Tag: heaven

Tents

20131028-010354.jpg“For we know that when this earthly tent we live in is taken down (that is, when we die and leave this earthly body), we will have a house in heaven, an eternal body made for us by God himself and not by human hands. We grow weary in our present bodies, and we long to put on our heavenly bodies like new clothing.” (2 Corinthians 5:1-2 NLT)

Paul compared our bodies to a tent. I find that very interesting.

A tent is used as temporary housing. While some folks use their tent quite often, it is still just a temporary shelter.

So is our body. Temporary shelter for our eternal being; our spirit and soul. With the help of our earthly tent, we can live on this temporary planet (a new one has been ordered!). But only for a while.

Tents come in all sorts of sizes, shapes, and colors. Regardless, though, the purpose of each tent is the same as the next.

A tent may be real handsome, or very pretty. And yes, there may be a tent one might even refer to as “sexy”.

But it’s still a tent!

Some occupants use their tent to manipulate or exploit others. They feel powerful as they flaunt their tent in ways that tempt and seduce others. Rarely, though, do those people open the flaps of their tent; they’re kept closed so others can’t see the real person inside. (But God sees and knows)

There are some who allow their tents to dictate what they will do, say, go, eat; their tent rules them, instead of the other way around. The tent was never designed to be the master, but the servant.

Think about how much attention we give to our tent! We spend billions of dollars a year feeding, grooming, clothing, exercising, and pampering our tent. Some people don’t even realize there’s anything or anyone living in the tent!

And consider how many magazines and websites there are solely devoted to pictures and videos of “adult” tents; and how many men and women have become addicted to viewing pictures of tents.

Tents don’t last forever.

Tents were never created to be worshiped. It’s true that we should take care of our tent, so it can last as long as possible. But we best not forget about the tent’s occupant…

…because some day the tent’s color will fade, it will lose its shape and its appeal. It will become old and wore out, eventually coming apart at the seams.

And all too quickly that beautiful, sexy tent will not be able to give shelter to its occupant any longer. The tent will be buried, but the occupant will move on.

For eternity.

So how are you using your tent?

New and Better

20130729-215327.jpgHave you ever had a tremendous need for a miracle? And, just at the right time, God provided the miracle?

Have you had times when you felt like you were drowning in the sea of sorrow and grief, only to have a pathway of joy open up before your very eyes?

What about the times you knew God wasn’t anywhere near you, but then discovered He never left you?

Do you recall crying out to God, “Let God arise, and His enemies be scattered”, and then look around to find not an enemy in sight?

Have you considered the power involved when the Lord created the Heavens and the Earth? And what about His ability to change someone’s nature? Someone like you…

Who is like our God?

And, in spite of all He’s ever done, He always has something NEW in store for those who will trust Him. Something beyond their imagination, experience, and reason. Something NEW and BETTER!

“I am the Lord , who opened a way through the waters, making a dry path through the sea. I called forth the mighty army of Egypt with all its chariots and horses. I drew them beneath the waves, and they drowned, their lives snuffed out like a smoldering candlewick.

“But forget all that – it is nothing compared to what I am going to do. For I am about to do something new. See, I have already begun! Do you not see it? I will make a pathway through the wilderness. I will create rivers in the dry wasteland.” (Isaiah 43:16-19 NLT)

The old Heavens and Earth will be no match for the NEW! “Look! I am creating new heavens and a new earth, and no one will even think about the old ones anymore.” (Isaiah 65:17 NLT)

Just because it looked as though God exhausted His power when He met your needs last month, don’t underestimate His riches in glory. He will always have more than enough for you, and anyone else. He is able to do…you fill in the blank; and He’ll do it BETTER than before.

“…God, who is able, through his mighty power at work within us, to accomplish infinitely more than we might ask or think.” (Ephesians 3:20 NLT)

You and I can be joyful in this truth: everything He’s done before is nothing compared to what He’s going to do! Old wilderness ways are changed to NEW pathways. Dry, barren wastelands are recreated into NEW, fertile lands; complete with NEW rivers of God’s refreshing waters. Loneliness is changed into NEW, life-giving fellowship and the old nature is completely refashioned into a BRAND NEW creation in Christ!

Even when it’s time for a Christian to die physically, Paul said, “to depart and be with Christ” is FAR BETTER! (Philippians 1:23) See? Even our “end” is really a NEW and BETTER beginning!

Never give up on God’s ability. Never quit reminding yourself that God WANTS to do NEW and BETTER things in your life!

And, He does all things well!

An Open Letter To Worship Teams (part 2)

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“Now after the death of Joshua it came to pass that the children of Israel asked the Lord, saying, “Who shall be first to go up for us against the Canaanites to fight against them?” And the Lord said, “Judah shall go up. Indeed I have delivered the land into his hand.” So Judah said to Simeon his brother, “Come up with me to my allotted territory, that we may fight against the Canaanites; and I will likewise go with you to your allotted territory.” And Simeon went with him. Then Judah went up, and the Lord delivered the Canaanites and the Perizzites into their hand; and they killed ten thousand men at Bezek. “Judges 1:1-4 NKJV

In the above passage of scripture, Judah was told to lead the battle against the Canaanites and the Perizzites. Most people understand the name, “Judah”, means “praise”. That’s one reason the idea of “praise” marching against the enemy is taught. But some people read this passage and believe God always sends His worship team into battle first. God has done such things a few times, but “few” doesn’t equal always.

The words Canaanite and Perizzite have meaning as well. Canaanite is “to humiliate” or “vanquish”. Perizzite means “open” or “unwalled”. In other words, “praise” was to go up against a formidable foe that had the reputation of humiliating and vanquishing all of their enemies. And if that wasn’t enough, the other half of the enemy combatants were so powerful they needed no walls of protection for their cities. They could defend their territory without anything but their ability to fight.

Worship can be, and is at times, used by the Lord to rout an enemy from a situation, a people group, a city, etc. An example can be seen in 2 Chronicles 20, in the story of King Jehoshaphat.

But for worship and praise to have Heaven’s Anointing upon it, it must have God’s Word, God’s direction, behind it.

If you are part of a worship team, you are in a critical, front line ministry. Notice I said worship team. I’m not talking about a group of singers and musicians who perform for their congregation during the “worship” part of a church service. I’m referring to a group of singers and musicians who, along with their leader, actually have their heart fixed on worshipping God, whether there’s music or not, whether the song is fast or slow. They worship God. And others follow their lead, right into Heaven’s Throne Room.

As I said, leading worship and ministering on a worship team is front line ministry. Worship, coupled with intercession (the two go hand in hand), has the ability to connect Heaven and Earth. God moves through the conduit of worship and touches those in need, those who are bound by afflictions or addictions, and brings deliverance. But one of the things a worship team must understand is, the Lord doesn’t necessarily use a packaged or planned worship set like we’d believe; for there’s nothing magical, or spiritual, about an arrangement of songs.

I keep track of worship “sets” I use. I do that for three reasons. One, in case someone would ask about a certain song used on a particular day or service. Two, to file a report with CCLI regarding song usage. And three, for my own reference in planning future worship times. These “sets” have been blessed by God, at times, to “bring Heaven down”. People have received from the Lord marvelously as our worship team sang and played the worship set.

However what worked before doesn’t guarantee future victories. Repeating a worship set doesn’t mean the automatic rerun of a previous “gully washer.”

Judah had an idea. I believe it was an idea we as worshippers need to adapt. Judah (praise) said to brother Simeon, “will you please help me?” Simeon means “hearing”. The picture behind the word isn’t just the physical act of hearing. It means “to hear with the intent of obeying”.

So “praise” said to “hearing, with the intent of obeying”, “please help me defeat these enemies who have the ability and the reputation of defeating all who rise against them.” “Hearing” agreed, and TOGETHER they cleared their land of the enemy.

When we as worship team members and leaders stand in front of a congregation, singing songs should be one of the last things we’re concerned with. Singing praises alone doesn’t automatically open windows for victory. We must keep our heart and mind sensitive to God’s voice, and to the leader’s heart (and the pastor’s).

When we unite praise and obedience to God’s voice we will see God’s Kingdom come and His will done in our world.

When I “plan” the songs for worship, I try and sense the Lord’s desire for the gathering. I’ll pick the songs, the keys, arrange the order, and submit the finished set to the pastor or sound personnel. But the songs aren’t set in stone. We may do some, all, or none of them.

What we will do, with the Spirit’s help, is join Judah and Simeon together – praising, listening, and obeying God.

THAT is when the enemy is routed and people are set free. THAT is when Heaven touches Earth. THAT is when Jesus is glorified!

It’s great to prepare worship sets. It’s great to practice vocal parts, instrumentals, tags, etc. It’s important to rehearse and “perform” the best we can.

But when it’s time to worship, don’t forget to listen to the Chief Musician’s heart. He just may have something other than singing planned.

There may be a Canaanite or Perrizite to drive out.

“Drop Kick Me Jesus…”

“Drop kick me Jesus…” A cute little song by Bobby Bare.

God NEVER intended for His people to barely make it through this life and into the next, without a testimony of His power and victory evident in their life. “For whom He foreknew, He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the firstborn among many brethren. Moreover whom He predestined, these He also called; whom He called, these He also justified; and whom He justified, these He also glorified.”(Romans 8:29-30 NKJV)

The word “predestined” can toss you around if you’re not careful. It does not mean God has already decided who will and who won’t be saved. God’s not willing any perish or go to an eternal hell. Rather He IS willing, and made it possible, for ALL men to be saved and come to the knowledge of the truth. So ANYONE and EVERYONE can become a new creation in Christ and spend now and forever abiding in His Presence.

“…He also predestined…” in the above passage could be paraphrased in this manner: “God knows who will come to Him through His Son, Jesus. And all who come to Him are destined to be changed into His likeness, His image. It’s an established plan. God won’t settle for any less.”

God desired to have a family, created in His image, after His likeness. Adam started out well, but ended falling way short. But Jesus, the Second Adam, brought mankind back to the place where fellowship with God is possible. Possible, through faith in Jesus. And our “destiny”, in Jesus, is to be changed into His exact likeness, His image; acting like Him in all ways, thought, word, and deed. As the Son is, so shall we be (see John 17 and Hebrews 1:1-3). “Pre” means “before” so think of it this way: God planned our destiny in Jesus before it was possible. He “prepaid” for our eternal hope and future.

I believe it’s time for us to see ourselves the way God sees us in Christ. Time for us to understand “this life” on earth is only separated from our “next life” by our earthly body. What God has, or hasn’t, accomplished in us while on earth will continue. “He who began a good work in you is faithful to complete it.” 

So, enjoy the cute song. Especially if you like country music. But look into God’s Word and discover what He has already accomplished for you in Christ. And don’t be satisfied with barely making it through life. 

You are not a football. 

“The Times They Are A-Changin”

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The Times They Are A-Changin’
Lyrics by Bob Dylan

Come gather ’round people
Wherever you roam
And admit that the waters
Around you have grown
And accept it that soon
You’ll be drenched to the bone.
If your time to you
Is worth savin’
Then you better start swimmin’
Or you’ll sink like a stone
For the times they are a-changin’.

Come writers and critics
Who prophesize with your pen
And keep your eyes wide
The chance won’t come again
And don’t speak too soon
For the wheel’s still in spin
And there’s no tellin’ who
That it’s namin’.
For the loser now
Will be later to win
For the times they are a-changin’.

Come senators, congressmen
Please heed the call
Don’t stand in the doorway
Don’t block up the hall
For he that gets hurt
Will be he who has stalled
There’s a battle outside
And it is ragin’.
It’ll soon shake your windows
And rattle your walls
For the times they are a-changin’.

Come mothers and fathers
Throughout the land
And don’t criticize
What you can’t understand
Your sons and your daughters
Are beyond your command
Your old road is
Rapidly agin’.
Please get out of the new one
If you can’t lend your hand
For the times they are a-changin’.

The line it is drawn
The curse it is cast
The slow one now
Will later be fast
As the present now
Will later be past
The order is
Rapidly fadin’.
And the first one now
Will later be last
For the times they are a-changin

Words and music by Bob Dylan

The times they are a-changing. That’s a word The Lord keeps speaking to my heart. Changing times. Dividing times. Light getting brighter and darkness becoming darker. Gray areas turning lighter or darker, but not staying the same. The middle ground is diminishing. In or out. Up or down. Right or wrong. Heaven or Hell.

The times they are a-changing. Changing, becoming, turning to the final chapter of the Redemption Story. The Story of love and fellowship between God and man. The Story of how fellowship was broken, but love never was. The Story of love giving itself to redeem and restore the broken fellowship. God’s eternal purposes finally completed.

The times aren’t changing just because God wants to do something new. After all, it’s not new to Him. No, He’s just bringing things to a close, so He can then open all of Heaven and Eternity for His Redeemed and Restored Family.

Imagine

20121208-171231.jpg My wife and I watched a special on TV the other evening. It was the group RAIN, the Beatles tribute band, on IPTV. I really enjoyed watching the group and listening to the songs. What a talented bunch of guys!

Toward the end they played the song “Imagine”. As a teen, I loved it. Before I met Jesus in 1975, I even agreed with the song’s premise. But something’s happened to my “imagination” over the last 37 years. It hasn’t become narrowed, boxed in, cramped, or anything like that. In fact, my imagination has expanded to where I can imagine a world far greater than this one. I can picture in my mind’s eye a time when a lion will lie down with a lamb. I can fathom a heaven so grand it will take eternity to explore it all. And I can dream, in living color, people from every kindred, race, and tribe surrounding the Throne of God in endless worship!

What I am still having a hard time comprehending though is the love of God. How could it be that the God of the Ages, the Creator, Father God, would love me enough to give His best for me at my worst? How could He love me without placing conditions on that love? Oh, sure, there are conditions to entering heaven, to walking with God, etc. But He loved me, and even forgave me, in and through Christ, while I was rotten to the core!

You may say I’m a dreamer. But I’m not the only one. There’s a great big family of dreamers in the earth and heaven. Their imagination is seeded with God’s Word. They imagine a world where all things are possible to those who believe. They dream of a place where God does exceedingly, abundantly above our imagination.

As for the love of God, I’m still working on that. But this I’ve learned; just because I can’t figure it out doesn’t make it untrue, or not as real. So in the meantime, I’ll keep on imaging, dreaming, and experiencing The One Who is beyond comprehension. I’ll thank Him for the privilege of knowing Him as much as I do, and keep searching to know Him more.

And I’ll do it for all eternity!

Imagine that.

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