In Between

Good Sunday morning my friends. I was walking the dogs this morning at 5:30 AM and there was a full moon in front of me and a huge fiery red sun rising behind me. I felt like I was standing between the end of one day and the beginning of another. I believe this is where we are right now in history. One day is coming to an end, even as we see the beginning of a new day arising.

We are living in a time in history when things are happening simultaneously. Things are coming down and things are rising up at the same time. We are those who are standing between these two days, what a blessed generation we are. Israel had a time in their history where they experienced this exact same thing as noted in Ezra 3:10-13 “Now when the builders had laid the foundation of the temple of the LORD, the priests stood in their apparel with trumpets, and the Levites, the sons of Asaph, with cymbals, to praise the LORD according to the directions of King David of Israel. They sang, praising and giving thanks to the LORD, saying, “For He is good, for His lovingkindness is upon Israel forever.” And all the people shouted with a great shout when they praised the LORD because the foundation of the house of the LORD was laid. Yet many of the priests and Levites and heads of fathers’ households, the old men who had seen the first temple, wept with a loud voice when the foundation of this house was laid before their eyes, while many shouted aloud for joy, so that the people could not distinguish the sound of the shout of joy from the sound of the weeping of the people, for the people shouted with a loud shout, and the sound was heard far away.”

It’s all happening simultaneously, some are weeping, some are rejoicing rejoicing, And some are standing between the two days in absolute awe and wonder of our God. In moments like this it can be easy to want to understand everything, to try to figure things out, but what if you just stood between the two days and marveled at the greatness of our God. In the midst of a pull of the last day as it ends and in the midst of the pull of the new day as it’s arising, plant your feet, lift up your eyes and see the glory of God is manifesting in our generation!

Church

Church, it’s a word that carries with it many thoughts in the minds of many people. The word has been used in crusades and revivals; it’s made men both rich and poor; it’s healed many and hurt some. When Jesus said to Peter in Matthew 16:18 “And upon this rock, I will build my church and the gates of hell shall not overcome it,” many people have espoused to know what He meant and this one verse has been the spring board for many a debate. Is church orthodox, catholic, charismatic, holiness, denominational, traditional, contemporary, progressive, stagnant, judgmental, tolerant, home group, stadium, all of the above or none of the above? The answer lies in what you have been taught, what you have experienced and what your perception is. Henceforth, why all are right in their own eyes and why there are so many discussions and disagreements around the subject called church.

In the Hebrew culture there were three words for what we in the Western world or those of us with a Greek/Gentile mindset call church. To the Hebrews church was not a word they used or were familiar with, rather they used the words Temple, Synagogue and Ekklesia. The Temple was the headquarters of all things Israel. The synagogue was the local expression of the community. The Ekklesia was the legislative body in any given city. They had distinctly different words to describe distinctly different expressions of their “religious” life or as we would call it church life. Gentiles do not have the linguistic luxury that Israel had and has because we have lumped all three into one word called church.

Due to the trilingual understanding of the word church in the Bible, the New Testament editors used the words assembly, ekklessia, and temple. They did not stick with one word, church, but we in the 21st Century have one word for all three biblical expressions. Is it possible this is why we are so confused? Why we argue, discuss and seek to change or not change this thing we call church? Denominations are factions of the church. Denominations are the doctrines of men that divide the body into many theological parts not biblical body parts according to 1 Corinthians 12. Biblical body parts as Paul described it are according to spiritual gifts God has given each of us for the benefit of the whole body. Spiritual gifts are not to be divisive but complimentary to one another just as actual body parts are, at least that is what Paul says in Romans 12.

Back to the tri-fold nature of this word church in the New Testament. In Acts 16:13 says, “And on the Sabbath day we went outside the gate to a riverside, where we were supposing that there would be a place of prayer (in Philippi); and we sat down and began speaking to the women who had assembled.” The word assembled in the Greek is sunerchomai and it means to come together, a gathering, to convene, to assemble, go along with, accompany. One who denomination calls themselves the Assemblies of God, they come together as the church to pray and hear the word of God.

A second word in the New Testament is found in Acts 16:4-5 “Now while they were passing through the cities, they were delivering the decrees which had been decided upon by the apostles and elders who were in Jerusalem, for them to observe. So the churches were being strengthened in the faith, and were increasing in number daily.” The word churches here in Greek is ekklesia which means governmental authority, the ekklesia had expansive authority in determining the affairs of cities and territories; it functioned as a legal ruling assembly of a city (Sima, Ekklesia Series).

The third word used in the New Testament is that of temple. We find this word has been transformed from meaning a building in Jerusalem to people. Listen to how Paul says it in 1 Corinthians 3:16 “Do you not know that you yourselves are God’s temple, and that God’s spirit dwells in you? If anyone destroys God’s temple, God will destroy that person, for God’s temple is sacred, and you together are that temple.” Jesus said it this way in John 2:19-21 “Jesus answered them and said, Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up. The Jews then said, It took 46 years to build this temple, and will You raise it up in three days? But He was speaking of His body.” Temple in both places is the Greek word naos which means to inhabit, to dwell.

Now that we have some building blocks to work with let’s put it all together. Jesus said, upon this rock I will build my church (ekklesia) and the gates of hell will not overpower it (Matthew 16:18). Jesus was speaking of building a legislative ruling body in every city or territory, so the church, the ekklesia could rule the atmosphere of that city or territory. This is in alignment with what Paul said in Ephesians 6, our battle is not against flesh and blood but against the rulers, against the powers, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places. This was written to the ekklesia in Ephesus.

Not every Christian is a member of the ekklesia, but every Christian is a temple of the Holy Spirit, they are all invited to assemble, to gather with other believers. The reason not every Christian is a member of the ekklesia, is because we are not all excercising the same meausre of authority. New believers are not able to exercise the same measure of authority as a seasoned believer. This is not a hierarchal statement, but rather a historical one. The difference between a new believer and a mature believer is history with God. It takes time, it takes obedience, it takes transformation, it takes renewing of the mind and restoring of the soul to mature in Christ. It does not happen overnight, but it does happen over time as we walk with God. I tell my son, who is 13 years old, the only difference between you and I, is that I have lived on earth longer than you. The same is true for believers who assemble or who are the temple of the Holy Spirit but not yet ready to be the ekklesia.

Our desire should be not to compete with each other, divide over doctrinal issues and definitely not seek some form of hierarchal title, name, position, or anything else for Jesus said, “You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their superiors exercise authority over them. It shall not be this way among you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant and whoever wants to be first among you must be your slave, just as the son of man did not come to be served, but to serve and give His life as a ransom for many” (Matthew 20:25-28). The members of the ekklesia are servants of their city and their territories as watchmen on the wall, rulers of the atmosphere and defenders of righteousness in the spirit, so those who are assembling as the temple of the Holy Spirit can experience the presence and power of God. Most have no idea who the ekklesia is in their city, for they are not seeking to be seen by men but by God.

This is by no means an exhaustive discussion on the subject called church, but I hope it opens up another measure of understanding of the different terms and definitions of this powerful word called church.

Song of the Lord

We serve a God of sound! Whether its the wind, thunder, lightning, water, vibrations or silence, our God is a God of sound. Even silence has a sound. LIght has a sound; love is a sound; peace is a sound. When sound connects with words we have a song of the Lord. The sound is God, the source of all sound and the words are the manifestation of God, Who is the Word and it creates a song.

Can you hear the songs of the Lord in the ripping of the veil; the shattering of the rocks; the opening of the tombs; the burning of the bush; the wings of the angels? Can you hear the songs of the Lord in the waves of the sea; the crowds; the crosses in Gethsemane? These are all the sounds put to words which make the songs of the Lord.

Even the silence has a sound. When the sun went black, there was a sound during those three hours of darkness. Can you hear it as you read the story? Can you hear the faint sound of weeping from the women who stood at a distance and watched the crucifixion? Can you hear the sound of the hammer hitting the nails and the gasps of the crowd? Can you hear the astonishment in the voices of the women who arrived at the tomb and saw the stone rolled away? Can you hear the sound of the men’s feet as they rushed to the tomb based on the report the women gave? Can you hear it?

The Bible is the song of the Lord, from the Lord walking in the garden in the cool of the day with Adam and Eve as they heard the footsteps of God; to the sound of the 24 elders in the book of Revelation declaring holy, holy, holy. Sounds, many sounds. As you read your Bible. I pray you can begin to slow down in order to hear the sounds it is releasing in conjunction with the words that are written, for the Bible is the song of the Lord.

The Choice Is Yours

Psalm 81:10 ““I, the LORD, am your God, Who brought you up from the land of Egypt; Open your mouth wide and I will fill it.”

Isaiah 54:2 “Enlarge the place of your tent; Stretch out the curtains of your dwellings, spare not; Lengthen your cords And strengthen your pegs.”

It’s time for expansion! It’s time for abundance! It’s time for overflow! These are not just cute promises that like a penny we throw in a Wishingwell we hope they come true one day. No these are declarations from the mouth of God, from the word of God, to the people of God. You can choose to go back into what is familiar or you can put your hand to the plow and move into the unknown. The expanse is big, the opportunities are endless, but it takes a risk, it takes a step out of the boat, it takes pulling up the anchor, it takes a heart set on adventure with God.

I have never met anyone that does not want more. More of what, depends on who you speak to. But more is the desire of the heart of man because eternity has been set in our heart. We know there must be more than this. Don’t let fear hold you captive to what is comfortable, to what is common, to what is familiar. If a hot air balloon is going to rise it must cut off the sandbags and cut the ropes that keep it grounded. It must light the fire and allow the flame to lift it to heights it had not been before. The choice is yours to stay in the boat, to stay on the ground, or to stay on the shore. But as for me and my house we are headed into the great unknown because we are known by the God of heaven and earth.

My dear friends we are living in the greatest days our generation has ever known. The enemy is fighting with everything he has which when you really think about it is nothing compared to the incredible authority and power of our God. But we must agree with God and go on an adventure with Him that will cause us to live an abundant life. I hear the voice of God saying Follow Me!” The question is will you be like the disciples and drop everything immediately and follow Him? Or are you going to stay on the shore and wait for the testimonies of those who left all and followed Him? The choice is yours, the choice is mine. I’ve made my decision no turning back no turning back I have decided to follow Jesus. What is your decision?

Still Waiting

“Keep watching while your waiting. Don’t let the waiting put you to sleep. Watch while you wait.” The Lord just spoke this to me and I believe it’s a word for many of us. The wait is not over yet, keep waiting, keep watching, for we know the day is approaching where we will say with a huge smile on our face, this was truly worth the wait.

Psalm 27:13-14 “I believe that I shall look upon the goodness of the LORD in the land of the living! Wait for the LORD; be strong, and let your heart take courage; wait for the LORD!”

Perspective Adjustment

My son wanted to go to the pool yesterday, alone, because no one was there. While we were there he swam and I was reading a book called Realms of the Kingdom by Ian Clayton that Autumn’s dad left for me to read. As I was reading the Lord opened my eyes to what He meant when he said to his disciples in Matthew 16:18, “Upon this rock I will build My church; and the gates of Hades will not overpower it.” It was a fresh perspective I had not visualized before, but now will never forget.

As I sat in the walls of that gated pool area, the Lord asked me wether the church is in the pool area where I was sitting or outside the gates where the houses are? I said, I’ve always sensed the pool area is the church and out there is the world where the enemy rules. He said, it’s the other way around. He said, “I will build my church and the gates of hell won’t prevail against it.” The enemy is fenced in, the church is not.

I then looked at the gates and saw new houses going up outside the gates. I looked around at the neighborhood and realized the enemy is penned in a small area, we the church are building new houses (people’s lives) all day every day. As I looked at it from this new perspective I realized the church is not playing offense or defense, rather the church just doesn’t have a correct perspective on what side of the fence were on. The enemy is watching God build His church (His people) and the enemy’s gates can’t overpower it, for the enemy is fenced in. Rejoice friends, for Jesus overcame the world, sin, hell and the grave. He’s got the keys to the gates of the enemy. We the church are God’s neighborhood and all the enemy can domis watch God build more houses (lives).

Storms

When the storms around you are blowing harder than the structure inside of you, it’s easy to say I’m under attack. This then causes us to be tossed to and fro by the storms outside of us and then it causes an emotional storm inside of us. Now we are truly in the midst of a storm.

Storms arise unexpectedly at times, storms come from other people around us that are in a storm and storms come from our own thoughts that are not aligned with Gods thoughts about us or about something we’ve observed incorrectly. Nonetheless it’s a storm and we’ve all been in them or some are in them right now.

Storms are not fun in the moment but they do reveal things to us about us if we are willing to learn from our storms or the storms of others. Storms invite us to: remember Who lives in us (Christ in you the hope of glory); to read the word of God continually (the word is living and active- Hebrews 4:12); to recognize we are vulnerable and to take shelter (He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High – Psalm 91).

Next time your in a storm or even better yet, before the storm comes, establish in your heart that the storm is an invitation not a distraction, which is why you can be still in the storm – Psalm 46.

9th of Av

On the Hebrew calendar today is the 9th of Av. In Jewish history this is a hard day, for on this day the 10 spies came back with a negative report about the promised land; on this day in Jewish history the temple was destroyed. Some may ask why did God choose this day for these bad things to happen? I am not sure God chose this day, I am thinking the people chose this day, for they did not believe what God said about them or the land He was giving them.

How we see what God has said to us is critical. Our calling is simple, agree with what God says. Really that is all faith is in it’s simplest form. Faith is to agree with what God says about you and your land that God has promised you. When we don’t agree with what God says about something that is unbelief, which produces in us negative reports and undesirable outcomes. All God is asking of us is to agree with what He says, this is the essence of faith.

On this 9th day of Av, we remember history in order not to repeat it. God has made statements about the nations of the world, all we are called to do is agree with the word of the Lord. God has made promises over our families, all we have to do is believe the word of the Lord. God has made promises over your life, all you have to do is believe the word of the Lord.

The 9th of Av is a reminder that when we don’t agree with God we bring unnecessary trouble upon ourselves and when we do agree with the word of God, it is called faith and faith pleases God. Today is a great day to begin agreeing with the word of God, for He knows so much more than we do, and He has plans for us that are so much better than we could ever imagine. All we have to do is agree with the word of the Lord!

Time for an Exam

When we see symptoms in our body, it is an indicator that there is something physically wrong with us, and it prompts us to go to the doctor to find out what is happening. When we arrive at the doctor’s office, depending on the measure of the exam or the procedure they want to perform, we are told we must remove the clothes we are wearing and put on the robe they have prepared for us.

Once we are dressed in that specific robe, the exam begins, the procedure happens. There is nothing comfortable about this experience, but it is necessary if you want to deal with that which is happening in your body and continue to live. However, some people are not willing to go to the doctor because of their pride, which is rooted in fear of hearing the truth about their condition, so they would rather live sick, than face the truth and become well.

Most are willing to undress and put on a robe for a man/woman who went to school, obtained a degree and now carries the title doctor, so they can be physically restored, but very few are willing to undress from their self-protection in the presence of the Great Physician, who bled, died, was buried, rose again, then was given the name that is above all names. Jesus wants you to undress from your self-protection in His presence so He can put on you the robe of righteousness, then do an exam or a procedure to restore your soul.

When we are comfortable remaining sick, even when we see the symptoms of powerlessness, lack of authority, inability to hear God’s voice, character flaws or rotten fruit coming from our life and lips, we reveal to God our pride, which is rooted in fear. Our fear of being exposed for who we really are keeps us hidden in our own eyes, but seen in all our weakness before others. The Lord is wanting to do an exam on us corporately as a Church and individually as people. But we must be willing to remove our self-protection and put on the robe of righteousness, then hear the truth that will heal us and follow the instructions our Great Physician gives us. Then we will live and not die and see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living. It won’t be easy, but it will be worth it. I hear the doctor’s office calling now.

Coming Down and Building Up

The atmosphere in the nation and in the heavens is active, accelerated and alive with much movement. This heavenly and earthly convergence can cause some to be anxious, others to angry and still some to be in anticipation/expectation. Whenever there is movement in heaven and on earth at the same time, everyone can sense it. The challenge for us as believers is to not be thrown to and fro by feelings of our own or of others. Be still is the call for us right now.

Be still is an invitation into contentment, a call to trust God in the depth of your soul, to be aware, to observe, but not to run ahead of God, or lag behind Him. When He says move, move; when He says, speak, speak; when He says sit, sit; when He says go, go. But in the midst of it all, the call is to live in the now, live in this moment, absorb all that is happening in this moment. It is alive with His presence, He is very near and easy to hear, if you just lean in and live in the moment.

The wounded soul will tell you to stop or hurry up, but it would encourage you to trust, wait, watch, wonder, stand in awe, right in this moment. But this is your secret weapon, for right now strongholds are coming down at an accelerated pace and simultaneously God is building up His blueprint for the new wine skin. We are in the midst of what Jeremiah was told was the uproot, tear down and destroy, as well as the build and plant. Both are happening right now henceforth, all the movement on earth and in heaven. If you can live in the moment, know His name is near, you will hear the sound of strongholds coming down and you will see the new blueprint of what God is unveling. These are truly incredible days to be alive. #Psalm75