30 April 2008


So I’m sitting here in the Coffee Cottage waiting for God to show up and provide me a way to get to Charlotte, NC where I think I’m supposed to meet somebody.

So far...no ticket.

05 April 2008

You're a Word from Heaven

As a birthday gift, Rebekah brought me up to Seattle to see an artist I am really digging these days named Jason Upton (http://www.jasonupton.net/). Jason is part of what some people are calling prophetic worship, which I guess is as good a name as any. But if you haven’t heard him before...DO. His style is to linger on a few phrases, but ruminate on these words over and over again as if in meditation – it can be very, very powerful even on a CD and we’ve been listening to his stuff in our morning prayer time at work for something like the last nine months or so.

But live...that’s a different experience entirely.

I was totally blown away by the power of the Spirit, the engagement of he audience, and the humility of the singer. The dude is way down to earth and very centered. But he’s also aware of the gift he has, and the power and authority he wields. 3 – I thought about you a lot there. You would have loved it. The man’s talent, his passion and his heart are so akin to the things you’ve spoken about, to you own deep heart. I deeply wish you had been there or get to see him somewhere somewhere else.

Anyway, on the point of this post. The most powerful song in the set for me was a song called Sons and Daughters. The words go something like this:

Do you know you’re a Word from Heaven?
Do you know you’re a Child of God?
Do you really know?

Every word sent down from Heaven
Cannot go back up until it’s succeeded
In what it’s meant to do.

Sons and Daughters of the Living God
Sons and Daughters of the Living God
Sons and Daughters of the Living God

It’s a beautiful song (check it out) and singing it there with all these people was working deep magic on my heart. Deep, deep magic.

I‘ve certainly heard this idea before, the idea of how we’re princes and princesses, so I don’t mean to say that this concert suddenly made it click for me, it’s not really like that. No, the idea is one that is both too large to get all at once, and also too Old World for the mind of this modern American. And yet, as the sprouts of that seed slowly rise from the soil of my heart, beginning to show fresh new buds, I think it may be one of the most profound and powerful concepts I’ve ever come to wrestle with.

This concept is at the deepest foundation of many things that I’ve been working through in the last couple of years. From one angle it’s a profound and almost ungraspable statement of God’s love and His commitment to us. We’re not his subjects, or his pets, nor even his friends, we’re His family. And by extension family to one another. Again – of course I’ve heard that before and even said it to others, but the deep strength of that reality is hard for me to really get my hands around. From another angle though it speaks of our own strength and glory, our own royalty as it were and that cryptic passage in Hebrews about all creation groaning for the moment we come to realize who we are...that passage whispers of realities that I am simply unable to understand.

What does it really mean to say that I am an emissary of God? A son of the king on a mission to broker Heaven to this shattered and sick world? As an American, we can sometimes get a tiny glimpse of this when we travel to certain places overseas. Depending where you go, Americans are loved or hated, but we are always noticed. In most places around the world, we represent something that we are generally unable to perceive ourselves. In Kenya for instance, there was a basic assumption that I was wealthy and almost everybody there sort of politely hoped/suggested that I might share some of that wealth with them. At the time, I often resented the situation. I was in fact NOT wealthy, I was a barely-getting-by college student and some people were quite obviously sucking up in order to get something; something I didn’t have. But in hindsight, I’ve realized something – it was all very relative. My just-enough-to-survive budget of about $800/mo was like two or three YEARS of wages to most of them. While I didn’t FEEL wealthy, the objective truth was that I was way, way better off than almost anybody I met. What would I have done differently if I had that in my mind? I don’t know to be honest. But there is something there that I’m trying to understand. Something about being a representative of a higher reality and the authority that goes with that. I’m wondering to what degree I can (or should) write checks that draw on Heaven’s bank, my father’s expense account as it were. Yes, I’d hate for such a check to bounce, but how much more I fear the possibility that I have this unending resource gathering dust on my unexplored desk in the embassy. Not just a resource that I’m authorized to use, but one I’ve been commissioned to use.

A Word from Heaven?
A child of God?
Do I know?
Do I really know?

01 April 2008

'Show me side-to-side...'

I think I had a genuine epiphany today.

I’ve mentioned here that a little over a year ago I had God amend my ‘name.’ Prior to our 2007 Advanced camp God had been talking to me a lot about my nature as a warrior, the symbol of which (no mystery) was a sword. But as we drove home form that camp he gave me a new picture: a sword with a snake wrapped around it. The image was specifically reminiscent of the cadducus(sp?) - you know, the symbol you see on the sides of ambulances and stuff. (Not the two snakes with wings which is the symbol for Hermes, the God of magic, but the single snake on the staff...like Moses lifted up in the desert) Anyway, the name was amended to include the aspect of being a healer and I had the sense that he was speaking specifically of physical healing as opposed to mental or spiritual healing, and specifically miraculous healing as opposed to learning to be an MD.

That journey, of pursuing that gift, learning about it, experimenting with it, has been many things: sometimes exhilarating, often frustrating, scary, disappointing...really just about every emotion possible including totally incongruous emotions like ennui and anger. But today’s epiphany wasn’t about any particular emotion but rather a sudden realization about the range of emotions. Specifically it was a sudden awareness of how powerful a topic it is, how disruptive it can be even in conversation to say nothing for practice. Miraculous healing can be incredibly polarizing as it forces a number of issues that can otherwise lay dormant in people’s lives.  For example many folks are happy to pray that the doctor who is about to gut them has steady hands, but to pray that God would simply remove their gallstones freaks them out. At another level, some folks are willing to believe that a man in China had his blind-from-birth vision restored, but can’t bring themselves to seek prayer for their own near-sightedness.

Healing seems unique in that it demands attention and response in a way that not even prophecy does. For the healer, healing also carries a power and mystery with it that no other manifestation seems to. Aimee Semple Macpherson (sp?) apparently wanted to be a preacher, but when her healing ministry broke out it became almost impossible. People didn’t want to hear her speak about Jesus or salvation, they wanted to walk.

Anyway, I’m drifting...

Parallel to the healing quest, was a far calmer, and in that way less dramatic, lesson about rest. God has been speaking and teaching and showing me how to rest in Him, how to abide in Him. And I got to tell you, it is not something that comes naturally to me. I tend to be pretty gogogo and I really have to fight to make rest happen (how ironic is that). And yet I’ve come to the deep seated conclusion that it is something I MUST have. I can no longer tolerate long seasons without a DAWG day. And opposite the often confusing walk toward healing, the walk toward rest has been...well...restful. I’ve gained so much peace at times I really needed it, confidence in God’s love, and a dramatic new confidence in my ability to hear God speak to me...which is almost impossible to overstate in importance.

And that was part two of the epiphany. Seeing this other track, this parallel lesson that has been unfolding in my life over roughly the same season and how different the two experiences have been.

But the real punch in the moment was in seeing how they fit together.

As Mr. Miagi points out, the first lesson in most every martial art is how to keep your balance. In short, all the activity of blocking and striking will quickly throw you way off balance and make you profoundly vulnerable, if you fail to keep your feet under you. What he Quakers call ‘centering’ is the spiritual equivalent to ‘first learn stay dry.’ Learning how to quiet my spirit, how to retreat to what Jesus and David call the Secret Place is like learning how to take a deep earth stance...where I become the immovable rock that you will break yourself upon. Learning to snap to that secret place as a matter of habit, and to sense when balance is being lost or threatened, that’s like basic footwork.

Without that deep, deep lesson of peace and abiding, healing will be too much for me to bear emotionally or spiritually. It will do more harm than good by putting me in a position I’m not ready to handle.

I need to learn silence first.

Now that’s not to say, in any way, that I’m giving up or even slowing in my quest for that particular gift – I know what God told me and I don’t doubt that call in the slightest (not to mention, I said the experience has been often frustrating, not always frustrating. I’ve seen some pretty incredible things this last year...) But I can see right now that like most things, this is a process and I have confidence in my teacher. Ninja Phil had a few things under his black belt that he hinted at from time to time. Secret ninja techniques that he said we simply weren’t ready for. The thing is, I totally get it in that context. Even in the brief time I studied there I learned things that I would not share with just anybody and as we talk about the supernatural, how much more true might that be? I’m not leaning toward the occult/gnostic sense of God where secret knowledge becomes the goal, but I am aware that jut reading about healing has revealed pats of me that I was surprised to find; a part that lusted simply for the power of it all, a part that sought the recognition or validation, a part that was willing to judge who deserved what healing and when...nasty, petty, awful parts of me that might never have been brought to light in any other context, or at least not shown in such sharp relief.

But the thing is that now I’m OK to let it all play out in God’s time party because I suddenly see what He’s been doing.
I had that moment where I turn from the sensei in frustration, “I’m going home!” and he’s like “Chris-san! Show me ‘paint the fence’” and all of a sudden I see that He’s been teaching me all along.