Life-union…

I had a “prayer warrior” friend say to me recently that the problem with Christians in western culture is that we won’t humble ourselves enough to receive the living word of the Lord. I was intrigued and provoked (in the best way) as I have wrestled with this very thing for many years.

I have discovered a new favorite phrase from “The Passion Translation” referring to how Jesus calls us to live. He urges us to “remain in life-union” with him. For many of us, we will remember hearing about this as “abiding” in Jesus.

When it comes to being prophetic, no matter your age or culture, you must relate to Jesus as a person and you must receive his words. Both are far more than an idea, a concept or a set of beliefs.

What would happen if we gave our lives, surrendering ourselves to Jesus in order to remain in life-union with him? It would require us to embrace him as a living person present with us and his living words as something active inside us.

We would stand out as a bit strange at times… but “wonderfully” strange.

Maybe you have that same desperate hunger gnawing away in your gut as I do for God to be known on earth as in heaven. And you aren’t sure what to do with it. I encourage you to ask the Lord to make remaining in life-union with Jesus a priority in everything you do. Watch for him to show you the implications of his living presence with you and in you. Anticipate that you will experience him and his living words as active transforming agents in your life. Let your life-union with him expand your worldview.

As you do, you will find yourself prophesying more and more with your words and even your actions. Here is John 15:1-7 from “The Passion Translation”:

“I am a true sprouting vine, and the farmer who tends the vine is my Father. He cares for the branches connected to me by lifting and propping up the fruitless branches and pruning every fruitful branch to yield a greater harvest. The words I have spoken over you have already cleansed you. So you must remain in life-union with me, for I remain in life-union with you. For as a branch severed from the vine will not bear fruit, so your life will be fruitless unless you live your life intimately joined to mine.

“I am the sprouting vine and you’re my branches.[e] As you live in union with me as your source, fruitfulness will stream from within you—but when you live separated from me you are powerless. If a person is separated from me, he is discarded; such branches are gathered up and thrown into the fire to be burned. But if you live in life-union with me and if my words[f] live powerfully[g] within you—then you can ask whatever you desire and it will be done.” (John 15:1-7) TPT

You are a blessing!

Video: Be Great Soil for God’s truth to grow!

Loved teaching this message to our church family at Kings Valley Church.

If you are a child of God through faith in Jesus Christ, It is “Normal” for you to be productive… for your heart to be good soil for God’s life to grow.

The Parable of the Sower.

Many great & small in importance chose to harden their hearts. Therefore they could not see or hear what these simple ordinary disciples saw heard & understood.

It is God’s design that the “normal” heart for us is good soil.  Just the basic…

How can we partner with God so that our hearts become good soil?

Remember the gardener is actually our Father.

1. Surrender Our Hearts

2. Engage With God’s Word

3. Trust the Gardener

Our currency with God is our humble surrender.  

Thanks for dropping in! I would love it if you leave a reply with your thoughts. If this has been helpful to you, please share it with a friend.

Live THIS day!

Don’t miss the Spirit’s strategic move!

The massive heartbeat of the Father is to be up close with every person we will see today…

Every day we mingle with crowds of people. Instinctively we know that every person is dealing with their own set of challenges. And we are painfully aware sometimes that we are in the midst of the fight ourselves. But, how often do we forget that the Holy Spirit is right in the messiness & chaos with us every day?

In Matt 9:35-38, we read that Jesus was walking in the middle of the same streets and the same crowds as everyone else. BUT… He saw things differently. While everyone else just saw the usual things, Jesus saw the crowds in a unique way and felt deeply for them. He saw that they were lost, directionless, wandering around like sheep with no shepherd!

The lack of meaning and mission in his homeland and his nation provoked Jesus. His heart burned with urgency and deep compassion for this nation that had been chosen by God to bless all of the other nations of the world. They had only managed after hundreds of generations to find themselves in bitterness and misery held captive under the boot of the Roman Empire. In that moment on that day, he launched into action. His strategic move was to call his followers to open their eyes to see things from His perspective. Then He told them to pray for laborers.

Did you know that Jesus expects you and me to hear his call in THIS day? Our eyes miss so much. He is saying to anyone who will listen, “OPEN YOUR EYES”! If we listen and follow the Holy Spirit today our first priority will be to love God by actually seeing people through His eyes. He wants to radically shift the way we see them.

As we allow Him to get our attention, we will be overwhelmed by what is “really” going on around us. We will begin to sense that He is actually saying something and He wants us to listen. The massive heartbeat of the Father is to be up close with every person we will see today.

It reminds me of the prophet Isaiah. You can read about his encounter with God in Isaiah 6:1-13. As he was going through his daily routine of service as a priest in God’s temple, the Holy Spirit grabbed his attention and Isaiah had an intense vision of the glory of the Lord.

Isaiah was traumatized and could only cry out for mercy. God in his mercy sent an angel to purify his lips (with a HOT coal) so that he would be clean. Next, something revolutionary happened at the core of Isaiah’s being.

In Isaiah 6:8 it says;

Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, “Whom shall I send? And who will go for us?” And I said, “Here am I. Send me!”

How long had God been saying this? Isaiah began to hear the passionate heartbeat of God in a way that he had never heard it before!

What about you? As you get up out of bed and live out that same old daily grind, God is trying to get your attention. Whatever you do, don’t turn away from Him because you feel unworthy and afraid. Isaiah felt the same way. But he stayed in God’s presence. He experienced the Fathers heart for people as he heard what the Spirit was saying.

What do you hear the voice of the Lord saying in THIS day? When you experience His burning heart for all of us your own heart will be swept up in His mission.

You will be surprised what will happen if you ask the Spirit of the Lord to open your eyes in THIS day!

HOME #14 – laying down our lives

I grew up in a pastor’s home. I had a front row seat in watching what it means to lay down your life for your friends.  My dad & mom pastored an urban church of 100-200 people while my dad also taught school full time. Though he loved his life, it never really seemed “fair” to me! Although there was something about my dad that drove him, from my perspective as his son I never felt any bitterness or resentment in him.

What I do remember was a resolve… something lived with him that held him, animated him, brought him to life. It was a life of ministry. Somewhere along the way in his life he had given himself over to friendship with Jesus to a place where it consumed him. I don’t know if he ever directly invited that to happen. I assume he did but I never really knew. But, regardless his way of life vibrated with service to others and it was always because Jesus had loved him first.

There are people you would lay down your life for. I have them too. But it is rare to find someone who has been so consumed in friendship with Jesus that they have laid down their life for him. How can you tell? One of Jesus best friends, John (kind of fitting to me that my dad had the same name as one of Jesus best friends) wrote “This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers and sisters.” I John 3:16. It is also poetic that the reference is “3:16” as John 3:16 references the sacrifice God the Father & Son gave so that we can have eternal life!

You know that someone is being consumed in friendship with Jesus because they express it by laying down their life in whatever they do just like Him. But it is never a bitter or resentful sacrifice. It is one that honors Jesus & brings others to life!

HOME #13 – Dare to be a ___________

Yes it’s true! I actually found the song “Dare to Be a Daniel” on youtube! Can you believe it? Whenever we would sing it in “Children’s Church” in that musty lower level of our granite church on White Street in Springfield, Ma I would feel a little funny. Even though my proper name was “Dana”, my family & my church friends called me “Danny” and once in a while “Daniel”. So, in my active boy imagination I would dream & pretend that I was named “Daniel” and I dreamed that it was because I had the courage  of this Hebrew hero prophet and would some day earn the honor.

“Dare to be a Daniel, dare to stand alone

Dare to have a purpose firm, dare to make it known.”

I also remember those “tween-ager” years from 10-12 years old when I began to feel the heat of a community outside of my church and even in some close friendships who didn’t share my faith in Jesus, the Bible or heroes like “Daniel”. It was during those years that the sea of my secure little world started to get a little rough and I felt for the first time what it was like to fold under the pressure of fear. “Standing alone” or “Making anything known” that might cause somebody to disagree with me definitely wasn’t on my agenda.

I can see now that I was being dared to be myself. There are very few people who lay down their lives for their God designed mission. I missed something in those foundational years that I have been rediscovering: “I am fearfully and wonderfully made.” And so are you! Our creator God is also the One who has made a promise… who has put a His own name on the line through a covenant that if I will trust Him, I will become His artwork, His poetry.

To be honest I can’t remember a time in my life that I wasn’t being taught about this. But, what I missed was that I would have to be brave because the odds were stacked against me and I would have to learn to fight along with God’s Spirit in order to have the life of my dreams. I guess it was actually God who was daring me. I am glad to say that these days I am not as surprised when I have to fight for who God has called me to be in Jesus Christ. More and more I find myself praying that our eyes would be opened to actually see each other and be willing once again to surrender to Jesus & dare to be ourselves in Him.

HOME #12 (My Story)

In the past several days I have been revisiting a conversation with God that I haven’t had for while. It involves asking Him to come and make His Presence known in and around my life. It has taken me back to read Exodus 32 & 33. I love the sense about Moses that success or failure weren’t the most important issues to him… He loved God’s Presence and would not budge until God promised to go with him and the tribes of Israel.

In the midst of this conversation I came across a video and a poem that I want to share with you. I shared a link below to the vid; “Lost Generation” and “The Vision” by Wendell Berry. Hope they stir you up!

There is a hunger rising in many hearts to cry out to God with the same heart… “More than anything, God show us your glory and don’t send us any where unless your Presence goes with us.” If there is a fire in you for God’s presence, fan it into a blaze! You are needed in this time!! There is hope!

Lost Generation by Jonathan Reed http://youtu.be/42E2fAWM6rA

“A Vision”

If we will have the wisdom to survive,
to stand like slow-growing trees
on a ruined place, renewing, enriching it,
if we will make our seasons welcome here,
asking not too much of earth or heaven,
then a long time after we are dead
the lives our lives prepare will live
there, their houses strongly placed
upon the valley sides, fields and gardens
rich in the windows. The river will run
clear, as we will never know it,
and over it, birdsong like a canopy.
On the levels of the hills will be
green meadows, stock bells in noon shade.
On the steeps where greed and ignorance cut down
the old forest, an old forest will stand,
its rich leaf-fall drifting on its roots.
The veins of forgotten springs will have opened.
Families will be singing in the fields.
In their voices they will hear a music
risen out of the ground. They will take
nothing from the ground they will not return,
whatever the grief at parting. Memory,
native to this valley, will spread over it
like a grove, and memory will grow
into legend, legend into song, song
into sacrament. The abundance of this place,
the songs of its people and its birds,
will be health and wisdom and indwelling
light. This is no paradisal dream.
Its hardship is its possibility

HOME #11 (My Story)

This morning I found myself tweeting this message, “Friendship with Jesus Christ is the key  to unlock every prison”.  Then I went back to the task in front of me which was getting dressed and ready for the day.

I began to think that if friendship with Jesus is the key that unlocks all of my prison doors then friendship with me is the key to do the same for people who connect with me today and every day.

When I look at the story of my life, I can see that living as a person who can’t be held under lock and key anymore has been quite a learning process.  I can’t remember a time in my life that I didn’t believe in God and all that my church taught about Jesus.

My struggle has always been with the pressure to behave in certain ways and to say or not say certain things in the course of relating to my world and my Christian community. And it wasn’t just about my conversation. There were things that a Christian shouldn’t and/or couldn’t do or places I couldn’t go because I was a Christian.

From an early age I took on a ton of guilt and shame because my heart and the real me didn’t match up with the behaviour that was expected of me by my church. So, like most of the kids in our church youth group I learned to hide who I really was in religious situations.  Tragically I had no real grasp on the reality that I had an original voice that God had woven into the fabric of who I was… even as a child.

I had an incredibly supportive family and a great school system to explore and make the most of… but I hated myself because I couldn’t seem to find whatever it took on the inside of myself to measure up to my religion.  The saddest part of those years is that I pretty much completely missed the amazing life I could have been enjoying.  What if I could have found my real voice and been activated into a life of reflecting His image into my world by just being myself before my Creator?

So, I lived a lie. My high school experience was lived as two different people. One of them was a well behaved church (religious) kid and the other was what I understood to be the real me.

It wasn’t until I landed at a Christian college that I got real with God and myself. There are two things that I remember saying to God as I left home as a 17 year old to enroll in Bible College. The first was “God, I know this might just land me in hell, but if I can’t discover something real for me in following Jesus during this school year, then I am done with the Church and Christianity for good. I’m sure hell will be awful. But, if all there is to being a Christian is what I have been part of so far, forget it!”

And, the second conversation came about half way through that school year as I cried out to God through tears and from my heart, “God, whether you are glad about this or not, you are stuck with me, failures and everything, because of how much you have loved me and set me from through Jesus, you are gonna have to reject me to get rid of me!” And, he hasn’t sent me away yet 🙂

He has set me free from prisons in my emotions, my sense of self and my life purpose. I want to offer up this prayer:

Jesus, knowing you is the key to unlocking the door to every prison I might find myself in whether it’s one of my own making or imposed by someone else. Words can never express how grateful I am for what you have done by setting me free to actually live. But, I pray that you will fill me and express your heart through me so that people will find that knowing your Spirit through me is the key that unlocks the chains and the bars that hold them captive. Use me to help them find the key for themselves.  Amen

“Home” (formerly ‘My Story’)

I have decided to change the name of the series I have been posting called “My Story” to “Home”. It will continue to be dedicated to telling of my journey of living as a Jesus follower. My desire in sharing it is to inspire you to “really” live & to be activated in the purpose God has for your life.

One of Jesus followers named Luke describes a story Jesus told in Luke 15. Most people refer to the story is as “The Prodigal Son”. You likely know the story & could tell it yourself. I love that story especially because it reveals a picture of our eternal Father & his love for each of us. He is the father who runs to us, hugs us, kisses us & knows how to throw a party to celebrate His sons & daughters whether or not we think we deserve it!

A few months ago I was praying and listening for God’s heart in this story when the most intriguing thought landed… I felt the Lord saying to me; “I want you to love my home more than you love being worthy!”. It occurred to me that both sons in the story were focused on their worthiness… what they deserved. The younger son felt outside the family because he was “unworthy to be a son” and the older son was bitter because he deserved (was worthy of) a party but never had one. In his anger he left his Father’s house and refused to go in and party with the family.

As I continue to share my story in hopes that you will start telling yours, I am going to call it “Home”. Maybe you will join me as I learn to love God’s home more than I love being worthy!

My Story #10

I believe that God has woven an original “voice” in me. By voice I don’t only mean a speaking or singing voice. I am talking about a unique way of introducing life into the world.

From my earliest memories I have been part of a family and a community of people who know God exists and more than anything else they want to be at peace with how they are supposed to relate to their Creator.

The biggest gift of my life was being born into a family who introduced me to Jesus Christ. Now, wait a second before you figure you already know where I am going with this…

In some pretty fundamental ways I feel like I am just really beginning to get what it means to be a follower of Jesus.

I didn’t realize until recently that one of the most important treasures that I can find and share with God is my voice, my way of expressing my heart. For me, it happens when I listen to music, play an instrument or sing. When I find and express my voice, especially when I am focused on my heart and not distracted, I come to the moment with a genuineness that washes over me with the understanding that life is real and I am alive. There is something else that happens… God meets me there. Many times I plan on the meeting. But, most of the time I am surprised as I become aware of the the presence of God’s Spirit just being in the moment with me.

Often I wonder what He wants from me. But, with the eyes of my heart I peak over at my Creator and He just seems to be enjoying the music… weird, eh?

But, frankly it’s nobody else’s business because this is my voice and I am expressing it with the One who made me and still has a purpose for me. That purpose starts in our enjoyment of each other’s voice.

You see, I am coming to see that when I worship God with my real voice, He is able to come and begin to bring His voice to me and it is there that I can be set on fire and be a bright refection of His image in my world.

More than anything, I would love to see in my lifetime a movement of people young and old who have found their voice and discovered God there.

I believe that is what Jesus Christ showed us in his birth, life, death and victory over death.

To be honest, all of creation is waiting for you and me to raise our voices and make it our business to shine the image of God once again.

 

My Story #9

Some people seem to have this sense of self confidence that says to rest of us, “I have my opinion but I do respect your right to be wrong”!

I am not one of those people. In fact, for my own good I could have used a little more of that attitude in my younger years.

We are all complex people with our own reasons why we act in our unique ways. But, there are many moments that I look back on in regret that I didn’t fight more for myself.

I do happen to be a Jesus follower. He has welcomed me into His family and His restored way of life… “real freedom”.

As I have journeyed through my life as a Christian, I must admit that God has done lots of tearing down and rebuilding in me.

Much of the rebuilding has been in teaching me to understand myself and what my original design was to be.

There are people all around me worth fighting for, sacrificing for and even laying down my life for… beginning with myself.

There is a revolution you and I have been summoned to join. It is laying all “falseness” and “fakeness” aside and jumping over the edge into the creative fire of God’s design for us as individuals. Our hope of survival in life is only found in Jesus Christ. The Bible calls it the “mystery hidden for ages… Christ in us the hope of glory”!

I am worth fighting for and so are you!!