Not like much of Old Testament prophecy. It is given “for edification, encouragement, and comfort” (I Cor. 14:3). I thought as a young man that its purpose was to say something dark about a person so he or she would be ashamed and confess sins. New Testament prophecy is about grace and mercy, not shame and condemnation. The New Covenant through the blood of Jesus changed everything.   


It speaks to who people are and who they are becoming, not to their past and how they’ve blown it. It is not looking to call someone out but to invite them into their destiny. Do you know anyone who could use some encouragement or comfort?  God in his love wants to say upbuilding words to discouraged people, and He wants you and me to do it. People get beaten up enough; they don’t need us to point out their failures. They need people to tell them what God thinks of them. People who are victims look to their past and are threatened by the future. Prophecy helps them to become victors and face the future with confidence.


We used to have well-known prophets from around the country give prophetic words at our Holy Spirit Conference. Few people were saying, “I could do that.” Then we began inviting people to teach us how to do it rather than doing it for us. Then my daughter Karis said, “I could do that.” You learn to say what you see, and God opens your eyes to see what He wants you to see. My friend Fred Thoni, a gifted prophet, teaches people to start prophesying by telling them to say this as they look at people: “The Father loves you and says to you that…” As you step out in faith, knowing that “love believes all things,” God will give you prophetic words that speak grace and truth to the heart.  And you won’t get stoned if you don’t get it all right, because you are learning little by little and growing in faith and confidence. New Testament prophecy helps you do that.


Paul made that clear. He said, “You can all prophesy” (I Cor. 14:31). It is meant to find expression in the local church when the people gather on Sunday or during the week. It can also go wherever we go! Really cool! Joel wrote, “Your sons and daughters shall prophesy” (Acts 2:17). The New Covenant opened the door so that you didn’t need a beard to prophesy.


As you walk into prophetic words with faith, the prophecy grows, and so does the prophet. We can practice prophesying, and we grow in the gift as we exercise it in faith. At the beginning we may be 30% accurate. As faith increases, so does the accuracy. Paul wrote, “If a man’s gift is prophesying, let him use it in proportion to his faith” (Romans 12:6). 


even with the big guys. No one is spot on every time. You do not have to receive a word simply because it was given by an important person. Paul wrote, “Do not treat prophecies with contempt” (I Thess. 5:20), but then he adds, “Test everything. Hold on to the good” (21). And remember–without love, prophecy is nothing.


Paul addressed the nature of spiritual gifts in answer to a letter the Corinthian church wrote him (I Cor. 12:1).  He said that “to each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good” (7). Then he gave a list of gifts, including “the ability to distinguish between spirits” (10), which my architect friend Roy Jones could.

A few times while a pastor at Trinity Lutheran in San Pedro, I received calls from people who said strange things were going on in their home late at night. They would hear creaking sounds, see lights go on and off. I would call Roy and we would head over. The parents showed us around and pointed out the places where these strange occurrences took place that were putting fear in the hearts of the children. I looked at Roy and he gave an affirming nod, letting me know that he discerned the presence of darkness.

I anointed with oil the doorposts of every room in the house with the sign of the cross. I then spoke to the darkness and commanded it in the name of Jesus Christ to leave and never return. I did it in a normal voice and in faith that we walked in the authority of Christ. We then prayed over the household members, closing with the Lord’s Prayer and Benediction. We never had to return to a house that had been cleansed.

On a ministry trip, a pastor asked me to pray with a gal about twenty-five who showed signs of demonization. When I spoke with her, she could not look me in the face. The presence of demons often depersonalizes people. Her speech was labored, occasionally she twitched, and she was noticeably uncomfortable. She spoke of being seriously abused by multiple men who took advantage of her sexually.

I listened to her sad story and told her it never should have happened. I shared with her that I would understand if she could not forgive them, but I asked her if she would be willing to do so. I explained that forgiving them did not mean that they had not seriously sinned against her. It meant that she would leave them to the justice and mercy of God. She said that she could never do that. It took about thirty minutes to convince her that for her own physical and spiritual health she needed to (Matthew 18:34). I told her what to say. She could not get the words out. It was as if she would start, but demons would interrupt her and make it impossible. We tried for twenty minutes, urging her to say, “I forgive them.” She would stutter, stammer, and stop. The pastor and I knew we were in a serious battle against dark powers. Finally, the words came out in a slurred sentence, “I forgive them.” IMMEDIATELY the darkness lifted, her countenance changed, and peace overtook nervousness. We commanded the powers of darkness to leave and never come back and invited the Holy Spirit to take His rightful place in her body, His temple. She was a Christian who had been traumatized and invaded through the tearing down of the walls by selfish and sinister men. Now she was free, and all the signs were present. We rejoiced with her and gave her instructions on how she could walk in the Spirit and maintain her freedom. Glory to Jesus! (Part 3 coming).


People have said, “Don’t give me that Holy Spirit stuff. I just want Jesus.” Okay, but they just asked for the Holy Spirit. The angel told Mary, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore the child to be born will be called holy–the Son of God” (Luke 1:35). If you want Jesus to be Lord of your life, Paul wrote that “no one can say ‘Jesus is Lord’ apart from the Holy Spirit” (I Cor. 12:3). It was the Holy Spirit who empowered Jesus to preach and do miracles. Jesus said, “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim liberty to the captives and recovering of sight to the blind…” (Luke 4:18,19). How did Jesus open eyes or deliver people enslaved to sin and Satan? The Holy Spirit. In fact, how was Jesus himself raised from the dead? Paul wrote, “If the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, he who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit who dwells in you” (Romans 8:11). Paul was a Holy Ghost man. Do you know who brings about the new birth so you can belong to Jesus? The Holy Spirit.

Jesus said six remarkable things about the Holy Spirit in his final message to them (John 14-16). Then just before lift-off, the disciples, still feeling like orphans and stunned that Jesus was leaving, wanted to know when the nation of Israel would experience a restoration. They were looking back. Jesus said in effect, “I am not going to talk about that now, but you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth” (Acts 1:4-8). When the Spirit came on Pentecost and filled the room and 120 bodies, they got it and never asked for Jesus back. 

Paul spoke often about the Spirit and His works. He said that the Spirit empowers us to live the Christian life. The Spirit gives us gifts to carry out the work of Christ, like discernment, wisdom, and healing. The Spirit produces the character of Christ in us (he calls it fruit), so we can represent Jesus to a broken world. The Spirit helps us in our weakness: “We don’t know how to pray as we ought, but the Holy Spirit intercedes for us with sighs too deep for words” (Romans 8:26).

By the way, who was the agent of creation? Genesis 1:2 says that “the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters.” Who enabled the prophets of old to speak truth? Who wrote the Bible? “…men spoke from God as they were moved along by the Holy Spirit” (2 Peter 1:21). Then He can help us understand the Book He authored. It is the Holy Spirit from beginning to end. The Holy Spirit is God. Dear Brothers and Sisters, you are absolutely nothing without God the Holy Spirit. That is why we pray, “Come, Holy Spirit!”


I mentored a college student who lived in our home for a couple years. We had many talks while laying bricks for landscaping or putting chips along the path we got from tree trimmers in our neighborhood. We even talked about starting a business called “Chips and Bricks!” He is now an assistant pastor, and I still get to mentor him a bit when questions come up about ministry. 


“We have had several accidents/deaths happen in the past month in our church. It has caused the senior pastor and me to be running around to different families, funerals and visitations. I am not against these things, but I wonder how much the pastor should be doing. I could see burnout coming by trying and take care of everyone’s emergency while trying to write a sermon and lead a church. It feels like the sermon and the leading are taking a back seat to other issues, because my boss is rushing off to the latest disaster. How did you handle this at your church? Did you have elders doing that or did you try to do everything yourself?


I believe strongly in the plurality of elders. As pastor, I was the lead elder. I once visited Marie in the hospital. She said to me, “You didn’t have to come. Les was already here.” Les was a “layman” (we never used that word) who had a gift of caring for people. Just about everyone in the congregation knew that. The more that leaders develop leaders (in their own sphere of gifting), the less they have to do it all. Proverbs says that our gifts make room for us and bring us before great people (18:16). ” Gift-oriented ministry means that we take seriously what God has put in all people!

Peter, an especially strong leader, wrote, “As each has received a gift, employ it for one another as good stewards of God’s varied grace; whoever speaks, as one who utters oracles of God; whoever renders service, as one who renders it by the strength which God supplies” (1 Peter 4:10,11). And Paul said, “Having gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, let us use them; if prophecy, in proportion to our faith; if service, in our serving; he who teaches, in his teaching; he who exhorts, in his exhortation; he who contributes, with liberality; he who gives aid, with zeal; he who does acts of mercy, with cheerfulness” (Romans 12:6-8).

Three things are clear in the New Testament:

  1. I got gifts; you got gifts. All God’s chil’en got gifts.
  2. One primary assignment of leaders is helping people discover and walk in their gifts.
  3. Leaders who do this effectively are more equipped to do what they are called to do–lead and love. Imagine the church where this is fully happening. I want to be a part of that church!!


The 1960s–perhaps the most difficult decade in recent American history. It started with the Kennedy assassination in November 22, 1963, at 12:30 P.M. in Dallas. If you were fifteen or older, you can remember where you were when you heard the news. The Vietnam War took twenty years and 58,000 of our soldiers. It is estimated that the same number took their lives when they came home to anti-war protests. They weren’t heroes like WWII veterans; they were killers to many. 817,000 of the opposition died. At the same time, Timothy Leary, Harvard psychologist, urged students to “turn on, tune in, drop out,” and they responded by the truckloads. Up to 100,000 met at Haight Ashbury in San Francisco the summer of 1967 to celebrate free love and drugs.

Meanwhile, God was powerfully at work in the same decade, filling people with His Spirit, often one at a time. Prayer groups sprang up around the county, inviting people to say “yes” to God the Holy Spirit, a half-century after mainliners had rejected the Holy Rollers of the Azusa Street revival. In August 1961, Larry Christenson had a free Thursday night and Bethany Foursquare Church was holding special services. Former Lutherans were speaking on the Holy Spirit, and he went up for prayer before returning home. At midnight he sat up and spoke in tongues for ten seconds. What Larry didn’t know was that God was touching people across the country and around the world in similar ways during a deeply disturbing decade. He called Trinity members in one at a time after his encounter and invited them to say “yes” to the Holy Spirit. By the next spring he had prayed with the majority of the church, so he preached at Easter on Resurrection and Renewal and prayed for people to be filled with the Spirit. No split, only ongoing unity.

That summer of 1962 Herb Mjorud, a lawyer turned evangelist, was speaking at Camp Seely in the mountains above San Bernardino, California. He had been with the American Lutheran Church, then dismissed for his emphasis on healing and the Holy Spirit. I was a teenager thirsty for more, and I asked Pastor Allan Hansen, camp director, if he would pray for some of the young people. That night seventeen had their own version of Pentecost. 

In 1967 at Duquesne University in Pittsburg, God poured out His Spirit upon Catholics. God was showing mercy to every major church body and began to visit them.  Churches had scorned the Azusa Street Revival, but God didn’t–and the movement of the Spirit was taking hold in every denomination.

The response of the American Lutheran Church leadership to what was happening with many Lutherans was cautious, as might be expected. Psychiatrist Paul Qualben was sent to Trinity Lutheran in 1972 to interview some of those who had been filled with the Spirit, because Trinity was one of the key churches in Lutheran renewal. There were two assumptions: that the people were unstable emotionally and that this would pass. They found the people Larry mentored well-adjusted, happy, feet-on-the-ground Christians–just like Larry. The movement only grew in exponential ways, so that the same year of the interviews the first Lutheran Conference on the Holy Spirit was held at the Minneapolis Auditorium–and 9000 showed up! It wasn’t going away, as over 500 million people worldwide could testify. Come, Holy Spirit!


If you’re having a difficult day at work, but you were invited to a Twins World Series game in the evening, the day just got easier. If your week includes two difficult assignments, but you have a ski on the weekend, the week’s doable. If winter breaks records for the coldest and longest, a summer month-long trip to the Bahamas enabling you to endure well. If your life has included unbelievable setbacks, heaven looks beyond all imagination.

Destroy someone’s hope, and they start dying before they stop breathing. On the other hand, hope for tomorrow gives you a hold on today. Does anyone live that way? Listen to Paul: “This light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison” (2 Corinthians 4:17). You might feel like saying, “Who is calling my affliction ‘light and momentary’? It’s heavy and long-lasting.” I’ll tell you who–a man who endured far more than we ever will–multiple beatings, shipwrecks, sleepless nights, stoning, and more. If you have eight parts of affliction and only two parts of hope, the affliction overpowers you. But if you have twelve parts of affliction, and thirty parts of hope, you are being fueled by the future, and hope wins.

Do you know anyone who has blazing hope? I will tell you how they live. They don’t seem to be taken down by what takes down normal people. They have their share of hardships, but they don’t complain about them much. They are too busy praising God for his goodness, even in the midst of trials. They are not immersed in their circumstances; they are asking you about yours. It feels like they have one foot in eternity. They don’t–they have both feet.  Peter told suffering saints, “Set you hope fully on the grace that will be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ” (1 Peter 1:13). In other words, put all your marbles in the world to come. That way nothing today robs you of peace.

Oh, we’ll have some doozies. The man who called his hardships “light and momentary” said earlier in the same letter that “we were so utterly burdened beyond our strength that we despaired of life itself” (2 Corinthians 1:8). For some life can become almost unbearably difficult. So while we “rejoice with those who rejoice,” we continue to “weep with those who weep.” But, we help one another not to abandon the hope that we are marked for eternity. Ninety years here is an infinitesimal fraction compared to forever.

Look who faced disabilities without letting it disable them.  Maybe they can give you hope rather than dismantled by difficulties. Walt Disney was fired by a newspaper editor for “lack of ideas.” Helen Keller was the first blind and deaf person to get a college degree. Marla Runyan was the first legally blind athlete to compete in the Olympics–as a runner. Beethoven composed some of his greatest masterpieces while deaf. Christy Brown, an Irish painter and writer, could only use his foot for writing and painting. Albert Einstein had a learning disability and didn’t speak until he was three. John Milton became blind at 43 and still wrote his most famous work, Paradise Lost. Thomas Edison frustrated his teachers, too stupid to “get it.” Henry Ford went broke five times before he made it. Anchor your hope in eternity–and live with joy today!


Young adults tussle with knowing God’s will. They change their major four times, often wonder whom God will send their way to marry, and many struggle with finding the right job. Well, Paul spelled it out: ‘Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances, for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you” (I Thessalonians 5:16-18). Can’t get any clearer. If we do these three things, tough issues we face just got easier. Guaranteed. Not that it won’t take concentration or time or sweat or waiting, but these three exhortations place us in the center of God’s plan for us, not on the periphery. Here goes:


How about, “Rejoice sometimes?” I can pull that one off. When the team wins or when the neighbor asks for forgiveness for being annoying, it makes sense to rejoice. Why always? Because “always” says that what is threatening me is not a threat to God, that God is bigger, stronger, smarter than I am, that he is truly involved in EVERY detail of my life.


How do we manage this? I’ve been asking God to teach me how to pray unceasingly. Not there yet by a long shot. I don’t think it means non-stop prayer. It does mean that every circumstance in life, positive, neutral, negative, calls for prayer, an attitude of dependence that turns continually toward the Father for what the situation requires. That is doable if we remain childlike as we grow up. Praying in the Spirit helps us fulfill this command–when we rise, while driving, working in the garden, as we hit the sack.


How is this different from the first command? We say, “Under the circumstances, I need to respond this way.” Question: what are you doing under the circumstances? We are told to live not by the circumstance but by the will of heaven. If we believe that some circumstances are able to take us down and maybe out, we just lost. Our God is not proficient enough to see us through, so we are on our own. Apparently the three young men who chose the furnace rather than bowing the knee knew that he was. In fact, he chose to show up in the furnace with them. Cool!

Okay, let’s face it. We cannot possibly fulfill these commands. Does God really expect us to pull off these impossible commands? Wait a minute. What command from heaven is doable? What about loving your enemies or overturning evil with good? We desperately need the Holy Spirit working in our emotions and wills to fulfill what God commands. The Christian life is supernatural from start to finish. Paul writes that “he condemned sin in the flesh, in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit” (Romans 8:4). The holy will of God is fulfilled IN us, not BY us.That is really good news. The Holy Spirit who works in bodies that have become his temple does the will and purpose of God as we yield to his supernatural influence in our lives. Come, Holy Spirit!


Which is more important, the fruit of the Spirit or the gifts? The Corinthians did “not lack any spiritual gift” (I Cor. 1:7), but they sure were immature. They couldn’t get along, were immoral, and were taking each other to court. Don’t think I would join that church. Maybe we can learn from our charismatic friends on the Grecian seacoast and experience authentic church. To do so we…


The charisma of leaders may blind us to the lack of character. We need to fly with both wings, the supernatural character of Jesus (the fruit) and the supernatural ministry of Jesus (the gifts).

So we do as Paul said and we “follow the way of love and eagerly desire spiritual gifts” (I Corinthians 14:1). To vote for the gifts over the fruit, as the Corinthians did, produced dissonance, “a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal.” Gifts without fruit produces childishness. Gifts are tools, not toys, but my tools were the toys of my children as toddlers.


Look at the advertising of conferences in charismatic magazines and see what they are broadcasting: powerful signs and wonders, healings, impartation. Wonderful! I have never read, “The power of the cross will be evident,” but that is what Paul majored in. We need both, as Paul made clear: “I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in his sufferings” (Philippians 3:10). But Paul did resolve to know nothing ”except Jesus Christ and him crucified” (I Cor. 2:2). We favor strength to weakness–and we get what we ask for. Paul chose weakness, and he experienced the power. How would he advertise a conference in our city?


Peter wrote, “And we have the word of the prophets made more certain, and you will do well to pay attention to it, as to a light shining in a dark place” (2 Peter 1:19). The surest prophetic word comes straight from the Word of God and from the greatest of all prophets, Jesus Christ. If I am hankering for a now word but not planted in the eternal Word, I am thrown off balance. We are urged to seek after the gift of prophecy, but that very urging comes from the Word that is “forever settled in heaven.”


the short-cut to the endurance run. Hearing about the promise at a conference of impartation, I am both blessed and cautious. I do know that gifts, healing, and empowering can be given through the laying on of hands, but let’s be careful not to promote the quick fix or the fast-food blessing because that is what people want, or we short-circuit the way of the cross. When Peter tried an end run around the cross, Jesus delivered the strongest rebuke that disciples had ever heard. Simply put, no shortcuts exist. Charisma can come fast. Character takes years.


God doesn’t give us a manual on the gifts of the Spirit. He gives us history, the experiences of people interacting with God, and theology, the explanation of those experiences. So to understand and receive gifts of the Spirit, we look both at people’s experiences and the Bible’s explanations.

We need to demystify the gifts to make them more accessible. When people with prophetic gifts came to our Holy Spirit Conference, they would give spot-on messages, to the amazement of listeners. But they were saying inside, “I could never do that,” until we began bringing gifted people with a greater desire to release the gift than to exercise it. When they taught people how to do it, and even gave them experiences to practice, the people (including my children!) said, “I could do that.”  The gift was no longer for the elite but for the elect!

To demystify the gift of tongues, we need to know something and do something. Jesus is the divine-human Savior. He isn’t half of one and half of the other. He is fully God and fully man. In like manner, the Bible is a divine-human book. As a divine book it is the message of God to humanity, without error, because God is not subject to error. We are told that “men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit” (2 Peter 1:21). But it is also a human book. The personality of Luke is revealed in the books he wrote. And a different personality and style are revealed in John’s writing. The Bible is not so divine as to obliterate the individuality of the authors.  

In the same way, the gifts of the Spirit are divine and human. They are divine in that those who exercise them are revealing the Holy Spirit, not themselves. Paul says that “to each one the manifestation of the Spirit is given…” (I Corinthians 12:6). Peter writes that “if anyone speaks [prophecy], he should do it as one speaking the very words of God…” (I Peter 4:11).

But the gifts are also human. The Holy Spirit does not speak in tongues—people do: “All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit enabled them” (Acts 2:4). Paul tells us that “if a man’s gift is prophesying, let him use it in proportion to his faith” (Romans 12:6), suggesting that the gift matures as faith grows. We have a part to play. Faith has lips and legs; it says something and does something. We are called co-workers with God, and we see this clearly in the exercise of spiritual gifts. We are people of faith, not of fate. Fate says, “Whatever will be will be,” while faith makes us participants, not robots of the arbitrary and ironclad will of a distant deity. We actually make a difference.

And this affects not only how we exercise the gifts but also how we receive them. Our very desire has something to do with what we receive; otherwise Paul would not tell us twice to “earnestly desire the spiritual gifts” (I Cor. 12:31; 14:1). There is a beautiful dance between heaven and earth, and our desires are not incompatible with divine will. The Spirit gives the gifts as he determines (I Corinthians 12:11), but our pursuit of the gifts is factored into the plans of the Almighty. So rather than saying, “I’m open to whatever God wants to give,” a more appropriate and biblical response would be, “I am eager for the gifts, and I really want to prophesy.”

So I encourage people to take steps of faith in receiving the gift of tongues, not to sit passively with their mouths shut. My experience is that when people begin to speak words while at the same time shutting down their native language, God takes those sounds and turns them into a language. People sometimes ask, “What words and what sounds?” My response: “It doesn’t matter. Be a child and babble if you must. That is expressing faith in a God who wants to give you the gift of tongues.”

It is not uncommon for God to ask us to make the first move. He told the priests to step into the water when they were carrying the ark, and when they did, the waters would part (Joshua 3). Had they said, “We’re not moving until the waters recede,” their passivity would have cancelled the miracle. In like manner, our passivity with regard to the gift of tongues may preclude our receiving it.

We are not offending God nor blaspheming the Spirit, as some might think, by trying. When a child attempts to walk and fails, the family standing by cheers on the struggling infant. When we make attempts at what we understand to be the will of God, rather than insulting Him, we are blessing Him. James wrote, “Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you” (4:8). In other words, take the first step of faith, and watch God take a step.  Don’t wait silently until God does something, or you might be waiting a long time. This is not a time for passivity but for eager desire that motivates action. Faith pleases God. Opening our mouths and uttering something (anything), rather than testing the God who offers the gifts, is reaching up to receive what the generous heart of the Father chooses to give.

“Faith without works is dead” (James 2:17), and dead faith is no faith. The greatest block to receiving tongues is passivity, just like one of the greatest hindrances to faith is non-activity. The part we play with the gift of healing may be to ask a friend if we can pray for him or her or to stretch out our hand and touch someone’s sore shoulder. Our part in the gift of prophecy is to open our mouths and speak the words that God begins to put into our mind. Our part in receiving tongues is to open our mouths and begin speaking unintelligible words. As we do, we are trusting the Gift-giver to turn it into a language of praise. And millions of people could testify that He does just that!



…for they shall inherit the earth” (Matthew 5:5). Really? Put a cash value on that. I think Jesus is talking about the future new earth, as it was created before the fall. No weeds, no aggressive animals killing others, beauty beyond what we have ever seen but imagined. Multiplied trillions. And just for being meek?

What is meekness? It is

  • Not controlling others but controlling yourself
  • Thinking the best during the worst
  • Bottom up rather than top down
  • Using words to encourage rather than to discourage
  • Good news rather than just good advice

Why is meekness rewarded in such a phenomenal way? Because we are being like Jesus, who was meek. He said, “Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am meek and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light” (Matthew 11:28,29). Some folks add to our load just by our being in their presence. It is all about them, their goals, their struggles. It’s hard to relax with them. You get tired just listening. They make statements rather than asking questions. They don’t know much, but they want you to think they do. They give easy answers, as if you should be doing better.

Not Jesus. You breathe easy. You come away refreshed. He is lifting you out of the hole, not making you feel like an idiot for falling in. He “restores your soul.” His words are gentle, not abrasive. He knows how difficult a place the world can be and how much you need rest. He doesn’t make assumptions; he just knows. The burdens he gives are actually easy to handle.

Someone who is not the Good Shepherd might have said instead, “Blessed are the ambitious, those who go for it, the successful, those who make it to the top.” And some would have said, “I doubt if that’s me.” Jesus goes after the broken, the tired, the disappointed, the burdened. His words are anything but condemning–they are inviting. We say, “He knows me. He knows what I am going through. And he doesn’t offer advice, then send me away. He gives me rest, knowing that life has made me tired. And he knows that I need soul rest, not just a good nap. He gives me rest within. He quiets the voice of accusation inside and out that says I am a loser. He doesn’t tell me I should be trying harder. He gives me his yoke, so we walk together, and he shoulders most of the load.

People that are meek like Jesus are a pleasure to be around. And they have a great future. God sees how they are living, is pleased, and will reward them a million-fold. So live for what is not yet–and you will be gloriously happy. How “Blessed are the meek…”