by Michael Sullivant
Warmth and constancy of sun: unchanging love and security
Dynamic and cool breeze of wind: the rush of mission
Song of birds and insects: joyful communication
Rustling of leaves: the grace of flexibility and change
Contentment of grazing animals: God will provide
Fences marking the boundaries: a proper place for all things
Contrast of sky and earth; hills and valley floor; woods and pasture land; shelters and open spaces; creation of God and inventions of man: the glory and wisdom of diversity creating a rich unity of abundant life
Anxiety is caused by envisioning the future without Me. So the best defense against worry is staying in communication with Me.thejesuscallingapp.com
With friends today from Plan LED at Paul Allen's Vulcan offices in Seattle. One of the main projects underway related to the LED lighting revolution underway in the world. Learning a lot!
Buddy Bob Hartley and his son Jed waxing eloquent and having fun. Stunning words of prophecy for the nations last nite.
Our humble And generous host Bill Johnson carries so much joy and peace of Jesus. I'm grateful to be here.
Hanging out with great people in spiritual leadership...hope reformers...here in Redding and from many places. Great time praying and sharing yesterday with pastoral/ministry leadership teams of Bethel. I am thrilled with what God is opening up to His sons and daughters regarding the greater reception of our inheritance in Jesus Christ. Unbelievably believable! I here with my buddy Bob Hartley who is one of the main presenters here at the Open Heavens conference this year. Stunning words of knowledge and prophecy that reveal the secrets of hearts and usher people into the presence and purposes of our Father in Heaven.
Jesus then said, “I came into the world to bring everything into the clear light of day, making all the distinctions clear, so that those who have never seen will see, and those who have made a great pretense of seeing will be exposed as blind.” Some Pharisees overheard him and said, “Does that mean you’re calling us blind?” Jesus said, “If you were really blind, you would be blameless, but since you claim to see everything so well, you’re accountable for every fault and failure.” John 9:39-41
I love that Jesus has come into the world to expose the self-righteousness of religion driven by mere human energy and ego. This passage humbles me and truly causes me to tremble. His goal for us, of course, is to end up "seeing". However, once we do "see" something of heavenly grace and truth, we are immediate danger of deceivemoting to others that we see more than we actually do! By God's grace, I have been made to "see" things from the Holy Spirit and within Scripture many times, but I pray that I will always be able to convey that there is still so much more for me to "see". I "know" God, but I also know that there is obviously so much more I have yet to discover about Him.
In my Father's house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also. John 14;2-3
These famous words of Jesus were spoken to the remaining eleven disciples during what is known as the upper room discourse. They have traditionally been understood to refer to the promise that we believers will go to heaven when we die. However, I am convinced that they do not primarily refer to this wonderful reality. This is why.
Jesus was speaking this promise first and foremost to these specific eleven men and not to believers in general. (He was ministering to their anticipated "separation anxiety"!) And...he told them that he would specifically "come again" to them to take them to himself to be with him where he would be. We tend to immediately jump to the Second Coming in our minds when we hear these words. However, these eleven men obviously died before Jesus' second advent, which has even yet to occur! So in what way did Jesus "come again" and fulfill his promise to them? Consider verses 18-19, 23 in the same context of chapter 14:
I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you. Yet a little while and the world will see me no more, but you will see me...If anyone loves me, he will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home (same Greek word for "room" as in v. 3) with him.
Jesus did in fact "come back" to them in that he appeared to them after his resurrection and also by coming to them through the gift of the Holy Spirit (which is a main theme of this discourse)! So maybe the traditional view of the promise of verses 2-3 has been an unfortunate misunderstanding? They could...and we can...be with Jesus where he is because he has come to us where we are! We are "in him" and he is "in us".
Maybe then this radically different view gives deeper understanding to what Jesus said earlier in John 12:26:
If anyone serves me, he must follow me; and where I am, there will my servant be also.
So...though we certainly long for Christ's return and to be with him in the new heavens and new earth, there is a very real way that we are already united with him in intimate companionship in contrast to being separated from him and the Father and the Spirit. Let's not underestimate the wonder and power that this implies for our lives and ministries here and now. I fear that we have indeed done this in years gone by and we have thus lived below many of the privileges of our inheritance in Christ in this age. There is more for us to have and enjoy in Christ!
Early teen years seem to me to be some of the most challenging years for the spiritual lives of children. It's important to remember that their brains are not fully developed even though, for many of them, their bodies are looking more and more adult. (Are kids maturing physically at younger ages these days...it sure seems that way to me...must be the hormones in the milk and meat!) This is a phase of life in which the changes evoke a powerful temptation for them to feel insecure and to continually compare themselves to their peers. Plus...their normal drive to individuate from their parents is gaining strength, so they often don't feel inclined to lean into the love and support of their folks regarding this inner struggle.
I have seen some kids sail through this time...physically taxing activities are a healthy and good outlet for some of this angst. If a young teen can find an extra-curricular positive challenge that they enjoy, it can really help relieve a lot of inner pressure...music, sports, dance, theater, summer camps...these things can teach them many values and skills that will translate well into the responsibilities of adult life. A wise, loving and fun-filled youth group, whose leaders validate the challenge and journey of each kid, can also become a haven for them and create a healthy distance from their parents direct oversight. Hillary wasn't all wrong when she said that "it takes a village to raise a child"...our children need spiritual "aunts and uncles" and older and younger "brothers and sisters," as well as their parents, to become well rounded individuals.
However, there is one thing that we discovered that helped and impacted spiritually our young teens more than anything else. This thing ended up being worth more than a thousand Sunday School lessons or a hundred youth retreats...in terms of helping them get into a better spiritual frame. This thing is a "mission trip" away from the comfort zone of home in order to love and serve hurting people from another culture and...that involves elements of rigor, adventure, prayer and risk. To see, touch, serve, love and share Jesus with people, old and young, who have such difficult daily lives and, who are often terribly oppressed, leaves a lasting imprint on a tender young teenage heart--especially if she/he fell in love with Jesus as a little child. (They will also often see the astounding difference that Christ has made in the lives of some of the local people who live in those same conditions. Sometimes they also see "real time" miraculous answers to their prayers. This kind of experience exerts, by nature, a gravitational pull on a young teen's soul away from their self-absorption and will often cause him/her to feel more alive than they ever have in their life.
Through the years, I've watched 100's of kids return from such trips marked and branded with the vivid memories and experiences with God that they do not easily shake off or deny. They return with a different and deeper kind of spiritual encounter than what they regularly experience on a fun-filled youth retreat...for which there is also a proper place and purpose. Encourage young teens you know to sign up for such a short-term trip. They have become commonplace, thank the Lord, in church communities all over the world. It's an investment that has truly amazing returns on many levels.
A VOICE OF HOPE
Michael Sullivant's Blog
I am a child of God, husband, father, grandfather, spiritual father, author, speaker and hope coach.