That Paradox Thing

hamlet1

THAT PARADOX THING  

   Awhile back when the high school English modules were released upon the earth, I found myself most unhappy. Those modules made about as much sense as selling ice in Antarctica. In fact, it seemed that they were written by people who probably believed in hobbits; they simply had no basis in reality. And the modules were just wrong; instructions were numbered 1, 3, 4 (there was no 2); supplemental social studies’ texts were mistakenly inserted as English texts—it just went on and on. And to add insult to injury, the idiotic things were scripted, meaning we had to follow them verbatim, no deviation. At all. And if we didn’t follow them, no doubt the stock market would crash or Planet X would collide with earth or some such evil thing.

   The bottom line? I reached a point where I was done. I told God that—for several months—and sadly, I wasn’t kidding. I simply didn’t understand how to use something that made so little sense. I felt, for the first time in fifteen years of teaching that I couldn’t do the job. However, what God did was totally unexpected and I didn’t necessarily get it at the time.

Life’s Little Paradoxes

   Paradoxes are those things that seem to contradict one another but really don’t. The Bible is full of them like “you must die to live” and “the more you give [away], the more you get.” Things that are easy to understand—just not always for a decade or so. Still, those are fairly common principles so we’re kind of used to them. But there’s another paradox that we may not be quite as familiar with, aka:

The “Take A Dive” Principle

   This principle means that to “go higher,” you must first “go lower.” Now lots of us tend to think of that principle in terms of humbling ourselves.

We rarely think about it when we find ourselves involuntarily brought low through some cruel—and completely unauthorized by us—situation in life.

   And that’s what happened to me; I was sent to the middle school to teach reading to 7th and 8th graders who—you guessed it—couldn’t read.

   Now you’d think that by 7th and 8th grade, kids would be able to read. That’s what I thought. But apparently not. So there I went, to the realm of the “little kids”. But the horror! I’d be teaching some book about somebody’s underpants or something—instead of Shakespeare or Bradbury! Had I done something wrong? Had I gone and ticked somebody off? Had I died and gone, well—you know where…?

   What had God done to me??

   Actually, as I came to find out, he’d bailed me out. No modules. That’s correct—none. In other words, the pressure of trying to teach complete blather was gone. In the end, maybe I wasn’t teaching Hamlet, but it turns out I didn’t have to teach Captain Underpants either. (Evidently, that’s for the 5th grade teachers to enjoy.)

A Prerequisite to Promotion

   All throughout the Word of God, we see this principle in action. For instance, Joseph (Jacob’s son), was brought low in the extreme when he went from being his father’s favorite son to being sold as a slave. And from there it just got worse. In the end, however, he was promoted to second-in-command of Egypt.

   Another example is Sarah, Abraham’s wife, who couldn’t have a baby. Back in that day, an inability to have children was looked upon as a defect in a woman so Sarah suffered that shame for decades until she was long past the age where she could even hope to have a child. And yet what happened? God happened. Sarah not only became a mom in her (very) old age, but she became the mother of nations.

   Just let that sink in.

   Jesus himself was brought low for a greater purpose. He was born under a cloud of dark suspicion; after all, it was whispered that Joseph wasn’t really his father. And trust me, that was a black mark on his name and reputation that would plague him his whole life. Add to that the fact that he didn’t just die, he was executed as a criminal. And he wasn’t just executed, he was hung on a tree. In those days, to be hung was an actual curse reserved for those considered unredeemable. But his humiliation was all part of God’s plan to save us and to exult him to the highest place of honor over all creation—forever.

   Oh, and there was Moses, too—back side of the desert for forty years before being promoted to the greatest prophet in the Bible… You get the pic.

The End Game?

   It might not look good for you right now—you might be in a position where you’ve been lowered, demoted, shunned, and/or humiliated. But instead of feeling like a failure, think about this instead: God often takes people low before lifting them to heights beyond what they could ever have hoped or dreamed. I can tell you. I’m back at the high school part of the day now—and yes, I’m teaching Shakespeare. But there’s not a module in sight.

   It may look like the end of the world and the situation you’re experiencing might feel like an actual death. But in God’s economy, the tomb is only a temporary stop on the way to miracles.

  

 

 

 

Release and Catch

fish goldRELEASE AND CATCH

   In the world of fishing, there’s a thing called “catch and release” in which folks catch fish and then release them back into the water. In the spiritual realm, it works the opposite way: we’re to release things into existence from the spiritual realm and then catch them—receive them—into the natural realm to affect whatever situation or circumstances we’re praying about.

   Recently the Lord spoke to me to proclaim release of things in the spirit realm because they’ve either been delayed, tied up or because it’s simply not been their season of release. Until now. Now the Lord is saying that it’s time to release those things that we’ve been waiting for. That’s the good news. And as far as I know, there is no bad news.

What’s It Mean to “Release”?

   To release in the spiritual realm means to use the authority we’ve been given to free those things which have not, to this point, been available to us in the physical realm. However, in order to do that, we need to understand the authority that we have already been given. The key is “Christ IN us, the hope of glory.” That means that because we’re “one with Christ” as he is with the Father, we now have the same authority that he has to free those answers to prayer which have been delayed or bound up in the spiritual realm. But that’s a whole other teaching. The point is that when we exercise that authority, things break loose. And how do we do that? We make proclamations of release. We speak into the spiritual realm and command those things for which we’re praying to be released in the name of Jesus.

   There is a thing (I don’t know what else to call it) in the spiritual realm called an “ungodly delay”. What that means is that some answers to prayer or other events that the Lord wants to release are held up or bound in the spiritual realm. This is almost always a tactic used by the enemy to keep God’s will from being accomplished on the earth. Granted, not everything is an “ungodly” delay; sometimes we’re required to wait for something which is not yet in God’s timing to have appropriated. However, when the enemy can delay answers to prayer, he certainly will. Why would he not? And as long as we don’t understand the authority we have to release those delays, they will stand.

   Remember Daniel’s dilemma? He was praying and fasting for understanding regarding an earlier prophecy. However, the answer didn’t come until the 24th day when an angel appeared to him and told him that while God had heard his prayers on the first day of his fast, the angel had been delayed in getting the answer to Daniel because he had been held up by the demonic prince in charge of the stronghold over Persia. The angel said that he wasn’t able to deliver the message to Daniel until the archangel Michael arrived to help him fight his way through the opposition.

The key? Delays of any kind apart from God’s timing are released by proclamation of the Word of God in the name of Jesus Christ.

What’s It Mean to “Receive”?

   The bottom line is this: in order to “get” anything from God, we need to actively receive or accept it; it won’t be dumped on us some night when we’re asleep without  our cooperation. In other words, we can pray for something all day long, but if we don’t take the present off the shelf and open it, it stays on the shelf.

   “Receiving” is not a passive thing. Rather, it requires a deliberate response from us to take that thing which God has promised and to “receive” it—to catch it—to believe that it has been released.

But What If We Don’t See It Happen?

   We’re talking about a release in the spiritual realm which must happen before anything can be visible in the physical realm. For example, if someone is ordained by God to be released into ministry, that happens in the spiritual realm before they’re ordained on the earth. Moreover, the ministry itself won’t be full-blown immediately, it will need to be developed. That means that when we release something in the spiritual realm, then it is freed to be implemented on earth although it might take a period of time before it’s evident to us. But don’t be discouraged. The Lord wouldn’t tell us to release in the spiritual realm if it were a pointless activity.

What Do We Do While We’re Waiting for It to Happen?

   Prepare. Farmers prepare the soil before they plant. Parents prepare for the baby before it’s born. Teachers prepare lessons before they teach. People prepare for ministry before they launch it. Preparation after a proclamation of release is like watering a seed. Moreover, it demonstrates faith and God always rewards that.

   Right now, it’s time to begin to proclaim the release of that which God has for us, for our families, for our nation, and for our world.

   If not us, then who?

 

 

  

 

Get Ready to Go Deeper.

Casting Nets

GET READY TO GO DEEPER.

   Every new year, we make resolutions, one of the most common being to ditch that thing that didn’t work out so well in the past and move on—especially if it’s something we’ve been trying to succeed at for a very long time but “crash and burn” is all we know.

   This is the same situation Peter, Jesus’ disciple, found himself in after net fishing all night in his boat and catching nothing. He was not only disappointed, he was worried. Fishing was not just a hobby—it was his livelihood, his bread and butter, the provision for his family. Just not that night. But as he dragged his net to shore, exhausted and frustrated, Jesus meets him and says,

   “’Now go out where it is deeper and let down your nets and you will catch many fish.’”

   Still, Peter wasn’t so sure. “’Master,’” he says, “’we worked hard all night and didn’t catch a thing.’” But then he adds, “’but at Your word, we’ll try again.’”  The story ends with Peter’s nets so full they began to tear (Luke 5:4-6).

   So what does that mean for us? This quick exchange between the Lord and Peter contain four extremely essential keys to the successful fulfillment of our dreams and destinies.

KEY #1: “Now Go” = Obedience.

   Notice that Jesus says to Peter, “’Now go out…’” The key here is to obey the Lord and to do it immediately. If Peter hadn’t obeyed the Lord at that moment, he would have had no provision or success. Here’s the bottom line: When God says “now,” it’s best to move. We’ll never achieve provision or success if we are not willing to obey—and to obey “now”—not later. Moreover, considering that God often saves the “now’s” until we don’t expect them, expect to be surprised by a “suddenly”. Peter didn’t see God’s directive coming but he was prepared to obey. Here’s another fact: the more we obey when we don’t see anything happening, the more prepared we’ll be to obey the moment God says, “Go!”

KEY #2: “Deeper” Means “Bigger”. 

   Sometimes the Lord may tell us to go “deeper”. While “going deeper” can have many applications, in the sense of fulfilling a vision or destiny, it often means to seek larger territory, more impactful opportunity—to go big!  At the same time, however, going deeper, seeking bigger things, might be a bit scarier and will require more faith. However, the risk of “going deeper” did pay off for Peter. And as a victory principle in the kingdom of God, it’s huge.

KEY #3: “To Let Down” Means “to Work”. 

   The Lord tells Peter, “’Let down your nets’”. Note that God didn’t just drop the fish from the sky, but rather Peter had to work; he had to actually fish. The take-away here is that God loves to co-labor with us; He doesn’t want to have to do “it” alone (whatever “it” is) nor does He want us to have to do it alone. He wants to work with us—but that means we will have to work.

KEY #4: The Timing Is the Thing. 

   Then there’s the timing. Apparently, in Peter’s day, nighttime was the accepted time to fish, but Jesus instructed him to fish at a time that others might’ve questioned or even ridiculed. Yet often God will instruct us to do something in the off-season or during a time that just seems wrong. However, it really helps to remember that He’s in touch with all of the logistics of a situation and we are not. As the story goes, Peter’s nets became so full that they began to break. If Peter had argued that the timing didn’t make sense, then he’d have failed.

     So—even if you’ve been through a long season of “try and fail, try and fail,” it may be that that season is about to end. After all, fishermen are supposed to be successful at fishing and you are supposed to be successful at whatever you’re called to do—or God wouldn’t have called you to do it. But you hardly need me to tell you that. So get ready to “let down your net” again. Don’t be afraid. 2019 is the year to achieve much bigger things than you “can even think or imagine”.

   Get ready to go deeper.

 

 

 

 

 

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A Word for 2019…

Angel - FREE

A WORD FOR 2019…

   Every January, we hear the same things said about the new year: It’ll be a year of prosperity and success, bondages broken, long-awaited prayers answered, new relationships, et cetera. And there’s nothing wrong with any of that—I pray for those blessings as well. But here’s one thing we have to keep in mind no matter what happens this year, good or bad:

   Our pursuit of God and His presence has to be the priority—or none of the rest of it matters. Nor will any of it work out.

   Now I know what you’re thinking: “Been there, heard that.” But have we really heard it?

   What If You’re Not Happy?

   Have you ever had an experience where you got that thing you’d dreamed about and prayed for and waited on forever—and then it doesn’t bring the fulfillment or happiness or peace you thought it would? There’s still an emptiness deep inside, a longing you can’t explain? Sometimes even disappointment sets in (which, if not dealt with, is a dangerous thing). If so, that means one thing: we’re depending on that new opportunity or new assignment or new relationship to fulfill us. The problem is, it doesn’t work that way. The presence of God is the one thing which will give us that sweet peace and fulfillment and joy we crave. Sure, the new job or heart-throbbing relationship or bigger bank account will certainly give us some satisfaction, but those aren’t the end game. No assignment or amount of money or person can give us peace for the long term—nor are they supposed to. Rather, it’s God’s job to provide us with peace and fulfillment; however, it is our job to spend time in His presence to access it.

   Let’s be honest, shall we? It’s easy to get desperate about seeking God when we desperately need something from Him, but what about when we don’t? What about after He gives us that opportunity or prosperity or destiny we’ve been crying out for? After we get it and we’re not quite as desperate, is seeking His presence still really as much of a priority now as seeking His provision was back then? 

   “But seeking God’s presence is hard!”

   Or not. Seeking the presence of God does not have to be complicated—although we think it does. We often think it requires hours of prayer or Bible study or some other work to get God to pay attention to us or to “show up”. But guess what? God is waiting for us to show up; He’s already there.

   So where is “there”? It’s any quiet place you can find to go and sit and just be.

That’s what God means when He says, “’Be still, and know that I am God.’”  He means be still.

   He doesn’t mean we have to write a thesis or read the whole Bible in a week or pray for three hours a day (although you can if you want). It does mean we have sit down and listen. Or go to the park and listen or take a long drive and listen… simply find any place where you’re alone and quiet, and it can be just you and God. That’s all.

   And the Point Is…?

   So what’s the point of this whole little commentary? It’s simply to ensure that when your prayers are answered and your dreams do come true and you have discovered your destiny—that you’re happy. And you will be if the Lord is at the center of those things. That’s all I want for you. So here’s the Word of the Lord for 2019:

   Just. Be. Still.