Greetings readers! Life continues to remain interesting I would say. Hmm... To say that on a blog. I am blogging, yet life is interesting. You would think if life was interesting, I would not be here blogging. Oh well.
No, seriously, two weekends ago, I was in Atlanta, GA, for the IHOP Atlanta's Praying Church Leadership Summit. (A mouthful, I know. Imagine if I had said the International House of Prayer Atlanta's Praying Church Leadership Summit! Wait a second...) The conference itself was very enjoyable, the content invaluable. We had speakers from all over the States and the World, and I took a great deal of notes. Some of them apply specifically to having a house of prayer and others just simple leadership, yet there was a definite theme of what Jesus is doing through the Earth, building a yearning for His touch and His return.
As I think about it, it really ties into something I have wanted to discuss since this past fall. In November, I had a great revelation concerning vision and self-control. I had been making my way through life, staying plenty busy, preparing for prayer burns, discipling, debriefing from prayer burns, visiting people, planning the next thing, yet I found myself "wandering aimlessly" through things. Things were happening, yet I was not really all that sure where I was heading. I found it impacting other areas of my life, and things that had not bothered me in months prior started to be a struggle.
In conversing with a friend, he mentioned a proverb I had heard before: "Where there is no revelation, the people cast off restraint; but blessed is he who keeps the law." Proverbs 29:18. Revelation. Some translations say vision, even prophetic vision. Without this, the people cast off restraint; are discouraged; are unrestrained. They have no control. So the vision is necessary for self-control to follow.
Later in my most recent trip, I was staying at the home of several young boys, and they had a ton of Legos. So my first night, I decided I wanted to sit down and play with them, yet I had no instructions. After struggling for some time, I gave up, leaving behind a partially completed "spaceship" with a king holding two swords while riding a horse in the cockpit! Now, that was kind of what I was aiming for, yet I did not know exactly what I was wanting to build, and I gave up. When we try to do things without knowing where we are going, it is hard for us to see why we need to do it. I think any parent could relate with trying to convince a young child why they should brush their teeth every night. Without understanding where we are going, why go there? Self-control without vision is pretty worthless.
And the opposite stands true as well. Have you ever had that friend who was the "dreamer"? He always comes up with these amazing ideas, really impressive ideas, great ideas, yet they never happen? Maybe they were completely unfeasible. Maybe he did not see the worth in them. Maybe he just lacked the self-control to move towards action, and once again we see that vision without self-control has little value.
Stick with me a little longer. During this time of initial revelation, I was reminded of the Garden. God places Adam and Eve there and tells them: do not eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. What did they do? They did it. Now, this is what I find interesting. God did not say, "Hey guys, eat of all the trees! It does not matter, if you screw up, Jesus will pay for it anyway!" He is not lackadaisical about it. On the other hand, he does not say, "You cannot eat of any tree in the garden because if you just happen to eat of the one tree, everything is screwed up!" He does not look at the possible evil and banish the possible good with it, unlike what we so often tend to do. No, he invites them to eat of any tree in the garden except one. What is this? Self-control.
God created man for self-control. He gave them this option: Obey me. Do not eat of the one tree, and you can remain in my pleasure, in unbroken communion with me. I delight in you. I created you last of all things, and you are very good. Not just good; very good. I long to walk with you. I have the angels to serve me and praise me, but you; you are special. He gave them a choice. Obey me or do not obey me. C.S. Lewis captures the mood of this well in his book "Perelandra" where it is discovered that the greatest form of love is obedience when you do not received a direct benefit nor have a reason to necessarily obey other than out of love. The scene itself is rather powerful.
His invitations is the same today! He has given us the prophetic vision for our future already! Revelation 19:7 says, "For the wedding of the Lamb has come, and his bride has made herself ready." That day is approaching, the wedding day of the Lamb, and the Bride will have made herself ready! She will have made herself ready! If we could only see this is where we are heading, a day once again with unbroken communion with Jesus, then we could begin to align our lives with this! We were made for self-control! Galatians even says self-control is the fruit of the Spirit! If we have the Holy Spirit inside of us, then we have self-control! Jesus died to the flesh; we have been crucified with Him; so we have died to the flesh as well! We do not have to serve it any longer! He has been revealed to us, and as Peter says:
"Therefore, prepare your minds for action; be self-controlled; set your hope fully on the grace to be given you when Jesus Christ is revealed. As obedient children, do not conform to the evil desires you had when you lived in ignorance. But just as he who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do; for it is written: "Be holy, because I am holy." 1 Peter 1:13-16
Do not look at this and enter despair! It is by the blood of the Lamb that we are able to look Satan and his temptations in the face and say, "NO! I serve one and one only, the one true God! I will not be an adulteress any longer! I have been promised to One, and His name is Jesus Christ! So in the name of Jesus, flee from me! I resist you!" God is inviting us once again; "Come, be holy as I am holy. This is who you were created to be. Come and drink. There is enough. Come, drink your fill." Brothers and sisters, this is for us all. Come, let us approach the throne together and drink until we can drink no more! Let us grasp the vision God has for our future and know we have self-control to complete it by the blood of Jesus!