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It was the end of January during one of the coldest winters I could remember, with more snow than I wanted to see and temperatures plummeting to -30 degrees F and staying there for days on end. I had just returned from my first missions trip to Mozambique and was still suffering from a bit of jet lag and more than a bit of culture shock – now reversed. The huge missions compound with 200 children was built on sand, as far as the eye could see and the weary sandaled feet could plod. Temperatures were 120 degrees F and higher indoors than out, unbearable but for the mercy of one beautiful shade tree.
Now I was suddenly plopped back into this Canadian deep freeze, plodding through snow instead of sand. The physical aspects alone were enough to produce culture shock. But that was the least of it. Everything was turned upside down – especially my heart. Pieces of it were left in the red dirt of Africa. I wondered now if I had even been of any help to anyone on this trip, thinking of others who had to care for me when I became ill.
On one of those dead-locked winter days I was driving past a favorite greenhouse that I loved to frequent in the summer. Remembering the scent of roses and wet dirt, of walking through aisles of hundreds of fragrant blooms with the sun coming through all the glass windows, I instinctively pulled into the parking lot. I needed to see something, anything alive and green. The sign on the door read “Open”!
Almost in shock, I turned the handle and the door opened with a creak. I had entered another world. Fog covered the bottom windows while sunlight streamed in from the glass above, melting the snow from my boots into little puddles of water on the concrete floor. The smell of moist earth brought tears to my eyes and the sight of aisle after aisle of green plants was almost dreamlike.
Closer inspection revealed that these were all starters – new, young plants grown from seed or cuttings from last season’s mature plants. Here they were lovingly fed, watered and nurtured to become beautiful, fruitful plants for the season ahead.
I picked up one of the small clay pots in my gloved hands, turning it around to view the tiniest geranium I had ever seen. It was as if a normal geranium had been shrunk to microscopic size. But each leaf was perfectly formed in miniature. Lifting it to my nose brought the same pungent fragrance that had perfumed my gardens for years. Imagine! Something so tiny it was barely identifiable, yet it already contained the true fragrance of the flower it would become next summer when the winter was over and gone.
Tiny tomato plants with the smell of ripe tomatoes brought fresh tears to my eyes and a prayer to my lips there in the midst of the damp earth and the promise of Spring. “Oh God, please let my life be like this tiny plant. Nurture me here in Your arms until all that You’ve placed within me comes into fullness and fruitfulness in the seasons ahead.”
Have you ever felt meaningless and wondered why you were ever born? God’s love for every person is vastly beyond our wildest dreams. He calls each of us not only from the womb but from the foundation of the earth. We are loved, cherished and planned for. Then it’s for us to receive His love, agree with His plans and say yes to Him.
Ps. 139:16 (Amp) – Your eyes saw my unformed substance and in Your book all the days of my life were written before they took shape, when as yet there was none of them.
My parents were Believers who loved the Lord. In the early stages of my mother’s pregnancy with me, she was very ill. At 3 months the Dr. was so concerned that he recommended abortion if her health did not improve quickly. In those days this would only have been done to save the mother’s life. Much prayer was offered for her and her health improved enough to carry me safely. The day before I was born she weighed only 98 pounds. There was concern once more at the time of delivery but with much prayer she and I were both safe and healthy.
Several years ago the Lord took me back to those days in a vision. I saw my little mother on her bed during her pregnancy. There were angels surrounding her with such tender care. They were stroking her fevered brow and singing softly to her. Others were laying their hands of healing on her (and on me in the womb). Then the scene changed to the delivery room in the hospital. There was my mother with the Dr. and nurses and among them stood Jesus in a white robe. He was the One who drew me out of my Mother’s womb with such joy. He held me up before the Father and the saints and angels to see, as they rejoiced at my safe delivery. Then He held me close to His chest, looked into my eyes and bonded with me. His were the first eyes I looked into. I have always loved Him and I always will.
Although this is my personal story, I pray that you will read this with the understanding that Jesus loves you in the same way. He watched over you in the womb and attended your birth as well, whether you are aware of it or not. And with this understanding may there also come the sure knowledge that He will take care of the things which concern you and bring to pass all that He has written for you in His book. (Ps.139:16 Amp.) You are loved!
Ps. 22:9,10 (Amp) The Lord will perfect that which concerns me. Your mercy and loving kindness Oh Lord, endure forever. Forsake not the works of Your own hands.
Phil. 1:6 (Amp) And I am convinced and sure of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you will continue until the day of Jesus Christ (right up to the time of His return), developing that good work and perfecting and bringing it to full completion in you.
Our definition of success and Heaven’s definition of success are two very different things. Too much of the world’s mindset has made its way into Christian thinking and we have adopted it as our own without even realizing it. How do we judge success?
From a business perspective, success is usually the amount of money being made. It also would have to do with the number of sales, contacts, how far reaching our influence is etc. It’s about how wealthy we are, who we know and what we do. It’s about us. This same concept applies in other areas of our lives and largely focuses on how much we seem to be accomplishing and what other people think of us. Sadly, there is far too much of this in ministry as well.
But from Heaven’s perspective we usually have it upside down. It’s not about the ‘secret of the successful life’. It’s about the ‘success of the secret life’. The life that is hidden in God, where our goal is to make His name famous instead of our own, carries far more weight in Heaven. It’s a life where He is seen and we are not … where much of what we do is behind the scenes, to advance His Kingdom instead of our own.
Many of you will have read Rick Joyner’s book The Final Quest years ago. Since that time he has completed that trilogy and started another. (See my Recommended Reading list) But if you haven’t read that book for a long time, I’d highly recommend reading it again. It’s one of those things that only gets better and more relevant as time goes by. Here are some quotes from that book regarding success from people who lived their lives on this earth then died and went to Heaven. Here is the truth they found there:
“What looks good on earth looks very different here. What will make you a king on earth will often be a stumbling block to keep you from being a king here. What will make you a king here is lowly and not esteemed on earth.”
“The more influence that you gain by your own self promotion, the more striving you must do to keep your influence, and the more dark and cruel your life will become. Anything you do because of political pressures or opportunities, will only lead you to the end of your true ministry. If you do not live what you preach to others you disqualify yourself from the high calling of God. Love the Savior and seek His glory alone. Everything that you do to exalt yourself will one day bring you the most terrible humiliation. Everything that you do out of true love for the Savior, to glorify His name, will extend the limits of His eternal Kingdom and ultimately result in a much higher place for yourself.”
Doesn’t God use people to build His Kingdom? Yes, of course. We get to help. God is not afraid of heroes. He builds them Himself. But up to this point in time, too many of those who are called to large public ministries have fallen prey to the power, the prestige and the occasional wealth that may bring. This has largely been due to spiritual immaturity. However, there is a new breed arising on the scene now. They cut across all levels of society. Age and gender are not an issue. These have been tried in the fire and are coming forth as gold. They are like David, with the courage of a lion and a heart of intimacy with the Lord. They care neither for the criticism or the praise of men but seek only the approval of the King. They stand for His truth, even under threat of death. ( Rev.12:11) T hese are going forth to build His Kingdom, an unshakable Kingdom that will never be stopped. Will you be one of them?
There may seem to be a conflict between the hidden life and a truly successful (from His perspective) ministry in building His Kingdom. But they are really 2 sides of the same coin. Fruitfulness flows out of a deep intimate relationship with Him. We will discuss this aspect further as it relates to success in the next posting.
True success in this life depends largely on how much of Christ is formed within us. This is what the Father is looking for. (Rom.8:29, 2 Cor.3:18, Gal.4:19, Rom.12:2 ) Everything that we ‘do’ here will only be an outflow of that foundational relationship. Christ in us. ( Gal.2:20, Col.1:27)
There is a new breed of disciple rising up. They have been in a hidden place of preparation. Many have experienced severe testing in the fires of God and are now coming forth as gold. They are stepping into their place and rank in the army of God, clothed in armor and weapons that are not of this world. They are the burning ones.
Many of these are young, in their 20s and 30s. Some are even younger. But their age in years is no match for their maturity in the Spirit. Some are already becoming high ranking officers under the leadership of the One they love. They are willing to die for Him if necessary and their love for His people is only eclipsed by their love for Him. They are wholly His.
They walk in peace, even in troubled times. There is a purity of spirit about them that is staggering to the natural mind. It will either draw or repel people. There is not much middle ground. (2 Cor.2:15,16) They are unlike any generation before them. The past with it’s religious entrapments has been cut off. They have no spiritual baggage to bring with them into the future. They are completely His … in love, in humility, in joy, in courage and the power of the Holy Spirit. They are able to see and hear clearly and they are given the wisdom to know what to do with those things that are shown to them.
They have little interest in the things of the world outside of bringing His Kingdom here to change this world. They seek a city whose builder and maker is God. (Heb.11:10,13-16) They are on a quest for the high calling of God in Christ Jesus. (Phil.3:14) They live to be conformed to His image and as a direct result of this, they are able to be used for His Kingdom purposes without their own agenda getting in the way. They have crucified their own will and now simply have none but His.
This is not just for those who are in a certain age bracket. If you are alive on this earth now, this is your generation. It’s your time. He is inviting you on this high quest of pursuing Him in full surrender. If your heart is burning within you as you read this, it is His voice calling to you. And if not? Ask Him for more hunger and thirst. Those who hunger and thirst for Him shall be filled. (Matt.5:6)
Don’t allow the busyness of life to keep you from what you were created for – the grandest adventure of all. It’s a very poor exchange.
From where you stand, things can look very discouraging at times. It can even seem like you are the only Christian around. Or that may even be true in your circles. You may in fact be the only one in your family, in your school, at your work place. Even in your church, it may be a very religious place where people really have no relationship with God. But if all we see is the smallness and confinement of the place around us, we are in danger of being overwhelmed with discouragement.
The prophet Elijah found himself in a place like that. He was not confined to a small place but travelling throughout Israel proclaiming the word of the Lord and confronting the religious spirits that had risen up against the people of God. It seemed as if no-one wanted to hear God’s message any more. After a very great victory on Mt. Carmel with the false prophets of Baal, Jezebel sent word that she was going to kill him. (1 Kings 19) Elijah ran for his life and finally ended up at Mt. Horeb where God encountered him once again. When God asked him “What are you doing here?” He responded, “I’ve been very jealous for You. The children of Israel have forsaken Your covenant, thrown down Your altars and slain Your prophets with the sword. I am the only one left and they seek to kill me.”
It’s interesting to me that the Lord chose to ignore the way Elijah felt at the time. He didn’t even respond at first to Elijah’s discouragement but rather handed him his next assignment. Basically He said ” Get up! Go to this place and that place and anoint these people and here’s what will happen.” And then in a quieter tone of voice He said, “By the way … I have 7000 left in Israel who have not bowed their knee to Baal. You are not alone as you thought.”
When the Lord asks you “What are you doing here?” or “Why are you doing this?” it’s not because He doesn’t know. It’s because He wants you to see the truth. Many times the way you feel about something is not the truth of how things really are.
I meet people from different nations, different denominations and different churches who all tell me the same thing. “It’s just so hard here, people don’t seem to care, we need revival but there seems to be a religious spirit here.” Of course there is! As long as we live in this realm we will have religious spirits to deal with. But we must learn to encourage ourselves in the Lord as David did. One good cure for discouragement is finding out the amazing things God is doing around the world in other parts of our family.
We need to be informed about what is really happening, especially if we live in isolated places. We have the world at our fingertips now with the ability to watch videos and read testimonies and prophetic words online. Sharing these things with those around you will be like blowing on the embers and rekindling the fire of God within them. Gather them to watch a conference in your living room with prophetic speakers that you know and trust. See what God is saying to those in other countries and how it echos what He is saying to you and to the prophetic voices in your area. There are many trusted sources under my Recommended Reading and Recommended Links tabs at the top of this page. Check out Elijahlist to see what God is saying for 2014.
I have seen the army of God arising with my own eyes. I have been in schools where Heidi Baker is training 200 people (from dozens of nations, several times a year) to be radical lovers of Jesus, running into the darkest places on earth to bring His love and light. (www.irisglobal.org) She is only one of thousands around the world who are training warriors for God’s end time army. The genuine love and honor among them rivals the early church. Their goal is to become transformed into the image of Christ. They will not break rank. They will not turn and run when the battle rages. They will give their lives as martyrs if necessary and understand the great honor of being counted worthy to die for Him. I have seen them arising in many nations and I have no fear for the future of the true church of God.
You are not alone. You have a great host of brothers and sisters who are fighting with you. The training may at times be fierce but it is necessary to transform us into His image so that we have His mind and His will, not our own. Ours would get us killed. These are choices we make now, not out of duty but because of our love for Him and the honor of being a part of His great end time purposes. His army wins. Light will always defeat the darkness.
Joshua 1:9 – Have I not commanded you? Be strong and brave. Do not be afraid or discouraged, for Jehovah your God is with you in all places where you go.