Thursday, October 21, 2010
An Encounter With A Living Creature! AAAHH!
Before you get all weird with me about encounters and stuff, let me be the first to say that I really don't know what happened. I mean I was content to just stare at the back of my eye lids murmuring love phrases to Jesus but then, BAM! I saw with my minds eye a living creature in flight around the throne of God(Rev 4:6-8). Vivid and surreal, almost in slow motion he turned to face me, he was huge, I'm talking massive elephant size and he was glowing with the amber glory of God and I was right up next to him when he turned to me. Then something strange happened. I began to feel sure in my spirit that this was not a living creature but was actually God Himself!!!
Encounters Rewrite Theology
Now before you get all weird with me about who is God and stuff, let me be the first to say that I really don't know what happened. One minute it's a living creature then the next it's God, with my spirit bearing witness beyond a shadow of a doubt. I was so perplexed I thought, 'I'm not supposed to see God and live'... then in that place of waiting, I got the interpretation.
When We See Him
Slowly as I was watching, liquid glory began to sluff off of the living creatures face, and I began to discern the living creature beneath. He got an astonished look on his face as if exposed and quickly turned his gaze back to the throne of God and was immediately covered again with glory! Then I opened my eyes, the vision was over.
Now whether or not I was actually caught up into heaven is a side matter. The point is that the Lord was teaching me something. The bible says, "when we see Him we will be like Him." referring to the day Jesus returns to earth. But from that day on I began to apply that verse in a different way. Beholding is becoming for better or for worse. God promises the man who chooses to fill his eyes with His light will find his whole body transformed! The living creatures enjoy the closest view of God in proximity and have been there gazing on beauty for eternity! They are getting swallowed up in glory and pleasure! King David, the man after God's own heart says, "One thing have I desired, to gaze on the beauty of the Lord."(Psalm 27:4) Let's take time to just simply be before the Lord, not with our laundry list of needs, but with a simple phrase, "You're Beautiful."
The Lord bless you and keep you;
The Lord make His face shine upon you,
And be gracious to you;
The Lord lift up His countenance upon you,
And give you peace.
Friday, October 15, 2010
There are few things more pleasurable than when a bible verse drops 16 inches(I've never really measured it) from my head to my heart. When something I've logically understood translates to my heart and I can feel the love of God on it.
My most intense experience with this was a very public one.
In the last four years I've done a lot of prayer leading at live worship events. As a prayer leader it was my job to stand on stage with a microphone and lead the room in intercession. In those early days I was very nervous and my mind would race back and forth about how I looked and how I was perceived, did people like me and all other manifestations of fear of man and pride.
Strategy for Combating Fear
The strategy I came up with was to look at one phrase from Song of Solomon whenever I wasn't praying another passage on the mic, "Behold you are fair" (Song 4:1 Jesus speaking to me). Realizing that my fear was all related to my identity, I only wanted to hear from God what He had to say about me. I remember intensely staring at the words and writing them over and over on my notebook. I must have looked like a very organized prayer leader jotting those notes, in fact I was a wreck... and then it happened!
All of a sudden I felt the verse I was writing. I realized that right there in that place, I was spotless, pure, radiant and white as snow in the Lord's eyes! Now I felt His words wash over me and clothe me in my identity, "Behold Tom, you are fair." Fear was broken off of me, confidence started to well up in me and I knew only one response to say back to God...
Swallow Those Words
Here was my moment, filled with faith and love for this Way Too Kind God, I had something to say. I lifted my closed eyes to heaven and whispered, "Praise You." But I didn't stop there, my mouth kept moving seemingly on it's own with the result, "Praise You are fair." It was as if God hijacked my sentence and pushed it back to me. I started to understand that my desire and ability to praise Him had nothin' on His desire and ability to tell me how He felt about me. And He did it again and again! I would mouth the words over and over, "Praise You are fair, Praise You are fair"
Clothed In Bible
The more I would repeat the phrase, the more pleasure I felt. I began to get addicted to saying it! As I 'ministered this phrase' before the Lord I got the sense that I was being clothed with this verse, it was becoming who I was rather than what I understood.
In 2Cor 5 Paul writes, "in this we groan, earnestly desiring to be clothed from heaven." First century believers walked this way while they were on the earth, meditating on God's desire to clothe them with beauty and glory. Yearning to be fully who they were created to be.
God deposit truth deep inside my heart, I want to know what you think about me. Let me perceive the loving gaze that I'm already standing in. Tell me who I am. Amen.
Saturday, October 9, 2010
After preparing some notes for a dream interpretation class, the night before I was to teach, I lay there in bed asking the Holy Spirit to give me a fresh word on why He speaks to us in dreams that need interpretation. Like, tell me again God, why all the mystery? This is what He said.
I'm Very Romantic
"Tom, do you remember how you felt when you were courting your wife?" I lay there remembering rainy walks in Seattle, surprising her with starbucks at her door, leaving notes for her to find... "That's it!" I thought, that's what the Lord was reminding me of! One particular time, when I went to her workplace and found her car late at night and I got a sudden surge of romantic inspiration! I quickly set about my task of composing a sweet letter and putting it on her window. Then I tore the note in half and raced like a lovestruck mad-man to her house to leave the rest of the note attached to a gift on her doorstep. I remember being so giddy thinking of how she would be perplexed until she got home to find her gift!
Jesus Came Down So We Could Go Up
In the same manner Jesus kisses us with His Word and then beckons us to follow Him to the place of prayer to get the interpretation. Proverbs 25:2 says, 'It is the glory of God to conceal a matter and the glory of kings(noble hearted) to search it out.' This is true with dreams but it's true with any revelation the Lord gives. Jesus came to the earth to reveal the Father's love so we would search it out and go on a journey into the experiential knowledge of God. Jesus said, "This is what the Father is like! He want's to be merciful to you! He want's you to encounter Him at His Mercy Seat! I go to prepare a place for you!" Then He left the disciples addicted to His love... so they spent the rest of their days reaching and yearning for heaven to get more interpretation!
Jesus reveal more of yourself to me. I want to live my life searching you out, addicted to your beauty. Come and kiss me with the kisses of your word and tenderize my heart again. I am lovesick.
Tuesday, October 5, 2010
Okay, imagine sitting across the table from me having a conversation. Now what if the whole time you were talking, I was thinking about something else. And because of my training in social niceties, I'm even maintaining eye contact, nodding my head and smiling. Yet the whole time I'm thinking about going home and having a sandwich, or maybe I'm not thinking about what I'm about to do but rather what I've just done, like thinking, "I can't believe I just said that, now everyone is going to hate me." You get the point, the end result would be that you never had a conversation with me at all but instead spoke with a vapor of my true self, while the real me was off gallivanting through time :).
It's sad that we are all too familiar with this practice of living in the near future or in the near past, and rarely being available to the present moment. It's sad because it affects our relationships with others and with the Holy Spirit.
God Loves Us In The Now
God loves you. Not some scenario of your near future self, what could or could not happen. He loves you and want's to pour out His affection on you NOW! Not in the regrets of the rear view mirror.
The Saints of old who "practiced the presence of God" referred to prayer as a time of "Recollection". They would pause and draw all their reaching thoughts inward collecting them to the place where Christ dwells within. They would let His light consume their troubles and He would give them Peace like a river and joy for their mourning there.
If we can learn to live this way we will be more in-tune to the Holy Spirit's guiding and timing in our lives.
Mary Of Bethany Lives in the Now
While Jesus walked the earth He told His disciples that He was going to be put to death... but only Mary of Bethany, the one who lived her life at Jesus' feet (stopping everything) fully available to His words, only Mary, the one who gave up her life's inheritance in one 'moment' of extravagant worship, understood what He was saying. AND she got the timing right; Jesus said, "she has anointed Me for my burial". That blow's me away!
Get before Jesus who is near to you right now. Collect your thoughts and set your mind on Him. You can give Him your WHOLE heart right now, regardless of your near future! Go ahead, THIS MOMENT be it five seconds or five minutes, give Him your whole entire heart!
Saturday, October 2, 2010
Let's compare two passages from Matthew that shed light on two heart conditions in the body of Christ that will be exposed at the end of the age.
I Never Knew You
Matthew 7:21 “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven. 22 Many will say to Me in that day, ‘Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?’ 23 And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!’
The Son of Man Will Judge the Nations
Matthew 25:31 “When the Son of Man comes in His glory, and all the holy[c] angels with Him, then He will sit on the throne of His glory. 32 All the nations will be gathered before Him, and He will separate them one from another, as a shepherd divides his sheep from the goats. 33 And He will set the sheep on His right hand, but the goats on the left. 34 Then the King will say to those on His right hand, ‘Come, you blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world: 35 for I was hungry and you gave Me food; I was thirsty and you gave Me drink; I was a stranger and you took Me in; 36 I was naked and you clothed Me; I was sick and you visited Me; I was in prison and you came to Me.’
37 “Then the righteous will answer Him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see You hungry and feed You, or thirsty and give You drink? 38 When did we see You a stranger and take You in, or naked and clothe You? 39 Or when did we see You sick, or in prison, and come to You?'
One group of people bring their list of righteous acts and Jesus responds, "Away from me, I never knew you... I invited you into fellowship, friendship with me, and you turned it down to build your ministry! Now even what you have is taken from you!"
The other group needs Jesus to inform them of the good things they did on the earth! This blows me away! They are living so closely to Jesus and just letting their deeds flow from that place of intimacy and friendship. They are too near the Light to be distracted with the 'cups of water' they offer in His name. They are consumed in relationship and have chosen the good part.
Lord, teach us to walk closer with you, we want to truly live out of our hearts connected with Yours Lord. Teach us to not let our left hand know what our right hand is doing and to cultivate friendship with You above all else. Amen.