Friday, February 25, 2011

The Wedding Ceremony

Yesterday, I had the pleasure of being a guest at the wedding ceremony of two beautiful lovers of the Lord, and although I have not known this couple for very long, it was a very emotional experience for me.

As the church is portrayed in scripture (particularly the Song of Solomon) as being a bride with Christ as her bridegroom, when I was witnessing the ceremonial coming together of two people yesterday, it was a spiritual experience for me as it was a portrayal and a foreshadow of what The Great Wedding Ceremony is going to be like when the rider on the white horse comes back for his ravishing bride.

Tears flowed from the eyes of yesterday's bridegroom as he awaited the arrival of his beloved. Before he even had a glimpse of her in all her bridal glory, he was beset with emotion and just watching him weep tears of love and joy made me, as a witness, very emotional as well.
Much like this groom, one day, Jesus will be standing awaiting the arrival of the bride that has for centuries been prepared for him, and as he stands and anticipates her, his eyes will be decorated with the colours of passion and love as his heart burns for her, for the church, for us.

After the procession of elegant bridemaids had paved the way for the gorgeous bride, she finally appeared, and arm-in-arm with her father, gracefully walked down an aisle of rosepetals, with eyes locked on her beloved who had been waiting for her, anticipating her, desiring her. She was clothed in the finest white dress elegantly caressing her female figure, and her head was adorned with a veil that cascaded from the top of her head.
As I saw her, The Bride of Christ came to mind. As we are called the Bride, we too will one day walk down the aisle, and standing before us, desiring us with every fibre of his being, will be Jesus, our bridegroom King. Just as yesterday's bride had been prepared for her beloved, so the Bride of Christ will be. She will be clothed in a gown of righteousness, not her own, but the righteousness paid for on her behalf by the Lord Jesus. She will be dripping with grace and the favor of the Lord's face will shine upon her, and she shall reflect this magnificent light to the world that watches her dance towards Him. As I saw the bride with her beautiful veil flowing around her face, it was an image of the Holy Spirit. Much like this veil that covered her, so The Bride of Christ will be saturated and submerged in the Holy Spirit who will escourt her down the aisle as he has been the one helping her, over time in the preparation process with which she now resembles the bride she was destined throughout scripture to be. She is perfect, she is flawless and her eyes have no peripheral vision, they only have the ability to focus on that which is before them, The Bridegroom King. She has no spot, no blemish, and she knows this. She does not wear a black cloak of condemnation, guilt or fear, this was removed from her long ago, on the day she first met her beloved. As she floats towards the face of beauty she has been dreaming of her whole life, her mind is solely flooded with thoughts of him. She is not concerned about how she looks for she knows she is the most beautiful thing in all creation according to her beloved. To him, she is a lily of the valley, there is no one like her. She is mature, not schooled in the things of this world, her mind not distracted by every wind of teaching, but she knows, by personal experience, the love, grace and favor of her beloved. She believes who she is because he whispers words of identity into her ears. His voice is the one she is familiar with and is the voice she has followed and will follow for all eternity.

He brings her then, to the banqueting table where together, they feast on the abundance of his house. His provision for her stretches beyond what the eye can see or what the mind can comprehend. Joy overflows as they drink new wine from the cup of salvation with arms interlinked. When she has drunk her fill, he whispers "Come away with me my darling" and together they go into eternity with hearts ever praising, and eyes ever gazing upon eachother's beauty.

The Spirit of Grace

Whilst I was reading the book of Hebrews the other day, I came across a phrase in the sentence in chapter 10:29 that says (in the ESV) "the Spirit of grace."
It became instantaneously clear to me that one of the personalities and attributes of Holy Spirit is 'grace, ' and thus he is referred to in this context in Hebrews as "the spirit of grace."
Many believers regard grace as a theology or one of the many doctrines, but in fact, grace is a person, grace is who the Holy Spirit is, who Jesus is, and who the Father is, grace is not a separate entity or a force apart from the trinity. 
Another verse that confirms this can be found in Zechariah 12:10 (ESV) "And I will pour out on the house of Jerusalem a spirit of grace".
What a wonderful picture of the gracious nature of God being poured from his spirit into ours!

I have often wondered why there are certain churches and moves of God that are so skeptical of the things of the Spirit that they prohibit its free flow in their meetings and in their lives in general. The answer to this question struck me as I read the Hebrews 10 text. 
A people that are controlled and oppressed by a religious spirit, have a default setting that like to control and wants to ever be in control, of people, of flow and structure of meetings, of words shared etc, etc, however, when the Spirit comes, being a Spirit of grace as we established earlier, he brings with him an atmosphere of freedom, grace and liberty, and forces control out of the room; for who can attempt to harness and constrain the Spirit of God (grace)? 
When the Spirit of God comes into a room, the people are set free, they are empowered and they begin to overflow with the things of God, and nothing is so frightening to the religious, than a people moving in the Spirit, because this is a people who knows the power that they have through their union with Christ and a people that will not allow themselves to come under a covering of control and religious manipulation. 
Due to this truth that the religious are very well aware of, they will simply put an end to all Holy Spirit movement within the four walls of the church and not facilitate the free flow of the things of the unseen realm which are spirit-based. The biggest deception however, comes when people in religious churches who do not have a revelation of the true gospel of grace, proclaim the Holy Spirit from the pulpit. They will speak about the Holy Spirit showing no indifference towards him, yet when it comes to practically making space for him to move in meetings, they will use structure and rigid timetable to stop his flow, thus the people know about the spirit in theory yet never in person and the Spirit of grace never flows in their lives or sets them free from condemnation, control and manipulation. This is something that deeply saddens and disturbs me, for the Kingdom of God is a spiritual Kingdom, it is an unseen realm of the spirit, and how can we pray "thy Kingdom come, they will be done, on earth as it is in heaven" if we are not 'for' the movement of the Holy Spirit of grace and an invasion of the unseen realm? 

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Introduction to Galatians - The Message Bible

I absolutely love this revelatory introduction to the book of Galatians that is found in The Message Bible:

"When men and women get their hands on religion, one of the first things they often do is turn it into an instrument for controlling others, either putting or keeping them "in their place." The history of such religious manipulation and coercion is long and tedious. It is little wonder that people who have only known religion on such terms, experience relase or escape from it as 'freedom.' The problem is that the freedom turns out to be short-lived.

Paul the Apostle was doing his diligent best to add yet another chapter to this dreary history when he was converted byJesus to something radically and entirely different - a free life in God. Through Jesus, Paul learned that God was not an impersonal force to be used to make people behave in certain prescribed ways, but a personal saviour who sets us free to live a free live. God did no coerce us from without, but set us free from within.

It was a glorious experience, and Paul set off telling others, introducing and inviting everyone he met into this free life. In his early trevels he found a series of churches in the Roman province of Galatia. A few years later, Paul learned that the religious leaders of the old school had come into those churches, called his views and authorities into question, and were reintroducing the old ways, herding all those freedom-loving Christians back into the corral or religious rules and regulations.

Paul was, of course, furious. He was furious with the old guard for coming in with their strong-arm religious tactics and intimidating the Christians into giving up their free life in Jesus. But he was also furious with the Christians for caving in to the intimidations.

His letter to the Galatian churches helps them, and us, recover the original freedom. It also gives direction in the nature of God's gift of freedom - most necessary guidance, for freedom is a delicate and subtle gift, easily perverted and often squandered......"

Monday, February 21, 2011

Thought for the day

"Your internal reality becomes your external reality" - Bill Johnson

The Renewed Mind

Two things that I feel God has been highlighting to me over the past few weeks are 1) Intimacy and 2) Mind renewal. I wanted to write about the revelations I have had concerning the renewed mind and it's importance because I feel this subject is one of the most vast and most vital facing the body of Christ today. I hardly know where to begin writing about it, however, I'm sure this will just be the first post of many regarding mind renewal.

As human beings we are divided into 3 parts; spirit, soul (mind, emotions, intellect) and body. When we are born again, our spirit is united with that of Jesus, and we become one with him, identical to him in our spiritual DNA (1 John 4:14 "as he is so also are we in this world"). However, when we first believe in Christ and make that official commitment to enter into His Kingdom, we do not automatically get given a renewed mind filled with all the spiritual truths and revelations that Jesus had. On a spiritual level, we are Jesus's identical twin, alike him in every way, however the thing that seperates us from "doing the works that Jesus did and greater" and walking as he did, is the level to which our mind is renewed. The choices we make each day, how we handle certain situations, and the way we percieve the world around us are directly influenced by our mind.
Certain moves of God that have been before and are still in operation today, will often take one of two extremes; they either exalt the mind and it's knowledge far above the things of the spirit and elevate doctrine, theology and biblical teachings above intimacy with Christ, or they dismiss the use of the mind in any way, regarding it as a tool for used for evil. Neither views are what we are called to take according to the scriptures.
Having a look at the life of Jesus, we know that he was both fully God and fully man. God humbled himself and took on the form of man, and as a result, he faced the same struggles, temptations and testing situations that we do, making him able to witness with all our hardships. Jesus was not any different to us as born-again believers; he was a tripart being made up of spirit, soul and body, just as we are, and was a man in right relationship with his father. Out of this relationship and right-standing with the father, he knew his identity, and as a result, miracles, healings, signs and wonders flowed out of his life daily. Jesus had the same spirit as we do, however the one thing that he possessed that most of us do not, is a mind completely renewed after the things of God.
However, a renewed mind set on heavenly things is not something that is lofty and impossible for us to attain, in fact, on the contrary, we are called and comissioned to "be transformed by the renewal of our minds" (Romans 12:2) so that in ever situation, in everything we face daily, we are able to "discern what is the pure and acceptable and perfect will of God" and then demonstrate that here on earth (thy Kingdom come, thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven). Sometimes as believers we put things like a renewed mind up on a high counter-top and develop the thinking that it is far too hard for us to attain in this lifetime. We take on a form of false humility in believing that we are forever unworthy and will never quite reach the place where we think as Jesus did and thus do what Jesus did; this is not God's way, and this thinking is a direct by-product of an unrenewed mind that leaves us stuck in stagnant waters. The Lord has designed the mind of every human being to be set on the things that are above and thus be constantly renewed after the things of the Kingdom of heaven. This is not impossible, this is not above our grasp, if it were, Jesus {who was fully human remember}, would not have been able to demonstrate it as he did. The more we realise we are exactly like Christ, and have his mind (Philippians 2:5) the more we will start to act this out and live like he did.
An understanding of this is not supposed to make us feel as though we have to strive by our own might, and with hard work and toil, eventually have a renewed mind; quite the opposite actually, we are to submit to that which has already been done for us and provided for us at the cross - the mind of Christ. When we truly come into agreement with this truth, and make a choice to repent (the true meaning of repentance is to "change the way you think"), and set our focus above, where we are seated with Christ in the heavenlies (Ephesians 2:6), and when we lift our gaze from within to behold the face of beauty, this is when our mind is effortlessly renewed. Seeing things from above, where we are seated, and seeing things from the Lord's heavenly perspective is when our thinking starts to shift and our minds are renewed not after this world which is temporal, but after the realm of the eternal where we are dwelling now in spirit, and will dwell forever more.

A spirit and a mind that are in harmony with eachother, then have a two-against-one effect on the body that starts to live out the perfection - that was attained on a spirit level - at the hour of salvation by our simple faith in Christ.
My prayer for this season is that the spirit of wisdom and revelation that brings us into the knowledge of God, would minister to me daily and that I would have my head in the heavenlies where I am seated, and my body on the earth, and live and reign out of an overflow of a renewed mind.
The Lord has revealed to me that a renewed mind really is a matter of life or death. Ultimately a Christian with an unrenewed mind and a Christian with a renewed mind will both die and live for eternity in heaven, but it is our time here on earth that requires us to live with a transformed mind if we are to see the will of God made manifest here on earth. We, as Christians are quite cabable of living with an unrenewed mind, and so many believers that have gone before us have demonstrated this truth quite accurately, but this was never what we were created for. We were created, called and comissioned to do the works that Jesus did and greater, and the only way in which we will live this life is when our spirits are masters over our minds as Jesus's was.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Glory and Grace - Durban

Rob and Glenda Rufus have confirmed that they will be coming and doing another Glory and Grace conference this July in Pinetown.
If you're in the mood for a life changing encounter with God, then you should probably come along!
Visit the City Church International website for more information.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

He's got my number

As if I didn't know it already, last night the Lord powerfully reminded me that "He's got my number."
A bunch of people from our church got together last night for an evening of baptisms (both water and spirit). We sat under an incredible teaching of what it means to be baptised according to the scriptures, and whilst we sat and chatted, I could feel the sweet presence of Holy Spirit wafting around the room, and an atmosphere of peace, expectancy and excitement began to accumulate.
Afterwards, we baptised a man from our church that had never before been baptised in water, and much like what happened to Jesus in the river Jordan, when he came up out of the pool, the presence and power of God fell upon him, Holy Spirit rested upon him and his body began to manifest in a testimony to that. It was mind-blowing to watch somebody get baptised, then have that followed by a Holy Spirit baptism instantly after coming up out of the water. Our God is an amazing, powerful God who loves to lavish his sweet presence on all his children. Yay God!

We then had a time of ministry and we all prayed and prophesied over one another speaking life and words of encouragement and edification into each other's lives. This is what the body of Christ was designed to do!
A sharply prophetic woman then came and laid hands on me and began to fire off prophecies that were scarily accurate and also definite confirmations of words than have been spoken over me throughout the course of my life.
I began to laugh and shake as she "read my mail," and the overwhelming hand of the Lord came upon me.
The gift of the prophetic is such a blessing to the life of the church. It brings such encouragement, hope and excitement for the present and future as we are reminded that God's plans and thoughts towards us far outnumber the grains of sand on the seashore, and they are all thoughts and plans for our welfare. As I was hearing the words spoken, I felt a faith begin to rise in my heart and the breath of God came and breathed life onto his promises that I had forgotten. As he powerfully reminded me of my calling and destiny that lies hidden with him, I was awed once again at the vastness of our God and his love for me.
My mind is still reeling with the goodness of the Lord, and I have jotted down all the prophetic words, and am going to graft them in to my prayer life and continue to pray and speak the life of God into these promises, and I cannot wait to see them come to pass.
Excited is an understatement.
The God of the universe knows us, loves us, and calls us by name and I will never be able to get past the sheer awesomeness of this truth!

Thought for the day

When I am in His presence I am more 'myself' than at any other time.

It dawned on me a while ago, that when I am in the courts of the King, saturated in his Glory and manifest presence, I somehow feel as though I am 'coming into being.' For me, I am more 'myself' with the Lord than I am at any other time.
I find myself acting in accordance with God's word without even trying, it just seems to flow naturally. It also seems as though my heart is stretched from North to South and my capacity to love God and love those around me is enlarged. I find myself being more affectionate, tender-hearted, compassionate, joyful and patient when I am covered with God's sticky Glory and intoxicated with the New Wine that flows out of him.
The presence of God is a mystery that never stops shifting my paradigms and mindsets, and in this wonderful mysterious presence is where I find my life, my home, myself

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

My heart and flesh cry out

I was spending some time with the Lord last night, and as I was praying and just having a chat to him, I found myself thanking him that "every atom of my being cries out in continual praise to him."
When I heard myself saying this, I stopped to think about what had just come out of my mouth, and when I did, the Lord took me deeper into this 'accidental' revelation.
I was reminded of the scripture, Psalm 84:2 that says: "my heart and my flesh cry out for the living God."
I then came into the revelation, that even though our 'natural' ears cannot hear it, every single atom that makes up who we are, or 'every fiber of our being' as born-again believers, is always offering up praise to the Lord God. 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, and 365 days a year we are releasing our own unique sound of praise into the atmosphere around us, that echoes into the unseen, heavenly realms, and brings joy to the Father's heart and fear to the hordes of hell. Just by breathing, we give glory to the Lord always, as new creations, and each one of us has a sound that is unlike any that has been before us, and will be after us.
Wherever we go, we are continually emitting praise and glory into the atmosphere, and although we cannot hear it, the father and all the heavenly beings do, and they recognize our sound.
When we as new creations walk around the earth, we are sending echoes of praise across the globe, that are are shifting atmospheres, shattering strongholds and establishing God's Kingdom on Earth as it is in heaven. Wow. 
Sometimes we put so much pressure on ourselves to do,do,do for the Lord, but last night he gently reminded me that he is glorified in our 'being.' Even when we are asleep, even whilst we are working, and even whilst we are going about our daily lives, we are praising and bringing glory to the father, without even trying. As long as our heart has a pulse, and even when it stops beating, we will be forever and all eternity crying out "Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God Almighty," and for me, that will never stop blowing my mind.

Psalm 84:4

Blessed are those who dwell in your house; 

   they are ever praising you.

Colours For A Canvas

A couple by the names of Sean and Janine Williams who are part of City Church International in Hong Kong, have recently released an amazing new album called 'Wide Open Spaces'. 
Sean and Janine have named their duo, 'Colours For A Canvas', and 'Wide Open Spaces' is their debut album.
The genre of this album can be described as ambient/melodic, and synths as well as various other instruments have been fused together to create their unique sound.
When I first listened to the album I was blown away by how much anointing it carried. From the actual musical sound, to the beautiful lyrics, each song is saturated with the Lord's presence and made me feel as though I had gone to another realm of God's glory.
Sean and Janine's 'sound' is unlike any I have ever heard and the way they minister through the album is just incredible. Each song seems to be in invitation to enter deeper into the Most Holy Place, and sounds as though it has been birthed in the heavenly realms of the Father's heart. Beautiful, intimate worship coming from burning, passionate lovers of the Lord, is how I would sum this album up. 
Visit the Colours for a Canvas Myspace page by clicking here, you have got to give it a listen!

Below are the lyrics to one of my favourite songs on the album entitled 'Power of the Blood'. This is one of the most theologically-correct, and simply beautiful songs I have ever heard. The lyrics blow me away every single time I hear the song. Enjoy:

Power Of The Blood:

You took my hand
And led me up to the hill of Calvary
There together we died
Dead to sin
You took the pain that was mine

Now you're risen, you're alive
And the life you live is mine
As you are, Jesus, so am I
Oh, the power of the blood of Christ

You took my hand
Gave my your cup
Lifted it up for me to drink
Your body broken for me
Bread of life, the sacrifice
It takes me deep

Now you're risen, you're alive
And the life you live is mine
As you are, Jesus, so am I

Oh, the power of the blood of Christ
Oh, the power of the blood of Christ
Oh the power of the blood of Christ