The Beauty of Unity - WE LIVE IN YOU 

One of the most beautiful God-mysteries is the interwoven life of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit—The Holy Trinity.  This is the only perfectly functional family!   They live in a continual outpouring of mutual love, trust, honor and friendship.  They support one another and defer to one another. 

Another amazing mystery that mirrors the Trinity is the connectedness of the entire Body of Christ, the church.  We belong to one another.  We participate in the one life of Christ together.  We are not complete without one another.  We grow and mature as we connect to the mystically joined network of believers around us.  God made us to be social-spiritual beings. 

And we are so enriched by connecting to our worldwide family!  Around 3 years ago I wrote the song, We Live in You, which is about our unity with God and one another.  The song had an African feel to it.  As I imagined arranging this song, I heard African drums in my head.  I don’t know many folks in Vancouver that play African drums, so I never played the song! 

Years later, I heard an interview with Edgar King, a Vineyard pastor from Kenya.  Edgar has been a worship leader for many years, beginning as a youth in the Vineyard church pastored by his father.  I asked Edgar to sing on We Live in You and invite some of his team members. Edgar invited Joan Nzuki and George Ochieng’ Oula to sing on the track.  They sound great! 

Edgar is fluent in both English and Swahili, so we recorded the song using both languages.  This bi-lingual song reflects the worship style in Edgar’s multi-ethnic church.  Their congregation is quite diverse, so they sing songs in various languages to make everyone feel welcome and connected. 

This reminds me of my many visits to Latin America, where I have enjoyed singing in Spanish.  I have learned so much from my Latino brothers and sisters.  I have shared my experiences of worship in those countries, but it’s always a mutual give-and-take situation.  My life of worship has been deeply enriched by hanging out with my Latino spiritual family. 

When we venture out beyond our own native culture and share life with people of different nations, we see life, God and ourselves with new eyes. 

THE KISS OF GOD 

Here is the first verse of my song The Power is in the Kiss: 

The power is not in a top down ultimatum 

It’s not in the angry raising of your fist 

The power is not in your well defended position 

Real power, purest power is in the kiss 

In many arenas of society in the past year we have seen a lot of what I describe as the “wrong kind of power” in this first verse:   “top down ultimatums, angry raising of your fist, well defended position… calling down heaven’s fire on the ones we think are lower than ourselves.”  These actions and attitudes flow from a belief that “I am right, I have the power, and I am going to exert my power to get my way, even if it means I will dominate you and show violence in doing so.”  

In his book, “A More Christlike God,” Bradley Jersak describes the way Christ rules:  “…Christ rules through love rather than coercion—through persuasion rather than force—through revelation rather than domination.” 

Jersak goes on to explain that consent rather than coercion is how the Father and the Son relate to one another.  “Consent is the divine act of love between Father and Son.  Some have said that as the Father kisses the Son, the Holy Spirit is the kiss.  The Son shows his love for God the Father by continually consenting—obeying, surrendering, yielding—to his Father’s will (and God’s will is love!).” 

Jesus showed us a very different kind of power than we see in some of our modern-day politics.  He showed us and upside down kind of cruciform power – going to the cross.  He showed is kenotic power – emptying himself of his rights to exercise authority as God (Philippians 2).  Kenosis means to “empty yourself of self will.” 

The kenotic and cruciform power of Jesus is described in the bridge of “The Power is in the Kiss:” 

It’s the power of love reaching across the great divide 

Embracing the lonely ones on the other side 

It’s the power of the peaceful dove   

The power of an open door 

The power of an outstretched hand    

Giving help to the weak and poor 

The power of real surrender, it’s the power of letting go 

It’s the weakness of an earthen vessel, 

Filled with power, purest power from above 

In marriage and in all relationships, surrendering our power, or letting other people have their way is often the right choice.  Another way of saying that is from 1 Cor 13:  “Love is not insisting on your own way.”  This is how I approach my relationship with Linda, my wife.   It’s also the way I try to behave in my interactions with friends, co-workers and strangers in the marketplace. 

Though we don’t automatically allow ourselves to be run over or abused, at the very least we are called to show love and respect at all times to all people.  Paul writes to Titus, “…be peaceable and considerate, and always…gentle toward everyone.”  (Titus 3:2)

Meditations Series – Celebrating 45 Years Walking with Jesus 

I’ve travelled a rich journey of knowing God through the last several decades.  To be exact, it’s 45 years since I started walking with the Lord in my first year of university studies.  I had never imagined that God could be so real, so involved in my life, and so willing to reveal himself to me. 

To celebrate these first 45 years of my walk with Jesus, I am writing a series of 45 Meditations on all sorts of subjects that have been key lessons for me along this road.  Some topics offer advice on how to deal with specific challenging situations of life, and some are big-picture topics that form the spiritual foundations we walk on. 

You can see several episodes of this series on the 45 Meditations page on this website.  All of the Meditations are posted on my Youtube page @ Andy Park.

My Great Reward 

Abraham is one of my favorite Bible characters.  He walked a very long journey of faith.   God made very great promises to him:  2 “I will make you into a great nation, and I will bless you; I will make your name great, and you will be a blessing… all peoples on earth will be blessed through you.” 

As great as those promises were, they were NOT Abraham’s “great reward.”  His great reward was the person of God – walking with and being a friend of God.  Abraham enjoyed many earthly blessings.  He had a beautiful wife (Gen 12:11), many servants and was wealthy: “Abram had become very wealthy in livestock and in silver and gold” (Gen. 13:2).  “Abram acquired sheep and cattle, male and female donkeys, male and female servants, and camels” (Gen. 12:16). 

Abraham’s life is a very important example for all of us.  God promised him, “descendants … as numerous as the stars in the sky.”  Though God may generously bless us in many ways on the earth, none of those promises are our ultimate treasure.  HE is our ultimate treasure.  

If I get too focussed on the promises of things God is planning for me, I become very disappointed.  Accomplishing goals or attaining possession or even having special relationships will ultimately disappoint us if they are our ultimate treasure.   If we make idols of earthly blessings, in the long run they will fail to satisfy us. 

I encourage you to enjoy friendship with God today and every day.  Don’t forget that God is at your side, in your heart, above you and below you and behind you and before you.  In a way, it’s not so much what you do in life as Who you do it with that counts.

God is Stirring the Waters 

In John 5, we read the story of the man who was sick for 38 years, and was waiting for his healing.  He was lying among the hundreds of sick who were gathered at this pool in Bethesda.  Jesus asked him if he wanted to get well.  He said that he wasn’t able to be the first one into the pool when the angel began to stir the waters.  The first one in always got healed. 

Jesus healed him on the spot.  No angel was necessary, no jumping in the pool was necessary.  The man didn’t even answer Jesus with a strong, “YES, I want to be healed!”   Instead, he brought his lament to Jesus – he wasn’t quick enough to jump in the pool first.  Jesus showed mercy to this man who had been crippled for decades. 

By healing him on the spot, Jesus was saying, “I’m here, and I’m all you need.  You don’t have to wait for an angel.  There is no lack of healing available.  Healing isn’t reserved for the clever and able ones who manage to get into the front of the line.” 

In the past year, God has been “stirring the waters” big time in my life.  Did you know that the average adult human body is 50-65% water, averaging around 57-60%?   The natural things speak of the invisible.  Jesus said we would have living water gushing out of us if we come to him and drink.  The river of God never stops flowing. 

I hear so many stories from around the world of God stirring the waters in peoples’ lives.  In the John 5 healing story, no angel was present.  But in these days, angelic visitations are not occasional.  They are constant.

I believe the veil between our earthly existence and stepping into the kingdom of heaven is thinner than ever.  People who persistently push through this veil will experience more and more of God’s love, healing, glory and empowering for daily life. 

The first week of June will mark the beginning of my new video series called The Pool of Healing.  The word translated “healing” in the new Testament is sozo.  This word describes much more than physical healing.  It describes deliverance from evil, salvation of our souls, restoration of our minds, emotions and social relationships.  Sozo brings about a general state of well-being, and it prepares us to be conduits of living water to others. 

My video series will include stories, songs, prophetic words, and sharing what I’ve learned about walking with Jesus over the past four decades.  You can check it out on my youtube channel.

Unlock Love with Your Eyes and Words 

Unlock Love, post #3

Unlocking love can’t happen unless we are seeing God everywhere and acknowledging him with words.  By opening the gates of our eyes, emotions, ears and minds to God-reality, and marvelling at the miracles all around us, we get in flow of his love. 

The writer of Psalm 36 was surround by haters.  He starts by giving a lurid description of rebellious, conceited, evil-doing, self-centered liars. But the transition between verse 1-4 and 5-10 is striking.  He does a 180 degree turn.  He turns his attention to the ‘meteoric’ love of God! 

How does he keep from spiralling down into a pit of negative emotion?  It’s not by repenting with sackcloth and ashes.  How does he get his mind off those who are attacking him?  He thinks about the ‘astronomic’ faithfulness of the Lord.  How does he stay out of self-pity and self-centeredness?  He thinks about God’s tender care and kindness that leaves no one forgotten. 

How does he get out of bemoaning the ubiquitous ‘virus’ of people who ignore God and are constant doing evil?  He marvels at the ‘oceanic’ justice of God.  This is a great example of gratitude and worship DISPLACING all the bad feelings and thoughts.  It’s impossible to be stuck in a “woe-is-me”  mindset if we’re standing in awe of Love Divine. 

If we look at life from our seat in the heavens (Eph 2:6), we see reality from God’s point of view and speak into existence a positive vibe. 

When I go on a walk to pray and sing, I see God everywhere.  I feel him in the fresh, cool wind.  I see his glory in the sun, the trees and blue sky. I see amazing glorious clouds and say, “that’s the glory of God!”  (the spiritual reality behind the physical reality). 

As you go about your daily chores, say things like: 

“O God, how extravagant is your cherishing love!” 

“Your great faithfulness is infinite.” 

“You’re a fountain of cascading light, and you open our eyes to light.”

The Corona Virus is a Crown that will Not Last  

The Coronavirus gets its name from the word ‘corona’ which means crown in Latin and in Spanish.  Coronavirus has a series of crown-like spikes on its surface, which is the reason for the name. 

Names are significant.  In the midst of a lot of panic and fear over the Coronavirus, how can we be encouraged by the biblical symbol of the crown?  The metaphor of the crown is used in many ways in the Bible. 

While most of the uses of “crown” in the Bible refer to the exalted status of God and kings, and the crown worn by every believer who runs the race of faith, there are also negative uses of the word.  Locusts wear crowns (Rev 9), as do the beast and dragon in Revelation (Rev 12, 13).  This speaks of a destructive power.  

The Coronavirus is a bad kind of crown.  But there is good news… The Coronavirus WILL NOT LAST.   It will fade away.  Before we know it, we will be remembering it as a thing of the past… “Remember that crazy virus?” 

The Apostle Paul made a big deal out of difference between temporary and eternal crowns.  He writes about the imperishable crown that goes to the Christian who completes the race in contrast to crowns won by athletes, which will fade with time. The unfading crown of life, joy and righteousness will last forever.  Peter writes: “when the Chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the crown of glory that will never fade away.”  1 Peter 5:4 

While we take practical steps to avoid catching or spreading the Coronavirus, we ought to think about the crown that will last.  The crown of glory we receive as we run the race of faith WILL LAST FOREVER. 

But we don’t have to WAIT to wear crowns from God.  In Christ, we are already wearing the crowns of love, compassion, joy and righteousness. 

“To experience the blessing of his character and activity on one's behalf is said to be a crown. So his lovingkindness and mercy can be a crown (Psalm 103:4) as can mere relationship with him (Isaiah 28:5).” (Baker’s Evangelical Dictionary). 

I encourage you to enjoy your position as a treasured member of God’s family and rejoice in your lasting crown!

Do you think God is patient with you? 

Unlock Love, post #2 

“Love is patient…”  This is the first descriptor of love Paul gives us in the famous “love chapter” from his letter to the Corinthians.  If God is love, and love is patient, then God is patient with you and I.  He is way more patient with us than we are with ourselves.  Sometimes I think, “I can’t believe I’m still struggling in this area of my thought life.”  But God says, “Cheer up!  Just keep going, keep growing, keep letting me love you.” (I guess that must be from the gospel of Andrew). 😉 

Yahweh was always this gracious.  He “passed in front of Moses, proclaiming, “The Lord, the Lord, the compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness.”  Meditate on this and it will help you have a good day! 

“Love endures all things.”  God happily endures with us through our struggles and failures.  Put those two attributes of love together and you have, “God patiently endures with us.”  God is not against us, he is for us.  He doesn’t want you to go around in a cloud of frustration because you stumbled and made a mistake.  And, it’s not just something he does to us; he endures with us.  He is inside of us, alongside of us, above and below us, and ONE with us.  He empathizes with us when we struggle.  He rejoices with us when we overcome.  He abides with us when we genuinely want to walk in his love-agenda. 

To unlock love in our lives, we must open the gates of our minds and emotions to receive his love!  If we are going to “love our neighbor as we love ourselves,” we have to start by loving ourselves.  Then we’ll be cheerful, feel good about ourselves and be able to live with a buoyant spirit.  We can withstand opposition and a multitude of problems when we know God’s unwavering love. 

Jesus asked the Father, “that the love with which you have loved me may be in them, and I in them (1).” The same love the Father has for Jesus is poured out on us! 

Have a love-filled day.

Angel Ambassadors 

I love this picture of the angel over the city for several reasons.  It depicts angels as being real, powerful, and very concerned about our cities and the people that live in them.  The sweet, fluffy angels you see on Hallmark greeting cards present angels as an endearing Christmas-time myth rather than as powerful emissaries of God.  

Why is there skepticism about angels being real and active on earth?  Because we live in the scientific age, which has programmed us to doubt the existence of other-worldly beings.  Last time I checked, the whole of Christianity is founded on other-worldly stuff! 

A survey of angelic appearances in the Bible show us they function as messengers, guides, comforters and protectors.  There are also warrior angels.  They often show up at times of birth and death, and in moments of danger and crisis.  A few examples:  the angel at the tomb of Jesus who encouraged the two women who came looking for Jesus.  The angel who appeared to Zechariah to tell him his wife would bear a son in her old age.  

How about Cornelieus?  “He distinctly saw an angel of God, who came to him and said, “Cornelius!”   Cornelius stared at him in fear. “What is it, Lord?” he asked.  The angel answered, “Your prayers and gifts to the poor have come up as a memorial offering before God.”  (Acts 10). 

And of course, the angel who let Peter out of prison (Acts 12):  “Suddenly an angel of the Lord appeared and a light shone in the cell. He struck Peter on the side and woke him up. “Quick, get up!” he said, and the chains fell off Peter’s wrists.”  This one makes me smile because I regularly encounter being zapped with a small electric shock by an angel to wake me up at night.  It’s God’s means of inviting me into a night-watch conversation with him.  (I’m not saying this is what he does with everyone – I have no idea how many people experience electric zaps.  I suspect I’m not the only one).  

The way I see it, you receive what you believe.  If you believe in Jesus, you get salvation.  If you believe in the gifts of the Holy Spirit, they are available to you.  If you believe that angels still function today as they did in Bible times, then you will benefit from their encouragement, presence and guidance.  But if you reject any one of these things, you will not receive the blessing they bring. 

In the past year I have had many encounters with angels.  It is now a regular part of my life.  Prior to that, I would occasionally be aware of the presence of an angel as I was worshiping, and one time I had an open vision of an angel on the platform of Anaheim Vineyard while Todd Hunter was leading a ministry time (somewhere around the year 1990). 

But after listening to some teaching and stories from people who regularly encounter angels, I asked God to bring that into my life if he desired.  In a matter of hours, I received a visitation from an angel. 

It would be ridiculous to worship an angel, but very sensible to treat them as friends.  Many people in the Bible had conversations with angels.  The messages I receive from angels are not unlike hearing directly from God.  It isn’t an audible voice, but a strong impression, and sometimes very specific.  You know that the thoughts you are receiving and not originating in your own mind.  And you are aware of the presence of another being in the room besides yourself. 

The advice I’ve received is to welcome and honor angels.  Just a simple, “I welcome you and honor you.”  It’s not unlike welcoming the Holy Spirit.  Another thing you can try is asking God to introduce you to your personal angel if he so desires.  You can also ask the Lord to reveal the name of the angel that is assigned to you. God dispatches the angels for different purposes in all kinds of times and places.  Don’t worry about getting obsessed with angels.  If you get too angel-happy, they probably will not show up because they don’t like to be worshipped.  They know that kind of honor is reserved only for God.  Just remember they are one means by which God helps and strengthens us (see Bible).   

In my limited experience, it is very clear that there are different types of angels who have different responsibilities, realms of authority and assignments from God.  Angels such as Gabriel are at the top of the angel hierarchy.  They carry a huge amount of power and the scope of their work is global.  But most of the angels that I regularly encounter are the kind that are sent to minister to each one of us on a regular basis. 

I receive great comfort and encouragement from the presence and words of angels.  I know that the beginning of experiencing angels was my repeated prayer, “God I want more of you. Please show me more of yourself and show me what to do.”  I want and need every kind of help God wants to give me because life is challenging!  Why would we refuse an obvious and proven means of God’s blessing such as angelic beings?

Sailing Free 

This Saturday, March 14, I will release a new song called “Sailing Free.”  As a kid, I had the good fortune of enjoying the sport of sailing.  My Dad restored and built a few boats that we sailed in the ocean harbors of southern California.  Moving under the power of God’s wind in a small boat can be wonderfully peaceful, and sometimes exhilarating and risky.  

There is something magical and mystical about the ocean – it’s a huge body of water that contains all kinds of beautiful and bizarre creatures.  It’s bursting with life that contains the DNA of the Creator.  It’s easy for me to feel God’s presence around the ocean. 

Life is kind of like sailing – when conditions are just right, it can be really peaceful or fun.  But you can’t count on good weather all the time.  When the wind is too strong, or non-existent, sailing isn’t so much fun.  If the ocean waves are too rough, or the air is too cold, you don’t want to be on the water.  In life as in sailing, we learn to follow Jesus’ example.  He knew how to rest and stay calm in a small boat amidst howling wind and crashing waves. 

The song Sailing Free describes the nearness of God’s peaceful presence, despite rough weather.   When I’m hit in the face by life’s waves, I try to think about things that are true, noble, right, pure, and lovely.  I try to let go of the illusion that I can control life’s twists and turns, and just rest in Jesus’ boat.  Recently I’ve had a series of visions featuring Jesus and I in a boat.  He is in the middle seat, rowing and I’m in the back seat, locking eyes with him.  That’s one of the keys to sailing free—keeping eye contact with Jesus. 

To abide in peace, I make declarations over myself about what is true – that God is always with me, loving me and helping me.  Paul wrote 1 Corinthians that “whoever is united with the Lord is one with him in spirit.”  In our spirit, we are one with Jesus, who is the Prince of Peace.  You and I are permanently connected to the God of peace.  His peace is always accessible. 

Life’s storms can be intimidating.  But God will never give you the spirit of fear.  The Holy Spirit gives you power, love, and self-control.  The prophet Isaiah wrote, “Perfect, absolute peace surrounds those whose imaginations are consumed with you; they confidently trust in you.” (TPT) 

To find peace, try declaring heaven’s promises over yourself.  You can bring the peace of heaven into your present reality.  Bring tomorrow’s promise of heaven into today: 

“We will see his face, there will be no more night 

For the Lord our God will give us light 

He will wipe the tears away from every eye 

He is making all things new, all things new.”  (Rev. 22) 

Each of us has a “river of destiny.”  He is sovereign over our unique situations.  Jesus is fully able to get us where we need to go.  We don’t get there by wildly thrashing with our oars.  We get there by letting the power of his wind move us in the right direction.  We trust that he is Lord over the weather conditions – God sets the pace.  We move at the pace of his grace.  Keep your eyes locked onto Jesus’ face.  May his peace be with you!

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andy Park