Answering The Call is an international missions organization dedicated to reaching people in difficult to reach places.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Es No Easy

In Costa Rica we have a saying we often use.   We like to say, “es no easy!”  It’s a mixture of English and Spanish meaning “it’s not easy”.  It is a statement on the inconvenience, if not difficulty of life in the jungle.  This phrase is fitting particularly when trying to accomplish the smallest of things.  Those who come for a week or two can be enraptured in the beauty of the place and enjoy that the logistics are taken care of by someone else.  This is good and right, but those who are there for longer periods of time soon realize the truth that, “es no easy” in the jungle.

I awoke one morning recently in the town of Juba in Southern Sudan.  It seems the jet lag would only allow for a certain amount of sleep.  I began to think about this place.  Many years ago I tried to come to this area.  It was different then.  At that time this region appeared to be a daily theatre a bombings from Islamic troops out of Northern Sudan in an attempt to take this strategic location.  The land mines planted on the road between here and Nimule made it impossible for us to access.

Finally the Islamic government of the north did seize this town.  I was once there during the height of the war.  It was a day I will never forget as we were invited by the people of the south to preach to a garrison of soldiers, true freedom fighters who would march that day in an attempt to retake this portion of their homeland.  We went. They marched. And many died in that campaign.

I remember three or four years later going through the same town after the south had retaken it.  How odd it was that day as the small plane landed in what had once been such a central part of the war.  The grass landing strip was still surrounded by soldiers but the clear smell of victory was in the air.  I was thankful for it.

As our team arrived several weeks ago I noticed many changes since my last visit.  There is an airport now.  I don’t mean to say it’s like the airports of our major cities but it is complete and functional.  It includes a terminal and well paved runways.  Flights now arrive on a daily basis from Ethiopia, Kenya and Egypt.  Not only is there an airport but there are also other buildings as well.

There are people from many of the tribes in South Sudan in this region.  It has become a bustling place of commerce.  As we pulled up into the guest house where we would stay, church bells were ringing as people gathered for public worship.  This may be the biggest change.  There was once a day when a large gathering for public worship would have been more than enough reason for the fundamentalists troops from the north to open fire on the crowd.

We ate our dinner in peace.  A dinner which included beef much to my delight.  After dinner we retired to comfortable beds to sleep the night away.  I woke extremely early.  I prayed for our journey.  Names and faces came to mind and I prayed for each one.  I prayed mainly for God to move in the course of our time here.  I prayed especially for the victimized women and children we would be spending time with.  I also prayed for the nomadic tribes we would interact with and show the Jesus film to.

As I prayed, or maybe as I finished praying, I began to hear the early call to prayer from a nearby mosque.  I thought about this city and all that transpired here over the last fifteen years or so and I realized again that, “es no easy.”

It wasn’t easy as the enemy bombarded this place.  It was even worse when they finally took control of it.  It wasn’t easy, and in fact it was very costly to retake this ground.  The rebuilding wasn’t easy either.  To be honest I realize it also won’t be easy to hold this ground now that it has been reclaimed. 

There are some I know who glibly talk of the blessing and ease of a walk with Jesus.  I’ll admit to sometimes feeling a little less than when I am around them.  In the end though I generally come to the conclusion that they are either suffering from western delusions, unexposed, afraid, in denial or perhaps even dishonest.

“Es no easy.”  It’s better, it has purpose and meaning, but it is not easy.  When Joshua led the Israelites into the land that God had promised, they were guaranteed victory.  They also understood that victory would not come with out a battle. Es no easy when the enemy launches a multi-front assault.  Es no easy when he occupies some territory that isn’t his or when we attempt to retake ground that is promised to us but he is currently holding.  Es no easy when we fortify our defenses and hold the ground we have captured that he once inhabited.  Perhaps only western Christians are lulled into thinking that it is supposed to be easy.

In this same manner, I am aware this morning of the promise of victory that is mine in Christ.  I am also aware of a stream of theology that places all of that victory in the by and by.  I believe that to be less than full gospel.  So, I embrace the notion that a good portion of the promise is for the here and now.  However, I do not think it will be realized apart from battle.  The battleground may be mostly in our minds.  The battle may be over a loved one.  The battle may be dying to self and living to Christ. 

However, what is the alternative?  To lay defeated and crushed beneath the enemies brutal assault on our lives?  To give into the self-indulgent, self obsessed culture that leads only to depression and despondency?  To hibernate, isolate and close yourself off from loving, living, giving and receiving?  Or will you stand up and fight and reclaim what is yours in the Lord Jesus?  There are no victims or orphans in the household of God.  If you have been victimized, like the Sudanese were, then Jesus came to reclaim, redeem and restore you to be more than a conqueror, but you’ve got to at least engage the battle.  Es no easy, but it sure is better!

David Fuller

Friday, October 12, 2012

Isolation

Sometimes I go to isolated places.  I will soon go to a place that is arguably one of the most isolated places on earth.  Getting there requires three legs of an international flight which takes at least 26 hours.  Upon landing and a brief overnight, the trip still calls for another hop in a two hour UN flight.  Then the real trip begins as we will drive another six hours to the village where our friends live.  At this point we are almost at our destination and a mere one to two day walk will get us all the way there!  Not hard to see why this basically un-evangelized people group is so isolated.

More profound is to consider not why these folks are so isolated, but instead to recognize the impact of that isolation.  For them isolation has meant vulnerability.  They have been attacked from all sides.  They are vulnerable at this point because an attack can be carried out and a slaughter occur before anyone even knows about it.  And so, in their vulnerability they have suffered.  Their isolation means that not only do others not know of their suffering, but also that great effort is required to come alongside them.  History suggests that an effort of this level is not readily found.  In fact, after numerous attacks their situation continues to deteriorate as the enemy recognizes that no real response to crisis ever seems to fully play out.  Along with isolation comes cold and stark poverty.  Many of the casualties of this isolation are not fortunate enough to experience a quick merciful death at the end of a rifle.  Instead, the end drags on through the misery of starvation and lack.  This timeline provides no relief without the distraction of entertainment and loved ones.

Sounds like Hell.  It is.  Isolation is Hell.

Sometimes, as I return to the states I am quite conscious that many I know and love also live in isolation.  While this isolation has risen for different reasons it has the same impact.  It is devastatingly destructive.  For many of us isolation is driven by a self protection mechanism that shuts down our ability to be vulnerable.  The crazy thing is that this self imposed isolationism causes us to become even more vulnerable.  The thing we were trying to avoid in the first place.

The Lord often speaks to me in songs.  Many times these are not Christian songs.  It is my contention that truth is His commodity not ours and with revelation we can find it in a lot of places.  While in a recent conversation at a local restaurant with a friend, discussing the nature of the battle at hand and what would be required of us in the fight to come, I begin hearing the song playing in the background.  I was sensing that this song was giving insight into the enemy’s tactic.  It was suggestive of how, and even what, we must fight.  One of the mane tactics I see the enemy use to wear down the saints these days is isolation.

I understand when it comes to the economy, and particularly money supply theory, that we are teetering on a cliff.  I also understand the explosive nature of the Middle East and the impact that region spiraling out of control could have on us.  In the end, the need is not for cash it is for commodities.  I am more convinced that the real battle is  around the issue of our isolation.

The song playing rang out...

    “And I don’t want the world to see me,
    cause I don’t think that they’d understand.
    When everything’s made to be broken
    I just want you to know who I am.”

There is a desire in all of us to want to be known for who we are without the fear of rejection.  Is it possible that we isolate out of that fear?  Is it possible that God sees our brokenness and in His kind and patient understanding gives an answer to that brokenness rather than reject us for it?  Will there ever come a day when the people of God gather and find this reflected in their midst providing a safe place?

For many it seems that a bar stool and a fine bourbon is a much safer place than a gathering of His people.  At the corner bar pretense breaks down to the extent that our broken condition finds no need to be hidden.  In fact, it’s even understood.  In the bar, along with deadening impact of the bourbon, a safe place can seemingly be found.  It can be said that the false (found in this scenario) is generally evidence that the real exists.  It also become clear why so many buy the lie.  It’s easier to live a lie when you don’t see evidence of what is real.

In the song the artist sings of his hope for a cure through relationship.  He says,

    “I’d give up forever to touch you cause I know that you feel me somehow.”

I am somehow aware that the Lord feels me.  That I exist in His consciousness.  I think I would be willing to give up forever just to touch Him.  To know, even experientially once and for all, that he doesn’t and won’t reject me in my obvious brokenness.  Sounds like a dream doesn’t it.  It’s not a dream.  I am convinced that it is precisely what He is continually telling us. 

Many today are disillusioned by God and the church.  This disillusionment has led to isolation.  In their isolation they have become vulnerable to the lies the enemy craftily weaves leaving them even more vulnerable.  Like it or not, the truth is we need each other, especially in this day and age.  This is why the scripture exhorts us not to forsake gathering together to encourage one another, especially as we see the day drawing near.  You don’t have to isolate.  It is a choice.  Take a risk.  A risk towards your Maker who knows you, your hurts, your sin, your brokenness, and your healing.  It may be fundamental in what your need to fight today’s battles and the coming war.

David

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Infiltration

The word I am hearing today is “infiltration.”  I believe it to be a word from the Lord.  Certainly a word for me and perhaps a word for the body.

Something we see throughout scripture is that what we see happening in the physical realm is a reflection of what is going on in the spiritual realm.  For example, the story and events of the Old Testament are physical pictures of a coming spiritual reality.  Knowing this helps us properly understand it and apply it.  Jesus later tells us to pay attention to the seasons and even to the signs of the times.  This is true obviously with respect to our eschatology but can also be applied to our walk with Him and the body on a daily basis.  In our day-to-day walk it is essential to know what’s going on around us and what He is doing in it so that we can put into context what He is speaking to us.  According to the dictionary the definition of infiltrate is the following:
  • to filter into or through; permeate
  • to move into (an organization, country, territory, or the like) surreptitiously and gradually, especially with hostile intent
  • to pass a small number of (soldiers, spies, or the like) into a territory or organization clandestinely and with hostile or subversive intent
Infiltration is the accumulation of something in a host where the substance of the accumulation is not normal, or does not belong to the host.  To understand that, and keeping in mind that the physical is a reflection of the spiritual, allow me to share a couple of thoughts that help us get the picture.

I have thought over the last few years, “these are crazy days.”  True, but the picture goes beyond that.  There have been lots of crazy days in the worlds history.  What makes these days different from other crazy days is that we live in a time when the enemy seeks to infiltrate us on many fronts, primarily I believe, in our thoughts and minds.  Daniel 7 tells us of a time when the enemy will speak out against the Most High and wear down the saints of the Highest One.  But we know from Revelation 12 that we overcome him because of the blood of the Lamb, the word of our testimony and we do not love our lives even when faced with death. 

My sense lately has been that the enemy is trying his best to infiltrate the lives of those we love.  Perhaps through addiction, unconfessed sin, shame over past committed sins or sins done to us, unforgiveness, believing the lies of the enemy, despair, a stronghold of fear, or perhaps just plain worldliness.  Maybe some of you recognize where infiltration has occurred.  Maybe some of you can’t identify where but at least recognize that it has.  Can I encourage you that the identification of what has or is attempting to infuse itself, along with the recognition that it does not belong, is immediate grounds for it’s disbursement.  In every day language, in the authority that Jesus has given you tell it to leave!

Beyond that and perhaps even more critical, foster times of intimacy with the Father.  Intimacy with Him allows a continual infilling of His spirit, even to the point of saturation.  In these days this is our protection and will allow not only survival but victory.  In the study of hydrology infiltration is the process by which ground water enters the soil.  The infiltration rate is the measure of how quickly the soil can absorb this water.  When the soil becomes totally saturated the infiltration rate drops to zero.  Herein lies the key.  When the body is totally saturated with the Holy Spirit then the infiltration rate of a foreign substance is zero.  In hydrology, at the point of saturation, the ground water becomes what is known as run off.  In our context I think of a different term.  When a believer is fully saturated and as he gathers with other believers who are fully saturated, there is run off of the spirit and the enemy simply can not stay!

So beloved, renew your minds with the truth of God’s word.  Praise Him for what He accomplished at the cross on your behalf.  Speak out loud the testimonies of Jesus in your own life.  Don’t shrink back and love your life at the expense of losing it.  Give your life away.  Do something for someone else.  Love boldly.  Change the way you think.  Get outside of yourself and you will find that the infiltration of that thing begins to leave.

Praying for you!

David

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

So Many Thoughts...

Upon returning from DR Congo it is to be expected and quite normal for people to ask “How was your trip?”  Or “How was Congo?”  I find myself in dilemma because I never really know how to answer that question.  The team was awesome.  Ministry was great.  However, Congo is chaotic, dusty, dirty, sad, hungry and desperate.  Rather than give a commentary on our trip I will just let you inside of my head.  Here are some thoughts and questions that invaded and traveled across my mind while I was there and upon my return home.

Who are the powers to be?  How did a country fall from blessing to such depravity?  What led to its destruction?  Could America ever fall to such depravity?  Are we naive and asleep?  Why is there no presence of the international community in Congo, a country devastated by multiple wars?  Why is the International community selective about where they get involved and where they abstain?  Is it because they too have their hand in the pot and are looking out for their own personal gain?  These questions are too big for me but they haunt me. America is far from perfect, and in fact our foreign policies have brought devastation to untold numbers which we will never hear about in our news. At the same time, one is blessed to be born into a country that is not war torn, where food is accessible,  and where personal freedom is valued. I repented for the times I have spoken ill of our country.  My trip did however cause me to want to be more informed about the things that are going on in our country.  Freedom is not something to treat carelessly.  I was acutely aware that deception starts somewhere and always ends in destruction.  What would I do if this were me, trapped in a life of poverty with no way out?  I realized that this could be me.  And it made me question why it’s not.  I wondered why I didn’t give more.  It made me angry that life for some is dark, desperate, tiresome and weary.  Not by their choice but at the hands of evil. I pondered daily the verse, “to whom much is given much is required.”  I know that I am one of the ones to whom much has been given and much is required.  I wondered what Jesus thought and felt as He walked through the towns and villages.  I longed to have His compassion and love. Being there made me know that I will not give up praying for healings and miracles. Whether I see them or not.  Irregardless of what people think.  And in spite of the skeptics.  Why do we need a spelled-out-doctrine on healing anyway?  Is it their faith, my faith, God’s will, timing, sovereignty?  This all sounds lofty when you stare hungry children and rape victims in the face.  I certainly don’t have all the answers but I kept wondering why isn’t it enough that Jesus said go do it?  I know I don’t want to spend the rest of my life just talking about Jesus.  I want to demonstrate Him.  Screaming loudly in my ears is ‘Jesus is the answer”.  But also screaming in my head is “just as God sent Jesus into the world, He so sends us” which means I am also part of the answer.  Oddly enough, being there made me love Jesus more.  It re-confirmed to me that everyone needs to go.

Joy

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Crazy Summer

I have had every intention of writing for the ATC blog this summer. But as we all know, good intentions and effective execution are not the same thing. We have had an amazing time in Costa Rica with all who have come. The first team was a group of high schoolers and we were pleasantly surprised at their hunger for the Lord. They ministered in the local community with joy and ease. We hosted our first conference at Refugio Solte' this summer and we really had no idea what to expect but knew we wanted God to show up. Rocking the Rainforest with Bryan and Katie Torwalt from Jesus Culture was better than expected. God showed up! Generation of Promise exceeded our expectations. I am still pondering all that God did. We will be hosting three more teams who will come for missions and outreach in the towns of Uvita and Florida, Costa Rica.

I still have intentions of writing ore about the summer but for now I am off to Congo. Two days home from Costa Rica and my heart and mind now shifts to another people group in another nation. I am asking God for a powerful demonstration of His Kingdom come, on earth as it is in Heaven. We go in the name of Jesus, for the honor and glory of Jesus, remembering the nations are His inheritance. There are 9 of us leaving today for Bukavu, DR Congo. We ask for your prayers.

Over and out with peace, love, grace, mercy, and


Joy


Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Keeping it Real

As a student of current events and with the offering of facebook IPO, I’ve been thinking a lot about our culture in the day-and-age of facebook world.  My musings in this post are not to be critical.  It is an honest attempt to look at the impact the virtual world has on all of us, myself included, and our response as believers in a world filled with vanity.

Several years ago my oldest son and I were on our way home from Costa Rica where we had spent a good portion of our summer.  The cover of Newsweek magazine caught my eye in the airport so I picked it up to read on the flight home.  The cover was a picture of a face that was divided straight down the middle.  One half of the face was a real human and the other half was a perfectly computer generated picture of a human face.  The article was about the rise of virtual reality in our culture.  I must say it was quite daunting.

Basically the article went into detail about how, through the internet, people could create whatever life they wanted.  Using certain computer software one could create his perfect life.  He could construct the flawless family, the spotless spouse, the perfect profession, a six-figure salary, an impressive investment portfolio, and albeit virtual, he would proceed to live in his created world by interacting via the internet with others who had also created their perfect world.

This may sound extreme and some may say, “it’s just a game” but we must ask ourselves what kind of impact does the imaginary “virtual world” have on our culture.  In the face of a virtual reality how can what is truly real even begin to compete?  A virtual reality exists solely in the mind of an individual and is in fact, not reality at all.  Social media is an awesome tool for marketing, informing and keeping in touch with friends, not to mention that it can be quite fun.  And also dangerous.

For instance, on facebook you can create any image of yourself that you desire.  If you want to appear sexy, glamorous and rich then you crop and post your photos that depict this image.  If you want to appear generous and caring then you post captions and perhaps a photo of your latest benevolent mission.  If you want to look like you can keep up with the Jones’s then post away on your own little corner of virtual reality called facebook, a place where one can become bigger on the outside than they are on the inside.   A course that will inevitably lead to internal implosion.  The tragedy is when you begin to believe your own press you no longer live in reality. 

What about face-to-face friends rather than 3,000 virtual ones?  What about actually having conversations and getting involved in peoples lives rather than merely “commenting” or “liking” a million different posts on a zillion different pages.  What about the temptation to snoop around on other peoples pages which then leads to the temptation to compete with “their facebook life”. 

Where are the real people?

I am not anti-facebook. Well, I kind of am right now.  The self promotion and sometimes, quite frankly, lies that people post on facebook to make themselves look good, or prop up some kind of agenda, has led me to some serious thinking regarding this virtual realty our culture seems obsessed with. 

Virtual reality extends beyond the keys on our computers. This phenomenon impacts what we see and take into our minds on a regular basis.  No woman can compete with the airbrushed and manipulated photography seen on the cover of popular magazines at the grocery store check out line.  This leaves any woman extremely disadvantaged if she believes what is virtual is actually real.  Perhaps, there is not enough room in this blog to discuss the problems created by a husband who has subjected his mind to the virtual reality of pornography causing him to forsake his real wife, in one way or another, for something virtual.  It is reminiscent of Paul’s writings when he wrote, “...we know that an idol has no real existence and that there is no God but one.”

I wonder how it is the church can survive and thrive without prostituting herself in the age of self promotion; or buying into the idea that she must market herself in order to compete in this ever-so-self-indulgent-age.  How does she remain pure and genuine in a culture obsessed with image?

I am not opposed to marketing.  Marketing and informing your audience is good and sometimes a necessary and useful tool.  However, there is a fine line between informing and fluffing up in order to create a desirable image that is perhaps not real.  I guess it goes to the heart and motive, and only God knows that.   One thing I do know is that we need to stop trying to impress the world by looking like the world and begin impressing the world by looking like the One in whose image we were created.

Someone once wrote, “Whatever is genuine, whatever is sincere, whatever is pure, whatever is wholesome, let these things proceed from your life.” (paraphrased) Someone also once said, “What is created by the flesh must be maintained by the flesh.  What is created by the Spirit will be maintained by the Spirit.”  I want spirit.  Flesh is exhausting. 

Just some musings from someone who desires to live in the real.

Joy Fuller

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

A Victorious Journey

About a month before we were scheduled to leave on a trip to the Middle East, the Lord put 2 Corinthians 2:14 “Thanks be to God, who in Christ, always leads us in triumphal procession, and through us spreads the fragrance of the knowledge of Him everywhere” on my heart.  At first, I was really struck by the idea of spreading the fragrance of the knowledge of Him.  It hit me that maybe the fragrance that I was spreading while trying to share my knowledge of our Lord probably was not always the best.  Even while saying the correct words, are the sweet fragrances of our Lord being emitted, or maybe the stench of pride or arrogance.  And the scripture says He spreads the fragrance of the knowledge of Him everywhere.  Wow.  Where ever I go, or where ever I am, I am emitting a fragrance.  I wonder what my presence smells like?

So it was in this frame of mind that I left for the Middle East with three other men.  As I was sharing these thoughts on the trip over, I actually could not remember if the verse included the word “always”.  After all, sometime in following Christ, it does not feel victorious in my American mind.  As a matter of fact, I am starting to wonder if there is a direct, but inverse correlation between my relationship with the Lord and my personal financial statement…But God’s promise is to always lead us in victory.  Which really leaves two questions – am I following His leading, and is my definition of triumph the same as His?

In His grace, it was an incredible joy and privilege to join His triumphal procession through Jordan and Lebanon in April.  Our team saw the Lord establish a ministry in an evangelical church in Amman Jordan to aid Syrian refugees through an Islamic charity.  We met a convicted murderer transformed by the love of Christ through a relationship with Him.  We had the opportunity to discuss the Source of tolerance to Palestinian and Iraqi representatives to a Middle Eastern conference on tolerance Conference, have lunch (and pray for the food in the name of Jesus) with Muslim street racers in the heart of Sidon, and meet a young man of Muslim background in the Bekaa valley, who has recently given his life to Christ and who has led 26 other young men of similar background into a relationship with our Lord. 

We also had the opportunity to share the Word of God with congregations in Beirut, Mie y Mie, and Zahle.  But maybe the most important and rewarding thing the Lord enabled us to do was simply to spend time in fellowship and prayer with those warriors who are standing firm in the midst of rising pressure.  Please continue to pray for pastors Jihad, Aymen, Munther, Ibrahim, Chady, and Effat and all of those workers who are sharing the “fragrance of the knowledge of Him everywhere”.

Courtney Mauzy

Thursday, April 5, 2012

The Beatles and The Resurrection

I have never been a huge Beatles fan. I'm not really sure why. It may be their music. It always seemed a bit cheesy to me. I never really understood "Beatle mania" when there was Led Zeppelin and Lynyrd Skynyrd around. And even if you wanted to go softer there was always The Eagles or James Taylor. You see what I am saying, it's hard to go pop when classics are available.

It may not have been the music that actually squelched "Beatle mania" for me. It may have something to do with their self promotion. John Lennon once made the statement that he and his group were more popular than Jesus. I am a pretty laid back guy but every time I hear a Beatles song I think of that statement and wonder if lightning will soon strike. I suppose not wanting to be around if it does causes me to switch to Lynyrd Skynyrd pretty quickly.

I heard a recent news report that was supposed to create excitement, but for me it did not. The hot news was that the children of the famed Beatles are putting together a band in order to tour. I see where this might generate some excitement but not at my house.

I realized that this is about the extent of what the world has to offer. In this instance, namely, children who can do no better than ride the coat tails of their fathers. A bit sad really. They may make some money and may even, I hope, have a good time but it falls woefully short does it not.

Jesus once said that “we would do greater things than He did.” Upon reading and seeing all that Jesus did, how is this even possible? It is possible because of the resurrection. Jesus was raised from the dead and Ephesians tells us that the same power that brought Jesus up out of the grave is working in us! Unlike the Beatle children, Jesus did not intend for us to merely ride on His coat tails. He had something greater in mind. His ceiling was to be our floor. He fought the good fight and contended for the greater thing, enduring the cross and scorning the shame for the joy set before Him. We were that joy! His joy! He was contending for a family composed of sons and daughters of the King who would know their identity in Him and would live out their lives in resurrection power.

In the past year or so I have seen many situations where what the world has to offer falls woefully short. In Iran a deeply oppressed people who search for answers in a spiritual vacuum need solutions based in resurrection power rather than the political posturing of the world. In South India where persecution is both expected and experienced on nearly a daily basis, the world not only lacks solutions but even interest. The world’s unwritten ethic, I fear, is that if it doesn't touch me then I have no responsibility with respect to it. It's resurrection power that allows the bride to look beyond herself and recognize that when one part of the body suffers then the whole body suffers. In our quest for the miraculous let's not forget that the absence of self centeredness may be the greatest, most miraculous evidence of resurrection power.

Resurrection Power is promised to us. It is by it's nature superior to all other sources of power we see. The nature of it suggests that something that was dead is brought to life. It is suggestive of new creation. This is far superior than the world’s attempts at mere reformation, which is in fact, simply behavioral modification masked. Reformation may influence the future in a limited way but says nothing of the past. It contains no redemption.

I think that one of the enemy’s most effective strategies against the bride is to deceive her at precisely this point. This deception fools us into acting as if all we have available to us is behavioral modification techniques that are barely and only partially effective at best. My notion is that revelation of all that we have is just what then Great Physician has ordered. It is my contention that this revelation accompanied by the courage to walk it out brings with it huge implications at all levels of our lives.

Who knows it may even impact how we talk to our spouses and our children. The implications of it could even extend into the workplace or school. Who knows, it could even influence our relationship with our Father to the extent that transformation occurs.

My prayer for you and for me in the midst of Holy Week is that we could go beyond "Beatle like" existence and catch the revelation of the power of the resurrection that's ours.

David

Monday, March 12, 2012

Hearing God

We often ask God to speak. Perhaps our prayer should be that we would hear. I believe He longs to speak to us and in fact is doing so much of the time, but all to often we don’t have the ears to hear. Our minds are cluttered with the distractions of the world, thus our vision becomes dim and our hearing dull to the voice of the spirit. This makes us vulnerable to the enemy of our souls who looks to take opportunity on us. Think about a radio that is turned on but not tuned to the right frequency. It may be playing and you may be able to hear a few of the words intermittently; however, if not tuned to the right frequency it is mere noise, nothing but static, annoying and confusing. It must be tuned to the right frequency in order to hear the words and make sense. I am desperate to hear from God. I want to be tuned to His frequency. His words bring rest to my soul. When He speaks and I hear, confusion leaves and peace comes.

Jesus was desperate to hear from God as well. He was constantly withdrawing from the crowds to go be alone with His Father. He regularly sought time away from the distractions of His everyday life. He often went off alone to pray. He needed this. He depended upon it. He would not have fared well if He hadn’t. If Jesus was fully man, and scripture tells us that He was, then He must have struggled with the same things we struggle. The carnal world pulled on Him; vying for His attention. We know the enemy harassed Him. Jesus knew, being fully man, He could not walk the walk God had set for Him if He didn’t commune and hear from His Father.

If Jesus needed this, then why would we think we could walk the walk God has called us to walk without doing the same? I recently read a quote that went something like this, “Jesus did not come to show us what GOD could do as much as He came to show us what MAN RIGHTLY RELATED TO GOD could do.” Jesus showed us the way to live victoriously and triumphantly. He showed us what a man rightly related to God could do. He was tuned in to His Father and He only did what He saw His father doing.

A picture God gave me years ago that I will never forget came from the movie, A Beautiful Mind. The movie is based on the true life story of John Nash, whose character was played by Russell Crowe. Nash was a brilliant mathematician who suffered from paranoid schizophrenia. The movie portrays his battle with the voices in his head to the point that he becomes delusional and begins to lose his grip on reality. He was institutionalized at the height of his suffering but later went on to win the Nobel Memorial Prize in Economics. The two characters in the movie whose voices were perpetually in his head, harassing and tormenting him, playing a key role in his delusional thinking, were a little girl and a young man. After Nash’s recovery and upon winning the Nobel Prize, a reporter asked him what happened to the voices. Nash responded, “Oh, they are still there but I pay them no attention.” As he is saying this to the reporter, the screen depicts Nash walking out of a building, down the steps and onto a sidewalk while the two harassing characters walk alongside Nash from a short distance, their eyes intently focused on him seeking to get his attention. But, Nash walked straight ahead, eyes focused forward. He did not glance their way. He paid them no attention.

This scene depicts for us a spiritual reality. The distractions of the world and the voices in our head serve to distract us from the One who loves us and desires to speak clearly and tenderly to us. They bring condemnation, accusation, confusion, depression, hopelessness and are not from God. We must do as John Nash did, and pay them no attention. More importantly, we must do as Jesus did and take the time to get away from the distractions of the world and be alone with our father. This is where we will learn His voice and His will. This is where our souls will find what it is longing for; the place where our minds will be still; where we will gain the strength and courage to continue running the race set before us.

Joy

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

It's all about Heart

There is an old buddy of mine I am remembering today on Valentines Day. He was a guy who probably didn't feel very comfortable in the pews of a church on Sunday. I don’t think he felt real good about his occasional back row seat. I think he came primarily to appease his wife.

He was a little, maybe a lot, rough around the edges. He was a hockey coach and I am sure felt more at home in the grit and grind of this kind of competition. It was raw out on the ice and one could not be a poser for too long with out getting his face smashed against the glass. He was somewhat famous for his antics on the ice. To call him demonstrative in the face of a bad call would be an understatement.

There was a particular game I attended with my children, who were young back then, where he became animated to the point of being expelled from the game. (Not easy to do in a hockey match) From center ice, as he threw his clipboard into the air, I, along with the rest of the crowd, screamed our applause and the referee motioned for him to exit the building. This enthused the crowd even more.

As he exited the arena in the midst of the noise and chaos, he walked past my seat. Yes, I was front row on the ice where none of the action was to be missed. As he passed by me he paused and said, "Hey Dave, when are you preaching again?" I yelled back, "This Sunday coach." "OK", he said, “I'll be there.” Then he stopped and yelled at me again, "Do you know why! Do you know why I'll come?" The crowd thinking he was yelling at me roared even louder. I shook my head no. I had no idea why he would want to come other than to appease his wife and I figured he could do that on any Sunday.

He kept yelling as he poked his finger in my chest, "because you got heart, that's why, you got heart!" He may have even added an explicative or two that should not be utilized in this blog but I knew what he was talking about. It was maybe the greatest compliment I have ever received as a preacher. A moment I will hang on to for the rest of life I would imagine.

I think that's why I always liked the coach. Even though we probably didn't agree on every jot and tittle of theology, I liked him because he had heart. He was never shy to go to battle and when he did he gave one hundred and ten percent. The kind of guy who liked to cut through the "crapola" and get right down to the heart of a matter. It's interesting to me that a guy like this didn't feel like he fit so well in church. I suppose I am not so sure he did either. I've been thinking the last couple of days that this is antithetical to scripture.

I came across this passage in the Old Testament. "For the Lord sees not as man sees: man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart. This sounds more like the coach than it does some believers but it's a biblical statement on how God views things. A religious spirit from the pulpit might use this to engender condemnation and a successful alter call. This Spirit may even want to remind us that "the heart is deceitful above all things." Today on Valentines day I think I want to challenge some of that and suggest that these passages be put in context so that the truth can be celebrated and even lived out.

There was a great Old Testament Prophet who foresaw a time when things would be different; a time when Messiah would come and call a people of heart to Himself as a kingdom was being ushered in. Speaking for God he says, "I will sprinkle clean water on you and you shall be clean from all your uncleanliness and from all your idols I will cleanse you. And, I will give you a new heart.” Those of us who would count ourselves as citizens in the kingdom should be on this Valentines Day celebrating the new heart we have received and allowing life to flow out of it as we reject the lies the enemy would spin into our conscience that keep us bound to a mediocre existence.

Thanks coach for the compliment and for the valuable lesson.

Happy Valentines Day, enjoy your new heart!

David Fuller

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

So Lord, We Wait

As Jesus walked the earth He gave us insight as to what our experiential understanding of the kingdom will be. Later, the Apostle Paul gives a sort-of-state-of- the-union address to the citizenry of His kingdom, He says in Romans the kingdom of God is “righteousness, peace and joy...” Well now, there is a good word. Who wouldn't want some of that action. A couple questions can linger in our minds over all this. Is this true for all people at all times?

It seems so. Paul writes of a peace that passes understanding. He writes this during the course of some days that would appear less than peaceful. The one I like best is John. As he writes what is to be his last treatise to the churches in Asia minor he begins his writing by saying, "I am writing that you may have joy..." Now this blows me away, particularly because he writes from imposed seclusion on a not so pretty Greek island. As he is left to die, his mind must have remembered all of his loved ones who were now dead because of their status as citizens in this Kingdom Jesus brought to earth, threatening the nucleus of power in Rome. He was likely dirty and hungry. With seemingly no hope and no future you can almost feel the kindness in his voice as he says to the spiritual children he loves so much, “I am writing in the midst of the persecution you face to remind you of the great joy you have in Christ.”

I was remembering all of this during my recent trip to India. India in my mind is a land of chaos. The chaos of India confronts you as soon as you deplane. Even as I rode from the airport to our first hotel the sounds, smells, and visions of chaos brought a heaviness to my spirit. I now understand, much better than I did in my youth, the blessing of a God who is a God of order. In my immaturity I believed order to be stifling and constrictive. I now recognize it as the atmosphere of freedom. Since order is not to be equated with control I prayed for the establishment of order in India. Godly order in the midst of a polytheistic chaos rooted in the turmoil of what really amounts to Demonic worship.

Our destination was to a group of believers who have suffered under the impact of this chaos. Their family members have been killed and justice is yet to manifest. Their children remain hungry and relief has become a distant dream. Even three years after their homes were destroyed many remain homeless as hope has been deferred and the world has yet to see.

So what about this truth that Jesus relates to his followers? What does righteousness look like in the midst of chaos? Is there a peace that passes understanding and a joy that exists outside of circumstance? The truth is that if not then this Kingdom we proclaim is of little value and our labor, in the devastation and aftermath of the persecution in this southern Indian region, is futile.

To my brothers and sisters in Orissa, India I say gently but also with great conviction:

"Those who sew in tears shall reap with shouts of joy!
He who goes out weeping, bearing the seed for sewing
shall come home with shouts of joy

bringing his sheaves with him."

In this psalm there is a here and now reality as well as a future reality. I have seen this here and now reality in the jubilant and joyful worship of a people who make clear distinctions between two kingdoms and who have no ambivalence with respect to their understanding of which they belong. This reality exists in the peace that the construction of a chicken house brings as the promise of daily eggs becomes a reality. The Kingdom comes in ways we don't expect. That's part of what makes it so cool! We, at times, even get to be a part of ushering it in and that is pretty cool too.

There is a future reality involved here also. The psalmist promises that they "shall come home with shouts of joy." I am reminded that this dear people, like me, are not yet home. Larry Norman used to sing, "this world is not my home; I'm just passing through." This instills a hope that can not be thwarted.

So Lord, we wait.

David

Friday, January 6, 2012

Dreams and Visions

One of my favorite songs of all times is the old hymn (kidding) "Dream On" by Aerosmith. I am not suggesting that Steven Tyler received an anointing from the Holy Spirit that prompted and facilitated the writing of this song. I may want to stretch a bit and say that at least some of what he says in his classic can serve as a reminder from the Lord.

Dreaming of potential future realities does serve a purpose. There are times for me when these dreams are silly and provide escape. While I don't want to live in that state, an occasional visit is nice. I remember once after having traveled through a particularly difficult period in my life I took a car ride with a friend of mine. He parked the car off Rt. 311 at a particularly beautiful meadow. As we got out of the car we both leaned on the front of it. Neither of us spoke. We leaned against the car for 15 minutes are so. I was wondering why we were there. I wondered why he didn't say anything. I even began to think that something was wrong. Finally, I asked him, "What are you doing”? He just looked at me and said, "Dreaming".

In that moment I realized that the enemy had been successful at snuffing out all of my Dreams. I was like a caged animal that couldn't see beyond the bars of my current reality. Not being able to see beyond the current reality kept me captured in it to a certain degree. That was a long time ago but I am still extremely grateful to my friend for teaching me to dream again. In fact, I believe that moment was one of the sharpest pivotal points in my life and not only do I think of it often, I also see good fruit that has come from it.

So, I suppose there is such a thing as day dreaming but more importantly there are times when God plants dreams in our hearts that He intends to bring to fruition. I doubt that Steven Tyler was aware of the Prophet Joel's prophecy, “And it shall be in the last days that I will pour out my spirit on all mankind and your sons and daughters will prophesy, your old men will dream dreams, your young men will see visions.” Or of Luke's reminder of it in the book of Acts to a new and emerging movement that would come to be known as the church. I do think it interesting that just after the Holy Spirit comes at the feast known as Pentecost, Peter stands up to explain what has just happened by beginning with Joel's prophesy. Obviously, a lot is going on here, but it is noteworthy to recognize that among what is being said is the reminder in verse 17 of chapter 2 in Acts, that the Holy Spirit has come and men will now dream dreams. Is it possible that dreaming is a result of the filling of the Holy Spirit we are told of earlier in the chapter?

As you move beyond just simple daydreaming can you identify the dreams that God has put in you? Do you believe He will include you as He brings them to fruition? It is my opinion that in a politically charged election year as we are surrounded by pundits who constantly remind of us impending doom that it is difficult to dream. I wonder if for some of us there are crushing financial realities brought on by decisions that seemed wise a few years ago but have since choked out much of our dreaming. It is possible that some of us are so trapped in cells of our own design that the enemy has convinced us that there is no possibility of an alternative reality. May God, through the filling of the Holy Spirit, renew or restore our ability to dream.

I'm seeing something about this whole dreaming thing. Apparently it happens best in community. Actually, community that looks a whole lot like family. We are told in the book of Joel that old men will dream dreams. We also find that young men will see visions and that sons and daughters will prophesy. One thing that I have seen this past year and am excited about carrying over in to this year is the interdependence that is suggested in this passage. I have dreams. (I suppose that makes me an old man.) Some of these dreams have come to fruition and others are still in process. The Lord is showing me this whole notion of my dreams being interdependent with the vision of an emerging generation and the prophetic declarations of my "sons" and "daughters". I am seeing that my dreams may not be fulfilled apart from the energy of fresh vision from younger men and prophetic reminders from my "children". I am also seeing that their vision can lack direction and their prophetic declarations can lay unfulfilled apart form an "old man's" involvement.

I love this interdependence. It is one of the threads that bind "families" together. My prayer is that for you and me, 2012 is a year where God imparts dreams and visions and as family we watch as they are fulfilled.

David Fuller