I remember concerning you…

I remember concerning you
the kindness of your youth,
The love of your bridal days,
When you followed after Me in the wilderness,
In a land that was not sown.

-Jeremiah 2:2

Last weekend I got to go to a 7th-9th grade boys retreat in the forests at the foothills of the Cascades in Easton, WA.  I really enjoyed hearing a brother from Boise, ID share on the Lord’s perspective of us as Christians.

If you think about the Israelites’ journey through the wilderness on their way from Egypt to the promised land, it is easy to see them in a negative light; full of rebellion, complaining, and idolatry.  However, in the midst of their failures, there is an account of Jehovah’s perspective of His chosen people in Numbers 22-24.  In these chapters a certain king named Balak observed how the Israelites were destroying their enemies as they began to enter the good land and commissioned a prophet named Balaam to come curse Israel for him.  However, when Balaam eventually attempted to curse God’s chosen people, all he was able to do was bless them.  Jehovah put a word in Balaam’s mouth and Balaam spoke forth God’s feeling for the Israelites: that they were holy (23:7-10), perfect (23:18-24), and beautiful (24:3-9).

The brother sharing this at the retreat tied this story to Jeremiah 2:2, where the Lord fondly recalls the days of Israel’s travel through the wilderness as a husband fondly remembers his bride on their wedding day.  From Jehovah’s perspective, Israel was not a rebellious people that wandered for 40 years but a holy, perfect and beautiful bride who followed Him.

When we look back on the years it’s been since we first gave ourselves to follow the Lord, sometimes we have a tendency to focus on the failures we’ve had through the course of our life.  Instead of getting hung up on our sins and shortcomings, we need to remember the Lord’s perspective.  God’s view of our early Christian life (whether that’s in 7th-9th grade or any other time period where we first started to pursue Him) is that these are our “bridal days.”  The Lord treasures these memories of us, and we should too.

God’s Heart is Set on Zion

His foundation is in the holy mountains.

Jehovah loves the gates of Zion

More than all the dwellings of Jacob.

Glorious things are spoken of you,

O city of God.

Selah

(Psalm 87:1-3)

Today we Christians pray for mainly three things; restoration and corporate revival, personal salvation (not just from eternal perdition, but also from our day to day entanglements), and release from our sufferings.  We see these things as quite positive things to pray for, but what is God’s perspective?  In my experience, when I pray for these things it is easy for me to neglect Christ, and thus miss God’s heart entirely.  God’s heart is set on Zion, with Christ within it.

Jerusalem typifies the church.  To be in the local church today is to be in Jerusalem, but within the city of Jerusalem, there is the uplifted peak of Zion.  Zion is where Christ is installed as king. Psalm 2:6 says “I have installed My King / Upon Zion, My holy mountain.”  Ephesians 1:20-23 show us how this verse refers to Christ in His ascension being seated far above all in order to be head over all things to the church.  Whenever we praise the elevated Christ, we become part of the elevated city.  Zion contains many saints and is for the house of God and the city of God for Christ to possess the whole earth.  Our installed king deserves our praise!

God’s desire is for Zion with Christ within it so that Christ can gain the whole earth.  This is God’s economy.  We are saved for God’s economy.  We are saved for His Christ, His Zion, His house, and His city.  When we pray for our personal salvation and the salvation of others, we must have this perspective.  God is for Zion, so we must be for Zion!  My salvation is not for myself but for the church.  When we have this realization, our prayer will change.  Instead of praying for restoration, salvation, and release from suffering we will pray for Zion.  We will pray for the church, the reality of the Body of Christ to be expressed on the earth today.  We will pray for Christ with His overcomers to gain the entire earth.  Then we will see that the church is the real restoration, salvation and deliverance.

Then singing as well as dancing, they will say,

All my springs are in you. (Psalm 87:7)

Oh Lord!  Set our heart on Zion!  Praise King Jesus!

Truth Tour 2012

We hiked a pretty waterfall on the way to Portland.

We just got from a spring break trip with the WSU Students for Christ club.  It is so good to see so many young college students give up part of their spring break for the Lord.  This year we started by going to the Tri-Cities to meet with the church in West Richland on Friday night.  The saints there have been meeting as the church in that city for less than a year.  It was very enjoyable to see the Body of Christ expressed in such a new locality!  On Saturday we headed to blend with the saints in Portland, with a stop for some hiking at Multnomah Falls.  We took the Lord’s Table in Portland and continued on our trip to stay two nights in a beach house in Manzanita, Oregon and do a little sightseeing on the Oregon Coast.  It rained and snowed for the duration of our stay on the beach, so we mostly just stayed inside our cabin to play games and fellowship.  It was a very sweet time.  We finished our Truth Tour with a visit to the church in Vancouver, Washington, a GTCA city from a year ago that has a flourishing home church life.

On car rides between stops and during home meetings in each place, we enjoyed getting into a little booklet specially compiled for the trip, entitled God’s Dispensing for Transformation, Growth, and Building.  The first reading was titled the Economy of God.  Here we learned how God’s purpose is unveiled in the New Testament as an economy, or plan to dispense Himself into man.  I enjoyed seeing how 2 Cor 13:14 shows the steps of God’s economy carried out by the Trinity.  It says, “The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ and the love of God and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all.”  Here we see three different aspects of God, and three different aspects of His economy.  We cannot say that the Father, Son and Spirit are three different Gods, nor can we say that love, grace and fellowship are three different items.  The Triune God is one God expressed in three persons as the Father, Son and Spirit.  In the same way, love, grace and fellowship are the same thing in three stages.  Love is the source, grace is the expression of love, and fellowship is the transmission of love in grace.  In the same way, God is the source, Christ is the expression of God, and the Holy Spirit is the transmission bringing all that God is in Christ into man!

It snowed on the beach while we were there.

What an enjoyable trip.  I think the most amazing and enjoyable part of the whole thing was seeing the students see the reality of the Body of Christ expressed in a practical way for the first time.  One brother told me as we were eating in Vancouver that it all clicked for him.  He “got it.”  We had been to three different places so far from home and it felt like we had come home three times.  The strangers that housed us were enjoying the same Christ that we enjoy in our club meetings on campus.  Now it made sense to him why I went to a Bible school with no intention of becoming a pastor.  His excitement about seeing the church life for the first time really encouraged me and put a smile on my face.  I couldn’t help but thank the Lord for all He’s been doing at WSU.  Praise Him!

Following the Lamb

As y’all may or may not know, Josie and I did not return to Anaheim for a second term at the Full Time Training.  For various reasons, we are staying in Pullman, Washington right now.  We will miss our fellow trainees, but we recognize that our training is not complete.  Rather, it has just begun.  Really, the whole Christian life is a training on how to follow the Lamb wherever He may go.

We have left this:

for this:

Right now we are learning how to pursue the Lord while searching for jobs and focusing on getting and remaining healthy.  Next week we are going to start going over the Psalms training with all the saints here, so I will be posting on my enjoyment from the Psalms.

Praise the Lord!  Christ is Lord to us here in Pullman just as He was in Anaheim.

 

Let’s Take the Land

Numbers 13 and 14 relate how 12 spies were sent from among the children of Israel to spy out the good land.  Only two of the ten, Caleb and Joshua, believed the word of Jehovah and were confident that they could rise up and take the good land.

What kind of people take the land? The first thing must be people of faith who reject unbelief. They don’t see the apparent strength of God’s enemies but their eyes are on God and His word and the hold to His promise. When we open to the enemy we are flooded with unbelief. Faith is not internally generated. Faith comes from hearing. The Bible must not be powerless to you. You have to appropriate it by mixing it with faith. As you go on, hold fast to the word. His word will never change.

Those who take the land are those who have a different spirit, a special one. In Numbers 14:24 Caleb, one of the good spies, fully followed the Lord because of his different spirit.  This is the spirit of an overcomer, who refuses to undergo anything, but overcomes in everything. This means a spirit different from the crowd. This other spirit stands there and even takes the other way. This doesn’t follow the trend of decline among God’s people. It’s a different one. This makes us different, an overcomer. Asking for this kind of thing will be inevitably answered. Ask for a different spirit. Cooperate with the Lord in your prayers. Keep praying. Our cooperation is a constant exercise of that spirit that we have, regenerated and indwelt by God. Exercise the spirit to make it different. Your spirit echoes to others exercising the spirit: Deep calls unto deep. Don’t aspire to be special. Be an intense user of your spirit in the meetings. Exercise the spirit. Really mean business in everything. We want our spirit to stick out so that it makes contact first, like a nose running into a glass door, rather than our mind or emotions or our bodies being the first thing we use to contact the world. This spirit conquers, subdues and inspires, not by straining or trying but by constant use.

Courage is another “land taking” sign. Be very courageous. Don’t be fearful. Fear is of the devil. In Hebrews we are held by the fear of death all our life long. Christ freed us from that fear! Be of good courage. How are we going to last fifty years of journeying? We can and we will. Huge giants and huge grapes were there. The ten said the giants are going to eat us, the two said we are going to eat the giants. These giants are going to be our bread. There are two ways to look at giants. One is that we are their food, one is that they are our food. Either the serpent will eat us because we are dirt, or we will eat the serpent because we are our overcomers. Who is eating who? Never submit yourself as bread to the serpent. Eat him up in your environment and difficulty and weakening. This kind of people takes the land.

Land takers are strong. The word of God abides in us. We are strong because we are one with the word. Never say I’m weak.  That is a self fulfilling prophecy; you will become weak if you say you are weak.  Claim strength and you will become strong. Be empowered in the grace of the Lord. That means be strong, don’t be weak. Caleb was stronger at eighty than at forty (Joshua 14:6-14). This is to go from strength to strength. No getting old. Not getting younger, but surely getting stronger.

Land takers have companions. Twos and threes. Don’t go it alone. Find a companion. Two are better than one and a threefold cord is not quickly broken. It takes two for testimony, for strength. Don’t be the lone hero. The principle of two or three is biblical.  Caleb did not spy out the land by himself, he had Joshua as his companion in standing for the Lord.  Let’s be today’s Calebs, following Christ our unique Joshua, our Captain of Salvation, into the good land!

Lord of Lords and King of Kings

We need to see Christ enthroned as the Heavenly Administrator in God’s universal government.  There is a government in the universe.  God operates by the system of grace, and also the system of government.  Not many realize that there’s an administration in the universe, the center of which is Christ enthroned.  We need to see a vision because this administration is not evident or obvious.  There may be times when we may think life is absurd and the world doesn’t make sense.  It’s God’s nature to hide–He doesn’t make his government obvious, so we need revelation and a vision in order to see it.  We need a vision of the throne.  One easy way to obtain this vision is to pray-read verses that speak of the throne.  Pray-read with seeking: do this “until” you see the throne.  This changes everything.  I do not live in a meaningless universe.  There is a throne here.  In the book of Revelation, even before John saw the redeeming God, he saw the throne.

1 Kings 22 is a chapter showing a specific example of the throne and how it is related to God’s administration.  Jehoshaphat the king of Judah and Ahab the king of Israel were taking counsel together as to how to go up into battle against Ramoth-gilead.   They gathered all the prophets (about four hundred men) and asked them if they would win in battle.  All the prophets told them to go up and victory would be theirs.  However, Jehoshaphat was not satisfied with this prophecy, and sought the counsel of one more prophet, Michaiah the son of Imlah.  He saw a vision of the Lord on the throne:

1 Kings 22:19-23

19 And Micaiah said, Hear therefore the word of Jehovah, I saw Jehovah sitting upon His throne, and all the host of heaven standing by Him, on His right hand and on His left.

20 And Jehovah said, Who shall entice Ahab, that he may go up and fall at Ramoth-gilead? And one said after this manner, and another said after that manner.

21 And there came forth a certain spirit and stood before Jehovah and said, I will entice him.

22 And Jehovah said unto him, How? And he said, I will go forth and be a lying spirit in the mouth of all his prophets. And He said, You shall entice him and surely prevail. Go forth, and do so.

23 So now Jehovah has put a lying spirit in the mouth of all these your prophets, and Jehovah has spoken evil concerning you.

So after this prophecy, the kings of Israel and Judah went up into battle against the king of Syria anyways, and in verse 34 it relates how a man drew a bow at random and hit the king of Israel between the scale armor and the breastplate.  If you don’t see a vision of the Lord on the throne, you only see the political and war situation… God directs the logistics.  An archer shooting at random killed Ahab.  These things happen because we do not live in a world of chance.  There is a throne.  Nothing happens without going through the throne.  The throne either allows or ordains things to happen.

Based on this we can pay attention to Christ on the throne.  The God-man on the throne has all authority, carrying it all out as the chief executor.  Our Administrator is fully qualified and active all the time.  On the throne is Christ in His ascension.  An arrow shot at random was arranged to end Ahab, and the throne was behind that arrow.  He is Lord of all and is for God’s administration.  He sits in the “Oval Office” of the universe!  The seven Spirits are everywhere.  Everything is seen.  The seven Eyes of the Lamb make everything visible to God.  Everything is known.  This is the basis from which God can administrate.  There is a universal government over everything.

If you are willing, He will touch your heart.  We can really trust His administration.  Everything He’s doing in us is related to God’s economy.  None of our dealings are accidental.  He is the God who shepherded Jacob all his life long.  This is the Lord’s shepherding–when you’re in it you cant sense it, but eventually our perspective is restored and we can see clearly.  The Lord is over the kings of the earth!  He rules the whole earth.  He rules the earth especially for the spread of the gospel and the building of the church.  History is under the hand of Christ.  The Lord can arrange our future–He is very good at what He does.  He is ordering events and circumstances so that we can grow in life, so that the Body can be built up.  God’s whole administration is a secret: we are living in a vast mystery, so we need a vision.  Look at the Lion-Lamb!  He’s a Lamb to us and a Lion to the enemy.  We are under the throne.  This is the safest place to be.  We do not live in a chaotic universe and we are not subject to chance.  God is on the throne.

 

Washington Sent and Related Trainees

There are a lot of Washington sent and related trainees this term.  Here we all are in our uniforms (except for Dan Arroyo and Alex Rosencrantz).  Four out of the five first term couples are from Washington.  To everyone viewing this back home: Praise the Lord from all of us!