Monday, November 29, 2010

First Update in over a Year!

I've been having the time of my life, constantly down here. It never ends but I'm a fan of fully immersing myself right where I am and so that's what I seek to do. I do not like to get distracted with a lot of outside stuff.

As you know, I've been working at this furniture gallery called Oak Factory for almost two years now. God has really blessed me at this job through the difficult and also financially. I have enjoyed mostly delivering furniture and also working in the store on furniture assembly, repair (which I'm quite bad at), and other warehouse work. It's neat too because I knew the owners of Oak Factory before I knew of the store itself from my church. They're a wonderful family (pretty well-known throughout central KY for their commercials which feature their two kids) who have had this store and grown it for almost 20 years now. They've "adopted" me as well and so I spend a fair amount of time with them outside of work on occasion. The kids are always wanting me to spend the night and I always house-sit for them when they go out of town, particularly for three weeks last year when they went to Europe. It's a really nice getaway for me as they live on a lake and golf course which are gorgeous! I enjoy a lot of time alone with the LORD out there and they have a beautiful three mile loop that is my favorite place to run. They have been a huge blessing. The job has not been without its challenges though. The warehouse is a totally different kind of atmosphere and working in it with difficult people at times has stretched me to the limit some days. It's taken 1.5 years, but I'm finally beginning to feel comfortable there. The guys understand me now and know how to get along with me. A real milestone: some of them will actually receive my hugs now! I have learned a lot about operating there and being a testimony there. I sure cannot shove anything down anybody's throat. I have to spend a lot of time listening and understanding instead of "preaching." I have had to have a lot of patience. It's perfect for me right now though. I know that God is ruining my witness for "me" and raising up a witness which brings Him glory in that warehouse! I've enjoyed tremendous favor in the bad economy when cut-backs were made and I barely missed being laid-off. I stand amazed. Of course, Dad and I were able to take this trip out west which we had talked about for 2 years! It was about time and it was a total blast. I look forward to more future opportunities like that.

I have been active in the mentoring of teenagers and in my social life. The reason that I include the two together is because they connect so much. Spending time with people and being open to whatever God wants to do is what I do for fun. It's different people almost every week, some in formal contexts and others in informal contexts. We've dealt with all sorts of real life issues, but all the same, it's refreshing. One of the more formal groups is a small group of high school guys who meet at a friend's house. I help lead this group and it's been a huge challenge and blessing to all of us. I've built some great relationships and enjoyed these guys immensely! I have even made it a habit to eat lunch with them at school once a week on my day off from work. Other than that, I spend some time with needy people who need friends and need empowering. My favorite though is real fellowship with other Christians. That's where a lot of love and strength flows. Particularly, I continue to enjoy my fellowship with the 2 friends I've been meeting and praying with for four years now: Derek and Anna. My time since the streets in 2008 has been primarily focused on growing in the LORD with them corporately and individually, doing life together and casting vision. They were the primary thing that God told me to focus on when I left the streets and that continues. We continue to learn and grow a lot together. The LORD speaks so much to us and reveals so much to us, but at this point mostly for our own benefit and perseverance, because what we are to do with it eludes us at this point. We have some concrete ideas, but timing is everything in this process. I'm almost certain that future ministry will come forth from this "spiritual covenant" we're in, but until then, we keep fellowshipping, praying and maturing in our spirits.

I continue to follow International House of Prayer from a distance (and even got to take my parents there in Kansas City back in October) and I'm involved in a local house of prayer from time-to-time called Cornerstone International House of Prayer. There is no greater place to be than the place of prayer. The LORD always brings such incredible dynamics into that place. I need to spend more time there and it's so hard because of my schedule. You can pray for me to have the grace to step into that place of prayer more! God has been gracing me with more scripture-memorization-a powerful tool in His hand and I have enjoyed a lot of reading lately as well-stuff pertaining to the books of Daniel and Revelation, also the book of Zechariah. I've been studying and pondering words important to future calling and reading books pertaining to that. Ha-I've been enjoying David Copperfield by Charles Dickens too (have to have the occasional novel). It's fun. Time moves much too quick, but at least I'm having fun.

It's a full life! I'm having the time of my life! I pray that I can stay humble, teachable and in love with the LORD. I've found such satisfaction especially in the mentoring of teens and in the time with God. I'm trying to think if there is anything else and I cannot. Updates have not been my forte in a couple of years, but I suppose I'm long overdue for one! Let me know if you have any questions; I'd be glad to tell you more, but I just covered it broadly here.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Violently Standing on God's Promises and Taking the Kingdom by Force

God have mercy, I barely practice this truth. I have experienced it just a little bit though. God, have mercy and grant that we, the Church could walk as those who KNOW what You've done for us and so we respond by laying hold of the Kingdom by force, violently standing on Your promises which You've given. There is a place of spiritual violence. It is NOT violence against people or Your creation, but it is violence in the spiritual realm against principalities and powers that seek to seize away the seed of God's Word, His promises to His people. This is the place of spiritual warfare: the spiritual realm. It demands a spiritual tenacity that certainly does not come naturally to me. God, we must receive Your grace to walk in such a way.

I have experienced this most in the resistance of sin where I have had to be violent in my prayer life and violent in my leaning on God and His ability when everything in me wants to try hard by my own might and power. "Not by might, not by power, but by my Spirit, says the LORD." I have had to be violent against the spirit of damnation that always tries to seize my faith in God's grace away and base my status with God on my works. I have learned to be a little violent in some areas. How I long, as one who in his life has been more naturally timid and insecure, to be one who stands as a restful warrior in the spiritual. Anyone who learns how to stand in their spirit on God's promises, I guarantee you will see a natural consequence of authority and poise in their living before the world. And we must enter in to this. We must become fighters in these days. We must stand because a turbulence is coming to the earth that will shake everybody's confidence that is not grounded in an unshakable foundation.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

The Foundation of Love

God, what will it take to reinforce the truth to me?  I keep trying to be a doer instead of getting the foundations correct.  The foundation is love.  The foundation is rest and believing Jesus.  The foundation is faith which is received.  If I could just KNOW that and stop succumbing to the temptation to DO because “it’s expected of me” or something.  I don’t live out of obligation.  On the contrary, I want to have sweet expectation of what YOU will do, and not me.  In the moment that I do something, I’ll know and it will flow freely as a consequence and result of  my faith.  I want to get this right Jesus, and not waste my life.  You go above and beyond towards me, and I can best go above and beyond towards you by RECEIVING Your good gifts.  You’ve told me over and over.  I feel spiritually right now like I did yesterday with the furniture I scratched up when I delivered it.  I’m told not to be too hard on myself, but I think, “How else will I learn?”  It was a stupid mistake that I knew better about, and the same here.

Where does the power of consistency come from?  I do not seem to walk in it very well at all.

Friday, January 8, 2010

My Thorns-A Wise Reponse in Humility

The song I'm about to post the lyrics to explains the whole concept of thorns as figurative terminology (taken from Scripture) for those weaknesses we have which plague us. Nobody is without them. We usually seek to play on our strengths, and hide our weakness. I have many myself. My whole life, my first reaction toward my moments of weakness has been discouragement and giving up. At one point in my life, I thought it pleased God for me to be so hard on myself, and now I know different, although I have still been tempted to slip into that. It brings God no glory for us to rip ourselves apart.

I asked the Lord for the zillionth time yesterday about how to steward myself when I go through a season of consciousness regarding my weaknesses because I have come to realize that it will never go away forever on this side of Heaven. God told me for about the zillionth time since I've asked Him, "Nathan, do not beat yourself down and do not try to conjure up some great feeling of joy that isn't there. Avoid those extremes, and just allow the pain of it to humble you. That's all it's meant to do." When we allow these things that are like thorns in our side to humble us, great joy does result and they become like a gift from God.

Bitter thoughts became your every waking breath
Save the nights your hollow dreams revealed the sweet release of death
In your thoughts you played a symphony of self
But your soul had bled a darker song of close to nothing left

Oh, The deliverance of blade and flame, your love
And greater is the blood

You’ll find it in the veil of night where solitude is born
In the emptiness of broken flesh, at the mercy of the thorns
You’ll find it in the veil of night where solitude is born
In the emptiness of broken flesh, at the mercy of the thorns

Every line a path into an empty heart
Where the words of now forgotten love fall silent in the dark

Oh, The deliverance of blade and flame, your love
And greater is the blood

You’ll find it in the veil of night where solitude is born
In the emptiness of broken flesh, at the mercy of the thorns
You’ll find it in the veil of night where solitude is born
In the emptiness of broken flesh, at the mercy of the thorns

Sister, don’t you sleep through your own eulogy
Don’t sever what you are for what you couldn’t be

You’ll find it in the veil of night where solitude is born
In the emptiness of broken flesh, at the mercy of the thorns
You’ll find it in the veil of night where solitude is born
In the emptiness of broken flesh, at the mercy of the thorns

You’ll find it in the veil of night where solitude is born
In the emptiness of broken flesh, at the mercy of the thorns
You’ll find it in the veil of night where solitude is born
In the emptiness of broken flesh, at the mercy of the thorns

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Covenant

Covenant is a word that we are not often accustomed to these days, but it's a word which we must recover for the good of all. Covenant lies central to reality and true living. We do not conceive of this very much. Most of us conduct our lives in such a way that though we do not perceive this, because it lies at the fundamental level of our being and as such is in the subconscious since most of us are not sensitive to the level out of which we "be" in life. But, at this fundamental level for most of us is selfishness and really for all of us this is true, though a few find the way out of this destructive mode of living which is based on a fundamental lie. We live for our happiness and we arrogantly think that we are good and therefore somebody owes us something in life. Most of us go through our lives trying to get what we are "owed" whether we pursue it from God or from other people. Some of us pursue it by doing lots of good things for the world to better humanity and make a difference, but this selfishness still lies at the base of it, undetected by the common man.

In reality, life is a gift to us to enjoy, yes, but it's a TRUST. This life is a trust. We are owed nothing and actually we are all born into a great debt that we can never possibly pay back. The fact remains that this life is a trust. The hand of God is extended to all with a covenant, a contract of sorts that we can choose to take or not. This life is a trust, to see what we'll do with it. This is humbling and sucks the life out of our selfishness when it goes beyond just a good idea that I'm blogging about right now and becomes that foundational thing that actually sinks in to the level of my being. It enters my spirit and becomes that foundational truth that I must live by. This is when we know that God's truth has become our truth; it's when we can say that it's the imperceptible foundational truth that we literally find our "being" in. That's when the word has become flesh in the manner that the word became flesh in Jesus and continue to become flesh in Jesus (see the gospel of John, chapter 1).

See, thinking of Jesus as our Savior exclusively is dangerous. It's true that He is, but that is not the entire gospel of God. Jesus in the intermediary of a covenant and trust that God extends, and when we willingly come into that covenant, there are terms.

I came to realize this last night, when I came home after a meeting with the two I often talk about whom God has called me into covenant with. Through covenant with them, God teaches me about covenant with Him. I was feeling begrudging about the meeting because of the plans I had for last night and this weekend, but the meeting was of greater necessity. I caught myself at the door of the house I was staying at and realized, "Nathan, you have made a covenant. How dare you begrudge in this situation, when you voluntarily made a covenant to these two people and all that you are called to together." And in that moment, God taught me about covenant with Him and entering into all that I am called to enter into in the Scripture. If I have chosen covenant with God, then I am coming to Him on His terms, laid out in Scripture. Perhaps one way to voice the essence of God's terms is thus, at least as I understand them right now: In My [God's] covenant (trust, or contract), you are called in this life to be holy and perfect as I am holy and perfect by My ability, strength and grace and not by your own ability [because it's impossible] through your exercise of faith. That is one way to voice the essence of God's call to us, though it is not comprehensive or complete and it's not the only way to voice it. God calls us to faith in Christ as our savior and what is He saving us to? A life where we become like God in the context of relationship with God through God's ability alone as we live by faith alone. God is just asking for us to say yes to His ways and His plan and His terms. He provides the energy and ability to do it and the means is our faith in Him, which we can only get from Him too!

Covenant needs to come not only into our vocabulary, but into our experience, our being and our spirits again. We need to feel covenant in our bones and we need to choose covenant with God again.