THE MYSTERY OF 23: GOD SPEAKS, AGAIN!
And so, It begins, AGAIN.
Not in the dead of night this time, but in the middle of a warm summer day while taking a walk with my entire family near the base of Lake Erie on July 16, 2017.
I was on sabbatical from pastoring Vanguard for the past 20 years.
I was in Cleveland, Ohio at a Christian and Missionary Alliance Camp called Beulah Beach, where A.W. Tozer was ordained near there in 1923.
It was a beautiful sunny summer day and my family had just arrived at the camp.
The grass and trees were green, the air was warm, the birds were chirping, and the waves of Lake Erie were calling our names.
We checked into our quaint “Leave it to Beaver” neighborhood accommodations and went for a walk to get our bearings and recover from the drive we had just made from Charlottesville, Virginia where we had been visiting with my wife’s sister and family.
There was no warning.
And even though I have had a similar experience before, I didn’t see this one coming, AGAIN.
Remember when Joseph in the book of Genesis had a dream and told it to his brothers? And then he comes back and says to them, “I dreamed another dream.”
That is what this is.
I saw another vision.
I could have lived the rest of my life and not dreamed another dream or seen another vision from the Lord.
I would have been more than okay with that.
The first one span 17 years of my life and wreaked havoc on me and my psyche in ways I can’t explain even to this day. The darkness of the nights and the length of the days consumed me for years. The shame of not having been able to help the first pastor and the fear of not representing God correctly weighed so heavy upon my soul that at times I despaired of even life itself. You can read more about it in the book, THE MYSTERY OF 23: GOD SPEAKS.
See, what I have learned from these years of experiencing God’s voice is…when God speaks, it changes everything about you, your life, and everyone’s perception of you.
I once heard someone say on a television show,
“If you say, ‘I talk to God’, well that’s normal. But if you say, ‘God talks back’ that’s when everyone thinks you’re a kook.”
Thankfully I have already experienced this before.
It’s not my first rodeo.
But I will say that after 23 years of God speaking visions and dreams to me as a good Southern Baptist Pastor, if you need God to “make sense” all the time to follow Him, I’m no help to you. But if you want God to use your life and give you the freedom to see into the spiritual world and ask Him to give you the courage to live your life on earth as it already is in heaven, then this is the book for you.
Now lest you think I am putting hearing God’s voice above or independent of reading His Word, let me tell you up front I am in my 90th reading of the Bible. THERE IS NO SUBSTITUTE FOR GOD’S WORD OR READING HIS WORD. IT IS THROUGH HIS WORD THAT HE PRIMARILY SPEAKS AND IT IS THROUGH HIS WORD WE MUST CONFIRM EVERYTHING WE BELIEVE HE SAYS TO US.
In the pages that WILL EVENTUALLY follow I am going to unpack probably the hardest three years of my life, and not only my life, but my family’s life as well. And not only my family’s life, but the church I pastor had to go through some excruciating things as well. And unlike the first go around, I let more people in on the process, not the details of the vision, but the reality that I was in the midst of one, again.
Like Gideon’s army, God is not looking for a massive army to fight His battles.
Like Esther’s leadership, God is not looking for the “easy way out for you.”
Like Daniel’s visions, God is not creating plush surroundings for you to “feel special to obey and do His will.”
Like Mary’s Immaculate Conception, God is not worried about your accommodations or others perceptions of His calling on your life and whether “they approve”.
Like Jesus’ ministry, God is not looking for disciples who “will be the greatest” but who will obey His plan, His way, in His time, and for His glory.
God is looking for people who will allow their lives not only to be interrupted by His calling but inconvenienced, consumed, transformed, and turned upside down for all their lives for all of eternity’s sake for Jesus glory and not their own.
God is asking you and me to make our WHOLE lives count for HIM.
See, what we do for God MATTERS. And in the end, it is ALL that matters.
You may not know this, but God is looking for YOU!
Since the fall of humanity through Adam and Eve’s disobedience, God has been looking for humanity to bring them back to Himself and restore what we or others have each destroyed in us.
He has called you to come out of the shadows of sin and darkness. He has called you to let go of the fears of “what is this going to cost me?” and He is asking you to take up the sword of the Spirit, the Belt of Truth, and the Breast Plate of Righteousness through His finished work of Christ Jesus on the cross.
The life of faith is not about making sense of the confusing things God asks you to do while living through the confusing things that happen in your life, though you will see these things and they will unfold as life naturally and sometimes supernaturally does.
The life of faith is about a clarion call that God gives to each of us to follow Him. No, it may not be through a vision or a dream, it may be through a conversation, a relationship, a desire, an image, a disappointment, a reminder, a sorrow, a failure or a supernatural Damascus road moment…regardless of how it comes to you…test it…but don’t waste too much time ignoring it or feeling like an idiot in the middle of it. Accept it and step into it as God’s charge and calling on your life.
Don’t be ashamed to be who God has created you to be.
It took me almost 46 years to settle that statement in my heart.
Don’t let your mind, your friends, your family, or your own personal dreams and ambitions get in the way of you being EVERYTHING God intended for your life to be.
Like Jesus, many will reject you, but like Jesus, the Father will bring to you those who won’t.
Yes, the journey will feel long at times. Yes, the days will be long and sometimes the nights will be even longer, but rest assured the years are short and God holds both in the palm of His hand. The journey you are on is not a mistake, oh yes, it is riddled with human error, yours, mine, and others. But don’t be ashamed to step forward even in the darkest doubt and the deepest insecurity of your life and say with full assurance…
“God, use my life.”
The Bible tells us in 2 Chronicles 16:9…
“For the eyes of the Lord run to and fro throughout the whole earth, to give strong support to those whose heart is blameless[a] toward him.
Would you like the God of the universe…
…who formed you, created you, breathed life into you, sent His Son, Jesus, to die for you, arose for you, returned to Heaven and sent His Holy Spirit to live inside of you, and is now seated at the right hand of the Father praying for you…
To now UNLEASH you to be everything He created you and His church to be?
Do you want to HEAR God speak to you?
If so, then you have to be willing to say to the Lord like Isaiah, “Here am I Lord, SEND ME!”
See, when God speaks, WE MOVE.
It is His words that create our motion.
And that motion based on His voice confirmed in His Word is what He calls faith.
It is this faith that is pleasing to God and what moves Him to input to us His righteousness, meaning, His presence. The more we obey, the more He releases to us His essence and presence in us, the more we become…
HOLY like Him.
May your story be transformed by the blood of Jesus Christ so that others may experience Him through you.
Jesus doesn’t need you and I, He WANTS us.
Like little Samuel as a boy, we say to the Lord now and forever more…
“Speak Lord (day or night) your servants are LISTENING…
…And not only listening but ready and willing to OBEY.
Fasten your seatbelts and get ready for the ride of your life…