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AN EXPLOSION OF WORSHIP

August 20th, 2013

Sitting in the prayer room at the International House of Prayer (IHOP) in Kansas City, in the middle of harp and bowl worship, my soul and spirit begin to enter into the extravagant outpouring of praise and worship.  As the music becomes stronger and the worship rises up all around me, in my spirit I envision heavenly spirits stopping in to observe the festivities.  Angels smile at what they see and hear, and they join in the dancing and singing.  Demons also take note; they are confused and angry, shrieking and muttering insults.  As the worship intensifies and the worshippers are lost in proclaiming their love for Jesus, the words and music seem to come together in the middle of the room, forming something like a bubble that rises through the roof.  The angels are quick to slip inside the bubble, almost giddy with delight.  They dance and sing and jump, bowing and encircling one another, laughing, hair flying and gowns flowing (pale blue sparkling gowns with silver streamers swirling round about them).  The demons pace outside the bubble, hurling mud and foul words that simply bounce off the bubble and melt away.  They try to poke holes in the bubble but get burned every time they touch it.  As the music and worship in the building intensify, and hearts cry out with love for Jesus, the bubble grows larger and larger, knocking the demons farther away.  They roll backwards, knocking one another over in mass confusion.  More and more angels arrive and step into the bubble as the worship continues to rise.

Throughout the room, people’s hearts become more and more passionate as they lavish their love and praise on Jesus, their Beloved.  Stretched to capacity, the bubble gets so thin that it breaks open at the top and the bottom.  The force and power of the worship in the building gets sucked up like a vacuum, mingling with the worship of the angels.  All that power gusts like a mighty wind straight to heaven, pouring out prayer and song and beautiful fragrance all around the throne of Jesus.  The Holy Spirit imparts more of His power into the worshippers, stirring their hearts and causing them to explode with even more love for the Father, and for Jesus who sits on the throne, bursting with love and crying as His heart is so stirred.  The Father’s heart swells with pride and joy at the exchange of love between bride and Bridegroom.  His heart is so full of love for His children that He just has to pour out His favor and His bounty.

Father and Son exchange glances and smiles, anticipating the thrill of the coming time when all the saints will be gathered to the Throne Room to spend eternity in worship and praise and unity, glorifying their Lord and King.

The day of that encounter, the heavenly scene was so glorious that all I wanted was to be immediately transported to the Throne Room and leave this boring world behind.  Obviously, I was only given a sneak peak and not an invitation to relocate.  And all too soon it was time to pack up and head home.  Since then, I have experienced isolated moments of that full-on heartfelt worship, and it makes me long for eternity.  Sometimes in church when worship feels flat and dull to my distracted soul, I will escape to the memory that reminds me of the glory that awaits me.  And when I miss my mom and my dad, I remember that they are now free to worship in a way they never experienced here on earth.  I can hardly wait to join them in a service where parents will never again need to tell their children to sit down, be quiet, and eat your Cheerios.

NO GRAY

November 30th, 2010

 

Spoken words carry power, especially when they come forth in the form of prayer.  When I pray the Lord’s Prayer, I declare “Thy Kingdom come and Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.”  My Father responds to that prayer and my soul begins to line up with my words.  When my heart engages with the words of my mouth, new life begins to form inside me as He draws me closer to His heart.  For many years those words were more recitation than prayer.  Not so today.  I stand in awe as God transforms me more and more into His image, and I hunger to experience more and more of what He has prepared for me.   My heart’s desire is for His Kingdom to come.

Lately I have made a concentrated effort to maintain a ‘Kingdom mindset’ by turning my mental processing away from the thoughts and ideas of this world system, and coming into agreement with how God sees things.  Scripture tells us that the ways of the Kingdom are in conflict with the ways of the world.  For instance, the Word says the last shall be first and the first shall be last.  It says that to receive honor, we must walk in humility.  It says to love our enemies and to put others’ needs ahead of our own.  The Kingdom says all things work together for good, for those who love the Lord and are called according to His purposes.  In this place, I can see the good in even the hardest things.

I did not learn these concepts while growing up.  I was raised in a denominational church, and I will be forever grateful for the foundation God built in me while there.  As far back as I can remember, I have known the truth that salvation comes by the grace of God combined with my faith.  However, I had no idea there was a spiritual realm as well as a natural realm, and it never occurred to me that my Heavenly Father desired to have a personal relationship with me.  I thought I was experiencing the fullness of Christianity by showing up for church on Sunday, and by remembering to recite the four prayers I knew:  The Lord’s Prayer, Now I lay me down to sleep, God is great God is Good let us thank Him for our food, and the one that became my most-used prayer:  God please get me out of this mess.  Consequently, as an adult I became bored and found places more fun than church. 

You can only imagine my wide-eyed surprise when, years later, I found myself in a Spirit-filled church.  Suddenly every concept I had built my life around was being debunked; that is, all but that life-saving salvation message.  Although I sometimes fought bitterly, God was calling me to go deeper.  In time I said yes, and God began to speak into my heart and turn my thinking around.  He put into my spirit an insatiable hunger for more of Him and more of His Truth.  From scratching my way to what I thought was a degree of success, He brought me to this place of desiring only His ways.  However, wanting those things, and actually walking in them, are two totally different things!  Had the Holy Spirit not poured into me that hunger for more of God, as well as the longing to be more like Jesus, I would still be settling for a mostly empty existence, kicking and scratching for what I thought I justly deserved.  From that day, God has had me on a spiritual rocket ship, and every day I find Him moving me from glory to glory.  I have never been more complete – and I am definitely not bored!

After investing all those years learning how to get ahead (how to prosper financially and how to best fulfill my own desires), I find it a bit of a challenge to reverse that mindset.  The struggle comes when I lay down my soulish ideas, and I acknowledge that every Kingdom concept is in total opposition to what my fallen nature craves.  At every turn, the devil and my flesh conspire to trip me up and drag me back to the more comfortable ways of the world.  But… in my spirit, I know who I am, and I know Whose I am, and I am determined to clear out the cobweb of lies that clutter and deceive my mind.  Sometimes I succeed and sometimes I fail, but I press on toward that upward calling.  After all, I am in training for Eternity, where I will rule and reign with Jesus forever. 

These hard-fought battles pay huge dividends as I press in and stand on the Word of God.  For instance, I stand on the truth that there is no fear in the Kingdom and there is no anxiety.  Therefore, I never need to be fearful or anxious, no matter the situation.  Fear is an evil spirit that God did not give me, and anxiety is sin.  I know that because the Bible tells me so.  Scripture says God did not give me a spirit of fear, but a spirit of power and love and a strong mind.  It also tells me to be anxious for nothing, and when God gives me a command, to do otherwise is sin.  So, when I am operating in Kingdom thinking, I come against anxiety and fear as soon as they rear their ugly heads.  In similar fashion, if I declare that God is my provider, then I must believe He is doing just that, and what I receive is more than enough for today.  I must not give anyone or anything else the credit for what He provides, and I absolutely must not worry about tomorrow’s needs.  Like any life change, learning to trust God and not myself involves some time and effort.  However, I know for certain that my Father never asks or expects me to do something He has not already equipped me to accomplish – no loving parent would do that.

So, here I am on another adventure.  No doubt I sometimes look and sound like a real weirdo in this world, but I have decided to enjoy being weird.  Even the Apostle Paul said he was happy to be considered a fool for the sake of the Gospel.  I also make some folks uncomfortable, but that too is okay.  My calling is simply to share my heart and declare what God is doing in my life, in unconditional love, not being overly concerned about what others say or think.

In this process of allowing God to renew my mind and transform my heart, I have come to realize there is no gray in the Kingdom of God.  Life as a born-again believer is lived out in a series of electives, but there is no gray.  There is good and there is evil; there is right and there is wrong.  But, walking with one foot in the Kingdom and one foot in the world is not a viable option for me.  Nor does it really work anyway, no matter how hard we humans try to make it work.  No doubt, as the chasm between the Kingdom and the world continues to widen with each day, God’s people are going to be more and more uncomfortable trying to straddle the fence.  Sooner or later, we are each going to be forced to make a choice.  I pray you make the choice that brings life.

At the end of the day, what it boils down to is a very simple concept, one that is no doubt controversial, but true nonetheless.  Here it is:  God is everything or He is nothing.  He is exactly who the Word says He is, or He is a liar.  Jesus was not simply a good man or a prophet; He was and is the only-begotten Son of God, or He is a fraud.  There is no gray here, only black or white.

 

And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is the good and acceptable and perfect will of God.  Romans 12:2

And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.  Romans 8:28 

In this manner, therefore, pray:  Our Father in heaven, hallowed be Your name.  Your kingdom come, Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.  Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors.  And do not lead us into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one.  For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever.  Amen.  Matthew 6:9-13

And whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.  Matthew 23:12

But I say to you who hear: love your enemies, do good to those who hate you.  Bless those who curse you and pray for those who spitefully use you.  To him who strikes you on the one cheek, offer the other also.  And from him who takes away your cloak, do not withhold your tunic either.  Give to everyone who asks of you.  And from him who takes away your goods, do not ask them back.  Luke 6:27-30

Casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ.  II Corinthians 10:5

But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as by the Spirit of the Lord.  II Corinthians 3:17-18

For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God.  Ephesians 2:8

For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind. II Timothy 1:7