25 December 2008

01 December 2008

Favor...

Why God’s favor is better than most really good things: I can walk into Panera for a business meeting, mildly anxious about the prices at such a nice upscale yuppy feeding trough. But because it’s like 11:01, the breakfast quiche thingies (the thing I just ordered) are now officially unsellable because breakfast is over.
The counter clerk says, “Oh no. It’s 11 and I can’t sell these now...but I can  give it to you. And while I’m at it, maybe you want a second one since that’s free too.”
Score!

24 November 2008

...In plenty and in want...

Phil 4:11-12 “...for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need.”

I never noticed before that Paul says he’s learned how to face ‘plenty’ and ‘abundance’.

I think it’s common to read this passage and hear something like, “I’ve learned how to be poor, and be just as content as someone who is wealthy.” Lord knows, I’ve read it that way or years. And it’s tempting to say that it’s a lot easier to be content in abundance than in poverty...but he truth is, I don’t think I believe it any more.

Shortly after Re and I married I went from making copies at Nike to contract web development and thereby actually doubled my income over night. There aren’t too many times a person gets to experience that in one life. And while it still wasn’t a ton of money by most (American) measures, it was a huge change in lifestyle and for the next two years or so I quite literally made more money than I knew what to do with.

This past year, my business was feeling the current economic blowout way in the early stages when few people would dream of saying things like ‘worst economy since the Great Depression’ and this year I’ve been more broke and lived on less income than I ever have since leaving home.

But you know, I really think that Re and I are OK. The year has been a very painful process of learning to let go of the things that feel important but really aren’t. It’s fascinating really that my spiritual and personal lives (what an odd concept, to deliberately segment our lives..) have been really great. It’s just the professional life that has been so terribly hard.

Still, the thing I wanted to write about was this notion that the real bugger about money, whether you have a lot or a little, is contentment. Poverty threatens my contentment with fear and anxiety. Those emotions tend to be acute and painful, but also short lived and easier to deal with. Laugh in the face of fear and it runs skittering like a little kitty. Abundance threatens my contentment too, but with feelings that are not usually painful. Instead of fear over the electricity getting shut off is fear that today’s success will not be repeatable tomorrow. Instead of depression there is ambition. Instead of ‘Will God come through?” it’s “Will God come through again.”

To my knowledge, the only thing the Word ever names as a direct threat to my soul is wealth. (Mk 8:36) Just for the record, I’m not a prosperity gospel kind of guy, but nor am I a poverty gospel kind of guy. I think God will tend toward making us prosper financially, but I also think that few things seem as likely to corrupt a person as money.

Again, contentment is the thing. I want to get to a place in my heart where money is a non issue to me the same way egg nog is. Yes, that’s a good image. I LOVE egg nog and when it shows up each year you can see me doing the King of the Christmas Drinks dance in front of the dairy case. It’s wonderful, it’s lovely and it contributes several pounds to my waist each year. When it’s in the shelves early, like this year – the day after Halloween for goodness sake – it’s a happy surprise. But when it’s gone I don’t really miss it. I just think, “that sure was fun” and don’t give it another thought until it surprises me next year.

It’s premature to say that I have learned the lesson as Paul puts it in Philippians, but I can certainly begin to see what he’s talking about. In these months the choice has been simple enough: freak out constantly over things you have no ability to influence or control and give in to the ‘do something’ panic voice, or listen to Jesus. Take Him at His word and think about the lilies of the field – choose contentment over anxiety.

Six months ago it was probably six anxiety days for every content day. Now, I’d say it’s the opposite ratio – and I’m looking forward very much to my poor box turkey.

23 November 2008

A high-water mark

Today at church I wound up as the teacher for the high school group and we were talking about prayer and how all the book knowledge and good intentions were ultimately pointless unless you put them into practice in the real world. More to the point, there was little value in talking about the gifts of the spirit if you never walked in those gifts...

<digress>
Paul says an interesting thing in Roans 15:19, “...in the power of signs and wonders, in the power of the Holy Spirit; so that from Jerusalem, and round about even unto Illyricum, I have fully preached the gospel of Christ.”

In the past I have always thought of Paul as the level headed apostle, the logical one next to John who is the spooky/touchy/feely one. And Romans, as I’ve been told thousands of times, is Paul’s logical masterpiece. The ultimate systematic explanation of Christian theology. And here, right at the climax of Paul’s precept-by-precept textbook, is this line about miracles...and I have overlooked it entirely until recently. Can I conclude from this verse that to preach the gospel without signs and wonders and the power of the Holy Spirit makes it incomplete? To be honest, more and more I’m feeling like that’s far more true than not true.
</digress>

As we’re closing in on the end of class, Seth walks in and tells me his dad is having a kidney stone attack and could I come and pray with him when I’m done. (memo to Seth: kidney stones suck very, very much. It’s ok to seek prayer right now.) Anyway, since this seems like a perfect opportunity to practice what I was just preaching I tell the class, let’s go and kick some butt.

Just a few words about ‘Dad’ - this dude has had, no exaggeration, more kidney stones than he has teeth. The last two he passed were 4mm and 5mm! And as we were talking a few weeks ago he was sharing how his wife had recently realized how he is always getting hurt, including these stones, just prior to some kind of ministry. In this case, he was fine one minute and when the pastor started talking about something very close to his heart, the stones started, and he told me later this morning that he’s come to a place where he can endure a ‘normal’ stone pretty well but this one hit like a freight train was a ‘where’s the vicidin’ moment.

Anyway, me and the teens walk in and everybody has their heads down praying. (not for D. It was part of the service) So we sneak over to his chair and get next to D. to start praying. 60 seconds later I ask him, “Are we getting any traction? Is anything happening?” and he looks over at me sort of stunned. And he whispers “It’s all gone! All of a sudden, its gone!”

I think that deserves a Booya. :)
Good ol’ Jesus. Nothin’ beats Jesus.

I don’t remember if I wrote about this or not, but about a month ago I saw a girl’s leg leg grow about an inch or so right in front of me, and then again on film since the guy next to me filmed it. I wasn’t part of the prayer in that case, but it represented a new high-water mark in the kinds of healing that I’ve personally witnessed. Today was a new high-water mark for the kinds of healings I’ve personally participated in. Needles to say...well perhaps it is always needed...is just to state plainly and often how I had exactly zero tom do with the healing, my role is only to show up and pray as directed.

Bill Johnson says something about miracles that we say at Boot Camp – the problem with experiencing God or witnessing a miracle, is that you are then responsible to bring that same truth to others. You can no longer claim that you just didn’t know. Back to Dar Williams’ quote,

“Now we have to live with what we did with what we saw.”

---------------------
As I pushed the send button on this entry, I went back to my sent items box to try and nail down the date of the other recent healing...and it looks as though I never wrote about it. DOH!

OK, so about a month and a half ago, I was in the circulation to teach an Alpha class to the Junior High class. As it happened, the class was on healing. Now for most of this class, I’m basically reading from a lesson guide. And toward the end the book says “How do we pray for the sick?” and then there’s basically a script that walks a person through a typical, generic healing prayer.

Well Kirk is there with me as my wingman ad he’s been helping along the way. When we get to this part I turn to him and we start playacting the script.
‘Kirk, where does it hurt?’ and he points to his ankle.
‘What did you do? How long has this been going on?’ and he tells about a water ski accident.
Blah, blah, blah, we finish the script and I turn to the kids to say “Any questions?”
...but they’re all looking at Kirk. So I turn my head and Kirk has this weird puzzled look on his face and he’s twisting and flexing his leg and ankle.
“Everything OK?”
“It worked.”
“What worked?”
“The prayer. My leg is fine now.”
Keep in mind, I’m thinking that we were just acting. We were just following the script. So now I’m thinking, “OK, Kirk – the show’s over bub. They get it.”
But he’s serious – turns out he wasn’t acting at all. At least the injury he described was real and he’d torn his hamstring almost a year earlier and it had never healed which was causing his a lot of secondary problems like back pain and an overworked ankle. And right there in front of the junior high kids, Jesus fixed it...whether we were acting or not. :)

19 October 2008

A Letter To 3


3,
I don’t know if you still follow this blog but since I really don’t know a better way to reach you, I’ll have to trust that this will get to you one way or another.

I just want you to know, that for my part, I forgive you all that happened.

I admit, I’m curious to know how that must sound to you. Of course, in many ways, my forgiveness is probably the least of those you might seek. But I really don’t know where you are these days, how you’re thinking, what you’re feeling. Even if this gesture seems pointless to you, or bass ackwards it’s something that seems important and it seems important that I say it now as opposed to waiting for some future ‘better-moment’ that may or may not ever come.

So for whatever it’s worth to you, which admittedly may be very little, I just want you to know that I hold nothing against you and truly wish you the best.

Grace and Peace my brother.

18 October 2008

Great. Now we have Chain blog posts...

Tag Rules:
  1. Post the rules on your blog
  2. Write 6 random things about yourself
  3. Tag 6 people at the end of your post
  4. If you are tagged, just do it, and pass the tag along!

Ichi: I’m not sure, but I think this is the cow story I’ve been asked to recount: Once when I was driving toward Sherwood it was this unbelievably awesome day and Mt. Hood was just as lovely as could be so I pulled over across from Sleigh bells to take in the view. In the field next to me was this big ol’ Holstein milk cow and she comes running over to me as if something is really important. Now only ten or so feet from my face she’s staring at me, and now I’m staring back wondering why this cow has taken such intense interest in me. When eye contact is firmly established, she tosses her head back over her shoulder as if to say ‘Come on in here. I want to show you something.’ It was a perfect cow imitation of a well known human gesture...and then she did it again, and then a third time. It was so surreal and I just there wondering what was going on here. I remember a story somewhere about a guy who thought the bears had beckoned him into their enclosure at the zoo and I think the guy was mauled. Luckily the voices in my head told me the cow was in no way beckoning me into her enclosure, but rather my inner child. But since he was in time-out in the corner, Bessie was SOL.

Ni: Once I was spending the night at KK’s house (I was maybe 14) and we had been up late playing games or something. After dozing off at some point I woke way into the night to realize that we had left the lamp on in the front room. So I groggily got up and shambled up the hallway to turn it off. As I was just there at the lamp it turned off by itself. Keith’s house was haunted, we all knew that, but I was too dang sleepy to be scared, so I said ‘thanks’ and shambled back to bed.

San: I wonder sometimes what happened to Tana Cole. There was a season where her and I were pretty close friends and it was remarkable how much she could NOT cook...anything. No, it was worse than that: she was literally cursed in the kitchen. I remember watching an ‘unbreakable’ bottle of ketchup shatter at her touch and splatter the whole galley with tomato goo. She was really cool, but I guess once she became a cheerleader I felt pretty intimidated since I was a drama geek and sort of faded out. I hope life has been good to her.

Shi: Lisa and Beth can attest to this. Once I was practicing spinning, flying kick things for my red belt training and I was so cool I kicked my own ass. It was AWESOME.

Go: In time, I hope to have the chance to work with Michael the Archangel. I don’t really know what that might look like, (probably not John Travolta, but then again, what do I know) but really. Going on a ride-along with that creature would be really cool.

Roq: When Odin was in the hospital and I wondered if he was going to die each hour after another, I tried to read the gospels to him as much as I could. I wasn’t really trying to comfort myself, I was hoping that somehow they would help him, maybe just mentioning Jesus’ name over and over, even as read from a work out Gideon pocket Bible from my sea bag. I don’t really know what I was doing, but it seemed important. And I tried to teach him songs, In Christ Alone and Before The Throne of God Above in particular, he seemed to like those. I completely understand what it’s like to want to die. To want the unimaginable fear and pain to just stop for a moment. The helplessness, the despair, I can only pray that I’ll never have to walk that valley again.
And now, ironically, Odin is the most vivid, palpable, undeniable argument for life that I can imagine. Tonight as I was putting him to bed he (for the first time) wrapped his arms around my neck, laid his head on my shoulder and asked me to sing to him in the dark.
Jesus loves me, this I know, for the Bible tells me so.

29 September 2008

Cool Poem

The History Teacher by Billy Collins

Trying to protect his students’ innocence
he told them the Ice Age was really just
the Chilly Age, a period of a million years
when everyone had to wear sweaters.

And the Stone Age became the Gravel Age,
named after the long driveways of the time.

The Spanish Inquisition was nothing more
than an outbreak of questions such as
“How far is it from here to Madrid?”
“What do you call the matador’s hat?”

The War of the Roses took place in a garden,
and the Enola Gay dropped one tiny atom
on Japan.

The children would leave his classroom
for the playground to torment the weak
and the smart,
mussing up their hair and breaking their glasses,

while he gathered up his notes and walked home
past flower beds and white picket fences,
wondering if they would believe that soldiers
in the Boer war told long, rambling stories
designed to make the enemy nod off.

11 September 2008

Givin Props

Another cool bit of news. You’ll remember a few posts ago ( http://the-m-blog.blogspot.com/2008/07/coming-out-of-closet.html) I mentioned that we had some cool new concept art courtesy of fellow blogger Devin Parker.

Well in another serendipitous moment, I was introduced to a guy who is just starting up a new publishing company that specializes in Christian speculative fiction. He’s the guy at Marcher Lord Press (http://www.marcherlordpress.com). Anyway, as we were talking I told him about Soma, shared a few stories and a few images, and then he asked if he could include some of our artwork in a launch title that is a ‘virtual coffee table’ book. Basically, it’s a collection of many Christian artists in every genre from digital illustration to classical painting. So yeah, pieces from Devin and our other artist, Chris Breithaupt are being officially published. Good work guys!

The book wont be available until October 1, but I’ve seen a proof and it looks really good. I know there are many aspiring writers who read this blog. You folks really need to pay attention to what this guy is doing – it’s really pretty cool.

05 September 2008

w00t!

Check it out, Soma Games was name dropped on the front page of Christian News Northwest:
http://www.cnnw.com/articles/Christiansgetinthegame.html

16 August 2008

Spin off from Devin

I just read a recent post from Devin (http://mysterycycles.blogspot.com/2008/08/what-do-you-say.html) and it has me thinking...

One, oddly enough I have very recently asked Devin is HE was secretly worshiping the Devil (all in jest of course...or was it?) >;)
Two, Devin’s name is in fact only one letter from actually BEING Devil...Hmmm...

Ok, all joking aside, one of the things that precious few people know about me is that I, like a lot of stupid kids, had an ‘occult phase’ in my mid teens. It was before I had made friends with the numerous Jesus people who read this blog and also at that phase in a boy’s development where he seeks to understand and gain power over his environment. Some kids take that urge into football or something physical – as a dweeb, I took it to HP Lovecraft and in time things like Tarot cards and Ouija boards. All of that is only to say that I actually have one no small amount of reading on occult topics and met some strange people.

One thing that many Christians really misunderstand about the psychology of witches and Satanists is that in their own minds they are following a ‘good’ principle or entity. The Lucifurians, as an example, are a group of typically very intelligent, very well educated folks who think that Satan is in fact the good guy who has been unfairly and maliciously slandered by the ignorant followers of that ‘other god’ who is in fact the bad guy.

I think there are vanishingly few people who will knowingly seek evil, but it is a feature of our universal fall to avoid conviction. From this, we all will tend to lazily think of good and evil in terms of what makes us feel good or bad.

Hmmm...I’m not sure where I was going with this. Perhaps only a quick thought as I read Devin’s blog about my own past and how my childish, and fundamental assumption that good and evil were essentially matters of individual opinion allowed me the same kind of mental latitude as Devin’s spiritual Satanist.

I also remember the chilling line in The Screwtape Letters where it’s noted that a wizard and a materialist are of equal value to hell since the goal is to distance humans from God. And in that context – every compass point gets the job done equally well.

13 August 2008

Awesome News!

In the (admittedly small) pond of Christian gaming, there are very few big fish. But about two months ago I was able to make contact with a the guy who is arguably he biggest of them. In an effort to stay good on the NDA I can’t tell you his name quite yet but for know, we’ll call him Ralph.

Ralph is the producer and publisher of the most successful Christian video game ever made and is also the spokesman/president (I think) of one of the largest advocacy groups for family friendly media. He’s the single most connected node in the whole network with first name links to places like Walden Media (Chronicles of Narnia movies), Icon (Passion of the Christ) and other names that you may or may not recognize. All of that is only to say that getting on Ralph’s good side is a big deal if you hope to make a Christian video game.

About three weeks ago I took a shot and sent him the Soma investor presentation and crossed my fingers...and myself.
But after three weeks, several emails and a couple calls...I had heard nothing and was stating to wonder if I’d done something wrong.
Today, however I took one more chance and gave Ralph a ring. I had some pretty mixed feelings when he answered since I didn’t know why he’d been silent and I wondered if he’d come back with something like, ‘Chris from Soma? Oh...you...’

But instead he said, and I quote, “I’ve seen hundreds of these [presentations] and yours is easily in the top ten I’ve ever seen.”
Boo Yah! Bam! w00t!

Of course it’s not like he sent me a check...yet...but Ralph’s undisguised enthusiasm for Soma and what I’m trying to do is a huge boost and the big open door I’ve been praying for.

Speaking of prayer, today is also exactly 40 days from when I started an extended fast at the beginning of July. I started that fast with a specific eye (at least partly) on hoping to break Soma’s progress free from what has started to feel like stagnant waters since about May.

So there is still a lot to do before we write our first line of code, but Ralph’s endorsement is a huge coo coup.
Yeah Jesus!

12 August 2008

Lesson From Odin

Odin was kind/odd enough to teach me a lesson today. That is to say that God was kind/quirky enough to teach me a lesson as I interacted with Odin today.

We were out on the lawn and I was watering the flowers with the hose. Odin had found a large plastic cup that I brought out earlier and he would stand in front of me with the cup held up saying ‘More? More? More?’, like Oliver or something but with a more limited vocabulary.

Several times in a row I would put to nozzle in the cup and fill it up. Odin would then look in the cup, fascinated and beaming, before promptly dumping it all out and coming back to me with ‘More? More? More?’ This happened a half dozen times and I was puzzled what was going on in his head. ‘Don’t you want to drink it?’ I asked. And then he tried that...a little...but was quickly back to dumping and asking for a refill.

It was then that God pointed out how much I was like that with regard to the Spirit. Understand that the revelation came as if there were a smile on it, not critical or condemning in any way at all, just like an observation from my papa. Certainly there is nothing wrong with Odin’s desire to fill the cup over and over, and that, I realized was what it was about. With the nozzle in the cup it boiled and bubbled and there was mist everywhere – it was exciting and fun! So I’m often the same way. I’m drawn to the intoxicating, infatuating experience of feeling the Spirit move in my heart – it’s a powerful experience and truly something we can get drunk on.

It’s also in my nature to quickly give it away. Not that I’m motivated to empty my cup simply to make room for it to be filed again (which is what I think Odin was doing) but I do tend to the immediate impulse to share. Again – there certainly isn’t anything at all wrong with that impulse...but it is, in the end, an impulse. Unreasoned, uncontrolled, and (well duh...) impulsive.

The Lord made a point that it is also His will that I take the opportunity to drink from that cup as well. Not to be overly anxious to share because really, there’s plenty for all and in fact I too get thirsty. The childlike heart that seeks to share and to serve is a good one, but if that heart remains untrained and childish, it will squander the richest gifts of the kingdom by pouring them all over the ground.

10 August 2008

Where's that darn kingdom?

Dar Williams* has a wonderful song called “And A God Descended”; the chorus goes...

Well a God descended
And the ‘real time’ ended
His light was lifted just above the law
Now we have to live with what we did with what we saw.

That last line perfectly describes where I find myself today.
What do I do with what I saw?

I know that it’s been several months now since my pretty remarkable trip back east and there’s no question that I’ve done precious little writing about it. Just so you know – I haven’t been writing anywhere. Not in my journal, not in email, not anywhere. I’ve even had a difficult time thinking about it all. Don’t get me wrong, it’s not there hasn’t been a lot to think about, but in a certain way I’ve been sort of quietly ruminating on all of it. As if there was subconscious thought going on that had yet to rise to rise to the level of verbosity.

As of Friday afternoon, I think the dam has finally broke and I expect to have a lot to say about everything in the next several weeks, but alas I’m getting ahead of myself...   

For the last several years God has been getting closer and closer. No doubt the majority of that perception is in something that’s hard to articulate because it’s part of that inner life where words make a poor medium of communication, but you know I’ve spent no small amount of time trying to articulate parts of it, either here, in my journal, or in the times I get to speak. But I’d be leaving out huge, important parts if I only mentioned the internal things, because in point of fact there have been a number of external things that have come along as well. (lending credence to the notion that it’s all simply in my head.) It’s a sometimes subtle, sometimes dramatic process whereby veils seem to be lifted between me and the supernatural. As that’s happened, certain things have popped out of the Bible that had always been there, but I’d never noticed before. For example:
  • Jesus is walking past the disciples on the water and they think He’s a ghost. Seems like a small mater, but I suddenly realized that the people who walked with Jesus every day thought a specter was a pretty reasonable explanation for what they were seeing. At least more likely, more believable, than Jesus cruising across the waves...hmmm, in all candor I can’t say I fault them. (see an earlier post about ghosts)
  • Or this bit from Hebrews, “Therefore let us leave the elementary doctrine of Christ and go on to maturity, not laying again a foundation of...the laying on of hands” Laying on of hands, and presumably the healing that goes with it, is elementary? Not in my life.
  • In another story a bunch of believers are praying for Peter to be released from jail, but when he gets sprung by an angel and knocks on the door they don’t believe it’s him. They think it’s more likely that it’s an angel at their door than that their prayer has been answered.

That place where the supernatural is normal, ghosts and miracles and angles, that is so NOT the world I live in. Wait...let me rephrase that. That is so not he world I USED TO live in. And as eye-opening as the last few years have been, the trip back to SC was on a whole other level entirely.

What do I do with what I saw? There’s certainly truth to the saying that seeing is believing, but you realize when you see a miracle that the question really isn’t about believing at all. Rather a miracle only begs strongly for any number of explanations and as far as our hearts are concerned, I think we will typically tend to take the explanation that rocks out boat the least. That’s why it was easier to believe in a ghost than in a physical man walking on water – we are faced daily with the reality of gravity . That’s why it was easier to believe in an angel at the door than in someone escaping from prison – those folks knew the cold an bitter efficiency of the Roman legions.

So the ‘miracle’ is often in the explanation we accept. Did Aunt Ruth get well because of the ‘miracle’ of the human immune system or was it because of your prayer?
Just for the record, I plan to use the word miracle in the sense of something that happens due to God’s direct and immediate action, as opposed to some really cool thing, probably a blessing form God as well, but something that would have happened anyway eventually. So while the human body is truly a remarkable thing and ‘miraculous’ in a general sense, that’s not the way in which I plan to use that word here...’nuf said.

So as I’ve chewed on these things I saw, looking to understand them, I’ve come to a number of crossroads:
Do I want to know Jesus, or know about Him?
Do I want to understand the kingdom of God or do I want to live there?
Do I want answers, or do I want life?

Now it’s not as if we can’t have both, but looking back I see what happened to me several years ago was that I read a book, Wild at Heart in this case, and I caught a scent of something in that book - Life. There was something on the wind at that time that suggested that all that I loved about Narnia or Middle Earth, the joy, the adventure, and yes...the magic; this new aroma in the air suggested that it was all real. From that point on, it was as if I were on a mission and I’ve been chasing hard after that Life ever since. Often the trail has led to some places that are deeply uncomfortable from an intellectual or emotional standpoint. When the Spirit started dropping scripture references in my head, not verses that He was bringing to memory, but references to verses I had no memory of...that about blew my gaskets. To get a clear ‘Obadiah 2:7’, then look up this obscure reference to find out it speaks perfectly to what we’re praying about...tat wigged me out. I remember stomping my feet in frustration (Fox was there) ‘No! This isn’t happening! This can’t be God anyway because the reference numbers were added hundreds of years later!’...I look at myself and realize what was really happening in my heart.

God had offended me.

He had offended me by taking my brain out of the circuit and doing something that my over intellectual ego insisted was impossible. Here was something that my natural mind was totally unable to grasp and it really started to freak me out. If I was going to offer something useful to the prayer time it was going to be something I could claim no credit for. I don’t know the Bible that well. I don’t know what Psalm 77:8 says, but it’s exactly what the person across from me needs. So Smarty-Pants-Skaggs, holder of wisdom beyond his years, gets the glorious task of being a desk librarian as God assigns research to-dos.

I’m not certain, but I think that season was the first overtly supernatural experience I had, at least the first that was sustained and went beyond some singular event that defied explanation...and could then be promptly forgotten. And I distinctly remember the moment where I knew that I could turn it all off...or instead I could embrace it and hang on for the ride, understanding be damned. What’s wonderful is that understanding has come, and I’m certain it will continue to come, but it came SECOND. (By the way, that still happens to me, and it still kinda weirds me out sometimes)

You see I eventually I came to a conclusion that is so plainly obvious to me now, but was totally beyond my paradigm then: God was speaking to me, and I heard him.
There, that’s not so hard.

That was where I started to wake up to the fact that the unspoken, disappointing and sometimes embarrassing truth about my walk with Christ was that it was totally devoid of ‘magic,’ if you’ll pardon the term. But it’s impossible to describe the God of the Bible, and especially the Jesus we Christians call our king, without talking about miracles. So many of the truly important things in the Bible are specifically described as being ‘beyond understanding’, so why did I insist on understanding them.

Spirit is higher than reason.

It’s of a higher dimension, a deeper reality. The more a thing is spiritual, the more my natural mind is simply unfit to grasp it. The realization that my heart can grasp the deeper things of God far better than my head was a huge eureka moment and the reward has been seeing my heart tutor my mind in a process almost opposite of what so many Christians describe as their life. Instead of truth migrating from my head to my heart, I’ve been blessed to watch the opposite occur. And I can’t tell you how much better that way is. It’s not that I find the spiritual violating the laws of reason, but rather the Spirit world is essentially inaccessible to the natural world and the natural mind – it’s a one way door. The ‘rules’ that govern he kingdom of heaven are perfectly consistent and perfectly reasonable once you know them. But it’s impossible to reason your way from our physical world to ‘God gave His only Son.’

I fear I’m rambling now. The point I wanted to start with as I unravel these things is this: for myself, I just don’t feel the need to ‘get it’ anymore. I have enough trust in who God is that I can let go of that pressure to understand before I follow. And when it comes to miracles, getting hung up on ‘getting it’ first is a serious impediment.

Of all the things I saw at Morningstar, there is one that I feel to be the most profound, the most inscrutable - but it also sounds trivial or at least incidental to everything else that went on.

At some point, thought I really can’t remember when, I felt a large drop of water hit my shoulder and then another a few moments later.

Big deal huh?

Here’s the thing, it wasn’t raining outside and the roof wasn’t leaking...it was raining inside the atrium.

At the time, I remember looking up, slightly irritated and thinking that the roof WAS leaking and this water seemed like an unwelcome distraction from a really good teaching...wow...even as I write that I feel convicted. Anyway, self-flagellation aside, I didn’t think about it all for a few hours until Rick Joyner mentioned something from the front. He said that some other people had mentioned the leaky roof but he said, “no, no it’s not a leaky roof.” It was only then that I thought, “wait, what is he suggesting?” That’s when I remembered the woman I sat down next to nudging me with this ‘I know a secret’ look in here eyes. She put her elbow in my ribs and said ‘It was raining there earlier...’ and I’m thinking ‘I just sat next to a kook. I’ve heard of these people.’ But you know, the guy started speaking and I forgot about her. But here I am now thinking to myself, “Rain? Like ‘Holy Spirit raaaaaain down?’”

For these last few months, that experience has had this really strange effect on me. There was no spirit ‘pow’, no sense of God’s particular presence, just the Holy Spirit’s sort of underwhelming physical manifestation in the form of real, tangible (drinkable?) water. And if I’d stepped out of the room to get more coffee, I would have totally missed it, or at least it’s significance. To be quite honest, I’ve also had some real doubt in my mind if it really happened at all but part of the epiphany of this Friday was a video. It seems that particular manifestation has happened one other time at Morningstar since I left, and this time...they got it on tape! Honest to goodness, they have this video of water falling from nowhere into the outstretched hands of the people there. I WIGGED when I saw that. What’s more, somebody dug up an old photo of that room from the 80’s when it was a hotel. And EXACTLY where I was sitting, and EXACTLY where this second event took place, there used to be a small pool and (I think) a fountain.

I really don’t have anything more meaningful to say about this indoor rain except that I felt it, and I wasn’t the only one. And really, I don’t expect it to be meaningful to anybody who reads this or hears about. But somehow I feel that those two drops say something far more important about God than any of the hundreds of healings I witnessed. It’s like I feel roots penetrating my heart but nothing has broken the surface yet so I have no idea what kind of seed was planted. Maybe I’ll have something interesting to say about it in time, but for now all In know is that God physically touched me...hmmm...that’s the first time I’ve put it that way and suddenly I’m a little scared.
Um...moving on...

Simply put, I didn’t understand it then, I don’t understand it now, and I’m comfortable with the notion that I may never understand it. In fact, I’m open to the very real liklihood that really there is no explanation other than God is really cool and really cool things happen around him because it’s His nature. When I think too much about it, it becomes a couple of drops of water. When I let go of all that, it becomes a wide gaping gash in the veil between heaven and earth; another piece of evidence that God is God and He loves me, He even gives me water from nowhere...becasue He can.
-------------
* For the record, I don’t think Dar’s a Christian (a God?), but this song definitely belongs on the Jesus You Might Have Missed CD

18 July 2008

Coming Out of the Closet

OK - maybe a bad title.

But then again, Kate used to tell me that I had the makings of a proper gay man except for the shoes...I'm pretty sure she meant it as a compliment.

Anyway...

I've been putting off saying anything for several months for fear of jinxing it, but I reckon it's time to say something about a long awaited arrival - Soma Games.





We unquestionably lost some significant momentum back at the beginning of the year when everything went nuke-u-ler up here, but once I got back on the horse things really started coming together. Soma has now taken on a partner, my friend David from BCNW, and we're now going to appear at the Christian Game Developers Conference. We are in conversations with several folks with the checkbooks to underwrite the whole thing and everything has a certain air of inevitability about it. Now I don't want to make that same mistake Hillary did and coast, there is still a lot of work to do, but it sure feels like the goal to make video games is now a matter of time.



One of the coolest things has been getting some real life concept art done for the games. Let me share some of it with you...



This is for The Race, our MMORPG. These were both made by our friend Devin





These are for our spy game, Dark Glass, provided by Chris Breithaupt





Finally, and not at all the least, is the fantastic design work being done by Paul Bryant at Design Point.



There is still a lot to share, but I at least wanted to get this stuff out there. I'm so freaking excited I feel like I'm gonna wet myself.

04 July 2008

Another quick report

As many of you know, I had the privilege of being invited to be an elder at my church about 8 months ago. And not to be flippant, but the job has been somewhat ambiguous. In TFC the elders are a sort of unofficial body. We don’t vote on anything, we don’t review anything, we don’t write any checks. Likewise, nobody votes us in or out and there is no official body that oversees us. We aren’t mentioned in the bylaws nor do we operate under any written set of guidelines. Instead, it’s a group of people who serves at the head pastor’s convenience and pleasure and we meet periodically to discus the spiritual health and atmosphere of the church. And so in many ways I’ve been showing up with a kind of ‘so now what do we do” kind of look on my face – trying to figure out what‘s expected of me and what the rules are.

Now that said, I don’t mean to suggest that the church or the pastor takes the group less than seriously. We are far more visible than the church council as we are usually the folks who wind up on the stage praying for new babies or missionaries or whatever. Most every service we are mixing with the people during worship, praying or them or counseling them or whatever comes up. And I take the position very seriously. The Bible has several non-trivial things to say about elders specifically including the authority to anoint and pray for the sick. It’s just that in may ways, the job description has been very vague and free-form.

Let me also say that while we are a Foursquare church, I’m told by folks who know such things, that we are uncharacteristically calm and contemplative for the denomination. That’s not to say that we don’t believe in and walk in the gifts of the spirit, but I guess everybody is pretty low key about all of that. Which is part of the reason the tongues + interpretation that I witnessed a few weeks ago was a new experience for me. And in some ways it was so totally underwhelming. It was like this matter of fact, zero hype, thank you Lord sort of event...and it felt so right to me.

One of the (long delayed) thoughts coming back from SC has been an observation about Christian hype. I see that I have a certain distaste for the super emotional displays that often accompany revivals. Now I’m not saying that such a thing is at all wrong, it just isn’t me. But I also can’t deny the obvious ting that I JUST affirmed – that kind of expression OFTEN accompanies revival type moves of the spirit. So I’ve wondered if I’m somehow jaded or cold (lukewarm?) or if there is something else going on here. Just to cut through any tension, what I’ve come to believe is actually very simple and has been in my face forever: 1COR 12:4-7. Basically, people have different personalities, don’t wig when they experience God and express themselves in different ways according to their personalities...oh, duh.

But principles (and scripture) aside for just a moment, it’s been incredibly powerful to really SEE that happening at my own church. So there CAN be a word given and its interpretation with minimal fanfare – and that works with my personality and the personality of my church. We can pray for, and see healing, even resurrection, without a Wigglesworth (Bentley?) punch in the gut.

Anyway, what I really wanted to write about was a new event hat goes in a similar vein. A few weeks ago one of the elders had a vision and he thought it was likely a prophecy. Now in just about any other place I’ve been where prophecy was ‘practiced’ the words shot out across a room like a ping pong ball. The prophet spoke and everybody kinda went, “oooh, cool.” But then there was no sense of follow up (was the prophet accurate), no sense of responsibility and really no real sense of the reality of the prophecy. They have always been treated sort of like a pep talk from (maybe) God where it wasn’t really a matter of being true, or accurate or even particularly important.

But the last elder meeting we had was entirely devoted to evaluating this prophecy, basically line by line, and thereby performing one of the explicit written roles of the elders – evaluating/judging prophecy. I don’t know how this will sound, but I felt like I was somehow acting as a grown up where I previously been mostly a child. We were in no way quenching or limiting he spirit – in fact we were taking a less than popular command of scripture seriously and trying to bear the responsibility of our office with sobriety. The result of that meeting, and the unanimous decision that the prophecy was in fact valid in no way diminished it’s value – quite the opposite. Now, instead of a random utterance in the course of other things it will be presented to the whole body as something serious, something specific that God had intended or our body, and something we all need to take into account. (and let that answer anybody who wants to know the details of the prophecy – I think it was for TFC and to blab it out there to the world would be inappropriate).

This was also the first time I really felt the weight of this office. Rightly diving the word is no small thing, especially when you’re going before the whole body to say -”We think this came from God – you need to pay attention.”.

Anyway, there is still a lot more to write on this topic, and how it fits into a larger conversation I’ve been having with Jesus, but enough for now.

02 July 2008

The Dragon Released

(This story is actually several years old now and needs to be updated to be both internally consistent and consistent with how the Avatar world has developed since I wrote this. But until just three days ago I had the sick feeling in my gut that I lost this story entirely when a hard drive crashed. So when I found a hard copy I literally cheered. Now I want to post this so that Google has a copy even I blow up again..)

The Dragon Released
Note: Black Sea radius = 214.3 miles / diameter 430 miles / circumference 1350.88 miles

Over the centuries, The Dragon had only a handful of visitors. Most were pilgrims of a sort, motivated by some desperate need to see for themselves that the monster was indeed bound; making the life-threatening journey on the compulsion to spit at him. Others were misguided admirers, drawn by his infamy, hoping for some boon in return for their meaningless sympathy.
As The Dragon's guard, Abaddon was the silent, invisible witness of each encounter but there was never any real need for him to intervene, either on the behalf of the visitors or his charge. A thin golden chain anchored in the rock and wrapped about the beast's wrists kept him from moving more than a few feet in any direction, a heavy leather hood kept him from seeing his guests, and most importantly, an iron muzzle kept his poisonous tongue locked within his own head. Part jailor, part jail, Abaddon was the strength that kept the chain strong, the darkness that kept the hood opaque and the cold that made the dragon’s muzzle so perfectly effective. Treading a line between sentience and function, Abaddon’s was an exceptional existence. Something less than a ‘he’ Abaddon was also far more than an ‘it.’ He had been created before time began with a single purpose, the restraint of this villain so long as the Dragon shared a world with men. Despite the Dragon's long and complicated tale, the swath of destruction that was his wake, and his former reign upon the Earth, to Abaddon's eye he was mundane, even vulgar; a pedestrian creature with the simplest of motivations, and therefore boring. While The Dragon was driven by the singular impulse to consume, the pilgrims who sought his presence came with fascinatingly complex sets of emotions and ideals. Invariably, the guests were far more interesting than the creature they were drawn to.
At dawn, 8,651,640 hours since his arrival, Abaddon noted the arrival of a new pilgrim at the periphery of his awareness. More than a thousand years ago, an icy stone fell from heaven, adorned in blue-green flame and Abaddon came with it. On impact, the hypersonic meteor boiled an ancient sea in an instant, sending a tower of steam and sand twelve thousand feet into the sky that rained down like so much poison for months to come. Sown with three hundred twenty-nine tons of vaporized copper and iron the crater remained a lifeless pan of corroding stones, obsidian gravel and rusting sand. While the molten rock was still falling from the sky, cinders swirling in the firestorm like obscene locusts, Abaddon took his position, awaiting the prisoner, and watching for whosoever might enter his sphere.
Abaddon's preternatural eyes watched a pilgrim's approach from exactly 214.09 miles away, where a pair of stunted, suffering Gopherwoods marked the entrance to the abyss known alternately as The Footprint, The Eustabea Sea, or The Last Resort. Once a man's foot came to rest on the raised rock highway, Abaddon began to observe and measure - listening first to the pilgrim's heartbeat, analyzing their sweat, numbering their breath. The initial descent into the crater was exceptionally steep, 802.29 feet of pitted basalt at a roughly 78.4 degree incline. A pilgrim attempting to climb down without the aid of rope had a 52.3% chance of a fatal fall, a 69.1% of a debilitating injury. If a pilgrim managed to reach the floor of the crater, they would have come beneath the persistent fog of carbon monoxide and catch their first sight of the Millstone. The hulking remains of the meteor, the Millstone was a jet-black mesa nearly a mile wide and half that across. It rose 319 yards from the ancient seafloor like a gigantic altar and even from so great a distance, to a pilgrim at the edge of the hole it stood out as the only visible feature in a massive, bleak expanse and the terminus of the wide, stone highway.
 As a visitor approached, Abaddon would calculate an integrated chance of survival built largely upon the amount of water they carried. The crater's razor-like rim made the use of pack animals logistically impossible. Regardless, animals refused to approach the wasteland, rearing, bucking or simply laying down according to their nature; and so a pilgrim had already hiked a day before they ever reached the rim, looked out across the immense hole or pondered its boiling sea of fog. With the pilgrims that overcame, and lived to see the crater's floor, Abaddon would count the beads of sweat that fell from their faces, determine a droplet's average volume, multiply by the rate of production, and divide by the pilgrim's average speed. 81.2% were sufficiently prepared to walk in but not to walk out. He would adjust his calculations favorably for those who chose to travel at night, adjust down for those unable to maintain a minimum pace of 22.8 miles per day and he had been correct 92.77% of the time. But the pilgrim he glimpsed today was different.
The man’s heartbeat was exceedingly regular; in fact Abaddon was unable to recall any heartbeat in any creature that was so modulated. His breathing too was perfectly calm and measured. Abaddon listened intently for half a day, waiting for some variation in either, but heard none. While the man walked briskly toward the Millstone at an unflagging pace of 2.97 miles per hour Abaddon found himself looking for alternative methods to calculate this man’s chance of survival. The usual gauge, based largely on hydration, was seemingly insufficient in this instance. The man was carrying no water at all; a death-knell in all other cases, however the man was not sweating.
As the sun began to set, Abaddon calculated that the man had covered just over thirty-five miles - an exceptionally good pace that nudged Abaddon's survival estimate upward to eleven percent, but he wasn't sure if should adjust that rate up or down when he determined that pilgrim showed no intention of stopping. The man continued walking through the night - never stopping to eat or drink, never pausing to catch his scentless, sterile breath, and never lifting his bowed and hooded head from the location of his next perfectly timed footfall.
By morning of the second day Abaddon was intrigued as well as wary. He had come to an 82.69% certainty that the pilgrim was not human after all and that made his presence suspicious. His plain black robe, drawn tight across broad shoulders revealed nothing about the man's identity, his purpose, or his loyalties, and that was enough to shift Abaddon's thinking from intellectual curiosity to conservative risk assessment. Still, with so little available information, Abaddon found himself able to do little more than wait. For another two days, and without pause, the enigmatic pilgrim strode the bone littered highway, and arrived at Abaddon's feet as the dawn broke.
For a moment, the traveler stood facing the Dragon as if evaluating his condition. Despite his namesake, the Dragon appeared as a normal man. In other circumstances one might regard him as tall, athletic, even handsome. But in this place, bound and gagged, stripped naked and beset by the horrid environment, he was simply pathetic. His shoulders sagged under a millennium of defeat and humiliation to a point where his former glory was almost unimaginable. The traveler walked around him slowly, inspecting his chain, his hood and particularly his muzzle. When he appeared satisfied, he cleared his throat.
"Watchman, I come on The King's errand."
Abaddon had been here for over a thousand years and never once been spoken to. At the sound of the pilgrim's voice, the Dragon's interest was also piqued, raising his head and sniffing at the air. Abaddon paused a long moment, calculating the likely effect of possible responses. After the most tactically effective silence, his voice, coming from nowhere rang out across the valley like crystalline thunder, "I am a servant of Aral Mark pilgrim. Ere my making, nothing but eternal things were forged and I endure for eternity. Already ancient, I witnessed The Dragon's birth, His mutiny, and His imprisonment. I have counted the hairs upon the heads of every man who believed his lie and to this day I keep his cord taught, his jaw muzzled. All this I've seen and yet I know you not." As he spoke, the air seemed to thin, to darken, and to smell of ozone. There was a faint crackling across the traveler's cloak as static electricity rose with the guardian's voice.
 “This disguise confounds even you?” The slightest hint of a grin crossed the traveler’s lips, “You know me Tin Man,” he spoke teasingly, “but not this shape.” The traveler casually drew back his hood revealing a man in his late forties with closely cut black hair and a deeply weathered face. The man took a long look at his own hands as if they were as alien to himself as they were to Abaddon. Drawing his robe aside he reached for an ornate hilt at his waist and drew a long, mirror-edged sword. "I've also known The Dragon, his treachery, his hubris and his weakness. And I drug his wretched hide from Moriah to the Millstone just so you could keep him silent. Shapes aside brother, you'll recognize the seal of my office." The traveler grabbed the sword by the blade and lifted the hilt high as if to provide Abaddon with a better view. The bright blade was engraved with the names of mighty men, a log of exceptional warriors throughout human history. Where the blade met the hilt was the bronze image of an owl, placing wisdom between death and its wielder. Set in the hilt were three onyx stones arranged and sized to suggest the belt of Orion, and twisted about the handle were ten gold ribbons, etched with the law of the King.
"Dreamsinger." spoke the air.
"Aye friend. Dreamsinger."
Abaddon was calmed and the air about the Millstone returned to its normal, fetid condition. "He is to be released," spoke the air, as if the idea held no more weight than an observation of the weather. "I am to be unmade."
"Yes," spoke the traveler, "the King sends his discharge. Well done."
>From behind the traveler came a quiet snuffling sound. At first, it could be mistaken for whimpering or even sobbing, but as the sound grew in strength the Dragon stood and threw back his head, he was laughing.
Surveying the Dragon coldly, the traveler drew the hood away and looked into the jovial eyes of his enemy. The Dragon glared back in a kind of gleeful contempt and patronizingly raised his bound hands to the traveler. With a quick stroke of his blade, the Dragon's chain was cut and he slowly rolled his battered wrists as if to reacquaint himself with their proper function. For several long minuets he languidly stretched his arms and legs, arching his back and rolling his head back and forth. Finally, he reached behind his head and unhooked the iron muzzle that for a thousand years had kept his venom from the world.
"So my brother, you are to be destroyed. Countless years of loyal service and your just reward is to be cast upon the pyre and forgotten."
"Not upon the pyre sir. That place belongs to another."
The Dragon spat at the ground and squared his shoulders. "Humph. Still, typical don't you think?"
The traveler broke in before Abaddon could be baited. "Your first words in an age and yet an insult. This mercy is wasted on you."
"It is no mercy to be manipulated like a puppet!" snapped the Dragon.
"Silence!" shouted the traveler and the Dragon ground his teeth. "This is the shape you shall keep. This is the tongue you shall speak; this is the ground you shall walk. Deviate once and be certain that this blade will strike but once." The traveler pressed in toward the dragon, Dreamsinger held above his head and the Dragon stepped backward, coiled like a snake. "You've only a short time wretch. And even you can choose to make the most of it." The traveler lowed Dreamsinger slowly while keeping his body taught for whatever the villain might attempt.
With a sudden and somehow casual toss of his head the Dragon stood up full and smiled warmly at the traveler. "Perhaps you're right," he said. "Abaddon, I owe you an apology." He turned his hands palms up, as if in surrender to the invisible watchman. The traveler slowly placed Dreamsinger back in it sheath and drew his robe close about his body.
"An apology?" came the somehow tentative voice from the air.
"Yes." said the Dragon as he turned around and faced the traveler. "I was in error a few moments ago. Destruction is too good for you." With a sudden leap he threw himself past the traveler and across the Millstone toward the descending staircase. As he swept past his clawed hand swiped at the travelers face and drew a long thin cut across his cheek and neck.
Immediately the air again darkened, charged with electricity.
"Let him be." spoke the traveler. "His path is his own."
 
   

25 June 2008

Is it just me?

OK – this is weird.
On Saturday Rebekah and I were going up to Vancouver. A church I’m passingly familiar with was hosting a kind of prophetic conference where you could show up and see if maybe God had something specific he wanted to tell you through a team of prophets. Frankly the whole thing is a little outside he box for me, but I admit I was at least interested enough to check it out.

Anyway, as we’re cruising up I-5 at 60 MPH in the middle of downtown Tigard, a doe bounds over the center divider in the freeway and makes a beeline for my windshield. I swerve, she swerves and she misses me by like 5 feet – I kid you not. She makes it across one more lane to the far right lane where she’s creamed by a delivery truck that sends her down the shoulder like a spinning hockey puck. The truck dented its bumper and lost a headlight, but otherwise calmly pulls over and nobody beside the deer is hurt.

You know – it’s a strange thing anyway, seeing a deer jump out in front of you on a freeway. But I have the additional fact that for years, God has specifically used deer to indicate his presence to me. It’s a long story to explain that, but take my word or it for now. And on top of THAT, I’m off to go looking specifically for a sign from God when this happens.

I’m not really hip on seeing omens in things, but this was such a strange and shocking event that I guess I just want to record it for posterity in case it does turn out to be auspicious of something.

Feel free to offer your interpretations by the way...

15 June 2008

Dau Luke

I’ve been in a Foursquare church for a long time, like ten years now, and something happened today that I don’t think I’ve ever actually seen even though I’ve heard about it.

There was a missionary couple visiting (TFC supports them) and a few of us were asked to come up and pray over them as they were getting ready to go back to Papua. As I was praying I got a word for them...but...um...it wasn’t English. For that matter I have no idea what language it was. In an effort to spell the thing phonetically, it was basically ‘dau luke’ - I don’t know if that’s one word with two syllables or two words...anyway...

So more than a little scared, as the microphone came to me I said, ‘I think I have a word for you, but I don’t know what it means: dau luke’...then crickets.

The prayer picked up and continued for a few more minutes and I stood there wondering what that was all about and if I’d fumbled that one. But as the prayer ended, there is a guy standing near the stage whispering to the pastor. It seems he had a translation/interpretation of my word. According to this fellow, the word(s) meant ‘life water’ and proceeded to explain the rest of the revelation he had when I spoke those words and it was all about this missionary woman’s mother and how she was spiritually sick right now but God was working this life water into her life like rain water filtering down through layers of sand and gravel to come out in a spring miles away fresh and clean and perfect.

I’m sure for folks more familiar with that phenomenon it might seem like a little thing, or at least a normal thing, but for me it seemed like one of the most beautiful things I’d seen in a long time (and that’s saying something given my recent escapades). It was like this totally practical, and totally mysterious act that drew several people together, each offering only a piece of the puzzle, to speak powerfully into the heart of His daughter who was secretly worried for her mother.

I love the Holy Spirit Mega Power Blast stuff, but I love the Jesus Loves Us Quietly stuff even more.

12 June 2008

Really, I'm not stalling

I feel I should say something about all that happened last month in South Carolina. Several people have pinged me in one way or another to say, “well...what happened?”

I’m not stalling, and while I’ve certainly been busy, that’s not really what’s been delaying the post (or several). The thing has just been wicked hard to write about. I’ve tried several times and there are so many things to say, but it’s like I can’t come to any kind of nearly comprehensible (to say nothing or eloquent) way of describing the whole thing.

I think my mother-in-law hit it on the head. She said writing it all down sort of commits the whole thing to a black and white situation, and I reckon I’m just not ready for the whole thing to be black and white. For that matter, it may never be ready for that, but at least for now, I’m still working through a lot of it. In W@H speak, I’d say “There’s a lot to unpack there.”

So, sorry for the additional delay if you’re waiting...something really is coming, but it will have to be in it’s own time.

Kathie – did the apostrophe make you’re eye twitch? ;)

22 May 2008

Home Sweet Home

Well I’m back on the ground in Newberg and I’m very glad to be back home with my family.
I’m totally smoked though from late nights a lot of energy and little sleep. So I’ll probably go dark here for a few days as I try to catch up on sleep.

21 May 2008

Quick note

Just a really quick note before I forgot it.
There is a rather popular atheist book out right now and a website all with the argument that says “Why won’t God heal amputees” an it goes on to lay a case that since God doesn’t heal amputees he can’t be all powerful and ergo...can’t be God.

Many Christians have taken the bait there by immediately accepting the premise...but the premise is false.

While this is news to me, it seems this is not new data, about a number of cases in the last year or two of amputees being restored including fingers, an entire hand, and at least one leg below the knee. I don’t know if there are more cases, but Bill Johnson dropped those cases in this morning’s message as if it were no particular big deal.

Some pre-departure unpacking

So we have the afternoon free and unlike yesterday and Monday, I don’t feel sorely lacking in sleep. So I thought it would be a good time to start unpacking a few things, or at least recording a few things that I will try to unpack in time.

Psalm 34 says “Come and taste that the Lord is good...”
And
“Nicodemus...said to him, ‘Rabbi, we know that you are a teacher come from God, for no one can do these signs that you do unless God is with him.’
And
“ Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God.”
And again
“...my speech and my message were not in plausible words of wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power,  that your faith might not rest in the wisdom of men but in the power of God.”

How do I proceed?
This morning I stood next to a woman named Brenda. When it was asked that anyone with terminal cancer lifted their hand, Brenda did so. She had (according to her and a woman I think was her sister) a cranky old tumor on her thyroid.
We prayed, the tumor disappeared.
Full stop.

About four chairs to my right, a man had a tumor literally drop right off of his face. Now I didn’t actually see that happen but I did see the place on his face where the tumor had been. There was a bright pink patch of brand new skin about he size of a nickel which stood out like a light bulb on his aged face. I’m not aware of any blind people seeing but I did see the deaf regain hearing and the lame walk.

Last night I was in a room with maybe as many as 2000 people (that’s what the security lady said...frankly, I’d be surprised if it was really that many but frankly I suck at gauging numbers in a room like this and I know I routinely under-guess). Anyway,  folks were asked to raise their hands if they needed healing of just about anything, but also some specific things were named as having a kind of special treatment that day, colitis and crones disease, ankle injuries (?) bi-polar disorder and dementia to name a few. Folks without a hand up were asked to hook up with someone who did. I wound up with a man with a neck injury who had regular migraines and limited mobility in his shoulders and arms. All at once, we all prayed for no more than five minutes, but hoots and shouts of freedom erupted before we’d even started. The man I was praying with shook like he was naked on the ice or something and slowly his arms came up...up...up over his head, something he had been unable to do a minute before. Greatly encouraged I looked around for somebody else to pray for and found another man to my right with some other kind of back/neck problem but it was really too loud to hear anything he told me of the details. But again, only a few minutes of prayer later and he was doing toe-touch exercises with a huge grin on his face.

When the speaker asked everyone who had received a healing to wave their hands I’d guess a minimum of 30% of the 2000(?) person audience was waving and yelling. So conservatively, I’d say I was in a room where a minimum of 250 people were healed miraculously of something.

As the evening progressed I watched many other folks get healed, fall under the power of the spirit and what I have to assume was a genuine demonic deliverance. (A.A. Allen’s granddaughter was here and was handing out power prayers like a drunken sailor (which may seem like an odd metaphor...but trust me, it’s apropos).

“Now when John heard in prison about the deeds of the Christ, he sent word by his disciples and said to him, Are you the one who is to come, or shall we look for another? And Jesus answered them, Go and tell John what you hear and see: the blind receive their sight and the lame walk, lepers are cleansed and the deaf hear, and the dead are raised up, and the poor have good news preached to them. And blessed is the one who is not offended by me.”

20 May 2008

Quick Notes

Just a few quick notes form the conference so far:
  1. Wound up eating with folks from the security and front desk staff here and according to them, the fact that I got a room here at all was clearly a miracle. Which is is a little odd – the folks who work here were more impressed by that than I was. For me it was like, well of course He’ll get me a room – this is a hotel isn’t it? Perhaps it was better that I didn’t know the odds stacked against me.
  2. God continues to tell me to wait for Him to move as opposed to reaching out for things myself. That seems to include the meetings that He has set up or me here. So while I don’t have anything specific on that front, it seems clear that He’s up to something. I’ve been mindful of Saul’s impatience in sacrificing to the Lord and how not waiting for Samuel meant the difference between his kingdom being an eternal one and the ignoble end he wound up filling...
  3. A few quotes that are well worth recording:
    • ‘insecurity’ is what we call our fear when we want to keep it around like a pet
    • The problem with a self-made man is that he winds up worshiping his creator.
    • when we step through the veil of inconvenience is when we step into the kingdom of God
    • You work with what God is doing, not  creating a stumbling block out of what He isn’t doing yet

Still a LOT to write about, but no time quite yet.
To Slater – now that I’m here and I’ve seen it all with my own eyes – I’m confident that what is happening here is from God and not from the enemy. All the men here (Rick Joyner et al) are clearly men, meaning imperfect, but also submitted to Jesus. And if He’s willing to forgive their errors then I reckon I need to do the same. Likewise, I’m convicted that I need to very careful about hearing something that is frankly over my head and calling that error when in fact I’m too young in the faith to grasp it yet. But that's just me Chris. If you have questions, I’d really encourage you to come see for yourself...and like soon.

19 May 2008

Could Use Prayer...

So in case it either A: wasn’t clear or B: I haven’t had a moment to tell you, The Lord opened a door for me to attend this healing conference in NC at the last minute and now I am here at Heritage and waiting to see what happens next.

Which may be where you come in. :)

There are no available rooms. Between a conference holding about 1000 people and a bunch of other folks hanging around for what the Spirit has been doing, the place is overbooked.

Now to be totally honest, I’m about as worried as a snow cone in Nome (of melting). Really, the story to date has convinced me beyond reasonable doubt that God is behind this whole thing so I feel pretty confident that He wont leave me sleeping in the hallway...but frankly, even if He does, that’s cool too. It’s a nice place and the halls are carpeted. :)

Still, faith or no faith, it always seems like a good idea to solicit as much prayer as possible.

So far, not much to tell beyond that. The grounds are...interesting...but pretty neat. I really only arrived about two hours ago and wound up sitting in on the morning session which was underway...good stuff.

But I’ll report in as time and opportunity permit.


News Flash:

I got a room – a really nice one with a big bed and a balcony!

Not News, but worth saying:

Jesus rocks!



Thanks for all your prayer, I’m fired up to have such a great group of friends.

18 May 2008

Something I read.

This is from a book I’m reading called God’s Generals:

We are not called to give up. We are called to obey God at whatever cost and to let success answer our critics. If it seems you have hit a hard place in your life or ministry, don’t whine and complain. Don’t offer your reasons for it. Pray! Explanations and excuses rob us of strength and power.

The adventure continues...

So this will no doubt warrant significant explanation, but I’m quite suddenly on the way to NC...
I’ll be in touch as time permits.

15 May 2008

w00t! w00t!

HOLY CRAP!
2 minute after $800 showed up..another $200 got handed to me.
Bring it on home Jesus!

w00t!

Praise Jesus!
A friend just told me God told him to drop 8 bills in this ‘Get Chris to NC’ project!
Sweet!

14 May 2008

Thoughts

I want to drop off a few thoughts that I’ve heard on the wire and that ring for me.

  1. The main flavor of this move of God is to express God’s glory – again, His Glory. And I don’t mean that in the way like we say “Oh, it’s all for His Glory”, I mean the purpose and nature of this move will be for US to experience His Glory.
  2. Where some moves of God require us to contend for them (‘The Kingdom of heaven is taken by force...’), this one will come to us ‘Like a child’ and form rest.

Again, these aren’t my thoughts, but stuff I’ve heard recently that rang for me, and I wanted to share them.

13 May 2008

More about that depression thang

Something has come up enough times that I think it’s worth putting out here.
I submit this only as a hunch or a scent – I’d be interested to know if this rings with anybody.

For several reasons I suspect this depression + isolation attack may be based in witchcraft. Not like the depressed people are dabbling in witchcraft, but maybe a large scale (coordinated?) curse/spell.

Look, I know how that sounds. I’m just putting it out there to see who salutes.

FW: BCNW follow-up

This is a letter exchange between Rick Randall, who you’ve mentioned, and a guy who I haven’t asked permission to use his name...

------ Forwarded Message
From: Rick Randall

[Random Person],

Thanks so much for sharing.
You may not be aware of this but I just spent the weekend at MorningStar Ministries in Fort Mill, SC.  It was very much a last minute thing to go but I can really see how God is moving.
Check out Chris' blog for more:  http://the-m-blog.blogspot.com/
The message there has been a dream given to someone, possibly Rick Joyner I don't really remember [CS: Yes it was Joyner].  Anyway the point isn't so much who as what. The dream was God saying, honor your fathers and I'll bring revival to the U.S. within six months.  This was near the end of 2007 or beginning of 2008.  I believe we are seeing these large events for men and fertile fields because of this call from God to honor our fathers and our spiritual fathers. It doesn't matter if they are good, bad or indifferent. It doesn't matter the wounds they have caused us. God has commanded us to honor them because they are our fathers and by doing so he promised us long life, it's the only commandment with a promise so it must be a big deal to God. Just look at how our country thinks about fathers for a comparison...

I believe that taking action is the revival call here. Our western mindset just loves to sit and wait for God to move instead of being decisive and following the design that God made us to be as men.  What if the reason we are always waiting for God to move is because no one will move until God is forced into doing it himself?  Wouldn't it be better to follow who we are and join God out on the front lines?  Even if we are the guy in the fourth row back with a hoe, at least that guy is showing up for the fight.

This weekend really showed me how easy it is to let caution turn into skeptism and then follow along into doubt. That's where the religious zealots of Jesus day liked to live and they were rarely allowed to witness Jesus miracles because of it. I for one want to stand on the front line where God is active and throw myself into a place where he HAS to protect me rather than sit idle and allow caution to kill my heart. This weekend I knew if I ended up experienceing something that was not of God that He would protect me.  I also knew that my brothers here would have my back.  I believe that revival is coming to the Northwest.  God has told me so personally several years ago, before I met any of you other than Tony and Andy of course.  God also told me that I would be a part of that revival.  I also had a dream at our bootcamp a few weeks ago of harvesting the Northwest.  This all happened before I heard anything about MorningStar or what God was talking to Chris about going to Charlotte.  I believe something huge is going to start this fall.  We have an opportunity to get ready and be in the midst of it or on the sidelines being cautious.  I guess I'm a little fired up!  [Random Person] your email has really unlocked something for me here.
   
--- On Tue, 5/13/08, [Random Person] wrote:

This is interesting information that Chris and Ken share below.  

Let me add an update that I believe is reflective of these comments by sharing with you my experience at the Iron Sharpens Iron (ISI) event held May 3 at my home town here in Richland WA.  The event was part a nationally promoted men's one day gathering with national speakers and 15 breakout sessions.  Our opening speaker was UofW and Raiders running back Napoleon Kaufman and the closing speaker was Rick Kingman.  In between the to keynotes were a morning and afternoon which you could chose which breakout session to go to.  There were just to many to describe, but they were designed for everyone 13 and older and there were many teenagers in attendance with there fathers.  How cool is that!  Topics covered finance, marriage, parenting, addictions, porn and so much more.

There was an over all theme of healing wounds getting into the game, hearing God's call and taking action.  Be part of a bigger picture.  Do these things sound familiar?

There were over 700 men in attendance and I know that peoples lives were change that day as I know some personally.  It was a great event and a stepping stone to bigger things.  One struggle that is prevalent with ISI as well as BCNW is getting the word out in places that need to hear about it.  Networks are being formed, people are getting to know each other, churches are coming together, the need is great and the workers are gathering. There is something happening here.

I ran a booth for BCNW and had interested people sign up for Band of Brothers small groups and for follow up for the fall camp.  I sold about 2 dozen W@H paperbacks for $5 and about that many signed up with interest for our camps.  I did not have time to talk to everyone that stopped by.  Some had heard of W@H, some had gone through BoB, but to my surprise a majority were totally unfamiliar.  What a fertile field to cultivate!

There is a fall event and as I type this I do not have the date and exact location at my finger tips but it is south of Seattle and I believe if the timing works out with or maybe even with out the fall event following the the fall ISI conference it would be beneficial to have a presence there.  I am certain well over a 1000 guys will be at this event.

There are also opportunities to be discussed among ourselves, about how we could leverage BCNW through being a sponsor at this event to get our message and boot camp opportunities out to more men at a nominal cost.  Many organizations seem to be looking for the type of opportunity we offer to direct men to.

May God's Blessing in what discussion and decisions are about being a part of something bigger that will touch the lives of more men.

If this leaves more questions than answers, please give me your comments of feel free to call me.

In His Service

[Random Person]

Some connections from the dark side...

(Kristin, I’m posting this letter to me blog at the same time, so if I get the details wrong, please correct them.)

Obviously one of the main themes I’ve been harping on here has been the theme of noting and understanding the connections that are happening. Most of those have been positive in nature but with the axiom that every move of good meets demonic opposition, I did want to relate one point of reference from the dark side. There may be others that I’d really love to record here. Remember: a tactic known is a tactic lost. Or in Bible speak: We are not ignorant of the schemes of the enemy...

Keep in mind here, the timing and scope are the things to notice.

As we were building up to Boot Camp (April 24-27) we had more spiritual warfare then maybe we’ve had ever before. Typically that warfare is primarily attacks form the outside (logistics, suddenly failing technology, financial issues) but this time, it was primarily form the inside (interpersonal issues) and took the form of a wide spread depression in the members. There were specific phrases that we were all hearing: ‘you’re done’, ‘you’re a failure’, ‘this [bootcamp] isn’t working’ and also that this would be our last camp because ‘[you’re] exhausted. This isn’t worth the work’ We battled through all of that, but frankly it was more raw stubbornness than raise my hands victory. I know several guys showed up at camp more out of a sense of being true to their word and not because they really believed it was ‘working.’

What’s cool is that it turned out to be one of most powerful events events, maybe the most powerful, and a lot of that was fueled by he rawness we were all dealing with. And that’s neat and all, blah blah blah.

But what I want to get to is what we learned a few days later. Ransomed Heart (John Eldredge and his team) were also putting on an Advanced Camp the week after ours. Shortly before they started, and just after we wrapped up, we got a prayer request from them (so did a lot of people, we’re not at all special in that regard) where they described the warfare they had been going though in the build up to the camp. Here is an excerpt from that letter:

Wow. I’ve got a story to tell. So yesterday, we were having our mission briefing for the upcoming Advanced that starts tomorrow. 450 men coming for a life-changing encounter with God, and coming to be equipped to rescue others. Part of our briefing is given to asking God some questions about how to pray, what to be head’s up about. It was just an okay time of prayer. I wasn’t hearing clearly. Finally I asked the guys, “Is anybody else having a hard time hearing?” Just about everybody said, “Yeah, I can’t hear right now.” I was aware, as we prayed, that something was in the way, something that felt big, and defiant.

So this morning, Gary, Craig, Bart and I are meeting to talk through the new talks, new flow of the retreat. We stop to ask Christ about a particular session. Again, something is in the way. We all feel it. We begin to ask God about it, and bit by bit we begin to get some clarity, one piece at a time. We were asking God, “What is this, Lord? What is set against us?” No answer. But what began to be revealed were some deep agreements we’d made either personally or as a ministry. Agreements with different enemies like resignation, and discouragement. As we prayed, we renounced the sin, the agreement, and brought the blood of Christ over that issue, then the next. On and on it went. The enemy was faltering; we could feel the block giving way. We asked for more, and God led us a piece at a time.

The big issue is what is set against Ransomed Heart, not just this mission. The sentence “It’s over” and “I'm done” has been too close to many of us, both here at the Outpost and in our families, on all sorts of different issues. Like an overwhelming assault, looking for different circumstances to come in, looking for different opportunities to get the agreement, from anyone in any way. But the theme is the same. The theme is, it’s over. I’m done. A spirit of Overwhelming Defeat. Using things like fragmentation, isolation, indifference, offense, discouragement, resignation to get in...

Here is what we sense Jesus telling us to pray:...against Fear, and Unbelief, Sickness...The phrase “wet tinder” came to us...Bind those things with us. Hebrews 12:1-3 seemed for us this time. And God said, “Stay focused on joy. Beware dropping your guard. Watch for My lead. I love this. I’ll show up.”

Yes, he will. He already has.

It was cool enough to get a solid confirmation that we were not alone in what we were going through and it put a clean capstone on the battle that went a long way to erasing the wounds to each other that came from that fight. But since then, I’ve also been learning a LOT of people, particularly those in ministry, found themselves going through the same ‘fiery trial’  at the exact same time. Not the least of which was a report I heard from the other side of the country in TN of two or three gals who not only got hit with the same depression, but also started to notice the connection in timing and ‘flavor’ between themselves.

OK look, depression is a long way from being rare, so while I generally don not believe in coincidence, I’d be willing to bend in this case...if the words spoken to these people weren’t so eerily similar and the timing wasn’t so specific and immediately proceeding what is now being seen as one of the biggest Holy Spirit moments in the last 20 years. (In case you’ve been asleep, this is NOT limited to NC and Florida – it’s gone nationwide.)

So the question comes to my mind: is the enemy now waging these attacks on wider fronts or has it always been like that and we are only now starting to network in such a way that makes the widespread nature of his attacks evident to the church? I don’t have an answer, I’m just thinking.

12 May 2008

Question from Rick

Chris,  This question came to me this morning.  What is the story of how MorningStar came onto your radar?  The real question behind that is this, is God calling you here or to something completely different in Charlotte?  Yes we are in the suburbs of Charlotte but it's actually Fort Mill just across the state line and actually in South Carolina instead of North.  I don't want to introduce any kind of doubt but it seems like a valid question to consider.  I guess the original PTL site is somewhere in NC and then they moved here once they outgrew the first site.  I read that on the link I sent you last night.  I'm not entirely sure where Morningstar was before they moved here in about 2004.

------ Reply

Hey Rick. Good question.

How MorningStar popped up on radar is a long story, but I guess the most recent chapter goes something like this. In August last year I was at a friends house and had a lazy afternoon. I grabbed a book off the shelf by Joyner called the Sword and The Torch which was a sequal to a book I’d read 10 years earlier, The Final Quest. I was strongly hit by several elements in those books (I went back and read the first and second books again) that seemed to speak deeply to what was going on in my walk, and what was happening in BCNW. It was shortly after that when I got the nudge to attend that first W&W conference that I mentioned before.

As for Charlotte vs. Fort Mill, I’ve wondered the same thing. On the one hand the signals have been almost exclusively been ‘Charlotte’ and yet I also get strong signals to Morningstar. For me the pudding here is that I heard God tell me to attend these conferences (admittedly that included a degree of interpretation) and that’s where these ‘breakouts’ have occurred as well as several other confirming details. So while the lines don’t mesh perfectly the evidence seems to be solid that I’m on track.

I might also be over thinking this one. After all, Fort Mill is the Charlotte what Vancouver is to Portland. Yes they are distinct in several ways, but they generally seen as a single, connected entity with a single ‘culture’ in which Portland is sort of the dominant partner. Still, I wonder if there isn’t both a small picture and a big picture. Like maybe Morningstar is simply one part of something larger in the Charlotte area which is part of something even larger still...