Five Wagons of Revival

wagonofrevivalWhen I face certain kinds of spiritual attack I have learned to go on the offensive. I lay in bed early one morning prior to speaking in a conference feeling oppressed and tired even after a good nights sleep. I knew I needed to move in faith so I began to declare aloud parts of Psalm 91: ‘He who dwells in the secret place of the Most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty, whose power no evil foe can withstand! I will say of the Lord, He is my refuge, He is my fortress, my God, on Him will I lean and rely, and in Him will I confidently trust! Surely then He shall deliver me from the snare of the fowler and from the perilous pestilence. He shall cover me with His feathers, and under His wings I shall take refuge; His truth shall be my shield and buckler.’

The power of the word of God is released when believed and spoken! As I proclaimed these vital verses the dunamis of God began strengthening my soul. So I did it again with renewed strength and more conviction.

‘He who dwells in the secret place of the Most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty, whose power no evil foe can withstand! I will say of the Lord, He is my refuge, He is my fortress, my God, on Him will I lean and rely, and in Him will I confidently trust! Surely then He shall deliver me from the snare of the fowler and from the perilous pestilence. He shall cover me with His feathers, and under His wings I shall take refuge; His truth shall be my shield and buckler.’

“Suddenly, I saw in the top of my hotel room a type of open spiritual passageway. I knew instinctively that I could leap into it and be carried into the realm of the heavens. So I did. At lightening speed I zoomed through the atmospheric realm of the prince of the power of the air. I heard demonic voices saying, ‘Hey, you can’t come through here!’ I laughed knowing their attempts to stop me were in vain. I was going and that was that!

“I landed in the heavens in a shadow like place under a huge dark wing at least 12’0” tall. Tennis ball size and larger precious stones beyond description exuded from the enormous wing. Gold and silver particles and other precious metals were coming out of the wing. I had never seen anything like it before. I was confused. At first I didn’t understand why the place was so dark. I thought angel’s wings would be white, but then I realized something. Had I not just boldly proclaimed that I would dwell in the secret place of the Most High and abide under the shadow of the Almighty? Had I not declared that He would deliver me from the snare of the fowler, you know, the bird catcher? That’s quite a promise for a man named Robin! Had I not emphatically proclaimed; ‘He shall cover me with His feathers, and under His wings I shall take refuge?’ I was not under a massive angel’s wing but had found refuge under the very wing of the Great Eagle, the One of whom I had been proclaiming.” 

Five Supernatural Wagons

In that place the Lord authorized me to bring back and release five wagons of divine substance. The first one was a wagon called ‘Deliverance from Deserved Consequences’. The second wagon was called ‘Deliverance from Criticism and the Critical Spirit’. The third wagon was called ‘Hope’. The fourth wagon was called ‘Provision’. The fifth wagon was called ‘New Vision for the United States’.

Interpretation and Meaning of the Wagons

One characteristic of this kind of spiritual encounter is that you instinctively know things. I knew I would find the significance and understanding of the wagons in the story of the amazing restoration of Joseph to his father Jacob and his brothers recorded in Genesis 45. A significant part of the restoration occurred because of wagons Joseph sent to his father to prove he was alive.

“And Joseph sent to his father these things: ten donkeys loaded with the good things of Egypt, and ten female donkeys loaded with grain, bread, and food for his father and for the journey” (Genesis 45: 23).

 “Then they went up out of Egypt, and came to the land of Canaan to Jacob their father. And they told him, saying, ‘Joseph is still alive, and he is governor over all the land of Egypt.’ And Jacob’s heart stood still, because he did not believe them”.

“But when they told him all the words which Joseph had said to them, and when he saw the wagons which Joseph had sent to carry him, the spirit of Jacob their father revived” (Genesis 45:25-27, italics mine).

Joseph’s words and Joseph’s wagons had this effect on his father: ‘The spirit of Jacob their father revived’. That is the first time the word ‘revive’ is used in the Bible. In the context of this encounter it speaks volumes. These 5 wagons, when activated, have the potential to release revival and restoration. Joseph is the clearest type of the Lord Jesus in the whole Old Testament. Some students of the scripture had found over 80 similarities between the two. For instance, the disciples thought Jesus was dead, but He was alive and Lord of All. For 22 years Joseph’s family thought he was dead. He was not only ‘not dead’ but alive and lord of all Egypt.

“Our hearts and this generation will revive when we see the amazing resources of heaven that Christ Jesus has provided for the world as represented by these five wagons!

Wagon #1

The first wagon was called Deliverance from Deserved Consequences. Jesus loves people so much that He wants to set them free from their bad choices and decisions. Perhaps you did the wrong thing, you made the wrong choice, yes, you sinned –but, Jesus wants to set you free from what you deserve and the consequences of your actions.

Wagon #2

“The second wagon was called Deliverance from Criticism and the Critical Spirit! Jesus can set wounded people free from the effects of people’s criticisms to become who He says they are. That wagon is also intended to deliver us from being critical. Remember, Jesus also warned that we would be judged in direct proportion to our condemnation of others.

Wagon #3

The third wagon was called Provision. God has provided for the needs and desires of His people. It’s all in heaven. In Matthew 6:10 Jesus taught us to pray, ‘Your Kingdom come in earth as it is in heaven,’ and meant that what happens in heaven should happen on earth. There are no poor people in heaven, no sick, no depressed either! We can access all that heaven contains.

Wagon #4

“The fourth was a wagon called Hope. Hope is an indispensible commodity. It is the foundation for faith, for ‘faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen” (Hebrews 11:1). The Apostle Paul said that hope anchors our soul. Hope secures our entire mental welfare and energizes our life of faith! Hopelessness is the fruit of believing lies. Jesus said we would know the truth and the truth would set us free. One who accurately knows Jesus and believes the truth is filled with a hope that cannot be extinguished!

Wagon # 5

The fifth wagon is called ‘New Vision for the United States’. In the story of Joseph Pharaoh provided the very best place in all of Egypt for them called Goshen which means ‘drawing near.’  James 4:8 says, ‘Draw near to God and He will draw near to you.’ If our nation will draw near to God, He will draw near to us and change our nation! I believe that is going to happen in the United States. We are on the verge of another Great Spiritual Awakening that shall once again reshape our nation.

Activating the Five Wagons

Why were these heavenly blessings in wagons? Wagons are pulled by something called ‘the tongue.’ You must properly use your tongue to access what’s in them. The wagons I saw were huge ancient wooden ones with wheels having big wooden spokes. You could say they were ‘spoken’ wheels. How we use our tongue and our spoken words are so important:

‘Death and life are in the power of the tongue, and those who love it will eat its fruit’ (Proverbs 18:21).

 ‘For with the heart man believes unto righteousness and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation’ (Romans 10:10).

Each of us may access the contents of these heavenly wagons by believing in the existence of their substance and speaking their reality by an agreement of faith. Jesus has so much for us. The reviving of our nation is His intention. Lay hold of these five wagons and see what happens in your life. The time is now.

 

Back to the Future: The Change at Hand

Unknown            We are in the initial stages of another great American spiritual awakening. We are going 'back to the future'. What is coming will look like what has come before but with multiplied intensity. By that I mean the coming outpouring of the Holy Spirit will contain characteristics of at least three other major revival eras; 1904 in Wales, 1947 in the USA and Canada, and 1951 in Argentina. God communicates with us in many ways. He may do so through prophetic experiences, normal occurrences containing prophetic meaning. I had two such experiences in November, 2005 when the Lord drew my attention to three different years -1904, 1947, and 1951, years of major spiritual outpouring in several nations.

The first experience involved my first smart phone, a Treo Personal Digital Assistant (PDA), a computer-driven telephone with a scheduling calendar. The second experience occurred the next day when I found two scarce coins in my change. As I shall explain, I concluded from these experiences that a new major wave of revival encounters with the Lord is eminent.

My First Smart Phone

Once I turned on my new Treo smart phone to check my schedule and discovered that the calendar had reverted back to 1904. I reset the PDA calendar to 2005, turned it off and back on but once again it reverted to 1904. I thought my phone was broken and again reset it to 2005. Then I realized the Lord might be trying to get my attention. I turned the PDA off and on once more. The correct calendar year returned and never again reverted to 1904 or any other incorrect year. The Lord revealed that He intended to turn back the calendar to 1904 in some way. I gained more understanding after the second experience.

Two Wheat Pennies

The next day I found two wheat pennies in my change from a local restaurant, a 1947 and a 1951. Wheat pennies, only made from 1909 to 1958, displayed two ears of wheat with the words “one cent” stamped between them. Across the top is written E Pluribus Unum, Latin for “Out of Many, One,” referring to the U.S.being one nation of many states. The profile of Abraham Lincoln dominates the front side of the coin. Finding one wheat penny would be unusual, but finding two at the same time is quite rare. Again, the Lord was speaking to me, now about two other years, 1947 and 1951. I concluded these three years had something of significance in common and held prophetic meaning for us today. 

The Message of the Trēo Telephone: My PDA

Telephones obviously speak of communication. The initials PDA can also refer, not just to a Personal Digital Assistant but to ‘public displays of affection’. That the Lord used my phone as a means of prophetic revelation indicated to me how clearly He wanted to ‘communicate’ with me. He had my number! I began to realize that He was telling me that He wants again to communicate His love publicly, His public displays of affection.

The name Trēo (trio) describes the three major functions of the device: telephone, internet, scheduler/calendar, speaks of the trinity, –Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, and coincides with the three years in consideration: 1904, 1947, and 1951. What is significant about and common to those three years? Each of them were years of major revival —in Wales in 1904, in the U.S. and Canada in 1947, and in Argentina in 1951.

Why would the Lord speak to me through a computerized calendar that reverted to 1904? Because we are going back to the future! Our future will look like their past. That which happened in 1904, 1947, and 1951 will be repeated in our time. Why would The Lord speak to me through the change in my hand? It is because a major spiritual change is at hand. What is upon us is a spiritual season that will contain the characteristics and power God poured out in all three of those revivals at the same time.

The Sign of the Wheat Pennies 

            The Lincoln wheat pennies part of the revelation contains characteristics of the revival that we can expect. The gospel will be proclaimed in effective power typified by Abraham Lincoln, who on January 1, 1863 issued the Emancipation Proclamation stating:

“all persons held as slaves within any State…shall be… thenceforward, and forever free; and the Executive Government of the United States, including the military and naval authority thereof, will recognize and maintain the freedom of such persons.”

Lincoln was not so much freeing the slaves as he was proclaiming the fact of their freedom. The gospel proclaims freedom as well, but of a different sort. It maintains that the death, burial, and resurrection of the Lord Jesus has set all men free, though many don't know it or believe it:

      Stand fast therefore in the liberty by which Christ has made us free, and do not be entangled again with a yoke of bondage (Galatians 5:1, italics mine).

      For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has made me free from the law of sin and death (Romans 8:2, italics mine).

Over 200,000 enslaved black men joined the Union Armed Forces. The emancipated became emancipators. This is a picture of the coming harvest of souls, where the evangelized become those who evangelize others.

Wheat Speaks of Harvest

The wheat pictured on the pennies speaks of a harvest of souls. In John 4 when Jesus ministered to the Samaritan woman at Jacob's well He compared a field white to harvest to a group of people ready to be evangelized.

      “Do you not say, 'There are still four months and then comes the harvest'? Behold, I say to you, lift up your eyes and look at the fields, for they are already white for harvest! (John 4:35).

Many Samaritans were harvested by believing, not only in the testimony of the woman He helped, but in His own words as well. Just as the wheat pennies have “one cent” set between them, many will be ‘ones sent’ into the harvest in the coming days. This kind of evangelism was common in the 1904 Welsh Revival, when over 100,000 souls were saved in a nine month period. By 1954, in the Argentine Revival, one single meeting filled a soccer stadium in Buenos Aires with over 180,000 people heard the gospel. In like manner, during the revivals of the late 1940’s and early1950s, Oral Roberts and Jack Coe traveled the nation attracting thousands to their healing meetings held in huge tents.

A New Unity

The inscription on the back of the coin, E Pluribus Unum meaning “Out of Many, One,” is a prophetic sign that segments of the body of Christ will enter into a new level of unity in the midst of this gathering of souls. New alliances and allegiances will be formed in order to harvest the numbers that the Lord is calling in.

Characteristics of the Welsh Revival of 1904 

Evan Roberts spearheaded the move of the Spirit of God in Wales in 1904 characterized by spontaneous prayer, public confession of sin, powerful testimonies, and Spirit-led meetings and worship that changed Welsh society. Policeman lost their jobs as the crime level dropped drastically, dance halls and bars shut down from the lack of customers, and soccer matches were cancelled from lack of interest.

1947 Revival in North America

In 1947, a significant revival began in North America known two ways, as the Healing Revival and as the Latter Rain Revival. Many trace the beginning of this post World War II season of spiritual increase to a meeting in Vancouver, B.C., held by a humble, simple preacher named William Branham, a Baptist who had an unusual word of knowledge and healing ministry.

Signs, wonders, healings, and miracles characterized this outpouring. God used Branham’s remarkable gift to release faith and healing in an incredible way. His ministry and that of Oral Roberts encouraged many other ministers who launched effective healing ministries, too.

By 1948, the Healing Revival had spread as a parallel stream, known as “The Latter Rain Revival,” which contained different emphases, although supernatural healings and signs and wonders were part of it. Being convinced that Christianity had eroded over the ages the leaders emphasized restoration of the five-fold ministry listed in Ephesians 4:11, the unity of the body of Christ, the laying on of hands for the impartation of spiritual gifts, personal prophecy, and the recovery of true worship typified by David’s Tabernacle in the Old Testament.

1951 Argentine Revival

The 1951 wheat penny speaks of the move of God that began in June of 1951 in a small town outside of Buenos Aires, Argentina, called City Bell. At a small Bible Institute, an angel visited a young student who had been ardently seeking the Lord for weeks. The student, named Alex, was praying in a dark field in the starlit early morning hours, when an angel approached him in an ever-increasing light. The angel engulfed the young man with a powerful presence of the Lord that contained God’s love, but also an overwhelming sense of the fear of the Lord. Young Alex fled in terror, running to the Bible School dormitory, only to find the doors locked. He banged on the doors until he was let in, thinking he would escape the awesome sense of terror. But the angel went into the dormitory with him and soon all the students awoke from the overpowering Presence that followed him in.

So strong was the fear of the Lord that the students instantly began to repent for their sins. The next morning, a time of prayer replaced regularly scheduled classes. In great expectation, the students met in a hushed and tearful silence as they waited on the Lord. Then the angelic presence stood by the young student, Alex. In a spiritual encounter, the angel took young Alex in the spirit to many cities around the world. The young man from the jungles of the Chaco region had but a primary school education and could not have known of the many, many cities and nations that he called out as the angel gave him revelation. For eight hours, he named place after place in the language of the nation in which he traveled. The angel promised him that the Lord would visit each of them before His return.

Other times, the angel came and gave prophetic messages recorded by some of the students. The prayer meeting continued for four months, characterized by deep repentance and much weeping. The students of the Bible Institute continuously prayed for mercy for their nation, asking for forgiveness for their national sins. When one particular student prayed, he wept for hours leaning up against a wall of plaster. When he finished, often six or eight hours later, his tears would have formed a puddle in the floor after running down the wall. This continued day after day.

By September, the sorrow turned to laughter and the group understood that their prayers had been answered. Prophecies came speaking of God filling large venues.

Through a series of remarkable events, Tommy Hicks, an American evangelist fueled with a God-given vision for Argentina, met Juan Peron, the Argentine President who was healed of a serious skin condition after Hicks prayed for him. Peron gave Hicks access to radio and the press, as well as the largest stadium in the nation. By 1954, 25,000, and then 180,000 people attended single gospel meetings in the nation. The numerical growth of the church in Argentina exploded.

Back to the Future

What shall our future look like? Like Wales in 1904, the U.S. and Canada in 1947, and Argentina in 1951... with repentance and salvation making a huge impact ...with signs and wonders and widespread healing being poured out ...with many angelic visitations and multiplied thousands gathering in huge arenas to hear the gospel. The change is at hand.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Blank Check for Revival

amos913check2In a most unusual way the Lord used the last five verses of Amos chapter 9 to convince me of the impending revival in America.             “On that day I will raise up the tabernacle of David, which has fallen down, and repair its damages: I raise up its ruins, and rebuild it as in the days of old:

            “That they may possess the remnant of Edom, and all the Gentiles who are called by My name,” says the Lord who does this thing. 

            "Behold, the days are coming," says the Lord, "When the plowman shall overtake the reaper, And the treader of grapes him who sows seed; The mountains shall drip with sweet wine, And all the hills shall flow with it.”

            “I will bring back the captives of My people Israel; They shall build the waste cities and inhabit them; They shall plant vineyards and drink wine from them; They shall also make gardens and eat fruit from them.”

            “I will plant them in their land, and no longer shall they be pulled up from the land I have given them,” says the Lord your God (Amos 9:11-15).

In this short passage God revealed to me the vehicle, the target, the assurance, the method, the historic sign, and the timing of the outpouring.  The vehicle He will use is David’s restored tabernacle, groups of people devoted to worship with the manifest presence of God in their midst. The targets are the Gentiles and the historic enemies of Israel like Edom, Esau’s offspring. He provides assurance with these expressions of His intent; ‘On that day I will’, ‘Behold the days are coming’, ‘I will bring back’, ‘They shall build’, ‘They shall plant’, ‘They shall make’, and ‘I will plant them’. The method is spiritual intoxication. The mountains, a type of the nations, shall drip with the intoxicating new wine, like the early disciples at Pentecost. The historic sign and the timing of the outpouring is the generation when Jewish people are restored to their ancient homeland. In 1948 the impossible happened. Israel became a nation again after almost 2,000 years. The prophetic clock of the end-time outpouring began ticking then!

A Prophetic Sign

I had grown up in an era and in a denomination that never mentioned revival and didn’t believe the miraculous power of God was still available. I did not have a sound foundation for believing in an end time revival. In that state of mind the Lord revealed to me these prophetic insights from Amos 9 and began to insist that I preach them. It was a problem. I remember that early Sunday morning walking the block and speaking to the Lord about my reluctance to preach the outpouring. As I rounded the last turn heading home the Lord suddenly spoke to me: “Pick up that piece of paper.” I stooped to pick it up and saw that it was a partially torn check made out to a church. It was check #913!( See the actual check above.) The Lord began telling me that the check was prophetic sign to the church. He had written a blank check for revival out of Amos 9:13. The devil had attempted to destroy it, but the money was still in the bank. It occurred to me that a check is also called a promissory note. The check isn’t the money, it represents the existence and promise of the money. God’s promise is still good even if it has been torn, tattered, and assaulted by the enemy and assailed by many in unbelief.

Prophetic Signs

The Bible clearly shows that God uses prophetic signs to reveal Himself and His plans, even to normal people. The rainbow, circumcision, the diseases in Moses hands, the plagues in Egypt, the Passover blood on the doorposts, Isaiah walking naked for three years, the institution of the Sabbath, and others, the Bible calls signs and are one of God’s modes of communication. Prophetic signs are one of the least appreciated and often maligned vehicles of God’s communication to us. I understand why. Everything doesn't have prophetic meaning that someone hears or feels or sees or thinks. Also, misinterpretation and misapplication of prophetic things in the past have caused a lot of confusion, providing opportunity for much criticism of the prophetic and people associated with it. And face it. Some prophetic people (so called) are just goofy.

Note the Father’s initial introduction of His Son to the world:

            “Then the angel said to them, "Do not be afraid, for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy which will be to all people. For there is born to you this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. And this will be the sign to you: You will find a Babe wrapped in swaddling cloths, lying in a manger" (Luke 2:10-12, italics mine).

This will be a sign to you: You will find a babe wrapped in rags lying in the trough of a cattle feeder (McMillan Unauthorized Translation). A bit out of the ordinary wouldn’t you say? Yet, it pleased God to introduce Jesus in just this way. This sign pointed to the basic humility of our Heavenly Father and to our need for the same kind of humility if we are to know Him better.

This short defense of prophetic signs is an attempt to help some who have dismissed such things out of hand, and by so doing missed major encouragement and faith building communications from God. I have often needed encouragement and more faith and didn’t particularly care where or how they came.

As I did, you may have trouble believing in a final large-scale harvest in which millions are swept into the kingdom. That doesn’t mean it isn’t so. There are verses indicating the end of the age will be dark and desperate, but there are other ones that ‘shed light’ on something else much more positive. Both elements will exist at the same time. Both the old and new testaments affirm that. In Matthew 13:39 Jesus typified the end of the age as a harvest; “the harvest is the end of the age’, when good and bad will come to maturity and be harvested together. Isaiah prophesied a similar scenario:

“Arise, shine; For your light has come! And the glory of the Lord is risen upon you. For behold, the darkness shall cover the earth, And deep darkness the people; But the Lord will arise over you, And His glory will be seen upon you. The Gentiles shall come to your light, And kings to the brightness of  your rising" (Isaiah 60:1-3).

The phrase 'Gentiles shall come to your light' sets the stage of the fulfillment of this prophecy in our age, the age of the gospel. We haven’t yet seen the fullness of the glory arising upon us, or any other generation. Habbakuk said, For the earth will be filled With the knowledge of the glory of the Lord, as the waters cover the sea” (Habakkuk 2:14). Nor have “we all come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a perfect man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ” (Ephesians 4:13), nor do we find in the earth yet ‘a glorious church, not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing, but that she should be holy and without blemish’ (Ephesians 5:27). These verses too must be fulfilled before the end comes

The Harvest

God has a plan for a world wide harvest of unprecedented magnitude. Even conservative Bible scholars have seen it. Here is commentary on Amos 9:13 from Keil & Delitzsch:

 " Even while one is engaged in plowing the land for the sowing, the other will already be able to cut ripe corn; so quickly will the corn grow and ripen. And the treading of the grapes will last to the sowing-time, so abundant will the vintage be. The second half of the verse is taken from Joel 4:18 ; and according to this passage, the melting of the hills is to be understood as dissolving into streams of milk, new wine, and honey, in which the prophet had the description of the promised land as a land flowing with milk and honey (Exodus 3:8, etc.) floating before his mind."

            "Behold, the days are coming," says the Lord, "When the plowman shall overtake the reaper, And the treader of grapes him who sows seed; The mountains shall drip with sweet wine, And all the hills shall flow with it” (Amos 9:13).

Yes, the days are coming!

 

It's Not Too Late

images-1The Apostle Paul -Our Example

 "Paul, a bondservant of Jesus Christ, called to be an apostle, separated to the gospel of God..." (Romans 1:1).
 
Paul had an amazing calling and that calling was an important part of his identity. How long did he have that calling and how long did it take him to discover his full identity? Lets read on.

"But when He, Who had chosen and set me apart [even] before I was born and had called me by His grace (His undeserved favor and blessing), saw fit and was pleased to reveal (unveil, disclose) His Son within me so that I might proclaim Him among the Gentiles (the non-Jewish world) as the glad tidings (Gospel), immediately I did not confer with flesh and blood [did not consult or counsel with any frail human being or communicate with anyone] (Galatians 1:15 Amplified Translation).

According to the preceding verses we discover Paul was called to be an apostle before he was born. He didn’t know who he was until Jesus knocked him from his horse on the Damascus road.  Up to that point he had done a lot of things, zealous, damaging, radical things. But he didn't know who he was. How many are born with divine callings and have lived many years without knowing who they are? Many! Maybe even you. Ask Jesus to reveal your destiny to you. He wants to. Its not too late!

The Father, Running

prodigalJesus was the master story teller, each one woven with truth and pregnant with divine insights. Such is the tale of the two brothers pictured in Luke 15. The story first focuses on the younger brother who asks his father to give him his inheritance. In the culture of his day the community understood such a request meant he wanted his father to die! Under such cultural norms this request would greatly anger any father, would mean that the son no longer trusted his father to guide him, and would cause harm to the rest of the family. Nevertheless the father complied with the sons request. We know the outcome of the story. The son squandered his inheritance in a distant country and became a servant to a pig farmer, one of the most humiliating jobs a Jewish man could have. He became so broke and hungry that he 'would have gladly filled his stomach with the pods that the swine ate, and no one gave him anything' (Luke 15:16).

In such a state of desperation the young man decided to return home. He knew that even his father's hired servants were well fed. He determined to broker a deal with his father and see if he would make him one of his hired servants. The Bible records a most poignant picture of the heart of God: "But when he was still a great way off, his father saw him and had compassion, and ran and fell on his neck and kissed him" (Luke 15:20).

So much must be gleaned from this verse. First of all the father was vigilant to look for and anticipate his sons return, 'But when he was still a great way off, his father saw him...'. His father "ran and fell on his neck and kissed him" as well.

It was humiliating in his day for anyone over 40 years old to run in public. It just wasn't done. But love compelled the young man's father to do just that. He was concerned about the Jewish tradition called Kezazah which literally meant 'the cutting off'.  It was a custom whereby any Jewish community rejected and banished any Jew who lost his money to foreigners by meeting them on their return and breaking a clay pot at their feet symbolizing that the community rejected him forever. The father ran to secure his son before the community could wound him further.

This story of Jesus revealed His understanding of His Father's love. It wasn't that the younger son had just broken some law, or violated some custom. He had broken his father's heart. Even though he had, his father was willing to embarrass himself, over ride cultural norms, and demonstrate his great love. That's a clear picture of the love God has for us. When we turn in His direction He comes running. How great is the love of our God!

 

Being Loved

Being Loved2Have you noticed how the Apostle John often addressed those to whom he wrote. He called them 'beloved'; as in 'Beloved, let us love one another, for love is of God, and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God' (I John 4:7). Nine times in 1, 2, and 3 John he used that word. How important it is to know that you are loved. One of our primary 'job descriptions' is to 'be loved'. We are 'beloved' of God. The ability to receive love and give love is the most essential aspect of being a successful Christian. Apart from that we will never ultimately be successful in our calling or fulfill our destiny. There is no other substitute.

Henri Nouwen wrote in his book In the Name of Jesus: "Much Christian leadership is exercised by people who do not know how to develop healthy, intimate relationships and have opted for power and control instead. Many Christian empire-builders have been people unable to give love and receive love... It seems easier to be God than to love God, easier to control people than to love people, easier to own life than to love life... Jesus asks, 'Do you love me? We ask, 'Can we sit at your right hand and your left hand in the Kingdom."

A popular teaching identifies 7 Mountains of influence in the world and the importance of Christians becoming major influencers on those mountains. I agree. The message is true and essential but even if you conquer them all you will not be able to sustain or maintain those places of influence unless you have encountered in a deep and personal way the love of God. In actual fact many who have obtained great influence have done so in such ways that they have left many wounded and broken in their wake on the way to the top. They will not keep what they gained if they reproduce leaders and associates who are more motivated with power or ambition than love.

In my forty five years of Christian experience I've lived through between 10 and 12 eras of revival, renewal, or outpouring (depending upon your definition). Almost without exception those deposits of 'new wine' have been lost because of faulty wineskins. Jesus Himself declared the importance of new wineskins: "Nor do they put new wine into old wineskins, or else the wineskins break, the wine is spilled, and the wineskins are ruined. But they put new wine into new wineskins, and both are preserved" (Matthew 9:17). Many have argued that the wineskin is a governmental or an administrative issue. I feel like it is something else, although it would very definitely affect both governmental and administrative functions.

New wine speaks of the deposits of divine substance heaven pours out at different times in our experiential histories. The wineskin speaks of human relationships who experience and steward that which the Lord poured out. Losing the wine speaks of not being able to sustain, maintain, or fully enjoy that which God poured out. The fact that 'the wineskin breaks' refers to the destruction of the lives and relationships of those who participated in the outpouring.

Jesus was the original 'new wineskin'. He sustained, maintained, and successfully stewarded the 'wine' He was given when He was filled with the Holy Spirit and heard His Father say, 'This is my beloved son in whom I am well pleased'. He did so based on a loving relationship between Father and Son. He knew His Father's love, He knew how to live in it, live from it, and give it.  We must as well to be the kind of wineskins that will not break and spill what He gives us.

Hurt people hurt people. Loved people love people. As we learn to live in light of the Father's love as his sons and daughters and as we develop communities that have continued corporate encounters with that same love of God we shall be equipped to maintain and sustain the new wine.

Of all the disciples John seemed to be the one who knew best the love of God, calling himself 'the disciple whom Jesus loved' five times in his gospel. No one else did. You don't find that phrase in any other book of the New Testament. As a result of John knowing that love Jesus gave him the unique privilege and huge responsibility of caring for His mother after His death. Jesus revealed Himself  profoundly to John as is recorded in the book of Revelation, and he lived the longest of all the original disciples. It seems like that love qualified John for such honor. We too must recognize that we are 'the disciple that Jesus loved' as well. Then we shall successfully steward all that He pours out and both the wine and wineskin will be preserved, just as Jesus desired.

Let me close with this insight from the pen of the Apostle Paul: "...that the Christ might finally settle down and feel completely at home in your hearts through your faith; in love having been firmly rooted and grounded in order that you may be able to grasp with all the saints what is the breadth and width and height and depth, and to know experientially the love of the Christ which surpasses experiential knowledge in order that you may be filled up with all the fulness of God" (Ephesians 3:13 -Wuest Translation). Knowing His love is the key to all God's fulness! May we all truly 'be loved'.

 

Memorials: Who God Remembers

imagesThe first time the word 'memorial' is mentioned in the Bible it referred to the name God used to reveal Himself to Moses and the children of Israel. "Then Moses said to God, 'Indeed, when I come to the children of Israel and say to them, 'The God of your fathers has sent me to you,' and they say to me, 'What is His name?' what shall I say to them? And God said to Moses, 'I AM WHO I AM,' Thus you shall say to the children of Israel, 'I AM has sent me to you.' Moreover God said to Moses, 'Thus you shall say to the children of Israel: 'The Lord God of your fathers, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, has sent me to you. This is my name forever, and this is My memorial to all generations'" (Exodus 3:13-15).

A memorial is a reminder. It can be an engraved stone like a tombstone, a brass plaque that marks the time, place, and event of something or someone significant. It can be a religious service to remember the life of someone dear who has died. Its purpose is to remind people of something or someone of significance.

One of the New Testaments most interesting stories is of the salvation of the house of Cornelius, the Roman centurion. He was an authority figure of the oppressive Roman Empire that had imposed its power upon the people of Israel, yet his good deeds, prayers and gifts to the poor had ascended into heaven as 'a memorial' capturing the very heart and attention of God Himself. God could not do without such a Roman in His kingdom! He sent an angel to Cornelius's house instructing him to find a man named Simon Peter who spoke to him words of eternal life. His whole household was saved. God remembered Cornelius.

God wants to be remembered for God wants to be loved. The gospels record the story of a woman named Mary who poured out upon Jesus the contents of a flask of very expensive oil of spikenard, an ancient and valued perfume. Some estimate the value of it at nearly $30,000.00 in today's currency. Different gospels emphasized different aspects of what she anointed; Matthew and Mark the anointing of Jesus' head, while John emphasized the feet. Jesus Himself proclaimed that His whole body was being anointed for burial.

Some of the disciples were indignant towards Mary and 'criticized her sharply' for wasting something precious on Jesus that may have been used for the poor. Jesus came to her defense and rebuked them by saying, "Why do you trouble the woman? For she has done a good work for Me. For you have the poor with you always, but Me you do not have always. Assuredly, I say to you, wherever this gospel is preached in the whole world, what this woman has done will also be told as a memorial to her" (Matthew 26:10-13).

Once again we find the word 'memorial', but this time it is to remember the woman who placed such an extreme value on Jesus. Jesus said that her story would be told wherever 'this' gospel is preached. Not just any gospel is 'this' gospel! If Jesus is not held in extreme honor and loved in such a radical fashion then the gospel being preached is at best an incomplete one.

It is true that God remembers everyone. He has a very good memory. But what is more especially true is that He pays special attention to those who love Him. He knows who you are and He will not forget you.

The Power of Two

images-2N.T. Wright wrote of the gospels: "These are not merely antiquarian documents telling a strange story about a powerful but now long-gone moment of history. They are the moment of sunrise on a new morning, casting a strange glory over the landscape and inviting all readers to wake up, rub the sleep from their eyes, and come out to enjoy the fully dawned day and give themselves to its tasks."

The power of the personality and accomplishments of Jesus created a realm of limitless relational possibilities. The apostles in the beginning and countless others down through history have proven it.  Peter and John forged a partnership in the early days of the church that shook Jerusalem and released the power of heaven in a remarkable way. That’s the power of two. Everyone wants to be an influencer, someone effective in life and society. It is virtually impossible to do so alone. You don’t just need Jesus. You need others as well.

It is essential at times to get alone and meet with the Lord, but that by itself won’t transform society. We must bow at the wisdom of Jesus who changed society not just by His spiritual work but also through implementing that change through effective teams. (By spiritual work I refer to the supernatural/spiritual aspects of what we call redemption including the virgin birth, spotless life lived, power of His blood, His death/burial/resurrection and ours with Him. Such a mystery!) But Jesus didn’t stop at affecting things in the eternal realm; He developed relational groups of people who were equipped to function effectively in the world to release the realm of the heavens.

From the Bible we see Jesus had at least three circles of close associates -John, then Peter, James, and John, then the twelve apostles. He and John seemed to have a unique relationship. John laid his head on Jesus breast and referred to himself as ‘the disciple whom Jesus loved’. When Peter wanted to ask Jesus to identify His betrayer he asked John to ask Him. Peter could have asked himself but didn’t. The twelve apostles formed the third group of close associates. Later Jesus appointed seventy-two to precede Him into each town and village. He built teams by demonstrating and forging strong relationships.

Consider the friendship of Peter and John. It is difficult to read Acts chapters 3 & 4 without noticing how frequently their names appear together. It is as though they functioned as one person. After healing the lame man at the temple gate Beautiful the religious authorities apprehended them in an attempt to disrupt their effective ministry together. Here is their conclusion: “Now when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, and perceived that they were uneducated and untrained men, they marveled. And they realized they had been with Jesus. And seeing the man who had been healed standing with them, they could say nothing against it” (Acts 4:13-14). Peter and John forged a three fold relational cord with Jesus that could not be stopped.

After being rebuked and released by the authorithe Bible tells us; “And being let go, they went to their own company and reported all that the chief priests and elders had said to them…” (Acts 4:23). As they rehearsed with their ‘own company’ the miraculous events of the day they all prayed together. The place where they met was literally shaken and once again they were filled by the power of the Holy Spirit.

Find your own company. The Lord has just the right people to join you to. Remember the power of two.

Sowing Sorrow Reaping Joy

imagesOur tears may be one of our most valuable possessions. Let me explain. The psalmist wrote "Those who sow in tears shall reap in joy. He who continually goes forth weeping, bearing seed for sowing, shall doubtless come again with rejoicing, bringing his sheaves with him." (Psalm 126:5-6). While reading this passage I began to consider the idea of tears being like seed- when sown they have the capacity to produce great joy.

One tomato seed can become a plant that produces 20#'s of tomatoes. An apple seed may become a tree that produces many bushels of apples for generations. One peach pit can become a tree that bears 3 bushels of peaches each year. One thing I have noticed about seeds. Most of them are very plain, even ugly and yet they produce beautiful fruit. Our heartaches, our sorrows are like those seeds, not pretty, but full of great potential.

It may have been Charles Spurgeon who wrote that tears are liquid prayers. David once prayed: "You number my wanderings; Put my tears in Your bottle; are they not in Your book?" (Psalm 56:8). David knew his tears were of great value and that his Father took notice of every one of them, even collecting them in a bottle for some future purpose. To us tears seem insignificant. They fall from our eyes, drip down our cheeks, and then to our clothes only to be absorbed and evaporate. Or maybe they fall into the dust of the thirsty ground, lost forever. Not so! God collects them for us until we know what to do with them.

Jesus proclaimed of Himself, "He has sent me to heal the brokenhearted" (Luke 4:18). Another portion of the same ancient prophecy promises: "...To give them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness;" (Isaiah 61:3). The spiritual principle presented here is one of exchange. For one thing we shall have another. Thus it is of our tears.

Jesus once said: "Most assuredly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the ground and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it produces much grain" (John 12:24). This he said of Himself but it also remains true for us and for our tears. Have you sown yours or have you clung to them? I once read of wheat seeds discovered in the tomb of an ancient Egyptian -hundreds, perhaps thousands of years old. When they were planted in the right environment they germinated and produced wheat. But to bear fruit they must be sown. Its never too late to sow your tears. Latent inside of them is a harvest greater than your imagination contains. For them we shall have a great harvest of joy. But how? Give your tears to Jesus. He will turn them into joy unspeakable.  Your tears are seed that when sown shall without a doubt produce an abundant harvest of joy.

 

 

Mystic Moose Arises!

Allow me introduce you to Theodore Conquest Moose, also known as Mystic Moose. This iconoclastic personality has lived in my imagination for almost 25 years and now has been formally and officially committed to print! My primary purpose for writing Mystic MooseTales: Redefining Wildlife is to impart two things to the current generation: love for Jesus and authentic hunger for the historic supernatural God of the Bible. I chose the allegorical style because it lends itself to creativity in a wide range of expression and humor. C.S. Lewis, J.R.R. Tolkein, John Bunyan, Joel Chandler Harris, and others used allegory to impart life changing concepts and realities. I like that.

I wrote it from a ‘Southern’ perspective, for that is what I am, a child of the South. I have not focused on being unique or original, just honest. Honest expression has the potential to touch people in authentic life changing ways. C.S. Lewis wrote: “Even in literature and art, no man who bothers about originality will ever be original: whereas if you simply try to tell the truth (without caring two pence how often it has been told before) you will, nine times out of ten, become original without ever having noticed it.”

I sought to present these stories in a humorous fashion. Who can flourish without joy and humor? Not me. Nehemiah said that ‘the joy of the Lord is your strength.’ Joy and humor dilute the stress of life and give us the strength and resilience, not only to endure but to overcome. The Lord’s own joy personally imparted to us is our strength.

The gift of imagination fueled the expansion of successful human endeavor in every era. It is a wonderful tool when used in a redemptive visionary way. Paul the apostle prayed for the Ephesian church, that God might energize their sanctified imaginations: ‘that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened’. Jesus said ‘all things are possible to him that believes’. For us to experience those things we must exercise an imaginative faith. Here I have attempted to exercise my own imagination to inspire my readers to live lives of just such possibility and adventure.

God urged Elijah the prophet to use his imagination in a time of crisis. The Lord said to him:

“ ‘Arise, go to Zarephath, which belongs to Sidon, and dwell there. See, I have commanded a widow there to provide for you.’ So he arose and went to Zarephath. And when he came to the gate of the city, indeed a widow was there gathering sticks” (I Kings 17:8-10).

The Lord told Elijah to see something that he could not see with his physical eyes. He not only had to find the widow, but to convince her to trust God with him for their survival. By faith the prophet went to Zarephath, found the very woman, and convinced her to do what God wanted her to do. What a marvelous story.

As a child I sat at the feet of my great Aunt Louise as she read to me J. Calvin Reid’s book Bird Life in Wington. The book consisted of morality parables taken from the life of a community of birds as they spoke to one another and interacted in human ways. Joel Chandler Harris’ Uncle Remus Stories are another example of that kind of literature. Uncle Remus was a fictional black man that Harris used as a vehicle to tell stories depicting the foibles of human nature through the imagery of animals. Those tales revealed the importance of wisdom as a necessary tool for life. As Brother Bear and Brother Fox sought to eat Brother Rabbit, and as he sought to outwit both of them, the great themes of human nature such as life and death, greed and trickery, arrogance and humility, were identified and explored. And then there is Aesop’s Fables, ancient tales involving animals and the lessons one may glean from them.

In my imagination there exists a world where animals walk on two legs, demonstrate all the attributes of humans, and live and interact together with people. In just such a world Theodore Conquest ‘Mystic’ Moose lives and does his exploits. Many of these tales are based on events that have literally happened to flesh and blood men and women. These people I know. Some have happened to me. Other events originate from lives of historic Christians I don’t know but have read about or heard their testimonies. Some of his adventures are uniquely his own, yet the essence of them, or one could say the spirit of them, are ones any of us can have if we qualify.

“How does one qualify for such adventures?”

I am glad you asked that question. One qualifies by meeting Jesus Christ, by being born another time from heaven by the agency of the Spirit of God, and by being filled with the Holy Spirit. This experience is uniquely Christian.

Now is the time for you to see. Just like Elijah, use the eyes of your imagination and you will see that nothing is impossible to the man, the woman, the boy or girl who walks with God. God Himself is offering you a personal invitation to do so.

So, come enter the world of Theodore Moose and discover anew this realm of God and the possibilities He has for you in this life. The world is waiting for you, needs you, is even crying out for you! Come, for this is your day.

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