I wrote this psalm in March this year... it has become an anthem, a life-song, echoing in every step I take...
Praise be to God
Who has delivered my soul from religion
Praise be to the King
Who has delivered my heart from politics
For Pharisees had leavened my bread
And Herod baked his plot
Innocently I walked into the snare they had laid
Their poison flooded my mind
Their lies infected my soul
My strength failed me and my dreams died
But praise be to God who restores my hope
To the Lion of Judah who renews praise on my tongue
Herod and the Pharisees are exposed
Their agenda made plain for all to see
Their snares become like dust, their lies shrivel like autumn leaves
But I, I dwell in the Presence of The Lord
On His Throne of Grace I rest between His shoulders
Both now and forevermore.
What a wonderful subject… God’s goodness. His goodness is the very essence of His nature; it is the texture of His love, the disposition of His face towards His people. Every morning, in any moment, we can lift up our eyes and know He is smiling at us. God is not just always good, he is ONLY good – only, always, ever good. It is His will to bring good into every situation, into every person’s life. He sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous (Matt 5:45)… it is His goodness that leads to repentance (Rom 2:4), that He’s holding back Jesus return so that more would turn to Him (2 Pet 3:9)… He works all things to the good of those who love Him (Rom 8:28)… He gives us seed to sow out of the goodness of His grace, and He is good to His word – it WILL produce a harvest (2 Cor 9:10; Isa 55:10; Lk 8:8).
Some people say that God brings sickness or suffering into your life to discipline you. Or that he allows sickness so that you can learn things, to develop or refine your character. You know, for God to put sickness on you would mean that Jesus wasn’t wounded enough for you… for it’s by His stripes that we WERE healed (Isa 53:5; 1 Pet 2:24). What father would put cancer on his child to teach them a lesson? And if we believe God is allowing a particular sickness, how can we pray for healing or take medicine for that matter? No, it is always God’s will to heal – it is His GOOD, pleasing and perfect will (Rom 12:2).
Some say that it is to discipline us, punish us, when we sin. Some even go so far as to say that God brings natural disasters, like the tsunamis in Indonesia, as an act of judgment upon those nations. What they fail to understand is that for God to punish or judge anyone for their sin would mean that Jesus didn’t satisfy His wrath. The punishment that brought us peace was upon His shoulders (Isa 53:5). God judged the sin of every man, woman and nation in Jesus’ flesh. He poured out the wrath that all that sin deserved on Jesus. He is no longer angry. His wrath has been satisfied. His goodness is just, it is not a whimsical emotion or capricious mood. His goodness is not based on our performance, but finds its full expression through the just sacrifice of Jesus on our behalf (Col 1:19-20). The Father is now able to pour out the goodness of His nature on all people. At the birth of Jesus the angels sang, “Peace on earth and goodwill to man!!” (Lk 2:14) It is the unhindered display of the goodness of God that will bring people to Him.
All the years of the Mosaic law restrained his nature. Under the law He had to judge sin. Judgment and wrath brought some people to His kingdom out of fear… but most mocked and ridiculed. But now, ah but NOW, His goodness is revealed to us in the perfect Son of God. Unbelief in the goodness of God is our problem. All creation declares His goodness, ushering us into the reality of His nature: He is GOOD and His love endures forever (Ps 100:5).
I believe leaders are to help give wings to people's dreams. There are different types of leaders, but I believe this is the heart. We are helpers in other's joy! I think that when it gets complicated, we've missed the point and have moved into some religion...
As Andrew Wommack says, "Opinions are like noses. We all have one and they have a couple of holes in it." So this is my opinion and I'd love your feedback.
Just recently I was talking to a leader and we were discussing the issue of raising an expectation in someone for ministry that would end in disappointment. Here are my thoughts on the subject:
When leaders raise people's expectations by promising something that they don't deliver on, this is called 'dangling a carrot' and it kills dreams. That 'carrot dangling' has kept many powerful men & women confined in contexts with the hope that their dreams will be realised 'just around the corner'.... or the next... or the next...
Amongst many other things, this can produce a group of people who are out to 'get their own' and 'protect their own'. Their hearts are growing sick...and disillusioned. The feel critical towards the leaders one one hand, but then brown-nose the next minute for fear/hope that the 'door would be opened' for them. It can create a fickle people, jealous of each other, fighting over the scraps because there doesn't seem to be space for everyone... let alone for everyone to get POWERFUL in God. I could go on and on but it's not the focus of this blog post.
However, when leaders find what burns in someone and seek to give that wings, any expectation that builds in that person's heart is between them and God. A leader cannot control that, that is a person's personal relationship with God. A leader is simply to fan their dream into flame where possible, the rest is sacred to each saint. Not releasing someone for fear of the expectation it would raise in them is tantamount to control - it is taking the place of Christ as the only mediator between God and man - it elevates the leader above the saint, assuming that they know God's will and timing for that person.
The issue of "God's timing" has been misused. Timing is between God and the saint, not the leader and the saint. I know many, MANY, dear friends who have 'wasted' years and years 'waiting' until the leaders felt it was the right time to release them.
Leaders ought not to be finding reasons WHY NOT to release someone, but rather reasons WHY TO release someone. We don't understand the intricate connection between Intimacy with God, Identity and Destiny. We justify holding people back under 'their identity is wrapped up in their gifting'... we do nothing to to help them. We simply judge (which is often inaccurate) and then disqualify someone from the now call on their life.
Destiny is tightly bound to Identity...to Intimacy. They work together. Let people run with their dreams in the safety of your leadership. Let them make mistakes. Let them risk. LET THEM GET POWERFUL!!!!!
Leaders can create environments for people to risk, make mistakes, go even wilder... while at the same time helping them with stuff in their lives. How else do you learn? How else do you become powerful in God? How else are cities... nations going to be taken for Jesus?
Once again the cry can be heard sounding out to leaders of God's people:
LET MY PEOPLE GO!!!!
This is a significant word for our time. It’s called ‘Two Pathways’ and it is by a UK prophet called Christine Larkin. Spoken in 2007 this prophetic word continues to impact & inspire me. We pray Papa give us the courage and faith to embrace the unknown paths.Two PathwaysAs I was praying about the next season I felt strongly that what is coming is not a new season, but a whole new era. A time which is more significant than any other time on earth in terms of the church being shaken into the purposes of God. Seasons will merge as we move forward, just as the seasons on earth are being mixed up and weather patterns are surprising forecasters, so the church will begin to be unsettled as the winds of change begin to blow on all that is ‘known’.At the start of this time I saw two pathways opening up before each child of God. One was a flat path – called ‘Known’ and the other was a steep and winding path called ‘Unknown’. Along the first pathway were many words ‘of man’. The way ahead from the beginning of this pathway seemed to be clear – with a clear destiny/destination. Many voices could be heard discussing the best way to walk along this pathway. Along the second pathway were many words of the Lord. The way ahead for this path twists and turns and it is only possible to see a short way ahead. One voice can be clearly heard amidst the stillness and relative silence along the path.
The ‘known’ path will be for those who have faith to do great things for God. Those who take this path will find that they get what they have faith for. Much ‘success’ will be evident and the Lord will be present to speak wisdom to whoever will hear. Prophetic voices can be heard on this path and they are true voices – those who have seen what the Lord wants to do and many of the saints on this path are courageous and confident in the Lord, eager to serve him and willing to pay the price to see God’s will done on earth.
I knew that both pathways were costly to build and costly to walk on everywhere there were many places at which a ‘toll’ must be paid in order to go on.The starting point is the same for both paths – they joined together at the beginning and it was possible to start with one foot on each path. But then they widened sharply and the only way to make a step forward was to choose which path to take. Each path was diagonally opposed and it was almost impossible to see the other path once the first steps were taken.Each ‘step’ on both paths required choices – life choices, relationship choices, position and place choices. Once the first steps were taken there was no more opportunity to have a foot on both paths, as one path is the way of human choices and the other is one of abandonment to the leading of the Holy Spirit. However, the Lord was present on both paths. He was close to all who were walking on each of the paths. Once a decision was been made and the path was taken it was impossible to ‘view’ the other path. This was the grace and mercy of God to avoid confusion and judgement among the people.Also, once a path had been chosen it was almost impossible to turn back. Both paths had the presence and purposes of God on each side. But they were very different.
The ‘unknown’ path looks very different. Everyone on this path starts off on their faces, empty of all confidence in their own ability. These people have faith in God, but have been brought to the end of their own strength. All old visions and dreams have become meaningless to them as they realise this is a new era and that they have nothing in themselves to bring. Badges of success from the past, though valid and true, are irrelevant for the new path. Each one on this path is aware of great weakness in their own ability. They start to walk almost like they are crawling, almost flat on their faces, holding on to hope in the strength of Christ. Few voices can be heard at the start of this path and there is only one prophetic voice to be heard at the beginning – it is a simple phrase repeated over these prostrate saints – “let him who has ears, hear, what the Spirit is saying”.The two paths lay before us, Known and Unknown. The Unknown – where the Holy Spirit is totally in control. The Known – where people work hard to serve the Lord,Both paths are populated with God’s children.The starting point for the Unknown path is realisation, recognition and relinquishment of any vestige of self-reliance or expectation of ability to do anything in human strength. This starting point is not a choice – it’s a position, where self is at an end – personal ‘bankruptcy’; a crashing from self – weakness, wretchedness, blindness, and poverty of spirit – of self.Helpless but not hopeless.There’s stillness, a silence, not even sights or sobs – for these have gone before. At this place sights are really too deep to be uttered. The last breath of confidence in self is expelled.Leadership on this path will be sacrificial to God and man – it will be to release people.A new kind of church will emerge – built by the Spirit of God and populated by the those who have to hear and see what the Spirit is saying and doing. Any other way will be untenable on this path.Badges of success gained before this point in time will be meaningless. They will be a hindrance and distraction. For it is not what has gone before that will count – it will be each step forward into God’s purposes, led by the Spirit. This is a new era.New EraYou can’t read about it, learn about it, think about it or talk about it for it is not like any time before. It requires a place and position of surrender – to human plans or God’s leading.Each path will be populated across the span of diversity in the church – from Catholic, Orthodox expressions, through to Pentecostal and Charismatic – all coming together by the Spirit of God.This is the time for choices. Many people have been struggling in the past few weeks, unsure of what is happening and why they are feeling so unsettled. They know that something is about to change but are not seeing the way ahead. The next few months will be a time of significant choices. Even the smallest choice could have great significance. The choices will reflect the chosen path.Let us pray for right choices, courage and commitment.Christine Larkin
What a simple word: gratitude. So simple and so often abused, that we rarely access the latent power in it. Thanksgiving. Gratitude.
How may of us have had people say to us: “You are so ungrateful!” or “I didn’t hear you say ‘thank you’!” The word ‘thankfulness’ doesn’t rate high on our favourite words list. I think we view it like that for many reasons, especially for the one above. Thanksgiving has for many of us been in a context of etiquette or social expectation. It’s something we are expected to say when we are given a gift or something from another.
We need to change the way we see that wonderful word!
One of the words for ‘thanks’ in the New Testament is the word ‘homologeo’. This amazing word means ‘to say the same as’, ‘to agree’, ‘to confess’. I’m not sure if you’re getting the magnitude of this as yet, so let me explain a little what the Lord showed me.
Look at these verses:
Through Him then, let us continually offer up a sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of lips that give thanks (homologeo) to His name.
“…for with the heart a person believes, resulting in righteousness, and with the mouth he confesses (homologeo), resulting in salvation (sozo).”
To give thanks is an act of faith. Thanks is agreement. It is the AMEN to the word God speaks to us. Thanks in the Kingdom comes both before and after the God-given word is fulfilled. Thanks says, “I say the same as what God has said. Despite the circumstance, despite my feelings, despite what I see that is contrary. I’m not going to agree/align myself with what I see and complain. No, I agree with/align myself with His spoken word.”
Thanksgiving understands that no word, no rhema, from God is without power for fulfillment. When He speaks, thanksgiving celebrates its fulfillment in advance because it knows God’s word is sure. Faith, thanksgiving and praise are inextricably linked. What comes out of our mouth will either aid that rhema seed into fulfillment or hinder, even choke, its fulfillment. A person who is full of thanksgiving is anchored in the rhemas of God; that is someone who knows the goodness and faithfulness of God despite anything contrary around them. They know they are not a victim of a system or at the mercy of fate. No, they are powerfully governed by the supernatural reality of God’s Kingdom, where nothing is impossible!
"Father, I repent, change my mind about what I say. I return to believing in Your word above everything else. In this place, all my complaining leaves and is powerfully replaced by an irrepressible thanksgiving. He who began a good work in me, will be faithful to complete it!"
Some time back I read an amazing comment about worship in a book by Rick Joyner. Rick was describing a vision he had received from the Lord. He spoke about how there are myriads of angels worshipping the Lord day and night – glorious worship that we humans long to hear. And yet, He stopped and listened with the greatest tenderness to the broken worship of a few believers on earth. The often broken attempts at worship by human beings, who see only glimpses of His glory, are worth an infinite amount more than the worship of angels who see the fullness of His glory all the time. I’ve never forgotten that.
Worship is not the singing of songs. Worship is not even a life of good works or holiness. True worship is not based on performance, self-righteousness or theological cognizance. No, true worship is what is happening continually in the spirit of a believer. It is the source, the foundation, the soil, out of which everything grows and is made manifest. It is possible to sing a slow ‘worship’ song and not be worshipping. It is very possible to be doing all the right things and not be ‘worshipping’. Conversely it is possible to be singing a pop song and be worshipping. It is very possible to be getting some things wrong and still be worshipping.
God is not looking for a people who are trying to be free from sin, trying to be holy or obey His laws. He is longing for relationship. Relationship and worship are inextricably linked. We cannot relate to God on the basis of the law, law-keeping will hinder worship more than anything. God no longer relates to us on the basis of the law, He relates to us on the basis of what Jesus has done on our behalf. This revelation of being free from the law liberates the believer to express the worship that is unceasing in his/her spirit. And this worship, that comes from a liberated heart, results in all kinds of glorious, effortless fruit unto God.
As Matt Redman wrote in a song, “Worship comes from seeing You.” We cannot worship in spirit and truth while we are still behind the veil. We are hindered in our worship to the extent that His goodness is veiled to us. The veil of the law has been torn so that all who believe can look fully, boldly, confidently in the smiling, glorious Face of Jesus.
“But an hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth; for such people the Father seeks to be His worshipers.”
2 Corinthians 3:13-18
“…and are not like Moses, who used to put a veil over his face so that the sons of Israel would not look intently at the end of what was fading away. But their minds were hardened; for until this very day at the reading of the old covenant the same veil remains unlifted, because it is removed in Christ. But to this day whenever Moses is read, a veil lies over their heart; but whenever a person turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away. Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty. But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as from the Lord, the Spirit.”
The varied texture of worship cannot be confined to convention, formulas, methods, melodies, keys, frequencies or popular expression. Worship is as infinitely multi-faceted as our Creator... as Graham Cooke says, "Whatever God is, He is infinitely... He is love, infinitely; He is joy, infinitely..." We cannot simply reduce our knowledge of the character of God to twelve qualities we learn at a bible college...
He is infinite in Who He is, in His expression.
As a people, as His bride, as His body, we each, uniquely and exquisitely reflect a facet of His infiniteness. We cannot elevate our expression above or below another's. Coming together we bear His fruit, blend our unique fragrances into a sweet perfume for His pleasure. As we honour and love and prefer one another, the worship that is released is an intoxicating wine from Love Himself.
Worship is in praise, worship is in the fast and slow, the loud and soft, the crazy and calm, the prophetic and declaration, the intimacy and intercession... worship is the heart that sees Him - and He is all in all.
I had a dream some months ago where Heidi Baker said to me, "Be free from the care of religion. When religion tells you to sing softer, sing louder; when religion tells you to go faster, go slower..." The heart is simply one that is yielded to Him, His reality, and not to religious form or dictate.
The songs I write are an expression from my heart to my King and I don't ever want to conform to popular demand so as to be acceptable, to be purchasable. He has purchased me at the price of His blood - and that is the sweetest, richest treasure.
May you encounter Him as you listen. As a believer, you are already in the encounter of Who He is.
Enjoy Him, He's enjoying you.