Start Again

Last weekend I heard Bobby Conner speak.  He said Jesus showed up to him and his face was sad and when Bobby asked why, Jesus replied, because my people don’t want to spend time with me.

After we left the meeting that night I had a long stream of thoughts in my head that I thought I would share here.  Can I say I already knew this?  Can I say that because it applies to me?  Holy Spirit’s kinda scary.  Let me explain more below.

A decade ago I was in the heart of everything extreme regarding Holy Spirit experiences.  Prayer rooms, conferences, communities, ministry, missions trips, prayer meetings, extravagant poverty and generosity, new adventures, preaching, ministering to the poor, etc.  Its safe to say many many of us remember those times of waking up to everything supernatural, unseen, giftings, refinement, and faith challenging.  Literally on the the floor, taken over by God.

Then I noticed another season.  I noticed it but hadn’t articulated it, until someone else did that for me.  An old fatherly preacher said first you are a part of a move of God and so is everyone else.  Then you fall flat on your face, and that’s a move of God too, and so did everyone else.

Between the years of 2013-2016 or around there I noticed so many people encounter very challenging or hard circumstances.  I’m referring to the sold out crowd.  The whole-hearted ones.  We had followed God–Holy Spirit–to the best of our growing ability and it led us right into heartbreak, setback, disappointment, confusion, or disillusionment.

So people are still figuring out which way is up, many people are forever changed through these experiences.  And we should be.  That’s why we have them.  But pain is a hard thing to choose willingly.  I know for myself I wondered how I had heard wrong, or gotten off track, or the lingering question of why?

God works healing, restoration, recovery, strength, and endurance in the midst of our inability to fix things, mend things, turn back time, or undo what’s been done.  Sometimes this happens overnight but more often than not it happens as the seasons pass by one after the other and the sting is gone and we can hear truth in the peace.  Or at least feel love in it again.

This may be the time to start again my friends.  Us, the family of God that has been learning so many things with our paradigms, communities, and living situations having changed so dramatically since back then.

So do we dare to open up ourselves again to a God that seemingly led us into a crash course with something we didn’t sign up for?  Will we be wholehearted again when it feels like we don’t even have our whole heart anymore or don’t know where we lost pieces of it along the way?

Our minds know he’s good.  Our minds know he’s faithful.  Our minds know he has a plan.  It’s the time of our hearts thawing towards him again.  We may look more secular, we may speak more secular, we may live lifestyles where religion can’t be detected much anymore but we are right where he’s invited us all.

He really is a wise orchestrater and he knew all the outcomes before all this happened.  You’re not off track.  You’re not lost, because he knows right where you are.  Myself included, I feel like this is the time for affections to be repaired and emotions to be restored.  In him, towards him, for him, and with him.

You have overcome.  You are equipped.  You are gifted.  You are included.  You are loved.  Maybe your dreamer got broken.  Maybe your believer ran out of power.  But there is life within you.  There is purpose in your breath.  There is glory in your experiences, maybe the failures more than successes.

God never invited Jesus into comfort, acceptance, celebration, the loyalties of those around him, freedom from pain, or glory among men during his life.  God has a much different value scale than you or I.  You may not know that every purpose that God had in the midst of your experiences has been accomplished.

He doesn’t want you as a worker anymore.  He does miss me.  He does miss us.  Maybe we are ready.  Maybe we are ready again to say yes.  All of us just know we will never say yes again to the mistakes or pains of our past.  There is glory in that.

We’ve heard all along in our involvement with Charismatic circles that God is moving towards doing wonders and miracles beyond our wildest imaginations.  We carry the memory of the hope we had of being in the center of that.  I think we still are.  I think you still are.  God knows what he’s doing on a global scale in exact timing.

Don’t respond to him in duty.  Don’t turn him away from a place of pain.  He is a lover.  He wants to share his love with us.  He wants to experience our presence.  Share our excitement and our pain.  He wants to comfort us and cause us to believe in ourselves again.

The winter perhaps is over and gone and new leaves are sprouting again.  The warmth is returning, the river is thawed, and life will grow. And we will see it and feel it in our own lives.  A lot is accomplished during the winter and you prime for fruit bearing in your renewed surrender.

The pain, the disappointment, distrust, or broken normal may not ever repair itself to life as it once was but we will have a different understanding of who God is and who we are in its occurrence.  Hope, Faith, and Love have become even more untouchable within us by the circumstances without us.  We have grown.

I can’t promise it won’t hurt again.  Continuing to follow him without understanding or being able to see what he sees about yourself.  I can’t promise you won’t experience or disappointment again.  But I can assure you your fullest life–not coasting by denying your numbness as time passes–the reason you were created as you were, lies in your renewed yes, your renewed faith through confusion, your willingness in your weakness, your availability in expressing and receiving love once again.

Beautiful army bearing the scars of maturity, dare to feel safe in his arms, rather than our avoidance or control once again.

What Has Happened the Last Four Years in the Body of Christ in the U.S.??

Okay, this piece may not resonate with everyone but it hopeful resonates with someone.  So you’re a person who loves God with all your heart.  If that has been the overwhelming cry of your heart for the past few decades some of us have been taken on a wild ride.  Let me review in a tiny synopsis a general progression one could observe in the body of Christ before I make my point.  Early 1500’s reformation of the concept of earned placement in heaven through the church – Martin Luther.  1700’s evangelism had the wind of heaven behind it on a number of people abroad and in America – Johnathan Edwards, George Whitfield, John Wesley, etc.  Mid-nineteen hundreds we have healing and miraculous through Billy Graham, Smith Wigglesworth, A.A. Allen, Oral Roberts, etc.  1980’s Kansas City Prophets with a new normal being establish in hearing from God. 1990’s we have Toronto Outpouring that really redirected the lives of Apostles like Randy Clark, Heidi Baker, Bill Johnson, etc.  In late 2000’s we have Lakeland and IHOP in glory and presence and miracles and grace with Todd Bentley and Mike Bickle and others.  Then in the early 2010’s it was the seven mountains, going out, taking position, reigning and influencing.

We’re now in the late 2010’s.  WHAT NOW?!?  What is God doing?!?  How are we growing??  What are we learning??

I know for the last four years in particular there are SO MANY people surrounding me that were the crazy-on-fire-for God type a decade ago that now look drastically different.  But I don’t want there to be misunderstanding and so I write.  Let me start off by saying I don’t see the devil.  What I mean by this is that God is not in some cataclysmic warfare against an almost equal opponent in the sky.  God has no enemy that provides any sort of threat and is writing a love story and an expression of himself that we get to be gloriously wrapped up in.  Moving on.

I don’t see the drying up (on a corporate level) of the last jumping-around-in-the-river-season as human failure, performance blunder, and now the body of Christ is supposed to get back on the work-up-the-glory-treadmill to try and conjure up some past experience so that we can roll around and go back to where we were.  I think that those crazy corporate times ended large-scale because they were meant to.  There was purpose accomplished in them and now we are moving on with new experience and fuller understanding.  There was no mistake, no failure, or “drying up.”  When I say moving on, I’m not saying abandoning anything or that anything was wrong.  On the contrary, we’re learning, we are moving on to the greater.

Let me summarize some things for you.  The last for years has brought so much tumult to so many people riding the top of the waves of the last season and has left some people not recognizing the glory saturating their lives now but I see and want to share.  I know a number of people who have been shaken to the core.  Literally the thing that is most important to them was destroyed, has ended, was taken away, or has changed to the point where even we ourselves at our core are hardly recognizable to ourselves.  I too am included in this group.

Unfortunately, (but it was not unfortunate because there was purpose in the experience), I spent so much time thinking I was broken.  After way too many attempts to fix myself with old tools without success the unknown and unrecognizability continued.  I met with a group of people I know intimately this past weekend and asked so many inquisitive questions.  I almost universally have found people in the same position as I: the way we used to operate in certain gifts operate that way no longer, the certain relationships I grew up in operate that way no longer, health or body do not operate how they used to any longer, that person I loved is alive no longer, how I viewed reality before didn’t cut it and I had to change, the entire life I’ve known up until this point looks so different.

So if you in the body of Christ are out there wondering why this growing hurts so much, or why those relationships ended, or why you were allowed to be disappointed or fail there, or why you feel like you aren’t really experiencing Christianity as you once knew it, IT’S BECAUSE CHRISTIANITY IS CHANGING.  Let me clarify; CHRIST ISNT CHANGING, WE ARE.  Especially in the lives who literally would abandon everything for God’s will in any moment of their lives.

I used to say that the latest thing God was doing was family— strong, firm, and free— which is partially true, and a glorious expression of God himself, but incomplete as far as an explanation of what I see going on around me.  So many people are in marriages, raising babies, working hard for them, but there were always those that are not, and how does that fit I used to ask.

Yes we are in a season where we are operating with the creator inside us all and living our dreams but there is more.  Things that the body of Christ are learning in any season have already been true in every season, we’re just learning through experience now more fully.

So many people I know and love are going through their days entirely unobservable as “Christians” to their own eyes, hearts, or to others in outward culture or ritual.  BUT.  But I am wholly excited for God in the NOW.  Productivity has stopped on so many other levels so that that which has always been important to God is what remains.  There really is no separation of heaven from earth.  They are one and the same place.  God is not in some ethereal distance place, or movement, or teaching, HE IS YOU.  God is not in some sign or doctrine or CHURCH.  GOD IS YOU.  There is taking place a complete melding of holy and secular.  YOUR WHOLE LIFE IS HOLY.

God wants each of us to see that the only thing that matters to him is our connection with him, not our PERFORMANCE FOR HIM.  He really doesn’t need us in the way we think he does.  Us being ourselves is the most powerful and clearest expression of himself.  Even though you don’t see all those Christian practices, even if you don’t feel all those holy spirit power feelings, even though you don’t influence people the way you used to, even though you don’t have those relationships you used to, YOU ARE NO LESS POWERFUL.  YOU ARE NO LESS HOLY.  Your communion with God is no less complete.

God gave us rivers and signs and glory and then transitioned out corporately on a wide scale because he wants us to look in another direction with him.  Quit looking for him in the past signs, experiences, and external stuff.  One of the leaders I’ve worked with that I respect the most listened to people when they came up to him about healings and deliverances that happened in his meetings but never gave them a further mention or time or attention.  He remained entirely unimpressed with SIGNS because everything is about Christ, the person they’re pointing to here, now, inside of us.

So many have moved away from religious people, structures, places, or experiences because it was exposed that their foundation was something other than love and we can’t tolerate that anymore.

Family is included in this concept because LOVE is the only binding force between any family unit.  It is the purpose of shared life.  There’s no ulterior motives and so family as a structure remains and thrives, even through the messes that happen within them.

God is in the moment, this moment, the conversation, this conversation, in the now, and here.  So much of the glory of Christian culture is fading away.  Christ is in no way fading away, the culture we’ve created around him that does fade is NOT HIM.  Language, doctrines, titles, hierarchies, separation, exclusion, condescension, none of them have been missed by me now that they’re gone.  DO YOU REALIZE SOME CHRISTAINS NOW LOOK LIKE SECULAR PEOPLE BECAUSE EVERYTHING THAT WAS RELIGIOUSLY DEAD IS NOW GONE FROM THEIR LIVES?

What if ONLY LOVE REMAINS??  What if all those glory experiences, all those hours in prayer, all those encounters of love, all those hard times, our identity being shaken to the core, all those structures, all that revelation, were meant to build this one thing in us; our ability and capacity to love one another.  To love our families.  To Love ourselves.  And everything else was a circumstancial tool to that end of being unconditional love.  And not in the fluffy performance sense but the gritty steadfast kind that people are changed by, including ourselves.

I believe God is reducing the glory of everything that is not love.  If something, anything in life, religious or not, is rooted in anything other than love it has lost its taste in our lives.  And ANYTHING, whether religious or not, that is ROOTED AND GROUNDED in LOVE is breathes fresh air into our spirits in this season.

Love isn’t some vague idea, it is practical connection between ANY two human beings or any human being and God.  This is the boiled down essence of everything that is the person of God and his kingdom.  Everything God does is in the purpose of building or preserving that.  If anything remains in our life for any reason–religious or not (especially religious ideas and concepts fostering any amount of rejection)-that actually threatens connection, it is moving counter to the kingdom of God and the living expression of love itself; heaven on earth.

This is just a view from my slice of the pie.  Hope this encourages someone.  Peace.