My name is Braden Siemens..You are about to read the most honest open experiences of my life. I hope you can hear my heart pound as you read it.
Aside from writing I also make music. Go like Sailing On Storms on facebook and give my music a listen.
Since I’ve been back from my visit to Israel my whole entire sleep schedule has been completely demolished. Where I used to sleep in until noon I now find myself waking up at eight in the morning. I like this new change, it makes me feel more alive when I am up and allows me to pray and become more ready for the challenges that may await me for the day.
This morning as I was eating my breakfast, a banana, a new challenge arose. I heard a knock on my front door. When I opened the door I found a pleasant surprise. A couple of old gentle Jehovah’s Witnesses stood at the door. My roommate Harry was watching “Percy Jackson and the Olympians” in the living room and Josh was in the kitchen eating cereal for breakfast. Neither flinched at the sound of the door. To avoid causing a scene I stepped outside with them and shut the door behind me.
“Hello” I said with a smile on my face. Both, elderly ladies, seemed very excited that I had actually answered the door.
“Good morning!” The small lady on the left exclaimed. “Do you mind if we share with you a verse from the book of Micah?” she asked.
“Of course! I love the Book of Micah!” I was curious as to what they were going to read.
The lady had the verse bookmarked and turned quickly to it. Helping me follow along she dragged her finger along the page as she read eloquently and without pause. Her friend stood and smiled with sparkles in her eyes. The verse was a prophecy from the prophet Micah foretelling the coming messiah and how Jesus is going to come again to bring peace to the world.
“Let me ask you a question.” She said. “Do you believe that one day we will all have peace? Do you believe that everything is going to work out in the end and that we will one day have joy?”
I let that question sink in for a moment. Did I really believe the world would one day be saved from wickedness? After processing the idea I decided I did believe that. Because I had hope. Hope to me is the belief that one day everything will work out. The verse they read to me sounded true, it sounded right.
“I haven’t thought about it too much.” I responded. “But I like the sound of it.”
“Well we believe that a time will come when Jesus will bring peace back to the earth and destroy all of the evil in the world.” The lady continued. The other didn’t say much, she seemed to be the moral support of the two.
“Are you from around here?” I asked. Trying to point to the conversation in a different direction to avoid a theological argument. I felt like they were aching to preach to me about their own doctrines and opinions.
“Yes we are! We belong to a local community of witnesses. Are you involved in any religion or church?” She inquired.
“As a matter of fact I am! I attend Bethel School of Supernatural Ministry.” I said.
They looked at each other with the same face. The face that screamed “Oh No! One of those crazy guys.” I knew what they were both thinking.
“Yes yes! We’ve come here in the past years and had conversations with different Bethel students.” The woman remarked. “Where are you from?” She asked.
“I’m from Canada! Been here almost nine months now.”
“Why did you come to Bethel?” She asked.
“I came to see if God was good.” I replied.
“What did you find out?”
“That he was.”
A smile cracked her face. “Well there is where we will agree.” She said.
My roommate Josh opened the door behind me and alerted me of the time and that it was time to go to school. I thanked the ladies for their courage to step out and approach my door without knowing what my reaction would be. We shook hands and they descended the driveway walking toward the next house.
To me this experience taught me the beauty in not having to agree on everything but instead to honor and respect others just because they are human beings. They earned my ears by stepping out of their comfort zone. I listened to them because they came. If I learned one thing this year it’s that relationship comes before proving people wrong. Hopefully I left a good impression on those two wonderful ladies and hopefully they felt the love of God through my soft words and welcoming ears.
I finished my Banana and went back inside feeling more ready for my day then before.
Let Every Eye See and Every Ear Hear
Probably the answer to most our of questions, and the solution to most of our problems. I believe intimacy is what unites the brother to his sister, the son to his father, the groom to his bride. As Kris Vallotton beautifully remarks “Intimacy means into me you see”. Allowing yourself into a vulnerable state of being an open book replete with naked chapters including all your greatest hopes, fears and dreams. I wish more Human Beings would understand intimacy. The dilemma with humanity is that we hate working for reward. A lot of times we want it all handed to us immediately, especially with relationship.
Jesus understood intimacy. He mastered it, in fact He invented the very concept of it. From the beginning of time God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit were in perfect communion with one another. This sort of community takes effort and sacrifice of course, always relying on the other partner for love, affirmation, and blessing. Even while Jesus was on earth He was always relying on God, always listening intently and obeying humbly, always putting Abba Father above himself. Jesus understood that to be truly intimate one must be truly humble, it takes loads of sacrifice and work to attain such humility. During his earthly reign He taught the disciples the basic truths of “Love one another as you love yourself”. This is the golden rule of humility, and Jesus didn’t take it lightly. The Bible even talks about a love closer than a brother that John had with Jesus. John, also called “The one Jesus Loved”, would lay his head on Jesus’ chest, such an expression of intimacy is rarely found between brothers in our western culture. As C.S Lewis rightly states “Humility is not thinking less of yourself but of yourself less.” Frank Viola talks often about a “Humble Confidence” which I think Lewis was pointing at. Saints can surround themselves with sinners, kings can surround themselves with peasants, and God can surround himself with humans. It’s not what we do that defines us, it’s who we are through Christ, what we do is a result of who we are. If we know we are children of God we will act like it, if we believe we are children of wrath we will act like. I suppose it is narrowed down to simple psychology of Solomon when he writes “As a man thinketh, so he is.”
In the book “The Alchemist” Paul Coelho writes about just this topic. Here is an excerpt from the book:
“‘Why do they make things so complicated?’ He asked the Englishman one night. The boy had noticed that the Englishman was irritable, and missed his books.
‘So that that those who have the responsibility for understanding can understand,’ he said. ‘Imagine if everyone went around transforming lead into gold. Gold would lose it’s value.’
‘It’s only those who are persistent, and willing to study things deeply, who achieve the Master Work. That’s why I’m here in the middle of the desert.’”
The Englishman in the book was correct when he said that those who are persistent, and willing to study things deeply will achieve the Master Work. How often do we as people find ourselves in our own personal deserts, in times of discomfort and vulnerability. A mentor of mine always says “The comforter is waiting right outside of our comfort zone.” Sometimes in order to turn lead into Gold we must first search in the desert for the lead, and when we do find it, we can rely on the intimacy we made with Christ to turn it into something more…something like Gold.
Jesus often spoke in riddles and parables, and people often ask why. Perhaps He was inviting us into intimacy, to reply with a deep sigh of relief that we don’t have all the answers, and we may never, but instead to hide our trust in Him. I believe his parables were a big “Jump” sign into an exploratory journey of discerning and experiencing His presence throughout our own lives. We have to properly use our body, mind, and soul in order to interpret a parable and to understand Jesus’ own words. Using our Mind (Theologically lining parallels with scripture on philosophical levels and allowing Holy Spirit to illuminate scripture to us), using our soul (Allowing Christ to imprint his name and spirit in our hearts and penetrate our minds), and using our bodies (Allowing Christ to express Himself in and through us on an everyday basis).
In the ancient book of Genesis a man named Jacob anoints a stone with oil symbolizing a vow with God. Later in the story Jesus would anoint different stones with a different oil on the day of Pentecost. He would anoint us (the living stones) with the new oil (The Holy Spirit). What do these new stones make? They build a house, a house for God himself. Throughout all of history God has been searching for a dwelling place, a place to rest his head, to express himself freely. He tried in the Garden of Eden, the original intent for the dwelling place, and then in the tabernacle of Moses, and then on Mount Zion with David. But God was never satisfied with a physical building, He desired a family in which to make up this spiritual building. Jesus came to become the cornerstone for this building and each of us believers are stones in it. We make up the perfect dwelling place of God, the Ekklesia (Church/Assembly). That is a huge responsibility and position. There is no building that does not take time to build. Sometimes the process of such a project can be harrowing and quite delicate. It is the times of suffering, the times of trial and anguish where we must decide to allow Christ to be the true Cornerstone.
A building takes time to build, a family takes time to unite, parables take time to interpret, deserts take time to cross, relationships take time to strengthen, and humility takes time to master. As I wrote from the beginning intimacy is what unites the brother to his sister, the son to his father, the groom to his bride. Why did Jesus write in parables? One simple answer : Intimacy. May we understand what it means to lean into Confident Humility and step into this new marvelous reality as Christ’s body and dwelling place. We are a new creation…lets start acting like it.
Let Every Eye See and Every Ear Hear
“A person only receives the amount of love they think they deserve.”
36 When one of the Pharisees invited Jesus to have dinner with him, he went to the Pharisee’s house and reclined at the table. 37 A woman in that town who lived a sinful life learned that Jesus was eating at the Pharisee’s house, so she came there with an alabaster jar of perfume. 38 As she stood behind him at his feet weeping, she began to wet his feet with her tears. Then she wiped them with her hair, kissed them and poured perfume on them.
39 When the Pharisee who had invited him saw this, he said to himself, “If this man were a prophet, he would know who is touching him and what kind of woman she is—that she is a sinner.”
40 Jesus answered him, “Simon, I have something to tell you.”
“Tell me, teacher,” he said.
41 “Two people owed money to a certain moneylender. One owed him five hundred denarii,[c] and the other fifty. 42 Neither of them had the money to pay him back, so he forgave the debts of both. Now which of them will love him more?”
43 Simon replied, “I suppose the one who had the bigger debt forgiven.”
“You have judged correctly,” Jesus said.
44 Then he turned toward the woman and said to Simon, “Do you see this woman? I came into your house. You did not give me any water for my feet, but she wet my feet with her tears and wiped them with her hair. 45 You did not give me a kiss, but this woman, from the time I entered, has not stopped kissing my feet. 46 You did not put oil on my head, but she has poured perfume on my feet. 47 Therefore, I tell you, her many sins have been forgiven—as her great love has shown. But whoever has been forgiven little loves little.”
48 Then Jesus said to her, “Your sins are forgiven.”
49 The other guests began to say among themselves, “Who is this who even forgives sins?”
50 Jesus said to the woman, “Your faith has saved you; go in peace.”
Awhile back I was reading this story and thought to myself “How can I be more like this woman?”
I asked God “Can you help me be like this?” I wanted to be unashamed and I wanted to show people the kind of love this woman showed Christ.
This morning we had a meeting with our school Revival Group (about 70 students per group). Our RG pastor had decided that we should practice prophecy over one another and so called people up to be prophesied over. A person would stand at the front of the room and the people sitting down would ask God what He wanted to say to the person. This went on for awhile. For me it was stressful, for each woman who went to the front God had said the same thing to me. He told me to go to the front and wash their feet with my hair. At first thought I immediately denied the command, and as time went on everyone had passed their turn up front. Near the end of the meeting our Pastor was standing in the front of the room about to end and I stood and said I had a prophetic act to do.
My heart was beating out of my chest, “Oh God what am I doing!?” I thought.
I took off my sweater and my hat I was wearing and approached the center of the room feet trembling. Nothing was going through my mind at that moment, just God’s words and the image of the woman at Jesus’ feet.
“Does anyone have water I can use?” I asked.
Someone gave me a bottle of the their water, I grabbed it, unscrewed the bottle and poured the water on my head soaking my hair. Handing the water back to my friend I knelt down on the floor in front of our pastor and began to wash his dirty shoes with my hair. I don’t remember washing his feet but I remember hearing myself wail at his feet. When I arose He embraced me and I saw that there was a few others crying as well, this comforted me because I thought people would think me as a freak. As soon as he let go I managed to squeeze out the words
“A person only receives the amount of love they think they deserve.”
After that I went and sat down. But there was so much more I wanted to say. I wanted to tell them all what it symbolized. Jesus Christ made us one with him after the crucifixion, resurrection, and ascension. He has made us like him, people need to realize how much they are truly worth and how much gold they have in them, how much God loves them. So many people have been wounded by people around them and think they only deserve the crap and pain that has happened to them. This is a lie and not true. What I was trying to portray was that Christ died for not only our sins but He died so we may be one with him and perfectly loved!!
I hope you know how loved you are. You are beautiful and you are brilliant.
“Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. 35 For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, 36 I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’
37 “Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? 38 When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? 39 When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’
40 “The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’
That King is Jesus and we are his body. Love them like he loved us.
Let Every Eye See and Every Ear Hear
As of now I find my myself sitting with plenty of good friends and acquaintances in a restaurant laughing and sharing stories of relative experiences, everyone is connecting with one another around the table. Yet I feel set apart, disconnected and mentally desolate from conversation. My mind is elsewhere focusing on much more inviting, content, and yet crucial thoughts.
A spiritual enemy has been loosening my grip on my closeness with God, I find this happens most when I have just gone through spiritual and emotional breakthrough and have had a revelation of truth from which brings much joy. The devil sees my joy and tries to rip it from my soul, his latest scheme has been temptations with lust.
Lying on my back late at night is most vulnerable for me for it is when my guard is down mentally and I begin to reveal carelessness of my thoughts. I begin to give in to immoral desires in my mind and hand my thoughts over to the enemy, once that happens I have already lost the battle. It is almost as if you have no control and are long past the point of no return. The click of a button or the flick of a switch is how quick such events happen, and the enemy is waiting to pounce like a lion in a field of prey.
After a shameful night I awoke to the weight of sin and guilt. Condemnation poured from my brow as I sweat of embarrassment. I cried to God to forgive me and to usurp this temptation from me, yet I heard no reply. I tried to lie on my floor and spread out my arms in surrender in worship portraying my attempt to earn the forgiveness of God, something of which only grace can bestow.
As I gave up earning forgiveness I heard the voice of the Holy Spirit tenderly speak to me.
”What are you doing? You are better than this! Don’t cry any longer for I have made you a saint and have freed you from sin. You are already forgiven. Start acting like it.” he said to me.
At that moment I straightened my back, stood up, got dressed and went to make myself a morning meal with a joyful grin smothering my face.
How we act is based off who we believe we are. Proverbs rightly says “As a man thinks in his heart, so he is.” I believed I was a sinner, that I was someone who thought sexually of others and abused them. Do not entertain such ideas. Such thinking is false. I was acting out of the character Christ has sculpt me into. Who we really are in the body of Christ are those who are so full of God that we cannot do anything but love others. Lust is but an illusion of love, love honors and protects. Lust abuses and perverts.
As I sat disconnected from others in such a social environment I was enriched with the essence of God, I was so filled with satisfaction that all I desired was to praise him. I felt him so strongly within me that all I wanted to do was help the needy and poor, but perhaps those details are destined for another entry.
For now, I will end this with a hopeful statement. Who we are is not envisioned by what we have done, but it is completed by what Christ has done. When you sin do not lose sight of his face, keep your arms fastened to his finger. Repent of your attempt at being anything other than what he made you to be. After all, repentance is but the re imagining of the mind and rethinking of our actions. He always comes through.
You are already forgiven.
Let every eye see and every ear hear
“A man can counterfeit love, he can counterfeit faith, he can counterfeit hope and all the other graces, but it is very difficult to counterfeit humility”.— D. L. Moody
I can recount countless mornings of walking downstairs as a child in my pajamas to my Father kneeling down in the living room of our house. His head facing the floor and arms stretched high in complete surrender and abandonment. I would sit on the stairs just watching him wondering why He would kneel there for so long, now I realize why.
There is something about humility that shows a real leader, that allows others to join in on the fun. Giving that man the only open seat on the bus, sitting at the unpopular table in the high school cafeteria, inviting the nerd to the cool kid party, or maybe even calling that old friend that hurt you and forgiving them. A humble person always is thinking about themselves less and of others more. Kris Vallotton rightly says “The grace of God humbles a man without degrading him and exalts a man without inflating him.”
Servant hood and Humility go hand in hand, one does not exist without the other. One thing I have noticed over the past couple years is that you can only give away what you have received. I was only able to start to serve people and humble myself when I realized how much God humbled himself and served us on earth. That God, the author of life, entered into his own story because we were doing a terrible job at finishing it, and lived among his own characters so that we could have a happy ending. A God who was killed by his own creation, who washed the feet of his own disciples! Imagine that. All the disciples are fighting about who is greater and Jesus, not saying a word, grabs his towel and begins to wash their feet! None of them deserved that, none of us deserved it when he died on the cross, but he did, that’s what love does. Love serves, love steps down from the throne and sits in the small chair, love puts others first, and that’s exactly what Jesus did.
I understand exactly why my Dad kneeled on the living room carpet all those days, He was following the example of Christ, in complete surrender and worship He was making a statement in front of his family that God was priority. This is beautiful. Think about how amazing society would be if everyone served each other. The new testament church never lacked any provision, they gave to whoever needed. A community that is completely full of love and humility.
I got a taste of this when I visited Chico this past weekend. We had gone to a school of Mystics for a few days and were living homeless on the streets because of lack of money for a hotel. We ended up sleeping in our cars on the parking lot of a non-denominational charismatic church. On the last morning at 6 a.m the pastor showed up at the church upset that there was a few cars taking up the parking spaces, He asked us to leave so we reluctantly drove away. We ended up walking down the streets of downtown Chico, California until we decided to visit an Anglican Church. As soon as I walked into the church judgments and critical thought’s hopped around my brain causing me to have a terribly prideful perspective. We attended the full service which to me seemed more like a cheap Hollywood musical with the change of costumes and cheesy hymns that didn’t flow very well. At the end of the service the Priest invited us downstairs to eat with him and his wife. They ended up feeding us lasagna and thinking we were desert monks, I’m not surprised because of how homeless we looked, and by the end of the conversation offering us a place to stay…
The charismatic pastor kicked us out of his parking lot yet the Anglican Priest offered hospitality and food. I walked into that atmosphere expecting them to be religious hypocrites but instead finding people who truly loved others and were ready to serve them. I’m not trying to point fingers to full groups of people but what I am getting at is that no matter what we believe or say the heart of Christ can live in anyone. That priests servant heart was clear to us that day and spoke volumes. How often do we forget our job as Christians? How often do we forget our role as human beings? May we come to kneel down in humility and serve others like Jesus did, and may we do it out of joy and love knowing how much more Christ served us on the cross and in the Resurrection.
Let every eye see and every ear hear.
“Joy is the serious business of Heaven” - C.S Lewis
I have come to the conclusion that everyone in the world wants to be happy. The father who’s saving for the perfect house in which to supply for his family, the band who aspires to be on the iTunes top billboard charts, and the Businessman who tediously works for his company to sky rocket in sales and success. Happiness is solely based upon the happenings around us, and people crave it. What brings happiness? Falling in love, staring at the stars, dancing, drugs, recognition, money, travel, affirmation, or maybe even playing your favorite instrument or sport. Happiness is, all in all, based upon the happenings around us.
So then what is joy? If happiness is based upon surrounding happenings what is joy based upon? If happiness is temporal is joy as well? The book of Romans sums up joy very well when it says it “is not a matter of eating and drinking but of righteousness and peace in the holy spirit.” Eating and drinking are temporary actions. The bible says that the “Holy Spirit will never leave us” (John 14:16), this being said joy seems to be an eternal state. Let me just clarify, according to the apostle Paul, happiness is temporal, joy is eternal.
I am going to ask you to visualize with me for a moment. Imagine you are in the first century during the period of time when Nero was persecuting the Christians in Rome. You’ve been caught and tried by your own people who seem to have given you no mercy at all. You’re clothes are torn and dirty, you are beaten and bruised, and your stomach screams with agony from lack of food. You’re back leans against hard bitten cement and your toes numb from the sharp hiss of the frosty air. The smell is putrid and the cellar is filled with darkness. You squint your eyes to see faint outlines of old corpses surrounding you. You focus as you hear distant cries and whimpers. You begin to wonder when your final moment alive will be. All your friends and family have left you alone to die and the churches you have planted have turned their back on you. All you wanted to do was share the love and truth of Christ with people, all you wanted to do was what Christ commanded you to do. “Go and make disciples of all nations” he had said to his followers. You cry out to God “give me strength” as you clamber across the floor bearing the weight of chains clamped tight to your ankles causing blood to trickle down your feet forming puddles on the floor. You lock your eyes on the piece of paper in front of you as you reach out to grab it pushing away old bones which rot in morbid stench. Barely lifting up the one tool of writing that you smuggled in you begin to write words…
“I will continue to rejoice”…
You of course are not you, you are Paul the Apostle writing to the Philippians of the church in Philippi. And you have joy through suffering.
This, Ladies and gentlemen, is joy, not based upon the happenings of the circumstances around you but instead upon the happening of Christ in and through you. Paul shows us a perfect image of this as he suffers willingly deep in the prison cellars of Rome. Of course times have changed and Religion no longer rules governments, we live in a land that advocates free will and liberty of choice. So you don’t have to worry about being chained up for telling your friend at school that you love Jesus…(thank God for that!) although we still suffer. Life still happens, you lose a job, a relative passes away, your lover leaves you, or maybe you just had a rainy day. In these times remembering stories like Paul’s and that there is a bright future ahead of you and that your name is written in the lambs book of life, God sees you and suffers with you.
In fact Christ suffered more than any of us ever did when He died on the cross, and He did this so we could attain eternal joy and hope through our sufferings. This doesn’t imply that life will never be amazing or uplifting, I’m sure we all will have happy moments, but it does go to show that anything that is uplifting on earth is temporal. Our joy is not of this earth but of the hope of a radiant future when the bride will be united with her groom. Jesus didn’t die so we could have our “Best Life Now” but so we could have everlasting life, which to me is better than anything we could ever imagine.
We can see subtle hints of this glorious eternal life through the world around us today. A father loving his children, a rich man giving his money to the poor, a young man helping an elderly lady across the street, a leader becoming a servant, a teacher becoming a student, or even a stranger smiling at you as you pass by. The earth is full of hints and clues of this hope to come, Christ never promises us happiness but what He does promise is salvation. And that is the greatest gift ever given.
I love how author Max Lucado affirms this :
”That’s not to say it was easy for Jesus.
That’s not to say it is easy for you.
That is to say that God will never call you to do what He hasn’t
Let every eye see and every ear hear.
I’ve found that in this walk with God it is vital to reflect on where we have come from and what He has taken us through. So often people hate where their lives are and feel like they are always in the same place for one simple reason…they do not reflect. Maybe your dreams feel so far away or you feel stuck in the same place forever. The other day I was getting annoyed with how routine and scheduled my life felt and ended up complaining about it to a few of my roommates who patiently and graceful endured my rants. My roommate Simon had just gone for a long two hour walk just talking to God and thinking about how far God had taken him. After convincing me that reminiscing was a good idea I decided to do the same.
That night I laid in my bed and talked to the Holy Spirit (God) and asked him to help me reflect and see in God’s perspective. I was taken back to times in high school where I felt insecure and alone, the days of beating myself up because my acne was too noticeable or I said something stupid to the girl with the locker next to mine. I reminisced about the broken hearted kid who desperately yearned for people’s attention and affection that he would do and say almost anything to earn it. I thought of the summer I was depressed and the fears of being by myself or being abandoned. I remembered the anger toward authority figures and hatred against anyone who spoke against my dreams. And of course, all the girlfriends and poor decisions I made based on the friends I chose to surround myself with.
As I thought of this person and who I was in the past my mind began to become aware of all the transitions I had gone through where I knew God was protecting and calling me back to him. I realized that through out my entire life God had been reaching out and drawing me back into his love and grace. Looking at who I am today I barely remember that person in high school. When Christians use the term “Born Again” sometimes I feel like it is a literal statement. Christ came into my life and when he entered the old man (Person I was prior to Christ) left. There is nothing left of me but Christ. Although sometimes my old man pops his head up once and awhile Christ always gives me the strength to hold on to his goodness.
I stood a few days ago in a field within Eugene, Oregon with some good friends of mine. We talked late into the night staring at the constellation’s of the big dipper and Orion’s bow discussing the apostles of old. I mentioned to my South African friend Otto about all the martyr’s in the early church who died for what they believed and how much they inspired me. All the persecution they had gone through because of their dictators and corrupt hierarchies and how they had stood for the truth of the gospel of Christ. One thing stood out to me specifically that night in Eugene, Oregon. It was something my friend Otto said to me. He told me to look back at church history, all the pain and strife people have gone through, all the wars and tribulations, sacrifice and agony. He told me to look at where we are now in society, all the improvements and peace we have made in the world, sure there is war, death, and pain, but we have learned from history and the mistakes we have made and, because of that, are pursuing a greater future. This is why I think reflection can only improve a person’s focus. Remembering where you have been gives you hope for what’s to come. The people in the early church had no idea that one day their efforts would effect a free land today and a society that would be free to serve Christ and have the liberty to make an invisible God visible to others.
As Christians this is, in my mind, a crucial lesson to many of us. May we come to reflect upon the victories in our lives and be grateful for what Christ has done in and through us. May we go for long walks and lie awake at night remembering this gorgeous adventure we are on and the hope that we have in light of present circumstances. Let us always remember that there is hope for the hopeless.
1 Thessalonians 5:18 - In everything give thanks, for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.
Psalm 100:4 - Enter his gates with thanksgiving, and his courts with praise! Give thanks to him; bless his name!
Let every ear hear and every eye see
Where does Prophecy fit into the Christian life?
“At this I fell at his feet to worship him. But he said to me, “Do not do it! I am a fellow servant with you and with your brothers who hold to the testimony of Jesus. Worship God! For the testimony of Jesus Christ is the spirit of prophecy.” - Revelation 19:10
This excerpt is taken from book of revelation upon which John the Revelator is experiencing an encounter with an angel. The angel has just spoken that blessed are those who are invited to the wedding supper/feast of the lamb (christ). John, being overwhelmed with gladness, fell to worship the angel but the angel refuses his praise. In this blog I am focusing on the one line that most use today to refer as a means of prophecying. “For the testimony of Jesus Christ is the spirit of prophecy.“
According to Wikipedia “Prophecy is a process in which one or more messages that have been communicated to a prophet are then communicated to others. Such messages typically involve divine inspiration, interpretation, or revelation of conditioned events to come ( divine knowledge) as well as testimonies or repeated revelations that the world is divine.” “Testimony is a solemn attestation as to the truth of a matter.” These definitions will prove insightful as I write this blog.
In the world today there is a lot of talk and stir about Prophecy and what that looks like in the church. The prophets in the Abrahamic Old Testament used prophecy to warn the Israelites to repent and avoid God’s wrath, although they always held onto God’s relentless redemptive purposes. Everytime Israel disobeyed, God, like any good father, would correct them and try to bring them back into his love and grace. In revelation we see a beautiful picture of what seems to be a wedding feast, interestingly this feast is not only mentioned in Revelation but Jesus talks quite a bit about this in the gospels (Matt 22:1-14, Matt 25:1-13). All the times he mentions the feast He describes an elite chosen people, people who have accepted the invitation. These people are the bride of Christ, the body of Christ, the visible representation of himself on earth today.
Now getting back to the question, How does prophecy fit into the christian life? Well the answer is simpler than most make it. A lot of religious figures of our day often proclaim God’s so-called judgment over sinful cities such as San Francisco and Las Vegas etc… This approach to prophecy is smeared in fear and condemnation and can be easily proved unbiblical. Before destroying Sodom and Gommorah Abraham negotiated with God, pleading that he spare the righteous (Genesis 18:16-33). God in turn chooses to spare the city if even there are five righteous people, this shows the true redemptive heart of God Almighty.
“The testimony of Jesus Christ is the spirit of Prophecy.” How is Christ made visible today? Through his church! We are his bride that are invited to the feast! Prophecy, in Christianity, is not as much of an act of foretelling the future than it is a preparational lifestlye of the banquet to come at the end of all ages. I would like to propose that how we act today, making Jesus Christ the forefront of our lives and living like Jesus did (after all we are his body), is symbolic and prophetic of the Bride that He will one day be able to pour all of his expression onto.
I will conclude this blog with a personal experience. It starts with a plead, a prayer if you will. I was pondering this idea of prophecy and asked God to give me a close encounter and story to tell that could help me ameliorate it, little did I know the humiliation that comes with such vigorous attempts of intimacy.
I was standing in the back of the civic center in Redding, California at “Bethel School of Supernatural Ministry” as the music team performed the song “Spirit Break Out” by Tim Hughes. Students jumped and danced radically displaying their affection for Creator God. A lot of them would pace, shake, or raise their hands in a vulnerable sign of surrender. I stood in the back wearing my rugged pea coat trying to be hidden and unnoticed, I didn’t want my worship to be considered performance for God but instead the action of reaching out to touch something that had changed my life so incomparably.
The lyrics rang and vibrated in my ears :
“King Jesus You’re the name we’re lifting high
Your glory shaking up the earth and skies”
Again and again they sang so passionately declaring this truth into the atmosphere. I thought about the words and contemplated their meaning…King Jesus…what could I possibly offer a king? What could I give to one who has everything? The only answer to that was my soul, to give all of myself in complete awe and reverence to one who paid the ultimate price. I thought about a way to express this gratitude without trying to impress others around me yet showing God that he has my attention and a will to follow His ways.
At this point my knees began to weaken, this is the situation where Christianity becomes this awkward struggle of self esteem vs selflessness. God was pushing me toward humility but I was resistent, every human being in nature desires pride and glory for themselves, this was my moment. As my knees fell to the ground my heart pounded and my breathing began faltering. My pride was being torn from me as I allowed God to make something significant of a willing heart. After a good while of weeping I picked myself up and exiting the building, only after did I realize the full work God had done in me.
Earlier I had asked God for an intimate experience with Him, for a means to write about this revelation of the prophetic. You see, the kneeling before the throne of King Jesus was a prophetic act, it was an act of adoration that comes from the familial sonship that God calls us into. And I stand on the basis that anything you do that makes Jesus the priority and the central focus or emanates his love for people and heart for redemption is prophecy. So again, where does prophecy fit into Christianity? It is the lifestyle we live that makes us prophetic, not visions, nor signs, nor wonders, nor wisdom, but the existence of Christ’s love within us and preparing us for the Bride he will one day pour his staggering expression onto.
May you come to see that prophecy isn’t a mystical enchantment of visions and dreams but is instead a sacrificial lifestyle in which we are preparing ourselves for the groom to come.
Let Every Eye See and Every Ear Hear.
About a week ago me and my good friend Colton were having coffee at our local Barnes and Nobles book store. I tend to appreciate sitting with him and having coffee because of his brilliant mind, he always knows the right questions to ask and is constantly challenging me in my faith whenever I am in his company. On this specific night we decided to walk through the christian life section of the store, I often enjoy looking through the Islamic and new age sections as well, religions and beliefs are very intriguing to me. I desire knowing why people believe what they believe, it’s always fascinating and eye opening.
As we looked through different books an idea occurred to me. There is so many different ideas, different concepts and beliefs surrounded by this lifestyle of Christianity. There are people like David Platt who are convicted to share with others the call of sacrifice that Christians so desperately need to realize. There are people like Joel Osteen who open the eyes of millions and show them that God wants to prosper us as well. Trinitarian authors such as Baxter Kruger, William P Young, and Frank Viola who base the church off the beautiful community of the trinity. There are preachers such as D.A Carson, John Piper and the Gospel Coalition who focus primarily on the sovereignty of God. There are the pastors like Bill Johnson and Kris Vallotton who focus on the gifts of the spirit. There are authors like Rob Bell who like to reveal a more poetic side to Christianity and others like Donald Miller who write about God in a story telling charm through his non religious novels.
As I thought about all these authors with their different ideas of God it occurred to me that God cannot be boxed with small ideas, yet all of them together become something more. The gospel is bigger than any of us realize. Christianity is a large portrait that hasn’t fully been painted yet. No author is fully correct and no pastor is fully truthful but I think the closest a christian can be to fully living out the Christian life is not being close minded. Test everything by scripture but don’t rule out others because they do not agree with every little thing you do. A lot of people have amazing things to say but are judged much too quickly.
Each christian is a living stone that makes up God’s eternal dwelling place, each brings something unique that God has given them. When I walk through all the shelves of ideas and revelations I wonder how many wars and fights have been caused, how many family’s torn apart and friendships ruined over a small disagreement. When will people start admitting that they don’t know it all and that we can all, as living stones, make up Gods house together as we serve him and each other in perfect unity. Christianity is bigger than we realize.
Let every eye see and every ear hear.
”The kingdom of God is inside you and all around you. Not a mansion of wood and stone.”
As of late I have been engrossed into a spiral of theological ideas and theories that come with this desire to search for truth which has, in turn, ruptured my soul. I could critique and criticize other authors and their beliefs, I could debate on the side of Arminius or Calvinist, Methodist or Puritan, reformed or catholic, I could bring my Universal Atonement notion’s into this picture, I could force in my views on organic church, organized church, and so on…But I refuse to do such things. This blog has, in the past, been used for my outlet, as a muse, as a means of poetically story telling my life onto a computer screen for others to join with me in rediscovering the wondrous and overwhelming love of Christ. I never want to make this a place of debate and judgment but instead a place of inspiration. So that is where I will start, with inspiration.
A few days ago my Mom sent me a video on youtube. It was an episode of “Oprah Winfrey” in which featured a man named Nick Vujicic who had no arms or legs. He was born with this abnormality and struggled with it growing up. During the episode Oprah shows an inspiring clip of how far he has come with a change of mindset. The clip showed that at the age of ten he was ready to commit suicide and that he was harassed as a teenage for his disorder. Oprah then asks a very thought provoking question, she asks “What happened to you that you were able to take all of the things that happened to you in your life, that the rest of the world considers very bad, and make a conscious decision to be exalted by it and turn it into something good?”
Nick’s answer shocked me. He responds with an illustration. Sitting in the crowd Nick hops off of his seat and jumps to the nearest set of stairs near the stage while directing the camera man to follow him. standing at the bottom of the stairs he says “The chemistry - I was born without arms and legs. The chemistry I could not change in my life. I know that God didn’t give me this pain, but what the enemy tried to use for bad God turned into good. (Nick then jumps up one step on the set of stairs.) We are wonderfully and fearfully made, and until you can understand that we are wonderfully and fearfully made from God you will always be trapped and chained and you will always be stopped. But when you have the incredible power of faith in action nothing will ever hold you back. You are beautiful just the way you are. I always thought for me ‘I’m never going to get married, what connection could I possibly have with someone else?’ but you know what? All things work together for the good of those who love him (Nick takes another step up the stairs, although they are more like jumps because his short legs prevent him from reaching that high). I had parents who were my heroes. They always told me ‘You can either be angry about what you don’t have or thankful for what you do have. Do your best and God will do the rest.’ Because I gave my life to my lord Jesus Christ (he takes his last step, at this point tears are running down my cheeks) I knew I could be unstoppable.” Nick walks up to Oprah on the stage.
This to me is a beautiful picture of how Jesus Christ can change a life. How one man who appeared to have no hope, showed the world who he put his hope in. That is Christianity to me, hope for the hopeless. That in itself is the first half of my inspiration in life, the salvation of any who call upon Jesus Christ. Anyone, no matter how hopeless, lost, or confused can receive this everlasting joy that he offers. If you knock it will be opened, if you seek you will find.
The second half of this blog post is dedicated to the other half of my inspiration. Above I portrayed the first half of my inspiration, Jesus Christ who is the salvation of anyone who calls upon his name. The second half of my inspiration is his church, his bride, and his body. Now when I write about this church a lot of you have images flying through your mind of cathedrals, hypocrites, traditions, and judgment. All of those attributes have nothing to do with this church I write about, in fact Christ’s church is the complete opposite. There is a people, a people that span across the entire globe that love others more than themselves, they are humble, they are selfless, they are full of joy, they are zealous, they would die for what they believe, they are Christ on earth today. These people aren’t of a specific race or denomination but instead they are their own race and species. They have been made new and died to their old selves. They are not seen everywhere and if you know one I encourage you to interview them on their case for Christ. These people are my second inspiration, for they are the body of Christ. They are God’s Representative’s here on earth. I want to take a second to apologize to you for anyone who has misrepresented the body and I can guarantee you if they were not portraying the character of Jesus Christ then they were not portraying his body. These people are the one’s who are responsible for engulfing me in this adventure, in this quest for truth, in this peace of mind. They are responsible for pushing me into the uncomfortable path of life and teaching me to rely on the holy spirit, our comforter, to guide me.
I encourage everyone who reads this to ask questions, investigate, and dive into the Bible and human history. To seek a new point of view that will bring you closer to God.
To the non-believers: Find your inspiration and find something to express yourself with, to pour your life into. I encourage you to find a local church of believers and ask them questions, if you find they do not accept you for who you are then leave and find somewhere else, those who do such things misrepresent Christ. Of course if you are intentionally entering a local church without the desire to revise and improve then there is no point in entering anyway. Learn to dream and learn that, with those dreams, they may finish as unfulfilled dreams, but the legacy of your life with live onto others around you.
To the Christians and religious people: You’re not right about everything, you think you know God and who He is but he is so much bigger than your meager boxes you place him in. We, as the church, will never understand all of God and that’s okay. That is why He has given us the gift of faith. Remember who you are representing, you are the body of Jesus Christ today on earth. Be kind to others, and love them like Christ has loved you.
May we all learn to love each other and become inspired by something that is greater than ourselves. May we, as the church, learn to become united no matter what we believe and learn the beauty in the salvation of all men.
I would like to end this blog post with lyrics of a song by a famous metal band called “Black Veil Brides” called “Lost it all”. To me it speaks from the perspective of almost every human being in the world who feels lost and alone and is looking for answers. Be hopeful. Just like Nick chose Christ you also have the same opportunity. Put your hope in something else. I also love these lyrics because it leaves you without the notion or conclusion that everything turns out okay, it leaves you with a moment, a moment once you have fallen and lost your way, that allows you to take a moment to think about why you fell, so in turn you can get back up. Everyone needs moments like this, to re-evaluate, revise, and rethink your life. I suppose in some way or other we should all be inspired to fall, because without the fall there can never be a rise, without the death there can never be the Resurrection. I encourage you to do so.
“Cause I lost it all
Dead and broken
My back’s against the wall
Cut me open
I’m just trying to breathe
Just trying to figure it out
because i built these walls
to watch them crumbling down,
I believe that we all fall down sometimes
Can’t you see that we all fall down sometimes?”
Let every eye see and every ear hear.
~What is your inspiration? What dreams do you have for your future? Share some of them in the comment section below.~