Thursday, January 8, 2009
Wednesday, December 24, 2008
It's already been a great Christmas for me already.
Over the past four years, the highlight of my Christmas has been a Christmas Eve outreach for the homeless. I'm not doing that this year, and I was feeling kind of down, like I should be doing something to help someone. That's become a very important part of my life, not just at Christmas.
This past weekend, I joined my City on a Hill (COAH) Connection friends doing an outreach in Fort Worth. One of the ladies we met, mentioned her son. He lost his job and hasn't been able to find one. The situation is tough. He was a contract worker, so he can't get any unemployment. He's been sending out resumes, filling in applications, including a local McDonalds and still nothing. He is married and has two little boys who weren't going to have Christmas. Their grandmother is helping all she can, but she lives paycheck to paycheck as well.
My family and I, along with Adam and Diane had the priviledge of helping this family out. We bought toys for the kids, and groceries - a lot of groceries. In addition we were able to get them a gift card so they could get anything additional they needed. I also prayed for healing for the oldest son who was sick.
As I was about to leave, the Father said he had to "shake my hand," though we had earlier.
I was told when I turned away to head out the door, there were tears in his eyes.
One more "big give" left. We are giving small gifts to all of the residents in the my grand mother's nursing home. I'm really looking forward to it.
In both of these, I've been joined by my mom and my sister and it has been great as we got into it together. I didn't ask them to, but they wanted to get involved. My sister even suggested maybe next year we should just to one present each - and spend the additional money to help another family.
Strange, it now feels like the regular Christmas gift giving will be "nice" but not all that significant. My family and I have had a great Christmas together already.
Tuesday, September 2, 2008
The Lord recently questioned me.
Am I enough?
In a moment when I got beyond the expected Sunday School answers when I was really able to see my heart honestly, I had to say "no."
Yes I'm aware that intellectually he is. I can quote the scriptures. But there are places in my heart where I want more. I do want fame. I do want success. I do want more money. I do want accolades, affirmations. I do want my will not his.
So I'm on a specific and I believe God directed 40 day journey to discover, hopefully, that Jesus is enough. It will be a time of a lot of saturation in the scriptures, prayer, silence and solitude (per my friend Joseph :-) ), worship, confession of sin.
I don't know where this is going, but I have faith that it will be somewhere good.
Wednesday, August 20, 2008
As I read all of the posts, email, and letters concerning Todd Bentley and his marital problems, I thought about whether I should post on it or not. I have posted on the Lakeland revival before, so I wondered if I should say anything about it. The Lord made it clear to me that I was missing what God was doing.
The Lord showed me over a year ago that the church and our nation would be entering a season of shaking.
26 whose voice then shook the earth; but now He has promised, saying, “Yet once more I shake not only the earth, but also heaven.” 27 Now this, “Yet once more,” indicates the removal of those things that are being shaken, as of things that are made, that the things which cannot be shaken may remain. 28 Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom which cannot be shaken, let us have grace, by which we may serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear. 29 For our God is a consuming fire. Hebrews 12:26-29
God is shaking everything out of our lives that can be shaken so we can fully receive the Kingdom which cannot be shaken.
Since God showed me we are entering a time of shaking, there has been a lot of shaking in the church. We have had some very serious and public failures and accusations of failures and sin. The list is long: Earl Paulk, Ted Haggard, Paula White, Randy White, Juanita Bynum, Thomas Weeks, Terry McAlmond, and now Todd Bentley.
It is easy for us to sit back and look at these leaders and respond by pointing the finger at them, pointing the finger at the devil, and even pointing the finger at each other. Often we rise to their defense or to accuse. I’ve seen lots of posts or comments along the lines of “I told you so.” I’ve seen many about praying for Todd and his wife which I echo. Others leaders have tried to explain their association with Todd and what they did or did not know at the time.
I believe the Lord spoke very clearly to me that this is not about Todd Bentley. It is not about the other leaders. God will deal with them in his way. This is about us – the church and what Jesus is doing in his body today. This is not Satan. The Lord has been working to get his church free from sin. If the church will not cooperate, he will expose it. Just recently a couple that are friends of mine had marital infidelity exposed in their marriage. The offending party admits to the error, but won’t yet call it what it is – sin. They are not high profile people, but God is exposing sin in the church.
THE SPECK IN TODD’S EYE
We know about some of Todd’s problems and sins. We know his marriage is in trouble. Many are convinced and I would agree that some of his theology is wrong. What about the sin in our own lives? What about sin in my life? What about the sin in your life?
WHAT DOES GOD WANT IN THIS?
God wants the church to humble itself, confess its sins, repent, and find healing and deliverance. Todd Bentley and the other leaders are symptoms of a greater problem. The church winks at sin or is quick to point it out in others while hiding our own sin.
There is mounting evidence that the divorce rate for those in church is the same as in the world. Pornography is a major problem in the church. In giving, the Kingdom of God is often what gets the crumbs instead of being a priority. Look at the way we spend money – big cars, big houses, everything is bigger. We believe in being blessed. Do we believe in being a blessing?
JUDGMENT IN THE HOUSE OF GOD
17 For the time has come for judgment to begin at the house of God; and if it begins with us first, what will be the end of those who do not obey the gospel of God? 18 Now “If the righteous one is scarcely saved, Where will the ungodly and the sinner appear?” 1 Peter 4:17-18
We are in a time of shaking and a time of judgment in the House or Family of God. That is what Todd Bentley is experiencing right now and what more in the Body of Christ will experience if we don’t cooperate with the Holy Spirit. We can either drag our sin into the light, or the Lord will.
My heart is wicked. Who am I to sit in judgment of my brother? More than that, why should I be a hypocrite and spend time focusing on his sin when my own is before me.
1"Do not judge, or you too will be judged. 2For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.
3"Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother's eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? 4How can you say to your brother, 'Let me take the speck out of your eye,' when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? 5You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother's eye. Matthew 7:1-5
Some of you know me. Some of you don’t. A few of you already know what I am going to confess, most of you don’t. For some, this may change our relationship. You may be uncomfortable with me. Others don’t care and choose to love me regardless. The reason for this confession is that I am dragging my sin into the light, so it can be exposed so I don’t have to worry that someday someone will find out and that I’ll be exposed. I want to be healed and delivered.
“Confess your trespasses to one another, and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much”. James 5:16
I implore you, the Body of Christ. Don’t judge our brother Todd or others. Instead inspect your own life. Find those sins. If you are truly walking with Christ you see them. If you see no sin in your life, you should be worried. You are deceived.
8 If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. 9 If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. 10 If we say that we have not sinned, we make Him a liar, and His word is not in us. 1 John 1: 8-10
HEALING AND DELIVERANCE IN GETTING FREE FROM SIN
Do you have strongholds in your life you can’t get free from? You may need healing from past hurts done to you. You may need to have curses broken from your life and you may seriously have to consider if there is demonic activity in your life.
It is possible to be a child of God and have demons actually in your body (not possession but certainly demonic activity). This causes a lot of people problem. Don’t people who are sick sometimes have “Spirits of infirmity?” If people can have Spirits of infirmity, they can have other spirits, spirits of religion, spirits of deception, spirits of death, spirit of depression and others. This is not always the situation, but the American church doesn’t really deal with these issues and that is why we often continue in bondage
I am not free yet, but I am going through a process of healing and deliverance that has born fruit.
I have been in charismatic circles for nearly sixteen years, and I have seen very little in the area of inner/ emotion/ healing and real deliverance from demonic oppression. I don’t have much in the area of resources to recommend here.
However there is a Godly woman (one of the leaders in our house church network) has been doing this kind of ministry for many decades and is helping me through this process. She ministers often in Canada and certain churches in California. Her name is Carol Cartwright and her website is http://www.cartwrightministries.org/. She has some resources available. She already has her hands full ministering to people, but if you contact her perhaps she can make suggestions for you as to resources she or others have. She may also be in a position to recommend a ministry in your area that can help.
My prayer is that if you do have demonic activity in your life, God will bring deliverance to you and whatever resources he chooses to use as instruments of that deliverance whether he just miraculously delivers you are chooses another vessel or instrument to minister to you.
THE BEAMS IN MY EYE
I confess this before the church not being totally free, but trusting Jesus, my redemption, for the completion of my deliverance and the totality of my freedom.
I am a liar; I have deceived many not revealing the truth of who I am. I have acted like I have it all together, while I felt dead inside from my own sin and failures.
I have the fear of man. I am not nearly as much of a bold witness for Christ that I should be. In addition, the fear of man or what men thinks has kept me from confessing my sins as I should and have resulted in me showing a mask to much of the body of Christ.
I am guilty of terrible stewardship. While this is now pretty much resolved. I wasted God’s money on self indulgence instead of Kingdom purposes. This is one area thank God that I have had a lot of victory in.
I am guilty of the sin of unbelief. I have often been impressed to pray for people, but have not because I was afraid God wouldn’t do something and I would look foolish.
I am guilty of Pride. I often think I can handle my sins myself rather than taking them to the cross and confessing them and confessing them to Brothers and Sisters in Christ. I want to be somebody in the church. I have to admit I want a big ministry. I like attention too. I say “let’s praise God for what he has done,” but in honesty, I have coveted his Glory. How many times have I given an accurate word to someone and said the right things – “Praise God” or “it’s God”, yet in my own heart I have felt the puffing up that comes with the attention of being known as someone who hears God. Even as someone who prays, people would come up and tell me that God answered my prayer in their situation thanking me. Of course I told them “It’s all Jesus.” In my heart, I’m saying “Oh yea… man of faith and power.” I have chaffed at the fact that I’ve served God for sixteen years and I am still obscure, even though I know the reason I’m still obscure is that I’m still messed up and if I weren’t obscure, I’d be even more messed up and would probably mess up a lot of other people.
Here’s the one that really messes most Christians up. All of the above should as well, but most people, myself included, tend to rate sin. I do it as well. That’s another sin. It’s not righteous judgment.
I’m guilty of fornication and homosexuality. Most of my life I have struggled with homosexuality and pornography. I have never engaged in any kind of sexual conduct or relationship with a man, but I have had the desire. (By the way, I just noticed that I tried to mitigate my sin, by telling what I haven’t done. We justify ourselves by what we haven’t done. We tend to pass by the whole “If a man looks after a woman to lust has has already committed adultery with her in his heart” passage. My desires have manifested as fantasy played out in the mind and pornography which feeds this perversion.
The Body of Christ must become confessional. We will have to repent. We have to allow the dark places in our life to be exposed to the light of Jesus so he can transform us. We have to submit to correction.
Pride must die. Rugged Individualism must die. That’s an American spirit that is not of God. We must humble ourselves before a Holy God, admit our brokenness and our need for him. I need God’s help. I need his people’s help. I’m putting down my mask and looking to Jesus for help.
I’m making this public confession, hoping to encourage others who have hidden sins and struggle to bring them out into the light and confess them to brothers and sisters in Christ so we can begin the process of sanctification and healing. This is hard for me to do and I know most of us put on masks. Take the mask off. The church needs to get real and we need to confess and repent of the sin in our lives. Then we will become the bride that Jesus is coming back for. Then we will be the church that the gates of hell will not prevail against.
MY APPEAL TO YOU
If you know that you have sin in your life.
Repent and confess it to God.
Confess it to Brothers and Sisters in Christ. Bringing it into the light helps expose it and reduces sins power in your life.
Get help with counseling, healing and deliverance.
Break the sin habit patterns.
I’ve confessed my sins to a few in my house church fellowship and the leadership of our House/Simple church network. Now they will all see it along with my friends. I don’t know how they will respond. It’s possible that I may lose friends over this. While that would sadden me, it is more important that God be pleased.
Several people have been ministering to me and walking with me through this stuff and I want to thank them.
Awakening Leadership (My simple/House church family): Joseph, Carol, Trish and Tammy
COAH Leadership (City on a Hill Connection – Our simple Church Network): Adam, Diana, Willie, Emily, Travis and Beth.
Friends: Larry and Flora
I am confident that I will be victorious because God is for me and has surrounded me with people who love me. I know you can be victorious as well.
Monday, August 18, 2008
On top of that we visited my grandmother in the nursing home, like we do every weekend. She was insisting that we take her home or kill her. She has alzheimers, and it's very difficult to see her like this. She was taken care of at home for several years, but it got to the place where the amount of care she required She was a strong believer, but this disease is robbing her in every way.
On the plus side, we had a great joint gathering of Awakening (the simple church I'm part of) and the Refuge. Interestingly many of the folks in the Refuge came from Shady Grove church which is where I was a member until the Lord moved me into the area of simple/organic church. We had great food, fellowship and amazing worship. It was a great time in the Lord.
Last night several of us went to Carinos to celebrate Kelly's birthday. She attends a COAH associated simple church called THE WAY. She also was part of Dallas Street Church for about a year. She just returned from a vacation to visit her family in Wisconsin. She will be leaving Saturday for a two month stint as an intensive care nurse on a Mercy Ship in Africa (Liberia I think.) We are all really proud of her. I'm sure that it is going to be life changing. I may not be able to make it to THE WAY's Wednesday gathering when they lay hands on her to send her out.
So, I took the opportunity to pray for her last night that she would have Jesus' heart for the people she will be caring for, that the Lord will let her lay hands on the sick and see them recover, that her ears will have be annointed to hear the Lord and her eyes will be annointed to see where he is at work. I can't wait to hear the stories.
Our COAH leadership team began tackling the questions about who are we leading, what are we leading, what should we be doing? etc. Everyone seems to be in a place of transistion at this stage and we're all asking the Lord what he wants to do with this group of people. They are hoping to spend time together at the House2House conference and seek God and see if he'll speak. I'll be missing the conference this year. My sister will be in from North Carolina so I will be with her.
That echoes where I am. I've been away from the Dallas Street Church almost two months now.
I've been trying to rest and seek the Lord. I've been reflecting on the successes and failures I was involved in as I was part of the Dallas Street Church. I believe my biggest failure was not modeling discipleship in a way that the guys on the street felt confident that they could do it as well. I reached out and helped out and gave. I reached out to people with servant evangelism. That's hard to do when you're homeless and don't have money.
So how do we make disciples inthe context of the poor. I believe it is more along the lines of silver and gold have I none but such as I have give I thee. The Apostles usually didn't have money. What they did, they did by faith through the power of the Holy Spirit. We have to learn to live in faith and model that to those we disciple.
Oh well, that's enough of my rambling for today.
Thursday, August 14, 2008
John used to be homeless. He now lives with Ben, is working a steady full time job, has paid off all his tickets and fines, and has now received his driver's license. I'm proud of both of these men.
I found out last night that John has been going to downtown Dallas on Saturdays the last couple of weeks. He's sharing what God has done for him with some people he knows trying to encourage them as well. I' m proud of John. I get the feeling he and Ben are going to start ministering in downtown Dallas more often. That's a blessing
Kelly, who also ministered with us will be leaving the country a week from Saturday. She'll spend the next two months serving as an ICU nurse on one of the Mercy Ships.
I'm really proud of all of these folks and am looking forward to seing and hearing what God will be doing in their lives. God is using them in powerful ways. Willie told the group that by the end of the year he wanted all of them to plan a foriegn mission trip. I think that is an excellent idea and frankly one that every Pastor should embrace. I think it would do wonders in changing the focus of their congregation. Too many congregations are focused inward. A foriegn mission trip can help change people's perspectives. Great job Willie.
Tuesday, August 5, 2008
(Ben is on the far left. John is in the middle wearing the winter cap, jacket, and red shirt)
I'm really proud of him. I'm also very proud of Ben. This wouldn't be happening except that Ben felt God really wanted to disciple John, so he has really given John this opportunity to turn his life around.
From Matthew 25
33 And He will set the sheep on His right hand, but the goats on the left. 34 Then the King will say to those on His right hand, ‘Come, you blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world: 35 for I was hungry and you gave Me food; I was thirsty and you gave Me drink; I was a stranger and you took Me in; 36 I was naked and you clothed Me; I was sick and you visited Me; I was in prison and you came to Me.’ 37 “Then the righteous will answer Him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see You hungry and feed You, or thirsty and give You drink? 38 When did we see You a stranger and take You in, or naked and clothe You? 39 Or when did we see You sick, or in prison, and come to You?’ 40 And the King will answer and say to them, ‘Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did it to one of the least of these My brethren, you did it to Me.’
Ben, I think Jesus is pleased.