It was bedtime and I was snuggling Eva. I told a story about a bunny princess named Gertrude who only wore plaid, and a squirrel prince named Hank who only wore pajamas. I paused for the expected interruption and then listened, smiling to tears, as Eva made her revisions. Gertrude became Lizzy with a beautiful pink dress. Hank became Lizzy’s best friend Molly. She too had a beautiful dress, hers was purple; and they also had ponies. And as Eva imagined out loud, I thanked my Father for the wonder of this girl. In that moment, I knew love like I never had before.
We transitioned from story time into our closing goodnight communion.
“Eva, you’re my favorite. I love you best.”
I say this to all my kids. It’s become a Clark family way to express our love. And its true, every time.
“I love you best too daddy” She responded and the game began.
“I love you to the tops of the trees.” I grinned.
“I love you to the tops of the tree’s and the moon, times a hundred.” She knows how to play.
“I love you to the moon, and stars, and universe and back, times a hundred and five.” I said as I gave her nose kisses.
She giggled, “I love you to the moon, the stars, the universe and back, times a hundred and ten!”
We continued for a few more beautiful minutes, each taking turns surpassing the last statement, a million, billion, gazillion, eternity, to infinity and beyond.
Many of you know the pure joy of this game. You have played it with your loved one. It never loses its wonder.
I don’t know if you have ever thought of it this way but this is a game of measurements. The stunning thing is, love is immeasurable. Every time Eva and I play this game we do our best to measure love and discover to our immense joy that it can’t be done.
Eva always ends our competition with an amazing statement. The first time she said it I was astonished by its brilliance. Now it’s become the phrase that suspends our conversation until next time…
“I love you bigger than the future…”
“And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.” (Eph 3:17-19)
I can’t imagine how Paul felt trying to describe a love that is bigger than the future – a love that surpasses knowledge. But I bet it felt a little like the game Eva and I play at bedtime.
Paul starts by using the language of earth. Its as if he is saying Christ love is wider than forever, longer than eternity, higher than a million, billion, gazillion, and deeper than infinity, times a hundred.
Paul invites us into an encounter with Gods love that we may be filled to the full measure of the fullness of God.
Measurements are the stuff of earth. To measure, we use words like wide, long, high, and deep – words like filled and fullness.
But once Paul has done his absolute best to measure the love of God, he shifts into the language of heaven. In the next breath Paul expands our revelation.
“Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us…” (Eph 3:17-20)
Paul essentially says, “I want you to be filled to the full measure of the immeasurable.” And just in case we might be tempted to apply measurements to the “immeasurable” Paul added, “beyond” and “all” as if to say, “Stop it, you can’t measure Love, He is bigger than the future”!
Measurements are something that make perfect sense on earth but are a foreign concept in heaven. Heaven sits outside of time, its infinite and operates in the economy of a love that is bigger than the future. I believe this scripture is an invitation to move from the measurable reality of earth to the immeasurable revelation of heaven.
And I would like to suggest that’s why Jesus came. Jesus didn’t live simply to reveal a destination, He showed us the foundation – our Fathers perfect love.
Jesus never lived for the immeasurable, He lived from it. Jesus demonstrated what a bigger than the future love could look like. And He invited us to know and live it like He did. Immeasurable was never meant to be simply a description of the destination, it’s always been His heart that it would be our foundation.
Need is measurable; it’s the stuff of earth. Love is immeasurable; it’s the economy of heaven. Love trumps need. This life is the only time we will ever be given the opportunity to live from heaven while on earth.
Thy Kingdom come…bigger than the future.
I thought about posting this in three separate blogs over the next three weeks. But I felt it was a new and possibly challenging thought for many – I know it was for me. Therefore I have posted all three parts at once.
I pray it blesses!
The Father Never Turned His Back – 1
Do you know that there is only one time throughout the gospels that Jesus refers to God in first person as God? Every other time He referred to God as Father. Jesus was on the cross when this happened. In pain and carrying the weight of sin and death He cries out, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”
It was a cry of absolute anguish, one that many have interpreted to mean that somehow Jesus was, if but for a moment, abandoned, left to Himself, even shunned by His Father. I have heard this moment described by many as God turning His back on Jesus.
It baffles the mind to think that an always good and loving Father would do this – leave His Son to carry the weight of sin and death alone, abandoned in His darkest moment?
And I would like to suggest that the Father never turned His back, He never left, or forsook Jesus, He never abandoned, not even for a moment. His love was just as good as it’s always been.
“When you all run away from me and leave me alone, I won’t be alone, because My Father is with me.” (John 16:32) This is what Jesus tells His disciples before going to the cross. That seems pretty clear, the Father wasn’t going anywhere. If that’s true, what do we do with Jesus anguished cry to God on the cross?
“My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” This is the pivotal scripture that is used to suggest that somehow God turned His face from His Son.
Did you know this statement from Jesus was an echo of Jesus earthly forefather? Jesus was quoting the poet king David from Psalm 22. As Davidic psalms go, Psalm 22 was fairly standard. David wrestled through life’s mountaintops and valleys with the raw authenticity that makes him an Old Testament favorite. This psalm also settled on the one revelation that made David a man God absolutely loved, ‘a man after His own heart’. “Goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life,” that was David’s core value, his life’s message.
As I have already noted, in Psalm 23 (See Blog) David could follow God, find himself in a valley, and never put it at Gods feet. David believed that God only had goodness and love for Him.
What’s amazing is that in Psalm 22, several verses after “My God, my God why have you forsaken me,” David writes, “He has not despised nor abhorred the affliction of the afflicted; nor has He hidden His face from him; but when he cried to Him for help, He heard.” (Psalm 22:24)
Its amazing to me that Jesus points us to a scripture that ultimately determines that God doesn’t hide His face, or “turn His back.” In fact, it’s quite the opposite, “but when he cried for help, He heard…”
The Father didn’t turn His back, He was still the always good Father, even in Jesus darkest moment.
The Father Never Turned His Back – 2
I saw Mel Gibson’s movie The Passion; I was overcome by the physical abuse Jesus sustained. I grew up in church; I was taught how the horror of my sin, every sin from beginning to end, was placed on Jesus at the cross. I have been amazed by His love, that He would go through the physical torment and experience the horror of sin where He had never known sin. These were the realities He was facing while praying in the garden of Gethsemane when an angel from heaven appeared to Him and strengthened Him. “And being in anguish, he prayed more earnestly, and his sweat was like drops of blood falling to the ground.” (Luke 22:44)
But there is something I had never seen that has ravaged my heart in these last years.
While the physical pain is a part of the story and can’t be overlooked, I think the greater reason He was in such anguish, the reason He sweat blood, is because He knew He was about to experience something much worse and more terrifying than physical pain. Jesus, for the first time in His life, the first and only time, would be unaware of His Fathers presence.
Think about it, Jesus hadn’t taken a breath without the wonder of His Dads presence. Every thought, every experience, every heartbeat was immersed in a revelation of His Fathers always good love. Jesus lived in the lavish revelation of His Dads presence. Jesus lived in the sureness of His Fathers love; He lived consumed by His Fathers heart. That kind of intimacy is profoundly stunning.
Can you imagine an existence like this? It’s my life’s one ambition and it was Jesus reality. Can you imagine your very existence being love and then having it ripped away, inaccessible, and replaced by fear, doubt, insecurity, self-loathing, hate and every other by-product of sin?
Jesus is in a garden and He asks His Father if the cup can be removed from Him, “Is there another way Father?” (Paraphrase). And I would like to propose, without belittling the physical sacrifice Jesus made, that the origin of Jesus distress was in the understanding that for the first time ever, He would be separated not from His Father, but from an awareness of His Father.
The Son, who only did what He saw His Father doing, would not be able to see His Dad. The Son, who only did what His Father did, would not be able to feel His Father. The Son, who was in the Father and in whom the Father dwelled, would not be able to know His presence, His love, His goodness. And this was a horror Jesus could hardly bear. But He did it anyway, because God is love.
Jesus made Himself as a sin offering, for your sin and mine. He took it all on Himself, past, present, and future. Sin, the lie that separates us from the revelation of our Father, from unhindered access to perfect love, was cloaked over Jesus like a second skin.
God hates sin, it’s true.
But while Jesus became a sin offering, He never stopped being the Son. To suggest that the Father’s disgust for sin somehow caused Him to abandon His Son is to suggest that just this once, sin was bigger than love – it’s ridiculous.
And yet its what I believed most of my life, that for just a moment, the Father had to excuse Himself because mans sin and Satan’s power was just too much for Him to bear; for just a moment, a good Father abandoned His Son.
It’s the exact opposite!
Jesus, cloaked in the horror of sin, a perfect offering on our behalf is overcome. And in that moment He cried out like David, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me.”
And in that moment the Father stood over His Son, He hadn’t left, abandoned, turned His back, or scorned His Son. He was there. He knew His Son couldn’t know it, couldn’t sense it, couldn’t feel His always-perfect love. But He was there, loving His boy, proud of His Son, sharing His agony, but confident in Love, because God is love.
The Father Never Turned His Back – 3
In the moment Jesus hung between two thieves He couldn’t see, touch, hear, or know His Dad. When Jesus became a sin offering He was cut off from His awareness of His Father. He had never been separated from His awareness of His Father, ever. And in the suffocating anguish of that moment, Jesus echo’s a prayer from His earthly forefather David, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”
It’s a horrible moment, a moment where hope hangs in the balance; a moment where eternity holds its breath.
And in the agony of that moment the Father never turned His back, He never left, His love never soured, His goodness never faltered, His light never darkened.
And then humanity is given the most stunning act of faith that has ever been, “Jesus called out in a loud voice “Father, into your hands I commit my spirit.” When he had said this, he breathed his last.” (Luke 23:46)
The greatest act of faith that was and will ever be – “I can’t see You, I can’t know You, I can’t touch You, I can’t hear You, but I believe that You are my Father, that You will never leave or forsake me, that You are Love, that Your love is perfect, that You only have goodness and love for me. And “Father, into your hands I commit my spirit.”
“Father,” Once again, He called Him Father.
Jesus stepped past His feelings, past His circumstances, He pressed through the devastating, very real sense of separation He felt and called Him Father. Jesus believed that His Father was still there. He couldn’t sense His Dads presence but He was still convinced His Dad was there and that His Dads love was greater than what He was feeling. “Into Your hands I commit my Spirit.” That’s faith – pure, true, world changing, life saving faith.
In the moment of absolute horror, “When everyone ran away from Him and left Him alone, He wasn’t alone, because His Father was with Him.” (John 16:32 narrative paraphrase). Jesus stepped past what He was feeling, His last statement revealing that like David, who wrote “nor has He hidden His face from him; but when he cried to Him for help, He heard,” Jesus believed His Dad was there.
The Father never left or abandoned His Son. The Son just lost His awareness of His Dad. He experienced, like David did in his psalm, the feeling of being abandoned, but it wasn’t reality. The truth is “that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting men’s sins against them.”
Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come! All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting men’s sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation. 2nd Corinthians 5:17-20
I would like to suggest that faith believes His love is always good. I would like to suggest that we exist to believe, to know, to experience His always perfect love. I would like to suggest that the Father has never, nor will he ever turn His back on His kids.
This last November I drove to Virginia to hang out with the Crowder family and the whole Dreamhouse Church for the weekend. On Monday, before driving the 7 hours home, Scott and I dreamed in a language close to our hearts. Sitting in his old church building, the little white chapel that has played host to many moments of Holy Spirit wonder, we pulled out our guitars. The second story nursery that overlooked the sanctuary had been transformed. Soundboard, keyboard, amps, guitars, mic’s – recording gear lay helter skelter, an invitation to create.
It had been a while since I had really given myself to this art form. I was a little reluctant at first, wondering if this was even me anymore. Years of surrendering this passion had left me cautious and… hopeful. You see, music was once a haunting obsession, it defined me. I was a singer songwriter like Jesus was the Son of God.
But that was many years ago. And there has been many surrenders to His perfect love from then to now; many discoveries of who my heavenly Father is and how He see’s me.
One day, not that long before I found myself in Scotts little church studio (which I think is a great name for a studio by the way), God reminded me that He has always seen me as a singer songwriter. It was a wonderful thing to remember and a hopeful thing to believe.
Scott and I started with a melody I had written nearly ten years earlier, but soon the song took on new form. Scott presented a beat, this was a new one for me – no live drums. It worked! I grew less timid and more sure. We sang mumbled melodies to each other. “Thats good!” I said, more than once.
Scott pushed record, an hour passed. A killer bass line was added, keys, and then guitar. “That’s good!” I said again, it was. I sang the lyrics, some nearly ten years old, some only 10 minutes. Then Scott tracked his vocals. Another hour passed and then another. I was immersed in a pastime filled with new promises.
“How much fun was that” I thought on my drive home. I was surprised and satisfied.
In the days that followed, my world of husband, dad, and pastor expanded… singer songwriter – old familiar clothes that fit like new.
Over the following weeks Scott added his wonder to the song. I am blown away by how it turned out.
Thanks Scott for being a catalyst friend. I have a feeling it wont be the last time we pull out our guitars together.
I present to you “When The Sun Disappears”.
“But I tell you the truth, it is to your advantage that I go away; for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you; but if I go, I will send Him to you.” — John 16:7
“And it was about the sixth hour, and there was a darkness over all the earth until the ninth hour. And the sun was darkened, and the veil of the temple was rent in the midst.” — Luke 23:44-45
“And after He had said these things, He was lifted up while they were looking on, and a cloud received Him out of their sight. And as they were gazing intently into the sky while He was going, behold, two men in white clothing stood beside them. They also said, “Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking into the sky? This Jesus, who has been taken up from you into heaven, will come in just the same way as you have watched Him go into heaven. Then they returned to Jerusalem from the mount called Olivet, which is near Jerusalem, a Sabbath day’s journey away.” — Acts 1:9-12
“When the day of Pentecost had come, they were all together in one place. And suddenly there came from heaven a noise like a violent rushing wind, and it filled the whole house where they were sitting. And there appeared to them tongues as of fire distributing themselves, and they rested on each one of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit was giving them utterance.” — Acts 2:1-4
Honey know you can’t come this way
And I know it won’t be easy oh
Wait and see and please be patient
All creation’s groaning for it’s home
I’m your home
I’m your home
All of us here
Winter to spring
All of our seasons
And all of our dreams
All of our stories
The wonder of kings
All of our glory
When the sun disappears
I’m gonna go where I’ll know you’ll follow
I’ve sent a fire to burn inside your soul
to know your home
You’re gonna run with the Sons of Thunder
Taste and see the love of Father oh…
I see the night erased when the sun disappears
I see the kingdom come when the sun disappears
Whoa see the sun
whoa see the sun
Whoa see the sun
whoa see the sun
(voiceover) see burning Son
(falsetto) Higher, higher
(voiceover) I want to run with the burning ones…I want to run with the burning Son
See the Son
If there is anything I have learned over the last thirty something years, its that the question of identity is not only the theme of Jesus’ story, it’s ours as well. My story and yours will continue to be one in which we discover our Dad and in turn ourselves. Discovering our Father is the most important thing we will ever do. It transforms us and sets us free to live as His sons and daughters. The good news is, Jesus was sure in his identity and because of this, we can also become sure in ours…
I believe that every insecurity we face is birthed in Fatherless-ness. Our insecurities are the direct result of misunderstanding our heavenly Fathers nature. The greater we know our Father and His love, the more sure we become in our own identity. It was Jesus view of, and relationship with, His Dad that released Him to fully be the Son.
While I was born into a crisis of identity, the moment I said yes to Love, the moment my heavenly Father was revealed, is the moment I stepped into my new identity. I have been discovering my Father in greater measure ever since and the more I know Him the more confident I become as His son.
I’m convinced that our sureness in our identity is found in believing in the absolute goodness of our Fathers love. This journey we are on, this story we are living, has its breath in that revelation. It is through encounters with our Father that we are released to become the full expression of his sons and daughters in the here and now. I believe it’s why we exist, to know our Fathers love and become sure as His sons and daughters. We are loved and becoming love. The crisis is resolved!
What’s that mean? Well, for a start, whether our natural father or mother is amazing, destructive, or non-existent, there is available to us a relationship with a perfect loving always-good Father. And as we become more aware of His perfect love for us we are set free to live like Jesus did, sure as sons and daughters.
Like Jesus, we can know our Dad and live as the evidence of His love. When we know our Heavenly Father we become transformed into good earthly fathers and mothers. We become good brothers and sister, good neighbors, good co-workers, good sons and daughters. We become world changers, living in miraculous fashion, discovering the wonders of His Kingdom in every area of life.
The Kingdom of heaven operates from a different core value than earth. While earth revolves around the reality of need, heaven exists in the revelation of Love. Everything in the kingdom of heaven, operates, hinges, and moves in Love – it’s all about Love!
If you think about it, Love walked the earth in the body of Jesus. And while Jesus very much lived on earth, He very much lived from heaven. Everywhere Love went heaven invaded earth. What’s astounding to me is that every need that was presented to Love was met and fully answered, physically, emotionally, and spiritually, through the power of heaven – and it often looked miraculous. Love healed the sick, fed the hungry, and raised the dead. Love trumped every need, every time.
Not only does need not exist within the nature of God, it doesn’t exist in heaven. I’m pretty sure we won’t need to eat there; I hope we get to, especially fajitas, but we probably won’t need to. And if we do, we probably won’t need money to buy food, and if we do, we can just use the gold that comes from the paving stones out in the street…
We won’t need to be healed in heaven; there is no sickness there. We won’t need to feel loved there, we will know and be sure in love – we will have become love. We won’t have any questions about why we exist there, the manifest Glory of God will make it very clear. But its a different story on earth.
As a good friend of mine, Andy Squyres, says, “Earth is the only place we can love God while experiencing pain.” We have the incredible opportunity to discover that even while need is very much a part of our lives, love wins. Isn’t that amazing? It’s such an eternal heavenly perspective! You see, there is no pain, sickness, doubt, or death; there is no need in heaven. How blessed are we, that during our short time on earth, God has provided us with the stunning opportunity to love in the midst of need. We have been given the greatest gift, to know Love in the midst of need, to discover that its a powerful love, a love that transforms, a love we can chose. Like Jesus, we can love in such a way that the kingdoms of this world, the ones that exist and revolve around need, become the Kingdom
of our God.
I believe all of heaven is available now – all of it. We have access to the same heaven Jesus had access to. He revealed that we could live in the same revelation of Dad that He lived when He taught us to pray, “Thy Kingdom come, on earth as it is in Heaven,: and so we can love in the same powerful, miraculous, heaven to earth, way Jesus loved.
I believe heaven is our home and not just for when we die. I believe it’s the greater reality from which we are designed to live here on earth, right now. What a privilege!
This message was given at All Nations Church Dec 7th 2012. It was their Friday night Metro Watch meeting. Mahesh & Bonnie Chavda are the pastors of All Nations. It was an incredible honor for me to spend the evening with this family!
We exist to become sure in His love! The well done we get in heaven is directly connected to how sure we become in our Fathers love. And when we live sure, we have access to all of Him, including peace. I wrapped up this message by speaking on the peace that calms the storm and then playing my song Heavens Crush. This message has been burning in my heart for the last two years and I still feel like I only have the smallest grasp.
Jesus didn’t say, “Need the Lord your God with all your heart, mind, and strength.” He said “Love.”
God doesn’t need us. Need is counter to His nature. And I would like to suggest that His greatest desire for us is not that we would need Him. Stick with me for a moment, hopefully I land this…
I don’t think He created us so we would need Him. I don’t believe His end goal was to have a bunch of needy, desperate, starving sons and daughters. I believe that His desire for us is that we would know His love so that we could love Him… and then love like He does.
When Jesus came and lived among us, it wasn’t so He could set us straight on how much we needed Him. Need was obvious before Adam and Eve took their first breath and even more clear after they ate the forbidden fruit. The Old Testament is a tribute to need. Need was everywhere and it consumed us.
I believe Jesus came to reveal the answer – Fathers love. He came to give us access to Love; receiving and giving, beholding and becoming. Its always been about love. Why, because Love trumps need, love is the answer.
Need isn’t evil and I want to make it clear that God our Father is perfectly OK with need, He even taught us to pray about need, “give us this day our daily bread”. It’s a healthy part of our relationship with Him – in fact its even a part of our love language. That said, its not the destination.
When Madeleine was born, need was the language of her love. She needed Karen and I for everything and we revealed our love by meeting all her needs. But Maddy turned 1 and then 2 and so on. And as she matures into a stunning young woman, our relationship continues to evolve. No longer is need the only way we communicate. Need has become less the language of our love and naturally so. From a parents perspective, I will forever be OK with her need, I love her! But my greatest desire isn’t that she needs me, I want her love – I was created for it!
There is a beautiful foundational revelation regarding need. But as we mature in our Fathers love, we begin to understand that His greatest desire is to be loved.
Did I marry Karen because I needed her? Absolutely. But if my core value for Karen is that she meets my needs then we are in trouble real fast. If a relationship is built solely on needs met then it will collapse into a legal partnership, a business relationship, a sterile agreement to co-habitation, or an in-securing repetitive cycle of dashed hopes.
Marriage is meant to be a covenant of love. When love is the core value, the relationship is not about “what can I get,” it’s about “what can I give.” Whats amazing is that when love is the foundation need is met.
This is a radical thought but what if God really doesn’t want a relationship founded on need but instead on love? What if the direction He has given us to “Love the Lord your God…” is an invitation to let Him love us perfectly? What if “God is perfect love?” What if Love is meant to be the foundation of every relationship starting first with Him? What if He first loved us and we actually could only love to the extent that we know His love? What if Jesus death and resurrection was the foundational revelation that set us free from need and into a relationship with love? What if when Love is the focus need is always met?
What if need is not a reality in the Kingdom of heaven and we are called to live heaven here, now?
I believe our Father has given us all that He is so we can love in the same way He does. As we are transformed by His love, we respond to need from the richness of our heavenly inheritance – His love nature. Suddenly needs are not just met, they are miraculously redeemed. The reality of heaven transforms the reality on earth. Fear bends the knee and Love wins. These love moments become rally points for revival – testimonies of His nature.
We have been invited into a perfect love that grows and matures, that sets free and saves, that transforms and empowers, that releases Fathers DNA and expands His Kingdom on earth as it is in heaven. Heaven is both the destination and the foundation upon which we are to live here on earth and heavens revelation is love.
I believe we are all journeying into a greater revelation of Love that we would become transformed and empowered to release the need trumping power of Love here and now.
Blessings on the journey.
…If you would like to read more about Love and Need you can check out Need < Love
I spent the weekend of the 10th and 11th at DreamHouse in Newport
News. Scott and Charrisa Crowder are the pastors there and are amazing friends to us Clarks! We so love them and our whole DreamHouse family!
This blog is a an adaption from my book The Open Table, An Invitation
to Walk with God. I gave
this message on Sat night at DreamHouse and I was once again reminded of how good our God is.
If you enjoy the blog and want to hear more, check out THIS LINK to the church’s website where you can download my Saturday message. You can also download Scott and Charrisa’s messages. I recommend last weeks Kingdom Economy.
I think this journey we are on is like a story. I think all of us want to live a good story, one filled with love, wonder and promise; a story that is inspired, a story that one-day our kids will read to their kids.
I am convinced of two things; first, the best stories end happily ever after. And second, before they end “happily ever after,” they are filled with conflict and risk and sometimes even death…
Jesus lived the best story. His was full of wonder and friendship, mercy and grace – a true love story. It was also a story with conflict and risk, even unto death. And if there was a crisis in His story, it was a crisis of identity. Not with Jesus, He never doubted who He was, but those around Him certainly did. If you think about it, the question of His identity followed Him everywhere He went.
I would like to suggest that the question of identity is not only the theme of Jesus’ story but it’s ours as well. The good news is, Jesus was sure in His identity and because of this, we can also become sure in ours…
Jesus was actually born into a crisis of identity. As far as public perception was concerned, his birth was a little sketchy. His inception was miraculous. He was born of a virgin. The Bible refers to Him as “God with us” (Matt 1:18) and as “The Son of God” (Luke 1:31). However, that part of the Bible was unavailable at the time of Jesus as it hadn’t been written yet.
Most likely, Jesus grew up with the stigma of “bastard.” Outside of a few shepherds and some Wise Men who knew the story, His birth appeared scandalous as Mary conceived before she was married. But Jesus was not insecure. He knew who He was. He was sure in His Fathers love and in His identity.
We know this because of the one story of Jesus in His youth. When He was twelve, His family journeyed to Jerusalem. As they were heading home, His parents lost track of Him and for three days they searched the streets of Jerusalem. They finally found Him at the temple. When His mother asked Him where He had been He replied, “Didn’t you know I had to be in my Father’s house” (Luke 2:49). Jesus was sure in His Fathers love and in His identity.
We don’t hear about Him again until He turns 30. The story is picked back up with Jesus baptism. The Bible says that when He came up out of the water, He was filled with the Holy Spirit. A dove descended and God spoke in a thunderous voice. And in case anyone was unsure, the Father made it perfectly clear saying, “This is my Son with whom I am well pleased” (Matt 3:17). At that moment it went public; Jesus was the Son of God. We heard it from an angel, we heard it from the child, and now we’ve heard from the mouth of God.
I would have expected Jesus to start his public ministry upon this proclamation, but instead, He is led into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. (Matt 4:1)
Forty days Jesus went without food or water. Three times Satan tempted Him and twice Satan went after Jesus’ identity. “If you are the son of God,” he challenged. But Jesus was sure in His Fathers love, He was sure in His identity.
If you keep reading the rest of His story you will find that everywhere He went, His identity was questioned and challenged; by the religious teachers, by entire towns and by government officials. And while all this is happening, Jesus is living a story of beauty and wonder. He is healing blind and def, lame and mute. He is raising the dead and making lots of food out of little food. He is walking on water and calming storms. He is releasing life to anyone who asks. Everything Jesus did confirmed He was His Fathers Son.
If the story of Jesus life had a battle, it was a daily fight for identity. If His story had an antagonist it was doubt, better known as unbelief. And each time Jesus was confronted with the crisis of identity, He chose to believe what God had said about Him from the very beginning. Jesus was sure in His Fathers love and He was sure in His identity.
Three years after Jesus baptism we read about how He rides into Jerusalem being worshiped. Finally, He is received by the people as He truly is – the King of Kings, love in human form, the Son of God. And for a moment in His story we exhale… and then…
Jesus is betrayed.
Only three days after His triumphant arrival to Jerusalem He finds Himself bound and standing in front of the religious rulers. His identity is officially questioned. Standing in front of Herod Jesus is asked, “Are you then the Son of God?” (Luke 22:70a)
And Jesus, knowing what lay ahead, knowing He faced a brutal beating and then a cross… And Jesus, sure in His Fathers love and sure in His identity, said, “You are right in saying I am” (Luke 22:70b).
To be honest, my entire life has been a search for my Father, a journey into my identity. And I am becoming sure. Daily I come into a greater understanding regarding the fact that this faith journey I am on is about revelation. Its been a discovery of my Fathers always-good love, and who I am in Christ. I too have been at war with an antagonist and unbelief.
And all along the way my Father has invited me, and you as well, to believe – to believe that He is love, that His love is aways good, that He works on our behalf toward good and that we are His sons and daughters with a powerful inheritance. I am confidant that our faith journey is about daily deciding to be sure in His love and sure in our identity.
I would like to suggest that though we were born into a crisis of identity, the moment we invited God to be Dad the crisis was resolved. The moment we surrendered our life to Jesus, the moment He became Lord and Savior, the moment we received His love, is the moment we stepped into a new identity. Through believing, Jesus not only confirmed and revealed His identity but ultimately He won our identity for us as well. Jesus rose from the grave and forever answered that question for those who choose to believe and receive We are sons and daughters of an always good Father. We are loved and becoming love!
Our Identity is found in believing in the absolute goodness of our Fathers love. This journey we are on has its breath in that revelation. To the extent we know this truth is to the extent we can engage this life giving adventure story. Like all good stories there will be mountains and valleys, there will be scary moments and wonder. And always it ends happily ever after. And that’s what I’m getting at. Following God is risky, absolutely. It might even lead to death. But because Jesus went first, we can be sure in His love and our identity and therefore know that our story always ends with a “well done” – always.
I have begun to discover that true dreaming, the kind referenced in Acts as “old men dreams”, are when sons and daughters have chased down vision, failed, lived through the very real pain of failure, even tasting death, and still believe in the absolute goodness of His love.
“Old men dreams” is not about age, its the journey into God revelation – the perfection of His always good love revealed. This revelation births faith and true dreaming can’t be done without it. I’m not describing a pretty concept or a good principle, neither is this the brash leap, or the optimistic bent, this is a faith that has been tried through the fires of failure and death.
It’s the faith that Peter experienced when he used a sword to advance a Kingdom that could only be advanced by Jesus becoming the sheath. Did Peter fail, yes. Was he a failure, no. Why, because the story didn’t end with failure and death, its never about failure or death. The story is always about resurrection, redemption, and revelation. “Old men dreamers” are those who have joined Jesus in that journey, the one where death isn’t the point, but it’s the only way to fully live.
When it was all said and done Peter knew a LOVE that wasn’t dependent on him. This is the only love with the power to redeem, this is the only love with the authority to move mountains. This is the love that empowered Peter to transform the world, this is the love that became the foundation, a rock upon which the church would be built and the gates of hell would not prevail. This is the love that possessed the keys of heaven; a love with the authority to say “yes” or “no” on earth and hear the echo in heaven. (Matt 16:13-20)
A true dream, one that is birthed in the heart of “old men dreamers”, carries with it authority and power. Only a person who has experienced the death of vision, who has nailed vision to the cross, has access to the power of resurrection. When he dreams again, he dreams the dreams of heaven. And a dream that’s birthed in heaven has power to transform earth, it can change a family, a neighborhood, a city, a nation, it grows exponentially and has eternal significance.
I believe that true dreams are revelation of, and then partnership with, the Father’s heart. You see, dreams are not meant to be possibilities; that’s the role of vision. Dreams are meant to be prophetic declarations that create the future – they have authority and power to pull heaven to earth.
Here is another way to look at it. Vision is about discovering our Fathers nature. Dreaming happens as we see ourselves from His perspective. When we see ourselves through our Fathers eyes we are empowered to dream in the authority of our identity. “Old men dreams” are birthed from our true identity. When we dream from who we truly are, we come into agreement with our heavenly Father and step into the authority and power to see the dream realized.
That’s why dreaming is the most powerful thing we could ever do. Its why Jesus is always asking as to dream, to ask. It’s the partnership with His heart and ours that pulls heaven to earth.
Of this I’m convinced, God wants us to dream with abandon. Wide-open places, that’s the heart of our Father for us. Jesus said “greater works” and His heart is that we would dream in the realm of “beyond all we could ask or imagine.” Jesus’ life on earth, the high watermark that no one has yet attained, is meant to be surpassed!
I believe “greater works” is available to “old men dreamers” who are willing to dream in the wide-open places of past failure. This is the place where their dreams carry the power of the resurrection.
I am learning to not be offended by my failures, to not be ashamed by weakness, or insecure by lack. Instead, as I choose surrender and intimacy, as I express my faith in His love I’m becoming transformed by His love. My prayer is that my heart would beat in sync with His so that my words release heaven and my life yields love – until my vision reveals His and my dreams transform the world around me, until the Kingdoms of this world become the Kingdom of our God.
This song was written almost 10 years ago. Its the journey I have been on regarding vision, dreams and revelation. Its still one of my favorite songs.
I’m not saying I’m old, but I’m getting older…
When I was young I had vision. I thought they were dreams but most of the time it was vision…
As a young man I lived in the ache, compelled by the longing; I chased vision down with reckless abandon… and time and again I fell short only to cast greater vision, to struggle, to taste love, intimacy, and then again, failure…
Acts 2:17 “In the last days, God says, I will pour out my Spirit on all people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy, your young men will see visions, your old men will dream dreams.”
It’s only been in the last few years that I have begun to quote that verse correctly. In the past I always got it backwards. You see, when I was younger, it made more sense that young men would dream dreams and old men see visions. However, I’ve come to understand that there is a difference between dreams and visions.
I’m not saying I am old by the way, but I am getting older…
Vision is defined as “the act or power of anticipating that which will or may come to be.” At eighteen and over the following 15 or so years, I tested every projection, prodding and discovering both His and my heart. I was anticipating all the possible futures and in so doing, I was learning both who my Father was and my identity as His son. When I was a young man, every exciting possibility that popped into my head would have been categorized as a dream. But looking back, I now understand that most of those “dreams” would be better defined as vision.
I think the difference between vision and dreams is this, dreams are hidden in our Fathers heart and vision is how we discover them. Dreams are way bigger and more powerful than any words could express. In fact, they are above and beyond imagination, and yet we’ve been invited to imagine, to en-vision, to search them out.
And it’s a scary and all consuming journey; a journey that develops faith; a journey for the faithful, a journey of discovering and believing He loves.
It’s a journey of vision and failure, vision and failure, vision and failure…
It’s a journey where young men become old…
…Because dreaming is an old mans game.
You see, “old men” have the most scars; “old men” have the hardest memories, of war and death. “Old men” carry the pain of loss and brokenness. “Old men” have given their life to the King and His cause time and again, they have waited, and when they couldn’t wait anymore, they’ve waited.
“Old men” have done all to stand and when they couldn’t stand any longer, they stood. “Old men” have died, been reborn, and died again. “Old men” have failed and when they didn’t think they could fail worse, they did. “Old men” have lost, everything… more than once. “Old men” have chased vision into the valley of the shadow of death.
And “old men” have chased vision into the heart of the Fathers perfect love until their every heartbeat can be trusted.
And then, with the full understanding of what it cost, “old men,” well, they dream dreams!
And the authority and power of their dreams pulls heaven to earth in ways never before seen. Their dreams empower generations to live heaven on earth.
I’m not saying I’m old, but by the goodness of God, I’m getting older…
And isn’t that the promise He’s given us all’ that we could dream life transforming, world changing, saints empowering “old men” dreams?