Saturday, February 20, 2010

Out of the Desert!!!

My friends, it has happened! After 6 months in the desert, God has brought me out and into the next leg of the journey! This past Sunday I got some extra hope while gathering with my church, the Evanston Vineyard, and later on after the screening of "Furious Love" at Oak Park Vineyard. The next day, as I was praying with my roommate for a breakthrough (among other things), I sensed the Holy Spirit say to me, "TODAY." At first I wasn't sure whether to take that in faith and hold God to that, but I finally said, "You know God, I don't want to presume, but I think you're actually telling me that you're going to break through TODAY. So I pray that you would!" About an hour or so later, I get a call from one of the job leads I had interviewed for previously. And BOOM! I'm in. Training started the next day (Tuesday), and the rest is becoming history. It's been a long, hard week of training, but I am so glad to have some stable work after months of piecing together part-time contract gigs.

Here are a few nuggets of remembrance from the desert period. (There are much more, some of which you can read in greater depth through other blog posts here.):

Man really doesn't live by bread alone but by every word that comes from God's mouth. When God says there will be food on the table, or money to pay the rent and bills, there will be. It may not come in the way we expect, but it will be there. Whatever he says, goes.

Performance alone does not create progress. The necessary ingredient is Providence. In this desert, I learned that no matter how hard I strived, it didn't make a lick of a difference in how I was provided for. I know now that everything I have and ever will have is the result of God providing it for me. Sometimes he'll just give it easily, and other times he'll give it in such a way that we have to go out and take it. But the bottom line is that he gives it.

He is faithful, he is faithful, he is faithful. Last week was one of the hardest weeks I have had in a long time. Feeling the strain of not having enough work, getting rejected by job leads and not experiencing any progress in terms of the job-search all weighed in on me, with the voice of Satan (or more likely, his minions), saying, "You're gonna fail. God's going to push you out of this place. You'll have to move back home 'cause you can't make it here. Your time is up. Go back. You did what you could." Lies lies lies.

The truth is finely stated in Psalm 44. I'll leave you with this:

"3 It was not by their sword that they won the land,
nor did their arm bring them victory;
it was your right hand, your arm,
and the light of your face, for you loved them.

4 You are my King and my God,
who decrees victories for Jacob.

5 Through you we push back our enemies;
through your name we trample our foes.

6 I do not trust in my bow,
my sword does not bring me victory;

7 but you give us victory over our enemies,
you put our adversaries to shame.

8 In God we make our boast all day long,
and we will praise your name forever.
Selah " -Psalm 44:3-8

"I sought the Lord and he answered me. He delivered me from all my fears." -Psalm 34:4

Praise Yahweh, the God of the desert and the Promised Land coming after.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Attack. Advance. All hell will not prevail against it.

There comes a time when one must fight. There comes a time when one has to stop defending and start attacking.

I watched a movie called "Miracle" last night, in which the Olympic U.S. Hockey Team was training for the games and to defeat the Soviet Team. At one point in the movie, the coach, masterfully played by Kurt Russel, shows the team what they are up against and how the Soviets have historically decimated opposing teams on the ice. His strategy? Don't defend them. Throw their own game in their face, and advance. Fight. Attack. Get 'em on the offense.

I think there comes a time in our minds when we've got to do that, to stop defending against the negatives, the fears, the what-ifs and maybe-nots, and instead go for the jugular. I don't want to simply sit on my sinking ship, hoping that I can deflect the cannon balls coming my way and somehow stay afloat long enough for the enemy ships to go away. I want to hit 'em back, shoot some cannon-balls of my own and capture their fleet. Plunder!

You may think I'm talking about the U.S. military, or some personal enemies in my own circle of society. But that's not the case. I'm speaking of a spiritual battle and the spiritual forces that seek to undermine those who have chosen to pursue a divine destiny. I'm talking about the devil.

"The devil?" you ask. "Little man in red spandex with cute horns and matching spandex?" No. I'm talking about a fallen angel who's had millenia to craft deceit and hurls his lies at even the most astute players on this stage. The one that the apostle Peter refers to as a "roaring lion, prowling around, seeking someone to devour."

What's his main line of attack? How do we attack back? For me, it's been words, thoughts, so-called truths that are in fact no truth at all. Lies lies lies. It's the subtle art of undermining. "You're time is up here. It's time to go back to Houston. You are not succeeding here because you're not supposed to anymore. The doors are closing because you're supposed to go back and succeed there."

So it's time to attack back.

"The Lord will fullfill his purpose for me. God wants me here. My God will meet all of my needs according to his glorious riches in Christ Jesus. The Lord plans to prosper me, not to harm me. Every good and perfect gift comes down from the Father of heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows. God is not a man, that he should lie or change his mind. He is not fickle. He's not going to uproot me so suddenly, just because I'm used to a history of not getting to stay in one place for more than a few years. No. The Lord will provide. We live by faith, not by sight. It's not time to let go. It's time to hold on."

Maybe this doesn't mean anything to you. Perhaps it's just for me to get out on paper (electronic as it may be), to declare the truth in cyberspace, to make a further declaration of war. Well, this is my declaration: My God has sent me on a mission to Chicago, and I haven't seen that fulfilled yet. His time for me here is not finished, and whenever it is, he will let me know in a way that produces peace, not fear. I will not go on creating alternate stories which I can understand, to place my faith in those. I'm going to continue believing in the God whose ways are often unseen, like a mustard seed that is planted and grows slowly under ground, only later to produce a plant that provides shelter for multiple others.

I will not be intimidated. I will intimidate the enemy with my steadfast trust in the Jesus who is with me, teaching me how to walk on the water and kill giants. The battle isn't mine anyway. It's the Lord's. He's going to bring in the victory. I just have to hold the ground I've been given and keep moving forward. You may recall that David, before he became king of Israel, had to face a giant. And he didn't retreat. The account in the book of Samuel says that David actually ADVANCED towards the giant Goliath. He RAN towards him! Subtle defense? Hardly. It's time to advance. It's time to go get the giant. It's time to knock him down and chop his head off. And I will, because the Lord God who delivered David then is with David to deliver him today.