Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Out of Town

I'll be out of town the next approximately week and a half.  Off to Michigan for some time with my folks and a backpacking adventure.  Will post more when I get back.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Perfect Love Casts Out Fear

Below is a timely word of the Lord from my good friend Daniel Harmsen.  He sent it me and some other friends on Facebook and I thought I'd share it here:

"Fear casts out love as love casts out fear. The two don’t abide well together. They’re terrible co-tenants. Love will win out over fear, if fear isn’t fed. Don’t feed fear and it will shrivel and die. Perfect love casts out all fear. Godly fear is a wellspring of life, ungodly fear a spring of darkness.

Fear is a mainstay in the enemy’s camp. Most of the world now live in fear. Its tentacles are found most places, but not in Me/Mine. Fear can’t touch Me, for I am Love.

Love has nothing to fear, not even fear itself! Mottos and chants can’t compare to my overpowering love. My love will root out evil in your lives/souls. As a root seeks water, My love seeks your spirit and soul. Darkness will fear as My love exposes it in your lives. Fear is overturned as it loses its holding places. Like a hiker on a mountain, it will fall all at once with a little shove – all the way to the bottom!"

Monday, July 18, 2011

Life is Fluid

"In him we were also chosen, having been predestined according to the plan of him who works out everything in conformity with the purpose of his will..."
Ephesians 1:11

According to my Spirit-Filled Life Bible note, "Predestined does not suggest a fatalism that excludes some while including others, but assures an appointed plan and guaranteed destiny for all the redeemed."  I'm not sure that I've ever quite heard it put that way before, but I like that.  The idea of predestination is subject to much debate, a debate I will not get into here.  There is, of course, a mystery to God's will.  There is a courtship between God's will and destiny and our relationship with Him.

A friend and I were hiking yesterday and, at one point in the conversation, we talked about how you can't place God in a box.  God is a God of order and structure.  However, in many ways, life is fluid like a river.  The river has banks and a clear channel it flows through, but it is not a rigid, immovable, unchangeable box.

Much of the reason life is fluid, I believe, is because God wants relationship, not formulas.  Recently one of our guest speakers at church said that the reason knowing God's will can be difficult is because God wants us to seek Him, and in seeking Him we find His will.   I find that in seeking Him the plans and purposes He has for me begin to come alive in my heart.  His destiny for my life is most fully realized in His presence.

That seems to agree with Jeremiahs 29:11-13, "'For I know the plans I have for you,' declares the LORD, 'plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.  Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you.  You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.'" 

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Beautiful Array

She’s waiting for her moment to arrive
She’s praying to break through to the sky
To soar in that place
Where the world and all the devils of hell
Cannot damper the radiance that ignites the world around her
She is dancing
In the wondrous, glorious wonder of Father
Like the stars she shines
Fragrance arises from all that once was suffering
Beauty comes alive
like flowers blooming from that which once was a field of ashes
She is clothed in a garment, the applause of heaven
And the alabaster jar is broken at his feet
In that place where she weeps
Love beats, pulsates, like the deep pumping of the heart
And from the depths of her brokenness
The healing balm of Gilead flows
All that oozes from her is like perfume
The scent of heaven
She lights up the world and the sky in beautiful array

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Complete in You

Lord, as I contemplate rhyme and reason
Why You are silent when I want You to speak
Why You speak deep the thing that I did not ask about
And wondered if I cared about
But, obviously it was important to You
Lord, I want You to touch me deep
I want You to fulfill my heart’s desire
I want to awaken to song
I want to know it won’t be long
One day, I know, all things will be summed up in You
Until that day would You do something about how much my heart aches
Would you make me complete in You
At times I have questioned whether You really care
When I plead for You to speak to me
But You seem so silent
When I ask questions
And You answer the ones I never asked
When You pour Your Spirit through me
But, at the end of the day, I still feel broken
Lord, I wonder how long You will wait
When all I want is the thing You have promised me
Lord, I long for the day
When I am complete in You

Great Song

Monday, July 11, 2011

Honduras! Part II

Besides Friday night, I got to tag-team preach at a local church with my friend Sherri Evans Tuesday evening.  Our messages fit well together as I talked about waiting on the Lord and she followed me by talking about being persistent in prayer.  We were both able to share personal testimonies of God at work in our lives in real ways.  Sherri gave the altar call and two ladies came forward for salvation.  Sherri followed the salvation call with a general altar call and many people came forward for prayer.

Every morning, from Tuesday through Friday, our teams went out on what we call "Distribution."  During Distribution we often go door-to-door giving away food, flip-flops and stuffed animals to the people, sharing the gospel, praying for those in need, and inviting people to the weekend crusade.  Sometimes we draw a crowd and preach the gospel from the street or in a small church, depending on the situation.

On Wednesday, July 6th, our team was unable to make our destination.  The highway was shut down by a tire-burning protest.  We decided to get out of the car and hand out crusade fliers to people walking by or standing around watching the protest.  It was a fun and spontaneous way of turning a bad situation into something good.  "And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose." (Romans 8:28)  It's possible God's heart that day was for someone on that highway to be drawn to the crusade and He was willing to allow the highway to be shut down to make it happen!

There are many other good things that happened in Honduras.  On Thursday we participated in a parade through town, complete with a helicopter dropping crusade fliers over the city and an amazing marching band.  After the parade we helped with the Youth Rally.  Our team from my home church, Mountain Creek, performed a human video for the song "Set Me Free" by Casting Crowns (in Spanish).  When Jesus showed up to set the captive free the crowd erupted.  When he cast Satan off the stage for the last time the crowd erupted again.  It was indeed powerful.   

Honduras! Part I

There is so much that happens during a week in Honduras.  Each member of our over 50 person team has stories to tell, moments that impacted them, and ways that they were touched by God and able to touch others.  I will try to convey here a few of the things that touched me personally.

On Friday it is estimated we had over 20,000 people gathered at the crusade.  When we arrived at the crusade site I was moved to tears at the sight of all the people gathered to worship God and hear the salvation message.  Many people responded to the altar call for salvation.  

Later in the service Stephen Evans called the entire United States team to the front to go out into the crowd and lay hands on the people.  After moving through the crowd with a few of my teammates we came back around the front of the stage to see a little girl lying on the ground.  She was wiggling around and there were a few spots on the ground where she had spit.  At first I wasn't sure what to do, not having much experience with a demonic manifestation.    

One of my teammates, Nita New, said we should take authority in Jesus' name.  As I went to lay hands on the little girl, who couldn't have been more than 6 or 7 years old, I felt a force of God's passion move through me for her.  It was one of the more violent prayers I have prayed for someone else in my life.  After praying for a few minutes I started to walk away, thinking nothing had really happened.  As I was leaving the little girl stood up and appeared normal, but her face seemed so expressionless.  I wondered if she had really been set free.  

We walked back towards the side of the stage.  A few minutes later Nita's daughter, Amy, was concerned for the little girl and wanted to go back and check on her.  When I found her I asked her, through the interpreter, what had happened with her.  She said she had a pain in her back.  I asked her if God had healed her and she said yes.  Her face held such little expression, I wondered if she really had been delivered.  I'm sure it was all much for her to process at such a young age.

The whole experience with that little girl impacted me.  I hope and pray that she really did experience a deliverance that night.  I know God did not need me to see her delivered, but am thankful that He allowed me to see His passion to see a little girl, bound, set free.    

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Missions Trip Itinerary

Leaving tomorrow morning for Honduras... here's an itinerary for the trip:

·        Each weekday, Tuesday through Friday, we will distribute food, flip flops, stuffed animals, etc. to the people in the area of Cofradia.  As we go we will minister the gospel, pray for people and invite them to the weekend crusade.

·        Everyday our team will meet for a time of morning devotions and also evening prayer.  

·        Monday night we will attend an Intercessor's Conference.

·        On Tuesday and Wednesday night we will preach and minister in local churches. 

·        Thursday night we will participate in a citywide parade, drawing the people to come to the crusade.  There will also be a Youth Rally Thursday night. 

·        On Saturday our team will attend a Men's and Ladie's Conferences.  

·        Saturday morning we will be involved in a Children's Festival.  

·        Friday and Saturday night the week will climax in the Area-wide Crusade.  

Thank you for your prayers in the harvest of the Lord!

Saturday, July 2, 2011

A Parable Explained

The preceding blog post, "A Parable", is an embellished account of an evening a friend and I had several years ago in Michigan.  The basic premise of the story is true.  We did hike to the waterfall, we did skip rocks, and we did help start a fire for a woman and her daughter, if memory serves me well.  In a writer’s course I have been taking, one of my assignments was to write a parable; a story that would convey a spiritual truth, though not immediately recognizable.  The purpose was for the truth to come to the reader later on, as they ponder the meaning. 

That particular evening my friend and I decided to skip church and, with my waterfall book guide in hand, do some waterfall hunting.  We had such an enjoyable time of fellowship together.  I remember that evening with my friend, the joy of discovery, and pleasure of each other’s company, the fellowship we shared, the enjoyment of, in a sense, God’s presence, and even the opportunity to serve someone else in need.  Are not all those things we desire to experience in the house of the Lord, whether on Sunday morning, Sunday evening, or during a mid-week service?

All of my life I have faithfully attended church.  Yet, sometimes God wants to break the routine of our religious traditions and allow us to enjoy Him, His presence, and the beauty of His creation.  It’s okay to skip church sometimes, and it’s okay to be spontaneous about it.

There are two distinct times in my life where God told me to stay home from church.  When I woke up on Sunday morning His voice was clear, He wanted me to stay home.  The first time I did not listen.  The first time He spoke I was in college and had a lot of homework to do for school.  I needed to take time to focus on that.  Instead, I reasoned away His voice as something that couldn’t be from God.  Would God tell me to stay home from church?

While I sat in the pew that morning, for me, the service was lifeless and dead.  I’m sure, for someone else, that service was exactly what they needed.  But, for me, it was empty.  I wasn’t supposed to be there. 

The next time God spoke to me I listened.  I wasn’t going to make the same mistake twice.  I stayed home and had one of the most precious times with the Lord.  I put on a worship CD.  One of the songs was a love song where God is singing over His bride.  I lay on the floor as God sang a song of love over me.  That morning God knew what I needed more than a church service and a sermon was time in His presence, just him and me.    

A Parable

Two young men left their apartment, jumped into their sport utility vehicle, talking eagerly about their plans for the evening.  Before leaving town they stopped to gas up.  After paying the attendant they dropped a few dollars into the gas station’s charity container.  They drove several miles into the country with the windows down, laughing and talking as they went, occasionally breaking into song.

Upon reaching their destination they parked their vehicle just off the main road on a dirt pathway.  From there they hiked ¾ of a mile into the forest, traversing the stream twice, until they reached a beautiful waterfall, the cathedral of the forest.  Countless slate stones made up the banks of the stream on each side of a large pool at the base of the waterfall.  The two young men began skipping stones, one after another. 

The stones smacked the water and sailed high into the air, soaring above the falls.  They began to see who could get their stone to sail the highest, clapping their hands in excitement and raising their hands in the air each time a stone sailed higher and higher and out of sight.  The slapping of the stones, the rush of the falls, the bustling winds in the trees, the chirping birds, the gurgle of the water passing by their feet – the woods were alive with worship. 

For the next hour they skipped rocks, talked about life, relaxed under the canopy of the forest, breathed in the fresh smell of churning water, and enjoyed each other’s company.  And then, they removed shoes and socks and shirts, and flopped into the water.  Immersed in the water, they were baptized in the pleasure of the moment.  They emerged from the water feeling fresh and clean.  Finally, they decided to head back to their car. 

On the way back they encountered a woman and her daughter gathering twigs, attempting to build a fire by the side of the stream.  The two young men saw their need, bent down on their knees, and began to help them.  They gathered twigs, small branches, birch bark, pine cones and needles, and large sticks.  On their knees they struck a match, breathed into the fire, and prayed it to life.  Soon they had a nice fire going.  It was a beautiful sight. 

They sat by the stream for a short while, enjoying the warmth of the fire as the evening cooled.  And then, they arose from where they sat, spoke a kind word of blessing to the woman and her daughter, and turned to start back towards their vehicle.  Before they left the woman and her daughter thanked them for their help.  They would have struggled to start the fire without them.  They shook hands as they left; smiles all around. 

After reaching their vehicle the two young men got back in and drove down the wooded highway, the same way they had come in.  They were headed home.  They drove into town, still enjoying each other’s company, full of contentment and satisfaction from their peaceful evening.  As they drove through town a few churches they passed were just letting out from Sunday evening service.  They saw people shaking hands and giving hugs, smiling to each other as they left the church building.  The church people walked back to their cars, got in, and headed home.     

Prayer Equals Peace

“But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow...