Devotionals, Letters

Father & Sons Development Co.

I don’t know if I’ve ever told you that I’m adopted. I was adopted by my Father at a very young age. I love my Father. He’s the best Dad in the world.

Did I tell you I’m working in the family business? The day I was adopted, I started working with my Dad. My Dad’s awesome like that.

When I was really little, he’d carry me in his arms as he walked through the factory floor. He’d stop and visit with machinists and foremen and janitors, pretty much everybody

Once when I was a bit older, I was building stuff with Legos™ in his office, while he worked on something. His desk overlooked the factory floor, and he saw something that caught his attention.

“Son,” he says. “You know Mr. Davidson? Tall guy. Red shirt. Big mustache?”

“I know him, Pop.”

“Son, would you go find Mr. Davidson and ask him to come up to see me? I’ve got something I want him to see.” And I toddled down the stairs to find Mr. Davidson. Soon he and Dad were talking seriously about something on Dad’s desk, and I added a new wheel to the thing I was building.

There was a time after I’d discovered books! Books are wonderful things! I was sitting in a chair in Dad’s office, sounding out a word, when he interrupted me. “Son, Miz Thompson works on the far side of the factory. Would you find her and give her this note?” He handed me the note, and I ran off to find Sally Thompson. She had a wonderful smile, and she used it on me sometimes.

I never did go to normal school. I would say that Dad homeschooled me, except it mostly happened in his office. Is there such a thing as officeschool? We had the best times together in his factory office.

He’d given me an arithmetic assignment that made me think pretty hard. If Mr. Jacobi needs to build this many boxes by the end of the month, how many does he need to build every day? Eventually I puzzled it out right (Dad showed me where I’d forgotten to carry the one, the first time), and he smiled this great big smile! “Son, would you please take this down to Marty Jacobi – he should be in the lunchroom right now – and show him how well you did this.” He wrote his initials on my math paper.

I found Marty. He gave me a cookie while he looked at my work. I munched, and then he smiled, and said, “You’ve got a real smart Dad, you know!” He was right, of course, but I already knew that!

One day he was reading letters. He had a lot of letters, and he read ’em all. One of them made him smile extra big, and he called me to himself. “Son, would you please go tell Bob Davidson that he’s got a new worker coming in the morning. He’ll want to put Cindy on the Quality Control team right away.” I delivered the message. Bob winked at me and nodded. “Sure thing!” he said.

One Thursday morning, Dad pushed my math books out of the way again, and set down his computer in their place. “Son, do you see this? What do you think that means?” and he pointed to a detail on the screen. This was a math test test, I felt sure. I was ready.

“That looks like trouble, Dad. Not big trouble, but trouble. Especially for the QC department. Um… Is that right?”

“That’s right, Son,” and he printed that page. “Would you explain this to Cindy in QC? And maybe talk with her about what to do with it, and bring me your favorite few suggestions.” Later, he picked one of our ideas, and implemented it. That was cool.

So I wasn’t altogether surprised when he set his computer on my desk some time later. He didn’t point to anything, but asked me, “What do you see here, Son?” I studied it a bit, and talked with him about the three or four things I saw. “What about this one?” “Hmm. I saw that, but didn’t think it was all that important,” I answered. “It’s all important, Son. Especially when this is trending,” and he pointed to the first detail I’d seen. “What happens when these happen on the same day?” I hadn’t thought of that! We talked about it and how to help the folks in the factory when that happened. I learn so much from my Dad.

And a few months later, those two things did happen on the same day. “Well, it happened, Dad.” “Yep, it surely did. Well, you know what to do.” I picked up my notes from our planning, headed down the stairs, and called the supervisors together. I explained the problem, and listened to their concerns. One of the guys had already figured it out, so I let him describe the adjustments we needed, filling in details when he needed help. We had the solution in place before the problem was big enough to slow production down.

Eventually we got to the point where I was really running the factory. Dad spent most of his time talking to individuals, or scheduling contractors for the expansion, and he spent a lot of time training some of the other kids, too. If I ran into a problem, he was always right there to help, and there wasn’t anything that he couldn’t figure out.

Figuring things out comes easy when you’re omniscient like my Dad is.

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Prophecy

Father & Sons Development Co.

I don’t know if I’ve ever told you that I’m adopted. I was adopted by my Father at a very young age. I love my Father. He’s the best Dad in the world.

Did I tell you I’m working in the family business? The day I was adopted, I started working with my Dad. My Dad’s awesome like that.

When I was really little, he’d carry me in his arms as he walked through the factory floor. He’d stop and visit with machinists and foremen and janitors, pretty much everybody

Once when I was a bit older, I was building stuff with Legos™ in his office, while he worked on something. His desk overlooked the factory floor, and he saw something that caught his attention.

“Son,” he says. “You know Mr. Davidson? Tall guy. Red shirt. Big mustache?”

“I know him, Pop.”

“Son, would you go find Mr. Davidson and ask him to come up to see me? I’ve got something I want him to see.” And I toddled down the stairs to find Mr. Davidson. Soon he and Dad were talking seriously about something on Dad’s desk, and I added a new wheel to the thing I was building.

There was a time after I’d discovered books! Books are wonderful things! I was sitting in a chair in Dad’s office, sounding out a word, when he interrupted me. “Son, Miz Thompson works on the far side of the factory. Would you find her and give her this note?” He handed me the note, and I ran off to find Sally Thompson. She had a wonderful smile, and she used it on me sometimes.

I never did go to normal school. I would say that Dad homeschooled me, except it mostly happened in his office. Is there such a thing as officeschool? We had the best times together in his factory office.

He’d given me an arithmetic assignment that made me think pretty hard. If Mr. Jacobi needs to build this many boxes by the end of the month, how many does he need to build every day? Eventually I puzzled it out right (Dad showed me where I’d forgotten to carry the one, the first time), and he smiled this great big smile! “Son, would you please take this down to Marty Jacobi – he should be in the lunchroom right now – and show him how well you did this.” He wrote his initials on my math paper.

I found Marty. He gave me a cookie while he looked at my work. I munched, and then he smiled, and said, “You’ve got a real smart Dad, you know!” He was right, of course, but I already knew that!

One day he was reading letters. He had a lot of letters, and he read ’em all. One of them made him smile extra big, and he called me to himself. “Son, would you please go tell Bob Davidson that he’s got a new worker coming in the morning. He’ll want to put Cindy on the Quality Control team right away.” I delivered the message. Bob winked at me and nodded. “Sure thing!” he said.

One Thursday morning, Dad pushed my math books out of the way again, and set down his computer in their place. “Son, do you see this? What do you think that means?” and he pointed to a detail on the screen. This was a math test test, I felt sure. I was ready.

“That looks like trouble, Dad. Not big trouble, but trouble. Especially for the QC department. Um… Is that right?”

“That’s right, Son,” and he printed that page. “Would you explain this to Cindy in QC? And maybe talk with her about what to do with it, and bring me your favorite few suggestions.” Later, he picked one of our ideas, and implemented it. That was cool.

So I wasn’t altogether surprised when he set his computer on my desk some time later. He didn’t point to anything, but asked me, “What do you see here, Son?” I studied it a bit, and talked with him about the three or four things I saw. “What about this one?” “Hmm. I saw that, but didn’t think it was all that important,” I answered. “It’s all important, Son. Especially when this is trending,” and he pointed to the first detail I’d seen. “What happens when these happen on the same day?” I hadn’t thought of that! We talked about it and how to help the folks in the factory when that happened. I learn so much from my Dad.

And a few months later, those two things did happen on the same day. “Well, it happened, Dad.” “Yep, it surely did. Well, you know what to do.” I picked up my notes from our planning, headed down the stairs, and called the supervisors together. I explained the problem, and listened to their concerns. One of the guys had already figured it out, so I let him describe the adjustments we needed, filling in details when he needed help. We had the solution in place before the problem was big enough to slow production down.

Eventually we got to the point where I was really running the factory. Dad spent most of his time talking to individuals, or scheduling contractors for the expansion, and he spent a lot of time training some of the other kids, too. If I ran into a problem, he was always right there to help, and there wasn’t anything that he couldn’t figure out.

Figuring things out comes easy when you’re omniscient like my Dad is.

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Prophecy

My Times with God

Sometimes it was in the morning, if I was able to drag myself out of bed. Mornings were my preference, and before too long, this confirmed night owl was up before the sunrise. Sometimes it happened before retiring for the night.

More often, I just grabbed an hour or so wherever I could. I remember many times in an abandoned church building near where I lived, at my dining room table, in an empty classroom or lunchroom or conference room or a table at the library. Often times I parked for a while in a rest stop, or some wide spot in the road between here and there.
The first thing after I sat down was usually a sigh, and I’d just sit there for a few minutes. Then I’d open my knapsack or reach to my bookshelf and pull out three things: my Bible, my journal, and a mechanical pencil.
But before I opened any of them, we’d talk. “Hi Dad. Love you! I’m looking forward to what you’re going to show me today. Help me to see, eh? Help me to recognize what you’re showing me, please. Thanks. You’re awesome!” And I’d open both books at the ribbon.
In my Bible, I was working my way through one of the books, section by section. Most translations have headings dividing up the text: I’d tackle no more than the space from one heading to the next.
In my journal, I listed the date and the passage, and then I pushed that book out of my way, and I devoted my attention to the Bible.
I read the passage through. You know the way you read a text book assignment that you don’t love? Yeah, this was not that. I read it slowly enough that my attention didn’t drift. If I could, I’d read it quietly out loud.
During this time, I turned my imagination loose to walk among these people, hear the sounds, smell the smells of the story I read. If I was in an epistle, I’d listen for the apostle’s tone of voice, and I’d imagine how the people it was addressed to felt as they read it. If I felt like it, I’d look at a few cross references, but I guarded against bunny trails.
But more than anything, I waited for the light to go on. Invariably, one verse would catch my attention, as if my Father were pointing to it, and saying, “Look here, son.” Sometimes it was just a word, or a phrase. Maybe it was a repeated word. Or an idea that never actually made it into words.
If it didn’t happen the first time, I’d go back and read it again. I’d often underline the verbs, using a set of markings I developed for myself after years of this. If there was a list of things or a progression, I’d number the points. Sometimes I circled adjectives and adverbs. Sometimes I’d ask questions, of the text, of Father, about what was going on. But everything was just keeping me involved with the text until my attention was drawn to one part.
That signal was like arriving at the X on a treasure map. It meant “Dig here.” That was the real assignment.
The first part of digging was to write – legibly – the verse that stuck out to me into my journal. And then I go to work to interact with that verse, that passage, to dig for treasure in that spot. I figure that the investment of an hour was just about right, and good success would probably show evidence of at least one full page, more or less, of reaction in my journal.
So I looked closely. My personal Bible always has cross references, but is never a “Study Bible.” I don’t want to hear what other people think. I want to discover what God thinks, and see if I can make my own thinking line up with that.
My first step was pretty often to “center myself” and to dig into that little nudge itself, the nudge that said, “Dig here.” Often, that would give me some direction for my searching or meditation.
I used different tools to dig. Sometimes I would literally outline the sentences, like in English class in high school. Sometimes, I chased down the cross references, both those in the margins and especially the ones in my own heart.
But sometimes, it was just meditating on my one verse, reflecting it, asking questions of it, that brought the reward.
For example, when reading through Mark 8, I was caught by verse 31: “And he began to teach them that the Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders and the chief priests and the scribes and be killed, and after three days rise again.
This time, I found myself outlining what I saw in that verse:
1)      What are the “many things” he would suffer? (I listed them, cross referenced to Matthew 20:19 for details.)
2)      Who rejected him? (I listed them.)
3)      He would be killed: he doesn’t say by whom.
4)      He’d rise again after 3 days.
And as I was writing the outline, I realized I was thinking most about the fact that Jesus had never discussed this before. He was only free to talk about it after verse 29: after they realized that he was, in fact, the Messiah they were looking for.
I wrote for a while on what it must have been like, knowing that this terrible stuff was coming, and not having anybody – not a single person on the planet – that he could talk to about it.
I meditated for a while on how he himself learned of it, since he had been born as a normal baby (cf Philippians 2 and Hebrews 4:14,15) and he had to learn all this stuff in his own times with Father. I reflected on what that first conversation might have been like, when Father talked about what was going to happen.
And I realized that Jesus got his direction from – more or less – from the same thing that I was doing just now.
And I was done. Either I was out of time, or “the anointing lifted,” or something else. And that’s the point: I’m not looking to write a pretty article from this (though that came from it once or twice). I’m not looking for some big and powerful conclusion.
The big conclusion isn’t the point of this. The point is that Father and I have time together in his Word. Years later, I realized that he was training me – through these times – to hear his voice, and that it was remarkably effective. But even that training wasn’t the point. The point was our time together, our relationship.
Now, why have I just told you all this? It’s because of something I heard in our time together: I had the sense that some folks are pretty well grounded in hearing Father’s voice, but others are still scratching their heads and wondering how we do that?
Father showed me that during our times together, he was teaching me how to hear him, how to hear his voice and how to recognize his voice. And it seemed to me that he was suggesting that someone might want to follow the trail that he and I cleared together.
If you want to learn how to hear Father’s voice well, this is one way to learn. It has the additional benefit of giving you a solid grounding in the Bible.
If you decide to follow this trail, you have my blessing, and more important, Father’s. May you have as much fun in your time with Father on this trail as I have! I know he’ll enjoy his time with you!

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Prophecy

The OTHER Benefit of the New Covenant

Our history with God is a history of covenants. Covenants between God and mankind. This is how the mighty Creator King and the human species relate: through a covenant.
We do it too. We’re up-front about it with marriage covenants, and more subtle about other covenants. There is a powerful – unwritten – parenting covenant: violate that one and society takes your children away from you.
Now hold still, I’m going to talk directly about covenant for a minute. Necessarily, I will engage in willful oversimplification of some details in order to illustrate my point: the actual situation is much more complicated than this simple explanation.
A covenant is a “promise to engage in or refrain from a specified action.” Covenants are how people agree to relate to each other. Covenant is how God relates to humanity.
Noah had a covenant. Abraham had a covenant. David had a covenant. But the Big One was the Mosaic Covenant, often called The Old Covenant.
The Old Covenant was kind of a failure in before it ever got going, of course. God proposed a covenant to the people of Israel that had a lot of the elements of our New Covenant in it. Before there even were the Ten Commandments, God offered Israela covenant where every single person is a priest, every single person can come to God for himself or herself:
“Now therefore, if you will indeed obey My voice and keep My covenant, then you shall be a special treasure to Me above all people; for all the earth is Mine. ‘And you shall be to Me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.’ These are the words which you shall speak to the children of Israel.” (Exodus 19:6-7)
“Kingdom of priests and a holy nation”? Twice in the book of Revelation, we’re described as “kings and priests unto our God” (1:6 & 5:10). God was offering that relationship to the Israelites four thousand years ago? (Can you imagine what the world would be like if we hadn’t had the last four thousand years of legalistic bondage? But I digress.)
But the people who were offered this intimate “everybody is a priest” relationship with God reject that offer in the very next chapter.
“Then they said to Moses, “You speak with us, and we will hear; but let not God speak with us, lest we die.” (Exodus 20:19)
The people had rejected a “kingdom of priests” covenant, and propose a covenant that requires a priesthood, and is based on obedience. Neither the Levitical priesthood, nor an obey-the-rules covenant, was God’s idea!
And so the “everybody is a priest” covenant was put aside, and was replaced with a covenant based on the people’s obedience. Any covenant that’s based on obeying will necessarily have consequences for disobedience. Thus this is a covenant about blessings for obedience, and punishment (sometimes called “curses”) for disobeying.
Deuteronomy 28 functions as kind of a summary: You’ll be blessed when you obey, and you’ll be cursed (or punished) if you disobey. Verses 1 through 14 outline the blessings. The rest of the chapter talks about the punishment for disobeying, and it’s God that is charged with that punishment.
Frankly, that was a lousy covenant, it’s a poor substitute for God’s first proposal, but it’s a covenant! Even that poor replacement was better than no relationship at all between God and man!
We remember that the terms and conditions of the Old Covenant (which we call “The Law”) were intended to constrain the behavior of the humans in this covenant relationship. But we tend to forget that the Old Covenant constrained the behavior of BOTH parties of the Covenant: God had chosen to bind himself to the Old Covenant as well.’
So when we read in Deuteronomy 28 about “If you disobey, you’ll be punished.” Guess who the punisher has to be. Yeah, that’s God. He has bound himself to this busted-up covenant, because it’s better than no covenant – no relationship – whatsoever. Moreover, this was the only covenant that the people would agree to, so this was the covenant that he bound himself to.
And this covenant, proposed by fearful men, required that God punish (or “curse”) the people that he loves so very much, every time they disobey. (Seriously, go read Deuteronomy 29!)
Now let’s remember that there was a third party loose on the Earth, who was not a party to the covenant between God and man. Lucifer had already demonstrated his eagerness to accuse God at every opportunity (see Genesis 3:4-5). And he’s up to his old tricks here as well.
So every time the people disobeyed (and that happened so very often!) and God was required by the people’s busted-up covenant to punish them, Lucifer steps up to the microphone and declares, “Look how mean God is! Look how bloodthirsty he is! Look how angry God is!” completely ignoring the fact that God is merely complying with the conditions of the covenant that mankind offered him.
That’s a hot mess. I’ve oversimplified the story in this short article, but it’s easy to see the mess that the Old Covenant is: seriously, the only one who benefited from that debacle was Lucifer, and that’s not actually what we’re aiming for.
Now skip forward until Jesus is sitting in the Upper Room, where Jesus is offering – for the second time – a covenant of an “everybody is a priest” relationship between man and God: “For this is My blood of the new covenant, which is shed for many for the remission of sins.” (Matthew 26:28, Mark 14:24, Luke 22:20, 2 Corinthians 11:25.) But this time, the representatives (the twelve) accept the offer.
I still marvel at that cup, that biscuit. With that token meal, God removes us from the Old Covenant and makes us participants instead in the New Covenant (Hebrews 8:13 makes it clear: “In that He says, “A new covenant,” He has made the first obsolete.”). And this is a covenant whose sole commandment (John 13:34) is to love each other.
What an amazing relief that is: in a single moment, these guys are plucked from a covenant of “If you obey, I’ll bless you; if you disobey, I’ll punish you!” and dropped into a Covenant of Love.
The seminal New Covenant verse, John 3:16, says it beautifully: “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.” And if that wasn’t clear enough, verse 17 clarifies that the New Covenant is not about punishment: “For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved.” What a relief that is!
All that is amazing, spectacular, and otherwise completely awesome.
But it is also only half of the story. The Old Covenant is made obsolete, and we are released from its bondage, but we were not the only ones held in bondage by it.
With the passing of the Old Covenant, God Himself is no longer constrained by the Law to provide blessings when people obey, like treats for a dog that sits when you tell him. More importantly, God is no longer constrained by the Law to bring punishment, curses, judgment on the people that he so desperately loves.
When the Old Covenant was replaced by the New Covenant, humanity could give a great, corporate sigh of relief. We’re no longer under the law, but now we’re under grace, under love.

But the greater relief may not be ours. In the New Covenant, God is now free to love us with all that is in his heart, as he has longed to do since the day he said, “Let us make man in our own image.” (Genesis 1:26). God is now free from the Old Covenant, and he’s more excited about it than we are. 
We are free. But more important, God Himself is free! 
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Prophecy

Changing Our Focus in Corporate Worship

May I be blunt?

Some among us need to be less concerned about singing the lyrics on the screen, and more concerned about giving voice to the words welling up from inside them.

I was taking a young lady shopping, and she needed to visit some beauty supply shops. You may not suspect this, but I don’t often find myself looking forward to reasons to visit beauty supply shops. So I parked outside and took a nap.

In my five-minute nap, I dreamed, and God met me and spoke to me in the dream. He talked about some people among the Body whom He called “psalmists.” Yeah, I know it’s not the normal way we use the word.

I’m sure there are other definitions, but in this dream, a psalmist was someone whose worship is best when they’re using their own words, not when they’re singing words – even “anointed” words – written by other people with other histories with God.

I could hear Father’s concern for his children who are this kind of psalmist. It seemed to me that this wasn’t something that we were ready to hear before, but now it’s time, and he said,

“Some among us need to be less concerned about singing the lyrics on the screen, and more concerned about giving voice to the words welling up from inside them.”

May I encourage you: worship with the words that are in YOUR heart. If the words on the screen communicate what’s in your heart, great! Use the words on the screen.

But if those words don’t reflect your heart, then don’t use them. Don’t make a scene, but use the words that speak for your heart, even if they’re words that nobody else is using.

Worship isn’t about conformity, is it? It’s about connecting with – it’s about exalting – the King of Heaven with our whole heart, soul and strength. Use the words that do that for you.

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Prophecy

Considering Covenants

The Bible makes it abundantly clear. We are no longer bound by the Old Covenant.
For example, in Hebrews 8, the author argues forcefully and at length that the Old Covenant has been replaced.
“In that He says, “A new covenant,” He has made the first obsolete. Now what is becoming obsolete and growing old is ready to vanish away.” (Hebrews 8:13)
Let’s be clear about it: the Old Covenant was rendered obsolete when Jesus established the New Covenant in his blood, not long before he spilled that blood for us. And within a generation, the last vestiges of that Old Covenant were gone, not one stone left upon another, all records destroyed, so that there could never be another temple.
The reason that the Old Covenant is gone is because it was obsolete. It was a bloody failure anyway. God originally offered the family of Jacob (also known as Israel) a covenant  a “kingdom of priests and a holy nation”” covenant (Exodus 19:6), but Israel turned down that covenant.
Instead, they proposed the priesthood covenant (Exodus 20:19), which they could not keep even long enough for Moses to walk down the mountain with the terms of the covenant they had insisted on. And the rest of the Old Testament serves as a dreary testimony to how thoroughly and how deeply Israelcontinued to fail in covenant with Father.
There’s a lesson here, I think: Humankind does not excel at keeping divine covenants.
But when we are in Christ, and Christ is in covenant with Father, then I don’t have to rely on MY capacity for perfection to keep my covenant intact. And since the New Covenant is not with a nation, then I don’t have to rely on YOUR capacity for perfection to keep MY covenant intact.
It is the amazing faithfulness of the amazing Son of God who keeps covenant on our behalf. And I am included in that covenant because I am in Him.
And while I made a conscious choice to be in Him, it is not my excellence at keeping that choice that keeps me in Him. Even while I am in Him, He is simultaneously in me, and he is indeed excellent at keeping me.

I choose to stay in Him, not because I signed some covenant agreement, and not because of the threat that he may not love me if I muff up.
I choose to stay in Him because He is the very best thing that’s ever happened to me, and because I am completely, madly, hopelessly in love. And you know what keeps me in love with Him? He is completely, madly, hopelessly in love with me!
Wow!
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Devotionals, Letters

True Confessions: It’s Not What You Think

I have a confession to make. I’ve been leading you astray. I’ve deceived you.

Let me explain.

I write, from time to time, about some of the interesting interactions that I’ve had with God, and about some of the interesting things I’ve discovered as I walk with him.

And that’s where the deception comes in.

I only write about the interesting stuff. I don’t write about the days and days of nothing in particular going on, because there’d be nothing to write.

Let me explain.

I’m a married man. More specifically, I’m a happily married man. Sometimes, Milady & I will spend the whole evening together in the same room, her reading, me writing, neither of us saying a thing. We’re just happy to be in each other’s presence. Seriously, I was in tears the other day, just thinking about growing old with her. It makes me really happy.

When I’m working in my garden, I can really often feel Father’s presence like that: quietly together. He’s taught me quite a lot there: how to transplant tiny seedlings, how to get more produce from a tiny garden, how to nurture the tender plants, and how, if I get the basics done well, the weeds won’t really be an issue.

I’m also a working man. And I gotta say that it’s not real often (though it does happen) that God speaks into the technical details of a project that I’m working on. And even when he does, I don’t write about it, because most of the story is about tweaky nerdly stuff that nobody outside my field is interested in. God showing me the right path to take a big bus through a crowded parking lot, or the best way to make these particular gears fit properly in a watch: this is not the stuff of interesting articles of faith and maturity.

But it is the stuff of real relationship with God.

I’m convinced that the best part of my relationship with God is not the amazing encounters or the awesome revelations or the impressive miracles. Yeah, those are fine, and I’ll not complain about them (this is a good place to say, “More Lord!” I think).

It’s like a good marriage: I love the times we get to go out to dinner, or where we host a barbecue for some friends, times of intimacy together. But the real strength of the marriage doesn’t come from those: it comes from the quiet, daily, almost ritual times together. We don’t have to talk about who’s turn it is to empty the dishwasher or take out the garbage or cook dinner, because we’re together.

And a love relationship with the Creator of the Universe is actually pretty similar: The fancy dinners are great, but quiet times of everyday life are where the real life & health come from.

So I apologize if I’ve left you with the impression that life in God is not all cool revelations and glorious highlights. Those happen, and they’re fun and all. But the day to day time together, not even really needing to form words: those are the places where the treasure’s found.

And those don’t make good stories to write about.

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Devotionals, Letters

The Wordless Prayer of Faith

It happened during a gathering in our home. We’d had dinner some time ago, finished the dishes together, and now we were gathered in the living room, with mugs of hot tea, and the warm glow of good friendship.
It seemed good to us and to the Holy Spirit to pray for individuals, for healing. We were all good friends, so there was much laughing and interaction while we prayed. That’s just who we were, and we didn’t feel the need to be different when we were with God.
We’d just finished praying for one person, and they got up from the “hot seat” (really a “hot hassock”: a place for them to sit in the middle of the group, so we could all see and all lay hands on if called for).
One of the women kind of hobbled to the center of the room and sat gently down on the hassock as soon as it was vacant. She announced that she’d hurt her back lifting something incorrectly, and needed it healed, please. We turned our attention to her, and asked God for his prayers for her; if Jesus only said what he heard Father saying, we figured that was a good model for us, so we waited for those prayers.
And we waited.
The silence went on for a while, and it became kind of awkward. The fact that it was silence was unusual: there wasn’t laughing or joking going on; people were listening for God’s prayers for our sister’s back.
And we waited. I asked a couple of the more prophetic people if they had anything, but they didn’t. This was unusual. So we waited.
Then, quietly, a teenager in the back of the room giggled. Yeah, I thought, this is rather odd: all these adult believers can’t even pray for one woman’s back. I can see why she’d laugh.
And her laughter continued. She tried, for a moment, to stifle it, but that never works, and it didn’t work this time. OK, so she’s laughing. What is God saying, for how to pray for this back?
But the laughing teenager was herself funny, and a couple more people glanced at her and chuckled. And they fought it, and they, too, were unsuccessful. And the laughter spread. And nobody knew why.
And soon, nobody was even trying to pray for the woman’s strained back; we were just laughing, loudly, uproariously. We didn’t know why we were laughing, but it was clearly not something we had the capacity to stop!
And after four or five minutes of unrestrained hilarity, the laughter slowly faded back out, ending as it began, with the happy teenager in the corner. Maybe five or ten minutes had passed.
And the woman who had sat down with the hurt back now stood up and stretched. “Aaaah.” she announced. “That’s much better. No more pain. Thanks guys.” And she walked, confidently, completely upright, out to the kitchen for a fresh cup of tea.
We looked at each other, shrugged our shoulders, chuckled again, and decided that we like hanging out with a sneaky God.

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Prophecy

Take Hold of Me

For this my people whom I have sought to do and to will and to do my good pleasure and have prepared a place of restoration upon these two generations. I’m about to make full proof of my word on your behalf that my glory might be seen in this nation.

This season do I declare unto you that I the Lord will bring forth full seed and harvest. I’m about to place my sickle in the field and reap forth abundance according to my word. My blessing and my provision do I pour out upon you as such a time as this that you might be partakers of the first fruits of my glory in this land at this time.

For I’ve called you unto me that you might be free from the snares of this world, that you might begin to commune with me and walk with me in the high places that I might speak unto you my joys, my mercies, my purposes, and my provisions.

Take hold of me just now for I am about to do this glorious and wondrous thing in your midst for I have taken away from you the reproach and I’ve taken away from you the stain of your transgressions and I’m causing you to stand righteous before me.

Take hold of me for I am about to lead you into a land that I have promised from the generations before this.

Take hold of me for I am about to bring you up into the high place that you might see my full provision.

Take hold of me and learn to know my voice, learn my touch for I will guide you in the days ahead. Though there be calamity in this land it shall not take hold of you if you will take hold of me. I’m causing you to be a declaration unto me, I’m causing you to be a proclamation unto me. I am causing you to stand as my army in the land that you will bring forth upon this nation full liberty and a habitation unto me.
 Take hold of me for the days to come, I will speak to you of wisdom and mercy.


Take hold of me for I’m about to take the scales of deception off your eyes that you might see my glory.

Take hold of me for I’m about to bring you into my household that you might have deep communion with me and me alone.

Take hold of me for I’m about to walk throughout the whole earth and show forth my glorious day of deliverance. I have called you to be an armor bearer unto me, I have placed upon you my provision and my protection, I have placed upon you my unction and my strength.

Take hold of me and learn of me and walk with me as I have called you. I’m about to cause a great trembling over the face of the earth, it is my hand doing this thing.

Take hold of me for I am your refuge.

Take hold of me for in my presence you will find your comfort and joy. In this time of tribulation that will come upon this land I will hide you in my habitation and you will tabernacle with me in the days ahead and we will have communion like you have never known before.

Take hold of me just now for I will take care of my own and I will cause my people to arise. I will cause my people to stand in this day of evil doing and they will surely stand without compromise and they will become my declaration. They will become my declaration of glory, my proclamation of majesty, and my instrument of praise.

Take hold of me just now for I’m about to reveal my glorious doings in this land.

Take hold of me this night and begin to dwell in my presence that I might preserve you, that I might restore you, that I might fulfill my word within your heart, that you might speak of my glory to all nations.

Take hold of me this night and I will cause you to walk in places you have not known.


From Brenda Maddox, delivered at Word of His Grace Church in Bothel, WA
Published on YouTube.com Apr 14, 2013          

Join in the conversation at https://www.facebook.com/northwestprophetic




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Prophecy

Take Hold of Me

For this my people whom I have sought to do and to will and to do my good pleasure and have prepared a place of restoration upon these two generations. I’m about to make full proof of my word on your behalf that my glory might be seen in this nation.

This season do I declare unto you that I the Lord will bring forth full seed and harvest. I’m about to place my sickle in the field and reap forth abundance according to my word. My blessing and my provision do I pour out upon you as such a time as this that you might be partakers of the first fruits of my glory in this land at this time.

For I’ve called you unto me that you might be free from the snares of this world, that you might begin to commune with me and walk with me in the high places that I might speak unto you my joys, my mercies, my purposes, and my provisions.

Take hold of me just now for I am about to do this glorious and wondrous thing in your midst for I have taken away from you the reproach and I’ve taken away from you the stain of your transgressions and I’m causing you to stand righteous before me.

Take hold of me for I am about to lead you into a land that I have promised from the generations before this.

Take hold of me for I am about to bring you up into the high place that you might see my full provision.

Take hold of me and learn to know my voice, learn my touch for I will guide you in the days ahead. Though there be calamity in this land it shall not take hold of you if you will take hold of me. I’m causing you to be a declaration unto me, I’m causing you to be a proclamation unto me. I am causing you to stand as my army in the land that you will bring forth upon this nation full liberty and a habitation unto me.
 Take hold of me for the days to come, I will speak to you of wisdom and mercy.


Take hold of me for I’m about to take the scales of deception off your eyes that you might see my glory.

Take hold of me for I’m about to bring you into my household that you might have deep communion with me and me alone.

Take hold of me for I’m about to walk throughout the whole earth and show forth my glorious day of deliverance. I have called you to be an armor bearer unto me, I have placed upon you my provision and my protection, I have placed upon you my unction and my strength.

Take hold of me and learn of me and walk with me as I have called you. I’m about to cause a great trembling over the face of the earth, it is my hand doing this thing.

Take hold of me for I am your refuge.

Take hold of me for in my presence you will find your comfort and joy. In this time of tribulation that will come upon this land I will hide you in my habitation and you will tabernacle with me in the days ahead and we will have communion like you have never known before.

Take hold of me just now for I will take care of my own and I will cause my people to arise. I will cause my people to stand in this day of evil doing and they will surely stand without compromise and they will become my declaration. They will become my declaration of glory, my proclamation of majesty, and my instrument of praise.

Take hold of me just now for I’m about to reveal my glorious doings in this land.

Take hold of me this night and begin to dwell in my presence that I might preserve you, that I might restore you, that I might fulfill my word within your heart, that you might speak of my glory to all nations.

Take hold of me this night and I will cause you to walk in places you have not known.


From Brenda Maddox, delivered at Word of His Grace Church in Bothel, WA
Published on YouTube.com Apr 14, 2013          

Join in the conversation at https://www.facebook.com/northwestprophetic




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Prophecy

Take Hold of Me

For this my people whom I have sought to do and to will and to do my good pleasure and have prepared a place of restoration upon these two generations. I’m about to make full proof of my word on your behalf that my glory might be seen in this nation.
This season do I declare unto you that I the Lord will bring forth full seed and harvest. I’m about to place my sickle in the field and reap forth abundance according to my word. My blessing and my provision do I pour out upon you as such a time as this that you might be partakers of the first fruits of my glory in this land at this time.
For I’ve called you unto me that you might be free from the snares of this world, that you might begin to commune with me and walk with me in the high places that I might speak unto you my joys, my mercies, my purposes, and my provisions.
Take hold of me just now for I am about to do this glorious and wondrous thing in your midst for I have taken away from you the reproach and I’ve taken away from you the stain of your transgressions and I’m causing you to stand righteous before me.
Take hold of me for I am about to lead you into a land that I have promised from the generations before this.
Take hold of me for I am about to bring you up into the high place that you might see my full provision.
Take hold of me and learn to know my voice, learn my touch for I will guide you in the days ahead. Though there be calamity in this land it shall not take hold of you if you will take hold of me. I’m causing you to be a declaration unto me, I’m causing you to be a proclamation unto me. I am causing you to stand as my army in the land that you will bring forth upon this nation full liberty and a habitation unto me.
 Take hold of me for the days to come, I will speak to you of wisdom and mercy.

Take hold of me for I’m about to take the scales of deception off your eyes that you might see my glory.
Take hold of me for I’m about to bring you into my household that you might have deep communion with me and me alone.
Take hold of me for I’m about to walk throughout the whole earth and show forth my glorious day of deliverance. I have called you to be an armor bearer unto me, I have placed upon you my provision and my protection, I have placed upon you my unction and my strength.
Take hold of me and learn of me and walk with me as I have called you. I’m about to cause a great trembling over the face of the earth, it is my hand doing this thing.
Take hold of me for I am your refuge.
Take hold of me for in my presence you will find your comfort and joy. In this time of tribulation that will come upon this land I will hide you in my habitation and you will tabernacle with me in the days ahead and we will have communion like you have never known before.
Take hold of me just now for I will take care of my own and I will cause my people to arise. I will cause my people to stand in this day of evil doing and they will surely stand without compromise and they will become my declaration. They will become my declaration of glory, my proclamation of majesty, and my instrument of praise.
Take hold of me just now for I’m about to reveal my glorious doings in this land.
Take hold of me this night and begin to dwell in my presence that I might preserve you, that I might restore you, that I might fulfill my word within your heart, that you might speak of my glory to all nations.
Take hold of me this night and I will cause you to walk in places you have not known.
From Brenda Maddox, delivered at Word of His Grace Church in Bothel, WA
Published on YouTube.com Apr 14, 2013          

Join in the conversation at https://www.facebook.com/northwestprophetic

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Devotionals, Letters

Some Experiences with Judgment in the Courts of Heaven

Some years ago, Jesus took me to a new place that I hadn’t expected: it was a tall, oak, judge’s bench. He took me around the back of the bench, and up the stairs behind it. But rather than sit down himself, he sat me in the great chair behind the bench, and when I sat, I was wearing black robes and I had a wooden gavel in my right hand.
I’ve learned to trust him in that place, and so I didn’t resist him, though my sitting in that chair was more of a novelty that first time than it was about actually judging anything. Since then, I’ve begun to learn some things about judgment, how important it is, how powerful it is, and especially how very good it is.
I was charged with judging my brothers and sisters, but judging from Heaven’s perspective, from the perspective of a King who’s madly in love with them, who’s unreasonably proud of them, who’s amazed and overjoyed with their every step of faith. So the judgments that I’ve been invited to pronounce are about God’s favor on his children; I’ve been charged with finding them guilty of pleasing their Father, and sentencing them to be loved and adored for all their natural lives, and beyond! It’s better work than I first feared it would be; I’ve actually come to love that bench.
But some of the judicial work has been darker than that. Once, I was praying intensely for a dear sister against whom hell was having a measure of success. Jesus brought me around to the stairs and up to the bench. I could see more clearly from up there, and with his help, I saw the cloud of filthy spirits that were harassing my sister. “Judge them,” he said, and I understood.
I began to recognize their crimes, and as I identified them – the spirits and their crimes – I spoke its name. As I did, it was as if the gavel moved on its own, gently tapping, “Guilty!” to each charge. With each tap, a demon was bound and hauled of. Soon, I got into it, reaching into the Spirit for the discernment of each spirit and shouting its name, its crime: the gavel banged and the demon was bound. This, too, was judgment I could get excited about.
I needed to be careful, in my exuberance, to still judge accurately, according to what was true, not merely because I felt bad for my sister’s misery: this was a matter of justice, not pity, and it was a mighty justice that was handed down that day, and other days like it. I’ve developed the opinion that this judge’s bench is an excellent place for intercession.
There was one day, though, that I still shake my head about. It happened some years back, and I’m only now understanding what may have actually gone on.
God the Father somberly walked up to me, and he was looking really quite serious: he was cloaked in a rich black judge’s robe, and his eyes were as intense and alive with fire as I’ve ever seen them. With his eyes fixed on mine, he slowly opened his robe. I was surprised to see a red plaid shirt underneath, but before I had opportunity to react in surprise, he pulled a shotgun from the depths of his open robe, and handed it to me. Startled, I took it from him and glanced at it. Yep, that’s a shotgun, all right.
I looked up again, and now the robe was gone, and with it, the stern look from Father’s face. Instead, he sported a red hunter’s cap and a huge grin, and he held up a shotgun of his own. Movement caught my eye, and I saw Jesus, similarly attired with plaid shirt, red hat, grin and shotgun. Father asked, “You ready, Son?” but before I could answer, the air above our heads was suddenly filled with demons, their leathery wings flapping franticly as they zigged and zagged about the room.
Father laughed mightily, hoisted his shotgun and fired; a demon exploded into a black cloud. Jesus cheered and blasted another one. Soon all three of us were shouting and hollering and laughing uproariously. And blasting demons to tiny black dust. Shotgun blasts were interspersed with shouts of encouragement, great fits of laughter and the soft splatter of the demons shards. They had met their maker, and it had not gone well for them. He is a very good shot, actually.
I had enjoyed this experience so much that I hadn’t stopped to ask what it meant until recently; the answer wasn’t particularly surprising; something about “casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God.” But the experience was, frankly, a great deal of fun. “Spiritual warfare” and “fun”: two concepts I never expected to put together.
That hunting party only happened the one time. I think it was more about teaching me a lesson than a regular part of our business in that place. He’s a good teacher, by the way: I’ve never forgotten that experience, though I’ve been slower to learn its lesson.
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Devotionals, Letters

Why Does God Speak Cryptically

Anyone who has learned to hear Father’s voice has asked the question: Why does he sometimes speak in strange pictures and obscure messages? Why not just speak clearly?
One of the main reasons (in my observation at least) that Father speaks obscurely is because his goals are different from mine. If he spoke clearly, we’d grab that information and presumably do something with it. But neither the information nor the doing is his primary goal.
Father’s primary goal is relationship. And toward that goal, he speaks to us. Most of what he says to us is about us, or is our personal (and probably private) prayer assignment. Most of the tiny remainder of what he says to us is for our metron, our close circle of relationships: church congregation, home group, family, etc. Very little is to be shared, and so he speaks obscurely, in order that we won’t share private conversation too quickly.
And it is an error, in my opinion, to assume that God is speaking literally. He has been pretty clear about that (see 1Corinthians 13:12, Numbers 12:6-8). And so he speaks obscurely is because he’s more interested in you than he is in the information.
So I encourage you to go for walks with God: talk out loud. Tell him about your day, and how you feel about your day. Ask him about his day, and how he feels about his day, or about your day. Talk about your favorite music, your favorite flowers, and why they’re your favorites. Ask about his.
Avoid talking about prophetic stuff for a long while, either the process of prophesying, or the “prophetic words” he or others have spoken to you. This is about relationship, not the business of prophesying.
This is a favorite topic of mine: intimacy with Father on His terms. Anyway, lest I get overly long-winded, I leave you with these two thoughts. They both apply to the subject at hand, though the application is not overly obvious.  
One more detail: it’s pretty clear that the times, they are a-changing. It’s my opinion that this kind of intimacy with Father will be more important, rather than less important, as the world gets more tumultuous and our lives get busier. 
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Devotionals, Letters

Preparing for an Uncertain Future.

I’ve been asked recently, “How should we prepare for the upcoming hard times in our nation?” The topic comes up a fair bit in one form or another.
I started to reply to the individual who asked this one, but there are several folks with questions on this topic. Here’s what I observe on the topic:
§         No single prophet will have all the insight on this (or any other) topic. Father promises to reveal his secrets to “the prophets” not “to each prophet.” I won’t have anything close to a complete picture. Having said that,
§         It’s not the prophet’s job [ever] to replace your hearing from God yourself. Take what you hear from the prophets to God to get your instructions for your own situation.
 
§         I believe that fear is the primary danger ahead of us: the enemy is making a pretty strong focus on this sin, trying to drive God’s. If believers resist that temptation, we’ll be positioned to get the rest of it right. (This means, of course, filtering what we listen to, and HOW we listen to it.)
§         It’s my opinion that the disaster prognostications flooding the media are fear-based, and are in error, if only because they’re based on fear.
§         While God is calling some of his children into the prepping community, “prepping” is not the answer. Luke 12:20-21 applies to those who, because of fear, store up all they’ll need to survive Armageddon: I don’t believe that’s actually possible; if we knew all that we needed to store up, that violates the First Commandment, and God has promised to not permit that. (Note: the “first commandment” is more of a threat than a commandment: “You will not be able to have any other gods before me: you set ‘em up & I’ll knock ‘em down!” [http://bit.ly/1nn65Rm])
§         I personally believe that the epic disasters of Matthew 24 and the Book of Revelation are clearly behind us, not in front of us (that is perhaps another conversation, and others believe differently). Nevertheless,
§         That does NOT mean I see blue skies and butterflies. Someone really smart said, “In this world, you will have tribulation.” I suspect that’s related to the fact that we are engaged in the greatest war this universe has ever known. It’s NOT “good vs evil.” It’s about the Kingdom of Heaven vs the lesser kingdoms (of which there are many: “good vs evil” is one; fear is another, and self-sufficiency is a third).
§         It is my opinion that the most critical things we can do are in John 2:5 (“Whatever He [Jesus] says to you, do it.”) and Hebrews 12:1&2 (“Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.”) Key: fix our eyes on Jesus. Having said that,
§         This does not mean “Don’t prepare.” It means look at what Jesus is doing and do what he says. He has had me make SOME preparations (we have gotten out of debt, and we grow some of our own food on our city lot, etc).
§         I’m reminded of stories like Matthew 17:24-27 (and we could choose many others!): It appears that Jesus is invested in provisioning us. Which leads to,
§         I believe we’re coming into a season where we rely on the supernatural for our daily lives. We need to (and are, in fact, beginning to) get used to miracles, so that we can multiply food or raise the dead comfortably and consistently.
§         Whatever troubles that come are an opportunity for the Kingdom of God, not obstacles. Even if there is real persecution against believers, upheaval of any sort open people’s hearts and minds to the King of the Kingdom. If we respond in fear we’ll miss the opportunity (see Romans 8:15).
§         Other people may be called to different responses. I am clearly called to a non-political response, but Father has specifically spoken to me about others whom He may be calling to be involved with politics, or even with forceful resistance to evil. Their calling is not my calling, but I need to not hinder them.
§         The story remains unchanging: God’s goal for us is still intimate relationship, his instruction is still to extend the kingdom, by means of the Great Commission.

So what do you hear God saying to YOU about this season ahead of us? 
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