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Aging is Indeed a Disease

timelineAs I have chewed on the concept of time, I have considered how something that was intended to bless us has become a harbinger of disease and death. In Eden, before the Fall, time would have passed without negative impact on Adam or Eve. Ten thousand years might have passed, and Adam and Eve would have looked and felt as they had on day one. Time, as it was created, did no harm to human beings. While the passage of time would have brought the young to maturity and robust adult life, the maturation process would have stopped there.

Of course, that is not the case since Adam and Eve fell. The passage of time now can wreak havoc on the human body. Although the elderly only made up 13% of the population of the United States in 2010, their medical care was 34% of the overall health care expenditures that year. As people age, it is normal in this fallen world that their health fails.

If you look up the word disease in the dictionary, you will find a definition like this one from Merriam-Webster online: a condition that prevents the body or mind from working normally. If normal is the state of being that we attain at full maturity, it is obvious that aging is most certainly a disease. As we age, our bodies no longer do the same things that they were capable of doing at the age of twenty-five when, for the most part, our bodies worked normally. The aging process often prevents the body or mind from working normally.

We must understand and embrace this concept if we ever want to overcome it. We have little power over the things we accept as normal in our lives. If we believe increasing limitation is normal for a Christian, we will never strive to overcome it. We will counsel the elderly to accept their lot, taking Solomon’s description of the aging process as normative, quoting the words of wisdom from Ecclesiastes about how to adjust to our “under the sun” existence (see Ecclesiastes 12:1-7).

And while we may think it is wise to accept our condition, we live in a far different covenant than Solomon did. We live in the Kingdom, and it advances as forceful people take hold of it. Jesus once called his disciples and “gave them authority over unclean spirits, to cast them out, and to heal every kind of disease and every kind of sickness” (Matthew 10:1 NASB). Jesus’ disciples were given authority to heal every kind of disease and sickness. Old age is a disease. Many of the maladies that the disciples healed, without any doubt, were maladies brought on by old age. In the same way that Jesus freed a woman who had been bound by a demonically imposed arthritic disease for eighteen years (see Luke 13:10-14), they also would have freed the elderly from the diseases that bound them.

Since our King doesn’t change, and since we carry his authority (see Matthew 16:19 and Matthew 18:18f.), he stills sends his disciples to take on this scourge. When he stated that signs would follow those who believed, he included sickness and disease. That means that he has given us authority over old age.

But here is the important point: We will not pray against aging unless we recognize it as the disease that it truly is.

Aging is a manifestation of death in our lives. It is our enemy. The Lord had warned Adam that in the day he rebelled, there would be consequences. “For in the day you eat, dying you will die” (Genesis 2:17b My Translation). Most translations render the infinitive absolute as, “you will surely die.” That is certainly an appropriate way to translate an infinite absolute. However, it is also legitimate to translate it as I have. The Hebrew literally states, “Dying, you will die.” The Lord was warning Adam of death in all of its implications, including the aging process. When Adam disobeyed, death began to reign, and humanity began to age. However, the second Adam has defeated death. We are now in the process of overcoming it. Every healing, every resurrection, every prayer for good health is applying Christ’s victory against our enemy, death.

The apostle Paul wrote of Jesus, “For he must reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet. The last enemy to be destroyed is death” (1 Corinthians 15:25-26 NIV). While Christ has defeated death already, we are in the process of applying his victory to our world. We, as his Body, are putting all his enemies under his feet. We will have reached maturity, and Christ will return, after we have placed death under his feet. It is the last enemy to be overcome.

If Moses, who lived under a covenant of death (see 2 Corinthians 3:7-11), overcame aging, how much more should we, who live under the covenant of life, strive to overcome it? The mandate to overcome death in all its forms is not a part of the covenant Moses initiated. But that mandate is most certainly is in our covenant.

How can we overcome it, if we aren’t even trying?

If Dylan Thomas had been a theologian, and understood that the Kingdom advances as forceful people push forward, he might have phrased his famous verse this way:

Do not go gentle into that good night,
Old age should burn and flame at close of day;
Pray, pray against the dying of the light.

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Don’t Forget to Wave

timelineI have been spending a bit of time grappling with time. The Lord has been showing me things about time, and about how time was created for us; we were not created for time. I hope that last sentence reverberates around your soul for a little while. It is a paraphrase of what Jesus said about the Sabbath. The Sabbath was created for man, not man for the Sabbath.

You see, in Jesus’ day, the Sabbath had become the master of the people. God intended to bless his people through the Sabbath, breaking the daily work cycle every seven days. The Lord knows us so well that he commanded that no work be done on the Sabbath. He understands our compulsion to work, to accomplish, and to achieve so well that he placed an absolute prohibition against work that could only be broken for emergencies. However, the legalists had taken over the sabbath principle, and turned the day from a day of rest to a day of meticulous rule keeping and mendaciously applied strictures on every day life. The sabbath law, which had been created to liberate man from bondage to work, had been turned into something that tied them more firmly in bondage. The Sabbath had been created to serve man, but the legalists made man serve the Sabbath.

In the same way, time was created to serve man, but after the fall it became man’s master. When death entered into the world, the clock started ticking. Suddenly, mankind had a finite amount of time to accomplish all the goals and pursuits that could have filled an eternity. Time, which had been created to bless mankind by marking days and seasons and years, instantly became man’s master.

However, when Jesus defeated Satan, he brought life and immortality to light (see 2 Timothy 1:10). One of the results is that time is no longer supposed to be our master, it is supposed to be our servant. The implications of that statement are well outside the scope of this article, and for now, mostly outside the scope of my understanding. But the Lord is trying to knock my blinders off so that I understand more.

To that end, he dropped a seed of knowledge into my soul today that left me dumbfounded for a minute. That tidbit is about the great cloud of witnesses. These witnesses are mentioned in Hebrews 12:1, just after the writer to the Hebrews has listed the heroes of faith in Hebrews 11. Having drawn attention to these heroes who have gone before, the writer to the Hebrews says that “we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witness” (see Hebrews 12:1).

One accepted truth about time is that God exists outside of time. He created time for us. When I think of God existing out of time, I like to think of time as a foot long ruler. I imagine that one end of the ruler is the beginning of time, and the other end of the ruler is the end of time. In this view, God’s consciousness is larger than the ruler; it is larger than time. In reality, as he views time, he is viewing and interacting with every second of time simultaneously. That means that God is interacting with Abraham, Moses, David, Peter, Luther, and us all at once. We are the creatures of time, he is not.

I know, for many of you, I am messing with your heads right now. Actually, I am messing with your blinders. Until you begin to see time in this fashion, you will be limited to the human perspective. When God put eternity in our heart (see Ecclesiastes 3:11), he made it possible for us to conceive of time from his eternal perspective, rather than our limited time-saturated experience.

While this has implications for whole areas of theology—again, outside the scope of this article—as I stated earlier, the Lord showed me one thing today that stopped me in my tracks. He had recently given us a prophetic picture of a dear mentor who has passed into eternity. He actually showed us a picture of him sitting on a very comfortable chair, with a ringside seat, watching events that he helped set in motion begin to play out. He is truly part of the great cloud of witnesses. It was a very encouraging picture.

I was contemplating that picture today, and realized that since my friend was now outside of time, he could begin to see time from God’s perspective, though in a much more limited way. Although I believe our intellectual capacities will be incredibly expanded once we are free from the results of the fall, we are not God. We do not have his capacities. So I was considering how my friend might be moving his chair around different slices of time to take in the events of history. I realized, that since he can now see from God’s viewpoint, that it is possible to move his chair around the different slices of time and watch them as they occur. Do you feel your blinders shifting yet?

As I considered this, I realized that my friend could be watching slices of time in which he played a role. Then it suddenly occurred to me. That means, that while he was on this earth, my friend was already a part of the great cloud of witnesses watching the events of his life, and the lives of those around him, unfold with all the intricacy of a tapestry being woven together. Then the moment of revelation came. I realized that the great cloud of witnesses already includes every believer who will ever name the name of Christ.

What do I mean? When we, each of us, enters into that eternal state, we step out of time and take our seat in the great cloud of witnesses. We all then have the ability to peer through the sea of glass from God’s perspective outside of time. In a sense, we will be able to move our chairs to whatever place in living history we desire. We will see God’s glory played out in history as witnesses of his glory, from the beginning of time to its end.

That is why the great cloud of God’s people are known as the great cloud of witnesses. They witness God’s glorious works on the earth from the beginning of time to its very end. When we, each of us, step into that great cloud, we will be able to see from God’s perspective, like my mentor and friend. We will also be able to move from one slice of time to the next, examining God’s glory on display in the individual lives of every person who ever lived on this planet, in the individual lives of every animal and every insect that ever lived on this planet, in the birth and death of stars and galaxies throughout the universe. The staggering complexity of this universe means that we will be busy for quite some time giving glory to God for everything he has done from the very beginning of time to its very end. In the process, we will learn about new facets of our Creator and King, and be able to give him glory with even more understanding.

Now, to the reason for the title to this article. Since at some point in our future we will step out of time, and since we will then no longer be subject to time, but will be able to see time from God’s eternal perspective, this means that you and I are already a part of that great cloud of witnesses. We are witnessing the events of time as they happen, and as members of that great cloud, we are also observing the events of this slice of time, watching events unfold around the world and around the universe, but most certainly also seeing how the Lord worked in our own lives during this slice of time. That means—and this is the part that might startle—that means that we are already watching ourselves. So how about giving yourself a wave?

Paul, of course, described this by saying that we are already seated in the heavenly places with Christ:

But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved. And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus. (Ephesians 2:4-7 NIV)

So go ahead and wave.

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The Cusp of the Cuban Revival

ButterflyCubaCuba is a beautiful island nation. Of course it has the natural beauty of any Caribbean nation, but its real beauty resides in its people. If you do not like strong expressions of grateful emotion, you should probably minister elsewhere. If you enjoy being delightfully crushed in the strong embrace of a grateful brother, or having an emotional sister hug your neck, you will enjoy ministering among its people.

The reason I am thinking of Cuba, is that the Lord gave me a dream about it this past week. I had my first dream about Cuba back on November 10, 2004. The Lord told me in a dream that Cuba would begin to transition into economic freedom in seven years. He then told me that this freedom would begin when an eight dollar investment in a savings bond, at the current rate available in 2004, was worth ten dollars. When I woke up from the dream, I checked the current interest rate on a savings bond in the United States. I then did the math and found out that an eight dollar investment would be worth ten dollars exactly seven years—to the day—that I had the dream.

In the Spring of 2011, my congregation hosted a prophetic roundtable that focused upon Cuba. Rick Joyner, the head of our ministry stream, attended the conference. He told us that the Lord had shown him that the most pure revival in history would spring from Cuba. At that same conference, I shared about what the Lord had shown me, and pointed to the following November as a key time for Cuba.

On November 10, 2011, exactly seven years to the day that I had that first dream, a new Cuban law was implemented that gave the Cuban people the right to own, buy, and sell property. That day marked the beginning of Cuba’s ongoing economic renaissance (You can read what I have previously written on this topic HERE and HERE).

So now, fast forward to February, 2014. On that day the Lord gave me a dream about the coming Cuban revival, and how close it is. In the dream, I was standing in a huge barn. It was filled with the sound and activity of construction and repair. It was being prepared for the coming harvest. I knew it was huge because the harvest would be huge. I was being shown the construction, and how close the barn was to being prepared for the harvest. It was almost done.

Of course, the barn represents the Church in Cuba. It is the place that the harvest of souls will be gathered and trained as disciples. It is the place from which the workers will be sent to harvest the fields. It has been under construction, but now it is almost ready.

In the next scene, I was shown the current condition of the fields in Cuba. I was walking across the field to meet two men. As I walked across the field to meet them, I picked my path very carefully. The field was so cracked and dry that there were crevasses that were several feet deep. It was obvious that there had been a severe drought. I had to place my feet carefully so that I would not stumble into a crevasse. But even more importantly, I had to make certain I did not step on any of the crops. As dry as that field was, it still had crops. In fact, I am amazed by how hardy the crops looked. Compared to the size of the field, there were not that many crops, but the men I saw were going to change that. They wanted to end the drought and make the field extremely fruitful.

I believe the two men were angels of harvest. Cuba has experienced a spiritual drought for a season, and yet souls have still been harvested, and those souls have been vital and strong. But compared to the entire population of the island, their number has been small. That is about to change. The harvest angels were there to release life into the field. When they do, the revival that Rick Joyner saw will begin.

I am excited for Cuba. I am looking forward to their revival, of course for the sake of the residents of Cuba, but also because I believe it will impact the world. And since I live in South Florida, I believe we will be among the first of those outside of Cuba to taste of this revival as it impacts South Florida’s Cuban community.

I can hardly wait.

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The Earth is Groaning

digitalearthI have a vivid and not particularly pleasant memory from my childhood. My family had been attending a family reunion on a hot summer day at a great uncle’s property several hours drive from our home. These family reunions were always a lot of fun, and for most of the day I enjoyed the festivities, but by early evening I was sicker than the proverbial dog. A flu bug, or more likely, a touch of food poisoning from a salad gone bad in the afternoon heat, brought a miserable end to an enjoyable day. I remember the long drive home. I was sitting in the back seat of the family car feeling absolutely miserable. I needed relief from the misery, and I discovered one thing that did help. If I groaned softly, it took a bit of the pressure off. I actually felt slightly better. Unfortunately for me, I was not alone, and I soon found out that the rest of my family didn’t enjoy listening to my pressure relief valve. Though they certainly felt compassion for me, one of them reminded me that groaning wasn’t going to make me feel better. I was too sick to argue, but if I could have worked up the energy I would have announced, that yes, groaning was making me feel better.

The Lord spoke to us recently about the earth’s pressure relief valve, its groaning. He indicated that we needed to think about the earth’s groans in a bit more literal fashion than was our wont. The passage to which he was referring in this discussion is Romans 8:22, and it speaks about the entirety of creation groaning. It says, “We know that the whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time” (NIV).  When the Lord spoke to us about this, he narrowed our focus from the entirety of creation down to just our planet. He wanted us to think about the earth, and he wanted us to know that it, too, is groaning.

When I have read Romans 8:22 in the past, I have speculated about what Paul meant in this passage. The apostle Paul wrote about the entire universe being subjected to frustration and groaning. As I have grappled to understand this passage, I have envisioned an impatient groaning as a kind of universal background noise. I never really credited inanimate objects with groaning, rather I would think about the created beings. I would think of the senseless waste and slaughter that takes place in the animal world, and how animals who were created to fill a peaceful role must now kill and be killed in order for species to survive. I can imagine the groaning of the feral female cat in our neighborhood as she loses kitten after kitten to predators, or the groaning of a duck hen being trailed by the ever-shrinking number of ducklings. I can also imagine that, at some core level of being, the predators who must stalk, crush, and kill to survive, must groan over this change to their basic purpose and design.

While I can imagine these things accounting for the groaning mentioned in Romans 8, that is not how the Lord presented it. He didn’t anthropomorphize the earth, that is, he did not give it a groaning human personality, nor did he point to the animal creation. Instead, he showed us that the groaning is a physical manifestation of the planet’s subjection to decay. He directed our attention to the earthquakes, the tsunamis, the mudslides, and the ferocious storms. He pointed to the many different ways that natural disasters manifest, and he showed us that these are the groans of the earth. These are its pressure relief valve. He wanted us to think in terms of the earth groaning whenever we see these natural disasters manifest.

This change in focus helps me understand the dynamics of our time even more fully. The planet itself has been subject to frustration and decay. This physically impacts the planet and its atmosphere in such a negative way that pressure must be released. It must groan. When it does, we call that groaning a natural disaster.

This is a bit of a perspective change on my part, but in another way, it is not. In the Romans passage mentioned above, Paul also added that the creation has been groaning “as in the pains of childbirth.” This is imagery we understand because Jesus used it. When he referred to the end of the Jewish age in Matthew 24, he described the disastrous things that would occur as the birth pangs of the church age. In that same way, Paul reveals that the groans of the earth are the birth pangs for the age to come. This is familiar to us.

In addition, since the tempo of the groans are compared to the pains of childbirth, we can understand what an increase in the tempo of the earth’s groans means. We know that painful contractions increase in intensity and frequency as a birth is about to happen. That means that we can expect to witness an increase in the frequency and intensity of these groans as the day of creation’s liberation draws near. We are literally witnessing the birthing of the new heaven and the new earth. While that will not release celebration over each new disaster, it will help us understand what is happening.

I also believe we can help mitigate the negative impact of these contractions if we are alert to their timing. In that way, we can act as a sort of anesthesiologist. In the same way a deft anesthesiologist’s intervention makes the labor more manageable without hindering the delivery, I believe our active intervention through intercession can help alleviate the pain of these groaning events. We do that by standing in the gap for those in harms way, and by using our authority to mitigate intensity of the contractions in population centers.

The earth is groaning. We will see more evidence of that in the days ahead. If we keep our ears on the ground, we can hear it. If we turn our ears heavenward, we can help ease the negative impacts. The Lord is giving us eyes to see, and ears to hear. Let us use the information he is revealing for his glory, and for his purposes.

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Relational Bits From the Lord

LastSupper300X400I haven’t posted in a while, and it isn’t because I do not have material. It has to do with that little commodity called time. However, I have a few moments, and thought I would share two interesting tidbits with you.

First, we were having a conversation with the Lord recently—you know the type, he speaks, you listen—and he showed us a picture of Da Vinci’s The Last Supper. As he was showing this, it was evident that the painting really bothered him. He made it clear that the original scene wasn’t like this at all. He was especially concerned that it missed the intimacy of the event.

Of course, we all know this. We understand that the people of Jesus’ time reclined when they ate. The picture below recreates an informal Roman table scene from the era. At a Jewish banquet such as Passover, the seating would have been more formal. Jesus, as the host, would have reclined on his left elbow, second in from the left. His attendant, his right-hand man, would have been immediately in front of Jesus reclining at the first position on the left. We know that John filled that first position, since his head was level with Jesus’ chest (see John 13:21-25). Then the rest of the guests were arranged around the table from there, placed from the most important to the least important. This little detail helps us understand why the disciples were arguing about who was the greatest on the way to the Passover celebration. MealMore than likely, they were fighting over the seating arrangement at the table. They had missed Jesus’ point about sitting at the least important position at the table, the far right, and allowing the host to honor you by moving you into a more important position closer to the host (see Luke 14:7-10).

All this is interesting, but why did the Lord choose to highlight this for us? I believe that he wants to remind us about relationship. As people, we tend to make spiritual things into formal ceremony rather than relational celebrations. Da Vinci’s portrayal of that Passover celebration turned it from the intimate event that Jesus hosted, into something that errs from Jesus’ intent. I believe we can learn a lesson about the Lord’s desire for intimacy by simply remembering the event as it would have been, not as Da Vinci pictured it.

The second thing that I want to highlight today also involves being close to the Lord. The Lord showed us how many people are walking around with headphones on, ear buds in, or are otherwise consuming media content. It is certainly not a bad thing to enjoy music, to read, or watch entertaining videos. However, if we have something plugged into our ears all the time, it is very difficult for us to hear the Lord through the noise. Just imagine the Last Supper if several of the disciples had ear buds in, and others were checking their emails or texts. You can imagine that the intimacy would have evaporated. If we do not give ourselves some downtime away from media, our intimacy with the Lord will be greatly hindered.

These are two key things about intimacy and relationship that the Lord has shown us recently. I will write an article soon to wrap up the Atlantic hurricane season. There is a lot going on. I will take some time to post things that I am seeing soon.

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