Monthly Archives: November 2011

A cliff notes version on how to handle prophetic words

There are two types of prophecy. There is that which the Prophets and Apostles used to author Scripture, and then the more subjective means by which God communicates to his people through the gift of prophecy. This is the one to which the New Testament believer might be exposed, and is sometimes referred to as a prophetic word. Wayne Grudem describes this type of prophecy as “telling something that God has spontaneously brought to mind” (Grudem, Systematic Theology, 1049).

If you run in circles where prophetic words are commonplace, you may experience them in different ways: spoken words from other people, dreams, visions, confirmations, etc.

Here’s a simple way to view prophecy as advised from the mouth of the prophets themselves…

Don’t disregard prophecy

1 Thess. 5:20

Paul is pretty clear. Don’t just disregard prophecy because it makes you uncomfortable, or because it doesn’t seem right. Be open to the possibility that God is trying to communicate to you in a way you are not used to or are not ready for.

Examine all of it

1 Thess. 5:21

Paul is also clear that we are not to swallow every prophetic word or vision that comes our way. Just because someone calls it a “prophetic word” doesn’t mean that it is from God.

Take anything that lines up with God’s Word

1 Thess. 5:21

The way we examine prophecy is by squaring it with the Scriptures. Remember the first type of prophecy I mentioned? That which has been penned by those who were under the influence of the Holy Spirit in such a way that we are able to call their prophecies God-breathed. And since it is God-breathed, it cannot be abrogated by anything else, since the Holy Spirit will not contradict himself.

Of course, you first need to be reading, studying, and memorizing the Scriptures before you can check prophetic words with them. Knowing God’s Word is incredibly important!

Leave behind the bad stuff

1 Thess. 5:22

Should you come across a Scripture passage that contradicts a word you received from a person, dream, or vision, you can disregard that “prophecy” as false, and stop thinking about it. (This part will keep you out of a lot of unnecessary drama!)

Read the rest of this entry

Happy Thanksgiving!

I’m going to put away the keyboard for the week to be with family. But I’ll be back blogging before the week is over :-)

Have a great weekend!

Making Good Decisions: Wisdom

In the event that none of the following occurs whilst you are trying to discern God’s plan for your life:

  • no lightning bolts from heaven
  • no booming voice in the clouds
  • no miraculous intervention
  • no parting of any small oceans
  • no strange pillars of fire
  • no french toast falling from the sky
  • no properly soaked fleeces
  • no unmistakable dreams
  • no boisterous visions
  • no vociferous prophecies
  • no sun standing still
  • no weight of glory

Congratulations. You are the 99%.

You, like most people, don’t get a clear answer immediately…perhaps never. While it may be best to wait for an answer, we would be naive to ignore situations that required an immediate response or course of action. That’s what this blog post is for.

Remember in September when I posted an article on five ways we can know God’s will? I left one thing out….


Wisdom is the God-given ability to make decisions in accordance with one’s godly identity.

Wisdom is more than earthly philosophies, or intelligence. It is the practical aspect of our decision-making catching up with our positional standing in Christ. One of the best passages to illuminate this is in Romans 12:2,

And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.

Within the Scriptures, this is the bastion of a Christian’s decision-making process!

Let’s extract four elements from Paul’s excerpt:

  1. Don’t form your decisions on the same values the world does (“do not be conformed”)
  2. Change the way you think! (“be transformed”)
  3. Form your ideas according to what God thinks is important (“by the renewing of your mind”)
  4. This type of wisdom will help you to know God’s will (“prove what the will of God is”)

Instead of focusing on every minute situation that could arise in any given moment, Paul goes directly to the heart of our decision-making: our worldview–that which forms the grid by which we understand reality.

Paul’s reasoning is that if we can change our worldview to match Christ’s, we will inevitably make heavenly-minded decisions where we must respond with haste.

The best way to change your worldview is to let it assimilate God’s. We do this by feeding like starving animals on the written Word of God. There is no shortcut. Only a feast.

As you feast on the delicacies of God’s written revelation, you will find over time that you begin to think more like him in every situation. At that point, just make the wisest decision you can.

Poison and Wine || The Civil Wars come to Santa Barbara

A little break from the daily grind….

Operation Lydia ~ Discipleship

Operation Lydia is a four-part series, which is a simple way to consider mission within the context in which you live.

You can find a longer explanation here, the first post here (image), and the second post here (mission), and the third post here (community).

This is the final post, and arguably the most climatic once it is experienced…

4. Find your “Lydia”

Acts 16:12-13 ~ “On the Sabbath day we went outside the gate to a riverside, where we were supposing that there would be a place of prayer; and we sat down and began speaking to the women who had assembled. A woman named Lydia, from the city of Thyatira, a seller of purple fabrics, a worshiper of God, was listening…”

Assuming you’ve been frequenting a particular place where you normally enjoy life, begin to prayerfully and thoughtfully consider a “regular” there who you will commit to in friendship for a long period of time. The rest is simple: engage with that person! The knowledge that you will be devoting yourself to that person in friendship for the long haul will remove from you the pressure to paint a target on them as a potential convert, and will allow you to more freely learn who they are as fellow imagers of God, empathize with their struggles, and enjoy them as potential friends. 

I challenge you, after identifying your “Lydia,” to spend the next six months just learning and listening to them.

You will be surprised what a litte L&L can do to further the mission of God.

The Church needs to do more!

Heard that one before? Said that one before??

Millennials thirst for significance, and we are no different in the church; too restless to settle with the status quo ante, we want to push any limit that smacks of apathy. Neither do younger generations like to fall into routine, just because “That ‘s how it’s always been done,” especially when we see some traditions actually harming the body of Christ or the world around us. This Millennial boat-shaking ought to be welcomed as a blessing.

With limits, of course.

Sometimes we take it overboard, and may grow disgruntled with the church because it won’t move as fast as we would like.

Ever been in that Bible study where the young dude shouts in zealous angst, “The modern church should be more like the church in the book of Acts! More like the Early Church!”

To which I reply, “No, YOU need to be more like the Early Church! Drink some decaf and stop yelling.”

Sometimes our zeal is too tightly packed. We end up waving a gun around at anyone who gets in the way….including the Church.

But how can Millennials remain passionate without dishonoring the Bride of Christ? Below are means that will help us more effectively siphon a passion for change back into the church.

Let’s repent of our pride, and remember that we ARE the church.

Things always seem to go awry when we remove ourselves from the mayhem (even if we had nothing to do with it!). When you join a church, you are joining the mess! And when you follow Christ, you join his Church. I’ve heard Millennials cite Martin Luther’s reform of the church as reason to rebel, yet unaware of how hard he struggled to bring change from within, in fact, he never left the church—he was kicked out! And when the prophet Daniel wanted healing for God’s people, he did not do so from a safe place, but identified with the mess, praying, “We have sinned and done wrong. We have rebelled against you and scorned your commands and regulation” (Dan. 9:5, emphasis mine), though he is one of the few men in Scripture whose sins went unrecorded!

Passion must never travel without humility.

Conviction must not go unchecked by a community.

Change must always be accompanied by empathy.

And this is where we often thrive, anyway: through collaborative relationships.

Read the rest of this entry

Sometimes it helps to feast on wonder before speaking of it properly

Here’s a morsel.

“Murmuration” ~ A chance encounter and shared moment with one of nature’s greatest and most fleeting phenomena.

Lessons by a Chinese warrior, an ancient half-goat, and Jesus on what to do when you’re being chased by Satan

Earlier this year I finished The Art of War, a classic Chinese military treatise by Sun Tsu that has lived on for thousands of years in business moguls at each others’ throats. It highlights creating a position of advantage over the enemy. To its detriment, it conflicted with the worldview of servanthood interwoven throughout the life of Jesus Christ, leaving me wanting more than it could offer. The Art of War was very manipulative, but I guess when you’re at war (or commerce), the only rule is to win. On a side note, I thought one redeeming quote from the short book deserved some attention…

“Defense is for times of insufficiency, attack is for times of surplus” – Sun Tsu

In other words…

Defend when you are weak, and attack when you are strong.

That reminds me of when Christ addressed a group of Israelites at Caesarea Philippi in Matthew 16. Superstitious families would often trek to the base of the mountain to sacrifice to Pan, a half-man, half-goat breed of demon whose namesake birthed the word panic. The rumor was that Pan made his home at the bottom of a gaping hole in the mountain, and as they threw their sacrificial offerings into the abyss (nicknamed by locals as the “Gates of Hell”), the telltale sign of an answered prayer was for the sacrifice to disappear into the deep. But if Pan regurgitated the offering through the inverted waterfalls, you would leave the mountain in fear, knowing that panic would soon descend upon your home…and your children.

Enter Jesus Christ.

Jesus makes the same journey up to the mountain, but in typical style, turns his back on the Gates of Hell to address the crowd. He speaks about himself with unparalleled authority unheard of in that region since the shekenah glory of God used to fall upon Israel…

“On this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.” (v18).

Jesus walks up to an accusatory demon and spits into its bawling mouth.

Classic Jesus.

More poignantly, Jesus understood the Art of War. Gates are a defense mechanism! It’s not as if they can reach out and bite you; gates can only shut you out. And in front of these gates, Christ promises to build the Church into an offensive onslaught, made up of those whom he has redeemed.

This changes everything for you.

When a victor can humiliate your enemy, it means you are not retreating anymore. The enemy is. And while you may feel like you are running from external forces outside of your control, compel your eyes to feast on the picture of the Victor, Jesus Christ, who stands defiantly in the open mouth of hell, just to poke fun at it.

In the words of Sun Tsu, defense entails insufficiency. So, do not be fooled by Satan’s insufficient attempts to derail you.

And if still you are unable to stand, let the King of Heaven’s armies hoist up your arms to walk with you.

8 ways to determine if a book is going to be a waste of time

Someone once remarked about how I always end up giving books I read four or five stars.

My reply was, “Well, I try not to read bad books.”

The problem is, I don’t read very fast—around 200 words a minute (one page). Since I’m such a slow reader, I don’t want to waste my time on the bad stuff. So here are some ways I go about sifting through the garbage in order to find the gold!

1. Read the cover

The book title doesn’t give a lot of explanation, but the subheading often explains in one tweetable sentence what the book is going to be about. For example, the book, Radical, by David Platt could be about anything. Radical Christians. Radical entrepreneurship. Radical eggplant soup. But one glance at the subheading, “Taking Back Your Faith From the American Dream,” carries a theme that focuses on sacrificial living.

2. Read the inlet

Usually, there is a short explication of the subheading on the inside of the leaflet, or on the back cover. These are generally excerpts written by the publisher trying to sell you the book. Even though they’re sometimes embellished (like gossip on Twitter), they still give a decent summary of what the book is going to be about.

3. Read the intro by author

If the concept of the book interests me at this point, I’ll read the author’s introduction. This usually has the author’s reason for writing the book, so you can capture a glimpse of the backdrop behind the book, how well it has impacted the author in the writing process, and whether it may or may not impact you in the reading process..

Read the rest of this entry

How the read the Bible, by N.T. Wright

Last weekend, I taught on the importance of obeying God’s word, then posted a follow-up on the devotional beauty of reading through Scripture for fun. But we should also remember that the Scriptures are more than fun. They are alive (Heb. 4:12). They are inspired (2 Tim. 3:16). They sanctify (Jn. 17:17). They renew (Rom. 12:2). They transform (2 Tim. 3:17). So we want more than mere pleasure; we want the power of God revealed through them.

But where do we start? And what do we do with it?

Below is a brilliant, six-minute explanation by N.T. Wright on how to read the Bible.


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