Staying In Winter

AUTHOR’S NOTE: This one was written in September, but makes it’s debut in Summer about Winter…go figure!

It is not quite time to look outside for landscape inspiration in describing the title. It is but mid-September, the leaves have barely begun to change following one of the Midwest’s mildest summers in my memory bank anyway. Though we go through a winter each year we live, I find it difficult to spend too much mental energy on deep frost and ice-infested trees when it is sunny and 80 degrees! While we all have our winter memories (at least those of us north of certain latitude points!) of blizzards, playing in deep snow with friends/family, and the beauty of frost perfectly outlining the trees…it takes a certain mental effort to relive those moments on a sunny day. I hear some complain of winter coming at all before it even starts!

I am one to take ten below over forty and raining any day! Wet and cold should be outlawed. I have imagined a second story deck over the one end of our house since we bought it. I want an enclosed room to enable us to enjoy the view of all the weather, all year long. The place I work owns the adjoining property and has woods/pond/etc….a nice view from the back porch in the warm months. In the winter, a little tough! I think He wired us to enjoy everything as it is. My dream is still alive for an upper room to watch the winter days! HQ is getting closer to agreement if the deck connects to the porch and the pool! The main point here is that we honestly miss the bird’s eye view of winter’s awesomeness! In reading through this, keep your mental imagery of a majestic winter handy for reference.

Regardless of where you live, there are seasonal differences in the winter season. Natural processes created by the Creator that sustain new life in the spring. Dormancy serves a most important function to bring death and resurrection to green life. While it may be difficult to stay awake late in the evening, watching one of the nature documentaries about the coming of winter in a land far North does grab my imagination with wonder. So many processes go on without human hands! Is it not so much like Him to bring life from death? Aren’t the winter processes so much like the human ones? I am certain I will only scratch the surface of these concepts, but I can’t help but see their relationships.

It is my contention that we are to stay in the process we are in until He finishes it. We must do our co-laboring and not be stagnant…that is true. If the ‘door of spring’ ain’t open yet, whatcha gonna do? You best stay in Him in winter! A question just came to me, perhaps someone else will have wondered it too before this point even…what is the difference between winter and wilderness? I may trip over the answer at first, but I give you an initial stab anyway. I can say with certainty I have been in the depths of both winter and wilderness. I view wilderness as an all-out time of testing and weighing our hearts…a time appointed by the Lord…maybe only a one time life event. With winter, it has its’ place in each round. The process stays the same…the leaves fall off/plants die out…the deep freeze comes…giving birth to fresh seeds of life in the warm months.

When you are in wilderness, you are searching for any sign of a daggone season…that I found out for sure. The seasons are natural, and during wilderness we wander around seeking a normal. For me, it was His way of forcing me out of the normal rut to seek Him deeper. I truly believe that some get hung up on philosophy and theology in ‘the deeper’. If two people are wanting to date each other, don’t they spend quality time together? Let’s say the guy reads all her Facebook stuff and reads up on everything he can get ahold of about her. He talks to all sorts of other people about what she likes and dislikes, her habits, and her whole life. If the guy now comes to the girl and says “I feel like I know you now”, would that qualify as a relationship? I doubt the girl now feels like she is in a relationship when the two have not spent any quality time together!

God wants relationship with us above all else, and a deeper one. Many people know about God as if quoting an encyclopedia unfortunately. Most unbelievers I have come across aren’t looking for an ‘I know’ attitude, just love and acceptance to lead them to God. The depth of our relationship with God helps us with each season of life. I would have given a lot to know 25 years ago what I know now. He is a wonderfully deep mystery, and if our heart is to know Him, He will share some of that mystery with His creation! He shows us contentment for each season of our walk. If we know Him, we know when to move forward and how to get answers in prayer.

In every natural process does winter not lead to life? The seeds came from plants that died in order to release them. In each believers walk, there will be times we need to allow some plants (and weeds) to die for a new birthing…for fresh seeds to enter the soil. He is gracious enough to harvest some weeds with ‘our best at the moment’. I wonder if He has to push through from where we are at sometimes. He knows the process must continue. Do we not (deep) in our spirits know what causes the weeds? Not just the sins we commit…the mouth always has something to say…and our compartmentalized hearts have areas in need of bright light! I know these fingertips are much fuller of grace than my mouth in the moment is. The past four paragraphs cover a 45 minute span, which kept my tongue put away!!

The Word says that the power of life and death are in the tongue. In the last year He has literally shown me how important that is. When I get upset at work with ‘the man’ and start in…the power of life is fleeting. I notice a shift in my attitude when I speak that about others and over myself. When we speak about others as if they are not there, we do just that…invite the power of death. We had opportunity to speak life over it and did what most of us do, let the darker parts of our heart come out. I speak not of heart and tongue issues because I have stumbled down the rabbit trail, but because they are the weeds that need to die in winter. Unlike the natural process, the same weeds return in the spring until we repent and renew. I know I have that burning need at times to have an enemy!  We like reasons for things being wrong, and being able to assign them to another person/people is even better!

Is life ‘falling apart at the seams’ or is He bringing you down where you need to be? He needs you in a place of His choosing. There are times and seasons when we struggle to follow Him, holding onto control, sin entanglements, and myriads of issues that hold us back from His perfect will. Even in these moments we sometimes dare ask Him what’s wrong! The Holy Spirit is so important in hearing what is good reduction and what is us in the way. The Holy Spirit does not lead us anywhere we don’t need to go. My biggest blessings of life came after the hard seasons were in the books. I confess that I added fuel to a self-inflicted fire at times, but after smoke and flame He came! He shows us life on our own terms, guiding to His pathway without being able to lean on our own understanding. This is the entirety of the conceptual winter, not being led by our own anxiousness/pushing, but alone in His leading. He wants us to confess it was Him alone who built it and brought it to be.

If you’ve traveled outside your town at all, you’ve noticed the different paces of life people live. There are different levels here in America from the country, to small town, small city, and big city. Traveling to other cultures/countries we further notice the differences of pace and lifestyle. Staying in winter is harder in some cultures/cities, this I have noticed over time. God wants our main influence to be in deep relationship with Him alone. This has zero to do with your church, family, and other factors. You must work through those in getting to His rest, but not be held back by them. If something catastrophic were to take place and you could not leave your house, would it change your relationship with Him? The lack of fellowship issues aside, what you truly have is that prayer closet time with Him each day. Your quiet time should be your most coveted treasure. These essential times carry you during good times and harder ones. It is similar to what Paul says about learning contentment with little or much!

I am utterly dependent to do my writing. Regardless of reasons why, I have to go with the flow of the Spirit or these letters on the keyboard are not bouncing! One of the best prayers for ourselves is to experience a winter and a wilderness to shape a better journey forward. After Jesus received his water baptism where did he go right away? He went to 40 days of temptation/wilderness. Perhaps it was so we wouldn’t have to go through quite what the Israelites went through. He always seemed to be improving the process of grace. If you’ve ever been in the wilderness spiritually, you may sign up for only 40 days…I would have!! The Spirit must lead everything in our lives. He will always lead, but how well do we follow? We naturally fight winter and wilderness, that is not what our culture encourages. It goes against the ‘pull yourself up by…’ that has been so engrained in our psyche.

A rogue agent roams the pathways with us mercilessly taking and never giving more. It presses us into service like slaves with no say, and has us making snap judgments before prepared. Our memories are the vapors of its proof of existence! Without those memories it would be like trying to prove the wind to a blind person inside a house. This trait-less agent we all know…it is the great undefeated master over our daily lives…it is time. Time is purely undefeated. ESPN has cycled around a phrase “time is undefeated” in referring to athletes getting older and battling injuries. The only entity higher than time itself is of course the Lord. In spite of hundreds of attempts at time machine concepts in movies, books, and games…time walks away with not so much as a scratch.

The importance of time and winter is how well it is woven together. In the natural, what usually happens to plants that bloom before the last few snows of the season? If we have a few frosts and snows to go, they may not make it at all. God prepares each season for us, and we do NOT have the spiritual right to move ahead of Him before He gives you the ok. It might drive you half-crazy waiting until the right moment, but He always has reasons to keep you safe under His wings for the set time. Our relationship to God is in many ways judged according to…you guessed it…time. We are not free agent athletes looking for the best $ deal! God fired our agents because they were mouthy and getting in His way! We must not only bloom where we are planted, but be diligent to wait for the seeds to come out of the dead plant to get the cycle started again for ‘the next season’.

I find myself the least desirable when I am blown away by time. Humans in today’s world have far too many things pushed onto our overflowing plates! It is important for us to ask Holy Spirit often to help us in making the little decisions that add up to the bigger decisions. When I get overran with responsibilities and take on more than I am supposed to, I can go into an automatic mode that just orders things (but in the flesh). It helps when we see that coming to pray “Holy Spirit help me with this process”! It is easy for us to forget that we work for the Highest Power in the known universe. He is above humanity, time, and all physical existence. He already knows it all. That is worthy of repeating…He already knows it ALL! He wants all our praise, honor, and gratitude besides. Though we are so small in the scheme of things, He personalizes life for each one of us. Across billions of people no two are truly the same. To close, a phrase He shared in my spirit that often helps me untangle…”He doesn’t change, but we always should”.

Dead Freakin’ Cactus Part 3

 

I wonder too how many people are wired to be intercessory prayer warriors and ‘the wise church folk’ have called them depressed or oppressed or whatever!? It is critical we seek what God seeks. He can bring you to the people He wants to have in your life. I think sometimes we accept second best from people. Let’s face facts, the American Church is filled with frosted flakes! Oh yes, we are all flaky at times and we even sugar coat that! We are like empty headed cheerleaders for God. We do our best Tonee the tiger routine for Him: ‘God is greeeeaaat’! People have great needs that get glossed over all the time. Trust me, none of my real needs ever got met in my first 37 years of ‘church as normal’! If verbage were food, I could feed all the world’s hungry, just with the useless sermons I heard! The empty words of false encouragement spoken to make me ‘feel’ better. I am not even using the productive words here! Oh, but we are impressed when we get a pastor who has a theological degree from (insert prestigious school here)… aren’t we? Sorry folks, I will trust someone who has never been to theo school, but has been through hell in their life and experienced a life changing encounter with the Holy Spirit anytime! I am getting off on a soapbox but… what least impresses me about someone with 6 letters behind their name is applicability. They expect everyone else to go and learn everything they did and they will have ‘knowledge’ too. So many of the academics of theo haven’t done anything else in their life but commit to ‘the pursuit of knowledge’! Ecclesiastes took that on straight! Look hard at how this all takes us further from His glory, honor, and worship! We end up debating who has the real deal!

If you get one thing from all my writing, let it be this: everything, I mean everything, is about the pureness of the Three in One! He has sent me to testify about a particular piece of the three. The Lord has made it clear: I am only sending you because the Church has lost sight of the Holy Spirit (and His work) and the world needs testimony about the power of the Holy Spirit to counter their dark spiritual cravings. If you don’t believe the world is craving dark spiritual things, take a look at the movies that are huge right now. The trailers alone are creepy to me! I was in the bookstore once, and the Lord left an indelible thought in my mind. I was walking through and noticing certain dark spiritual books (I do anyway). The Lord brought to my mind: See, they crave true spiritual experiences in their lives. The American Church has not been effective in delivering that, so the vacuum I created in them must be filled by something. I am coming to set the record straight! Only My Holy Spirit can give authentic spiritual completeness! The world will seek and seek, but not find it aside from Me. The work of the Holy Spirit is what brings the peace believers have. God wired people to be supernatural, not religious. My whole life’s restless journey found peace in the Holy Spirit.

There are two distinctly different groups He is talking to here. Group one is people who are supernaturally wired, but do not claim covenant with the one and only Christian God. I speak of those who have had supernatural experiences and are into: the occult/witchcraft, environmentalism, vampires, New Age, any non-Christian faith, or any spiritual experiences period. If you are reading this and this applies to you, I want you to honestly consider this. There are people all over this whole world that have left these belief systems and embrace true Christianity. These people would never want to go back to where they were! My challenge to you is this: if any spiritual path apart from Christianity were ‘good’, why would it not be enough? What did these who converted to Christianity find in their journey? No matter what you believe today, there are Christians that exist who used to believe it too. There are real reasons why. On the other side of the coin: I have yet to meet anyone who is truly a Spirit-filled Christian who left the faith for New Age, occult, or whatever! If they exist, they would be so rare as to be irrelevant! Whatever you worship must be Creator, giver of all life, and provide fulfillment.

Those who are supernaturally wired but want Truth and peace: your struggle continues because you’re trying to fill your ‘vacuum shaped hole’ with what comes naturally. But God is strictly supernatural, which means He is connects to us supernaturally. Whatever you do, DO NOT gauge what is real by what you see at church or on television. The problem is only God can show you what is real. What comes to your spiritual senses naturally is not provided by God. The ‘gift’ is, but not the application as it is now. The enemy of God appeals to s.w.p. (supernaturally wired people) by offering what seems like truth, but in reality is a cheap imitation. People are born with supernatural abilities that were put there by God. The church is SUPPOSED to be your place of refuge. I offer an apology to you if you’ve sought answers through the church and found none. What should be happening is that pastors/church members should be seeking answers to supernatural questions! It should be normal for people from outside the church to come, knowing that the church “may not know, but will try and find out through sources or prayer in the Holy Spirit”. Oh, don’t get me going on church here.

While nothing is overly simple, a simple truth for the s.w.p.’s here will be a good start. Everything supernatural that does not bring adoration and credit to God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit is the work of the enemy of God (Lucifer, Satan). God created everything to be about Him. He even created Lucifer to be the worship leader, which is why he is so good at worldly music. God wants all the credit because He did all the freakin’ work! That is why witchcraft, Satanism, spiritualism, etc., is all limited, because it all lacks power and authority behind it. The cool part for you s.w.p.’s is that God still wants you back! He has saved many from the dark arts by making them realize He is the real power and gives what the others wished they could!

Let me not forget that I am amidst the dying cactus yet. The wilderness is quite large on this journey. There are so many things changing along the way. The harshest part of the wilderness came in these last six months (I have endeared the term ‘breath of the beast’). It has been an interesting trip from one solstice to the other. In the process, there are many things to look back on and wonder, smile, and maybe even cry. I think we all harshly judge the Israelites that died in the wilderness. We all say in pride, ‘I would never allow that to happen’ or ‘Why didn’t they just…’ ! One sure point the Lord has driven home with me during this w.e. is that my perspective is more the problem than a solution! We must keep in mind that it is rare for the big picture to be about us and our little problems. We can’t require God run everything through our personal ‘me’ filter so you and I feel all is right with the world.

This season has been the hardest one to define and even write about. The last paragraph is representative of several months break from D.F.C.. The deep scraping keeps one from wanting to express a lot of what you are going through, not to mention the sense it is part of a big move of God with many moving parts. Even now, after all these laborious months of struggle and contemplation, it is hard to ‘put fingers to keyboard’. It is all so ‘Ecclesiastes-like’ in scope. You see the process afterwards, but really are not sure how the steps went down the path. It is much like Isaiah 55:9: “For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways and My thoughts than your thoughts” (NAS). One aspect I am sure of: God is reaching deep into my soul to pull out the roots of my weakest areas. No human would naturally desire to ask for that, just praise Him for doing it and REALLY praise Him when it is over! Remember, we don’t have the option of skipping part of the trial by fire.

The first piece of revelation the Lord revealed to me about myself is a multi-layered one. I remember helping pray with others and the person leading said the phrase ‘emotional weakness’. The Lord tugged at me with that phrase. He told me that one was a deep root for me. I prayed it through and found that it had profound influence in my life’s path. I will cover some history and lead you back to the point. I was born on the 1st day of August in a land far,far away. Ok, maybe a little too far back! My wife and I both are finding out that the adage of leaving the past behind is truly not a good idea. The way God does His best work in our lives is in dealing with what has been, not just what is. Have you ever met someone and in one minute knew their past had shaped them dramatically? There are so many obstacles from our past that leave scars, create traps, and hinder our progress forward in Him. If one simply tries to blow the past off, a lot of baggage is coming with you!

If I take a hard look at just that one area of my life, emotional weakness, and see how much it has shaped it, I am amazed. I love my parents as anyone does. The issue here for me spiritually is what I am inheriting that needs balancing with the Word. My folks are both pretty emotional people and my moms’ side of the family highly so. My family members will be nodding their heads right now, thank you very much! I can be emotionally high and low in less than ten minutes. I have come to realize it is a part of my genetic wiring. It doesn’t mean, however, that it can’t be improved upon.  The Holy Spirit will dig through your past to free you up going through that process. It doesn’t matter what your past is, it only matters that you and He can deal with all of it and make you whole.

The process He has taken me through lately is building trust in situations where my emotional weaknesses would rule the day. Resting in the Lord when all hell is breaking loose sounds easy right? I will pray to release that to you and you can find that one out! I listen to T.D. Jakes sermons fairly regular and one of the sermons had a phrase that just pays the bills all day long. He was talking about the mountains in our lives, the obstacles we have before us. He said in that sermon something along the lines of this: ‘We think victory is changing the mountain, but it is actually when the mountain changes you’! God is using our mountain to reform us and pull us out of whatever culture shaped us. I can’t tell you how true that really is! You go through that molding process and then you realize how much He has changed you! Yes, there are bad days when you are giving the wilderness Israelites a run for the money in the complaining department, but after you repent of that, you see the new you coming and what could be more beautiful than that?

He has taught me through numerous circumstances that I can trust Him, even when I flat out don’t ‘feel it’. We all have emotional leanings, some of us are naturally just stronger than others. The problem exists on the other side of the coin, some of you are way too emotionally strong! The Lord is all about balance in every category. The Lord spoke to me a lot through Hebrews 11:1-2: “Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen. For by it the men of old gained approval” (N.A.S.).  My faith in that case is for better emotional strength (what I hoped for). The various things in the Spirit we are convicted of and do not see without the Holy Spirit’s help. I want each of you to remember this always: how can others get help for the same issue your struggling through if you don’t wrestle it through first? Every struggle I have had in my life has great potential! Yes, that sounds weird typing it too! Every problem/issue that the Lord carries us through has enormous potential to help others walk through it. This is where the power and strength of our testimony comes from. Your issue could help thousands! Tests and trials will come regardless. They have no regard for our pain, they are neutral, it is what He shapes in us with that trial that matters. My friends, the Holy Spirit is pouring out on this point, because I didn’t understand this until now too!

 

 

 

It remains complicated to pull a flow together for these writings sometimes. I simply know He wants me to share about my journey so it helps others. A piece He has worked me through in this whole process is a foundation of trust. In this particular case (my little life on earth), He has worked my wife and I through many layers about our finances. He has bailed us out more times than the government bails out banks! Through my glass darkly I keep thinking I am almost out of the woods with the finances. I have never had a lot to work with, but I was primed to do well if the economy had not cracked with the mortgage mess. When one goes through numerous circumstances and situations financially like we and others have, trust exists in something or Someone, period! You either continue your confidence in the American economy or in Jehovah Jireh!

    Prayer Thread: A cool little revelation the Lord shared that was huge in my life was “Praying the Word” (my term). There is a book I heard of right after He showed it to me called ‘Praying the Bible’. Can’t remember the author and I am sure it will vary some from what He showed me. There are times I want something ‘active’ to do with my prayer time. The basic concept is this: feel free to adapt it to what He tells you to. Take a book from the Bible such as Ephesians (I wouldn’t start with the Gospels). Take a good ol’ sheet of paper and pen (we goin ol’ school here!) and as you read, be sensitive to the Holy Spirit about any verse that you could ‘pray’ back to Him.

It took a lot of time to finish the New Testament of course, but I love going back to these verses I wrote out and praying on them often. It has a way of making the Word fresh again because you are taking a verse at a time approach, sometimes just praying on that one verse for the day! From what I have heard preached, our Hebraic roots are here. The Old Testament priests would meditate on a verse for chunks of time. I know the Lord can show anyone a lot out of a single verse! You can of course type out each verse on computer file if you want to be modern and all that. I pray blessings on you all in His powerful name!

 

 

Dead Freakin’ Cactus Part 2

 

Oh sure, we are going to forget that some days are struggle as usual. He now can come to my bud and I as if to say: “Was My presence not enough for you”? So much of the w.e. is looking back at what He has done and saying to yourself: “Self, don’t forget how God provided here, or did this, or moved over here”.  I will believe until He tells me otherwise, that He gave me the dream to write (and confirmed it) so that I would not go crazy in the process. I would have had a total meltdown if I did not know He wanted me to write and would make a way. If I didn’t have that I would certainly be saying “Wow, what a mess this all is.” Instead, I am contently (ok, I am doing my best) able to say, “Wow, what a mess this all is, but I have the promise of what is to come. I know what He is able to do”! When we were at the end of the financial rope, He sent us $15k of totally unexpected money. When we didn’t even have money to go to the store, He led people to bring by food and soon we had more than enough. When we were at the end of our spiritual tank rope, He sends people with comforting ‘right now’ words to lift us up! Stand back fool, I feel the anointing now! Whatever rope you are at the end of dangling, look up and expect it will be taken care of in due season. It may be ugly, you may have to cry out to God, but if you are staying in good standing with Him, it will go the right way. It may drive you nearly insane getting there, but understand you are going to have it tested (what you believe).

Stand back, He has more: The American Church has gotten so much like the 7th church of Revelation (Laodicea), that all we care about is having need of nothing! We (me too) have refused to enter the wilderness, we have refused to stay at the end of whatever rope He placed us on, and we suffer! We suffer for lack of knowledge! We suffer for the enjoyment of ignorance! We’ve become the same as the world. The worldly mindset consumes our minds. The reason so many Christians right now are not feeling attacked in these days: the enemy is not worried, he is not sweating you! You are not trying to tear him up, so he keeps you nice and comfy! God is trying to make you uncomfortable so you will see the horrible state of yourself and the Church! God is separating it out right now! I am witnessing too many Christians seeking the comfort over the breakthrough! You can be as comfortable as you like, but understand this: you are not growing closer to God! The only thing a stale and moldy piece of bread is good for: feeding it to the ducks! God can’t put you in a new wineskin if He can’t break the old one first!

The only thing that stubbornness toward God and wilderness will give you is this: another casualty in the wilderness. There are no shortcuts out of the wilderness. If there were, I certainly would have found them! It was not until 40 years of age the Lord led me ‘back’ to my purpose. I doubt I could have ended up here if I started writing out of college, but only He knows that. All the lessons I share have been found out the way most of us do: the hard way. I will never know how many missed opportunities He presented me, or how many ‘extra’ years I wandered around the desert floor seeking purpose. I do know this now: get filled with all the Holy Spirit your little body can handle! Seek Him diligently in everything! Your ‘talents’ mean nothing unless He calls you to use them (anointing verses talent). Don’t be falsely guilted into using your talent because it is what you are best at. I didn’t even know that writing was my talent! How clueless was I? Breakout of the American mindset, it is highly limiting. Stop acting like God is an American/Republican/Conservative! Like He hand-picked your denomination to rule the world! Oh Lord, you don’t want me to get started on all that! He will tear it all apart bro… Everything that is shakable will be shaken… All that is man created will fail… Only He will remain at the end friends!

So now I roll with what He showed me out of all this. I jotted down a checklist of things to remind me the overall points He revealed through it all. I will devote a paragraph or two to each of the points to extrapolate and flesh out what the Lord impressed upon me. There are things He will show me that may vary for others. He will do ‘the same thing’ with someone else (results wise) and do it using a different method. While God never changes, He may change His method of operation. We would still be sacrificing animals on the altar otherwise! Do you see the benefits there? If He were still requiring a sacrifice, we would be struggling to keep McDonald’s and KFC open. Some of us could not bear the burden of that!

The heaviness and notably spiked anxiety in my spirit was as intense as I have ever experienced. Various questions swirled around in my head. What is the source of this attack? What does the Lord want me to learn in this? What is my responsibility? What is the Lord leading me through and what is my response? All these questions made for a numbness to hit my mind. Before I talked with my friend, it was an overwhelming and dark attack with no understanding.

The first point is touched on earlier. His power to overcome on our behalf is undeniable. Whatever He wants to show us will be revealed if we seek His face. He never stops being the most powerful source in all the universe. Simply put, He met me at the darkest, rawest point of being overwhelmed, and stepped directly in to free me. I better understand how when He gets involved, the devil better have his next spot picked out, because he is done! This was the deepest, darkest, and heaviest oppression I have ever felt. It wasn’t depression and could not be mistaken for anything else. As part of His plan, He knew I was ready to experience this whole ordeal. What I felt created a hopelessness and separation. I was hit so heavily that I struggled to utter prayerful words. I couldn’t sleep anyhow so I went ahead and Skyped with my friend to see what would turn up. Monday came and went, and I felt ok, much better. Tuesday came and I thought I was going to make it through the entire day. About 4 in the afternoon I felt it again. I decided I wanted to call someone this time who might have some idea or help pray about an answer. I don’t call her often, but I sensed she would be a good start. My friend helped me to experience how God was victorious over the harshest of things, now it was time to figure out what these things were (if possible).

She listened for a couple of minutes as I laid out what I felt, when, and where (chest, head, etc.). Her response was different than I thought it might be. Instead of asking more questions, sounding concerned, or going into deep prayer, she chuckled affirmatively. I was quietly surprised and she proceeded to ‘welcome me to the club’! I was still puzzled and she explained that usually it is women who are sensitive in intercessory, but that I was sensing the dark things going on in the world. There was a whole new level of peace and understanding that grew in my spirit that day. I could not have been more relieved too! A lot of things go through your head and spirit when you are attacked like this. This knowledge that this was an intercessory burden was comforting in a huge way. You say to yourself “Oh, thank goodness I am not crazy”! So the question for me instantly became ‘what am I burdening for’?

At first glance I was feeling overwhelmed and wondering what I was being drawn into. Perry Stone Jr. preaches that the battle gets the most intense around harvest time! Understand I am still in this phase of heaviness. It is more understandable and manageable, but very tiring. It doesn’t come as much, but if I am called to intercession, there will be more. This is a normal part of life for those who are spiritually sensitive this way (from what I hear).

We need to be praying that the remnants of Israel continue returning from around the world. No one can really manipulate prophesy, it seems to happen well enough on its own. I have been praying wisdom for the leadership in Israel. It is a tough spot to be in, but God is preparing ‘the showdown’ with His enemies. Converts to Christ are happening in ever increasing numbers right now. I am hearing of 1000’s coming to the Lord from many cultures around the world. Here at home, the revival will come among the youth. They want the real deal, and not just the religion of their parents. It takes no conspiracy theorists to know America is in real trouble. Economic, environmental, security, and moral are just a few of the obvious areas! We are forever linked to Israel. What we do to them will happen to us! We have forced Israel to ‘accept’ terror on its’ southern border and we seem to have the same problem on ours! Regardless of your politics, remain steadfast in prayer for your government, even if you live in Crackpotistan!

The third burden is a general one. He calls us to pray for whatever He puts in front of us at the moment. His Spirit guides us to all needs that He desires. This ‘burden’ area is totally new for me. Up to this point I knew it existed and was thankful to not have this particular gift honestly! These first weeks of this ‘gift’ have been raw and dark. I am not sure how effective I have been in prayer, I am simply seeking strength to endure it all! I have experienced some tough periods, but this is by far the hardest one in my life so far. Your mind gets so numb you can hardly even utter prayerful words. The only thing you can clearly think about is getting relief or finding out what the burden is truly for. It appears to me that this is like many things, a learning curve is involved. I will hit that in a minute. The main point of the third burden is to remain totally open to the work of the Spirit. Sounds simple, doesn’t it? Not easy to say when dark waves of numbness are attacking your core!

This third burden is a large one, because it may include so many different things. It could lead you to pray for so many different areas: believers around the world, certain people you know and their situation/circumstance, family, something in your own life, work, finances, people around you daily, foiling plans of the enemy, and stuff at your church/ministry just to name a few! Looking back at what the Lord has done for me, I see that operating in any of this would be impossible without the Holy Spirit. One of the biggest tragedies in the Church (worldwide) is the acceptance of the idea that we don’t need much of the Holy Spirit. What some need to understand in all this is the Holy Spirit has brought me to these understandings. If man’s theology were capable, I would have been fine where I was. I believed what a large percentage of theologically minded people still do, that I already had all there is. The Lord showed me how ignorant I really was (and still are). When you begin laying down your knowledge to the Holy Spirit and allow Him to replace it with His, watch out! He may give you more ‘mindjobs’ than you can handle! You must consider how God works in others. Why would He burden that person to pray for….whatever. Why am I not praying that way? Let me share this: keep seeking His face and He will give you plenty of work! Some are not able to handle the sacrifice and pain involved with some of it. Some will not make time for the ‘work’ of it! Some are limited by their theological boxes of understanding, and some are just plain spiritually fat and lazy!

Prayer Thread: I personally believe that our walk is truly a combo platter. The work of the Spirit mixed with great habits. He has shown to work through great habits such as spending a good amount of time with Him each day. It is kind of like the New Year’s resolutions, time to change our ways sometimes. The Lord cracked me over the head with this one day: Yes, you can give me 10 percent of your money, but how about 10 percent of your time? If my math is right, precious few of us will hit that, 2 hours and 40 minutes a day! But hey, that too is another lesson for another day. I don’t promise I won’t go A.D.D. on ya at times!

The habit I want to share briefly about is the power of anointing ‘things’. A few years ago, my daughter woke up in the morning like any other day. Even at a young age, she would talk of dreams, etc. This particular morning (or it could have been in the night), she flat told us, “I saw a man in a black hat”. We both knew that was not good! We called some people over who are very spiritually sensitive because we sensed it had to do with something in our house particularly. What came of it was this: my vinyl record collection was directly below my daughter’s room and she was sensing what was happening. I was very green at this sort of thing, so what the Lord had me do was anoint with oil everything I owned. He also led me to go through my collection and listen to Him about what music needed to go!

In this case, it had to do with ‘words’. Every album, as you know, is filled with verbage. It has a ‘feel’ to it, every record album is different. Now, my wife and I will not bring any object into our house without doing a quick “Blood of Jesus” with a swatch of olive oil on it to bless it. Older objects are definitely more prone to having negative things attached to them because of history.

The main point I want to convey is this: anointing with oil is a powerful tool, especially if your getting a strange atmosphere or vibe from certain objects. This is all about blessing, there are things that we may not consider that carry curses. The blood of Jesus is a powerful blessing as you know! As I will repeat often, pray it through for you! AUTHORS NOTE: I understand some in the Body will totally discount this…don’t care…I lived it! These are just really snippets of a broad subject, so just understand I am keeping things brief overall. My prayer is it helps someone else going through it all who is spiritually sensitive to things as I am.

Dead Freakin’ Cactus

 

 

Hey all, this one will come in 3 parts. At the end of each part, He has led me to share a prayer habit that has helped me in the walk. Welcome to part 1 of ‘Dead Freakin’ Cactus’!!!

The title of this thread best described to me the whole idea: what it means to go all the way through the wilderness with Him in victory. John Bevere writes a book of just that title: “Victory in the Wilderness.” I am sure I will be holding in several overall points he made in the book. I have just started the book actually, but I have already read and made notes from “A Voice of One Crying.” The interesting thing about these books is their timelessness! They read as if written in the post 2000’s. My wife and I (and quite a few others I know) are long into our wilderness experiences. A whole other set of people I know are going in, and a few are coming out of it. I feel led of the Lord to share some of my road and what He teaches during it all. I have heard concepts through Bevere, Perry Stone Jr., and others that I may swerve into at times. The main encouragement I want to offer everyone is that even when you see a cactus dying before you, the Lord has not abandoned you!

What is it that creates uneasiness about the entire mental picture of the wilderness? Are we not simply willing to soldier on? I find that people’s tendency is to be upset with God when going through hard times. Let’s take a quick look at your rank. My rank, what has my rank got to do with it? I will cut right to the chase with this concept. The Lord led His only Son to the wilderness for 40 days as you know. Was it a time of celebration and prosperity? Was He there for hap-hap-happy times? No, He was there for temptation to show us how to handle it. I guarantee the Lord showed us through this many things. If Jesus was not spared this wilderness experience, what makes you think you are going to avoid it? I see too many believers who think God has turned His back on them every time they come off the mountaintop experience! Should we really question and get angry with God every time we are not getting everything we want?

A key thing we must contrast too is how God recreated a wilderness scenario. Would you rather your wilderness experience be like Moses/the Israelites or like that of Christ? I don’t imagine that answer took long to come up with. No matter what you see in your natural life, remember this key point: it all boils down to you and the Lord. While other tools (books, sermons, other believers) may be helpful for prayer and advice, what is done in the prayer closet will carry you through the desert past the dead cactus! The Israelites showed us how to walk in the flesh and Christ showed us how to be driven by the Spirit! The Spirit led Christ to the wilderness and inspired Him on to the other side. The Israelites kept denying the Spirit of the Lord and His purposes and there they died! What a contrast can be seen in these two stories. Is it our money and security that makes us confident? We have to all admit, we never thought we would see our blessings as Americans ever really challenged. What we must keep in mind is that He always wants our victory to be celebrated on the other side of the wilderness. We can imagine that it broke His heart to have the Israelites suffer after all He did for them. He tried to get the Egypt(flesh) out of His children, but they constantly desired to go back to it! I see this every day. People want the victory; they may just not be willing to go through the wilderness to get to the promise land. I am not claiming it is easy and neither will He. What He has taught me is that we have the rights to blessings and curses. We have to decide which one we want and do the work with Him!

The whole understanding of recognizing we have entered the wilderness may take some time. I spent a lot time wondering (and wandering!) where I was at and what He wanted me to do. This included spiritually, financially, career wise, and more. There is a verse that the Lord passed on through a friend: In 2 Chronicles 20:17 it says “You shall not need to fight in this battle, set yourselves, stand ye still and see the salvation of the Lord with you…..(don’t recall version).” We know the battle is His but somehow we can’t stay out of the way enough to allow Him to defeat the giants in our lives. I testify that the Lord reworked every area of our lives in our wilderness days. It has been 8 to 10 years now and I do hope the Promised Land is close! Though I accept His work in it, one can be fatigued with it all. I will extrapolate on the key areas to better illustrate how we have seen His work in our lives. I know that He will work differently in us all, but the illustrations will testify to His hand in it.

While several areas have been under construction during the process, I see a primary area as important. Before He can lead us through to the Promised Land, He must first deal with our spiritual core being (my descriptive term). He wants to test by fire our traditions, theologies, motivations, and every spiritual interaction. If the Word says that He comes for a church spotless and blameless, will it contain the common carnal Christianity we so often see in the average church? As His return grows closer, the separation of wheat and chaff must occur. Expect it friends! I remember a gospel tune from Praise on XM, I believe the title was “Tried in the fire” or “In the fire”. I haven’t heard it in awhile, but the lyrics come to me often. Phrases like “Have you been tried in the fire?” pierced my heart because we tend to want to avoid the purification process. We are darn American aren’t we? We will do anything to not feel the pain or go through it! Food, drugs, friends and family, church, entertainment, and many others are fillers! We will use anything we have to in avoiding the core issues. As long as it makes us ‘feel’ better, it must be good! I see a trend among us all to avoid the fire of testing He wants to take us through. Why do we feel we have the right to shape what ‘blessed’ looks like? How many blessings have we missed when fire testing came and we said “Oh Lord, this is raw, it can’t be from You”. All those who got that, raise your hand! The rest of you repent for lying! Isn’t it stark how off we can be? We can’t even be trusted in ourselves to go through a testing without the Spirit! We must always be able to say in our hearts “The Holy Spirit showed me…” or “I felt the Holy Spirit lead me…”.

It reminds me of Hansel and Gretel. Hansel and Gretel that is what all this reminded you of? I didn’t say my mind worked ‘normally’, I simply see what I see! Of course I have a four year old, so keep that in mind. If we have bread crumbs in our wilderness experience, will we not be able to find our way back home? The father was taking Hansel and Gretel away because of hardships at home. Our father is the opposite: He takes our hardships for us so we don’t have to bear the burdens ourselves! It may seemingly take forever to get through our w.e. (I tell you what, I am not typing two big words every other sentence, I don’t need help beefing up the deal here), but your talking about God here. He took 40 years to work the Israelites in the wilderness. I would guess it was about year 30 when He tried to wipe them out! He kept the Israelites in captivity for 70 long years. God simply doesn’t get in a hurry!

A quick aside here: have you ever wondered why so many ministers never find their groove? I wonder if it is because they didn’t wait long enough! Jesus didn’t do anything until age 30. He, being God in the flesh, still prepared Himself for ministry. Some may say, “Oh, we have all the theological learning of the past 2000 years at our disposal.” If that were true, the Church would be better off, not in the shambles of disrepair the North American Church is in now. We haven’t gotten smarter as a whole, in fact lower morally and devoid of the Spirit. I understand that “we” have a cute little theological system that must be followed here, but God qualifies the call, not a professor. From the fruit I see in the Body, theology school has become a hindrance to hearing the voice of God.

So how does daily life look when your in the midst of w.e.? It will of course look different for everyone, but from talking with others a couple of common threads connect us all. Generally speaking, I would expect it to get worse before better! The ‘peak’ of your w.e. seems to be when every cactus around you is dying and life hits a tipping point. He may try and work out some of our baggage during this period. No, He probably just will be! He wants to strengthen our weaknesses, expose personality flaws, and test our lives by fire. I won’t speak for everyone else about what this period is like, but I know for me it is a major battle. It is tiring in several ways: mentally, physically, and spiritually. I guess that is all the ways! No matter how you may want to avoid this w.e., you must remember some key points. 1) If you don’t enter into it, you will not be prepared for what is next. 2) Those very weaknesses God tried to pluck out of you may hinder you going forward 3) Not submitting can totally negate what God has called you to do. You may move forward, but what is started in the flesh, must be finished in it! 4) No matter how much it feels like God has dumped you, He is always just ahead. 5) Anything that God has blessed us with spiritually, needs to be tested in the fire so only the purities remain!

So how does life actually look sometimes? Raw and uninspiring, but hope always remains in spite of what we personally see. Everywhere I look right now I see issues. My wife’s father is late in his battle with cancer. We just changed churches due to issues (the Lord told us to leave actually). Business is sporadic as is our finances. The ministry my wife and I work with is struggling financially and with personnel issues. The world stage is a pure mess right now. AUTHOR: Update here: this was written several years ago. Since then both of my wife’s parents have died, He has given me great relationships in not only church…but also ministry opportunities besides with people I love! He has created stability of work in a pretty darn good situation for me right now! I wanted you all to see hope DOES come.

There is a lot of spiritual principles here to consider. I want to lay out some of the lessons of the last month, and more of what is going on. My w.e. got a lot more intense before it settled down! About two weeks ago now, I felt huge waves of dark, oppressive, heavy numbness. It was powerful enough that I could hardly pray. I knew that this was something altogether different than I had experienced before. At first, I thought it was about the despair of finances and direction of my life. I soon began to question that. Surely all this heaviness is not related to my little old life here! A feeling of dread permeated my heart, an intense burden of anxiety tied to it. In habit, I Skyped with my missionary bud  (our weekly standard). The Lord guided the process and began to unearth what lie beneath. Our first round ended without total understanding, but the Lord began to pull out of me some of the ‘lacks’ in my life. Our mentalities can be rooted in unchallenged foundations. I never fully understood how the Israelites performed the way they did in the desert. Now I can totally understand that I too could die in the desert!

I did seem to notice the dark waves would come at certain times of the day. The first few days of it struck at just before bedtime, creating some really short nights! My wife and daughter were out of state post funeral, so I had a few restless nights by myself. Naturally, I attributed this dark wrestling to my own life first (most of us start there). I begged for peace from God for several days. I knew He wanted to show me something, I had no idea what. The second Skype experience proved more fruitful for what He wanted to show me (and my bud too). The Lord led my bud to lead us through Psalm 77, reading 3 verses at a time, and praying through it. We both felt the Spirit strongly leading us to His presence! I remember feeling His loving presence fill around us.

The pain of the previous days was dormant now, and tears flowed as we sensed His presence bringing comfort to our dry spirits! We knew that He was here even in the depths of the darkness. It showed us that when it feels darkest to continue to pursue His face! In Psalm 77 there are three ‘Selahs’, dividing the chapter into three sections. In this Psalm, it gives you the feel of three separate readings within one chapter (ok, at least it does me). I want everyone to understand: the despair and darkness felt during this period is not of the “so and so is having a bad day variety”. This was the darkest and heaviest burden I have ever felt in my life. So heavy that I could not really pray! It was in a word: overwhelming to my spirit! If someone were to experience anything heavier (or worse I guess), I am not sure how you would know the difference. I am not throwing in the mix something experienced through great tragedy, circumstances, etc. We are talking about a whole different animal here. In the next few paragraphs I will be sharing some of the ‘lessons’ He has since shown me.

The intense period lasted about a week if I am remembering correctly. I had several restless nights through the week and picked up the girls from the airport on Saturday night. The men’s prayer group sensed the heaviness also and prayed diligently on Saturday morning. I did feel a good covering and sensed some relief and burden lifted then. My wife and I prayed together Saturday and Sunday night to lift burdens so I could sleep, or to reveal what was needed in prayer. Saturday night I slept fine, but Sunday was an altogether different engagement. I was restless again during bedtime on Sunday night. I Skyped my bud at midnight to check his availability. He was doing his online language lessons and had but a minute. He quickly prayed and planned to see me in about five hours. I told him I am sure I will be ‘fresh’ and ready to go! He has become downright essential for this period of time in my life. I know the Lord would have done it differently if necessary, but this has been more than helpful to me with my bud’s spiritual mentorship!

A ‘good’ four hours of sleep followed… I woke expectantly though, knowing the Lord was drawing near in all this. This 24 hours was the heaviest of it all. I could sense it was big, and that it had far reaching implications. The pain of it was numbing though! In it was a rawness, a sense of anxiety/dread: it also felt like an evil oppression (I know, as opposed to ‘good’ oppression). I knew it was essential to have someone walk through with me, to bear burdens with me. Sometimes being heard and talking it through helps too. My bud felt what I felt and totally flowed with it. The Lord spoke to him in those couple of hours and what followed was healing, release, and His presence. One interesting note was how the Lord used this event to minister to him also. There were parts of his past experiences that needed healing also, and you know how He works: kill as many birds as you can with one stone! Isn’t He such an incredible multi-tasker?

The Lord brought him into Psalm 77, which for this time, the NIV version was perfect! For those who are stuck in the KJV only mindset, you will miss some blessed opportunities in some cases! Thither thou risest and knew not! May thy quiver be not full of burdensome stone. May the sword swiftly defend thy Word.  Just having fun with the KJVers! What did I say there? I am not sure it was anything, but if you are a devoted KJVer, you may be searching still… I am going to include the full chapter here (NIV):

I cried out to God for help:

I cried out to God to hear me.

When I was in distress, I sought the Lord;

At night I stretched out untiring hands

and my soul refused to be comforted.

I remembered you, O God, and I groaned;

I mused, and my spirit grew faint. Selah

You kept my eyes from closing;

I was too troubled to speak.

I thought about the former days,

The years of long ago;

I remembered my songs in the night,

My heart mused and my spirit inquired:

Will the Lord reject forever?

Will he never show his favor again?

Has His unfailing love vanished forever?

Has His promise failed for all time?

Has God forgotten to be merciful?

Has He in anger withheld His compassion? Selah

Then I thought, “To this I will appeal; the years

of the right hand of the Most High.”

I will remember the deeds of the Lord; yes

I will remember your miracles of long ago.

I will meditate on all our works and

consider all your mighty deeds.

Your ways, O God, are holy.

What god is so great as our God?

You are the God who performs miracles;

You display Your power among the peoples.

With your mighty arm you redeemed your people,

the descendents of Jacob and Joseph. Selah

The waters saw you, O God,

the waters saw you and writhed:

the very depths were convulsed.

The clouds poured down water,

The skies resounded with thunder;

Your arrows flashed back and forth.

Your thunder was heard in the whirlwind,

Your lightning lit up the world;

the earth trembled and quaked.

Your path led through the sea,

Your way through the mighty waters,

though your footprints were not seen.

You led your people like a flock

By the hand of Moses and Aaron.

 

As we prayed following each three verses, the presence of the Lord increased and built to a crescendo. When we got to the beginning of the last section (verse 16) about the waters and clouds pouring down water, he fired up “Let It Rain” and I cried like a baby. My tears were like rain in the best possible sense. In a word: broken! God had a firm grip on everything now. I could feel a freeing sense of His Spirit meeting me there to carry me. I knew He fully understood my pain, my sense of helplessness, and my dependence! Over the last decade, I have felt like I have had many ‘mindjobs’ thrown at me. Most were not of the comforting variety, so this was an incredible new sense of ‘I’ve got your back’. It was like the big breakthrough after many battles to win the war. Something was allowed to break in our spirits to put the fuller sense of His Spirit in us.

    Prayer thread: Have some of you felt the difference in the atmosphere around you? Could you feel more peace or darkness as you entered a building, house, or specific area? What I have learned over these past few years is that every place on earth is shaped spiritually by history. I don’t have the space to go into all that now, but I wanted to ask the question to be able to share how my wife and I use protective prayers in our life. Perhaps that will be a complete writing unto itself sometime.

I know if from ‘our’ music if nothing else, we all understand a war against darkness rages daily. In this war we must do all we can to protect ourselves! Biblically, it is similar to the Israelites using the blood on the doorposts to keep away the death angel (ain’t nobody needin’ no death angel round here!). The good news for us is that we don’t have that kind of deal now. What we battle is the daily grind over time.

There are three areas the enemy will attack: people, places, and things. The enemy uses his demons for an ‘in’ anywhere he can find one! I realize that I am givin’ y’all a nugget in place of an entire teaching, but pray it through and ask Him how it applies to you. In the spiritual realm, I have come to understand that the enemy attaches demonic spirits to the three areas. The great news is He has power and authority over all that! I apologize for having to make this a brief thread, it is a condensing of a 5 year learning curve! Here is an example of a nightly protective prayer He developed over the years. Don’t turn it into merely a religious habit, ask Him how it can be effective for you and over you for the night!

Lord, we invite your presence here into our house tonight. We ask You to remove anything from the day from all people, places, and things. Send them away (the hogs Jesus sent a packin) in Jesus name for …name each person (of your household). We invite your Holy Spirit to place a hedge above, below, and all around us as we sleep. Place Your warring angels on their posts to protect personage(us),(our) property, and(our) possessions. In Your holy name, Amen.

Brothers and sisters: I am not doing a “thus saith the Lord” here. I am sharing what He has taught us through various experiences and sources over these years. Pray it through for you! Be blessed in Him