I just celebrated my 20th anniversary on Sept. 11th, 2011 with a celebration in front of over 100 people that included a powerful written testimonial for each guest, balloons, singing, laughter, dancing, tears, promises, declarations of destiny over my children and vow renewals. That date is familiar to almost every American because of the terrorist attacks that unfolded on that day10 years ago and not because I was married on that day 20 years ago. I believe that Sept. 11th was and is a prophetic day for both my marriage and for our nation at the same time and by that I mean a day full of divine seeds that are time released every September 11th, with the intention to reveal truth about our nature and character as a married couple, as a nation and most importantly the nature, character and faithfulness of our God.
Our nation was attacked by hateful and violent cowards who had been planning and plotting their attack on that day for a long time ( 911- emergency) causing fear and anxiety to crash over our nation like a massive tidal wave. Our values, strengths, stabilities and our core identity were challenged and many of us questioned who we were and what we did to deserve the attack. The simple answer for our nation and my marriage was that we were attacked because we have an enemy that hates us, and it was a sobering reminder.
For a period of time we were headed for divorce, I had moved out of the house and it looked like my marriage had been destroyed by the bombs and missiles the enemy had sent to destroy us too. However the attack served to resurrect something in my Spirit, character and marriage that I did not know was there until it was challenged, much the same way our nation responded in pride, unity and resolve that the enemy couldn't possibly have known existed or he probably wouldn't have attacked.
Our nation strengthened security, re-evaluted priorities and put all efforts into preserving a relationship and lifestyle that now was prized above freedoms and personal inconvenience. My wife Lesley and I did the same thing in our marriage. We identified who the enemy was ( it was not flesh and blood), we repented, we forgave, we worked, trusted, counseled, prayed and took one step at a time, until we could celebrate and declare God's miracle in front of friends and family on 9/11/11.
On that day we renewed our vows ( promises, pledges, oaths, dedications) and celebrated a resurrected marriage while our country did the same. As a couple and as a nation we chose to consecrate ourselves to stand up for renewed values and priorities. When I had wandered away from my wife in my heart, it was because I had wandered away from my God first. The attack was a sobering and costly wake up call for me as a husband and for every American the attack reminded them of how much they loved the America they had taken for granted and maybe that they had forgotten she was one nation under God.
The Spirit and the bride say come, renew your vows to God. He is preparing a wedding feast for the church, a people that will love him as a bride loves her groom. There is safety and security for you. You can freely express your thoughts and feelings knowing that he will hear and respond. Vow, be intentional to spend time and make time for your God. Face all difficulties and pressures with him ( not without him) confident in his goodness.
Wednesday, September 21, 2011
Thursday, September 1, 2011
I was considering the concept of Humility today as I was listening on the drive into work. I realized that as a culture and especially church culture we are always appealing to people to receive us, accept us, and respect us based on our message, gifts, discipline, education, intelligence, even spirituality ( which creates schism, pride, condemnation or comparison). We many times operate (old man) out of an innate and deep seated desire for respectability that is counter to and in opposition to what God's Spirit is trying to produce in us, which is humility- ( the proper estimation of who we are in relation to God/ identity).
Then I considered how humility is being produced in the body right now and I smiled. Respectability is being gutted out of the church and that is producing humility. Every structure we can hang our hats on is being toppled, but not the way I thought it was going to happen ( by crawling on broken glass on my knees). Humility comes with the wine of his Spirit.
The Spirit of God weaved two sections of scripture together for me to reveal a truth. The first one is the story of Joseph ( Gen. 37-50), it is one of the longest continuous narratives in the Bible about one man who is I think, the clearest typological example of Christ. This section is packed with prophetic Revelation and detail about Jesus, the church, Israel and end time move of God. One scene in particular that I want to highlight is the picture of the Baker and the cup (wine) bearer who were in the dungeon with Joseph in Gen. 40.
The dungeon speaks of the preparation of humility before the exaltation to rule as seen in the life of Joseph, but a secondary and more definitive application for the church and ministries can be seen in the Baker and cup bearer. Both were accused of poisoning the king ( God) and put in the dungeon. The baker, who prepared bread, ( teaching the the word, singing, prophesying, blogging, writing, drama) was found guilty of poisoning/opposing the king. He was doing his own thing, his own recipe, his ministry was not producing humility or acceptable to the king. The cup bearer who was entrusted to bring wine ( refreshment, joy, peace, celebration, adoration) to the king was found innocent and brought back into the presence of the king to serve and minister and exalt the greater Joseph ( Jesus) he had come to know during his time in the dungeon. The ministry of bread was temporarily refused, but wine was received immediately preceeding the revelation of Joseph as ruler over the earth ( 2nd coming)- there is a new priority for the end time move and it is Wine.
The second section of Scripture is Acts 2, when the Holy Spirit was poured out on the disciples after Jesus' ascension. Notice the order of the manifestations of the Holy Spirit and how they were received and by whom. Wind (power, leading, mystery, revelation) Fire ( repentance, transformation, commitment, purging) and Wine ( joy, peace, love,) Those that knew Jesus ( disciples/church) were impressed with the Wind and the fire, but notice that the nations were impressed with the effects of the wine and came running to see. The nations had heard the words before, but had never seen the effects of the Spirit being poured out. Peter told them, (acts 2:14) "these men are not drunk as you suppose", ( but they were drunk in the Spirit)
The challenge I received in my Spirit today was to drink the wine and prepare the wine for the king and his subjects. To be willing to be completely misunderstood and even foolish looking in the eyes of the religious establishment because the world will recognize and be drawn to the wine of humility made in the dungeons that produces joy. The church and the nations are choking on the bread we are making, they need the wine to be able to swallow it. There is a strength and ability to endure stigma and ridicule when your identity is secure and your identity is secure when you are humble. Humility doesn't mean you think poorly of yourself, in fact quite the opposite, you see yourself how God sees you. Worldly comforts mean less to you when you are under the influence. You are loud and bold and unafraid under the influence and that is humility.
It seems to me that God has put us who bear his Message on stage in a theater in which no one wants to buy a ticket. We're something everyone stands around and stares at, like an accident in the street. We're the Messiah's misfits. You might be sure of yourselves, but we live in the midst of frailties and uncertainties. You might be well-thought-of by others, but we're mostly kicked around. I cor. 4:9-11 msg