Monday, November 25, 2013

Humanity Groans for a Mother

Mothers -- of today or tomorrow -- if you have at times felt as if child rearing was some eddy aside the main stream of what is important in life, be encouraged by these powerful words.

Fathers -- of today or tomorrow -- be awed. Let your hearts take in the gravity of it.

My willingness to carry life is the revenge, the antidote, the great rebuttal of every murder, every abortion, and every genocide. 

I sustain humanity. Deep inside of me, life grows. I am death's opposition. 

I have pushed back the hand of darkness today. I have caused there to be a weakening tremor among the ranks of those set on earth's destruction. Today a vibration that calls angels to attention echoed throughout time. 

Our laughter threatened hell today. I dined with the greats of God's army. I made their meals, and tied their shoes. Today, I walked with greatness, and when they were tired I carried them. I have poured myself out for the cause today. 

It is finally quiet, but life stirs inside of me. Gaining strength, the pulse of life sends a constant reminder to both good and evil that I have yielded myself to Heaven and now carry its dream. No angel has ever had such a privilege, nor any man. I am humbled by the honor. I am great with destiny. I birth the freedom fighters. 

In the great war, I am a leader of underground resistance. I smile at the disguise of my troops, surrounded by a host of warriors, destiny swirling, invisible yet tangible, and the anointing to alter history. Our footsteps marking land for conquest, we move undetected through the common places. 

Today I was the barrier between evil and innocence. I was the gate keeper, watching over the hope of mankind, and no intruder trespassed. There is not an hour of day or night when I turn from my post. 

The fierceness of my love is unmatched on earth. And because I smiled instead of frowned the world will know the power of grace. Hope has feet, and it will run to the corners of earth, because I stood up against destruction. 

I am a woman. I am a mother. I am the keeper and sustainer of life here on earth. Heaven stands in honor of my mission. No one else can carry my call. 

I am the daughter of Eve. Eve has been redeemed. I am the opposition of death. 

I am a woman.

--- Poem by Christianna Reed Maas 2010

To catch a greater sense of the meaning of this poem, watch Tiffany Williams recite and move with the passion of Christianna's words ($3 download from

Read more content for mommies and families on The KT Files: Family, Life and Love - The Journey of Family

Friday, October 04, 2013

John G. Lake: The Power of God Displayed

The evangelistic and healing ministry of John G. Lake was like a bright meteor that burned across the sky of the early 20th century, leaving a lasting impression and impact in the lives of people of the day. But just as importantly, Lake’s pioneering healing ministry left in its wake rediscovered foundation stones of the Gospel, on some of which now rest healing ministries and revival in our day.  The red threads that pass through Lake’s and other healing ministries of the modern era lead back to Jesus, of course, and it is fascinating to see them passing now through the ministry of Bethel and other revivals rising around the earth.

John G. Lake: His Life, His Sermons, His
Boldness of Faith
Reading this book (John G. Lake: His Life, His Sermons, His Boldness of Faith, 548 pp) has had a much more profound impact on me than I expected as I began to read. It was initially a difficult read, as it is largely the product of transcribed sermons. Sermons delivered over the podium do not always translate effectively into an easy-to-use text form. And, the century-old cadence, style and language of the book take some getting used to.  But it is most definitely worth the read.

I think I was most profoundly affected by Lake’s authority and power. I often wondered in the reading of the book what must one do to wield that level of authority and power for God’s glory. I believe he possessed an unusual level of healing gifts (1 Corinthians 12:9), but even so, the text implies that throughout his ministry he directed the ministry of others whom the Lord used powerfully as well. And that suggests that I am a candidate for more authority and power than I now use. And that confronts me with the question of what separates me from it, and how I break through to the next level. 

In that connection, I am most confronted by Lake’s sermon “Sin in the Flesh” (pp 384-398). I am confronted as I compare myself and my spiritual maturity with Lake and those around him. Fortunately, He loves me just as I am, even while gently encouraging me to seek more of His Kingdom and of love. 

Two seeming lacks in this powerful ministry were longevity and Kingdom extension in America.  While the ministry continues revitalized today, with others following Lake’s example even now, the fire kindled by God through Lake and his ministry in America seems never to have spread broadly here. The situation in Africa seems to be different, with tens of thousands of new Jesus followers of the early 20th century contributing over this century past to the vast shift of the center of mass of Christianity to the global south (i.e. Africa, India, China, Latin America, etc

Finally, I will say that the way God used Lake speak powerfully to me across the ten decades since he lived. If I and a legion of others of our day will pursue his Godly path, using gifts of the Spirit, like healings and miracles, to display God’s real power and glory to an ever-more-cynical world, hundreds of millions can be swept into the joy of the Kingdom and eternity with the King. And if we can use our gifts to steward this and other revivals that are now growing around the world, the greatest harvest and transformation of the souls of men in the history of the earth may well be upon us!

An earlier version of this was originally written as a book report as part of the requirements for the 2nd year Bethel School of Supernatural Ministry.  

Read more in this blog about Bethel and our experience within this community.

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Why I Am Not So Concerned About Sinning As I Once Was

Today I realized that I had made a significant paradigm shift in my life of faith, and that is that I am not so concerned about sinning as I once was.  Don't get me wrong -- if anything, I now see sin as more destructive than ever before. So how can I be less concerned about sin?

I am less concerned because I am more concerned about deeply understanding who I really am in Christ.  The reality that I am a son of God has sunk deeper than ever into my soul.  Worrying about not sinning takes up emotional bandwidth that could be better used for dreaming with God about what I can accomplish as a prince. Jesus has made a way across the divide of sin to an abundant life with the King of kings.

Most mornings, I write in my journal that I am a prince in the Kingdom of God.  I know that is a human analogy, and the Bible doesn't really address our being sons or daughters as "princes" and "princesses".  Nevertheless, I like the analogy because it gives more flavor to the concept of being a son of God.

Here's the punch line in this post.  What I have found is that as I have really internalized the reality of being a prince, a brother of Jesus, that reality has positively affected my thought life and my behavior.  It means that I want to act like a prince, think like a prince, talk like a prince and love like a prince in the Kingdom of God.   And as those thought patterns and  behaviors become more and more who I am, sin is increasingly squeezed out of my life.

I am no longer a sinner.  I am a saint.  I am on God's side. And not only am I a saint, I am a son of the living God; a prince in His Kingdom.  I do still sin, but I am no longer a professional.  Sin separates me from God, but because of the sacrifice of Jesus, I can repent and be forgiven.

If you are a Jesus-follower, the same is true for you: you are a saint.  You are not a low-down miserable worm who cannot look God in the eye.  You are chosen, holy and dearly beloved!  You are a son or daughter of the King, and your life in Christ is ever so much more than "not sinning"!  And if you have not yet made the decision to follow after Jesus, what I have written can be true of you by beliving in your heart and confessing with your mouth Jesus is Lord.

How about you?  Can you see yourself as a prince or a princess in God's Kingdom? As someone who is more concerned with the Kingdom than with sin?

Friday, July 05, 2013

Thoughts on Leaving Alaska

41 years ago this summer Linda I became newly-minted Alaskans.  We had married in late May, and took off that same afternoon with all we owned in a pickup truck headed for the 49th state.  Alaska was a shared dream, and for Linda, a dream birthed in her early teens.  To our surprise, our long Alaska season is coming to an end later this summer.  More on that later, but if you are interested, I'd like to tell you a little bit about our Alaska season.

Linda and me in Fairbanks, 1974
Except for three 10-month periods of living in Uppsala, Sweden over five years, and more recently 9 months in Redding, California, we have been Alaskans since 1972.  We have lived in Fairbanks, Delta Junction, Juneau, Douglas, Anchorage, Delta Junction (again), and most recently, Anchorage (again).

Our children Glen and Katie joined us in Fairbanks early in our time in Alaska.  While they have been "Outside" many times; like us, Alaska has been geographic, work, and cultural "center".  Both live in Alaska today.  I won't tell any more of their story; it is theirs to tell or not.  It has been great for us to grow together as a family in Alaska.

In that time, I worked at odd jobs, served at KUAC FM/TV at the University of Alaska Fairbanks, retired after 25 years with the Alaska Department of Fish and Game's Wildlife Conservation Division, served as a pastor at Delta Christian Center and Anchorage City Church, developed and sold the Alaska Outdoors Supersite, served as a volunteer firefighter, hunted, fished, trapped, flew hundreds of hours in small aircraft over wild country, wrote a book, floated rivers, built a hovel and then a real house from the ground up, lived without electricity or running water, ate a lot of moose, caribou, halibut, deer and crab that I brought home, did some really smart stuff, more than a little boring stuff, and some really, really dumb stuff, had the crap scared out of me more times than I can remember, raised chickens and pigs, kept bees, climbed mountains, made many great friends and a few enemies, facilitated and taught marriage courses, lit really big fires on purpose, encountered the griz, experienced wild country few have ever seen, helped re-launch a faltering church in an Alaska community, gotten up close and some times way too personal with large wildlife, gotten seasick and puked on big water, officiated at marriages and a funeral, floated backwards in a canoe on a wilderness river in the dark, sent VHF amateur radio transmissions via knife-edge diffraction over the Alaska Range and bounced others off auroral curtains to "the lower 48", camped out below zero, nearly frostbit my nose, escaped early death several times (the backwards-down-the-river time being the first of them), watched the northern lights dancing like green, purple and red fire overhead, heard wild wolves howling as we sat by a wilderness campfire, and generally had a glorious time in almost every corner of the Great Land.

Linda had her own share of Great Land adventures working as a teacher for Alaska State Operated Schools, the Fairbanks North Star Borough, and the Juneau School District, a radio service company, and the Alaska Outdoor Council.  She also served as a pastor in the same churches as I, and raced to the aid of Alaskans and visitors time and again as a Delta Junction Emergency Medical Technician.  She visited the North Slope, stayed for days in Bush Alaska far from roads, learned Morse code and radio theory, slept in the back of pickup trucks, backpacked in the Fortymile Hills, cooked on wood fires, wood cook stoves, over white gas, propane, electric and buffalo chip fires.  Well, maybe not the buffalo chip part, but it sounds good, and she could have :}.  She has also camped below zero with young children, ridden snowmachines, three-wheelers, four-wheelers, our horses, cross country skis, bicycles, helicopters, small aircraft, float planes, canoes, rafts, and an old `72 Ford pickup that we put 200,000 miles on. She has dipped salmon out of a scary river -- and then cleaned and cooked them, showed kids how to make snow angels, helped teens graduate, made way more really great friends than me, taught two amazing young people at home, worked with me on a business that finally got off the runway, and generally been the coolest Alaska chick ever.

I'm telling you all this because I have been looking back over this season to see where we were, what we did, who we connected with, what we did to impact our communities, and what it all meant.  Today, in the waning days of this summer and this larger season in our lives, I want to say that we always love connecting with friends....especially now before we leave.  In mid August, the movers are coming to our south Anchorage home and packing us up.  We're boarding an Alaska Airlines jet a few days later.  We'll be at our new house in Redding in Northern California late on August 18th.

Why are we leaving Alaska?  Well, it started as a 9-month sabbatical at the Bethel School of Supernatural Ministry and this is how it has turned out.  That's another story and the beginning of a new season, but if you are interested, there's more detail in the post Seasonal Change.

We are looking forward to this new season in our lives, but I gotta tell you, it feels strange to leave Alaska; both the country and many friends here.  Both are deeply engraved on our hearts, and I know there will be times in the months and years ahead when we wistfully remember this glorious Alaska season in our lives.

Sunday, June 09, 2013

Living an Un-Offended Life

Today is my 23,000th day.  My 63rd birthday appears on the calendar later this month, but recently  I have begun to think more of the importance of days.

Our lives are a gift of God.  They are mostly measured in years, but really we live out that gift day-by-day.  I think the day marker is most important, because to some extent, a night's sleep veils the previous day.  In a significant way, each day is new.

I have learned the power of speaking into the new day.  I have learned the importance of affirming in every day Thanksgiving, living an Un-offended life, Love, Identity, and Purpose.

A few days ago, I was offended at my wife.  That offense diminished the flow of love between us.  In reality, the offense was a false construct in my own mind....she did NOTHING wrong.  But because I have not yet fully put offense under my feet, damage was done to our relationship.

Because each morning I affirm my commitment to living an un-offended life.....because I refresh that commitment each day.....I knew fairly quickly that I was wrong....and that I had allowed what I had committed NOT to allow.

As discouraging as it was to damage the relationship I have with the one I love the most, I felt a breath of encouragement.  I realized that the daily affirmation I make to live an un-offended life is what allowed me to quickly see where I had gone off the rails.....and because I am a son of God, I asked for forgiveness and restored the relationship.

Each day, I use TULIP as a memory aid to start the day right.  I write in my journal words of Thanksgiving. I affirm my commitment to live an Un-offended life and a life of Love.  I write of my Identity as a prince in the Kingdom of God, and I write of my Purpose in Him.

If you want to write or speak into your own day, you may want to make a different list of attitudes and affirmations.  However you do it, you can renew your mind in this way each day.  You can use the creative power given by God to shape yourself for the coming day.....and the years that make up your lifetime.  

That's what I'm doing, as best I can.  

How about you.....what do you do to make the most of each day?

Wednesday, June 05, 2013

What is it about Bethel: Thoughts on the Revival at Bethel / Redding

The revival going on at Bethel Church in Redding California has been a subject of growing interest to many Christians in America and around the world since the late 1990's.  It is a long-lasting revival by any measure, and continues to grow in impact.  Linda and I relocated to Redding in September 2012 for personal revival and to get a much more intimate view of this church and its culture.  We have graduated from 1st year of the Bethel School of Superantural Ministry, and that shapes our viewpoint, of course, but the culture of the church shines through everything Bethel does.  This is my perspective on the church as I see it today.

Worship at the Bethel School of Supernatural Ministry.  The first
year school is held at the Redding Civic Center to allow space for
the 1,100+ students.  
It is easy to see that something extraordinary is going on just by visiting a church service: if you want a good seat in the main auditorium, plan on arriving about an hour early for the 10:30 AM Sunday service.  If you want any seat at all in the main auditorium, don't be late.  Lines form outside the auditorium to get in and claim a good seat.  The church has added an additional campus a few miles away to serve the growing membership.  A much larger campus will be completed not far away by 2020.

Furthermore, people move to Redding, a Northern California community, just to be part of this church.  We have met several couples who sold out, uprooted family, and moved here to be part of what God is doing. We know from conversation that  many have come in just this way.  We will be in their number this year.  We are in the process of selling our home in Anchorage, Alaska and moving to Redding where we are enrolled in the 2nd year ministry school, and where we intend to live until we know it is time to move again.

The Bethel ministry has global impact.  Bethel leaders travel frequently all around the world.  Thousands of churches are in relationship through Global Legacy.  

There are number of characteristics of the revival that has filled Bethel with holy fire.  Probably the most significant from my perspective is a powerful emphasis on seeking more of the Presence of God.  Senior Leader Bill Johnson, a sixth generation pastor, made a vow at the Toronto Blessing in 1995: "Lord, if You touch me again I will never change the subject".  He has kept the vow, and so has the church.

The Presence of God is valued above all else. While there are obviously tensions in church service timing, I have no doubt that in the event of a Holy Spirit move at any given church service, Bethel leaders would make space for Him and let everything else work around what He is doing.

Revival is the main Kingdom push.  Everything supports revival and/or flows out of revival.  There are MANY ministries in the church with MANY talented workers covering every aspect of the work of a local church.  But revival remains the main thing.  The signs, wonders, miracles and healings, for which Bethel is widely known, support revival, and flow from it.  The Church leadership team is working diligently to create a culture that will facilitate this present revival to continue and spread indefinitely.  Jesus is preached, not the Bethel way. Kingdom is what is important, not Bethel culture. 

Love undergirds the ministry.  The surpassing, unalloyed love of God is a major theme and is very visible in how people treat one another. The very visible culture of honoring one another is a practical outworking of God's kind of love.  Because of honor, Bethel relationships are low control and high accountability.  The church works hard to love and honor the Redding community in practical ways.   Bethel culture is highly relational.  Relationship has priority over structure.  Spiritual fathers and mothers are important; both broadly (e.g. Bill Johnson, Heidi Baker) and personally with individual relationships.  Family is key.  Children are celebrated and actively trained, not warehoused.  

The entire five-fold ministry is powerfully in operation.  The five-fold ministry is led by a strong apostle (Johnson) and a gifted prophet (Vallotton).  There are also: strong pastors (Silk, Backlund and many others)  exceptional teachers (Farrelly, Dedmon, and others) and gifted evangelists (Overstreet and others).  Johnson and Vallotton have worked together for over 30 years, and have been in covenant working relationship since 2001.  This long term, covenant relationship, and other strong, decades-long relationshps are a large stone in the foundation.  The apostle has transferred day-to-day decision making in the local church to his son, Eric Johnson.  Senior Bethel leadership is in relationship with other like-hearted ministries through the Revival Alliance.

The Bible School is focused on inner transformation pointing to a revivalist lifestyle.  Bethel School of Supernatural Ministry (BSSM) is designed to bring students to a place of understanding their identity as believers, and their place of significance in the Kingdom of God.  Practice of Kingdom lifestyle is emphasized more than learning Bible facts, although Bible reading and intense study is required, and principles for understanding the Bible are strongly taught. Activation is key.  BSSM1 focuses on identity, core Kingdom values, and practice.  BSSM2 focuses on Kingdom practice, ministering to others, and leadership.  BSSM3 places graduating 2nd year students in intern positions at Bethel and in other ministries.  There will be around 2,000 students in all three training years in 2013-2014.  More than one-third of the students come from overseas; most from Europe, but also from Oceania, South America, Asia, and Africa.

Prophecy is celebrated. Prophecy is thoroughly taught, modeled and practiced.  It is seen as a way of bringing God's heart from Heaven to earth, and of edifying or "calling out the gold" in those around us.  It is one of God's calling cards and is taught as powerfully useful in evangelism and the everyday Christian life. In mid-winter, our daughter visited a Bethel 4th grade class with her baby.  The teacher asked if they would like for the kids to pray and prophesy over them.....and they did. 

Taking risks is encouraged.  Throughout the church, risk taking is encouraged.  BSSM1 students are told that they cannot graduate unless they make at least three mistakes.  "Messes" are not encouraged particularly, but they are expected as a necessary side-effect of risk taking.  Johnson says, "Any rule in the church that prevents a Judas from arising will also prevent a Peter or a John from arising."

Women and men are equal partners in ministry.  Bethel teaches that women can fill any role in ministry.  While women can be found in senior leadership positions of this ministry, the most visible leaders remain men. Nevertheless, the real intentionality test of this teaching is what is happening in junior levels of leadership, because these leaders are the future of the ministry.  What we see here is gifted younger women and men both rising rapidly into the roles that their gifts support.

There is more to report, of course.  And I am hardly an unbiased observer.  Nonetheless, I hope this will give you some useful insight into one of the powerful centers of revival that are rising around the earth in the early 21st century.

What have you heard about the revival at Bethel, and what do you think is its global impact?  Your comments are welcome below.  

Read more in this blog about Bethel and our experience within this community.

Our friend Dani posted these perceptive thoughts about Bethel on her blog:

Sunday, May 19, 2013

3,000 Ever Notes and Counting

If you don't yet use Evernote, but do use a smart phone and/or tablet plus one or more computers, you may be missing an important productivity application.  Stay tuned for how this could be useful for the way you work.

First, how important IS Evernote to me (and potentially to you)?

Well, the counter on my Evernote rolled over 3,000 this past week....a little more than 1,000 notes per year, or around 20 new notes/week.  I mention this because it is a measure of usefulness.  I use Evernote multiple times daily, either referring to, editing, or adding new notes.

What does Evernote DO that makes it so useful to me and 50 million (February 2013) others?

For me, two things: 1) store digital snips of life, and 2) allow easy access to those snips via search or notebook on any of my platforms (PC laptop, Mac Mini, iPad, iPhone, or random computers with web access).  It all synchronizes securely via the Evernote cloud.  Some basic Evernote functions are:
  • Notes - that might sound obvious, but I find notes are even useful for initial composition because they are available everywhere I work.  I add pictures, hyperlinks, formatting, audio, PDFs, and more to make notes even more useful.
  • Audio - I often record audio from within Evernote.  For example, I record conversations with our financial consultant for future reference.  
  • Pictures - Evernote is not designed for massive numbers of pictures, but it shines with the addition of pictures to notes, either individually or several at a time.  I usually add a picture to my daily journal entries in Evernote.
  • PDF documents - I have a small sheet feed scanner about the size of a brick.  It will directly scan paper documents into Evernotes all day long.  All I have to do is title the note and add any tags.  Evernote automagically scans PDFs (and pictures with legible writing) and adds those words to the search database. For example, if you are searching for a PDF document containing "fenestration", it will go through all your notes, find and display the note for you.  
  • Web clips - I use this a lot.  When I find a web page with information I might want to refer to later, I use the web page clipper extension in Chrome and clip to Evernote.  Clipping is better than bookmarking: 1) it provides searchable notes, 2) bookmarks are hard to locate again once you have more than a few hundred, and 3) web pages change, and the information you want could disappear.
  • Other files - If you have the paid version of Evernote, you can store MS Word documents, Keynote files, etc.  This is useful if you are working in multiple locations.  
  • There's more - Evernote has other tricks, too, but this is enough for synopsis.  And, it keeps getting better.
There is a LOT more that I could write, but let me end with this: Evernote has changed the way I work and think.  It is one of the few apps that appear on my iOS dock and PC taskbar.  But don't take my word for it....just try Evernote for a few weeks.  It's free, although there is a paid version which has some additional tools.

Do you use Evernote already?  Please share with me and other readers what you have found most useful about the program/app.

Friday, May 10, 2013

Maintaining Focus on What is Important....with TULIP

For some time now I have been planting fresh "T-U-L-I-P" at the beginnings of my days to help me focus on what is important.  TULIP is an acronym for five attitudes: thanksgiving, un-offended, love, identity and purpose.

TULIP is used as a memory aid in another context, but I like it for what I am doing.  You may want to focus on a different set of attitudes; the point is to keep them in front of us every day until they become an unconscious part of life.

I "plant" these in my journal at the beginning of the day.  Writing them each day keeps them fresh in my mind.  Because they are fresh, they continue to transform my mind, and help me remember to act on them during the day.  I become what I focus on.

Here is how I use TULIP:
T-Thanksgiving = I want to stay in a place of thankfulness.  Hard things will happen in every life, and I want to give thanks in all circumstances. 1 Thessalonians 5:18
U-Un-offended = I have chosen to live an un-offended life.  Offense blocks love.  Love is the essence of God and His Kingdom.  Love is more powerful than we can possibly imagine.
L-Love = Jesus commands that those who follow Him love their brothers and sisters. John 13:34-35 It's easy to pay lip service to that command, but I want to pay it feet and hands service, especially since I have seen its power.  Jesus loves everyone.  Why would I do less?  I have begun to say "I love you" to people: mostly behind my eyes, but when the circumstances are right, I say it out loud.
I-Identity = I am a son of the living God, and an heir. Galatians 4:7  If God is the King of Kings (Revelation 19:16) and He has made me a son, that makes me a prince.  I chose to walk in and from the princely identity of my sonship.
P-Purpose = My purpose is to worship God with my life.  I have other specific purposes within that; some I know and others are being revealed to me.  I write them out.
This is an actual example from my journal for May 9, 2013:
  • Thanksgiving - Lord Jesus, I am deeply grateful for my Linda.  She's yours really, but you brought us together.  I love her on so many levels. 
  • Un-offended - I will live un-offended today.  I will not allow offense to turn off my love.
  • Love - I will change atmospheres by loving those around me today.  I will say "I love you" to those around me with my heart or my words.
  • Identity - I am a prince of the Kingdom.  I will walk, talk, think and act as one today. I am an embodiment of the love of Jesus.
  • Purpose - My purpose is to worship the King.  I will live my life today as worship.
This works for me.  When the opportunity for offense comes, I often remember my affirmation of living an un-offended life.  More and more I am speaking "I love you" behind my eyes.  Affirming my identity makes me walk taller and modifies my behavior.

How do you keep focus on that which is important to you?

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

A New Psalm

Bernie Ooley, one of our BSSM teachers challenged us to write our own psalm. It was a good exercise: it helped us enter the minds of the Israelite worshipers of 3,000 years ago. It helped to see understand a little more of the challenge of balancing praise and the art of framing it memorably.

She suggested no rules, and that's fair, because the Hebrew psalms are an eclectic lot.  Hebrew poems and psalms mostly did not rhyme internally, and even if they did, it would be lost on us, because we read them now in other languages.

The Hebrew poets instead used a variety of other literary techniques.  My worship psalm below uses chiasm and parallelism.  The parallelism reverses at the pivot point.

It turned into more than an exercise for me; it became an act of worship.  I know countless others who have taken pen to paper have had the same experience.

- | -

How is it, O Lord, that you who are so great, are so gracious to us;
why have you been so merciful and kind to us who are so small. 

For our home you crafted a universe beyond understanding;
for our cradle you spun a verdant, moist, warm, life-filled orb. 

You filled the planet with peoples of many tongues;
You chose one to be your own and bless the rest. 

When the time was right you stepped into time;
You came to help us home through your own Son. 

Your fire fell on 120 in an upper room in Jerusalem;
That fire now burns in millions `round the verdant orb. 

The end of the ancient cradle of man comes ever more near;
Yet you decreed the days of your faithful ones will never end. 

Why have you been so merciful and kind to us who are so small;
How is it, O Lord, that you who are so great, are so gracious to us.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Deep in Aslan's Country -- the Land of Love

This is a love story. It's not a boy-meets-girl love story. But when you have come to the end, you will know you have read a love story. 
We are now deep in Aslan's country -- the
Land of Love

The story starts with a group of about 70 mostly young and a few older men and women in the western United States. A few in the group are married, but most are single. A few are locals, but most come from other states and some from other nations. The group gets together most Monday afternoons, and at other random times. 

The group has a leader, an extraordinary young woman whose email tagline is "love always wins." This is not just a tagline for her; it is how she lives her life, and how she leads. 

Because of her skill, she in just a few weeks facilitated a high level of trust among the members of the group. The men and women in the group began sharing stories about their lives; their hopes, defeats, fears and joys. When brought out into the open, the worst disasters of life were covered with warm hugs, tender love and forgiveness heaped high around the broken-hearted. 

The love in the group quickly shot past even the high levels of love found in most church families. It continues to grow. The group has talked much and openly about boundaries, what it means to love, defining the relationship, bravely communicating, unconditional love, love without agenda, great male friendships, honor, the joy and majesty of sex -- and how in the real, non-media world, love is not always connected with sex. 

It is possible that a few romances may come out of this group; and if so, that would be wonderful, but what is over-the-top amazing is how many loving friendship relationships there are. Men aren't afraid to be like loving brothers or fathers to the women. The women trust and are affectionate with the men. 

Nearly every adult on the planet has a sex drive, but in this group, sex is subordinated to the right time in the right committed relationship. It has been foretold that going forward there will be no divorces in the marriages of this group. 

February was love month in this group. Mid-month, the men planned a love celebration for the women -- a kind of Valentine's Day party. It was the vision of a man on the group's leadership team; a man with a great heart to love and honor the women around him. 

The men planned for weeks in secret. They planned food, activities, decorations, and even trained together to make everything go well. 

On the night of the celebration, the men did everything.  The multi-course, home-cooked meal was prepared, the decorations hung, the tables carefully set, and name cards set out. The men dressed with coats, ties, and shined shoes with great expectation. 

The women arrived in their beautiful attire, lovely faces shining with anticipation and hope that this would be as sweet as they had started to believe might be possible. Each woman was announced like nobility arriving at a ball, and escorted to their tables. Hors d'oeuvres were offered and accepted. 

Then duos of men invited individual women to accompany them to large mirrors standing around the walls of the room. There the men spoke words of love, encouragement, and affirmation over the women who had become their friends and sisters. They looked into each woman's heart, saw the gold and called it for what it was. They spoke of hope and life and love. 

After dinner, a poet among them read his verse aloud. The few married men brought out love letters and read them to their wives in front of the group. Tears mixed with affirmations and laughter as the loving words rolled over the wives and through the group. 

At the end, the men brought out clean basins, towels, and pitchers of warm water for each woman.  On their knees they washed the feet of the women while speaking words of love and affirmation. 

How did the women respond? This note is from one of the women who posted on the group's FaceBook page (used with permission): 
I have NEVER felt so much honor from men in my whole entire life. And besides my dad and brothers, I've never felt love from men like that either. Never, ever, ever. I suppose that's why it was so difficult for me to receive it at first. But wow. Thank you so much to all of you men. This was seriously one of the BEST nights of my life. I will NEVER EVER forget it. This is one of those nights that I'll tell my children about; and even my grandchildren. I'll let them know how real men honor women, and show them that this is the type of example to follow. 
Tonight, I can honestly say that you men made my heart come alive in a way that it's never come alive before. I feel so valued. 

This is a true story. I know because I was there, and a part of it all. It was easily one of the best evenings of my life. I have not included names or places, although those of you who know me can guess pretty easily. 

What made this love celebration possible? Certainly, good leadership was critically important. Willing men was huge. Planning and training helped quite a bit. But really, it was Jesus. He did it. He taught us well and paid the price so that we could be so free to love like this. We took a risk and followed His example like never before in our lives. 

Recently I was watching as one of the men in our group walked up and sat down beside one of our women. He stretched his arm around her shoulders, and she put her head on his shoulder for several minutes. There is no romantic connection between these two. They just love each other like a close-knit brother and sister.  I see scenes like this often in our community of friends.

We are now deep into Aslan's country -- the land of love. The walls keep coming down, and it just keeps getting sweeter than I ever thought possible.

Friday, March 15, 2013

Walking With the Dove

Two powerful signs launched the Christian faith nearly 2000 years ago.  The first sign was the resurrection of Jesus.  That event was a major pivot point of history.  It could be argued the resurrection of Jesus was the central pivot point of history.

Fire falling on the disciples and their Holy Spirit baptism in the upper room was the second sign.  In a way, the first sign opened the minds of men and women to believe the unbelievable -- that God had come among us -- and the second opened the spirits of believers to receive Holy Spirit power.  Both had to happen for the Church to be born.

Immediately after Jesus was baptized by John, "heaven was opened, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and lighting on him."  About three years later, the Holy Spirit fell on the believers in Jerusalem.  Today, two thousand years later, that same Holy Spirit falls on Jesus followers who seek Him.

Not long ago, I saw Bill Johnson speaking about walking with the dove.  He took a white handkerchief from his pocket and put it on his shoulder.  Think of this as the dove, the Holy Spirit, he said.  Then he walked around carefully so it would not fall.

If a dove landed on your shoulder, how would you live so it would not fly away?  I'll tell you, Johnson said:   You would walk carefully.  Every move would consider the presence of the dove.

A dove HAS landed on my shoulder.  He is the Holy Spirit.

Johnson wrote about this in his book, Hosting the Presence:  "Do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God (Ephesians 4:30). Do not quench the Spirit (1 Thessalonians 5:19). This simple insight took my focus from the expressions of the Spirit (gifts, etc.) and shifted them to what the Holy Spirit actually felt because of me. And the more I walk with the Holy Spirit, the more my priorities shift to contribute to this relationship."

If we who follow after Jesus want the Holy Spirit in our lives, we ask and He will come.  Once He has filled me, I want to live my life in such a way as to neither grieve Him nor quench the fire He lights in me.  It means, as Johnson says, that my priorities shift.

Come Holy Spirit.....Fill me once again!

Monday, March 11, 2013

Seasonal Change

I have found in my life that sometimes things move along for months or even decades with little change. At other times, things change very quickly, even things that I didn't think would ever change. 

Being Alaskans is something that I thought would be a constant in our lives. The Swedish national song says, in part, "I will live and die in the North". As recently as last summer, as I listened to that, I thought that applied to us: that we would live our lives in Alaska. 
Flags of nations fly along the Bethel Church main campus entrance
road in Redding, CA.  The building at right is the prayer chapel.

And I thought as we left Anchorage last summer for a school year in California we were going on a sabbatical.  When we took off from Alaska in mid-August 2012, I left with the idea that we would almost certainly be back in a year -- two at the most. I called it a sabbatical, and believed that is what was happening. But it has become something different.

But I think it finally hit me with certainty that the end of a very long season in our lives is coming to an end as I read again the word of the Lord to Abram in Genesis 12: Now the LORD said to Abram, "Go from your country and your kindred and your father's house to the land that I will show you." Linda and I have lived in Alaska for nearly all of our adult lives. We were barely out of our teens when we came north 41 years ago. That we might ever live somewhere else was a foreign concept for most of that time....I was sure that we would live and die in the Far North.  (See also the post Thoughts on Leaving Alaska)

But today we find God's word to Abram applying to us. It is time for us to go "to the land that I will show you." We will be moving to Redding in Northern California at the end of summer 2013. When Abram left his country and his family, he must have left behind the place he fit. It was his geographic territory, but it also must certainly have been the place of his security, comfort and influence. It was the place of molding his identity. That is what Alaska has been for us. We don't have any of that in Redding, but we are already seeing the beginning of God's supernatural provision for us here. 

I think we had some glimmer that change was coming even a year ago when we came to Bethel for a conference. But it has taken our hearts a long, long time to be emotionally able to leave Alaska, to leave amazing friends, and to leave a warm church family and leadership team that we have been so happily a part of.  

Linda is thriving here physically and spiritually. She is engaged and happy. Her balance is better, she has sometimes walked several steps without electric stimulation, and she has begun to lift her left leg a little. None of this worked a year ago. And, the climate is quite a bit easier on her....although it gets REALLY hot here in the summers.

I am thriving here too. I never knew I could prophesy, but I am doing so now. I am more of a spiritual father than ever before. These are just a few glimpses into what is going on in us. Our hearts are full of the ongoing revival at Bethel and the rich texture that entails, and there is more ahead.

We don't know how long this season will last. Perhaps it will be five years, or ten. Maybe the tent pegs we pound into this soil will not be pulled up by us. God is good, and He will guide our steps.