal with a need or contingency : preparation

(https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary)

N.O.W: No Other Way

Our God did some extraordinary things in transitioning me from my roles in corporate America to becoming a “rep” working directly for Him as a “Kingdom Consultant” (a.k.a. Ambassador).  He began to teach me about His “Operating System (OS).” He showed me that I was previously living and working out of what can be referred to as the “Babylon OS” (the world’s operating system).  He led me into learning to run His software on my hardware (i.e. brain, heart, etc.) by letting go of what I think I think I know about anything and everything, and let Him begin giving me a complete OS replacement to begin running on His “REST OS”…

And if anyone thinks that he knows anything, he knows nothing yet as he ought to know. 
1 Corinthians 8:2

Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus.
Philippians 2:5

During that time the Spirit of God served as my “transition coach” and revealed several deeper understandings about His will and plan for our day and age as well my own life.  Through a long season of fasting He dismantled doctrinal and eschatological (end time) perspectives that I had forged over the years. But just before sending me out into a “free-lance” responsibility, He thrust me miraculously into the banking industry for about a year and trained me to work by Faith in Him vs. a fear of failure.  By His Spirit I learned to perceive His voice in real-time while relating to C-level executives throughout the U.S. banking industry.

The major lesson He worked into me centered around embracing the NOW, the present moment.  I learned that the Lord, knowing and preparing all things beforehand, had “provisioned” me and that whatever resources were needed to address each assignment and situation would be released/revealed in real-time day-by-day.  My responsibility was to stay presently focused on Him, speak what I perceive and receive what was needed for the task, both internally and externally. I realized that most human beings aren’t living in the present provisional access (relationship) to the Source that was originally intended.  Instead, people live either behind or ahead in their minds, considering the past or calculating the future. He did not promise us provision either ahead or behind in our heads. Even most Believers are not focused on “occupying” their moments in Christ but looking ahead for some future event. He promised His Provision in the open door of the “I Am” that He always is…His very present presence.  We spend much of our life in our heads and not in the Spirit of His Provision. The constructs of our society caused us to be raised this way as children and even educated to operate from this reality. Our cultures have even been built on this sub-standard foundation and it is not the Way of Yeshua.

For me, this lesson was encapsulated in the understanding that the only way the Kingdom of God can truly “come to earth” is in the present moment…the N.O.W. (No Other Way).  There is a continual open door and the “All Things” promised to us are accessible as we keep our minds on Him in Spirit and Truth…

You will keep him in perfect peace,
Whose mind is stayed on You,
Because he trusts in You.
Isaiah 26:3

But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you.
Matthew 6:33

Therefore, brethren, be even more diligent to make your call and election sure, for if you do these things you will never stumble; for so an ENTRANCE will be supplied to you abundantly into the everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
2 Peter 1:10-11

IT IS “NOW O’CLOCK”

In the Kingdom of God it is always “NOW O’Clock”.  Each moment of life has been foreseen and prepared by God for us to receive from Him the resources to fulfill His will; and His will is very Good.  He has fully factored in our own Free Will and is waiting on us to look to him each passing moment as King David wrote…

Show me Your ways, O Lord;
Teach me Your paths.
Lead me in Your truth and teach me,
For You are the God of my salvation;
On You I wait all the day.
Psalm 25:4-5

Waiting ON God and not FOR something from Him is a key to seeing Him release the needed resources. God Himself is actually our Provision and in Him are the All Things promised through our Inheritance, both eternally as well as the Here & Now…

He who overcomes shall inherit all things, and I will be his God and he shall be My son.
Revelation 21:7

So He said to them, “Assuredly, I say to you, there is no one who has left house or parents or brothers or wife or children, for the sake of the kingdom of God, who shall not receive many times more in this present time, and in the age to come eternal life.”
Luke 18:29-30

Our blessing is to get to trust God in helping us receive each element of our predetermined, prepared inheritance at the appropriate time.  I confess that too often in my life I have strived to secure a provision (resources, relationships, revelation) that was either not meant for me, was not yet time for and/or that I was not prepared to properly steward at the time.  There truly is a time for everything under the sun (Ecclesiastes 3). We currently live in the Chronos reality of time on earth (hours/days/months/years) designed by God (Genesis 1); however, learning to live in God’s Kairos (Ancient Greek word meaning the right, critical, or opportune moment) time in Christ is the Path to becoming an Overcomer.  As a Good Father, He gives us what we need, when we need it and in correlation to our attentiveness to Him.

Stay NOW…Stay in His Spirit…Stay Provisioned…because NOW Faith Is…

Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not (YET) seen.
Hebrews 11:1

Originally published: https://nc-c3.org/2018/07/17/your-provision-is-now/

The REST of Prayer

Rest Works

2018.05.22 The REST of Prayer.png

ENTER MY REST

If I recall it correctly, it was just a little while after midnight on a weekday somewhere in the middle of the month of November 2010.  Half asleep and eyes still very much closed as I lifted my head off the pillow, I heard that Still Small Voice inside say “Enter My Rest.”  My reply was slightly audible and came with a bit of an internal smirk, “I thought that’s what I was doing before You woke me up” :-).

I dragged myself to the living room to lay on the couch to Wait upon the Lord and Listen UP.  Almost immediately I perceived Him communicating His reply to my previous smart aleck comment: “There is a big difference between sleeping and RESTing” He said.  Out loud I replied back, “I know, I was just kidding.” Over the years I have found our Heavenly Father to be quite playful at times.

Over the next couple hours I waited…and listened. During that time the Lord revealed some key understandings around the central theme of His REST. This wasn’t an enormous surprise simply because He had been emphasizing to me His concept of REST through the scriptures and His Holy Spirit for about 2-½ years by that point. But this encounter came with clear emphasis on the correlation between my operating from His REST and His willingness to release the “good works prepared beforehand” designed for me to walk in (Ephesian 2:10). For several years He had been giving me images, instructions and insights into what my life would look like as I learned to “let go” and “let God.” He had been helping me understand my specific identity and role within the Body of Christ during this time when the world is heading into deep transition. For a long time it was very overwhelming but as my understanding of how to enter His REST has matured, so did my ability to operate from that REST.

THE PROMISE OF REST

Therefore, since a promise remains of entering His REST, let us fear lest any of you seem to have come short of it…There remains therefore a REST for the people of God.  For he who has entered His REST has himself also ceased from his works as God did from His.Hebrews 4:1; 9-10

What a Promise! Wouldn’t it be something if we were the people called to enter that REST and the timing of the promise was ours? Well, I believe that is actually what the Lord is inviting us into in this age.

That early morning experience in 2010 revised my whole outlook on the mechanics of how we are to live, abide and work in Christ. As I laid on the couch awaiting His “voice,” this word appeared in my spiritual vision: RESTORATION…only it was broken up into two parts:  REST/oration…

Understanding 1:   R-E-S-T…Receive – Every – Single – Thing. Holy Spirit showed me this acronym and reminded me that John the Baptist said that a man can only receive what comes from God. That is to say, that the only things we truly “have” are the things the Lord authorizes in our life. All else will be taken away, eventually. This life is a matter of inheritance from the Lord based on our identity & purpose rather than our striving to “get” for ourselves.

Understanding 2:   Oration…Orator…Oratory. God explained that the Restoration that He has promised us (see Acts 3:19-21 regarding the Restoration of All Things) is a function of our speaking/orating from His REST. He directly expressed to me that the “works” He planned for my life would not manifest if I continued to communicate from a place of striving. In fact, the majority of people are already living in a state of laboring and striving for survival or success…  And, if I continued to relate to others outside of His REST it would only serve to add to our sweat and toil… And that sweating & toiling was born out of the curse established from our disobedience in the Garden. But now, since Yeshua’s crucifixion, resurrection and ascension, we are co-heirs of the “All Things” promised to the overcomer at the time of the overcoming (Revelation 21:7)… And Kingdom inheritance is not earned but received by the Faith of Christ.

THE REQUIREMENT OF REST

Over the following few years as I entered into a professional consulting role that was based on intercessory prayer and perceiving insights from the Lord, learning to operate from REST became a necessity. In fact, my very survival out in the “field” as I traveled city to city as well as my “success” as a consultant depended directly on my acceptance and application of this truth.

As I grew in the practice of His operational approach to living an Abundant Life, the Lord confronted me about my need to “leverage” Him out of this REST. I protested at first that I didn’t want to “leverage” Him and how that sounded like a Wall Street tactic. He enlightened me that the works of man over the last few thousand years have served to devastate creation, including mankind. What is now needed are the works that are not produced from our hard work and striving, but by the Power of His Love and Spirit. He is looking to perform His works through us and for that to come to fruition, we must enter His REST and leverage His power.

PRAYING FROM REST

Immediately after appropriating His instructions I began to experience greater results from my intimacy with the Lord. My prayerful alignment with Him on behalf of others also began producing greater measures of answered prayer. I began growing in understanding of what Paul wrote about regarding the weapons of our warfare not being carnal (2 Corinthians 10:4) while experiencing continual increase of His Peace. We do not fight in the spiritual battles of life the way we have been taught to fight in the natural (this coming from a former wrestler). In the Kingdom of God, “waiting” is “working,” “meekness” is “strength,” “less” is “more” and “RESTing” is “productive.” His REST is the secret behind experiencing His Power through prayer.

Over the years of learning to Listen for the Lord’s will in life and pray in agreement, the following verse has come to be foundational…

In returning and rest you shall be saved and in quietness and confidence you shall be saved.  Isaiah 30:15

Again and again I experience that the more I return (repent) and REST while practicing quietness and confidence in Him, the more I witness His works on display. Our full salvation is a function of our returning/repenting and RESTing in Him. He started the work of salvation and He will be the One to finish it. I have said so many times over the years that it seems the less I do and the more I rely on Him, the greater the accomplishments, in both quantity and quality.

In the closing chapter of the book of Isaiah, God asks a question: “Where is the place of My REST?” To which He provides the answer: “But on this one will I look: On him who is poor and of a contrite spirit, and who trembles at my word.” (Isaiah 66:1-2)

The Lord is looking for a place to REST…or more precisely, a person/people to REST upon. A people who have learned to “enter His REST” that He may perform the “greater works” He spoke of in John 14:12. This is the REST of Prayer that produces God’s will on earth.

Originally published: https://nc-c3.org/2018/05/22/the-rest-of-prayer/

Walk the Talk

Texts & Topics

2018.04.17 Walk the Talk

WAS JESUS EXCELLENT?

An important focus for many within the modern day Body of Christ is around the concept of being “excellent”.  In fact, for us (C3), “excellence” is one of the six official values that we set to guide our efforts to foster unity.  I personally find myself regularly asking the Lord for His perspective on being “excellent” with each situation I encounter, both personally and professionally: Lord, what does excellence look like to you in this particular matter?

Excellent [ek-suh-luh nt] : adj. 1. very good of its kind. Merriam-Webster Dictionary.

If each of us who have a relationship with Jesus Christ were asked the question “was Jesus excellent?” (referring to His life and ministry on earth in the flesh), it is likely that most of us would say yes, He was excellent.  My answer would also be yes as I believe Jesus lived His life and walked out His ministry with excellence. That is to say that He was “very good of His kind”.

But why?  What was it about the way He lived that made Him “very good of His kind”?

Jesus once asked a young rich ruler “why do you call me good, there is no one good but God” after being addressed by the man as “good teacher” (Matthew 19:17).  In a manner of speaking, it was the God-ness of our Savior that made His Goodness. He was by nature (and supernaturally) good by the “kind” that He was, as God made manifest.

EXCELLENT PERFORMANCE

When we think of being excellent we tend to think of performance; and certainly how well we perform has an impact on the results we experience. Even more, performance levels serve to determine the value we elicit.  In every way performance plays into the equation of excellence. In some cases the words are even interchangeable.

Performance [per-fawr-muh ns]: noun 7. the manner in which or the efficiency with which something reacts or fulfills its intended purpose. Dictionary.com.

For the first 12 years of my relationship with God, the emphasis of my life in Christ was focused on what you could call “religious” performance.  Whether it was about reading/memorizing more scripture, spending more time in prayer, or how well I managed my interactions with others, it was a matter of my personal effort.  But then, during a season of deep transition, I perceived the Lord highlighting the following verse of scripture to me over and over again…

He who says he abides in Him ought Himself also to walk just the way he walked.
– 1 John 2:6

In that season of transition, it was like this verse pursued me for months.  What first stood out is the word “abides.” I had invested years prior to that point seeking to understand and live out an “abiding” lifestyle.  Chapters like John 14 and 15 were foundational in my pursuit to abide. During those days, it was on a walk with the Lord early one morning that I perceived a key to abiding that I hadn’t recognized before…

Do you not believe that I am in the Father and the Father in Me?  The words that I speak to you I do not speak on my own authority, but the Father who dwells (abides) in Me does the works.  – John 14:10

Talk about performance.  If God was actually the one “performing” the works, how excellent could that be?  I don’t imagine it could be any more excellent. The more I pondered the Truth of the functionality of Jesus and His Father in that level of collaboration, the clearer it became to me that all the works of God were created beforehand that we (as with Jesus) were to walk in them…

For we are His workmanship created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them. – Ephesians 2:10

TALK THE TALK, WALK THE WALK

Jesus was actually the Word of God made manifest on the earth (John 1).  So when He walked out His days of ministry, He was actually the walking Word of God.  He walked into the words and works that had been pre-established for Him. This, I believe, is a key understanding how to walk in the Excellence of Christ. A key to daily living from the Rest the Lord has promised us that, itself, fulfills the Works prepared for us (see Hebrews 3 & 4).  This, I believe, is living in “excellence.”

Remember the definition of “excellent” is “very good of its kind”?  If in truth, we are of His kind, the way to be “very good” is to walk out the life we have been given as Jesus walked out His…by speaking words of the Father’s authority and letting Him do the works.

This is the ultimate expression of phrase “Walk the Talk.”  Let us now learn the abiding nature of Christ in all our work, that His works may fulfill His purposes in, through and around us.  To God be the Glory.

Originally published: https://nc-c3.org/2018/04/17/walk-the-talk/

Created As Community

Texts & Topics

02.06.18 Created For Community.png

No man is an island, entire of itself; every man is a piece of the continent, a part of the main; if a clod be washed away by the sea, Europe is the less, as well as if a promontory were, as well as if a manor of thy friend’s or of thine own were; any man’s death diminishes me, because I am involved in mankind, and therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls; it tolls for thee.
–  John Donne, MEDITATION XVII, Devotions upon Emergent Occasions (1572-1631)

For me, January 1994 began in the bitter cold of a Chicago winter.  The windchill that year would eventually hit -74 degrees by the time I decided to move to the much more temperate climate of Charlotte, NC.  But the weather was just a small motivating factor in the major life decision I was about to make.

At that point in time I was about 2-½ years out of college, had some solid “real world” work experience under my belt and, in ways I couldn’t recognize, was deeply searching.  Searching for something I didn’t know or understand.  Searching for truth, or at least some evidence that there may actually be a “constant” in my world.  Perhaps some foundation that if I drilled down far enough, may help me begin to understand the Purpose of life.

In the midst of my search, it began to be apparent that someOne was searching for me.

A couple months earlier I had woken up to thoughts that seemed to be originating from some source other than me.  These thoughts left a deep impression upon me that “I needed to go to church, it was time to go to church.”  It was quite a surprising consideration because I hadn’t been to church in years apart from an occasional holiday.

Later that week, again to my surprise, I found myself in an encounter with two “born again” businessmen from two different states that didn’t know each other.  We had just met each other over a business opportunity.  By the time the conversation was over, they both encouraged me to visit Willow Creek Community Church in the Chicago-land area.  It didn’t take long before I found myself attending weekly.  The Truth of God’s word being communicated in those worship services began to “get all up in my business,” so to speak.

During the first few months I attended church I began to question my current status in life.  I was living in Chicago with the closest family member several hours away.  I had many friends that I enjoyed being with but was aware that my fun-loving lifestyle was less than healthy.  My main frustration centered around the fact that even after a couple years of operating as a “grown up” I still had no clearer understanding of who I was or why I was on earth than I did when I had started college years earlier.  Finally, in a phone conversation with my mother who was living in Charlotte, I began sharing my concerns about my lack of clarity surrounding my life, personally and professionally.  She encouraged me to consider moving to Charlotte and re-calibrate.  In response to her suggestion I heard myself say “I can’t do that.”  To which she said “I know, I know, you always have to do it on your own.”  Those words instantly began to haunt me.  Much to my chagrin, she was right, I had somehow developed a belief system that told me I couldn’t depend on anyone or anything…I had to make it all happen myself.

I could hardly sleep that night and through the late hours I pondered my “self made man” mindset.  I began to challenge my current way of thinking.  Through a fog of thoughts a clear memory started to shine through.  It was some poem I had studied in my Senior year of high school English class.  I kept hearing one line over and over, ”No man is an island…no man is an island…no man is an island.”  At the time I couldn’t remember the author of the poem or the majority of it’s words, but the writer’s intent was not escaping me…not one bit.  An obvious reality began to emerge.  There are billions of people on this planet.  I am not alone nor am I designed to “make it” in this world apart from the help of others.  Within weeks I was packed and on my way to be near family for a fresh start in Charlotte.  Within a year I met Jesus Christ and began the process of surrendering to a Spirit-led life.

ELOHIM IS COMMUNITY

Years after my conversion I was in a season of fasting and prayerful pursuit.  I was leaning into God with questions about why we had not yet seen the level of “promises fulfilled” that we read about in the scriptures.  I knew several people in deep pursuit of God’s “fullness” but it seemed to be elusive to us all.  And then, driving home one night after a prayer meeting, I received the following understanding from the Lord…

Just like the Israelites crossing over from the wilderness to the Promised Land together, we also will not cross over into the Abundant Life promised to us as “individuals”, but as a “Community” (the Body of Christ). The Kingdom of God is a team sport.

Even God’s name proclaims His priority of community…

In the beginning ELOHIM created the heavens and the earth.
Genesis 1:1

Elohim is a plural form of the name of God.  It implies that though God is indeed One (singular), He is also the Godhead (plural) – Father, Son & Holy Spirit – and exists in constant, eternal community.  Through the use of this reference to God in the very first verse of the entire Bible we are made aware of God’s communal nature and begin to see that when we were created in His image, we were “Created as Community.”

Therefore, now that the fullness of time has come for the Christian community to function as One, let us seek the Lord together for the full revelation of His intended Community.

Originally posted at: https://nc-c3.org/2018/02/06/created-as-community/

The Kingdom, WITHIN

Texts & Topics
18.01.09 The Kingdom Within.png

Aliens, these people could be aliens! That was an actual humorous thought occurring in my mind as I sat there in the huge conference room at the base of a major hotel located on the Northside of Atlanta.  It was January 2007 and I was attending my first conference focused on God being involved in our work life.  Though I had been walking with the Lord for 12 years at that point, and attending a biblically-based Spirit-led church, God-at-work was a brand-new concept to me.  In that gathering, for 3 days I listened to leaders operating in various areas of society (Business, Government, Entertainment, Family, etc.) sharing stories of real experiences involving the Power of the “Kingdom of God” in all aspects of their lives, including professionally.

After facing the reality that I may not be “in Kansas anymore,“ I figured I better consult my “Owner’s Manual” immediately to see how these ideas aligned with the Word of God.  I had my Bible with me and I began to take a fresh look at the Gospels to match in real-time what I was hearing from the speakers.

I didn’t even get out of the first book of the New Testament before I realized that all Jesus was talking about was this “Kingdom of God”.  In fact, in the book of Matthew the Kingdom of God is referred to over 50 times.  Somehow I had overlooked this for years.  It was beginning to look like the “point” of the Lord’s Gospel was this Kingdom.

But it was in the book of Luke where Jesus‘s words launched the full-scale assault upon my paradigm…

The Coming Kingdom
Now when He was asked by the Pharisees when the kingdom of God would come, He answered them and said, “The Kingdom of God does not come with observation;” nor will they say, “See here!” or “See there!” For indeed, “the Kingdom of God is within you.”
Luke 17:20-21

Within you?!  What does that even mean? How does that work? And the questions began to stack up my mind.

A NEW DAY

Over the years following that earth-shattering encounter in Atlanta, I traveled the globe and discovered the simple Truth that the Treasure I had been seeking over the course of my life, had been hidden inside of me and other people all over the earth.  For too long we have been looking up and around for the Kingdom of God. The Kingdom isn’t coming TO us…that has already been accomplished.  It is now coming THROUGH us. As we grasp this truth of the Gospel of the Kingdom, we will see the manifestation of what Jesus was referring to in these words…

The Parable of the Leaven
Another parable He spoke to them: “The kingdom of heaven is like leaven, which a woman took and hid in three measures of meal till it was all leavened.”
Matthew 13:33

The more we become this Truth of the Gospel of the Kingdom, we will see the “leaven” of the Kingdom begin to work into every area of our being. Eventually, the leaven will move into every area of our lives as it appropriately, powerfully impacts the people and environment around us.

For many of us, our day and age has been considered to be what the Bible refers to as the “last days”.  Regarding God’s plan for this era there are many details we can spend our lives disputing.  What Believers can know for sure, is that for 2,000 years the Kingdom of God has been, literally, right under our noses; it had been deposited within our earthen vessels.  The question we each need to answer daily is…

What are we going to do with it?

Originally posted at: https://nc-c3.org/2018/01/09/the-kingdom-within/

REST Promises

Rest Works

In the sixth year of my walk with Christ, after an extended period of heavily pursuing the Lord, I stumbled into a doorway of encounter that would change the course of my life. One evening, the Creator of the universe led me into the Word and began to reveal a truth new to me. As a revelation unfolded, a process emerged that was hidden in the writings of one of His prophets from long ago. It was a process God leads His people through to enter into what He refers to as His Rest.

In this encounter, the Holy Spirit guided me to Isaiah 30. The scriptures became quickly illuminated in my vision and I saw the doorway to this new truth framed around a single verse which reads, “For thus says the Lord God, the Holy One of Israel: ‘In returning and rest you shall be saved; In quietness and confidence shall be your strength…’” (v.15).

After meditating on this verse it became much more than a suggestion or casual invitation from the Lord. The levity of it began to sink in as the Lord emphasized that I must enter His rest at any cost. In spite of that, the conclusion of verse 15 reveals our natural human default. It says, “But you would not…” (v.15). This was me and I knew it.

Like the first generation of Israelites who were delivered out of Egypt and failed to receive their inheritance of the Promised Land, I had been unknowingly refusing God. As a Father, the Lord steadily showed me that verse 16 explained the nature of my resistance. The verse captures an exchange between God and the resistant man: “And you said, ‘No, for we will flee on horses’— Therefore you shall flee! And, ‘We will ride on swift horses’— Therefore those who pursue you shall be swift!” (v.16).

God faithfully warns of the impact of man’s direct refusal to return and rest. Instead of trust and obedience, we choose the strength of our own flesh. Our flesh is represented by the horses, a beast of the earth and means of escape that leaves us vulnerable to the strength and threat of the enemy.

What the Lord was impressing upon me was a grave truth that, left ignored, would keep me from His promises. As the scriptures continued to take shape in my vision, it became clear that God would make sure, despite my resistance, that I would arrive at His destination of Rest. I would come to the place of surrender described in verse 17, like the “pole on top of a mountain and as a banner on a hill.” In fact, He was waiting for me to get there…

“Therefore the Lord will wait, that He may be gracious to you; And therefore He will be exalted, that He may have mercy on you. For the Lord is a God of justice; Blessed are all those who wait for Him” (v.18).

The revelation became simple in this: God was waiting for me to learn to wait on Him. Yet, as God showed me what the process of entering His Rest really means, as the scriptures state and like most self-preserving people, I fled. I ran and ran and ran some more. In my mind I could obtain God’s promises through church activity, spiritual disciplines, professional success, and the like. Nevertheless, despite my efforts, God’s intention, lesson, and process prevailed. Over time my resistance cost me everything I had been working out of my own strength to save. Though I thought I was following God’s plan, I lost my job, home, and family. All but empty handed, I waved my white flag of concession before the Lord and began to authentically wait on Him.

Returning to God was the first step in the process. Upon returning, His Rest divinely followed. I learned that continually returning, in repentance, was the beginning of Rest. In ever-present sanctification the Lord addressed what I truly believed about Him and His Rest. Did I believe what Rest promised? Would Rest pay the bills? Would Rest take care of my family? Did Rest make me lazy? Experience would have to answer these questions, and it did.

As surrender to His Rest became my modus operandi, the Lord began answering my questions, restoring my life, and fulfilling His promises. The process of entering His Rest became manifest through my very life.
Experiencing this process and believing the scriptures, however, resulted in a new set of questions. Was this Rest for all His children? Was Rest the only path to His promises? What does this revelation mean for the Body of Christ in these latter days?

The answers to these questions continue to unfold and will be written about for years to come. Still, because God reveals His plans for our lives and His Kingdom to the prophets, we discover His clear intentionality with the Isaiah 30 process. I now see that, as it happened for me, the Lord will make sure His Beloved will corporately enter His Rest…

“For the people shall dwell in Zion at Jerusalem; You shall weep no more. He will be very gracious to you at the sound of your cry; When He hears it, He will answer you” (v.19).

These are corporate, heavenly promises. They are echoed in Paul’s writings as well. In Hebrews 4:9-10 Paul writes, “There remains therefore a rest for the people of God. For he who has entered His rest has himself also ceased from his works as God did from His.” Confidently, Paul illustrates the simple, divine nature of Rest. Man as the reflective image of God manifests Him in Rest.

Ceasing from our works positions us to receive the promises and inheritance forfeited by generations past and many presently. However, let me emphasize that entering His Rest means no less than full and ongoing death to self. It is not a matter of keeping a weekly Sabbath, adopting a daily devotional, or even tithing a full ten percent. Entering His Rest is a full yielding of body, soul, and spirit to the Holy One of Israel in each and every single moment of life.

In the most authentic sense possible, Rest depends on returning to God through death to self. In this, submission to the Kingdom laws of love and faith become the heart posture necessary to receive the fullness of God in His promises.

I have discovered that the beauty found in believing God for Rest is a promise fulfilled in and of itself. Belief is the promise of Rest for all God’s people. Yet, like the infinite nature of God’s character, belief for Rest is just the beginning. Through Rest we find ALL promises. In light of this revelation, I invite you to pursue the Rest of God, the fullness of Him that you have yet to encounter. Wherever you are with God, ask Him for belief, labor to enter His Rest, and fear that His Rest is something you never overlook…

“Therefore, since a promise remains of entering His rest, let us fear lest any of you seem to have come short of it.” Hebrews 4:1

Originally published in KCIA Newsletter 10.13.16.