Oil and Fire

While praying at the court a couple weeks ago, I had a vision.  In it, I saw several angels lowering down a giant pink water balloon from Heaven.  It was slightly wider than the distance between the two flag poles.  When it was lowered down from the sky, the edges of the balloon touched the eagles on the tops of the poles, popping the balloon.  Inside the balloon was not water, but glistening oil, pure and untarnished.  It completely soaked the court building, filling every crevice, saturating the stone.  Then, like long wispy tufts of light, streaks of fire began to rain down.  Slowly but brilliantly, the oil caught fire.  Fire was also coming from the bodies of us who were praying, and a kind of reverse fire waterfall was created as the oil dripping down the steps was lit up from the base.  The fire didn’t burn high and scorching, but it remained, everything lit with the continually burning flame.

Here is the revelation I received from the picture: oil is the key to sustained revival.  The oil represents intimacy and relationship with God.  Oil is a gift from God that we can bring into every situation.  We have received it.  We are the ones who have treasured it, and we have the authority to expose it to the atmosphere around us.

People talk about being “on fire for God.”  But what happens when we burn out?  Oil, intimacy, is what keeps us burning.  In the place of prayer, worship and encounter, sometimes we can literally reach up and catch the fire of God.  But how do we carry that fire into the dark?  We must light our oil lamps and carry the light of God into those places.  That fire will shine brightly, and if the oil keeps pouring in, the fire will burn for eternity.

“Command the people of Israel to bring you pure oil from beaten olives for the lamp, that a light may be kept burning regularly.”–Leviticus 24:2

Discover Eternity

It’s a good thing to have a life vision.  It gives you a direction and a purpose for living.  Recently, I did a little self-evaluation and landed on this principle: I exist to love, believe and discover eternity through love and writing.  Honestly, that’s the closest thing to a life vision I’ve ever had.  I read that little phrase, and my heart burns inside of me.  This fact, this reality, that God exists and wants to get to know me, is what I live and breathe to experience.

This is my ministry of love: when I love my neighbor by feeding or clothing him or giving him a place to stay, I am actually loving my King.  If I deny these things to anyone in need, I am denying the One who has blessed me with everything I could ever need.  I will continue to stretch my heart bigger and grow in love.  Love creates a bigger capacity not only for my relationships with people but ultimately for my relationship with my Father!

We are constantly moving forward in time, and there’s nothing we can do to stop it.  Each step taken moves us somewhere else, to a different moment, one we’ve never lived before.  The world has told us to worry about dwindling resources, but in reality, time is just a dimension, one that can mean a whole lot less when seen from a transcendent perspective.  So we go higher and deeper into the Love of God, and we find stillness, peace and rest there.  In that place, fear melts away, confidence reigns and joy is unlimited.

We have all the time in the world.  We have eternity.  So then, let’s not waste a moment.

“But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.”–Matthew 6:33

Burnout and Sedition

“Compare burnout and sedition.”  “Acts 8:9, 10-11.” (framed by a rectangular copper plate)

Here is the text of Acts 8:9-11 from the ESV:

But there was a man named Simon, who had previously practiced magic in the city and amazed the people of Samaria, saying that he himself was somebody great. They all paid attention to him, from the least to the greatest, saying, “This man is the power of God that is called Great.” And they paid attention to him because for a long time he had amazed them with his magic.

These three verses introduce the Biblical figure known as Simon the Sorcerer.  Now, this man, who once was quite popular, believed Philip when he preached about the Kingdom of God and the name of Jesus Christ.  Simon was baptized, and as a beautiful side-effect, he lost his demonic power.

But one thing he didn’t lose was his pride.  You see, he was amazed at the miracles that Philip did and even more amazed when Peter and John gave the Holy Spirit to him by the laying on of their hands.  So what did Simon do?  He offered the Apostles money for their God-given gift.  Bad idea.  This act served to reveal what was in his heart: the “gall of bitterness” and the “bond of iniquity.”

What is burnout?  The typical psychological term means simply this: exhaustion of physical or emotional strength or motivation, usually as a result of prolonged stress or frustration. [Side note: is burnout ever a holy state of being?  On one hand, blessed are the poor in spirit.  But joy and peace are fruits of the Holy Spirit.  Seems to me that the outcome of Christian work should be joy, not exhaustion.  What do you think?]  There is another definition which I find very interesting: a person showing the effects of drug abuse.  This one reminds me of drunkenness with the cares of this world.

Sedition is this: incitement of discontent or rebellion against a government.  It’s many times subversive but always active.  It’s intent is to overthrow authority. [Another side note: in this new covenant, is sedition ever Godly?  I am not led to believe so.]

So, how do these two concepts connect?  The first thing I thought of was that burnout may be an unintentional form of sedition.  As a Christian, allowing yourself to get burned out or disillusioned (and staying there) literally subverts the authority of God in your sphere of influence.  The only way I believe God would allow burnout would be to lead us to repentance, and ultimately to the joy, peace, and comfort found in Him.

Where I think these two really connect, though, is in this aforementioned sin of pride.  Look at the example of Simon.  In the eyes of the world, he looked washed up and burned out, and I’m sure he felt that.  He’d lost his power, because he couldn’t deny that Jesus was much better than anything he had experienced before.  The wonders he saw and love he felt were very real to him, but in his heart, he still longed for greatness.  Now, the longing for greatness isn’t a bad thing, but Simon pridefully wanted it on his own terms, not God’s.  Simon remembered the amazement in the eyes of the people he used to impress, and he wanted to see it again.

What was Simon’s answer to his longing?  Buy some power.  On first glance, his request seems quite innocent.  What could be wrong with a more wide-spread filling of the Holy Spirit, right?  But his heart was not right before God.  The Apostles were the most powerful human beings on the planet, and Simon desperately wanted to be as powerful as they, exalting himself to a place of global honor.

Sadly, Simon the Sorcerer’s name is now known worldwide, but not because he was honorable.  He’s an example of what not to do.  Jesus told us to be humble.  When we humbly serve the ones around us, God promises to exalt us in due time.  We must continue to guard our hearts with His righteousness or risk burning out, always exalting our Heavenly Father to His proper place of complete authority in our lives.

“And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”–Philippians 4:7

Tree of Life

Oh, well.  Today has been a great Sunday.  I got to listen to an amazing sermon about the spiritual discipline of reading the Bible… twice!  I got to play lead guitar on a keyboard, lose a few games of basketball and ping pong, and learn about theology!  I have so much joy right now; I love it.

Today I just want to share a little vision I had on Friday night during a time of prophesy at Victory Weekend.  While praying, I saw a picture of the Tree of Life in the Garden.  It was a small tree with red fruit on it, sitting in the middle of a grassy clearing.  Surrounding the clearing was a sunny orchard, and beyond that, towering mountains.  Suddenly, the Tree started growing exponentially.  Instead of a small fruit tree, it was now a giant oak tree covered in small white flowers.  But it didn’t stop there.  It kept growing, and finally grew into a huge mushroom cloud.

This is where I came in.  Miles away from the tree, I stood.  I was in a dry, grey desert: a land that looked like it may have been a river or sea in the past, but was now cracked and lifeless, dried up.  Anyway, as I stood there, I saw the mushroom cloud growing, its shock-wave of power coming towards me.  It overcame me, and I disintegrated, dry chunks of grey flesh breaking off of my body before dissolving into dust.  Before going blank, I had one glimpse of the land beyond the destructive power of the Tree of Life, the land within the cloud: it was the garden, the original picture I’d seen, the fruit tree and the orchard.  But I could not experience it, because I was dead, killed by my impact with the power of Life.

This was not the end of the vision.  Thank God it was not the end.  Rewind back to when I first showed myself in the vision.  I stood in awe of the nuclear shock-wave coming towards me.  However, this time was different.  This time, someone else ran up behind me, grabbed me, spun me around and used his body as a human shield to protect me.  As the shock-wave swept by, I was not harmed, but the man was killed.  I watched as stripes, red stripes were ripped from his back.  Blood spurting out, flesh being torn away, he was clam, embracing me in his strong arms.  He didn’t let me go until the judgement had past by.  As I looked around, I found myself in the beautiful garden, alive.

That man was Jesus Christ.  He is my Savior.  Only through Him can I get to heaven.  Purity and Life cannot mix with sin.  By all rights, I should be dead.  I deserve the judgement from Holy God.  I thank you, Jesus, for saving me from annihilation.  Why would God take the punishment for my sin?  How does that even make sense?  The answer is this: God is Love.  Love is who He is.  And no man has a greater love than this: that he lay down his life for his friends.  He loves us.  That’s why he saves us.  That is why he took our punishment on that cross and endured the pain of death.  Oh, how He loves you.  He died so you can live, by resting in His arms.  Live!  Please, live!  Don’t let His death be for nothing.  Live…

“God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.” -2 Corinthians 5:21

River of Life

Last Tuesday during communion, I had a vision.  It was a little weird, so bear with me.  In fact, I had no idea what it meant until I started reading through the Bible.  Here it is:

There was a giant screwdriver in the sky.  It started spinning like a drill.  While spinning, it fell to the earth and dug through the ground.  The ground was actually the ceiling above me.  I was in a completely orange space with no walls or boundaries.  I was standing there, and when the screwdriver fell down, I looked up.  It drilled into my right eye and blinded it.  The screwdriver then started falling gently into my left hand, but it shrunk down and disappeared before it got there.  I then fell to my knees, blood showering from my right eye.

Okay, so weird, right?  I thought so too, and I had absolutely no idea what it meant until Thursday morning during my devotions.  This was the last verse I read during my out-loud reading time:

“Woe to the worthless shepherd,
       who deserts the flock!
       May the sword strike his arm and his right eye!
       May his arm be completely withered,
       his right eye totally blinded!”
-Zechariah 11:17

Well, that whole “right eye being blinded” thing immediately made me remember my vision.  The arm being whithered wasn’t there, bit that still got me thinking: am I a worthless shepherd?  Was God somehow warning me to be a good leader or else?  Maybe it was a second chance from God.  Maybe because my arm was spared, I wasn’t a completely bad leader and could still redeem myself.  All these thoughts were going through my head until today.

Today , while cleaning out my wallet, I discovered an old note I’d been thinking about.  It had been given to me at Victory Weekend last semester, and I hadn’t looked at it since.  On it were three prophecies given to me that weekend.  I realized that I hadn’t even read the verses that had been given to me yet, so I did that right away.  The first verse on the note was Ezekiel 34.  This is the gist of that chapter: God was removing the shepherds of his people because they were doing a terrible job.  This is the powerful part, though: in their place, God Himself was coming to shepherd His people.  God would be the one to judge them.  God would shower them with blessing.  God would provide safety.  God would save them.

Here’s what I’ve gotten from all of this revelation so far: I suck as a leader, and God is the most awesome leader ever.  That’s an encouraging thought, because if you didn’t know, God lives in me!  I have the Holy Spirit to lead me and guide my steps.  All I have to do is let go of myself.  That’s really hard sometimes, but I just need to remember the difference between God and me.  I am nothing.  He is everything.  It just puts things in perspective, you know?  In closing, I give you my other verse from Victory Weekend:

“Once, having been asked by the Pharisees when the kingdom of God would come, Jesus replied, ‘The kingdom of God does not come with your careful observation, nor will people say, “Here it is,” or “There it is,” because the kingdom of God is within you.'”
Luke 17:20-21

The Holy Spirit is Awesome

I love when God speaks to me.  It really is an amazing experience.  I’d just like to encourage all of you, that when God has given you a word for someone, to speak it.  I know I’ve regretted not speaking up in the past.  I truly believe that when God gives you a supernatural dream or vision, it’s for a good reason.  If you know that that reason is to share it with others, then not sharing is disobedience to God (sin).

If you’re not willing to step out and obey God, then who will?  Sometimes God will move on to somebody else; maybe the blessing you were meant to receive will be given to another.  It’s happened to me a few times before.  One time, I had a vision at a men’s camping trip last Spring during a time of prayer.  In it, I saw a heap of glowing charcoal, and one lone coal was separated from the rest.  The problem with the single coal is that it was quickly cooling off, while the rest of the coals were keeping each other hot.  I knew that God was speaking to all of us praying there, that we all needed to stay connected to God and each other, for the purpose of staying strong in the faith.  I really knew that it was a word from the Lord, but I was too scared to say anything.  Long story short, a few minutes later, our campus pastor Ross Middleton shared a vision he had seen.  It was the exact same one as mine!  I guess someone really needed to hear it.  It made me sad that I was too afraid to step out in faith, and failed God in the process.

Thankfully, God has been changing me.  Now I find it much easier to share things like that.  I’m hoping that the Holy Spirit can change me even more, enough to be completely free of fear! 

Hopefully my testimony has been a sufficient warning against you staying silent.  Please, readers, don’t ever be afraid to speak the truth.  It doesn’t matter how uncomfortable you are; you need to obey God.  I’ll leave you with these words of Jesus:

“I am the vine; you are the branches.  If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.” -John 15:5