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A Vital Prayer

From Graham Cooke’s Manifesting Your Spirit:

Father, thank you for the life-giving water that resides inside me. You are a well and a fountain. I declare that I do not thirst except for a deeper walk with you.

Dig out that inner well, O Lord, so that hundreds may drink from what you pour out in me. Teach me to be resilient, passionate and alive!

Infuse me with your exuberance until I am massively encouraged—constantly. Develop the internal place of my heart so that it becomes Your living space.

Empower me, Great God, to see life exactly as You do—to view everything and everyone through the lens of Jesus. Teach me to think with the mind of Christ so that my thoughts are an extension of my worship.

As You manifest Your Spirit in me, may the privilege of my encounters with You release the hearts of many to come further on and further in.

For Jesus’ sake.

Amen.

God will dwell with men

Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and He will dwell with them, and they shall be His people. God Himself will be with them and be their God.

— Rev. 21:3

That has to be one of the most exhilarating verses in all of scripture. God, choosing to dwell with man. God, in all his glory, wonder and splendor, willingly leaving the heavens and establishing His abode in the midst of you and I.

Why? Why is God coming to us rather than the other way around? Why is He changing the place of His residence rather than asking us to change ours?

It’s happened once already when the Father sent Jesus to earth to redeem us from the curse and save us from our sins. But it’s going to happen again, and on an entirely different level, when we the fullness God dwells in the midst of us unveiled.

A common assumption among many Christians is that we “go up” into heaven when it’s all said and done — that we’ll dwell somewhere up in the clouds, halfway between here and Jupiter or Saturn or just “somewhere out there.” But that is not at all what scripture teaches. Sure, at some point we’ll be “caught up” with Christ and the resurrected dead when we receive our new bodies and are changed at the last trumpet (1 Cor 15:51-53, 1 Thes. 4:16-17). But the primary setting for the last three chapters of scripture is Planet Earth, old or new.

I point this out because I believe it reveals something profound about the heart of God that we sometimes forget. And that’s that He’s a crazy, passionate lover Who craves to be with you and I.

When a person is in love, they’re willing to do things they wouldn’t do otherwise. I fell in love with Heather and readily drove nearly 3 hours each direction a few times each month to see her. She did the same for me. It didn’t matter if it was for 2 days or 2 hours, we were both willing to make that commitment and sacrifice.

When the time came for us to get married, we were faced with deciding where to live. We were both willing to relocate to the other’s town because we were both in love with each other. We just wanted to be together. We eventually determined Jackson was going to be our home and I can’t tell you how meaningful it was to me that Heather would leave behind all she knew — her family, her friends, her church, her town she’d lived in most her life — to be with me. It still humbles me each time I think of it.

So now consider God, seated in the highest heavens, arrayed in light — beautiful, captivating and powerful beyond measure. Yet, fellowship with His sons and daughters is the most enticing thought He has. He wants nothing more than to make His home with you and I. His last words to us in scripture, “Surely I am coming quickly” (Rev. 22:20) speaks of His anticipation.

And now David’s questions in Psalm 8 come to mind:

When I consider Your heavens, the work of Your fingers,
The moon and the stars, which You have ordained,
What is man that You are mindful of him,
And the son of man that You visit him?

These are questions we’re far from having answers for. There will come a time when things won’t be lit so dimly and we’ll have better understanding. As the Bride of Christ rises up in more beauty and purity, we’ll comprehend why “creation waits in eager expectation for the sons of God to be revealed” (Rom. 8:19). But we just aren’t there yet. We don’t yet fully understand who we are, what it means to be created in the image of God and what it means that God has chosen His final dwelling place to be among man.

But it’s a revelation and a time we can look forward to experiencing. For deep inside our inner man, “we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for our adoption as sons” (Rom. 8:23). We were created for eternal fellowship with the living God of the universe. And He’s coming to dwell with us — satisfying the longing we all have for His manifest presence.

Denial-of-Service Attack

I was at the gym this evening, talking to God about the latest rendition of “the funk” that had settled upon me. I’d been feeling out of sorts since Labor Day morning and hadn’t been very aggressive in pushing back against it or figuring it out. This isn’t uncommon for me, having a melancholic bent, often heightened by prophetic impressions and/or feelings I can’t even put a finger upon. The feeling part of my Myers-Briggs personality type is my weakest, so I often don’t even know what I feel. I just sometimes know if the feelings aren’t normal.

Anyway, as I prayed into it a bit and was led down a path, I found myself contemplating the concept of denial-of-service attacks that Web sites sometimes come under. And I found a lot of good spiritual parallels to pull from. Please pardon the geek speak for a moment.

Wikipedia explains that:

A denial-of-service attack (DoS attack) or distributed denial-of-service attack (DDoS attack) is an attempt to make a computer resource unavailable to its intended users. Although the means to carry out, motives for, and targets of a DoS attack may vary, it generally consists of the concerted efforts of a person or people to prevent an Internet site or service from functioning efficiently or at all, temporarily or indefinitely…

One common method of attack involves saturating the target (victim) machine with external communications requests, such that it cannot respond to legitimate traffic, or responds so slowly as to be rendered effectively unavailable. In general terms, DoS attacks are implemented by either forcing the targeted computer(s) to reset, or consuming its resources so that it can no longer provide its intended service or obstructing the communication media between the intended users and the victim so that they can no longer communicate adequately.

In more simple terms, the most common form of denial-of-service attacks cyber criminals perform on Web sites involves perpetrators hijacking a bunch of computers and causing those computers to continually bombard a particular Web site or computer network with so much traffic that the site or network can no longer respond to legitimate traffic. Twitter, our dear Facebook, and Google News are some high profile sites that crumbled to DoS attacks in recent months, rendering them inaccessible to millions of people for hours or days on end.

DoS attacks can often happen to us as disciples of Jesus. We can become so bombarded with rogue, malicious thoughts and ideas that we “cannot respond to legitimate traffic” and are “rendered effectively unavailable.” Thus, we “can no longer provide [our] intended service.” Ranging from purely evil, diabolical thoughts to legitimate and entirely innocent concerns, these attacks effectively deny the Holy Spirit His voice and leading in our lives and immobilize us from heavenly fellowship and kingdom work.

This last round for me wasn’t a hyper intense attack. I wouldn’t even say I was entirely taken out by it. A better label for the situation would probably be a degradation-of-service attack (which, Wikipedia claims, can potentially cause more damage than an all-out DoS). But it certainly made its presence known. And it certainly did its job of hampering my communion with God and zeal for His kingdom.

So, in my prayers, what the Holy Spirit proposed is performing a reverse denial-of-service attack, of sorts. If we were to continually flood our mind with the Word of God, with prayers, with things that are true, noble, just, pure, lovely, of good report and praiseworthy (Phil. 4:8), we’d effectively set up a denial-of-service toward the intents of the enemy. He’d be the one getting denied rather than the Holy Spirit.

This is hard work, considering how prevalent the spirit of the age and his messages are in our media-saturated culture. But it’s not impossible. Paul says to “rejoice always, pray without ceasing, in everything give thanks, for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you” (1 Thes. 5:16-18). If it’s God’s will, it’s possible. Where we see ourselves too weak to pull off such a feat as raising a continual prayer firewall against enemy attacks, His grace proves sufficient and His strength finds perfection in our weakness.

Groping for God

Did you know you’re living in your particular home, in this particular period of time, for the exact purpose of groping after God? Yep; it’s true. For it is written:

He has made from one blood every nation of men to dwell on all the face of the earth, and has determined their preappointed times and the boundaries of their dwellings, so that they should seek the Lord, in the hope that they might grope for Him and find Him, though He is not far from each one of us. (Acts 17:26-27)

There are specific situations and dynamics that are unique to the place and time in which you exist that are meant to induce a searching—a groping—after God.

To “grope” isn’t an intrinsically sexual term. It means to “feel about blindly or uncertainly in search”, as in, feeling around a wall for a light switch when entering a dark, unfamiliar room. In doing so, you’re groping for the switch. You fumble around, rubbing your hand all over the wall, until your fingers find what they’re looking for.

It’s the same with God: He positions us strategically, in vulnerable and needy situations, that we might seek after Him. He’s never far from us, though, like the light switch. And we recognize Him when we find Him, also like the switch. Our pursuit of him is to resemble groping. Though we’re blind about some things and uncertain about others, we’re to seek Him out until we find Him.

So much of the Kingdom is about seeking. It’s a forefront principle in discipleship. Jesus said:

Again, the kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field, which a man found and hid; and for joy over it he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field.

Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant seeking beautiful pearls, who, when he had found one pearl of great price, went and sold all that he had and bought it. (Matt. 13:44-46)

What do you do to obtain treasures and beautiful pearls? If you’re serious about it, like Jack Sparrow, you seek after them diligently until you find them. You grope for them. Seeking in the kingdom of God is vital. And because many people’s nature tends more towards settler than pioneer, God assists them by placing them in situations that He intends to induce groping.

So, in light of this reality, I guess a proper question to now ask ourselves is: Are we groping for God? Are we reaching into dark and unknown places in search of Him? Are we pushing past blindness and uncertainty to obtain more of Him? Because if we aren’t, we aren’t fully experiencing the reason for which God positioned us where He has and when He has. In our walks with God, the grass is never greener on the other side. There is never an “ideal” time or place to seek after God that is better than the time or place in which we now exist. “Now” is always the right time and “Later” is never the right time. “Here” is always the right place and “There” is never the right place. We will seek God and we will find Him when we seek after Him will all our hearts (Jer. 29:13), not when we have more time or live in a more anointed environment.

The good news is that a groping-for-God renissance is never more than a moment away. With a simple yielding of our spirit to His, with a simple “Yes” of our heart that says “God, I know Your word says that I’ve been placed here and now to grope for You and follow hard after You. Count me in; I want more of You,” we can initiate a hot pursuit of Him that need not ever be quenched until we either rest in peace or are caught up in the clouds with Him at the last trumpet.

Failure will get you everywhere

This, from PCWorld.com, in a story covering the “Top 10 Google Flubs, Flops, and Failures.”

All employees at Google are supposed to spend 20 percent of their time working on personal projects of interest. Google says that the policy encourages creativity. And without Google’s willingness to take risks and not be afraid of tripping, stumbling, and sometimes falling flat on its face, the company might not be what it is today. Perhaps Google’s greatness can be measured by its failures as well as its successes.

As PCWorld nicely sums up: Failure will get you everywhere (like $4.2 billion in 2008 profit and $15.8 billion in cash reserves).

We absolutely can not be afraid of failure. I, as much as anyone, needs to learn this.

Eric Dares to Be Great

Highlights of birthday week 2009 (in chronological order):

  1. June 20: Par-tay at Cascades with the local gang of friends–which ended with a great game of ultimate frisbee!
  2. June 21: Tigers game at Comerica with my beautiful wife–which ended with 4-3 win for the Tigers!
  3. June 23: A night out with Heather, including dinner at Daryl’s and dessert at Cold Stone–and ended with a great massage!
  4. June 28: Fun day with the family (parents, brother and his kids) at Nixon water park and then Loomis Park for a BBQ. And it ended with my brother Daring to be Great at the Parlour! (To see how my brother finished the dare… you’ll have to visit the Flickr photo gallery).
  5. June 29: Good bike ride with my parents to Concord and back on the Falling Waters Trail. Heather and I finished our time with them with a mighty-fine meal at Cracker Barrel.

Thanks to all who helped make my 30th birthday so special!

Rebuild the Wall of Righteousness

Ez. 22:30 — “I looked for someone who might rebuild the wall of righteousness that guards the land. I searched for someone to stand in the gap in the wall so I wouldn’t have to destroy the land, but I found no one.”

Did you realize that righteousness actually protects a nation? God is actively scanning America’s horizon, looking for those who will stand up for the Word; who have allowed zeal for the Father’s house to consume them; who will respond in passionate opposition to evil in the spirit of Nehemiah. He’s looking for those who will rebuild our wall of righteousness.

It’s not okay that millions of babies are being killed each year. It isn’t a political issue; it’s a moral—no, a spiritual—issue. And it’s a fight we can’t tire of fighting. It’s not okay that the God-ordained institution of marriage is being trivialized, novelized and made anything-but sacred. It’s not ok that America is shedding its Christian heritage, forgetting the God who led us to establish a new nation under the banner of freedom. And there are dozens of other dire situations we simply CANNOT be okay with.

While each of these are dire in-and-of themselves, we must realize that they are simply firstfruits of darker realities that lie ahead if the walls of righteousness are not raised. You think the spirits of convenience, selfishness, death and genocide that drive the abortion agenda will stop with killing unborn children only? No, it’s after the elderly and disabled, too. And then it will widen its reach further to the sick, the powerless, the unskilled, the poor… those who are perceived to offer little to society. And then it will simply go after the un-perfect—and that encompasses all of us.

Chinks in the armor of Godless, human “morality” will be fully exploited until that armor is replaced by the uncompromising and infallible righteousness of the Lord and his Eternal Word. We have to be passionate for the ways of God. We have to desire his law and precepts and Word like David did in Psalm 119:

5 Oh, that my actions would consistently
reflect your decrees!
14 I have rejoiced in your laws
as much as in riches.
20 I am always overwhelmed
with a desire for your regulations.
30 I have chosen to be faithful;
I have determined to live by your regulations.
31 I cling to your laws.
Lord, don’t let me be put to shame!
32 I will pursue your commands,
for you expand my understanding.
36 Give me an eagerness for your laws
rather than a love for money!

May we pray and cry out that God would change our hearts to desire his righteousness to be exhibited through our lives and throughout our land. May we be OVERWHELMED with desire for his regulations. May we CHOOSE and be DETERMINED to live by the Word. May we CLING to God’s ways and PERSUE greater understanding. And may we respond to the Word with more excitement and delight than we would winning the lottery.

God WANTS America to pull out of its spiritual malaise. He desires to show mercy and doesn’t delight in judgment. But we need to awaken. We need to begin rebuilding our wall of righteousness.

Rom. 13:11-12 — “And do this, knowing the time, that now it is high time to awake out of sleep; for now our salvation is nearer than when we first The night is far spent, the day is at hand. Therefore let us cast off the works of darkness, and let us put on the armor of light.”

What’s in a name?

Jaeson Ma offers this interesting note concerning the name “Emma” and it’s current standing as the most popular name for female newborns. He says:

Two years ago I wrote a series of blog posts about baby “Emma.” The name comes from the Latin name “Emmanuela” which comes from “Emmanuel” or “God with us.” The Spirit of the Lord showed me this generation would have prophetic connection with this name. Mainly, that God’s presence, the revelation of God as Loving Father and Passionate Bridegroom, would be revealed to this chosen generation.

Curious what the most popular male name currently is? Jacob. It has been for the past 10 years. 

A verse containing the name “Jacob” has always caused me to pause with curiosity about its exact meaning. Psalm 24:3-6:

Who may ascend into the hill of the LORD?
Or who may stand in His holy place?
He who has clean hands and a pure heart,
Who has not lifted up his soul to an idol,
Nor sworn deceitfully.
He shall receive blessing from the LORD,
And righteousness from the God of his salvation.
This is Jacob, the generation of those who seek Him,
Who seek Your face.  Selah

I still don’t pretend to know exactly what David is getting at in this passage, but there’s a parallel he’s drawing between the patriarch Jacob (whose name means “Supplanter” and might be most famous for wrestling with God) and those who seek God’s face. Maybe its Jacob’s rawness and willingness to get dirty with the Lord that actually made him a great God-chaser.

Regardless, what the passage states is that those who seek God’s face in the spirit of Jacob are among those who “may ascend the hill of the LORD, stand in His holy place, have clean hands and pure hearts, and don’t practice idolatry.”

What’s exiting is the thought of bringing together the Emma and Jacob generations; we now have “God With Us” and “Those Who Seek Him”.

Our world desperately needs the Emma and Jacob generations to arise and take their rightful places. And these two generations desperately need our generation to take our rightful places as spiritual fathers and mothers, offering them a sky-scraping floor—our ceiling—as their starting point in pursuing God.