Saturday, December 24, 2011

Christmas 2011

Here's our Christmas newsyletter to all our friends + eagles flying into all 4 corners of the world!
The Schmidts are home this year for Christmas, returning after an almost 2 months' journey. It's taken a bit to catch up with things after so long an absence + the Schmidt family is having babies! Our next generation is growing + on Nov 24th, Ryan + Sophia had a baby boy, Aleksandre Ryan, a brother for Anastasia, our 1st grandson!
And soon Michael + Kelsey have more good news on the way for next year!
We are blessed!
Our family picture keeps changing. How’s yours?
Some depart, always missed, but leave an ongoing legacy for new arrivals who in turn take up the baton to run their lap in life’s race! Speaking of running... we’ve been doing a lot of that since our last Christmas letter... running all over the world:
2010 - May + June I was in Ghana, Nigeria + England;
September - in Bali, Indonesia;
November- in Saigon, Vietnam, teaching in an underground Bible School.
Between trips, we fought off a ‘demon-rat’ that attacked our house + chewed through our plastic water-pipes! Our downstairs walls + ceilings looked like a battleground: water pouring out, holes punched in, carpets pulled up -- a mess! But God sent angels disguised as Harry the plumber + James the renovator to fix it all up again! I am convinced it was a ‘demon’ rat: it didn’t take our gourmet bait - cheese, sausage or peanut butter! but then in the dark of night - 2:30am! I heard it chewing - right above our bed, right above my head! ... if I’d had a gun?!
But he finally took the poison… after $9,000 damage!
Even rats have vulnerabilities.
So with our house under restoration last Christmas, our family scattered around the globe: Ryan, Sophia + Anya to Brazil, Michael + Kelsey to Mexico, Amy, Erica + I
to Uganda. Definitely more fun munching papaya than shoveling snow!
It was a return-trip for us to Kampala where we had run a month-long Training Centre in January 2008. Some of our students had been from UJV (Uganda Jesus Village),
a home for over 60 orphans, victims of war (LRA - Lord’s Resistance Army atrocities) AIDS + famine. It was an extra-not-so-ordinary Christmas as God used us wonderfully to not only touch others’ hearts, but also refresh ours! We loaded up suitcases to ‘send portions to those for whom nothing is prepared’ and emptied them all!
When we came home at the end of January, our house was fixed, but winter was still happening: we thought we’d missed the cold, but our furnace had stopped working!
From Africa’s 30c to BC’s 0c in January + no heat! What is wrong with this picture?
We shivered through, got the furnace running in a few days + then kept running…
throughout the year: Prince George, Edmonton & Red Deer in May; we fled the Stanley Cup play-off riots for Iceland + England during June-July; and now we have just finished a return lap to Finland, Uganda & England from September to November -- almost 2 months!
‘Jesus, the Revelation of The Father's Heart, to a fatherless generation’ became our focus message throughout this last trip; not just in words, but in action. Unfulfilled commitments, empty words, every kind of confusion will come; but when you are secure in your true Identity as a son with a Heavenly Father who loves you, then you are free to run + fulfill your Destiny! Africa has more than ‘demon rats’ to combat: it pulls + pushes, attracts + draws you in, only to disillusion with its pot-holes, poverty, corruption + grief. But then, just when all seems lost, redemption + salvation appear! -- only as it can in Africa!
And that’s what we found at UJV! Years of insufficient funding + lack of workers have taken their toll on the mission’s resources + left it in an only ‘with God all things are possible’ state.
Some promised help, but then walked away; others, even worse.
The bottom line for us is: here are 61 'vulnerable/orphans’ who are not to blame, but candidates for James 1:27’s
‘pure + undefiled religion = Take care of orphans + widows in their trouble’
= the fatherless! Less talk + more walk is needed here!
Amy had returned to UJV in August & we joined her during October with a team of 4 others: our friends Marg, Larry, James & even Erica’s 82-year old Mom! helped do whatever was necessary. It was sad to see UJV in such disrepair. I felt much like Nehemiah must have when he viewed Jerusalem’s broken walls and after I’d seen the ‘demon’-rat’s rampage.
We found: a woodpile without a saw or sharpened axe to cut firewood; filthy showers & washrooms without running water; plugged sewage + drainage pipes that threatened the entire mission’s closure.
The questions: ‘What can we do when the need, obstacles + giants are so great?’
and ‘What is so little among so many?’ filled my mind.
But then I also heard God say, 'A LOT when I AM in it!’
+ remembered the 5 loaves + 2 fish!
With funds donors had entrusted us to apply towards the greatest + most pressing needs, we went to work. We found a tradesman who fixed the drainage problem (must have been trustworthy, his name was Henry!). We repainted the washrooms + showers (bright blue is a lot better than black!). Erica’s 9 suitcases (they were really overflowing treasure-chests!) poured out new underwear, pyjamas + shoes! We pooled resources + bought 20 colourful new mattresses to replace the old, stained, tattered + shredded remnants children had been sleeping on for the last five years. I wish you could have seen their faces when they got them!
Marg + Grandma taught pre-school; Larry + James preached on the streets; Erica + I shared in the Missions Conference & churches. Our message became clearer: Healed people heal people!
It’s time for sons + daughters of God to be whole + become fathers + mothers with a vision beyond ourselves! = clear demonstrations of The Father’s Heart in action
to heal this fatherless generation!
We returned home in mid-November doubly thankful: no demon-rat + our furnace worked! Neither of us had any jet lag; we slept right through the nights!
My own bed had never felt so good! ..almost as good as the UJV kids with their new mattresses!
Amy has just rejoined us at home for Christmas, but hopes to return to UJV in the New Year. So we're all back, resting...
‘The Schmidts are nestled, all snug in their beds,
With more than visions of sugar plums dancing in our heads.’
Please join me as I share more of these over the next year here on our blog:
-- archived DVDs of Revelation2Revolution are available: just click on Top Right button: 10-week Revelation StreamingLive
+ a just completed set of OT + NT Survey manuals is also ready:
just email me
+ more to come, as we await the Lord’s leading on how to run further in this coming New Year!
Thank you ALL for ALL your continued love + friendship, Merry Christmas!
+ we pray ALL God’s best for you ALL in this coming New Year!
ALL our love in Jesus,
Henry & Erica

Friday, October 28, 2011

So Few Among So Many?

Here in Uganda so often so much looks like so little among so many. But Africa 'surprises' continue & you can never presume things are what they seem to be.
Father's Heart teaching went well, but Father's Heart in action went even better! Yesterday we bought & distributed 20 foam mattresses for UJV kids who needed them most. It would break your heart to see what some have been sleeping on: tattered, stained, mere fragments of stuffing. They were so excited + thankful!
I'm sure they had a better night's sleep!
What are so few among so many?
Step out & watch Jesus feed 5000 with your 5 loaves + 2 fish!

Tuesday, June 7, 2011


From its opening to closing chapters, The Bible charts the relationship between The Creator and His Creation through a 'covenant' lens. This is a Book of The Covenant, revealing God's Heart as not only Creator, but Father. The Old Testament portion, in particular, traces God's efforts and man's reactions from his Creation through his Fall and subsequent, tragic journey of unbelief and rebellion. This is God's account of how man, exiled from Eden, has aspired to find his way back to the garden without success.
The key to The Bible is Covenant. God is Covenant-making + Covenant-keeping.
Man, however, is Covenant-breaking. This is the chief underlying factor in all that transpires throughout this historic chronicle. The Old Covenant records approximately 4000 years of man's futile attempts to make his own way, while simultaneously outlining God's singular path of true restoration. It not only exposes man's separation and inability to keep covenant, but reveals God's heart of faithful love to fulfill His part regardless of our failures and promises an unconditional New Covenant in His Messiah.
Man has instinctively perceived his separation as 2-fold: between himself + God and among men themselves. His search for reconciliation brought him to understand he could not effect this by himself and somehow blood was required to restore these severed relationships. Leviticus 17:11 reveals: 'the life is in the blood'. In Hebrew, 'bereeth' means 'to cut, compact, confederate; a league made by passing between pieces of flesh'. Something had to die to restore the life man had once possessed. Blood had to be shed to re-establish trust between God and men. As sin had turned Adam + Eve from life to death, so man instinctively understood he now required a life-substitute sacrifice to effectively turn his separation to restoration. His very life depended on right relationship: both with God + other men. 'Covenant' was essential in securing this confidence.
Adam broke God's original covenant and lost not only his relationship with God, but also his authority over all creation. When Adam fell, so all creation fell with him and the way was barred to The Tree of Life. Following generations manifested the evil fruit of their separation from God and reaped a Deluge with total destruction of all but 8 souls. But God spared Noah and his family and gave them a further covenant, signed with His rainbow, promising that He would never again destroy the earth in such manner.
Later, in the face of idolatry, God called Abram, himself a former idol-worshiper, to walk with Him. He promised him the land of Canaan, an heir and descendants from his own body, innumerable as the sand of the sea and stars of heaven. Abram 'believed in the LORD, and He accounted it to him for righteousness.' (Gen 15:6)
God then 'cut covenant' with him, changed his name to Abraham (father of many nations) and made him a blessing to all the earth. Abraham was circumcised in his flesh together with Ishmael, his 1st-born, and all his house, but the covenant was spiritual through promise so when Isaac, the promised seed, was born, Ishmael was cast out. Natural flesh can neither satisfy God's heart nor inherit the kingdom. His choice is spiritual Seed.
Generations passed, and Abraham's seed migrated to Egypt with Jacob and Joseph. But God's promise stood and when it was time, approximately 400 years later, their covenant-keeping God raised up Moses to not only free a people from slavery, but birth Israel as a nation and destroy Egypt. Furthermore, he led Israel to Sinai to receive the Covenant, specifically 10 Commandments embodied in The Ark of The Covenant, housed in the Tabernacle's Holy of Holies, God's very dwelling in the centre of their camp. God desired fellowship with His people and gave them laws to teach them His ways so they might approach, worship and dwell with Him in holiness. But right from its inception, the law was unable to bridge this separation: even before Moses had come down from Sinai, Israel had already broken it! Consequently, Israel's history can be best understood in terms of their obedience or disobedience to this conditional covenant. Obedience brought blessing; disobedience yielded cursing and destruction. They were delivered from bondage, but unfortunately continually faltered through unbelief and never really enjoyed a sustained, free, covenant walk with God. Their first generation perished in the wilderness; Moses renewed the covenant with the next on the plains of Moab, but Deuteronomy's final song prophesied their eventual disobedience and destruction.
Joshua led them into the Promised Land, won many battles, and faithfully established them in God's ways, but Israel fell into a repeated cycle of blessing, sin, disobedience, idolatry, bondage, repentance and deliverance throughout the next 400 years of Judges. They cried for a leader: a king who would unite them and defeat their enemies so they might live in peace and prosperity. God and Samuel gave them their heart's desire. Saul, their first king, was unfaithful; but David was a man after God’s own heart and His Promised Seed narrowed from an entire nation to this man and his posterity.
God covenanted with David that he would not lack one to sit on the throne forever. His kingdom would be God's kingdom here on earth. Ultimately, the Messiah would come through David’s line to rule over not only Israel, but the entire world! David was not the Messiah; he was not even able to build the Temple, a permanent place for God's dwelling in Jerusalem. Nor was his natural son, Solomon. Nor any of his natural seed. The nation even divided into two. Israel proved themselves unwilling and unable to walk in God's covenant law. The covenant was broken and many times it appeared as if all hope was lost. But even at its darkest hour, as Jerusalem was besieged by Babylon, Jeremiah prophesied forgiveness: a New Covenant in the people's heart. (Jer 31:31-34)
Simultaneously, from among those already captive in Babylon, Ezekiel promised 'one heart and a new spirit within them, not a stony heart, but a heart of flesh.' (Ezek 11:19)
Then Daniel prophesied not only an end to exile, but God's supernatural kingdom to come in 70 Weeks (490 years) after 4 Gentile kingdoms – Babylon, Medes + Persians, Greece and Rome – had run their course. God never deviated from His Covenant and promised His Messiah would bring the long-awaited Covenant Kingdom into reality.
However, even with restoration to their land, city and temple, Israel again forsook their God! Freed from worshiping physical idols, they now re-fashioned His image with traditions and misinterpretations of God's Word. Malachi, the final Old Testament prophet, called them back to their God and His covenant, but then further promised,
'I will send you Elijah the prophet... he will turn the hearts of the fathers
to the children and the hearts of the children to their fathers,
Lest I come and strike the earth with a curse.' (Mal 4:5-6)
The New Covenant reveals this promise fulfilled 400 years later when John the Baptist prepared the way for the Messiah, Our Lord Jesus Christ. The Word became flesh and dwelt among us: Jesus the Lamb + Son of God, the true King of Israel, Her Messiah! He alone was able to heal the past wrongs and wounds of both Israel and all mankind!
He alone is the Answer to the questions and cries from men's hearts over all the centuries. What the Law could never do, nor was ever meant to do, Jesus did!
The Law, our Old Testament and Covenant is also our schoolmaster to bring us: to Christ, the end of any trust in religious works and self-sufficiency; to Calvary's blood-soaked Cross, a new and living way; to Jesus, The Mediator of the new and better Covenant. (Heb 11:24)

Isaiah writes, 'Your ways are not my ways,' and continuing with the jigsaw puzzle metaphor, God's approach to life is also amazingly different from our natural ways. Rather than begin by joining edge and corner pieces first, His revelation of the mystery in life and the Bible can only be solved by starting right at the center:
the 1st piece is JESUS!
He is the Alpha + Omega! Jesus doesn't just finally show up 4000 years into the story, in the New Testament. He is present throughout the entire Bible, from Genesis to Revelation. It’s all about Him! He alone has the pre-eminence: the first place!
When He came to His own people, the Jews' spiritual leaders did not receive Him as their Messiah; they rather rejected Him. In effect they said, 'We have our doctrine of Messiah all figured out. Our box says the true Messiah would never heal on the Sabbath nor call God His Father. You do not fit our box and so you are not him!' Jesus' replied to these religious Pharisees: 'You search the Scriptures and in them you think you have life: but they testify of ME!' (Jn 5:39)
On Resurrection Day, Jesus joined two of His disciples on the Emmaus road. They were discouraged, walking in the wrong direction. When they should have been rejoicing, they were rather troubled and saddened by the day's events. Their misinterpretations (like ours today) led them to totally misunderstand the events, miss God’s way and arrive at negative conclusions. Jesus countered their doubts with the Old Testament Scripture:
'Ought not the Christ to have suffered these things? And then he expounded to
them in all the Law + Prophets the things concerning Himself.' (Luke 24:27,44)
It’s all about JESUS! He alone is our Beginning + Ending and challenges and changes everything in between! He is Genesis’ singular Tree of Life and Revelation’s forest on both sides of the river. He is all their Root, Fruit and Leaves for the healing of all nations! Revelation testifies Jesus is on the Throne and Ephesians teaches we are seated together with Him. When we truly walk 'looking unto Jesus, the Author + Finisher of Our Faith', life flows and the mystery becomes a revelation! What formerly didn’t fit, now finds its complement and fulfillment in Him, without our trying to force our way. It is finished! This is the New Beginning! Our lengthy struggle becomes a living Revelation of Jesus Christ: who He is and what He’s done, to us and through us, who we are and what we are called to be + do! He is our Content and we are his context for even greater works!

Friday, May 27, 2011


The Bible presents the story of divine-human relationship throughout all time: a grand tapestry which humans often view only from the reverse perspective as a mere tangle of loose thread-ends. But... it is history woven from God's perspective: His-Story from Genesis' origins to Malachi's final promises, working all things together for good!
Its grand scope reveals God – eternal, omniscient, omnipresent and omnipotent; relating with man – finite, remarkably ignorant at times, especially when professing wisdom, limited, and very weak when confronted with the truth of who he truly is. How can these two possibly dwell and walk together? The Bible presents this God-man story: Creator and Creation and both their efforts to restore their broken relationship.
However, man perceives this historical journey and its events very differently from God. Frightened, driven by fear, greed, lust and power, history reveals man has constantly fallen short of all God has offered him. He initiates, we react. He builds, we destroy. He loves, we retaliate. How such differences can be overcome for restoration to truly take place is His-Story. God has never been frustrated. He has always steadfastly stuck to Plan A and never reverted to Plan B, although He might well have been justified to abandon this pitiful dust that we are. Such is God’s Love that He never gives up on mankind, but continues always with His Original Plan, regardless of our failures.
Old Testament history in particular outlines His-Story from The Beginning to one of the darkest times in human history: the 400 years just before the dawn of His Messiah! Right from the moment Adam and Eve sinned in the Garden, God's plan to save, reconcile and restore us to Himself was set in motion. However, man has not always understood God's ways and resisted His attempts to draw us close. We have been rebellious chicks, quite unwilling to be gathered under His wings! But His Genesis 3:15 Promise stood firm: the seed of woman would one day crush the head of the serpent’s seed and all the devil’s work would be undone!
First, mankind had to see his need for broken relationship to be restored with God. All man-made substitutes needed to be exposed as poor counterfeits indeed. Man cannot make God in his image; God made man in His! Nor could man advise God about how to fix this broken trust; that is God's part. Man fell from the inside when they ate the fruit of the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil. The corrupt seed took root, defiled their heart and bore not only shame, guilt and fear in Adam and Eve's generation, but murder in the next: Cain slew his brother Abel. But Cain's further lineage reaped a fuller harvest of 'only evil continually'.
Until God intervened. The Flood destroyed the entire human race, except Noah and his family. However, even with this destruction, man continued in his own devices and built Babel to 'make a name for ourselves'. Again God intervened, broke their proud schemes and scattered them as 70 nations over all the earth.
Then the process of re-gathering by faith began. God chose Abram, a former idolator, called him out of Ur of the Chaldees, and promised to bless him and make him a blessing to all nations. Abraham (father of many nations), became a pilgrim model of what it means to be a true worshiper and 'friend of God' here on earth. He
'went out, not knowing where he was going...
looking for a city which has foundations,
whose builder and maker is God.'
He walked with God, looking for life beyond himself. Then followed Isaac, the promised son, and after him, Jacob who became Israel (prince with God) and, through his 12 sons fathered 12 tribes. However, this dysfunctional family eventually ended up in bondage in Egypt, slaves for the next 400 years.
Seemingly forgotten, but not by God, Israel was persecuted in Egypt until God answered their cry for deliverance and raised up Moses to miraculously free His people. Israel now became a nation, birthed through a series of 10 Plagues that totally decimated Egypt, destroyed every one of its 1st-born males and ultimately drowned its armies in the Red Sea. The Law-Giver then led them to Sinai to receive the Old Covenant, specifically embodied in The 10 Commandments, to teach them how to approach, dwell with and worship their God.
From the Exodus, Israel's history chronicles the nation's inconsistent walk with their God. It is the oldest and most detailed record of any people's history. The Greeks and Egyptians have their mythologies. However, the Bible records Israel's history in often minute detail, outlining not only the nation's triumphs, but also its many failures. God does not spare even His heroes from the whole truth. In not always literal or chronologically-ordered themes, we find God patiently pouring out His heart to His people, seeking their heart repentance and reconciliation. But to no avail. Rather than believe God's good report and enter The Promised Land, they wandered 40 years in the wilderness. A generation passed. Joshua eventually finally led in a new generation, but their unbelief persisted. It was easier to get Israel out of Egypt than Egypt out of Israel.
Israel stumbled through the next 850 years in cycles of sin-addiction: sometimes walking in faith + blessing, then recurrent sin + idolatry, subsequent conquest + servitude, followed by repentance + restoration. But neither judges, prophets, priests nor kings were able to save Israel from themselves. A zenith of power under kings David and Solomon was short-lived and Israel fragmented in two.
10 tribes led by Ephraim separated to form the Northern Kingdom of Israel with its capital at Samaria, while 2 tribes remained with David's dynasty in the Kingdom of Judah, still centred in Jerusalem. The two kingdoms often warred against one another, sometimes allied against their neighbouring kingdoms of Syria, Moab or Edom, but rarely repented and served the God of their fathers with all their hearts. Both peoples eventually lost their focus on God and ultimately their kingdoms. God Himself put an end to their unfortunate cycle.
First, Israel: the Northern Kingdom, after 9 dynasties of ungodly kings, was defeated and its 10 tribes scattered among the nations by Assyria in 709BC. Just over a century later, in 586BC, Jerusalem and its temple were also destroyed and its people led captive to Babylon for 70 years. The land would finally have its Sabbaths.
Empires pass, but God’s Promise always stands faithful. In 539BC, the Medes and Persians conquered Babylon under Darius and shortly thereafter, Cyrus decreed the rebuilding of Jerusalem and its Temple! Beginning in 536BC, true to Jeremiah's prophecy of 70 Years' Captivity, 3 remnant waves of exiles returned to the land under Joshua + Zerubbabel, Ezra and Nehemiah. Together with the prophets, Haggai and Zechariah, they rallied the nation in rebuilding and revival, but the people soon became disheartened, discouraged and addicted to dead religious forms. Idolatry had been broken, but a more formal legalism now took its place. Malachi trumpeted a final prophetic message: hearts needed to turn back to the Father. God spoke again, but his people apparently had no ears to hear and 400 years of silence followed!

Friday, May 20, 2011


I finally completed a two-year project: an Old Testament Survey manual of all 39 books!
It is finished!
You might ask, ‘So... Why’d you do that?’ There are lots of other Old Testament studies available.’
...Yes. But I’ve never done this before and I must confess it was first of all primarily for my own benefit: I needed to find out whether I really knew and understood what the OT truly said or was I merely believing and repeating what I thought others thought it said. Does that sound confusing or is that really where many of us are concerning God’s Word?
… and furthermore, I felt a simple, practical tool was needed to help hungry & thirsty hearts see all the Old Testament’s signs clearly pointing to Jesus. Truth- seekers just need a few basic helps to unearth Scripture’s treasures and reveal their fulfillment in Christ, the Father’s heart.
A few years ago, I completed a similar overview of the New Testament’s 27 books and used it in our Training Centre with the goal to help disciples discover and walk in God’s Will. He likens us to eagles, called to fill up, mount up and grow up in the revelation of His kingdom. But we need both wings: the Word + the Spirit. A merely intellectual, academically top-heavy Word-wing only leads to a dry, bumpy, unbalanced flight, while a similarly lop-sided ‘winging it in the spirit’ over-emphasis on experience fares no better. Both extremes share the same fate: if they do get off the ground, they merely fly around in circles, create a lot of hyper-activity and havoc, but inevitably crash-land in heaps of vanity and confusion. As Shakespeare said, “Full of sound and fury, signifying nothing!’ Flopping around with one wing may seem exciting for a brief time, but ultimately ends up being remembered only for its foolishness.
I believe God deserves better. The Word confirms the Spirit’s work and the Spirit empowers the Word’s truth. We need both and this manual’s purpose is to help us develop both wings. May it stir hearts to rediscover their Bible for what it is: Our Father’s love letters powerfully revealing the ‘simplicity of Christ’. No longer a mystery, but ‘in Christ’ now a revelation! Jesus didn’t just show up in the New Testament. He is present throughout the whole Bible: both Old + New! He is the Word of God!
Personally, I gained a deeper awareness of 2 uniquely new wings during this project: Content + Context. If we can hear and see these letters’ original message to their original recipients in their original setting, then we can better interpret their message, understand how it relates to our day and apply it more effectively. That is: Context clarifies Content. This requires teachable disciples who desire to become mature and trained followers of Jesus, hungry and thirsty for the undiluted Will of God to obey it! However, many believers barely subsist on a watered-down diet of speculation, doctrine and tradition, far removed from the strong meat of the Word + Spirit. We have church-attenders, but not many workers; spectators but few participants; perhaps 10,000 teachers, but not many fathers; milk but not meat. Milk is anything you receive from someone else, like infants who breast-feed from their mothers. We also have become too dependent on others for what we believe: preachers, teachers, televangelists and even ‘Christian fiction’, and have often settled for Scripture wrenched out of context rather than searching out the Word for ourselves.
‘For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you again the first principles of the oracles of God; and you have come to need milk and not solid food.
For everyone who partakes only of milk is unskilled in the word of righteousness, for he is a babe.
But solid food belongs to those who are of full age, that is, those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil.' (Hebrew 5:12-14)

God is calling sons and daughters to rise up and grow up, to become strong men and women of God in both Word + Spirit, mature not just in knowledge, but in wisdom, discerning + walking in His Will. We need to hunger for meat and not settle for mere bones.

And so I offer this manual to whoever is hungry + thirsty for God. May it help/aid/guide your heart and mind to search out God’s Word for yourself, experience the Holy Spirit’s leading into all truth and release your Identity into Destiny! This is not the meat. It’s simply: a tool to help you ‘rightly divide the word of truth’ to eat the meat; a spade to help you dig, discover and value its priceless gems; a key to unlock what was once mysteriously hidden, but is now gloriously revealed in Jesus Christ!
May it help challenge, encourage and incite you to probe greater depths than you’ve known and also stir, equip and lift you into the boundless heights of His faith and love!
Life is a journey. Take time to stop along the way: rest and drink beside peaceful waters, enjoy the fullness of His healing and restoration, and let Him release fresh vision and strength to continue! It is written that we might read and run that race set before us, our very lives proclaiming His Good News!

The following excerpts are from the Introduction-Overview of the manual. If you are interested in either of the complete Old or New Testament editions, please contact me at:


The Bible is THE BOOK of God + humanity, presenting the grand story of human origins, history and purpose as well as reaching beyond to future hopes and destiny. Its view is all-encompassing and beyond human comprehension. The Bible is a revelation of not only our existence, but also the meaning of things, people, events, struggle and ultimately, God. It purports to be the Creator’s Handbook to His Creation on 'How to Live this Precious Gift of Life', outlining its God-given covenant warranty with provisions for healing, recovery and renewal even when things break down.
It offers such a grand scope and scale of the picture of the Divine-human story that we often run the risk of losing its full and proper perspective: God’s macro-cosmic panorama compared with our own micro-myopic, self-centred portion. We need to see both the forest and the trees; not merely our own personal part in the drama, but the overview, the entire script, the BIG picture: the whole of the human landscape from God’s perspective.
Just like piecing a jigsaw puzzle together, so we need to approach this mystery called life. We must first see the picture on the box before we randomly jam pieces together. The Bible gives us the BIG picture for those seemingly disconnected pieces in life's box. Without this primary revelation, all will remain a confusing mystery and we will frustrate ourselves, trying to force pieces together that seem to have no meaningful relationship.
People tackle puzzles in different ways. Some just dive in. Others are more methodical: they first turn all the pieces picture-side up, separate various colour-groups from one another and then connect the corner and edge pieces. They prefer defined parameters and marked limitations to measure and order their task. Some approach life and the Bible in the same way, but these defy such simplistic methods.
The Bible's pieces do not often fit our ways of thinking. God's life cannot be forced into a box mentality! He will always break out of whatever box we might try to force Him into! They tried to do that to Jesus once and He broke out! It's called The Resurrection! Genesis to Revelation chronicles the God-man story from both divine and human perspectives, revealing God's faithfulness and man's inability. It is life, filled with all its struggle + loss, triumph + defeat, passion + betrayal, disappointment + courage, fear + faith. The Bible asks and explores the Eternal Questions of Life, unlocks mysteries and reveals its one focus, key and purpose in this journey of faith: Jesus Christ.
The New Testament does not accomplish this alone, but finds its full revelation together with the Old Testament. The 2 are 1! In at least 3 relational aspects:
1) literary: the New quotes the Old over 500 times! Its language and style are birthed and shaped by the Old.
2) both affirm the same basic truths: the New assumes the Old's historical foundation: eg creation, origin of sin, central role of covenant in redemption, atonement.
3) inter-dependence: the New claims Old Testament types, shadows, and future hopes are now present realities, fulfilled in Jesus. The Old is the theological centerpiece of the New while the New describes the climactic fulfillment of Old Testament themes.
You cannot comprehend the New without the Old nor the Old without the New for
The New is in the Old Concealed
The Old is in the New Revealed!

Thursday, April 21, 2011

The 8th Letter of Revelation

'And to the angel of the Church in _______(fill in the name of your city) write…'
What if Jesus added an eighth letter to His 7 Letters to the Churches of Revelation and sent it to the Church of your city today?
What would He talk about? What would be its highlights? Affirmations? Corrections? Warnings?
To whom would it be addressed? Who would receive it?
Would we receive it?
It’s recorded in history that the church of Laodicea did not receive its letter. They could not accept that its contents described their church’s actual situation. They instead insisted that things were just fine.
The letter was wrong; they weren’t. 'It’s addressed to the wrong church. That’s not us!'
The letter asserted they were self-sufficient, in need of nothing, not even God. Their refusal to accept God’s view of themselves ironically testified against them that God had indeed witnessed correctly.

A few years ago my wife and I visited Turkey and some of what are left of the 7 Churches of Revelation. Nothing remains of Laodicea today: neither the city nor the church. Its waters were neither cold not hot, but lukewarm. True to Christ’s Word, it has been spewed out, vomited, left desolate and in ruins. It is an amazing testimony to how we need to hear and receive God’s prophetic message for us in our day or suffer the consequences.
In fact, the only church still functioning is in Smyrna (now called Izmir): the Suffering, Persecuted Church. Of the 7, Smyrna (together with Philadelphia) received no rebuke and is the only one which still has a present-day congregation of worshipers.
'Be faithful until death, and I will give you the crown of life.' (Rev 2:10)

I believe one of the things Jesus would highlight in His letter to the church in our city is:‘keep the unity of the Spirit.' (Eph 4:3) He does not say 'strive to attain', but 'keep', which affirms we must already possess this unity through Christ. You cannot 'keep' what you don't already have. We are one body. There is neither Jew nor Gentile, male nor female, slave nor free, Baptist nor Charismatic in Christ's eyes. Various moves of the Spirit have impacted the body of Christ throughout history, but their full effect, value and legacy are ultimately realized in how they relate to building the kingdom of God and not their own little kingdoms. The church is one and we need to acknowledge this truth, value our unity and act out who we integrally are in Christ.
Jesus prayed, 'That they may be one just as We are one.' (John 17:22)

After the fall of the Soviet Union, I was privileged to teach in the first Bible school opened in Ulyanovsk, a city with over a million people about 400 kilometres from Moscow, best known as the birthplace of the father of Russian communism, Vladimir Ilyich Ulyanov, aka Lenin. God has a sense of humour: our Bible school classes were held right in The Communist Hotel! Every morning on my way to class, I would pass by one of Lenin’s few still-standing statues in Russia in the city's main square and sarcastically greet him,
“Good morning, Comrade Lenin. My, but you don’t look very well. Are you sick? Losing your balance? You seem to be tilting a little more each day?!”
Towards the end of my two weeks there, I was invited to join one of the first unity meetings of a group of pastors in Ulyanovsk. My interpreter kept me informed on what was transpiring, but the pastors’ body language needed no interpretation and even my limited Russian understood a clear enough message. They were enjoying their new freedoms, but old suspicions, rivalries and prejudices still surfaced as the different denominations struggled to find common ground together. They were trying to decide on holding their first public meeting together to celebrate Christmas, but… they couldn’t even decide on the date!
Should it be the Western December 25th or the Eastern Orthodox January 6th?
Who should speak? Some felt the Orthodox priest should, but the Lutheran pastor said that if the priest spoke, many of his parishioners would not attend and he wasn’t sure he would either.
The Pentecostal pastor objected; then still another objected more to the Methodist pastor's involvement: she was a woman.
It was starting to get uncomfortably hot in the room.
I watched and prayed and felt a Holy Spirit tug on my heart.
I asked my interpreter if I might share something with the group.
They agreed and so I spoke:
'I understand from the Bible that God views His church quite differently from how we see ourselves and one another. When He addresses His church, He writes to either His universal body, a specific ‘church in your house’ or a city church in a geographical area, that is, 'in Ephesus', 'in Philippi', or 'in Corinth'.
As long as you continue to see yourselves divided by different walls and denominations, you will remain fragmented and ineffective.
You need to see yourself the way God sees you, as His one church in the city of Ulyanovsk.
You will not be able to do what He has called you to do until you see yourselves as you truly are, the way God sees you… as one body and one church in this city.'
There was silence in the room and I nervously wondered if I had given the message clearly enough. Had they at least understood what I was trying to say, let alone accepted it?
However, the silence ended, the contention seemed to break, and they began relating and sharing in more positive, inclusive ways. They even started serving tea and enjoying one another’s company!
A few months later, I heard that they had indeed held their unity service and God had blessed their coming together. The Orthodox priest spoke, but I don't know if the Lutheran pastor overcame his stumbling block.

I thought of my own city.
Our City of ___________needs the Church of ____________
(fill in the blanks with your city's name)
to see itself the way Our God sees us and respond accordingly.
We need to be, stand and walk together in a kingdom mindset, in His unity, freedom, love and purpose.
We need to take our unity to heart and demonstrate it in prayer, faith and action.
We need to put away our petty, divisive distinctions and embrace the fullness of who we are in Christ… together, for Christ’s sake.
The alternative is clear: you can't find Laodicea today.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Revelation: It's ALL About JESUS!

Hi Readers!
I apologize that it's been more than a few months since I last blogged, but so much has been happening, so very quickly, and I have often been quite removed from consistent Internet access since then that I have not had time to write it all down. It's like the Lord has put His foot down hard on our accelerator and we've been running FAST: Bali, Indonesia; Kitimat, Vietnam, Finland, Uganda, England. However, I am now glad to be home... for a while.
Our present focus is an addition to the written blogs: you can now join me for an overview of Revelation in 10 1-hour sessions on Tuesday evenings 7:30pm PST - Streaming Alive. You can access by just clicking on the '10 Weeks' Streaming Live button at the Top Right + you are then linked to our website: RevelationMysterySolved. If you can't join us Live, then sessions are Archived and available anytime. Please feel free to just click on whichever session you want to view. Also, accompanying Notes for each session can be downloaded.
Enjoy and be challenged by The Revelation of Jesus Christ!
Put on your Son-glasses & let the Holy Spirit reveal Jesus more fully in, to + through you for ALL He is!

Tuesday, March 1, 2011


Do you want a Prophetic Word for your life?
Maybe you've heard some optimistic 'words' proclaiming 'greater increase, glory and blessing' for the coming year? Nice thoughts, but how?
You've probably also heard the doom-and-gloomers pessimistically predicting the sky is falling, icecaps are melting and oceans are rising?
Perhaps you've heard the Mayan calendar ends in 2012 so the world will end then also and you've got just over a year to figure out how to make the most of your life before then?
How do we discover what our year/life really holds? Does that mean we should try to break the 2010/2011 code and decipher 20 = 2(double) X 10(the number of unbelieving spies who kept Israel out of the Promised Land)or 11 (the number of disciples minus Judas?) so does that mean there will be twice the opposition this year?
Predicting the future through such darkened lenses gets ridiculous and confusing. Some 'words', unfortunately, are more pathetic than prophetic. However, turn to the Word of God, the simple original blueprint, and we'll gain a clearer, more objective perspective. Take a step back to 1910, not the year, but the foundation of all prophetic words, 19:10... Revelation 19:10 - 'the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy'.
The Church desperately needs a restoration of the revelation of this sure foundation in Christ, rather than the fluff of speculation that's so often passed off as prophecy. Prophecy must come through this grid of truth: Jesus Christ. Has it passed the tests which witness a true testimony of Jesus? Has it crossed over from the Old Covenant to The New through Christ's open, new and living way? Has it come through God's plumbline: The Cross, or is it just regurgitated Old Covenant concepts in New Covenant forms? Does it exhort, comfort and edify the body of Christ to be who He says we truly are in the earth, or is it merely a sad parody of psychic prognostications?
The world needs the Revelation of Jesus Christ, not some pseudo-substitute... even if it doesn't understand this. True signs, wonders, dreams, visions, angelic visitations, supernatural encounters, and trances all point to Jesus! Often God resorts to them only when men haven't heard Him the first time. Ask Balaam. God also had to put Peter in a trance in order to get it through his thick Jewish head that the New Covenant already included Gentiles.
The Cross changed the world's perspective. Let it change yours.
Miracles, wonders and prophetic signs are to follow us, not us them.
All Old Testament prophecy was a sign pointing to The Messiah: Jesus Christ. And the overwhelming majority were fulfilled in His 1st Coming!
"For all the promises of God in Him are Yes and in Him Amen, to the glory of God through us." (2Cor 1:20)
But it's the last phrase here that, I believe, God wants to highlight for us: This is all happening "through us," not in spite of us.

The Church is God's prophetic sign in the earth. Not some natural nation, but a supernatural body. A people birthed by His Word and Spirit, the true Temple of the Holy Spirit and City of God! God wants to reach an unbelieving world through us: His chosen vessel, His Church, His Bride, His New Jerusalem!
It's all here... in the Bible, the prophetic Word of God. Ephesians, the Epistle of the Church, Chapter 3 outlines the 'mystery' of how He brought Jews and Gentiles together into one body . Paul writes that this revelation became our call
"to make all see what is the fellowship of the mystery....
to the intent that now the manifold wisdom of God might be made known by the
church..." (v9-10)
I used to read this with the view that God's objective was to somehow make this wisdom known to the church. But that's not what it says!
I was reading from a self-centred perspective that it's all about me, us, the church, when it's really all about Jesus through us to the world!
My focus was wrong: it wasn't to the church, but through the church! Same thing in 2Cor 1:20: Jesus wants to live through us!

The prophetic Word then cuts through further unbelief when it challenges the church to make this revelation known to principalities and powers in heavenly places (v10); that is, proclaim it against demonic forces that formerly had authority in the earth, but were stripped of their power at the Cross, and are now bound up and cast down. 1Jn 3:8 declares: 'Jesus was manifested to destroy the works of the devil." He did it at His 1st Coming! Why wait for something that the Bible reveals has already happened! It will become fully evident at His 2nd Coming, but let's not cower in unbelief until then. Let faith stir us to walk in this testimony HERE + NOW!

Ephesians 3:11 continues, "according to the eternal purpose which He accomplished in Christ Jesus Our Lord." That's not 'will be' accomplished (future), but 'already has been' accomplished (completed in the past + effective in the present). That means it's already taken place! That's how much Jesus effectively completed at the Cross: no less! Either it's true or it's not. There's no middle ground grey area here.This is an all-or-nothing statement. And since it's true, it's time for His church to believe, see and receive this revelation, battle from His victory and not just for it, and make this known throughout the earth!
Col 2:15 also proclaims that this has already taken place: "He has taken it (the handwriting of requirements that was against us = the law) out of the way... nailed it to the cross." While He was accomplishing our salvation, Jesus simultaneously "disarmed principalities and powers ...made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them." (v16) Our focus needs to be God's focus. It's The Cross here, not the 2nd Coming! Too much of the church has its eyes on a future 2nd Coming which will one day accomplish what a proper reading of God's prophetic Word declares has already been accomplished in Christ's 1st Coming!
And this is the gospel the world needs to hear and see... through us!
Heb 12:1-2 exhorts us to be 'looking unto Jesus", not as a Coming King, but "as the One who endured the cross... and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God." To see Him on the throne is to see Him for who He is NOW on the basis of what He has done in the past at His 1st Coming! He is already crowned. NOW He is seated on the throne of the universe, at the centre of God's will, ruling and reigning, and we are to live and move in this revelation.
We need to see how and what God sees. Get your Son-glasses on! See Him: Jesus, on the throne, NOW! The King, already crowned; not just the coming King; He's Here NOW! by His Spirit.
Stephen, the church's first martyr, saw this. Check it out in Acts 7:55.
The only way through the tests is the testimony of the Revelation of Jesus!
And it's His Church's privilege and responsibility to receive and proclaim it in all the earth! He's accomplishing this through His body: we're the vessel through which God has chosen to reveal Himself: His Body, Temple, City + Nation: The Church of Jesus Christ!
That's why He suffered, bled and died for and rose again.
This is the Revelation of Jesus Christ the world needs today through the Church!

When the Church doesn't see this, it rather buys into a fear-mongering, escapist, all-hell's-breaking-loose Doomsday scenario message.
Then we're more the problem than the solution!
Then we merely offer the world dead, boring, lifeless religious forms: poor substitutes for the life Jesus gives.
He came to destroy the works of the devil. (1Jn 3:8) He did and so must we!
He came to bring new life abundantly. (Jn 10:10) He did and so must we!
He came to establish His kingdom. (Mk 1:14-15) He did and so must we
Occupy, do business, break old horizons and take new ground for Christ!
The earth is the Lord's and the fullness thereof!
Unfortunately, if we live as many Christians 'unbelieve', you will think the devil's still in control here. Like, please tell me how a title like 'Satan is Alive and Well on Planet Earth' turns out to be a best-seller in Christian bookstores?
Focusing on anti-Christ misses the Revelation of Jesus Christ!
The Holy Spirit is prophesying New Covenant reality: our Identity as sons of God released into their Destiny and inheritance. Too much of the Western Church has wallowed in lesser self-deception, blindly bowing in servitude to materialist pleasures rather than worshiping our loving God!
We need a Revolution in the Revelation of Jesus!
We need to see Him as He truly is and that's what the Book of Revelation is all about: The Revelation of the Lamb slain and the Lion's reign!
His sacrifice not only accomplished our full salvation, but His Presence fills the courts of heaven, spills over and overflows: even now "your kingdom come, on earth as it is in heaven." Too many 'believers' have lost the original Bible vision. Christ's kingdom is filling the earth NOW... not in some distant, fanciful, speculative millenium. We have again been seduced by demonic enticements, deprived of our true focus, ensnared in distractions. The pursuit of personal peace, pleasure and happiness have taken pre-eminence. Only Christ Himself is worthy of that honour. In all things, Christ must have pre-eminence. We need to be refocused on the Light, centred on Christ, not a foolish, futuristic, won't-it-be-nice-then mindset. Such myopic vision only produces delusion. The devil loves it when we're so preoccupied with his view of things that we are no longer 'looking unto Jesus,' but reacting when we should be effecting Christ's kingdom in His earth.
It's time to know Christ for all He is and follow Him NOW!
The Spirit of God is moving, bringing in a harvest to fill the earth, not just an endtime remnant (Old Covenant term) to then destroy it. That script might sell a lot of movie tickets, but it's not New Covenant. At best, it's repackaged Old Covenant gobbledy-gook.
New Covenant Revelation of Jesus shows He came, He saw, and He conquered, better than any Roman Caesar. And now He's riding forward, calling us to follow Him and reveal His victory from glory to glory!
You cannot enter the next glory until you leave yesterday's glory behind. Your former glory was good, but the next one promises even more: His best!
And it comes through a Revolution in the Revelation of Jesus!

Monday, February 28, 2011

The Revelation of Jesus Christ 3: The Big Picture - Breakin' the Box!

Most people tackle puzzles with their head and not with their heart. We try to reason our way to the solution: wriggle around the unknowns, analyze the problem, define its perameters and break it down into smaller, more digestible, bite-sized portions.
God doesn't work that way. From the very beginning, He is The Solution and applies His Word His Way to cut to the heart of the issue, not just manage The Problem. We tend to complicate; He simply cuts through it. As Alexander the Great cut through the Gordian Knot with his sword and fulfilled ancient prophecies, so God's Sword of the Spirit pierces our 'grey areas' to reveal His Light through us.

We really run into difficulties when we try to apply this analytical approach with the larger puzzle called Life. We all too easily lose sight of our real purpose and become ensnared by insignificant details. We need The Big Picture: God's overall view and perspective on things, a world-view bigger than ourselves and our own little kingdoms of personal peace and comfort.
Too often we literally cannot see the forest for the trees!
We lose our focus on the essentials and become distracted by temporal non-essentials.

Distraction is the enemy's ploy to get us out of focus and off balance, majoring on minors and minoring on majors, straining at gnats while swallowing camels. When we're distracted, we're like Martha, subject to all sorts of delusions and confusions, prone to blame our brothers and sisters, and even the Lord! Lacking The Big Picture, we unconsciously seek to somehow compensate for our loss of vision! We focus on details, without properly evaluating their relationship to the whole, and this produces an even fuzzier image, farther yet from the truth of what really is!
That which is amazing becomes a maze!
And so we wander, broken and fragmented, from event to event, tree to tree, conference to conference, ever seeking, but never able to relate our experience in the context of a whole picture.

I believe that's what happened in the Garden of Eden: The Big Picture got broken! God gave Adam and Eve His true focus: The Tree of Life at the centre and every tree in the garden for food (Gen 2:9,16-17), except The Tree of Knowedge of Good + Evil. But the serpent distracted Eve from her centre, misdirecting her attention to doubt God, question His truth + motives and focus on 'the other tree' as a rightful substitute (Gen 3:3). The Tree of Knowledge wrongly became her centre. With her perspective and relationship with God off balance, she became confused and easily moved to wrong action.

Paul wrote to the Corinthian church almost two thousand years ago:
'I fear lest somehow as the serpent deceived Eve by his craftiness, so your minds may be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ.' (2Cor11:3)
I fear the same warning holds true today. The Western Church has become distracted from its centre: the Tree of Life - The Revelation of Jesus Christ!
Our focus has rather become self-centred: 'What's in it for me?''What's good for me?'
We have lost sight of The Tree of Life forest, mesmerized with enticing Trees of Knowledge: the lust of the flesh, lust of the eyes and pride of life.
We need the whole Big Picture restored!
We need The Revelation of Jesus Christ!

Unfortunately, many hear 'The Revelation' and immediately think mystery, 'mark of the beast', '666'. That is so 'Sick, Sick, Sick!'
The same distracting, deceptive tactic our enemy used in the garden against our first parents is now directed against us.
Our focus must be God's focus: It's The Revelation of Jesus Christ!
Not anti-Christ, not end-times, not some supercomputer in Belgium punching out chips for implanting foreheads and wrists, not some speculative, end-time sci-fi scenario!
Sadly, much of the Church has traded a healthy Big Picture of Jesus and His New Covenant kingdom reality for some sick, futuristic fantasy.
An unBiblical horror movie. Lots of special effects, but no substance.
We've exchanged discerning Holy Spirit Son-glasses for a trendy set of fashionable Doom-and-Gloom goggles.
That may sell a lot of books, but it definitely does not line up with The Book.
These give a false, distorted vision of Jesus Christ: a diluted, defeatist, stale, boring, lifeless image of Churchianity.
A poor substitute indeed for the real thing: the Risen, Overcoming Christ who invites us to follow Him in victory, breaking through lies and limitations, plundering the devil's goods, opening new horizons of adventure in His Kingdom!
We've become addicted to consuming repackaged, candy-coated Old Covenant mysteries instead of feasting on New Covenant Revelation. Too much of our diet derives from the Tree of the Lie and not The Tree of Life!
We need to refocus on The Big Picture! We need The Revelation of Jesus Christ!

It's the Revelation of Jesus Christ!
In his 3 1/2 year walk with His disciples, Jesus constantly sought to help them refocus: take their eyes off themselves, their circumstances, their ministries, and redirect them to their true centre: HIMSELF!
He disputed with the Pharisees who misused the Word of God to fashion a comfortable legalism for themselves.
He commended them, 'You search the Scriptures, for in them you think you have eternal life.'
But, He said, (and I paraphrase) 'You have missed the real point, for the Scriptures testify of ME! (John 5:39) It's all about Jesus!
On Resurrection Sunday, two of His disciples were headed in the wrong direction (running from Jerusalem to Emmaus), at the wrong time, with the wrong motivation (fear), and a wrong attitude (unbelief and discouragement). Jesus Himself joined them.
Why does He care so much about us even when we are oh so all wrong?
Why does He take time to meet us where we're at, even when we're headed in wrong directions with wrong purposes?
On this day, The Day history had anticipated for centuries, The Day I'm sure He must have had many other important concerns,
(Imagine how your priorities will change once you've risen from the dead!)
but Jesus chose to walk with these two... for hours, and listen to their confused, discouraging details misinterpreting the day's events.
Their puzzle pieces did not fit together!
They couldn't make sense out of the details because they'd lost sight of The Big Picture: The Resurrection!
They didn't even recognize Jesus when He Himself showed up!
But 'beginning at Moses and all the Prophets, He expounded to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning Himself! (Luke 24:27)
Later on, with all the disciples, 'He opened their understanding, that they might comprehend the Scriptures...
that all things must be fulfilled which were written in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms concerning ME.' (Luke 24:44-45)
The message very clearly was JESUS HIMSELF, not some religious idea, theory or how-to instruction manual.
Either Jesus was a very egotistic, misguided man with an over-inflated opinion of himself or, and this is the only alternative,
He truly is who He... and the Father...and the Holy Spirit...and the Bible...and many human witnesses... reveal Him to be:
Have you got your Son-glasses on?
Can you see Him when He shows up, even when He's changed from yesterday's glory to today's glory?
Or does He first have to fit your image of misunderstanding?

It's quite clear. The only true focus for healthy vision must be The Tree of Life: JESUS HIMSELF, not our own vision or creation of Him after our own thoughts. Anything less fashions a false image. We may call it God and worship it, but it is no more than an extension of ourselves, a creation of our own identity... an idol. Ironically, that's the case when we lose our focus on the True Jesus: we end up fabricating an image that is nothing more than our own intellectual (mis)conception of a reasonable god.
We may call it Jesus, but we have merely fashioned a glorified religious box.
So... we must, like instructions to activate an Emergency fire alarm, 'Break the Box!'

The Pharisees tried to put Him in their theological box, but He kept on breaking out of it:
'Tell me, who is the Christ? Is He's David's son? Then why does David in the Spirit call Him Lord?' (Matt 22:41-45)
The Sadducees, religious naturalists, tried to trap Him with questions about the supernatural that didn't fit their reasonings:
'Whose wife will she be in the resurrection, for all seven had her here on earth?'
But He answered, 'You are in deep error, neither knowing the Scriptures nor the power of God.' (Matt 22:23-33)
In other words, you are so caught in your own snare, trying to figure out and manipulate details, that you can neither accept nor even recognize the overall truth of God's abundant and eternal life! You've eaten from a forest of Trees of Knowledge and now you are lost in their midst, incapable of knowing either your true identity or destiny. You've substituted a maze of lies for God's amazing revelation and now you are wandering among the details of your own confusion!
Jesus became a Problem to religious people and their solution was The Cross. They plotted to kill Him, put Him away, in a grave... in a box.
But God's answer to man's boxes is also The Cross! Jesus kicked out the walls of the grave at His Resurrection!
Sin and Death could not stand against Him! He destroyed the power of the devil at The Cross. His Resurrection and Ascension to The Throne of All Creation reveal this openly! Jesus broke the powers of hell, the grave and every anti-Christ box!
We are free! From stereotypical world-views and compartmentalizations, that is, parts of mental boxes that we can or cannot understand. God has given us a whole life!
Stop putting Jesus back in the box! He doesn't fit!
He's not a Jack-in-the-box. He's Jesus-out-of-the-box!

Build a box and He'll break out of it; He always has and He always will!

Let me illustrate this another way. Spiritual enigmas and mysteries have natural counterparts: some reveal similarities, others opposites.
Take, for example, an ordinary jigsaw puzzle.
Aren't you glad there's a picture on the box to reveal what the mumble-jumble of pieces inside will look like once you've joined them together? Without that big picture, there would be no reference point, no target, no vision of what you are working towards.
Even moreso for life's big puzzles: we need The Big Picture of Jesus!
Often it seems like we're holding only a box, a form with pieces and we're not even sure that all its pieces actually belong in our puzzle.
The Bible works the same way.
It's not just a collection of pieces: stories, ideas, doctrines, moral lessons, strategies, principles of Law or concepts of Grace.
It has a Big Picture. He's called Jesus! It's all about Jesus, Who He is and What He's done!
He is the express image of The Father, the complete fullness of the godhead bodily.
The simplicity of Christ alone reveals what's in the box of life's mysteries, so... once you've got The Big Picture, the best thing you can do with your box (ie. your assumed expectations, stereotyped presumptions and taped personal prophecies) is...
BREAK IT!!! He's much more alive than any status quo image!
Let Him live, let Him out! You're free to think, feel and live outside the Box!

Life in Christ is so different from the natural puzzles where we first turn all the pieces face up, group the various colours together, find the corners and join the edge pieces.
You can't do this with the puzzle pieces of your life in Christ!
Don't start with the edges.
Don't limit God in you by presuming limits and predetermining boundaries beyond which God cannot move!
Remember: He's bigger than all we can ask or think! Who you are in Him, who He is in you, and what He means to do through you cannot be contained in your little box! Don't try to define the boundaries of God in your life because in Christ there are none!
The first piece to place in your Life puzzle must be the centre-piece: The Revelation of JESUS!
Start with Him right at the centre and then join only pieces that fit with Him, not ones you fit Him into. When you connect pieces with Him, in His time + His place, you will not have to try to force pieces together. They will flow together!

One Christmas I got a jigsaw puzzle: it was BIG!: a blue-and-white sailboat with white sails on a white-capped, blue sea and a blue sky with fluffy white clouds in the background. 2500 pieces, all in the same two colours! And every piece was also virtually the same size and shape: small, with tabs on each of two sides and indentations on the other two.
I rose to the challenge and began to piece together the unpieceable. It took hours! Days!
My Christmas holidays ended, but I came home from university on weekends and pressed on.. literally... I pressed and even pressured pieces into place, especially when my patience wore thin (and that grew to be more and more often). I placed what I'd already completed on a plywood sheet so I could move and store it safely. One weekend when I returned home, however, while opening my bedroom door, I inadvertently surprised the family cat, who had been comfortably sleeping on my bed ...on the puzzle. Startled, she immediately dug her claws into the puzzle, sprang from the bed, and dragging it behind her, left a broken trail of blue and white pieces.
I died.
I had worked so long and been so close to completion. And now, there lay my masterpiece... in pieces, a broken vision strewn from one end of the room to the other. The cat fled through the open door as I stood immobilized. Somehow I recovered enough to begin regathering the scattered pieces of my work. Some sections were still relatively intact; I just had to reconnect them. Others I had to completely reconstruct!
I don't remember how long the process took, but I do remember this: the day finally came to finish the last piece and... wouldn't you know it?
one piece was missing... right in the very centre!

Isn't that the picture of a life without Jesus?!
People try so hard to fit the details of their life picture together: all the colours, shapes and sizes of experience, but it's all in vain without Him first, right in the centre. Edges can define natural perameters and our relationships with other people, but in the Big Picture with God, they actually hinder. Jesus has taken away the veil of mystery and limitation that separated us from God, reality, our true identity and destiny.
He has given us the freedom to be who we truly are and all we can be!
We can look into the mirror of His face and know we are loved and accepted, but the picture's always changing as He transforms us from glory to glory! Natural mirrors expose faults that require our attention; but the mirror of His Spirit reveals an ever-changing Big Picture: Christ in us and us in Him becoming more and more like Him, the expression of His Body and Kingdom filling all the earth! (2Cor 3:18)
It's The Revelation of Jesus Christ... to us and through us!
Not only are we changed from glory to glory, but our lives become a continual revelation of His glory to others through us!
Jesus in you, Jesus in me WANTS OUT!
Take the step: Break the Box!!! There's so much more Revelation in His Big Picture!

Sunday, February 27, 2011

The Revelation of Jesus Christ! 2

Where do you start on such a complex, controversial, complicated book?
This is a life journey! What's the first step? How and where do we even begin?

Questions, questions... we want answers!

How about at the same place someone pointed me to on the day I came to know Jesus? ... 'In the beginning'.
Begin with the SIMPLICITY OF CHRIST (2Cor 11:3)! Who said it's so complicated? Surely God didn't! We made it that way!
I'm more convinced with each new day: if it's complicated, it's not God!
For years, I tried to understand all the so-called Revelation charts... with their dates, coloured arrows highlighting what God will do, where the Church will go, when Jesus would come again, but I must confess: I soon didn't know if I was coming or going
....and I believe that's a big part of the problem!
Revelation is not meant to be a problem, but a solution. Focusing on the problems only serves to magnify them.
We need to look beyond our questions and focus on the solution. It's The Revelation of Jesus Christ!
This book was given by God to bring clarity, not the dust and confusion that so many stir up.
God didn't give us such a profound book to prove we are incapable of grasping it.
Nor does He expect us to superspiritually unravel it like some Christian Gordian Knot. In fact, if we take Alexander the Great as our natural example, then let's take God's Sword of the Spirit, cut right through all the confusion, get right to our hearts, and bring His revelation to light!
This book is not our test to see if we can figure God out and some day successfully arrive at our revelation-destination.
Perhaps that's why some people (even believers!) don't even read the book: they're intimidated by its bad press!
If that's your thinking: let's break it right now.
Let's start at the beginning, where the key is... simply... The Revelation of Jesus Christ!

In order to discover what something really is, it's sometimes helpful to determine what it is not!
So let's examine what Revelation is not:

It's not A Revelation. That is, this Book of Revelation is not just one of many Revelations out there, so we have to try and discover how much this book is the true revelation compared with whatever other options might be out there... another Revelation of Jesus Christ?
No, this is THE REVELATION... THE true, God-sanctioned Revelation. That is... the Book, not this article!
Yes, I know Greek doesn't use articles (that's a point of grammar, in case that's important to you); and you do need to search out the historical setting: who wrote it, when and where, and whether it's really God and belongs in the canon of Scripture.
But beyond these considerations, we need to understand our Bible text is The Revelation, not just one of many available possibilities. Do the homework and you'll find that this final book of the Bible has, like the rest of the book, come through the tests of time and weathered them all. Like an anvil, it's outlasted every spiritual or human hammer that has attempted to destroy its credibility and authority. Instead of breaking, it has rather withstood and broken those same attacks, misunderstandings and misinterpretations of these last 20 centuries. It has stood and its adversaries instead lie defeated. Even unbelievers maintain a healthy, but arms-length respect, for this book. Perhaps they know they cannot criticize what they cannot begin to understand. The Gospels reveal Jesus' earthly ministry, Acts shows how the Early Church responded, and the Epistles give understanding of Christ's impact on believers, the church and our world at large. But The Revelation comes at the end of the Bible to both seal and release the vision of the book in all its unique and remarkable fullness!
Most of the Bible is audio...we hear His Word;
other parts, especially Daniel, Ezekiel, Zechariah and Revelation, are visual...
and now we see Him for all He really is. Truly, a picture is worth a thousand words!
And to see Jesus for all He is will leave a man breathless, let alone speechless!

Neither is it the Book of Revelations ...plural. This is one Revelation...singular... ein, une, uno...not one of many,
but a single, consistent view with one theme, object and person: It's The Revelation of Jesus Christ!
It's not about philosophical ideas, historical events, or mathematical subtleties.
It's about seeing a Person, a most remarkable Person, the most enigmatic, yet enlightening Person this world has ever known! He was in the world, but not of it. Light came and darkness could not comprehend it. Without getting into big doctrinal, theological disputes, The Revelation of Jesus Christ simply presents The Person who fully knew His Identity and fulfilled His Destiny.
It's all about you, Jesus; it's not about me or even us!
He's the One we need to see here and focus on without distraction.
He is One with The Father; He is One with the Holy Spirit.
In Him dwells all the fullness of the godhead bodily and we are complete in Him! (Col 2:9)
It's all about seeing One Person; not events, experiences, or end-time speculations.
He alone is the Alpha and Omega, the express image of The Father, and Scripture exhorts us to look unto Jesus, the Author and Finisher of our faith, and have eyes for none other.
His disciples asked Him to show them the Father and He replied,
"Have I been with you so long and still you don't know? He who has seen Me has seen the Father." (Jn 14:8)
We can and must see Him for who He is and what He's done, not just what people have thought about Him.
Look really close and you'll see Him everywhere. Nebuchadnezzar did after he had the 3 Hebrews thrown into the fiery furnace. "Didn't we just throw 3 into the flames? But I see a 4th? ...and He looks like whatever the Son of God would look like!'
Jesus Himself admonished the Pharisees,
"You search the Scriptures for in them you think you have eternal life; and they testify of Me." (Jn 5:39)
The Bible is not about how to get saved; it's about Jesus! Know Him and you'll know life and get saved!
When it comes to a relationship with God, religion cannot cut it. Only the revelation of Jesus can focus our vision to see Him as He truly is and train us to see things the same way He does. That's all it really takes: one good clear revelation-introduction to Him as He is and you're hooked. Just ask Moses, or Peter or Paul.
Saviour, Redeemer, Prince of Peace, Lily of the Valley, Bright and Morning Star, King of Kings, Lord of lords, Lion of the Tribe of Judah, Lamb of God, Son of Mary, Son of Man, Son of God, Sun of Righteousness risen with healing in His wings! The Branch, The Bread of Life, The Light of the world, The Way, The Truth & The Life, The Good Shepherd, The Door of the Sheep, The True Vine, The Resurrection and The Life, Our Healer, and the list goes on... you can never exhaust The Revelation of Jesus Christ!
His fountain continually springs up with new life. No other can satisfy mankind's various and numerous needs; no one else even comes close!
As in all of life: it's not what you know, but who you know!
We can have revelations on certain subjects, but only one revelation gives life and that one is: The Revelation of Jesus Christ!

Nor is it The Book of Reflections of Personal Prejudices.
Unfortunately, this book has become known more for fearful images of God's future judgments and wrath poured out in earth's 'last days' than its true message. Well-meaning Christians (more mean than well) who should be His most faithful representatives have instead given God bad press. Rather than witnessing the Father's love and faith for a lost creation, many interpreters of Revelation have twisted its message into a final fearful future for all who don't measure up. Presumption, supposition, negativism and religious fear-mongering have distorted and misrepresented The Father's heart to believers and the general public. What is meant for blessing has somehow morphed into the ultimate curse. How could we go so wrong?
In the beginning, God made man in His own image and man has been unfortunately returning the favour ever since.
Religion does nothing less than attempt to create God in man's own image... and that is a fallen image. God is not impressed.
So He sent Jesus, not to just argue His case and condemn the world in its guilt, but to give a clear presentation of His Heart to a fallen world, 'that whosoever believes in Him will not perish but have everlasting life.'(Jn 3:16)
Jesus is God's way of separating wheat from chaff: those who truly are from those who only appear or think themselves to be.
Jesus is God's way to cut through all of this world's vanity, hypocrisy and hype, especially when it dresses up in 'Christian' clothes. How we respond to the King on The Cross reveals how we truly worship the Lamb on the Throne.
The Father is seeking those who will worship Him in spirit and truth and Jesus is that Way!
That's the wisdom of God: He doesn't need us to come up with a formula of 101 ways to glorify Him.
He simply sets the Truth before us and looks to see how we respond or react...
His Reflection in us, not ours on Him. When we react in fear, we reflect our own insecurities, not His true image.
The New Covenant cuts through all the self-preserving religious subterfuge.
Jesus tore the veil separating man from God from top to bottom. He appeared, the revealed glory of God the Father in the Son, entered the holy place, and by His blood opened a new and living way for us! Not a system of do's and don'ts, but a better way of faith which alone pleases God.
Religion sewed the temple veil up again, carried on its abomination for another 40 years while persecuting the Way, but its temple and city were ultimately destroyed.
And religion is trying to sew it up again, substituting lifeless forms of tradition for the liberating freedom of Jesus.
These are nothing but dead bait, enticing traps for the undiscerning who can only be spared by a true revelation of Jesus!
Don't accept anything less than what the Word of God fully reveals. Too many Christians live beneath their call.
Embrace the liberty by which Christ has set us free and don't be entangled again in yokes of bondage!
The veil has been torn away once for all. It's been done away in Christ! The way to the Holy of Holies is open. The Father's heart is open to us through Jesus Christ. Be bold... enter in.
Moses had to put a veil on his face when he came down from the mountain because the people could not bear the glory of God. It was too personal, too intimate, too powerful, even in its Old Covenant form. Man could not comprehend how a Holy God could meet them and they would yet live! So Moses covered his face, and that veil remains today on hearts which only know type, form, and tradition. Now how much more does Christ's New Covenant bring us into God's Presence, His abundant and eternal life! And as we look on His face, He fills and changes us from Old to New, an ongoing transformation into His same image from glory to glory, radiating, releasing His glory into the nations,and ultimately filling the whole earth!
If it be at all a book of Reflections, let it be us reflecting His image, light and glory into earth, not us reflecting our old, negative prejudices and fearful mind-sets onto His book.

Nor is it The Mystery of Jesus Christ. 'Mystery' connotes mystical, obscure, enigmatic, puzzling, undisclosed, impossible to understand, secret ritual truths, unknowable to but a few initiates. Religion feeds on mystery. Someone (the leader/elite) knows something about God that the rest (the followers/auditors) don't know and if you trust/submit to us (and bring your money) we'll break off the curses and let you in on our blessing. We really do know what's best for you and we'll take good care of you. Only fit into this box/form/program. Don't ask any unnecessary questions. Trust us. We have everything under control.
Mystery religions in Jesus' day (Mithraism, Greek & Roman mythology) promised that, but He broke their boxes with His Revelation.
The Apocalypse (Greek: 'apokalysis') is the 'unveiling of what was once hidden'. What was once in darkness and shadows has now been brought out into the light. The gospel is good news,
'the revelation of the mystery kept secret since the world began but now made
manifest and by the prophetic Scriptures made known to all nations' (Rom 16:25-26)
In other words, the secret has become open knowledge and we all have a part in it!
Receive the truth, embrace His love, proclaim God's fullness! Don't hold back!

The New is in the Old concealed.
The Old is in the New revealed! NOW!

You'd think we would understand this from the Gospels, Acts and Epistles of the New Testament, but God knows how difficult it is for us to see and keep The Big Picture. Sometimes we can't see the forest for the trees! We lose sight of the overall picture and get lost in the details. We try to figure out the mark of the beast in Chapter 13 and don't even recognize the seal of the Living God throughout the entire book! We forget the picture on the front of the puzzle box and are left with 1000s of scattered pieces called life, unsure of how they relate, sometimes questioning whether these pieces even belong in our puzzle.
The Big Picture is Jesus and we need to see Him!
He is neither elusive nor hidden. He is right here now, front and centre, definitely out of the box!
And the Holy Spirit desires to help us fit the pieces together in our life context.
In His wisdom, as He moved on John to receive, record and relay The Revelation, so now He moves on us to bring that picture into reality: The Big Picture of Jesus in us! The 4 Gospels gave us 4 different perspectives of Jesus' life + ministry, but they were not enough.
We needed clarity, completion and closure.
We needed revelation.
We needed the light to come on in our hearts and minds.
Revelation clarifies and confirms the previous Bible books with at least 7 more visions, replete with symbols overflowing with all the fullness of who Jesus is and what He has done! None of us can grasp this with our natural minds. John said if all Jesus' deeds were written one by one, the world itself could not contain the books which would be written! (Jn 21:25)
There is so much MORE!!!
And so the Holy Spirit is here to bring His word alive in us.
'And so we have the prophetic word confirmed, which you do well to heed as a light that shines in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts' (2Pet 1:19)
We need to see Jesus fully, for who He is, not just who we think He is, but the way the Bible presents Him.
Let Him turn our lights on and in turn make us lights to shine in this dark and needy world.
Christ to us, Christ in us, Christ through us.
When we see Him as He truly is, we will also see ourselves in Him for who we truly are:
no longer sin-sick, but healed,
whole by His love and truth,
renenewed ambassadors of His kingdom with a mandate to fill the earth with His glory!

I remember the first time I read The Revelation. My friend and I were traveling in Europe. We saw ourselves as travelers in life, not tourists, seeking truth and the answers to the eternal questions. While in Boston, I'd bought an 1844 New Testament edition, a real bargain price for an interesting old book. A few weeks later in Munich at Oktoberfest, while downing beer with a Hofbrauhaus full of other party animals, I found I was thirsty still. I reached into my pocket, pulled out that old New Testament. It opened right at the Book of Revelation and I started to read. I didn't stop until I had finished it, all at one sitting.
I don't know if it was the beer or the book, but by the end of my reading, my head was swimming.
Many lights swirled; in time one prevailed.
Take the challenge: Drink in the vision... all at one time. Let it work in you.
Lord Jesus, we thank you for The Big Picture.
Reveal Yourself to each hungry heart and thirsty spirit.
Thank you for our Identity in You; release us into Your Destiny for us to know and follow you always!
Thank you for your Love and Presence with us.
We have a long journey ahead.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

The Revelation is …. Jesus Christ!

Move over, Hollywood. When it come to script-writing, you've got nothing on the Bible. In this field, the Oscar goes to... pause, drumroll... GOD.! And not only for this year's performance, but every year, His amazing tell-all Scripture continues probing and revealing both the heights and depths of the human heart and its history.
But even God breaks His own records in His last volume, The Revelation. When it comes to high drama, there's nothing like waiting for the seventh trumpet to sound.
You want special effects? How about a 200 million-man army and four thundering horsemen charging across the landscape, leaving war, famine and death in their wake?

Hollywood even selectively borrows from Revelation's abundance of names and symbols to fuel its own blockbusters. For example, check out 'Armageddon' (which had nothing whatsoever to do with the fortress in the Middle East, but everything to do with a meteorite threatening Earth's very existence). But when it comes to the real thing, somehow the movie capital misses the whole issue and The Passion of the Christ is relegated to the celluloid cutting floor and doesn't even make it onto the nominations list. It's amazing how this last book of the Bible, the only one to promise, right at its beginning, a special blessing to those who read and heed, has been so misunderstood that a large segment of the church avoids it like the plagues it describes.
When was the last time you heard your pastor preach from this book? It's become too controversial for many. Its vivid descriptions too graphic; its cataclysms too breathtaking; its interpretations too divisive.
We prefer that kind of stuff for our entertainment, but not for examining our hearts for truth.
Not one to avoid controversy, I therefore feel it necessary to open the discussion by lambasting a few of the common presumptions, prejudices and misconceptions that many hold out there about this book and launch out to proclaim and receive that awesome blessing it promises and delivers. Over the next while, I invite you to join with me as we take a walk (or come on eagles, let's fly and soar even!) in the Spirit and discover new horizons beckoning us into deeper realms of God's kingdom glory. You need not fear: Jesus will never get boring and His well will never run dry: it's rivers of living water for those who are thirsty!
First of all, verse 1 (check it out) holds the key. It is The Revelation of Jesus Christ! Not anti-Christ! It's mind-boggling to hear who people think of first when this book is mentioned. Right away the race is on to Chapter 13 to decipher 666, discover the number of the beast, where its secret computer is in Belgium, what the mark is and whether we've received it yet.
All this and 'anti-Christ' isn't even mentioned in Revelation –not even once!
Besides, why do so many remain ignorant of the first-mentioned mark - the Seal of the Living God - which is given to protect all true believers six chapters beforehand?

Again in the first verse, it's The Revelation --singular, not Revelations plural. Yes, there is a series of startling visions recorded here, but there is such unity in their progression that it is essentially one vision, reiterated again and again, first from one perspective and then another. That is ...The Revelation of Jesus Christ! who He is and what He has done, His Person and His Purpose, His Identity and Destiny openly revealed.

Do you see Him? Not only in this last book, but throughout the entire Bible? Jesus said to the Pharisees: 'You search the Scriptures and in them you think you have eternal life: and they are those which testify of me ...that is, Jesus! (John 5:39) It's all about Him! If we're not seeing Him on every page, we're only skimming the surface, we're not getting the full-meal deal. We're being cut short, robbed. Are you hungry? There's so much more! So take off those cool-looking Pharisee shades and put on Holy Spirit-fitted SON-glasses! You'll find Him everywhere!

Also, many presuppose Revelation is all about events of the end-times, the Lord's Second Coming, something like Arnold Schwarznegger's 'I'll be back!' However, as I read the text in its context, I realize the end-times already started when Jesus said, 'It is finished!' I am steadily being convinced the Holy Spirit desires to reveal a Prophetic Person more than prophesy events. We need to see Jesus more clearly and appreciate what really happened at His First Coming rather than speculate about the Second. Jesus Himself just said, 'Be ready!' to His disciples. He didn't give them the year, day or hour of His Second Coming. His 1st Coming was so vital that He raised up Daniel to pinpoint the very year Messiah came at least 570years beforehand! Rather than guesstimate or presuppose about the future, our world, and the Church especially, would benefit more by focusing on and appropriating the fullness of what God's Word has already prophesied and shown fulfilled in Christ than merely presume what we think might happen.

Furthermore, I am constantly amazed at how people in general, even Christians in particular, fear this book, when its purpose is wholly to dispel fear and let the love of Christ shine. I even found a copy of the recent DVD 'The Apocalypse' filed under the Horror-Sci-Fi section in the video store!
The Revelation has been used and abused over the past generations to:
castigate and even demonize political enemies;
stir up hell-fire and brimstone fears to promote and manipulate through false guilt;
encourage people to purchase fire insurance against hell rather than a life assurance relationship with a loving Saviour;
promote fear-mongering schemes such as the Y2K fiasco;
and increase book sales of spurious and unfounded speculations,
ultimately bringing disrepute and scorn on the Church and even the Word of God.

It's time to redeem the book from such such a maligned and undeserved reputation. It's the Revelation of the only and most beautiful Saviour this world could and will ever have, The Lord Jesus Christ!
Let's see Him and let Him be known for who He truly is! Come and join me! Let me know your thoughts as we begin together; it's a fascinating journey!