Thursday, February 9, 2012

Don't leave it up to a leper!

Anybody know a critic? Dumb question right? Everybody knows that one guy or maybe you are THAT guy? A critic is someone who too readily makes captious, trivial, or harsh judgments; a faultfinder. The key component are the words "too readily." Before seeing the end result, you arrive at an "end" opinion. Before anyone rolls their eyes and says "oh boy", this is a not a rant on justifying any carnality on my part, I am rather addressing being a critic of the supernatural. A perfect example is found in II Kings 7.
Syria has besieged Samaria and caused a great famine! Notice, the enemy "besieged" Samaria because he could not attack Samaria. Syria had failed miserably at trying to attack head-on God's people so he just choked the life out of them. He surrounded them and made his presence felt. As a result, the people shut off the gates, closed the doors, shut the windows and the end result was a famine of epic proportions. This is the same enemy that was stricken with blindness just one chapter before and was led like a puppy on a string to the SAME city, Samaria. The same pathetic, powerless, God-less enemy was now starving out God's people because of pressure. They couldn't defeat them head on so they just put the squeeze on them. Just because they had bigger "visible" numbers, more "stuff", and a made a great visible presentation out in the field, God's people were intimidated and closed ranks!
The end result of shutting the gates of the city is always famine. Oh sure, you can get by for a little while but it isn't long until donkey's heads are selling for 80 shekels of silver and your paying to snack on dove dung! Not exactly a healthy diet for God's people! This is what happen when we focus on self-preservation and "closing ranks!" Some may say, "well, we have closed the gates to keep the enemy out!" Well guess what, those same gates are where provision comes in!!
Keep the gates closed long enough and the children start dying off, or worse yet, they are eaten by their own mothers! It's a sad day when a mother is looking to feed off her children rather than feed her children. That's what happens when the gates stay closed! That is the result of famine! Are we really getting it? We have too many closed gates! I want to be careful in trying to keep so much of the enemy out, that I keep fresh provision from coming in!
Truth be told, the enemy is scared to death of us! Correction, he is scared to death of those who do not see with carnal eyes! The same enemy was able to intimidate the servant of Elisha in II Kings 6 because he was looking with carnal eyes. How many have left the city with white flag in tow, asked for a Syrian sword and changed citizenship because of what they saw with carnal eyes! The decision was made "too readily."
Sadly, it took some lepers to do what a leader should have done. Don't leave it up to a leper. Four lepers just looked at each other and said, "well, if we sit here we are going to die!" As a matter of fact, they didn't even want to go in the city! They were locked out of a place they didn't even want to go in. Now that's funny to me! It's a sad day when lepers don't even want to come in our city because all they see is famine!! So four incomplete, imperfect, issue-riddled, leperous men decided to head where the enemy was; out in the field. They knew where provision was! While all the perfect, dignified and "chosen" people were starving themselves on the inside, four lepers just started walking. I can just hear them now "what have we got to lose boys.......I'm nervous but at least I'm walking.......I just couldn't sit there any longer!"
The amazing thing is when the lepers arrived at the enemy's camp, they were already gone!! I don't know how long they were gone, I just know they were gone!! God allowed the enemy to hear what was there all along in the spirit, "the sound of chariots and horses and a great army." God didn't manufacture that sound, according to II Kings 6:17, the carnal servant got a glimpse of that army. Sadly, the enemy heard what the people in the city should have been seeing and hearing all along. The provision was just sitting in empty tents while the "city" dwellers were cowering in fear.
When is the light going to click on that if we just continue to sit we will die just like the common leper. I know that most think "self preservation" is the key to salvation but it's actually the answer to famine! Interestingly enough, the first response to the word of the Lord was a critic who doubted that God would provide (II Kings 7:2). Elisha just said, "Ok, mister carnal critic, you doubt the work of God, you'll see it happen but you won't partake in it!! (Magee's translation) Sadly, this guy had been locked in the city for so long that he forgot what it was like to be victorious. The carnal critic thought the answer was to kill the prophet. Kill the man of God! Let's just make a truce with the enemy. Let's join them. Ask them if they will share some of their provision. They seem to have more to offer. We must be careful when we become critical of the miraculous because we may see it happen but we won't get to partake in it. That same critic was trampled in the gate when the blessing started flowing back into the city. When you don't know if your coming or going, that is probably when you will get trampled! I want to be in tune with what the spirit is saying because I don't want to just see it happen but I want to partake!!
I don't think it's coincidence that we are referenced by Jesus in Matt 5:14 as a "city that is set on a hill." I dont know about you guys, but I am tired of just being a card-carrying city dweller. Punching my city-dweller key card every day, making sure the gate closes firmly behind me! I believe in the city, I love the city, I'm proud of the city God has placed me in, but I want to open the gates and get out in the field! Let's not leave it up to lepers to do the leaders job! Better yet, don't be critical when lepers start reaping! They are doing nothing more than getting out in the field and plundering unguarded tents! They are just doing what we should have been doing all along! Don't leave it up to a leper!

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Back to the Future

2012? Really? I never thought I'd live to see this day! Wasn't this thing supposed to be over in 1988 when some guy wrote that book "88 Reasons Why the Lord Will Return in 1988" (this was one consecrated 12 year old, let me tell you). Then it was all supposed to be over in 1991 with the first Gulf War (this was also a very strong spiritual season in my life, I might add). Who could forget about Y2K? The worldwide computer and satellite infrastructure was supposed to implode and the world, as we knew it, would be over. Okay, maybe that's an exaggeration, but it's pretty close!

Regardless, I'm glad that 2012 is here. A new day, a new season, a fresh start has begun in so many ways. Sadly, many are still milling around in 2011 or beyond. The best way I can describe this is to relate what happened to our dear friend, Marty McFly. In 1985, the mild-mannered Marty encountered the new invention of his close friend, Dr. Emmett Brown, or "Doc" for short. Doc invented a time machine made out of a DeLorean sports car that could travel through time instantaneously once it reached a speed of 88 mph. Sadly, on the night of the big breakthrough, Doc is gunned down by Libyan nationalists and Marty is warped into 1955 while trying to escape the Libyans himself. Marty was thrust right into the middle of the past. He actually encountered his parents "pre-Marty" and had a chance to experience a completely different time and era, otherwise unknown to him. Pretty cool right? Well, this grand story was actually a fictional tale, which was made into a Motion Picture, entitled "Back to the Future."

Think about it! Wouldn't it be cool to travel back in time? Revisit old mistakes and "fix" things that went wrong. Marty soon discovered that what sounded good in principal could actually have tragic consequences when attempted to be corrected by human hands. The premise of this fictional tale was Marty realized the longer he stayed in the past, the more treacherous the future became. It jeopardized his very existence. The apex of this tale was when Marty realized he needed to leave the past and get "Back to the Future." The more he toiled, labored and lived in the past, the more costly and uncertain his future became. It's been said many times that some things work "only in the movies." Well, living in the past doesn't even work in the movies.

Sadly, we all have a little Marty in us from time to time. Toiling, laboring, and even living in the past. We'd love to welcome the new and inviting season of 2012 if we could just un-hitch this 50lb. gorilla off our back called "2011." It's been said countless times that the windshield in a car is infinitely larger than the rearview mirror for a reason. You cannot successfully and/or safely move forward with your focus on what's behind. Without a forward focus, you are a danger to not only yourself but to everyone you encounter on the road of life. I don't think Paul ever owned a car but he understood this truth when he penned the words "...I focus on this one thing: Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead, I press on to reach the end of the race and receive the heavenly prize for which God, through Christ Jesus, is calling us (Phil 3:13-14 NLT).

Paul knew a little about letting go of the past. I mean seriously, here is the largest persecutor "of" the church who is now the greatest preacher "in" the church. You think you struggle with overcoming your past? Paul knew it would be impossible to reach forward if he was constantly looking behind. After his encounter on the road to Damascus and his experience of receiving the Holy Ghost recorded in Acts 9, Paul could confidently pen the words "…if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new." (2 Cor 5:17) Paul discovered that he didn't have to revisit the past because it had passed away.

So, on this New Year, the best thing each of us could do is have a funeral for 2011. Let it "pass away." Yes, if we are honest, we can admit we made mistakes and did some things we regret in 2011. Don't re-live it. Accept the consequences. Learn from it. Repent. Put it under the blood of Jesus Christ. Move forward. Resist the urge to fire up the spiritual DeLorean and hastily speed back to the past. Let's get "Back to the Future" and die out to the old and live the new. Just ask Marty. Your very existence depends on it.