The Importance of Seeing Him

In 1 John 3:2, the Apostle John says that the reason we will become like Jesus upon His return is because we will finally see Him as He is. Both our natural eyes and the eyes of our heart will perceive and comprehend and understand Who Jesus actually is. We will see Him as He is. When Jesus, the only begotten Son of God, comes to claim His bride and judge humanity, all questions, doubts, confusions, denials and wrong beliefs will melt away and we will encounter unbridled, unveiled Truth for the very first time. It will be intense.

Matthew 24:30 says that he will come with “power and great glory [in brilliancy and splendor].” At this point, billions of people from the nations of earth will actually mourn [and beat their breasts and lament in anguish]. Why? Because they will be encountering authentic love, righteousness, justice and beauty face to face. And they will have turned down the opportunity to be fascinated by this Man and dwell with Him for all eternity.

But the redeemed will be caught up with this Jesus, this bridegroom king, in the heavens, and we will be changed in the twinkling of an eye. Changed into what? John says it has not yet been fully disclosed or made clear what we’ll be like. But he says we’ll resemble and be like Him. Those sketchy details alone can stretch an imagination beyond its limits, because Jesus is indescribable! With some futility, John tries to describe His encounter with Jesus on the island of Patmos in Revelation 1. He says in the midst of seven lamp stands he saw:

One like the Son of Man, clothed with a garment down to the feet and girded about the chest with a golden band. His head and hair were white like wool, as white as snow, and His eyes like a flame of fire; His feet were like fine brass, as if refined in a furnace, and His voice as the sound of many waters; He had in His right hand seven stars, out of His mouth went a sharp two-edged sword, and His countenance was like the sun shining in its strength.

Try and envision someone whose countenance was like the sun shining in its strength. John wasn’t comparing Jesus’ countenance to just a shining sun, which alone will blind someone who looks upon it long enough. The comparison is to a sun shining in its strength. No wonder John fell at His feet as dead!

I share this not to exhort you to hold on for dear life and try to stick it out until Christ’s return, so that you can finally see Jesus and be changed. I share it because I believe it’s possible to begin that “seeing” process now. The Bible’s clear that there are some limits on just how much of Jesus we can perceive in this present age (1 Corinthians 13:12), but it’s also clear that we can encounter Him in more substantial ways than Moses did! And what happened to Moses when he sat before the Lord for 40 days? His face shown with the glory of God—that very same glory Jesus will bear upon His return!

Paul writes in 2 Corinthians 3:16-18:

Nevertheless when one turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away. Now the Lord is the Spirit; and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty. 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.

And what do we see in this verse, but the very same principle that John makes in 1 John 3—that the key to our transformation into Christlikeness is seeing Him. As we sit before the living Word of God and behold Jesus through revelation supplied by the Holy Spirit, we are being transformed into His likeness. It’s supernatural and beyond explanation as to how this all works. But it works. From one glory to the next and to the next, we’re being changed, from the inside out, into an exact representation of Jesus Christ—that same Jesus whose voice is as the sound of many waters and whose countenance is like the sun shining in its strength.

It all starts with seeing Him as He is.

That’s why Paul’s prayer in Ephesians 1 is so important for us to pray over ourselves and our loved ones: that God would give us a “spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Him” and that “the eyes of [our] understanding [would be] enlightened”. It’s the Spirit who searching the deep things of God (1 Corinthians 2:6-16). Without the Spirit, God’s wisdom is hidden from us. Paul says “the natural man does not receive the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; nor can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.”

That’s why it’s also so important for us to continually ask God for more of the Holy Spirit. In Luke 11:9-13, Jesus follows up His famous passage about asking, seeking and knocking (which is more correctly translated as “Ask and keep on asking… seek and keep on seeking… knock and keep on knocking”) with the statement: “If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him!” By implication, Jesus is saying that the best gift we can keep asking for and keep seeking after and keep knocking about is the gift of the Holy Spirit!

(Now for those of you who think that the filling of the Holy Spirit is a one-and-done deal you experience at the time of your conversion, I ask you: What happened to the Paul and Barnabas in Acts 13:52, who “were filled with joy and with the Holy Spirit”, when Paul had already been filled with the Holy Spirit (Acts 9:17; Acts 13:9)? I also suggest you read AW Tozer’s excellent booklet titled, quite simply, How to be Filled with the Holy Spirit.)

I spoke at Real Life Ministries this past summer about the increased revelation of Jesus Christ that the Holy Spirit is pouring out upon the earth in this hour. It can be compared to the advancement of television over the decades. The clarity with which one can behold Jesus has progressed from an old, fuzzy, black and white, tube television rendition to today’s more crisp, clear, dynamic and vibrant picture. While it’s still not quite life-like, it’s much closer to the real deal. And it will continue to advance until it crescendos at His second-coming.

Do not be content with your current revelation of Who Jesus is. Because I guarantee you that it’s incomplete, just as mine is. There were a people that thought they knew exactly what the Messiah would look like when He came the first time. They were called the Pharisees—the religious elite of their time. They were the same ones that rallied the Jews to have Jesus killed by the Romans. If our understanding of Jesus does not progress with the Spirit, we risk falling into the same trap the Pharisees did in the first century. We will reject Jesus. In my message, I shared that:

Growing in revelation of Jesus isn’t just important for those who aspire to be worldwide ministers or those who desire to be considered “great in the kingdom of heaven.” It’s also going to prove to be the vital defense mechanism against offense at the onset of His return. The more we think we know Jesus and actually don’t—to that degree we’re prone to being offended at the revealing of who He actually is.

We have to have a humble spirit that yields to God’s agenda and says, “Your ways are higher than mine. Your foolishness is greater than my wisdom. Teach me Your ways, God. By your Holy Spirit, help me see Jesus for Who He really is.”

That’s our destiny: To have a full and accurate knowledge of the Son of God. Paul says in Ephesians 4 that the purpose of apostles, prophets, evangelists, teachers and pastors is to equip the saints for the work of ministry. What does that process bring about in our lives? He explains:

[That it might develop] until we all attain oneness in the faith and in the comprehension of the [full and accurate] knowledge of the Son of God, that [we might arrive] at really mature manhood (the completeness of personality which is nothing less than the standard height of Christ’s own perfection), the measure of the stature of the fullness of the Christ and the completeness found in Him.

Paul is once again in agreement with John that the prerequisite to spiritual maturity and Christlikeness is a full and accurate knowledge of the Son of God, AKA seeing Him.

Encountering Jesus is what transformed Paul’s life on the road to Damascus. And it is what will transform us. Let us continue the journey.

Navigating the Mighty River

Last summer, as I was preparing for a teaching at my church, I was in a time of prayer and worship and I saw the image of a mighty river. It was the type of river people love to raft — wide and fast, with stretches of both rapids and calm. This triggered the memory of when I whitewater rafted in West Virginia a few years ago. While recollecting, God started sharing some stuff with me and now I’m sharing with you. (For you Real Life’rs, I apologize for the redundancy, though maybe the refresher will be good for you.)

I’ll paint broad and then fill in some details, but here’s the gist: we’re about to enter rapids. And before we get to the rapids, we have to be back in the raft and paddling so that we approach the rapids from the right angle and speed and are able to make it through the wild stretch we’re about to experience.

Because we’re so worldly, it’s alluring to shift into a “let me relax and recover from the crazy ride I just went through in 2008 and 2009” mode. The economic and political turmoil that we endured the past two years has been unlike anything most Americans have lived through. And it’s made many weary. With gladness, many have embraced this season of apparent reprieve from the stress and uncertainty that was the past two years.

But I’m here to plead that you resist the allure. There is one who may want you to kick back, relax and enjoy a return to normalcy, but he is not God. Rapids are ahead and I believe they’re a lot more wild than the ones we just passed through.

When whitewater rafting, you pass in and out of rapids. It’s not solid rapids for five hours — at least not on the two rivers I’ve rafted. You launch in relative calm and then pass into some mild rapids. You go through another calm stretch and then encounter some faster rapids and then calm followed by more rapids. Back and forth. Some calm stretches are longer and more slow than others while some rapids are crazier and more dangerous than others.

Sometimes the calms are so long and the river so deep that you can dive off the raft and swim around or relaxingly float. Other calm points are shallow and just might require that people get out and push. Similarly, some rapids are relatively minor and you can just enjoy the ride, while others require that you strategically and ferociously paddle your way through them, lest you get off course and be dashed against a boulder.

I believe we’re approaching such a set a rapids — one that will require ferocious and strategic paddling and must not be entered casually. We’ve endured a rough run followed by some reprieve and calm. But the rapids ahead are even wilder and will require a whole new level of focus.

As God was showing me the image of the mighty river and unpacking the impression with me, I sensed Him say to me: “You do well to paddle.” It took me a bit to get what He was saying, but once I did, I saw the wisdom of the strange phrase.

Based on my minimal rafting experience, it seems you can enter most lower-class rapids from whichever angle the river carries you to. For the most part, if you just go with the flow, you’ll arrive at the other end of the rapids in one piece. But not so with the higher-class rapids. When we approached class IV and V rapids, our guide was very specific about our speed and heading. He wanted us pointing a certain direction and carrying extra momentum when dropping into the rapids. And he had additional instructions he’d call out on the way through the rapids to position us properly for every dip and bend. He’d have one side paddle hard forward and the other side hard backward. He’d have us both go forward sometimes and both paddle backward sometimes. And all the while he’d be doing his own steering at the very back.

To a certain extent, we were still at the mercy of the river. Once we were in those rapids, we could paddle backward all we wanted, but we were still going down those rapids. And we could paddle ahead all we wanted and we still wouldn’t add much speed to our descent. That was almost entirely provided by the river itself. Our direction, too, was mostly determined by the flow of the river over and around rocks. But we could often determin which side of a particular rock we would pass by. And that could make a huge difference. So, we played an important role in traversing those rapids safe. Had we rebelled against our guide and not followed instructions, a few of us might have gotten cast overboard mid-rapids. Or we might have flipped the whole raft. Any number of harmful things could have happened.

So all that to say, as we near these rapids, “You do well to paddle.” (Or one could say “You’d be wise to paddle.”) Now’s not the time to be swimming around in the relatively calm waters of 21st Century America. By now you should have re-boarded your raft. Additionally, it’s not the time to be sitting in there idle. You should be actively seeking out and heeding your guide’s wise instruction about how you’re to enter the rapids. Your guide is both the Holy Spirit Himself and the anointed men and women of God He’s placed in your life.

There is a strategic alignment going on right now that will ensure proper entry into these coming rapids. But it takes effort. It takes paddling. The safe way through these rapids is not “going with the flow.” At strategic times, we will be required to paddle against the current, even if to just hold our position as we orient for the next stage of the rapids. Other times we’ll have to paddle with the current, gaining additional speed, so that when the river breaks left or right we continue on and through. Course adjustments are crucial.

We haven’t been this way before, but He has. He knows the way and knows it well — where to enter, where to exit, and every boulder along the way. Keep your ears keen to the Guide’s instruction, for He has the words of eternal life (John 6:68).

Why I’m Siding With Pat Robertson on This One

Lest a reader get the wrong idea and put words in my mouth, I want to preface this all with the fact that my heart is heavy from the pain and suffering the people of Haiti are going through. It is unimaginable. In writing this, I hope I don’t come across trite in any way. I was simply stirred by the Christian backlash against what I thought was a Godly perspective on the situation and I felt challenged in my spirit to not cower from fear of what people may think from me speaking my mind on the matter. May God’s peace that passes all understanding mark the people of Haiti as they walk this road of recovery.

700 miles east of Miami, hundreds of thousands of desperate human beings need our help, our support, our money and our love. And they don’t need… that.

Shepherd Smith, Fox News

Shepherd Smith’s somber reaction to Pat Robertson’s most recent media-stirring news commentary is receiving stellar reviews on YouTube. Five stars and hundreds of comments that can be summarized as “Well spoken, Shep.” Compare that to Robertson’s clips that have few stars and thousands of comments that can be summarized as “Go to hell, you sick, vile person” or “As a Christian, I’m repulsed by you. You don’t represent me.”

He is a top-trending topic on Twitter right now, which is how I found out about his supposed gaffe. When I first saw “Pat Robertson” among the Twitter elite, I thought “Oh no! What did you say now, Pat,” knowing his history of putting his foot in his mouth. Based upon people’s critique of Robertson on Twitter – believer and non-believer alike – you’d think he had cursed and slandered Haitian’s to eternal damnation and wrapped things up with a “Good riddance!” But that is not at all what he said. He said this:

And you know Christy, something happened a long time ago in Haiti and people might not want to talk about it. They were under the heel of the French—you know Napoleon the third and whatever. And they got together and swore a pact to the devil. They said “We will serve you if you’ll get us free from the French.” True story. And so the devil said “OK, it’s a deal.” And they kicked the French out. You know, the Haitians revolted and got themselves free. But ever since, they’ve been cursed by one thing after the other; desperately poor. That island of Hispaniola is one island. It’s cut down the middle. On one side is Haiti, on the other side is the Dominican Republic. Dominican Republic is prosperous, healthy, full of resorts, etc. Haiti is in desperate poverty. Same island. They need to have and we need to pray for a great turning to God. And out of this tragedy, I’m optimistic something good may come.

Shep, and thousands of others across the world, professing Christians included, apparently feel his words were a little harsh, that his perspective is off, that he’s the one who’s aligned with Satan if he would suggest that a poor, struggling nation and its people had-it-comin’ for aligning themselves with the devil.

Well, I’m here to say, like it or not, that I’m siding with Pat on this one.

Was Robertson being cold and shrewd with his statement? I don’t know, maybe. But I don’t really think so. He wrapped up his recounting of Haiti’s pact with the devil and the distressed state of the republic with the most truly compassionate statement a person can make: “We need to pray that they have a great turning to God.” Because that’s what will really make a difference in this situation.

Shephard Smith, along with the rest of the world and a majority of “Christians,” feel that all a country needs in a crisis like this is exactly what Smith said: help, support, money and love. But is that the case? What does the Bible say is good medicine for a national crisis?

“Now, therefore,” says the LORD,
“Turn to Me with all your heart,
With fasting, with weeping, and with mourning.”
So rend your heart, and not your garments;
Return to the LORD your God,
For He is gracious and merciful,
Slow to anger, and of great kindness;
And He relents from doing harm.
Who knows if He will turn and relent,
And leave a blessing behind Him—
A grain offering and a drink offering
For the LORD your God?
Blow the trumpet in Zion,
Consecrate a fast,
Call a sacred assembly;
Gather the people,
Sanctify the congregation,
Assemble the elders,
Gather the children and nursing babes;
Let the bridegroom go out from his chamber,
And the bride from her dressing room.

Joel 2:12-16

We see the same response from both Jehoshaphat (2 Chronicles 20) and Ezra (Ezra 8) in their crises, too: They directed their people to seek the Lord. He’s the answer; He always is. He has a solution; He always does. Help, support, money and love from your neighbors helps and it helps a lot. And Robertson’s ministry is in fact providing lots of these forms of assistance. CBN’s Web site says that they “have sent a shipment of millions of dollars worth of medications that is now in Haiti, and their disaster team leaders are expected to arrive tomorrow and begin operations to ease the suffering.”

But those efforts aren’t enough. They don’t come close to matching the supernatural intervention of the Most High. Tons of relief went to Haiti in 2008 when the hurricanes bashed it. But poverty and sickness still reigned there when humanitarian efforts waned. Because, as Roberston pointed out, Haiti’s problem is spiritual at its root. All human problems are. Humanitarian relief isn’t an improper solution, it’s simply inadequate. I did Katrina relief work in Mississippi and could see how good, but inadequate, all the relief efforts truly were. In moments of crisis, we need Jesus and we need Jesus bad. Heck, we always need Jesus bad. He’s the only one who can provide lasting change.

During situations like this, Christians often, and rightly so, quote Isaiah 58:7, where God prescribes how we are to care for the oppressed in times of need:

Is it not to share your bread with the hungry,
And that you bring to your house the poor who are cast out;
When you see the naked, that you cover him,
And not hide yourself from your own flesh?

But those same Christians often overlook or lack full understanding of Isaiah 58:6:

Is this not the fast that I have chosen:
To loose the bonds of wickedness,
To undo the heavy burdens,
To let the oppressed go free,
And that you break every yoke?

I think there’s a reason verse 6 precedes verse 7: God knows that without breaking the yoke of the spiritual oppression upon a people, sharing food, shelter and clothes with them will have no lasting effect. It will be a treatment of symptoms rather than a cure for the sickness.

True love and true compassion is to point out someone’s sickness because identifying the problem is the key to establishing the solution. If you had a friend who had a constant, day-in, day-out runny nose decade after decade, would you simply keep handing him or her Kleenex? Wouldn’t you, even at the risk of offense, offer to pray they be healed? Or at least suggest they see a doctor? If not, I question how much of a friend you are. And in this case, I feel Robertson was being that friend. Some might question the appropriateness of his timing, but he was helping Christians quickly pray insightful and directed prayers for Haiti.

Haiti’s “Pact With the Devil”

Before today, I knew nothing about the history of Haiti. And I still know very little. But in doing some research on the “pact with the devil” the enslaved made in order to get free, I was able to start understanding the gravity of the pact Robertson cited. A criticism of Robertson’s position provided this recounting of the ceremony:

In 1791 Boukman Dutty, a Vodou priest and one of the leaders of the first wave of slave uprisings in the North of Haiti, led a ceremony in the now-famous Bois-Caïman that launched the revolution and inspired slave revolutionaries to begin destroying plantations. The ceremony allegedly involved the sacrifice of a pig and use of pig blood and a sermon that invoked the good god of African religion to give the slaves liberty and condemned the evil [Christian] God of the white slave-owners.

The original source for that account provided even more information. To quote the research paper:

Thus we can see in the muddled origins of this myth, and in the language of the poem itself, how the Haitian revolution began under the sign of possession. The prayer begins by invoking a familiar god of creation… The last line launches the revolution by giving voice to this god… Finally, [that] god speaks through their hearts, possessing them and using their bodies as instruments of his wrath, speaking what amounts to a supernatural liberty. He has ordered the slaves to take revenge … and he will also control their actions as they destroy the slave economy that has so oppressed them…  This god will speak “liberty” by possessing the revolutionaries’ bodies. They will be free in as much as they offer themselves to his possessing presence.

This, my friends, is no trivial matter. It was indeed a pact with the devil, for by inviting and yielding to possession by any spirit other than Holy Spirit, the slaves were asking to be demon possessed and become the devil’s minions. They were aligning themselves with real, substantial powers: Satan and the kingdom of darkness. Satan’s mission is to steal, kill and destroy humans. Any deal made with him is in fact no deal at all, but simply a means by which he can carry out his mission among that group of people much easier. If this pact has never been renounced and repented of – by leaders of the country or by people on their behalf – then by all means this pact is still in effect and still wreaking havoc. The only hope is to have intercessors standing in the gap keeping the curse at bay until it is broken.

What I feel amplifies this pact’s ability to spawn such devastation is that it was foundational in the nation’s birth. Foundational principles matter a whole lot. Both blessings and curses are passed on from generation to generation. That’s how God set it up. So something being birthed out of a work of darkness is really troubling. Think of all the compounding interest the curse has piled up over the years. Surely righteous ones have emerged that the Lord has set free who’ve stopped the curse from passing through their blood line. But most people don’t understand the power both holy and unholy roots hold over nations, states, cities and families. So I can see how this pact could still be holding many innocent people’s lives under the devastating burden of the curse. It makes me sick. The devil is putrid and vile.

Massive Offense

There’s a lot more I could say and will say in the coming days, including a look at how people who don’t claim Jesus as Lord and Savior are cursed. But I want to wrap up with what stirred me to write this in the first place: How troubling it is to me that so many of those who say they love Jesus and say they love His word have taken such offense with what Pat Robertson said. Maybe they just watched the Shepherd Smith clip, which conveniently cut off the end of Robertson’s statement when he said “They need to have and we need to pray for a great turning to God. And out of this tragedy, I’m optimistic something good may come.” But I don’t think that explains the majority of reactions. I think it comes down to believers not fully knowing the Jesus they claim to love.

For if they understood that Jesus told a son to follow Him rather than bury his father, they’d know that Jesus was sometimes seemingly cold and harsh when pointing out what’s most important. If they understood that Jesus called Peter “Satan” when trying to look out for what he thought was Jesus’ best interest, they wouldn’t be all up-in-arms with Robertson pointing out that a group of people had made a pact with the devil. If they knew that we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms, they’d understand that Robertson isn’t off his rocker in asserting that Haiti’s problem is spiritual manifesting in the natural. If they knew that Jesus was returning to the earth as the Lion of the Tribe of Judah to kill the kings of the earth as part of establishing his government, they wouldn’t have a distorted view of what a loving God will or will not do.

The book of Revelation explains in great detail the massive devastation upon planet earth that God is going to oversee in the last days. Some events are going to happen at the hands of the devil and his kingdom of darkness; others are going to be judgments sent from God himself. There is going to be horrific pain and anguish among the billions of people of the world. Most are going to take great offense at what is happening and say, “How could a loving God allow such things to happen?” And if you’re alive during those days, as a Christ-follower, you’re going to need a real revelation of Jesus Christ, lest you disown Him like most have Pat Robertson. And don’t think it’s beyond any of us, because Peter thought the very same thing and wound up denying Christ three times. Sadly, the stakes are going to be much higher in the last days; if you deny Christ then and take the mark, there’s no going back.

Discipleship Needed

Having a heart that won’t be offended by Jesus when the end draws nearer doesn’t just magically happen at His second-coming. If you’re offended by a sliver of truth now, your head’s going to pop off when real Truth comes. That’s what happened with the Pharisees and they ended up killing Jesus at his first coming. Believe me when I say a slew of “Christians” are going to be among the masses that align themselves with the Antichrist and plot to kill Him a second time.

The going doesn’t get easier for Christians as the return of Christ draws near; it gets more demanding. Thankfully, God is sending increasing amounts of grace to enable us to prosper in this increasingly caustic environment. Now is the time to start preparing your heart for what lies ahead by pushing into the scriptures, allowing them to pierce, cut and divide you and expose areas of wickedness that are still within your heart. There’s so much grace for it now! God is calling His church to prepare, prepare, prepare for the wedding! The bridegroom is coming and we need to be ready! Don’t be found with a dry lamp when Christ is about to return. Cultivate the oil of intimacy now, lest you be offended with Him later.

In Luke 7:23, Jesus says “Blessed is he who is not offended because of Me.” And he said this after telling of the very wonderful things He had done: “the blind see, the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, the poor have the gospel preached to them.” How much more will Christians be prone to offense when the not-so-wonderful works of His hands start happening?

Trust me, I’m so, so, so still growing in my revelation of Jesus. I preached on it this summer. I’m in the same grace-built boat of preparation that you’re all in. I encourage you to keep riding with me even when the storms rage greater.

May both God’s and man’s mercy flow like a river through the devastated streets of Haiti and bring healing, restoration and revival to the land.

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.


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, 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.