“We have come into an intimate experience with God’s love, and we trust in the love he has for us.”1 John 4:16 TPT
“Jesus loves you more than you will know.”Simon & Garfunkel
Welcome to Your Awakening!
I sat in my car at a red light on the corner of Bluemound and Northland on a sunny August afternoon when Jesus unmistakably spoke these words into my heart:
“I created you to love you.”
The relief that flooded through my being at hearing these words was palpable. This simple encounter with Jesus charted a new course in my life as my very purpose for existence had now been defined by love. I went from wondering if I was a lab rat in a cosmic experiment that sometimes seemed cruel, to being introduced to the idea that I am a secure beloved son of God.
Only the week before, I was carpooling in a van with the leadership team from church heading home from a Vineyard church conference in Duluth, Minnesota. I asked them all to pray for me to understand grace. It was particularly hard for me to admit I didn’t understand grace because I was one of the worship leaders! Now God was answering my prayer. God always responds to humility.
My profound lack of understanding of grace and the true nature of God had robbed me of the courage to have children for eight years. I knew I wanted to impart a healthy spirituality to my children that, at the time, I knew I didn’t possess. Within another week after hearing Jesus’ words, my wife and I learned that we were expecting our first child. We named her Elisabeth Grace.
During that season, and following, I received many more revelations and even supernatural downloads of understanding regarding the grace of God. I came to know the real Jesus even more. Jesus always perfectly reveals the true nature of our loving heavenly Papa.
Jesus Christ, whom the Scriptures reveal as the Creator, and whose Spirit fills all things everywhere, loves you more than you think he does! As the Scriptures reveal, “God is love… in whom we live and move and have our being.” Our role, as “created to be loved” beings, is to receive God’s love.
“I pray that… you will be empowered to discover what every holy one experiences—the great magnitude of the astonishing love of Christ in all its dimensions. How deeply intimate and far-reaching is his love! How enduring and inclusive it is! Endless love beyond measurement that transcends our understanding—this extravagant love pours into you until you are filled to overflowing with the fullness of God!” — Ephesians 3:18-19 TPT
We are in the midst of Awakening. People everywhere are waking up to the reality of this astonishing, intimate, endless love of Christ. We are all in the process of discovering who Christ really is and our identity “in” Christ!
ALL of us are on a journey toward Awakening and encountering Jesus for ourselves. As the Scriptures say, “Every eye will see him”, and, “they shall all be taught by God.”
We will explore in coming chapters what being a Christian Mystic means and make it practical with a few helpful spiritual practices. Of course this book is not the “end all be all” of capturing what it is to be a Christian Mystic. It mainly focuses on the main point of it all:
Being a Christian Mystic is about enjoying intimacy with our big brother Jesus Christ and with the Father and enjoying our conscious loving union with God. It is about being a friend of God. I love breaking down the word intimacy like this: “Into-me-you-see”
If you have seen the movie Avatar you will recall these three simple words that were infused with such profound weight and meaning: “I see you.” One of God’s names is “the God Who Sees Me.” God sees you! Jesus sees you!
Take a moment. Envision Jesus looking directly into your eyes and hear him say:
“I see you.”
What does this do for your heart to know that you are known and you are loved? Yes, you were created to experience God’s intimate love and friendship. Once you see how much you are known and loved, you will learn to relax into the comfort of his affirming eyes. Yes, the Way of Jesus is to rest into the comfort of knowing he fully accepts you and has fully reconciled you. Jesus sees you and loves you.
God is no respecter of persons. This means you have as much access to Jesus and the Father as anyone. The scandalous truth of the Good News is that you are now as close to God our Father as Jesus is! For the Scriptures teach us that Christ has ascended and brought you with him! You are seated with Christ in the heavenly realms! Christ Jesus could not have brought you any higher or closer the the Father’s heart than you are right now! If we don’t see the truth of this, then what needs healing is our sight.
In fact, the Scripture reveals that the Father loves you as much as he loves Jesus! We will delve into this marvelous mystery together throughout the course of this book.
Heaven is working with all of us from the place of the finished work of Christ Jesus and what he accomplished on the cross. The Scriptures declare that “as he is, so also are we in this world”. You are already glorified! Don’t believe me? Read what the apostle Paul wrote in Romans chapter eight! Again, all that needs healing is our sight.
This is a book of encounters with Jesus. In the pages that follow you will read many stories of extraordinary people who have encountered Jesus Christ in a remarkable way. I want to emphasize the truth that there is no such thing as an ordinary person and there is never an unremarkable encounter with Jesus Christ!
This is not a book about the Christian Mystics of the past, but of the seemingly ordinary Mystics you might meet in any church around the world. Nearly every one of these accounts are from people with whom I’ve had conversations with on my podcast, Sozo Talk Radio. Some people might think these kinds of encounters with Jesus described in this book are rare. In truth, I have found that the more you simply talk with people about encountering Jesus, the more stories surface.
As you read the following accounts I want to encourage you to guard against envy. Please don’t think, “Why them and not me?” We will all soon enough realize the truth that we are One with our brother or sister in Christ. We can enter into one another’s encounter and vicariously enjoy their experience as our own with gratitude. You are part of the same body! So if something happens to any of us, in some mysterious way, it happens to all of us!
“Whatever happens to one member happens to all. If one suffers, everyone suffers. If one is honored, everyone rejoices.” — 1 Corinthians 12:26 TPT
Ask God for your own encounter. He wants to meet with you too! Be patient. It will happen when you are ready.
Remember Jesus words to Thomas? He said, “You believe because you have seen me. Blessed are those who believe without seeing me.” Jesus doesn’t appear to any one of us to convince us to believe, but he will reveal himself to those who believe and love him. In fact, Jesus promises to manifest, reveal, show, or disclose himself to those who love him (John 14:21).
We were all created to enjoy intimacy and real relationship with God. Of course this can and will include an actual face to face encounter with Jesus! I suppose that historically this has happened for most when a person passes on from their physical body. But as you will see, encountering Jesus doesn’t have to wait until then… especially during an Awakening such as this!
I begin this book with my own adventure story of when Jesus Christ floated through a wall into my room and shared some amazing things with me. Sound exciting? It certainly was! Following that, we will hear a strikingly similar encounter with Jesus from Brian Simmons whom the Lord Jesus commissioned to do the work of translating the Scriptures in a beautiful unique way in the Passion Translation.
Both Brian and I are passionate about partnering with God to see this Next Great Awakening stirring in the hearts of all. Brian talks about how encountering Jesus ignites a person with flames of glory to change the world.
I recently had a dream about the Awakening breaking out all over the world. In my dream I saw the earth from a distance and a person represented by a flame of glory, one who was lit up with the glory of God and the love of Jesus, on board a plane that flew across the Atlantic. As they landed in a city in Europe I watched as the flame spread. The city awakened.
I was then shown America. My gaze focused on the Midwest and the Eastern part of the country. The flames sparked up and spread everywhere with some regions glowing with more intensity than others. I became aware that this was happening everywhere!
“I have come to set the earth on fire. And how I long for every heart to be already ablaze with this fiery passion for God!” — Jesus, Luke 12:49 TPT
THIS is the fire that Jesus longs to see kindled on the earth! THIS is what heaven has been working toward all this time! The kingdom of God is advancing. The leaven of Christ’s kingdom of love is permeating the dough of this earth. The Rock who is Christ is replacing all the kingdoms of this earth and will become a mountain that fills the whole earth. The Scriptures are true. Of the increase of his government and peace there shall be no end!
Everyone featured in this book shares the same Theology. And yes, “Our Theology has a bunch of holes. Two in his hands, two in his feet, and one in his side.”
Jesus Christ is Perfect Theology! Encountering Christ will eventually deal with and dispel our hopelessly confused ideas and distorted images of God that we all, even now, may still retain. Encountering and being in intimate relationship with Jesus Christ, the One who is Perfect Theology, is the Way of the Christian Mystic.
New Wineskins for New Wine
In the coming chapters we will explore many encounters with Jesus, visions, and dreams from God. There will likely be something or another along the way that’s going to stretch your faith. How flexible are you? Jesus explained our need for flexibility in this way:
“No one puts new wine into old wineskins. For the wine would burst the wineskins, and the wine and the skins would both be lost. New wine calls for new wineskins.” — Mark 2:22 NLT
New wineskins will stretch as the wine ages so they won’t burst and the precious wine won’t be lost. What is this “new wine”? I believe this speaks of revelation from and of God. In other words, the revealing (or apocalypse) of Christ in you. What is God highlighting in this Great Awakening? What are the various doctrines of his church that Jesus is correcting in this Reformation? Revelation will come to you by the gift of the Anointing that teaches each and every one of us. What is this Anointing? It is the Spirit of Truth and the Scriptures reveal that you, as a believer, have that Anointing.
Jesus said to his disciples:
“There is so much more I would like to say to you, but it’s more than you can grasp at this moment. But when the truth-giving Spirit comes, he will unveil the reality of every truth within you.” — John 16:12-13 TPT
There is a phrase that Jesus said to Nicodemus that captures my imagination:
“If you don’t believe me when I tell you about earthly things, how can you possibly believe if I tell you about heavenly things.” — John 3:12 NLT
This reminds me of a scene from a Ben Stiller movie, Night at the Museum, where he tells a security guard named Brundon, “I’ve seen things you cannot imagine”. Brundon’s response reflects my own wide eyed childlike response to Jesus’s words about “heavenly things”.
“Like what kind of things?”
My imagination is stirred. Isn’t yours? Curiosity is the proper response for any child of God. Jesus is delighted with our childlike response to the Mystery of God. Jesus longs to reveal Himself, to reveal the Father, disclosing all the Mysteries of heaven to those who are willing to receive his love.
So, are you willing to be a new wineskin? Jesus obviously isn’t inviting you into deception. We are out of our minds if we think we can sincerely ask God for Holy Spirit and end up with an evil spirit instead. Jesus put it this way:
“Now suppose one of you fathers is asked by his son for a fish; he will not give him a snake instead of a fish, will he? Or if he is asked for an egg, he will not give him a scorpion, will he? If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him?” (Luke 11:11-13 NASB)
Your Father is Good. He gives the best gift imaginable. What is the best gift he could possibly give you? The very Presence of the fullness of God in Holy Spirit! God gives you himself. Jesus is your Good Shepherd who has proved his love and trustworthiness when he gave his life for you. He is the Shepherd and Overseer of your soul and you are in his care. Jesus would never dream of throwing his sheep to the wolves. You can trust him. Jesus is inviting you into the wild freedom of life in the Spirit.
“This resurrection life you received from God is not a timid, grave-tending life. It’s adventurously expectant, greeting God with a childlike “What’s next, Papa?” God’s Spirit touches our spirits and confirms who we really are. We know who he is, and we know who we are: Father and children. And we know we are going to get what’s coming to us—an unbelievable inheritance! We go through exactly what Christ goes through. If we go through the hard times with him, then we’re certainly going to go through the good times with him.” (Romans 8:15-17 MSG)
Are you ready for the good times?
Take some time right now and invite Jesus to reveal himself to you. Do as the Scriptures encourage us to do and come boldly to Jesus. Let us, “Look away from the natural realm and… fasten our gaze onto Jesus who birthed faith within us and who leads us forward into faith’s perfection.”
Jesus, I want to experience you. I want to know and experience the Father’s heart. Thank you for creating me to be loved. I receive Your love. Thank you for seeing me and desiring a relationship with me. Expand my heart to receive more of you. We ask to be “under the influence” of the intoxicating love of the Father and Presence of Holy Spirit. What’s next Papa?
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