Wednesday, May 28, 2008


What did you see when you read this title? One word or four?
Things aren't always as they appear.
You might call it perspective. Not so much where you see some thing from, but how you see it.
The preconceptions.
The goggles you are looking through.
The attitude of your heart.
The 24-7 prayer website has some t-shirts and hoodies for sale. The message (front and back) is two-fold:
You see bones; I see an army. (Ezekiel 37)
It's all in how you are looking.

There are lots of corollaries:
--You see a cup of foam with a weird design of a leaf on the top. I see a steamy mug of comfort and caffeine, surrounded by conversation.
--You see an exciting test of skill in the crisp air of a winter evening. I see a fight with a hockey game liable to break out without warning.

It's all in what you are really looking for.
--You see (or hear) a call to rise up and fix the way your country operates. I hear the cacophony of screaming voices, pounding rhythms and profanity.
--You see a shiftless good-for-nothing, about to buy more drugs with the change he has just been given. I see a fellow human being, with drive and potential, looking for a chance to break free and shine.
--I see someone who is the biggest enemy of the church. You see someone who will become a teacher and leader in the church.
--You see a rebellious tattooed kid with metal stuck through places in his body not intended to have holes. I see someone searching for identity, striving for uniqueness in a way acceptable to his peers.

What do you see? Do you see dry bones, or an army?

I challenge you to see with God's eyes, love with His heart.

Friday, May 23, 2008

No guts, no glory

It must have been an intimidating moment for Joshua.
For over 40 years, the people had been following Moses. Actually, all of them had been born in the wilderness, except Joshua and Caleb, so only knew that kind of life (wandering), menu (manna), and terrain (desert). And the only leader they had known was Moses.
Now he was dead.
Moses had been mentoring Joshua for years, but now was the moment of truth--would the people switch their allegiance? Would they be willing to embark on a totally different stage of their existence, moving into the promised land?
No wonder God told Joshua: "Be strong and courageous". At least three times God told him to be strong. He wanted to make sure Joshua knew he wasn't alone in this new endeavor. No wonder God said: "As I was with Moses, I will be with you". No wonder He promised: "Today I will exalt you in the eyes of the people".
As for Joshua, he moved forward in faith. He got his direction from God, and boldly proclaimed the steps to be followed.
God kept His word, and Joshua's word was fulfilled.
We remember Moses as God's deliverer of the people from Egypt, but it was Joshua who brought them into the promised land.
"Be strong and courageous."
No guts, no glory.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008


I'm trying to understand or at least accept the uniquenesses of how we respond to God's Spirit at work in us.
I know each of us is different.
Unique personalities
Varied abilities
Even different theologies

Paul reminds us that we are a body--different parts, different purposes, but needing to work together.
Not fighting for prominence
Not trying to make others the same as me
Not feeling lesser because my uniqueness seems less valuable, visible, or profound
Instead, rejoicing in my particular skills.

A hand can grasp things--pick them up, throw them, do intricate work, get into strange places--but not see any of it.
Can't work on its own.
Can't always tell the identity of what is being picked up, how fragile it might be, or where it might be hiding.

The eye is really good at perceiving things.
Determining identities
Enjoying beauty
But can't create or manipulate by itself.

That all makes good sense, but requires one more bit of insight.
The brain (the 'head') is Christ. He coordinates, calls the shots. He aims the eye in the right direction, takes the signals, and then tells the hand how to respond.

So, it's OK that I don't respond the same way as my brother, don't do the same action as my sister.
The hand doesn't require the same programming as the eye. So, when a friend feels it's completely appropriate to spend a week at the revival in Lakeland, and I don't, it's all good.
It's good for her, and it's good for me.
If she is called to go, and doesn't, she is missing something important. If I am led to follow my heart in a different direction, but go to Lakeland instead, I'm going to miss something important as well.

Probably the important thing for me to learn is to let God do the persuading.
Not to feel guilty about having a different understanding.
not to use guilt to try to persuade.
God is big enough to correct my mis-conceptions, to re-orient my focus, to make mid-course adjustments.
And to do the same for the brother I might want to 'fix'.

Lord, protect us from guilt trips--both arranging them for others, or going on them ourselves.

Unity is a matter of attitude, not conformity.
Rejoicing in being able to contribute something unique in the work of the whole, not being a clone, an exact replica of every other member of the team.

Friday, May 16, 2008

Meditations from the prayer room

(I had another opportunity to spend a couple hours in the prayer room. Part of the time was spent meditating on why I am so blessed and moved as I spend time there.)

Psalm 84. Lord, my Daddy, my God—where You are is the place to be. Beautiful, comforting, enveloping, safe. Rejuvenating, invigorating.
Sometimes I am faint, hungry, needy. I need to be like the gentle birds, and make my home in Your presence.
When I set aside time to hang out, I realize how much I need it. So, I need to live here, not just visit.
My agenda needs to be simple—enjoy You, worship You, live with You. Nothing complicated.
Unload my stuff, receive Your stuff. Download “me”, upload “You”.
Even hanging around the edges of where You are is better than being in the center of power of the wicked.
You bring warmth and enable me to see what's going on. Safety, protection, blessing, provision, favor, love.

There's something powerfully refreshing in the full engaging of our senses in meeting with God. You can do in a grand cathedral—inspiring spires, brilliant stained glass, flickering candles, uplifting pipe organ, mysterious incense. You can do it in nature (the adjectives seem too trite)—magnificent mountain peaks, gurgling streams, delicate floral scents, infinite color. They stimulate worship, faith, creativity, communion. The grandeur, majesty and peace. It makes you want to forever leave the real world with its problems, noise, pain and emptiness just to dwell in the eternal joy of God's being. But somehow, after being rejuvenated, it seems right to return to the bustle with purpose and strength, ready again to be the incarnation of God to your world.
Such is the beauty of this prayer room.
The colors and textures splashed across your mind.
The power of symbols and icons to remind, to reconnect with a familiar place in your heart.
The warmth of light, perhaps even a candle flame to draw you in, hold you spell bound.
The refreshing of running water, draining away, washing.
Music to engage and invigorate; soothe and heal, inspire and transform.
A comfortable chair to think in, reason, question, rest, read, listen.
Words to stimulate, to draw out from the depth of your own heart.
Tools for creativity, to release the inborn image of the Creator from within the created.
Alone or with a friend.
In the middle of a busy day, or the solitude of 2 AM.
You enter, whatever the state of your mind—turmoil, worship, questions, thankfulness, concerns, joy—and soon it all fades into His presence.
A place of refuge, set aside for God. Sanctuary—where the profane and the Holy mingle freely. Each unloading, sharing, enjoying each other.
Beth-el—the house of God.
2 Chronicles 6:18: No temple can contain God, but He meets with us in these places dedicated for engaging Him. Places where earth and heaven truly intersect, where (like Jacob at Bethel) we are part of the traffic between the created and the Creator.
God tabernacles here. He can be encountered. Not just visited or briefly conferred with. Not just a brief glimpse at a distance, but He sits down with us. My complete attention. His complete attention.
Eden is revisted as we walk with God. Something profound and intimate; connective, and incredibly bonding as we choose to 'be' with our God. He choreographs the movement of the dance He is leading us in. A sometimes tempestuous, sometimes graceful union of the immediate and the eternal. The incomprehensible juxtaposition of this precise moment, and forever; of a mortal and the Immortal; of my life and its issues at this instant and the God of all time. He knows the end from the beginning, and still wants to walk with me!
What an incredible God who somehow sees the whole picture, but cares about each detail. Who created the laws of science and logic, yet cares deeply about things that seem to make no sense.
Isaiah 55. Thirsty? Come and drink. Hungry? Come and eat. Come and hang out. I'm here, come and find Me. After eating and drinking of me, you will bring life wherever you go.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008


(One more post from my time in the prayer room last week. If you haven't noticed, my spirit is particularly engaged in that atmosphere.)

As a result of some conversations with my friend Jerri (containing some of the same ideas shared in Trust), she has been needling me about taking the authority to speak into the lives of people I am forming relationships with. Initially, my response was "But I feel I am just called to hang out with these guys, love them, affirm them, but not necessarily preach at them." After about 5 tries, she finally began to get through to me that all of that was fine, but it also needs to include speaking into their lives. Not just "Maybe, some day.", but now. So, I started doing some meditating on that idea.

What gives me (or you) the authority to speak into someone's life?
I think there are at least 3 criteria. All need to be present, at least to some degree.

1. Relationship.
--this is only developed, nurtured, and deepened over time.
--has to be a two-way street. Both of you must admit that a friendship exists, and both of you have the same right of input into each other.
--is encouraged by listening, and not necessarily responding. Much has been said about the art of conversation and the need to really be listening (including my earlier post on Dignity and affirmation).
--every person deserves to exist, and be treated as a fellow human being. That is basic affirmation. As you choose to form a relationship, that affirmation takes on new depth as you begin to recognize the person's specific value. You discover, for example, that they have certain skills and abilities. They have unique interests. They have cool tattoos, they play guitar, they are from Eastern Alberta (like I am), they make a mean latte. Whatever these unique things are, they are special, and your connectedness with them grows. As the friendship deepens, they have a greater right to be heard, to be listened to.
--the deeper the relationship, the deeper the authority. Both you and they have a deeper right to speak. Never forget that if you have the right to challenge them, they also have the right to challenge you.
--time and caring are the two main ingredients of growing a friendship.
--building relationships are not just for having people to preach at!

2. Content.
--you need to have something worthwhile to say in order to speak into someone's life.
--wisdom from experience.
--wisdom from God. I have found that if I am connected with God, His wisdom often flows out of my mouth without any particular preparation. I have discovered that the sentence I just spoke wasn't from my brain, it just kind of fell out. If I am willing to obey and say something, often He will give me something worthwhile to say.
--the content doesn't have to be profound, and better not be preachy--just appropriate.
--conversations like this are best approached as a fellow learner, not an expert. That way, both of you are more likely to learn something.
--a discussion is better than a dissertation. Listen to the response, learn as well as teach.

3. God-given authority.
--do you already have the sense that you are called to this place/people? Is it on your 'home turf'? Do you have a degree of ownership, equity within the life of this person? For example: I feel God's call to the street community of Victoria. So, someone in that community, that I am forming a relationship with, is part of my parish, as it were.
--The Bible has several lists of gifts/abilities that God has given to people. Operating within your calling gives you an authority to speak. The teacher has an authority to teach. The evangelist has the authority to preach good news. The exhorter has the right to say things that will build up. This is not only a matter of authority, but also the skill and passion to accomplish the task. Become acquainted with your calling.
--is there an awareness of divine timing, God-given revelation or discernment? That awareness gives an added strength to speak the words that will impact someone's life.

When all three (relationship, content, and authority) are present, don't hold back. Make the most of the opportunity to impact and be impacted.

Monday, May 12, 2008


(This came to me while in the 24/7 prayer room last week. It is a bit more personal, reveals more of the journey I am on.)

I need to trust in my Father's wisdom. To trust that what He is doing is indeed Him. That the things being stirred in my heart are of Him. That things which are not being stirred are just as much of His design.
I need to grow in grace and understanding that He is at work in different ways with different people. Like His gifts, to one He gives a call to be a channel of His miraculous power--healing, deliverance. To another He gives a passion to preach repentance and turning from sin.

To me He is giving an alertness to His presence at work; His Spirit nudging, drawing, loving.
To affirm what is good.
To bless creativity, justice, hope.
To see the image of God, even in the least likely places.
To see far beyond man-made divisions, borders, pathways.
To lose religiosity, to gain love.
To find and affirm truth.
It is also a need and desire to walk in the unforced rhythms of grace, to allow His infiniteness to fill my voids, to be because He is, not do because I should.
It includes growing in the broadness of what it means to engage the divine, to be in His presence. Drawing near, and staying.
Continuing to learn that prayer = communion = worship = being prostate in His presence = rejoicing = writing = drawing = dancing = silence = shouting = listening = seeing = believing with out seeing (and once in awhile, even includes petition).

Trust includes believing that the sum of the parts is a yet unseen whole. That the various paths I see myself on are really one journey, with one destination--although it is a destination you never completely reach. Today's finish line is tomorrow's starting block.

The Parts:
--compassion, affirmation, justice, understanding, relationship with people--the poor, addicted, pierced, post-modern; culture, sub-culture, counter-culture. The articulate, the voiceless. Almost all from a different slice of the human experience than myself. (Although I do have a few 'normal' friends!)
--discussion about 'the church'--post-modern, post-evangelical, post-fundamental, post-traditional. Endeavoring to remain true to truth, but not tied to tradition.
--reveling in the diversity of God exhibited in the 24/7 prayer model--worship, creativity, justice.
--coffee! Somehow, my love for this social beverage (never call it an addiction!) is part of who I am. There is something in this setting for unhurried listening, probing, accepting, being real.
--technology, communications. OK, I admit it. For a time I swore off Facebook, now I have succumbed.

So these are some of the threads of my journeying, being woven together into a fabric only God can envision.

Draw Near

About 40 of our local churches joined together for 52 days of 24/7 prayer from Good Friday to Pentecost (yesterday). Churches took responsibility for a specific period of time from one day up to a week. Because of the large number of churches involved, several times two separate groups were praying simultaneously. Prayer rooms in the 24/7 model were set up in various host churches, sometimes with several churches using the same room over the period of time. For me, it was a welcome return to the 24/7 prayer we had in the city for a couple months two years ago. This time many more people were involved, more people were exposed to the broader aspects of prayer that the 24/7 model encourages (contemplation, communion, worship, creativity, rest, solitude, etc. as well as petition). I enjoyed it immensely, and hope the concept continues here.
The first night I was in the room, the theme of 'Draw Near' touched my spirit, and the following resulted.

Put your head on my breast and listen to my heart beat.
Stay long enough for your heart to synchronize with mine. Then when you go back into the ministry I have called you to, you will go with my Spirit in you, my passion burning in you, your every move in step with mine.
Prayer won't be you trying to bend my will to yours, but you accepting my yoke, going forth in the center of my will, heart, and purpose.
As you walk in step with me, you will learn the unforced rhythms of grace.
You will hear the still small voice.
Your heart will be touched with the things that touch mine.
Come aside and rest awhile.

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