Sunday, May 26, 2013

Dreams and Visions

The prophet Joel predicted it. The church experienced it. The disciples acted by its power. I’m talking about the Day of Pentecost when the Holy Spirit was poured out onto the church. The wind blew, the fire burned, and people could really talk to each other. 

I have yet to attend a worship service like that first one.  Oh, I’ve seen bells and whistles, and I’ve heard some mighty fine music and occasionally an interesting sermon.  But I’ve witnessed nothing with the power described in Acts 2.

In fact, for all the energy we pour into our churches, we are rather anemic. 

So what’s going on?

Was it a singular event to celebrate the entrance of the church into the world? Possibly, but I’m going to assume that God still pours his Presence into the church and into our hearts, whether I feel it or not.  So how do we see it? How can we work in concert with this mysterious Spirit, so we can benefit from its power?

As I read through Acts 2 again, I note Joel’s words about young men having visions and old men having dreams.  What dreams? What visions?

I believe people actually get what they envision. Does the church have dream of a great performance team? They can have that. Want a bigger building? That’s possible. A hotshot, spellbinding, fireball of a speaker? They’re out there.  But these are not necessarily vessels of the Spirit.

What if we dream with the Spirit of a God who longs to heal and minister to others? What if we see ourselves as vessels of compassion, mercy, and love? What if the church envisions itself helping a dark and crooked world to become bright and happy? We could have that.

Perhaps these visions can open our eyes to the same Spirit whose presence was poured out on the people at Pentecost. And we’ll see it has always been right there.

Monday, May 13, 2013

Awareness of God

In the Gospel of John, the author emphasized the deity of Christ, where Jesus existed before the creation of the world and took part in that creation. He wanted us to see the Jesus who maintained the full authority of God, and knew what would happen before it happened. 

I think about how Jesus walked this earth as a human and at the same time was fully conscious of the entire cosmos. Could he hear angels singing while eating dinner with the disciples? When he traveled across the Sea of Galilee, could he also see the Crystal Sea of heaven? When he walked into a house, could he see heaven’s mansions at the same time?

When he looked to the heavens, did he see all the stars and galaxies and planets that are not visible to the human eye? When he worked with wood, could he see even the sub-atomic particles in its structure?

And what was it like to one with the Father? “I in thee, and thee in me.”(John 17:21).To know God’s thoughts and for God to know his? To share feelings and enjoy each Other’s presence?

Did he have a difficult time managing the limitations of a physical body while being aware of all of heaven? What was it like to know the fullness of heaven and at the same time endure the emptiness of hunger? Was it harder or easier to be aware of heaven when he was tired and hurting?

The reason I wonder these things is that this heavenly awareness is accessible to all of us, through the Holy Spirit.  He “has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ.” (Eph. 1:3).

As I work and pray, how aware am I of the larger spiritual world around me, where the eternal qualities of love, joy, and hope supersede the impotent qualities of greed, rage, and power?  And how would that change my behavior?

I keep asking that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation, so that you may know him better.” (Eph 1:17).

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Better Is Not Easier

“Come to church and your life will be so much better.”

That’s the promise that we often use to attract people, but I think we might want to define more precisely the word “better.” “Better” may not mean pain free and fun.

We’re rarely going to be as entertaining as an amusement park or a Las Vegas Act because our goals are different.   

But here are some things we can offer if you come to church:  

To love and be loved. Love is good, but it is not easy. Love always has joy, but sometimes it’s sad, too. Sometimes it’s scary. And it’s not uncommon for love to be exasperating. 

To be healed. Healing involves change, humility, maturity, courage, forgiveness, etc. These things may not always be fun, but they’re pretty necessary. 


To trade small problems for bigger ones. Come to focus on the needs of the globe, the community, and the person next to you (this is one of the things that can bring healing to you, too). Coming to church might make you feel the weight of responsibility.

To focus on heavenly issues.  Instead of the issues of earthly kingdoms (or governments), we focus on the Kingdom of God, where truth, beauty, and love are more important than money and power.  

To grow in your awareness of God which could be daunting but also joyful and wonderful

So yeah, come to church. It can make your life better. Just not necessarily easier.