Saturday, March 18, 2017

The Pavilion Gig Harbor - Why We Worship

Misty Edwards wrote a song a few years ago that arose out of an awareness of something transcendent that is happening right now, and has been forever. The lyrics:

There’s something bigger going on, there’s Someone bigger than me,
There’s something bigger going on – “Holy! Holy!”
Take me up in the Spirit! O-oh!

Day and night, night and day the incense rises in the Heavenly worship center. Angels, saints, elders, and living creatures are all gathered around a throne complex in Heaven, where Christ is seated at the right hand of the Father. The seven Spirits of God move all around like flaming torches, and ten thousand times ten thousand, and thousands upon thousands of angels minister to the Lord, exalting the worthiness of the Lamb who was slain for the redemption of all humanity.

Jesus told us to pray that God’s will would be done on earth as it is in Heaven. A significant part of that will is unending, heartfelt worship focused on the greatness of God, magnifying His Name, declaring His holiness, His goodness, His beauty, His righteousness and justice.

When we gather to worship at the Pavilion, we come as saints from across the spectrum of the Body of Christ in our area. It is our purpose to enter into that heavenly atmosphere, to fix our gaze on the One who is worthy of our full attention, and the undiluted affection of our hearts. As we do that, our spiritual eyes are opened to the majesty and power of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. We grow in the knowledge of His will, and in the confidence to declare aloud His purposes for ourselves, our churches, our city, our nation, and the earth.

In this process, God’s governmental authority is released. Something changes in the atmosphere, the barriers to the Gospel are weakened and torn down, the enemy is seen for what he really is, and the physical return of Jesus to establish His Kingdom on the earth draws one day closer.

Why do we gather to worship? To take another step toward reality, to experience firsthand that we are indeed part of something bigger than we can imagine, to touch the heart of God, to release angels to assist the saints on the earth, and to align ourselves a little closer to the purpose for which we were created.

Come join us – Sunday, March 19, 6:30 PM at the Gig Harbor Yacht Club.

Saturday, March 11, 2017

Breaking Down To Build Up

Jeremiah 1:10 “See, I have set you this day over nations and over kingdoms, to pluck up and to break down, to destroy and to overthrow, to build and to plant."

Philippians 1:6 “And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.”

As I sit in my living room this morning, I’m looking at a very disheveled situation in our home. The refrigerator is in the dining room, along with the gas range. The microwave is in the back yard, all the dishes are on the dining table, the coffee maker is in the bathroom, the dishwasher is in the garage, and the comfort of our home is significantly disturbed. (This is the place for a wild-eyed emoji that communicates unrest and dis-ease.)

What is going on? Our kitchen is being remodeled, with new cabinets and countertops going in. The problem is that before the new stuff can go in, the old stuff had to come out. The process is long and somewhat messy, with necessary precautions being taken not to damage existing flooring or furnishings that are not part of the process. At some point, in a couple more weeks, the project will be finished and we’ll be glad we did it. Right now – not so much.

This process reminds me of a dream I had a number of years ago. It was several years after my father had passed away, and I was in the midst of a time of powerful spiritual growth and re-wiring as God was shifting me out of my denominational roots into the move of the Holy Spirit. In the dream, my father, who clearly represented the Heavenly Father, was knocking on the door of my house. As I answered the door, I saw that he was accompanied by two large men, who I knew to be angels.

As I welcomed my Father into the house, I knew in the dream that he was coming to move in with me. A great dread filled my heart as he looked around the house, and then fixed his eyes on mine in a kind but sober gaze. Then he said, “This isn’t going to be nearly large enough.”

As he spoke those words, I felt a fearsome trembling in my soul as I realized that a great expansion was going to take place in me, but that there would have to be much demolition before the construction could begin. His workers would have to break down and destroy many things before they could build and plant. The strongholds of my mind – those old thought processes and attitudes – would have to be broken down, and replaced with new patterns of the mind that would conform to those of Heaven. Familiar habits with long-term negative implications would have to be dismantled, and new patterns installed. You get the picture.

I found myself wishing that remodeling could happen instantly, like on TV, in an hour or so, with no inconvenience, no mess, no discomfort – becoming all new without the pain of eliminating the old stuff. But things simply don’t work that way, either in remodeling a kitchen or in transforming the human heart from its natural state into the glorious reality of becoming the Temple of the Holy Spirit.

As I write this, the workers installing our new cabinets are whistling joyfully as they labor in the mess of our kitchen remodel. They have the blueprint attached to the wall, so they can precisely follow the instructions of the designer. They know that the end result will be good, for our benefit and joy. I imagine the angels are whistling away as well as they continue to tear down, pluck up, plant and re-build my heart, following the design of the Master Craftsman that will transform this old heart into the palace God created it to be. It’s a joyful process after all, uncomfortable though it may be for awhile.

Thank you, Jesus, that you who have begun a good work in me will complete it until the day of your return.

Gary Wiens

Thursday, March 9, 2017

Impossible Things

Luke 18:27 - “The things which are impossible with men are possible with God.”

Sometimes a simple phrase in the Word of God strikes both my heart and my mind with a shot of reality that is at once fundamentally comforting, and uncomfortably challenging. I started pondering these few words, and several thoughts began to form.

In the encounter with the rich young ruler, and the subsequent conversation with His disciples in Luke 18, Jesus had just made the observation that it is more difficult for a rich man to enter the Kingdom of God than for a camel to pass through a needle’s eye. The answer from the disciples – “Who then can be saved?” – points to the impossibility of the situation before them. Jesus then responds by saying, basically, “You don’t know the power of My Father’s imagination! Whatever enters His heart and mind can be done – all He has to do is speak the Word, and all will be accomplished.”

My point right now is not to debate the pros and cons of having wealth. Rather, it is to let my mind go to all the things that seem impossible. Jesus is opening the door to limitless potentiality here, because He says “whatever is impossible with men…” That’s everything that is beyond us – He can do.

So, I start thinking about impossible things. Join me? Start with small stuff – some situation at home or at work that seems unfixable. If it’s impossible, He can do it. Move on to something more challenging - that sickness in a friend or co-worker – is it impossible? Then it’s in His realm, and He can do it.

Want something harder? How about unity in the Body of Christ in a city? IMPOSSIBLE!! Good – it’s in God’s hands now. He can do it. Do we dare think about revival in a city, or in a nation that seems hell-bent on self-destruction? Once again, impossible, except it’s not. God can speak, and when His Word comes forth, it accomplishes the purposes for which it was sent.

Here’s the big one – can the Kingdom of Heaven come to earth? Can God’s will be done on earth as it is in Heaven? Jesus told us to ask impossible things, so that when they happen, no one will be confused about Who brought it about. He thinks it, speaks it, and it happens. So the main thing for us is to disengage from what seems impossible and plug into what He’s thinking and speaking. The more we do that, the more we get to play in the realm of the creativity of God.

Impossible, you say? Not so much.

Gary Wiens

Saturday, February 18, 2017

Desperation and Faith

This morning I’m considering the story in Luke 8 about the woman who had the debilitating problem of a chronic flow of blood that had lasted twelve years. Luke’s text tells us that she had seen every physician she could find, had spent literally all her money on the search for a medical solution, and had come up empty, both financially and physically.

Somehow, this woman hears that Jesus is in town. The gossip had spread, the word had gotten around that He was a healer, maybe the Messiah, and that amazing things seemed to happen whenever He showed up. So, she decided to go and see if she could encounter Him, and what might occur if she did.

This is where the story gets interesting to me. What kinds of emotions and thought processes were at work in this woman? Twelve years of unrelenting physical difficulty, weakness due to blood loss, despair due to economic impact, embarrassment at being in public with such a malady – all of these factors play into her decision to try to see Jesus. In a word, her situation was one of desperation. She had run out of options, and He was her one remaining hope.

It was under those circumstances that faith rose up in her heart, although I doubt that it felt like faith. My guess is that it felt more like the ragged despair of an “I’ll try just one more thing” reality, and that any feelings of confidence and positivity were off in the distance somewhere.

Her desperation caused her to force her way through the crowd, getting just close enough to touch the tassels attached to the hem of Jesus’ garment. Perhaps her thought was that if Jesus was the Messiah, the Son of Righteousness might indeed have healing in His “wings,” the picture Malachi painted so many years before as he spoke of the One the nation was looking for.

It worked. She touched His robe, power flowed out, and Jesus noticed. He turned to find her, and listened as she told the story of her desperate attempt to encounter Him. Jesus then declared that it was her faith that healed her, and she could now be cheerful, for her issue was resolved.

Desperate faith. Faith that will not be denied because there are no other options. Maybe – if we want greater faith – we’ll need to realize that the other options aren’t working that well, allow hunger and thirst for the Kingdom of God to grow, and approach Him with the desperation that He calls “faith.” Maybe then we’ll see what we say we want.

Gary Wiens

Thursday, February 9, 2017

The Boldness of Standing in the Truth

This morning I’m gazing at the account in Luke 4 in which Jesus, in front of His hometown folks, read the prophecy of Isaiah 61 and applied it to Himself, declaring that on that day the prophecy was fulfilled. I read that passage from the perspective of 2000 years of history, a theological conviction that Jesus is the Son of God, the Messiah, and that He absolutely spoke the truth in that moment. No problem, right?

What is harder to get hold of is that in that moment, Jesus was saying these things as a man filled with and led by the Holy Spirit, in the context of people who didn’t believe Him because they knew Him from childhood, one of the kids from the neighborhood, the son of Joe and Mary (and conceived illegitimately, too!). His boldness and confidence in saying what He said had to be rooted in something deeper than the opinions of the people around Him. Jesus had to know the voice of His true Father, the God of Heaven and earth, and He had to define Himself by that voice and no other. Only then could He make bold statements about Himself that appear to be fantastically egotistical, unless they are true.

Here’s the point for you and me: what are we saying about ourselves and our relationship to the purposes of God in our lives, the reasons for which we are filled with and anointed by the Holy Spirit? Who are you, and who am I, in God’s opinion? If we are going to stand in bold truth, and accomplish that for which we have been called and saved, we need to be settled in what God says, and not trying to find our identity and destiny in the opinions of others.

Paul the apostle said it in Philippians 3: “I want to lay hold of that for which Christ Jesus laid hold of me!” In other words, Paul wanted to find out what was in God’s mind when He conceived of his life. What was the story God was writing that would be played out on the earth through the life of Paul? That was Paul’s goal, to fully discover the truth that enabled him to live boldly in the face of contrary opinion and opposition throughout his life.

Here’s the challenge – let us go before God in the confidence provided by Jesus’ finished work on our behalf, and hear what He has to say concerning us, you and me. Let us eliminate any other opinion from our self-definition that does not agree with what God says. And then, let us dare to stand boldly and declare, “The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is upon me, and He has anointed me to …” Then, fill in the blanks concerning what God has given you to do, and, standing boldly in that truth, go do your assignment in the grace and power of His presence upon you.

Monday, February 6, 2017

She Did What She Could

I’m meditating this morning on the story in Mark 14:3-9 in which a woman ignores all the social conventions of the day and anoints Jesus’ feet with expensive perfume. Several things in this story touch my heart today.

First, the woman is not named. She is simply someone who loved Jesus, and valued Him above anyone’s opinion, or above the reality of her own material needs. Nothing was more important to her than loving and honoring Jesus, regardless of the cost or any negative implications concerning her. I find that I’m considerably less ardent in the expressions of my love for Him, and way too concerned about things that really don’t matter, like the imagined opinions of people I may not even know.

Second, this was a costly act. The perfume poured out was worth a year’s wages, a lot of money especially for a minimum-wage laborer. That sort of emotionally motivated expression of love is offensive to the mind, because it explodes the concept of common sense. Our minds recoil and our hearts shudder when someone is so effusive in expressing love to such a degree that our own lack of love is exposed. We struggle to find reasons to argue with the over-done outpouring, such as “she should have given it to the poor.” These arguments likely are nothing more than a cover-up for hearts that are too small.

The third thing is that Jesus is probably the only one in the room who knows this woman, and is in touch with what motivates her. To Him, she’s not just a profligate street walker with no sense of appropriate boundaries. To Jesus, this woman is someone motivated by the Spirit of God to anoint Him in preparation for His death and burial. Jesus’ declaration of blessing over her assures that, even nameless, she will be remembered forever.

I want a bigger heart. The one I have now is too small to pour out love like that, without concern for the consequences. If the most important commandment is to love Him with everything I am and have, then my prayer must be this: “Oh, Holy Spirit, carve out more space in my heart! Open my eyes wider to the beauty of this Man, and let the fragrance of my love fill the room. If that means I look foolish, so be it, for You alone are worthy of such a pouring out.”

Gary Wiens

Friday, January 27, 2017

Making First Things First

So many options! The reality of endless options faces most of us as believers on a daily basis, and the satisfaction, success and joy that we hope to experience is ultimately tied to the choices we make among the options that are before us. We carry the world in our hands through WiFi connectivity, instantly and constantly available to anyone, able to buy anything or see anything or hear anything we want to at the touch of a finger. We call it freedom of choice, but does it actually lead us to freedom?

Jesus, on the other hand, invites us to another choice, a narrower way – the option to seek success and joy on His terms. In Matthew 5:6, He uses the word “righteousness” to articulate the access point to satisfaction, success and joy from His perspective, the perspective of God’s Kingdom.

“Righteousness” is a difficult word, because it has come to mean a restricted, religiously narrow, and (by implication) boring view of life. For me, as a kid growing up in a religious home, “righteousness” simply meant not doing bad things, avoiding most activities that seemed fun or exciting, and it carried a connotation of restriction and boredom. Not a very inviting concept!

But I believe “righteousness” has gotten a very unfortunate and wrong reputation, because when we begin to examine the term from a Biblical basis, our perception changes to one that makes the pursuit of righteousness the most obvious and worthy pursuit imaginable. Let’s look at a couple of things:

In Psalm 45, which is a prophetic passage fulfilled in the person of Jesus, we’re told that the King, Jesus, loves righteousness and hates wickedness, and is therefore anointed with the oil of gladness above all His brothers. Get this: the love of righteousness is attached to the greatest possible joy!

In Matthew 5:16, Jesus says that hungering and thirsting after righteousness leads to ultimate satisfaction, the fulfillment of every human desire! In other words, focusing the most basic of human needs – hunger and thirst – on the pursuit of righteousness leads to complete satisfaction that cannot be found anywhere else, even if we keep trying (just ask Mick Jagger and the Rolling Stones about that!).

One of Jesus’ most notable followers, a guy names Paul who wrote the Biblical letter to the Roman church, defined God’s Kingdom as “righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Spirit.” Once again, the highest human desires – peace and joy – are associated with righteousness.

So, the question is, what is righteousness? Well, I believe it is the reality of being conformed to the way God designed each of us in the perfection of His plan. We’re told in Psalm 139 that each of us were “knit together in our mother’s womb” by the hand of God, and that His work concerning us is “marvelous”!

In other words, righteousness is much more than boring “good behavior.” It is the degree to which we come into alignment with how we were designed, agreeing with and pursuing God’s pattern for our lives which was formed in His mind before He created anything! There is no other identity or destiny for us than the one He has planned, and the choice to search for that reality is the most important choice we can make in the vast array of options that face us every day.

In order to know joy and peace, we must choose to make the first things our first priority. We’re told in Psalm 25:14 and in Isaiah 45:3 that there are secret things hidden in the heart of God concerning us, and that if we seek after Him, He will tell us the deepest truths about who we are and why we exist. Jesus said in Luke 10:42 that only one thing is necessary, and that is to sit at His feet and listen to what He says.

Jesus alone has words of life, and we will never find the fulfillment of our desires if we put secondary things ahead of listening to Him. He will speak to us about ourselves, our relationships, our purpose, our destiny, and how we can come into agreement and alignment with His wondrous design for our lives that is the only way to experience ultimate joy and peace.

The pursuit of righteousness through loving God and listening to Him is the most important choice we can make, today, tomorrow, and every day following. Go there, and be blessed!

Gary Wiens