December 23

Please Read This

This may be the most important post I’ve ever written.

There’s no way to say this without sounding a little crazy: I was told what to say. But not how to say it, so please bear with me.

Starting with Scripture is never a bad idea.

Let us consider how to provoke one another to love and good deeds. (Hebrews 10:24)

That’s the task I was given.  “Tell them,” he said to me (Romans 10:13).  “Tell them.”

Tell them what?

The vision I received contained images but very few words. The day was dark, and I saw a pillar of fire (Exodus 13:21) rising out of the ground. Smoke billowed from it, and the smoke filled the sky (Exodus 19:18, Revelation 9:2). Lightening came from the clouds of smoke (Exodus 20:18, Psalm 29:7, Hosea 6:5, Revelation 4:5). The smoke swirled and came near me, and I saw that it wasn’t really smoke, it was clouds of locusts (Psalm 105:34, Joel 1:4, Revelation 9:3). Then I saw a great light appear in the smoke (Habakkuk 3:4), and I asked it, “Can this be prevented?” A voice replied, “Look around you, it is already burning” (Luke 12:49).

Then I saw Jesus on the Cross, and all around him the landscape was in flames (Isaiah 66:16, James 3:5). The voice said to me, “Do not be afraid, it will not hurt you” (Isaiah 43:2). And then he said, “Tell them! Tell them that all who dwell in the Kingdom will not be harmed. Not a hair on their head will be singed” (Daniel 3:27, Luke 21:18).

(I added Bible verses because I found, much to my surprise, that every element of my vision could be found in the Bible.)

Let me put this in context. Over the past two months, I have received a number of visions. Some are of troubled times coming near. Others show restoration. I’ve seen destruction, and I’ve seen a New Eden.

This was the first vision in which I was told to take any action. “Tell them!” he said.

I’m a writer. I’m good with words. But I’m struggling to put into words the message I received.

Despite the frightening images, it’s a message of love. God loves us! (1 John 4:8) And not because we are Christians or Americans or because of our color, our bank account, our language, our flag, or our church membership. He loves all his children.

“Endure trials for the sake of discipline. God is treating you as children; for what child is there whom a parent does not discipline?” (Hebrews 12:7)

Make no mistake: trials are coming. But let us be aware of the reason. We have become soft, what Jesus and Paul called malakoi (Matthew 11:8, Luke 7:25, 1 Corintihans 6:9). Those living in luxury. Those who carry no cross. And yes, I include myself.

It’s easy for us to protest. We don’t own a chain of luxury hotels. We don’t fly around in corporate jets. Perhaps we work hard for our living, and perhaps that living isn’t very large. But if you’re reading this, you have internet access, and that puts you in the top 40% for starters. The world’s median per capita income is $2,920 per year. $34K a year puts a person in the top 1%.

I don’t write this to suggest guilt. I write it in the hope that it will help us do something Americans are not very good at: taking stock of ourselves (Proverbs 28:13). As Christians, we admit that we’re sinners, but we don’t like to admit that we sin (1 John 1:9, James 5:6). And yes, I include myself.

Jesus’ challenge to us is not easy. It’s nearly impossible not to fall short. The point is not whether we’re doing everything he asked, but to acknowledge the ways in which we aren’t. Here’s a simple example: I’ve accepted Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior. But I’m never quite satisfied with the material things he’s given me. And I’m afraid of my government. True there’s much to fear, but not if my Lord is bigger than the government.

If. Therein lies the quandary of my faith. Do I really believe that Jesus is Lord? Am I willing to trust him wholeheartedly? Even with my money and my family’s well-being? My self-defense?

I invite you to pray honestly about questions like these. Because the purpose of the coming trials is to make us teachable (Jeremiah 9:7-9, Zechariah 13:8-9, Daniel 12:10). “Those who dwell in the Kingdom will not be harmed,” he told me. But “dwelling” in the Kingdom means more than a profession of faith, it means living that faith in our everyday lives (James 2:26). It means, as Paul said, imitating Jesus (1 Corinthians 11:1).

I’m not going to tell you how to do that, because I recently learned something else: Each of us has a different calling. I’m called strongly to the social justice aspects of the Gospel. You may not be. Perhaps your strength is prayer, or witnessing, or healing, or deliverance, or evangelism. I don’t think any of the Gospel can be ignored. Matthew 25 is as important as John 14, and vice versa. James 2 is as important as Ephesians 2. We can’t “specialize” completely. But, as Paul says in 1 Corinthians 12, each of us has a different role to play. Maybe we haven’t found it yet. I invite discussion, because a lot of people are going to see this differently. God didn’t tell me what you have to do. But “doing” is the operative word.

I am going to begin a series of posts trying to explain what I saw and what it meant, because a profession of faith isn’t enough. We’re being called to repent. We’re being called to confess (to God and each other, not to me). We’re being called to change.

The call right now is verbal. But it’s going to get more insistent. Times of trial are coming.