Archive | February, 2014

Grace in the balance between the prodigal and elder brother response

11 Feb

My friend Mel, has offered some wise insights into what Jesus called the story of “the Father who had two sons”. And how telling… that we focus on the prodigal. Hmmmm. What does that say about us.

How sad that both sons lived in fear, relegating both of them to orphan living… one was an ‘orphan’ living away from home, and the other was an ‘orphan’ even in his own home… yet neither was an orphan in their Father’s eyes.

Thanks Dad, for pursuing us despite our broken perspectives of ourselves!

In My Father's House

Prodigal-elderbrother How we see our life in Christ will very much determine how we respond to this fresh wind of grace we’re seeing in the body of Christ today. And I think Jesus’ parable in Luke 15:11-32  can help us here.

First, it’s quite telling to me that we traditionally refer to this story as the parable of the “prodigal son.”

You see, Jesus seemed to think it was about a father who had TWO sons. And if we miss this, we miss the heart of our heavenly Father–and our own response to His heart toward us.

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Can Thanksgiving Really Raise the Dead?

10 Feb

“In everything GIVE THANKS: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.” – I Thess 5:18

At first glance this is a difficult verse.  I mean, it’s easy to give thanks for the good stuff.  But how can I possibly give thanks for something that is hurtful?  But there it is… it says, “In everything…”  Wow!  That’s pretty all-inclusive.

So what is it that is so powerful about Thanks?  What does it unlock for us?  Whatever it is, it seems as though the Lord has designed this as a pathway to breakthrough.  Consider the breakthrough Jesus experienced at Lazarus’ tomb:

“…And Jesus lifted up His eyes and said, ‘Father, I THANK YOU that You have heard Me. And I know that You always hear Me…’  After Jesus had said these words, He cried with a loud voice, ‘Lazarus, come forth!'” –  John 11:41–42

And Lazarus came forth!

Can you believe it!  Thanksgiving even raises the dead!

In our current reality in God, raising of the dead is likely the most powerful supernatural phenomenon which we reference.  And look at the posture that Jesus took to affect such a supernatural phenomenon… Thanks!!!   How ‘ridiculous’ (joking of course) that thanksgiving would be that powerful.  Then if thanksgiving can raise the dead, it can surely bring resolution to our problems.

But what is our common tendency when we have problems?  We got focused on the problem rather than the Problem Solver.  We get discouraged… begin to murmur and worry… until we wear ourselves out… or even worse, we wear out those around us, too.

A liberating and powerful truth is coming alive to us.  We’re getting our minds renewed to the fact that even ‘problems’ get redesigned by the Great Designer and He makes them work together for our good!  How’s that for a switch-er-roo!  What the devil meant for evil gets turned around for our good.  God is amazing.  He trumps everything that comes in our path with His goodness.   “And if  God be for us, who can be against us!”  Rom 8:31

So what is the key that transforms our problems into assets?  Thanksgiving!

To reinforce this truth, even Holy Spirit makes a point to highlight the power of thanks in John 6:23, “the place where they ate bread after the Lord had given thanks.”  What was the predicating factor for the multiplication of bread and fish… Thanks!

So when we only have just a little (like the young boy with only 5 loaves and 2 fishes), we’re learning to give thanks for even that much, so that the miraculous transformation and multiplication can take place.  And of course, this is only our right response, giving honor and thanks to Whom it is due, whether we’re experiencing little or much!  The more we develop a heart of thanksgiving, the more Heaven’s favor can flow unhindered.  What little you have will be multiplied and even the ‘dead’ areas in your life will be raised to life!

So we give thanks!

— MLH

DPM Update – 2014 February

9 Feb

Dear Friends

Announcing
We have some big news!  Our daughter, Lydia is getting married!  Lydia and Chris will tie the knot on May 18 in Redding, CA.  They met about 4 years ago while both were attending the Bethel School of Supernatural Ministry.  As you can imagine, wedding plans are in full swing.  We’re grateful for your prayers regarding the details and planning ahead!  Thank you!.

Honduras trip
It’s way too cold and too many snow storms around here, so Debbie and I and our friends, Deb and Daryl Billings are getting out of here!  We’re going south… and ministering in Honduras for the next couple weeks… leaving Feb 13 and returning Feb 27.  We’ll minister in a conference of pastors in San Pedro Sula one weekend… and then in local churches in the region.

We’ll also visit an orphanage and ministry base of our friends, Tom and Theresa Stamman, in Comayagua. When I’m in a poverty stricken area, I like to visit the poorest of the poor where my heart gets tenderized in the most wonderful way.  I’m eager to meet Jesus among the orphans again.  So as much as we’re going to transport some good ‘cargo’ to the Hondurans, I’m confident that we are going to experience our own heart enrichment from them.  Isn’t God good in that way!

If you would like to financially help these orphans and poor, we’ll make sure that 100% gets applied to them in very tangible and practical ways.  Use Paypal if you like.

Video for fun
This little girl says her bedtime prayers and pretty much preaches her whole theology.  It’ll make you smile.  About 7.5 mins long

For your inspiration
One of my latest blogs: Our New Prayer Posture: Declare / Prophesy  The old beggar identity is extinct and the plaintiff prayer posture is obsolete.  Download the latest 4.0 upgrade of ‘declare’ and ‘prophesy’… the new prayer M.O. of our future.  We might as well get used to it!

Another post Anatomy Of A Reformation, offers definition and perspective to the radical shifts that have been happening in the Church at large.  It’s quite likely that you’ve felt the thrill AND the uncertainty of this reformation.  Not to worry… it’s a God-thing.  The dissatisfaction, the hunger for more, the risks of questioning, the testing of new ideas and ways… it’s paying off.  It’s happening… this radical shift is credible and real!

Lotsa love

Mark and Debbie
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Dwelling Place Ministries
Hendrickson
11011 Olive St
KC, MO 64131
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Web: www.dpmkc.org
Blog: www.marklhen.wordpress.com
Mark FB: www.facebook.com/marklhen
SP bk FB: www.facebook.com/spforu

Anatomy Of A Reformation

8 Feb

Something is changing!  Can you feel it?  

God’s Word hasn’t changed, but our understanding of it is.  Even our understanding of who we are in Him is changing.  Transforming revelation and empowering new perspectives of very familiar verses are launching a blasé church into dynamic new realities.  Lest we have an automatic knee jerk reaction against the new thing, we must remember that although the nature of God is the same yesterday, today and forever, the Kingdom of God is always advancing.

And of the increase of His Kingdom and of His peace there shall be no end.” (Isa 9:7)

If we are honest enough to acknowledge it, whatever we have been a part of, was also, at its inception, a radical departure from the status quo before it.  And so, the cycle continues.  Now we’re experiencing another shift in the heavenlies… the way we do business with God is morphing.  It’s becoming obvious that what was appropriate and fitting 50 years ago… and in some cases, even 5 years ago, is antiquated today.  The Church is waking up from her long ‘Rip van Winkle’ religious slumber!  A global reformation is taking place in the Church of Jesus Christ!

So what is the anatomy of a reformation?

Three phases of reformation

First – Holy dissatisfaction   This phase begins with a hunger for more reality in God.  What used to work for us, doesn’t work anymore.  Traditional church is not fulfilling a deep heart need. Some of us felt badly, not aware that it was God allowing ‘holy dissatisfaction’ to help us release our grip on what was once precious to us.  (E.g. A toddler let’s go of his beloved but unsatisfying binky in hopes that he can have the lollipop.)  Most readers will identify with this wave of dissatisfaction… and have probably experienced the rumbles in their own church?  This dissatisfaction motivates us to move out of feeling trapped or stalemated.

But, thanks be to God for a hungry heart!  “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, FOR THEY SHALL BE SATISFIED.” (Matt 5:6) (emphasis mine)

Second – Transition   Here’s where pioneers explore new trails in the Spirit.  These pioneers are the radicals of the dissatisfied ones.  Some are leaving church, but not because of cool hearts or apathy.  George Barna and James Rutz present empirical statistics in MegaShift which indicate that people are leaving church in order to find God.  That’s right… they want more of God.  And when they leave, they ‘rock the boat’ of the conventional norm.  Most don’t have a vendetta to ‘rock the boat’, they’re just desperate.  This results in ideological clashes, jostling of authority figures and even some schisms between those who feel they must maintain the status quo and those who are willing to ‘sell all’.  Because these frontiersman are usually unpolished in style and concept, their radical initiatives may have a high ‘mortality’ rate.  They will certainly pay a greater price for change than those who follow.  The rank and file may ask,What’s happening to my church?”  And for the insecure pastor, this transition is especially unsettling, as his flock isn’t nice and tidy anymore.

At first this phase looks and feels awkward… even spurious.  It’s the most uncomfortable part of the reformation process.  Serious resistance arises from those who fear they are losing the comfortable and predictable culture of their ol’ time religion.  Skirmishes arise occasionally which test the mettle of true believers who are at theological or stylistic odds with one another.  This phase tends to yield a hybrid of both the past and future.  It’s not the full or final change… it’s just a variation and upgrade from the old.  But at least it’s a start.  There is hope in the air now.  We realized that it’s OK to start the deconstruction of our traditional positions and take a fresh look at Scripture.  Bantering back and forth, blogs and Bible studies around relevant topics are the name of the game now.  New concepts are being tested and ‘fired upon’ to see if they can stand the strain of going prime time.  Then little by little mainstream Church’s talking heads begin to allude to the validity of the shift, which only pours gas on the fires of passion and resolution.  It’s a done deal now.  The rabbits have been let out of the cage… you’ll never get them back in.  The course has been set and confirmed.  Fine tuning and patience for God’s favor are the only prerequisites for certain success.

Third – Walking in the new thing   This phase impacts everything!  Radical new ideologies have sustained sufficient battles along the way so as to prove their enduring qualities. Abraham, Jesus, Martin Luther… all were radicals who defied the status quo and were resolute enough in lifestyle, word and actions to establish a permanent beach-head of new belief.  Of course the impetuous and impulsive ones who were in it just because they love a good fight, have probably ‘died off’ by now… and they may have ‘taken out’ a few good people in their unbridled zeal.  But despite the casualties, the fact is, this reformation is here to stay.  Anointed and skilled voices are now discovered and begin the rise to the top… they now promulgate the life and power found in this reformation.  The new ideology is not going away now… rather, it’s acceptance is expanding exponentially, for it is fulfilling not only Heaven’s new emphasis (and thus has Heaven’s favor), but it is answering the God-created ‘holy dissatisfaction’ felt early-on.  En masse men’s hearts eagerly leave the old and embrace the new.  Heaven’s favor is manifesting on many fronts which begins to change society’s ‘world view’ and the culture at large. 

From my perspective, the Church may have started the first phase of ‘holy discontent’ back in the early to mid 90s.  This was evidenced by a shift of emphasis toward house churches and less formalized church gatherings.  Ralph Neighbors’ book’Where Do We Go From Here’, and Larry Kreider’s house church network, Dove International, and others, were some of the first evidences of substantial discontent with formalized religion.  In fact it was in the mid-90s when I first heard the phrase ‘holy discontent’ coined by Rick Joyner.  Most people who found themselves a part of this phase, had it ‘up to here’ with pew-sitting and thus began a search to find God.  Note: their motives were to FIND GOD!  That was the first phase… awareness of a problem. That was nearly 20 years ago.  

The second phase started out kind of ‘maverick’ and tenuous. Sincere hearts were done with status quo and were going to try something… sometimes anything… sometimes nothing… because we just couldn’t stay where we were.  Even DC Talk expressed agreement in their song which says “God is doing a ‘Nu Thang‘.”  I think the Church at large is in the second phase, and may have been there for the last 5 or so years.  Just take look at some of these recent dramatic shifts.

~ Our understanding of our identity and position in Christ is changing
~ The goodness, grace and love of God is exploding in our understanding
~ ‘Heaven now’ – many of Heaven’s realities are available now – no need to wait
~ Classic eschatology has sustained an intense ‘hit’… and is still radically shifting
~ Kingdom mindset and expectations of a victorious future are changing
~ ‘Kingdom’ and ‘Grace’ are being heralded from many streams in the body of Christ
~ Our vocabulary and prayer posture is being forced to keep up with our new found realities in God

These are glimpses into the third phase where the answers to our dissatisfied hunger and quest will be experienced as the new norm.  Looking at the evidence around us, we see signals that this phase may not be that far away.  Be prepared, where we’re going would probably shock us if we could define it now… but if that disturbs us, ask ourselves how much we’ve changed in just 5-10 years.  The body of Christ is waking up and growing up into Christ.  Momma Church was good.  She has been and will always be good.  And we’ll visit Momma’s House frequently… but the apron strings to Momma have been cut.  We’re finding out that the Church Family is everywhere we find them… not just at Momma’s House.  We’re discovering how to be sons led by the Spirit (Rms 8:14) in our Father’s kingdom.  This third phase will bring real UNITY OF THE FAITH (Eph 4:12-16)… where we are transformed by the faith OF Jesus Christ (Rms 3:22; Gal 2:16) and our minds come into unity WITH God’s views of us.

Reformers, this is a most exciting time to be alive!  Get ready for the ride of your life. 

(The above perspectives are a reflection of my own journey, observations and convictions mixed with gleanings from Mel Wild’s blog ‘In My Father’s House’, Graham Cooke and others.)

— MLH

Quote: Unhealthy Extremes On the Right and the Left of Grace

1 Feb

The Grace Revolution

There is rapidly occurring across the earth, a division between Law teaching and Grace teaching.  God Himself is doing it.  Some of those who still preach a mixture of Law and Grace will first try to be diplomatic and reasonable but under the surface they will carry hatred and envy.  They will seek to disguise this in a form of godliness and theological reasoning but God in these days is going to expose the true state of their hearts.  This is not a gentle reformation.  This is a true revolution.

Those that do not understand this will be utterly dismayed at how quickly this revolution is about to spread.  In this revolution the gospel of Grace as revealed in the New Covenant will spread like wildfire.

There will be unhealthy extremes on the right and the left in reaction to this.  There will be voices that attempt to gain advantage by appearing to be balanced diplomats  calling for calm but God will sweep these self-appointed voices of reason aside and silence them swiftly.  Those with secure, pure hearts will steward this revolution, not panicking at the unhealthy extremes or trying to prematurely balance everything.

For you see, it is not the message of Grace that is causing the extremes or unbalance, but it is the result of an entrenched and deeply established legalism and man’s control surfacing because of the intensifying pressure of the Grace revolution.  This revolution will force the mask off every form and appearance of godliness that denies the power of the New Covenant.

This gospel revolution is not to be blamed for the ugliness that will appear in some.  It is simply forcing the true nature of legalism out into the open and stripping it of all its disguises so that even the naïve and deceived will see how truly hideous it’s face really is.  The camouflage of legalism is being removed so that it can no longer harass from hidden positions that have an appearance of godliness.

The people in these days who fearlessly embrace Grace and remain pure hearted and faithful, enduring hardship and refusing to be polluted by bitterness during persecution, will be partners with the Holy Spirit in seeing entire nations birthed into revival.

Rob Rufus – Hong Kong  2009.

Excerpt from book: ‘Invading The Impossible’ by Rob Rufus – ISBN 978-988-18223-3-8   Find at: www.newnaturepublications.com