Archive | November, 2012

Insights into the lives of Adam and Enoch… and beyond

24 Nov

Adam

God said to Adam in Gen 2:17   “…in the day that you eat thereof (the Tree of the knowledge of good and evil) you shall surely die.”

We know that Adam ‘died’ spiritually on that day, but how should we handle the issue of his literal death.  Did he die in the very same day that he ate of the tree?  Well, let’s consider II Pet 3:8, “for a day is as a thousand years and a thousand years is as a day.”  So evidently, with God, a thousand years is a day.  With this in mind, then Adam did die in the very same day in which he ate of the tree, because he died at 930 years old… just seventy years before his ‘day’ was over.

Adam and Enoch

Adam, who died at 930 years old, was about middle age (only 622 years old) when his great-great-great-great-great grandson, Enoch was born.  Surely Adam must have occasionally visited his children and grandchildren which of course included Jared and his newly born son, Enoch.  It’s not hard to believe that when Enoch was quite young, Adam would hold his grandson on his lap and tell the most spellbinding stories of how he used to walk with God in the cool of the day in the Garden of Eden… so mystifying and irresistible to this young boy.  I can hear Enoch say, “Tell me another story Grandpa.”  Adam likely fueled Enoch’s inquisitive mind even further by telling how much fun God had when Adam named all the living creatures (see Gen 2:19-20).  In more serious discourses, Adam described God’s voice… and His ways… and His heart.  Enoch’s increasingly discerning questions and unusual bond with Grandpa made Adam reach ever further back into his ‘file cabinet’ of dusty memories.

One day as Adam began to recount another of these distant but treasured encounters, a long dormant and nearly forgotten longing began to stir… a longing for the days of one-ness that he once had with God.  Through the fog of time and sin-induced separation,  he had stumbled upon this rare ‘awakening’ – almost as if it was from another life.  A ‘door’ in the Spirit had been opened.  Ushered by God Himself, Adam revisited those surreal days before the concept and consequence of sin had ever entered Adam’s mind… or the earth.  His heart was now inflamed with all the sensory and visceral delights of a time before sin.  Words came more slowly now… but more pregnant with passion and unction… and quite possibly through tender tears.  He felt the anointing… the actual presence of God… just like he had remembered.  So right… so real… so wonderful!  All the passions of his heart were ignited and fully ablaze… burning and yearning… longing for life in Eden… for his innocence… and for Abba.

While under the anointing Adam was highly ‘contagious’… and indeed the living ‘germ’ of desire was now planted deep in Enoch’s impressionable and innocent heart.  Adam had fulfilled his mission… to transfer an irresistible hunger for knowing God to his generations.  So not only does Enoch truly believe that his grandfather has literally walked and talked with God, but now, he too is compelled with insatiable desire to know this God who has awakened his awe.

Can you see Enoch’s first attempts to connect with his grandfather’s God… maybe fumbling and raw, but yet with childlike believing and a burning desire to become friends with this God who Grandpa said created all that is?  And beyond that, the way Grandpa’s eyes seem to wistfully peer off into another world… and the way he is so strangely and deeply moved when he revisits those days of yore, has completely captivated this young pioneer.  Enoch now owned it… he was hooked… Grandpa’s passion was now his passion.  He must have been consumed with ever greater marvel as he discovered that God is… and God really cares… and God wants to become friends with those who seek Him.   And Enoch wasn’t the only one who was rewarded in this epic venture.  God was too… even more.  God was most-delighted that now He was having the same koinonia with Enoch, as He had with Adam back “in the beginning”.   I believe that He found great joy in overwhelmingly rewarding Enoch’s most delightful obsession because this was the kind of friendship that He had longed for from before the creation of man.  Enoch and God’s relationship blossomed into bosom buddies much the same way John the Beloved and Jesus became the best of friends.  They withheld nothing from each other… a heart on earth and the Heart of Heaven now beat as one.

Scenario?

God and Enoch’s relationship became so intimate and familiar that walking and talking each day was as common and easy as breathing.  But each late afternoon Enoch had to say good-bye so that he could arrive back to his home before dark.  One day they lost all track of time when they got ‘caught up’ talking of all the splendors of God’s house and Heaven and they were much too far from Enoch’s home for him to make it back before dark.  So because of their unmatched friendship and because God was so fond of Enoch’s company, he offered, “Why don’t you just come on over to My house tonight?”  And thus Enoch “was no more for God took him” (see Gen 5:24).

What can we learn?

Enoch communed with God so deeply and spent so much time at the edge of the other realm that one day he just ‘slipped over’ into the Heavenly realm and never came back.  This glorious and permanent ‘slipping over’ into the Heavenly realm occurred when Enoch was 365 years old.  It may just be a coincidence (or not) that Enoch’s number of years is the same as the number of days in our calendar year – 365.  So from Enoch’s life we discover God’s personal invitation to explore that same walking and talking with God each and every day of our lives.  We now know it’s possible.

Why Not Now?

In the New Covenant Jesus gave us easy access into the Heavenlies.  Now we’ve been granted to live in both of the realities of Heaven and earth at the same time.  And since Jesus conquered hell and death, ‘legally’ (on the cross and in the resurrection) the necessity of dying has been overcome.  Could this set us up for the possibility of walking and talking with God to such a level that we ‘are not for God takes us’?  Hey, it has already happened to mere mortals at least twice in history – Enoch and Elijah.  Why couldn’t it happen again – to us?

Don’t you just love pushing on the boundaries of possibility?!  Wouldn’t you love to be a part of a company of people who roll back ‘normal’… who call forth those things which are not yet, as though they were… and who get to see God do ‘ahead of time’ things that had been reserved for the future (think Tab of David)?  I think all of Heaven begins cheering when men and women ‘explorers’ ponder the heart of God and begin to think in terms and ways not limited to tradition and the conventional… or science and the practical.  Who will those men and women be who escape the chains of this world’s ‘gravity’ and discover a new ‘normal’ in the Heavenlies… like Enoch and beyond?

– MLH

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More fun with controversial stuff!!

14 Nov

Warning: You may get excited…   I’ve started with a few highlights from the book entitled, ‘Victorious Eschatology’ by Harold R. Eberle, but then added my own inspirations and ‘what ifs’… just to shake things up a bit and stimulate our thoughts.    Let’s have fun!

The thumbnail sketch of the popular view of the end-times is one of evil increasing in the world until it deserves the judgments of God unto total devastation and destruction.   Then of course, for God to preserve His people He would have to extract the faithful remnant from off the globe, thus the ‘rapture’.  With that in mind let’s start with one of the favorite verses which seems to support the view of a complete annihilation of earth.

“Then I saw a new Heaven and a new earth; for the first heaven and the first earth passed away, and there is no longer any sea.” – Rev 21:1

Obviously, this verse and all quoted verses below are TOTALLY TRUE… no doubt about it.  But let’s also remember that if all Scripture is true then separate passages must also be harmonious with each other.  Now I’m going to ‘throw a stick in the hornets nest’ and ask if it’s possible that the current and popular interpretation of these favorite verses may be skewed?

So let’s start with this: If the earth is going to be completely obliterated and a new world created, then what about:

Eccl 1:4 – Generations come and generations go, but the earth remains forever.
Ps 78:69 – He built his sanctuary like the heights, like the earth that he established forever.
Ps 104:5 – He set the earth on its foundations; it can never be moved.
Ps 37 says five times that the righteous will inherit the earth… a couple times it states this will last forever.

It seems that we have a problem here if the Rev. 21 verse cites that the earth will pass away while Psalms says the earth will last forever.  Could it be that “passed away” means something other than what we’ve thought?

Try this: Peter says the earth will be destroyed by fire (see II Pet 3; 7, 10) but in the very same context (vs 6) he also says that the earth was “destroyed” by water in The Flood.  But of course we know the earth wasn’t obliterated and removed from existence in The Flood.  Rather it was purged of evil.  Could it be that when the earth is “destroyed by fire” this next time that it isn’t actually obliterated or removed from existence, but rather it is purged from evil by the fiery revelation and presence of God Himself among us?

To further make the point of the permanency of the earth, if the “meek inherit the earth” (see Matt 5:5), then what a crazy promise!!!   Just about the time you get meek enough to inherit the earth, then God destroys it by fire.  And all the other Christians that didn’t qualify because they were deficient in meekness… they get to go to Heaven.  It’s almost comical when you look at it like that.

And what about all of creation which is eagerly waiting to see the sons of God manifest upon the earth — “For the earnest expectation of the creation eagerly waits for the revealing of the sons of God.” (see Rms 8:19)  So what’s that all about?  In our ‘destruction’ theology, creation eagerly waits, just to see itself burned up right about the time things start getting good?

Maybe our popular religious traditions regarding the world getting worse and worse… and the impending cataclysmic destruction… have made us ignore other passages in the Bible that would help give us context for how to interpret some of our favorite eschatological verses.

So while we’re talking about The Flood let’s see what parallels Jesus made to that time period.  In Matt 24:37-44, He paints the picture of how it’s going to be at the coming of the Son of Man.

“But as the days of Noah were, so also will the coming of the Son of Man be. 38 For as in the days before the flood, they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noah entered the ark, 39 and did not know until the flood came and took them all away, so also will the coming of the Son of Man be. 40 Then two men will be in the field: one will be taken and the other left. 41 Two women will be grinding at the mill: one will be taken and the other left. 42 Watch therefore, for you do not know what hour your Lord is coming. 43 But know this, that if the master of the house had known what hour the thief would come, he would have watched and not allowed his house to be broken into. 44 Therefore you also be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect.”

Notice who got taken away… it wasn’t the righteous.  Contrary to the movie, Jesus actually says that the ones taken are the unrighteous… and the ones ‘left behind’ are the righteous ones.  The righteous were left behind to re-establish righteous reign over the earth.  As a result of this clear historical account, which Jesus’ audience was very familiar with; He applies that same template onto future events and warns the unrighteous to be “watchful” lest that day come upon them like a thief… totally unexpected.  The end result of The Flood was that the earth got purged from evil and the righteous were left to propagate righteousness.  Wow, how’d we get that so wrong?

And as if that isn’t clear enough, Jesus again tells us who’s going to be taken and who’s going to be left in Matt 13:37-43:

37 He answered and said to them: “He who sows the good seed is the Son of Man. 38 The field is the world, the good seeds are the sons of the kingdom, but the tares are the sons of the wicked one. 39 The enemy who sowed them is the devil, the harvest is the end of the age, and the reapers are the angels. 40 Therefore as the tares are gathered and burned in the fire, so it will be at the end of this age. 41 The Son of Man will send out His angels, and they will gather out of His kingdom all things that offend, and those who practice lawlessness, 42 and will cast them into the furnace of fire. There will be wailing and gnashing of teeth. 43 Then the righteous will shine forth as the sun in the kingdom of their Father. He who has ears to hear, let him hear!

Notice that it isn’t the “good seed” that gets taken away, rather the “tares” are taken, which “are the sons of the wicked one… the devil”.  The “reaper” angels come and gather the tares and burn them.  The angels gather out of His kingdom all things that offend, and those who practice lawlessness… or stand in resistance to the Kingdom of God.  When those things which resist are removed, then the righteous (that’s you and me) will shine forth as the sun in the kingdom of our Father.”  Sounds like Isaiah 60 to me… “Arise shine, for your light has come”.  In this scenario, I certainly wouldn’t want to be numbered among those who are ‘taken’!  (Similar template: The blood over the doorposts of the Israelites in Egypt prevented them from being taken by the death angel.)

And what about rising to meet Him in the air in I Thess 4:16-17?

For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. 17 Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And thus we shall always be with the Lord.

So the traditional interpretation of “caught up” to “meet the Lord in the air” is that we get taken up and off of the earth to somewhere… to Heaven is the popular answer.  But we’ve already discovered that we have a problem with the interpretation that we are taken somewhere other than the earth (see above).  So what could “caught up” and “meet” mean?  Take a look at the same word “meet” (apantesis, in Greek) describing the occasion of Paul traveling to Rome:

And from there, when the brethren heard about us, they came to meet us as far as Appii Forum and Three Inns. When Paul saw them, he thanked God and took courage. 16 Now when we came to Rome, the centurion delivered the prisoners to the captain of the guard…. (Acts 28:15-16)

Notice that the disciples went out to meet Paul, but then continued on in the same direction that Paul was going.  Together they continued on toward Rome.  Now what if we use the same idea to interpret I Thess 4:16 (above)?  Note Jesus’ direction of travel.  He is descending from Heaven toward earth, then we, like the five wise virgins who have eagerly anticipated His coming, see Him and are “caught up” in this euphoric, transformational… and even transfigurational new reality which comes from being in His Presence.  And because His direction of travel was toward us, we join Him on His way to an earth that now has a new set of rules and realities (due to His tangible Presence), to “always be with the Lord.”

And just so we get that point let’s look closer at the parable of the ten virgins in Matt 25:1-13.  We see the same word “meet” used again.  The five wise virgins went out to “meet” the bridegroom.  The bridegroom did not turn-around and take them back with Him; rather the virgins met and welcomed Him on into the wedding venue where they had been waiting. Verse 10: “And while they went to buy, the bridegroom came, and those who were ready went in with him to the wedding…”  The picture seems to show clearly that the bridegroom continued on his approach to the wedding, now joined by the five wise virgins and they together entered the wedding venue.  Could it be that in the same way, we will “meet” Him in the “air” of His glorious Presence and He’ll continue coming to us and live among us and IN us in an exponentially higher way than we’ve ever known?  Could it be that the power of His near and tangible Presence becomes transformational, even transfigurational to us as we behold Him?  And we “with unveiled face behold… we are changed from glory to glory” (see II Cor 3:18)  So much so that we become ‘clothed’ with the same glory that He is, Col 3:4, “When Christ who is our life appears, then you also will appear with Him in glory.”  Did you catch that… we will appear with Him (alongside Him… even IN Him) in the same glorious state that He is!!!  And with “glorified” bodies, we can adapt to different occasions even as Jesus did at transfiguration, on the road to Emmaus, eating with disciples after resurrection, passing through walls, etc.

Wow, that is high octane stuff right there.  We could just camp out on that note and throw a party.

Consider these ‘What ifs’…

What if “passed away” and “destroyed” means something other than complete obliteration and removal from existence?  What if it means that the current way things are, will be overcome with a superseding power such that the earth will be purged of evil by this powerful force.  (Example – In Almolonga, Guatemala, which was reported in the first ‘Transformations’ video, jails become obsolete because a revival of righteousness… such righteousness that the people and even the land was renewed. The city was purged from evil… or evil was ‘burned up’ (new heavens) and the land became new (new earth).  This is just one modern day micro-example of a “new heavens (spiritual state) and a new earth (the way things are done)”.)

What if “taken” and “left behind” have been misapplied?  Note that the most scholarly religious leaders of Jesus day so badly wanted a Messiah to deliver them from Rome’s tyranny that they misinterpreted the OT Messianic prophecies to fit their own world view – thus missing the Real Thing.   What if in order to validate our own world view traditions, we’ve overlooked the glaring clarity with which Jesus explains who is in each category?

What if “descending” and “ascending” means the shift of awareness or a change of expression between the seen and the unseen realms.  What if ascending means the increasing revealing and awareness of His Presence?  What if descending from Heaven is as real as Jesus experienced in John 3:13 where he was in both realms simultaneously: “And no man hath ascended up to heaven, but he that came down from heaven, even the Son of man which IS in heaven.”  Note that at that very moment he is standing in front of Nicodemus and yet He said that He was also IN Heaven.  Note that He had already ascended, (He even said that He was IN heaven) and yet He was still standing on His two legs on the earth… and all this “IN Heaven” talk was pre-Cross.  He was in both realms at the same time.  Could it be that ascending and descending has nothing to do with change of elevation in physical space?  Could it be that since Heaven and earth are happening simultaneously right here, right now, that ascending and descending happen when we become acutely aware of and transition from one realm to another?

What if “caught up” doesn’t actually mean a change of elevation in physical space, but rather means being overcome, love-struck, even ‘on-fire’ with intensified passion, in a euphoric and empowered state of heart and mind to the point of being transformed… even transfigured… (Ex. — Jesus was our forerunner in all things, including transfiguration… and then we have Moses and Elijah who were transfigured on the mount)

What if “meet” doesn’t actually mean that we change any physical position on earth or in space?  What if it means that we arise in newly stimulated faith and awakened zeal and our passions become joined with His? (Ps 110:3 – Your people will volunteer freely in the day of your power)  Could it be that this unveiling of Jesus causes us to rise in sufficient maturity “into Him” so as to be joined with Jesus? (Eph 4:15 — the body…grow up in all things into Him who is the head—Christ)  On that note consider Lk 9:58 where Jesus states, “but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay His head(ship)”.  Consider: what if the body of Christ wasn’t sufficient to rest His full headship in Jesus’s day… but as ‘the body’ has increased in maturity and “in all things” it is now ready to “meet Him”?  What if our rising in passion and maturation in all things and His “descending” in increased revelation of Himself catalyzes the marriage of the “head” with “the body”?

What if “in the air” doesn’t mean the space above earth… or someplace in outer space commonly called Heaven?  What if “in the air” is symbolic of a new ‘atmosphere’ of His Presence… a new M.O… new conditions in which we operate? (Think of something even better than the Israelites living with a tangible cloud and pillar of fire of His Presence among them.)

What if “we shall always be with the Lord” means the wedding is happening, the marriage has occurred.  The long awaited and anticipated union has come to pass.  The work is done.   The 7th day of rest has arrived.  Jesus will now “rest in His love(us)” (see Zeph 3:17) never to leave.  He now has what He always wanted, us… and we have Him.

What if some of these ‘what ifs’ are already beginning to happen NOW?  What if we have been deceived by the forces of poverty, sin and sickness; deceived by the lies of the enemy making us think that Heaven has lost ‘faith’ for our world; deceived by the lies of the enemy making us think that we weren’t highly favored in God’s eyes… and deceived by the lies of the enemy making us focus on our sin (rather than our righteousness in Jesus) trying to disqualify us from thinking that we can rule and reign in this life and in our world?

What if our minds were “renewed” with God’s perspective of our righteous status in His eyes?  What if we believed what is being “revealed to us by his Spirit” (see I Cor 2:10) about all the things that God has in store for us… and we celebrated being “filled to all the fullness of God” (see Eph 3:19)… and we were confident in this “love that passes knowledge” (see Eph 3:19)?   What if a greater grace to see and believe these things overcame us and transported us into a new Heaven and new earth?   What if our awareness and hunger for our imminent marriage with our beloved Bridegroom created such a ‘pull’ on Him that He looks over at the Father and with earnest longing says, “Father, can I go now?”

I’m telling you, if we keep going down this path, we’re going to get happy, if not totally excited about a victorious eschatology that unlocks our latent spiritual DNA as sons and daughters of our Wonderful God.  Jesus may begin to feel the pull of  our desire and eager expectation such that it hastens the day of His appearing.  And He may actually find a supercharged “faith on the earth” (see Lk 18:8) that compels Him to “come quickly” (see Rev 22:20).    May it be so!!!

Summary: This presentation isn’t intended to establish chronological order or detailed accuracy of eschatology.  Rather it’s about giving us permission to begin to rise to meet Him in the air.  And it’s about fanning the flames of love-struck hearts eager to be united with our beautiful Bridegroom.

Let the awakened longing-heart dialogs begin…..

— MLH

Quote: Consider The Lilies of the Field

14 Nov

“So why do you worry about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin; and yet I say to you that even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these.” — Matthew 6:28–29

You may think that you must work very hard to provide for yourself and get ahead in life. But God wants you to consider the lilies of the field — they do nothing. They toil not, spin not and struggle not. Yet, they grow and are clothed by God while simply resting and basking in the sunshine of God’s love! And when God clothes them, they look even more glorious than King Solomon, the richest king who ever lived.

Like the lilies of the field, God wants you to let Him take care of providing for your material needs, instead of you striving to do it yourself. When you let go and let Him, you will see Him bless you supernaturally, abundantly and generously!

This is what happened to one of our church members who had been looking for a job. Initially, he received only two calls for interviews after sending out 12 résumés. Refusing to be discouraged, he believed that God wanted to bless him not just with a job, but with a position of influence too.

God was faithful. This church member soon became the business manager of an engineering company even though he had no engineering background. He was offered a very attractive remuneration package and within his first week on the job, was asked to quote on two projects. He knew that this was God’s doing because it was difficult enough just to secure an appointment with contract managers to discuss projects, let alone be asked to quote on not one but two projects. Before long, he was offered the position to run the entire Singapore subsidiary with only one other business development manager. He was then only 25 years old!

My friend, God can do for you what He did for this person. Just believe that if God clothes the lilies and grass of the field, which are here today and gone tomorrow, how much more will He clothe you, His eternal and precious child, with beauty and riches! All He asks is that you cease from your striving, allow Him to take over and just flow with Him!

Thought For The Day

When you let go and let God, you will see Him bless you supernaturally, abundantly and generously!

By Joseph Prince – (11/12/12)

http://www.josephprinceonline.com/2012/11/consider-the-lilies-of-the-field-2/

Christ In Me – Musings on Col 1:27-28

14 Nov

“To them God willed to make known what are the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles: which is Christ in you, the hope of glory.  Him we preach, warning every man and teaching every man in all wisdom, that we may present every man perfect in Christ Jesus.” – Colossians 1:27-28

I’m taking a fresh look at this verse today.  “Christ in me”… is so much more than just getting saved… it’s so much more than just living under the cross (as monumental and powerful as the cross is).  That’s just the beginning… the entry point into the Kingdom.  The resurrected living Christ is now living in a resurrected and living me.  Jesus not only lives in me, He is becoming me… or I am becoming Jesus.  (grow up in all things into Him who is the head—Christ – Eph 4:15)  Of course, it’s not by might or power or striving or grunting or trying to be more holy… it’s “by my Spirit, says the Lord” (see Zech 4:6)  For me, the only acceptable standard is found in I John 4:17 which says, “we are as He is in this world.”   That’s the template and the lens through which I must look.  I MUST begin to see myself just like He sees me.

Christ in me; that’s my HOPE.  He is my only hope of ‘wearing’ any true and lasting glory that Jesus gave me, “And the glory which You gave Me I have given them…” (see John 17:22).  Obviously, I have no glory in myself, so I must see myself as Christ in me… and me as Christ.  Oh, what a stretch for my little pea brain mind… my history of human-ness tends to defile me… my traditional views hamstring me, and nearly everything I’ve known wants to keep me in ‘human mode’… and keep me in a human approach to this Christ-like-ness.  It’ll require nothing short of a full-on revelation to empower me to believe and walk in this reality.  Even so, come quickly, Lord Jesus!

And the “warning” and “teaching” which is referred to in Col 1:28 is so that I will believe, receive and live as a “man, perfect” in Christ Jesus.  Any mindset or reality other than being a perfect man in Christ, is substandard and not acceptable.  Even the best religious dogma, exhortations, and internal or external pressures to conform, are not acceptable… they’re even anti-Christ… unless they wholly lean upon the power of the spoken Word of God which defines and calls forth my identity in Christ because nothing exists or functions outside of the Word of His power (“upholding all things by the word of His power..” – Heb 1:3 )

In fact, to even enter, live and function in this current New Day, we MUST seek for this revelation so that it empowers us to walk free from our ‘I’m-a-sinner-trying-to-get-better’ mentality and our orphan spirit.  Oh, and there’s so much more than just getting free from this mentality!  When we get this revelation it will empower us to open up brand new rooms and vistas in God that await hungry and daring pioneers.  It’s a fact of history that most new discoveries in God have been opened up by those who were compelled by desperation of soul and who possessed a good measure of ‘devil-may-care’ attitude.  My only option is to press on….  “Not that I have already attained, or am already perfected; but I press on, that I may lay hold of that for which Christ Jesus has also laid hold of me.” – Phil 3:12   So on my journey into the revelation of perfection, I prophesy over my heart, “I am a perfect man in Christ!”

And now, on the lighter side (sort of), God has given me a very personalize verse to this end… Ps 37:37 – “Mark the perfect man…”   I just love how cool God is to prophesy over me 3000 years ago!!!   🙂

Onward, toward the perfect man.

– MLH

The Changing Church – What’s happening to my church?

14 Nov

Have you asked this same question?  The truth is that multitudes are finding that aspects of their church that used to be alive don’t seem to offer the same life anymore.

There is much shifting and ‘morphing’ taking place in the ‘universal church’.  Although we don’t have a clear picture of where it is going to end up, a dynamic of major shift is taking place.  Many very serious Jesus lovers are finding the traditional (and not-so-traditional) church services less than relevant, now-a-days.  There is a sizable exodus from traditional services towards more grass-roots gatherings (a la Early Church).  More interaction and participation by all the members gathered, is one of the hallmarks of such gatherings.  Several years ago, this trend seemed spurious and isolated, but this phenomenon now has sufficient significance that it is being measured by the global trend surveyors.  Www.barna.org and a book named MegaShift (by Jim Rutz) are just two resources that spell out the demographics and philosophies within this movement.  My personal belief is that this trend is a strong and encouraging indicator of a great spiritual awakening ahead.  Since this topic frequently emerges in conversations, here are some of my musings about the issue.

I’ve been pondering the topic of a more free and relevant church and wondering about the future of church.  Many people have become bored with the irrelevancy of church.  They’re not mad or bent out of shape or negative.  They’re very sincere Jesus loving people, but church just isn’t ‘cutting it’ for them.

Some of our ‘generals’ (those with significant supportive spiritual leadership) are not attending anymore.  Someone could say to them, “Just get in there and do more”.  But they HAVE been doing more.  Many of them have their own ministries – they’re obviously not slackers – but when they walk away from church services they have less ‘money’ in their spiritual account than when they came.  Any conscientious church leader is being forced to wrestle valiantly with this disturbing reality.

Just as Abraham and Isaac had to dig many wells, they inspire us to look for another ‘well’ when one dries up.  I’m NOT referring to switching churches here, I’m referring to the ‘well’ of the way we have done things.  There is grace for each season that God takes us through.  But sometimes we’re in the ‘between’ period.  II Cor 3:18 says that we are being changed into his image from “glory to glory”.  But sometimes we are just in the “to” part. One “glory” (well… or way of doing things) has dried up and the next “glory” (well… or way of doing things) is not yet available.  Those are awkward times.  The comfort of a past grace isn’t present anymore and we haven’t yet tapped into the next grace.

I feel that our old way of doing ‘church’ has reached the peak of its effectiveness – maybe past it.  That’s not to say that it should be abolished, because for some, the old way will hold them securely until they get to heaven.  But for many earnest hungry folks, we (church leaders) will have to find something new that is consistently relevant and substantive when the people give us their precious time.  We can’t just ask them to give us more time, on more nights, from schedules that are already full.  We must be responsible to not only ‘feed’ them but give them opportunity to ‘flex their spiritual muscle’ – which is the stuff that makes any of us grow.

All I know is that the old way of doing church is losing its relevance.  Down deep — below the insecurity and timidity, people are tired of being spoon-fed pew sitters.  I believe that it’s the innate desire of most red-blooded humans to be needed, useful and impacting wherever they go — even at church.  Sadly, most of our meeting formats don’t effectively activate people during the small window of time allotted.  Everywhere I go (and read in the world church statistics) the evidence is obvious; something has to change.  Not only are we not doing the ‘greater works’ but we’re losing those who have been entrusted to us.

I think that what we’re really looking at is more of an early church model found in I Cor 14:26.  Each member was ‘on deck’ and never knew but what the weight of any given moment of the gathering would be on him.  That keeps us all ‘on ten’ and reaching and expectant.  It provides a factor of wonder and adventure for everyone because the tapestry of every meeting is different.  They say variety is the spice of life.  Well…. how much variety do we have in our gatherings?  Even in some of our freedoms we begin to get pretty predictable.  There just isn’t any way that I can see to stay fresh, except to be committed to ‘walk on the water’ all the time.  That means that what worked last week is potentially ‘on the chopping block’ this week.

I wonder if we leaders could really walk in the unknown (committed to walking on the water and leaving our boat behind), not leaning on our strengths or seminaries or ….?  But what would the people say of our positions if we let ourselves look like we didn’t know the order of the meeting any more than they?  And what about our salaries, if we don’t practice what our professional position requires (in traditional standards)?  I wonder what the people would say if we all had to find Holy Spirit’s direction together.  But don’t we have to preach?  After all, that’s the main thing we get paid for, isn’t it?  What if the newbie Christians had more impact in their innocent and somewhat raw, yet impassioned sharing, than our mature preaching?  What then would we tell the people the reason is, for why we get paid?  We’d have to completely reevaluate what church was all about?!  OH, OH!  Maybe we’ve stumbled upon something vital and profound even in our desperate musing and ‘out of the box’ wondering.

Here’s a tangent thought: what would we teach new converts to be like right now if God gave us great grace for salvations?  Would we teach them to be like us?  Our way of doing things?  In our present model?  Does that measure up to the model of Holy Scripture?  Maybe our current status is the reason why new converts and old veterans alike, are weak and sick and even “sleep” among us (see I Cor 11:30).

Well…. I wonder who will be the notable pioneers, when we read history books 100 years from now.  Who will have been novel, desperate, daring, and hungry enough to leave the familiar behind and open a ‘gate’ for many to follow?  Consider the Micah 2:13 ‘breakers’.  Jesus found a dozen radical fellows who were just gullible enough and hungry enough to believe him.  They changed the world.  Could we be numbered among those who are the frontiersman, breakers, and standard setters of a new era in church life?  I think that herein is a kernel that carries the possible DNA of a world impacting church that the Bible says will emerge in these days (see Isa 60: and Acts 15:16, 17).

I love our churches.  They have gotten us this far.  God bless them for what they’ve done to create a nest to get us here.   But the empirical and statistical evidence along with eschatological understanding seems to say that something new is on the horizon and is in the process of being birthed.

Men and women of spiritual tenacity ponder these things well and contend for them.  This is much like Daniel who when he read the prophecies of Jeremiah, realized that “the fullness of time” (70 years of captivity) was upon them and so he began contending with fasting and prayer over the word of the Lord.  Likewise we.

“For since the days of John the kingdom of Heaven has suffered violence and the violent take it by force” – Matt 11:12.

So there you have it…some musings of my heart and the overflow of impassioned conversations with radical Jesus lovers.

—  MLH

A friend was inspired to write this simple poem

Humpty Dumpty’s Third Day Church

Humpty Dumpty sat on a wall
Humpty Dumpty had a great fall
All the Kings elders and all the churchmen
Couldn’t put the old wineskin back together again

But out of the shell there arose to the sky
Hundreds of birds set free to fly
Eagles they were once chained to a pew
And now to their places freely they flew

Out of the audience and on to the floor
Open the mic there’s got to be more
It burns in my heart and I’ve just have to say
The river of God flows deep, the third day.

by Nam E. Less

Where Do Christians Go When They Die? (Can we live in Heaven now?)

12 Nov

Try this teaser question, “Where do Christians go when they die?”  Most people will answer, “To Heaven.”  So let me ask, “When do we get to go to Heaven?”  Of course, the traditional and predictable answer is, “When we die, of course.”  To which, I’ll ask, “Does our ‘ticker’ have to stop for us to die and go to Heaven?”  That’s what our churches have said for the most part, isn’t it?

Are you intrigued with this line of thinking?   If so, let’s unpack this fascinating idea.  I think we may be shocked at how much of Heaven is already available and waiting for us… even now.

We all agree that Jesus is our supreme model for how to live in Heaven and earth.  Did you know that as a man He learned to live in a dual-world reality?  His feet walked on terra firma, but His greater reality was one of living in Heaven.  Remember He said, “I can do nothing apart from my Father” (see Jn 5:19).  Not only was He good at ‘looking’ into the Heavens where His Father was, but He could actually ‘go’ there.  A crazy cool verse bears this out:

If I have told you earthly things and you do not believe, how will you believe if I tell you heavenly things? No one has ascended to heaven but He who came down from heaven, that is, the Son of Man who IS in heaven.” – John 3:13 (caps and bold, mine)

Did you hear what He just said!?!  Where was He when He was talking to them?  He was in Heaven!  He had originally descended into the earthly realm to become a flesh and blood man.  And then He had ascended into the heavenly realms while he was still man.  Jesus, who set the standards for what we can do, said this while standing among them.  And just so we get it, remember that this is pre-cross, pre-resurrection and pre-glorification.  He was already in Heaven as a man!

Jesus said, “Be ye perfect even as your Father in Heaven is perfect” (see Matt 5:48).  Could we say it another way, “Learn to live ‘perfectly’ in Heaven where your Father is?”  And just so we wouldn’t misconstrue this to apply to some code of ethics, instead of pointing at Himself, Jesus pointed to our Father who lives IN Heaven.  This Heavenly realm is to define and become our norm.  In other words, to live in Heaven is to live perfectly.

If the Heavenly realm is accessed through death, then when do we die and go to Heaven?  Well, let’s consider Jesus whose ‘death’ to His own will while living on earth AND in His death on the cross made His total life a perfect sacrifice for you and me.  Then He resurrected, was glorified and ascended to the right hand of the Father (see Eph 1:20; Heb 8:1).  Because of what Jesus’ perfect life and death purchased for us, He made a way for us to enter the Heavenlies.  Apostle Paul explains even further that we were also raised and seated WITH Christ.

“and raised us up with him, and made us to sit with him in the heavenly places, in Christ Jesus:” – Eph 2:6

Elaborating more, Paul says, “you died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God” (see Col. 3:3) and “if you were buried with Christ shall you not also be raised with Christ” (see Rom. 6:4)… and just so we remember where we’re raised to, Jesus is now “seated at the Father’s right hand in heavenly places” (see Eph 1:20; 2:6).  Just as surely as Jesus died at the cross…. SO DID YOU!  We must not water-down the absolute work that Jesus accomplished at Calvary.  His death and resurrection IS our death and resurrection.  And so we are in the Heavenlies with Him… right now!  This is radical news and a radical new paradigm.  I’m telling you, we’ve got to know more about this reality of the Bible because this is VITAL in order to live in the fullness of our inheritance in Christ.

Paul says, “If then you were raised with Christ, seek those things (set your affections / attention on those things) which are above, where Christ is, sitting at the right hand of God” (see Col 3:1).  This is our new M.O. – our new mode of operation.  Our affections must be for the Heavenlies.  We must live in the Heavenlies.  We must eat Heavenly food.  The more we do this, our old earthbound mindsets will fall away and we’ll find that we are transformed.

“Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.” – Roms 12:2.

Since this reality has rarely been preached or modeled for us, we need our minds renewed with the washing of the Word.  Even most of our preachers pray plaintiff prayers… not to fault them… it’s just the best they’ve been taught.  God is not looking for someone who will just give nod to some spiritual truth but for those who really believe that the moment we die, we ARE in heaven… at that moment we have access to what we have usually relegated to when our ‘ticker’ stops, or to the millennium or some afar-off date in the future.  God is giving much grace for revelation to live in a whole new dimension, now.  As we get this Heavenly perspective, it will qualify and empower us to reign in the Kingdom realm, now.  Yes, reign!

Speaking of reigning, did you know that we have been appointed to be co-rulers with Christ?  Here are just a couple verses to make that point.  “Fear not, little flock; for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom” (see Lk 12:32) and “the kingdom and dominion, and the greatness of the kingdom under the whole heaven, shall be given to the people of the saints of the most High” (see Dan 7:27-28).  I believe our inheritance in God, a large part of which is to be experienced in this life, is SO much greater than anyone has ever told us.  We’re on the cusp of breaking into a marvelous ‘new day’ as co-rulers with Jesus on the earth.

But it’s impossible to have confidence and rule with Jesus in this Kingdom realm if we still have an orphan spirit or beggar mentality (remember the beggar type prayers).  We have been raised to a much higher status than mere earth-beings.  We are kings and priests“…and hath made us kings and priests unto God”, (see Rev. 1:5-6), “and we shall reign (from Heaven) on the earth”, (see Rev. 5:9-10).  It’s not becoming of Godly ‘kings’ to beg… rather, they reign.  They have learned God’s nature and heart toward them and have learned who they are in Christ.  They know that reigning is so much more than quoting a few Scriptures.  And we don’t get there by just ‘taking thought’ or doing something harder.   This reality only comes through revelation.  This is so vital; we MUST search for it like silver or hidden treasure (see Prov 2:4).

OK, now the question is, “So where do we see ourselves?  What reality do we live from?  Do we really ‘see’ ourselves in the Heavenlies… or on the earth?  Are we living from earth toward Heaven… or from Heaven toward earth?  Do you wanna know where you see yourself?  It’s really quite simple to check out our reality in these matters; just listen to ourselves the next time we pray.  Are we praying plaintiff prayers… or declaration prayers?  Do we beg… or do we prophesy?  Do we pray from earth to Heaven… or from Heaven to earth? Are we beggars… or kings?

Here’s an example of how our perspective makes ‘worlds’ of difference.  Consider what we commonly call The Lord’s Prayer…

“Our Father who art in Heaven, hallowed be Thy name.  Thy Kingdom come Thy will be done on earth as it is in Heaven.” – Luke 11:2

Most people pray this prayer by rote, not really grasping the import of the passage.  And others pray it as plaintiffs in beggar mode… hoping, almost beyond hope, for another morsel from Heaven.  But what if we prayed the same prayer with the same words from our Heavenly position and reality?  What if we prayed it as a prophetic declaration instead of a petition?  Listen to how the prayer now has authority and power.

Our Father (We’re so grateful to be able to call You Father) who art in heaven (where we are now), hallowed be Your name (May Your name be exalted forever!).  Your kingdom come! (I agree with You and prophesy Your desires) Your will be done on earth (down in the terra firma situations just) like it is (here) in Heaven (where we are with You).

You see, our perspective changes everything!!  From this vantage point and perspective (from Heaven to earth) we’re able to discover true wisdom from God and ply our influence in Heaven and earth.  Heaven’s full heart and mind on any matter is accessed here.  And listen to this!  The idea of living from Heaven toward earth isn’t just the current popular catch-phrase; even Paul is into living ‘from Heaven to earth’.

“For our conversation is in heaven; from where we also look for the Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ” – Phil 3:20

Praying from our Heavenly position gives us a whole new dynamic authority and power?  As kings, we begin to pray with confidence and from a position of ruling.  As we get the “mind of Christ” (see I Cor 2:16) our prayers become kingly declarations thereby fulfilling Jesus’ desire for us to be His ‘kings and priests’ reigning with Him here on the earth (remember our dual-reality of living in Heaven and on earth).  Friends, God’s Word is more true and more real than any doctrine, tradition, persuasion, circumstance or experience we may have had in the past.  True humility is not afraid to embrace divine reality.   This is Jesus’ passion and desire that He’s had for us from the beginning, “Father, I want those you have given me to be with me where I am…” (see Jn 17:24).  O, that Your joy may be made full, Jesus!

Taking this a bit further: Begging prayers discount Jesus’ magnanimous love to us.  You see, after Jesus has laid His life down and invited us into the royal status of being seated with Him, it is utterly inappropriate for us to look over to Him and beg for another comparatively small ‘crumb’.  He has already expressed His will about most of our requests, and so now our part is to agree and prophesy His will into those situations.  And what if we don’t know the mind of Christ?  We still don’t beg; rather, from a place of confidence in His abundant favor we ask for His mind on the matter, knowing that He’s good, all His thoughts toward us are good, and He’ll only do us good.  Then when we have His mind, we release, declare and prophesy… like kings do.

Friends, we’ve been invited to boldly go where few mortals have gone or even dared to dream.  The fact is, we’re discovering that Heaven truly is our home… now!  And we’ve discovered that our perspective is everything.  So if all this is true, then our journey begins by asking God to grant us the revelation of true Grace and our position in Christ.  Now we must listen to our conversations with God and with others in order to identify the telltale signs of what we really believe, because  we know that “out of the abundance of the heart (our) mouth speaks” (see Matt 12:34; Prov 23:7).

One last thing, since we know our Heavenly position and are committed to learn how to live in it, we may want to encourage each other with this cute, simple and powerful reminder: Keep looking down!

— MLH

God bless you, Mr President!

7 Nov

In accordance with I Tim 2:1-4, we’re praying for you, your family and your administration that God would overshadow you and grant you God-encounters, His wisdom and protection.

God, bless the USA… let Your Kingdom be on earth just as it is in Heaven!