Wednesday, December 24, 2008

It's Been a Great Christmas Already


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

40 Days

I'll be disappearing from this blog until October 10th.
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

A SPECK IN TODD BENTLEY'S EYE AND A BEAM IN MY OWN

A SPECK IN TODD BENTLEY’S EYE AND A BEAM IN MY OWN

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

Weekend Ramblings

This was a difficult weekend. My Aunt had a heart attack and is hospitalized. The Doctors aren't sure what they're going to do next. They've got her in a room that's running up charges but basically haven't done anything for her. She's just there in case something happens during the weekend. They wont actually do any real testing until today or tomorrow. Supposedly the specialist was out of town. In an area the size of Dallas and Fort Worth there is only one specialist? Give me a break.

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

Former Homeless Man doing great

Last night I visited THE WAY, led by my friends Willie and Emily Butler. The way is one of our COAH (City on a Hill Connection) churches. Two other friends who were part of the Dallas Street Church call THE WAY home now, Ben Heap and John Sanders.

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.
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Tuesday, August 5, 2008

More Good News

I got a voicemail from John yesterday. He was really excited. He passed the written part of his test for his drivers license. Today he takes the driving test. This will be another milestone for him. He is still staying with Ben. He's still working. He's been on the job 2-3 months now working LONG hours. He got all of his tickets paid off that he had accumulated while he was homeless.


(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.


Friday, August 1, 2008

Time for some HONESTY

The CLOUD is moving to IGNITED CHURCH!
Stephen StraderAug 1, 2008

Dear Family and Friends of Ignited Church and the Lakeland Outpouring.

The CLOUD of Glory will be moving to Ignited Church on August 3.
ALL OUTPOURING SERVICES WILL BE HELD AT IGNITED CHURCH!!!

AM & PMSaturday, Aug 2, will be the last night in the big tent. Todd is scheduled to speak Friday and Saturday night. Make your plans now to come to the tent for these great services.

Beginning Sunday morning, Aug 3, all OUTPOURING services, morning and night, will be held at Ignited Church. See the website for detailed instructions. www.ignitedchurch.com
DOORS WILL OPEN AT 9:20 AM and 6PM. The night services will be PACKED, so come early to get a seat!!! We have three overflow rooms prepared. PLUS, we have an outdoor patio that seats 400!!! So don't be late, or you might be sitting outside!

Parking is limited. If the lot is full, drop off your passengers and drive across the street and park near McDonalds, next to the Highway. (Do not park in any businesses parking lot other than near McDonalds or you will be towed.)

Evangelism Training will continue Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday at 1:30pm. Guest evangelists and speakers are coming from all over the world.

Hang on as the Outpouring grows even stronger! Todd will be coming and going throughout the month of August. You can see his travel schedule on his website... www.freshfire.ca.

ALL SERVICES will continue to be broadcast LIVE. Go to www.ignitedchurch.com and click on AM or PM. The website will direct you to iWorshipHere.com or to God.TV -- which ever website is broadcasting that service.

For example: This Sunday PM will be on iWorshipHere.com. Go to ignitedchurch.com, select PM, and you will automatically be connected with us LIVE.Your first time to iWorshipHere.com, you will have to download a simple program that prepares your computer to receive this high-quality video feed. Simply follow the directions. Once you've done this, you won't have to do it again. There is "help" on iWorshipHere.com if you have any problems.All services will be at 10am and 7pm, E.S.T.

COME MOVE WITH THE CLOUD!!!Pastor Stephen Strader

Pastor Stephen Strader is parroting the Fresh Fire Ministries line that it's getting stronger. This is far from the truth.

I've been to the Lakeland Outpouring twice. The first time was Memorial Day weekend. The first time was substantially stronger than the second time. Almost everything the first time was the soveriegnty of God. Yes, God was still moving the second time, but it was not anything like the first time. It is not getting stronger.

If it is getting stronger, why are fewer people coming. When I was there on Memorial Day weekend, it was nearly full each night - 0ver 8000 people. Now it is moving back to the church where it started from. Even with the overflow rooms and patio, I suspect it will seat less than 2000.

This just falls in line with what I witnessed my last night there. One of Todd's associates greeted everyone and claimed that the house was full that there were 8000-9000 people there. It was a complete fabrication. The house wasn't even HALF full. At best there were 4000 people there.

There have been a lot of mistakes made in this outpouring. But one of the biggest problems has been the HYPE. God doesn't need the leaders of the revival to hype what he is doing. Why did Todd push for this to be a media revival trying to get noticed by mainstream media programs like Fox News, Nightline, BBC and others. God doesn't need the world's system to make what he is doing known.

Todd also announced he's writing a book? WHY? There has been far too much hype, exaggeration, and now outright lies. God has moved powerfully in Florida, but too many men tried to manipulate it for their own purposes and God is shutting it down. Let's be honest. I don't believe God is done with Todd Bentley, but I am convinced he is in some need of correction and maturing in Christ. That goes for many of his associates as well.

I do not believe that Todd is leaving Lakeland to take the revival around the world. I believe the truth is that Todd sees what has been happening in Lakeland and this is an exit strategy for him.
I just wish there was a lot more honesty in this.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Stopped By Dallas Street Church

I stopped by the Dallas Street Church on Saturday. I wanted to see if Bill and David were still meeting. They are. There are some issues with the storage, which I am shutting down. I hoped that this month everything would be done. It's not. I paid one more month on it to give us time to get some resolution.

David was suffereing from headaches and a bad backache. I laid hands on him, rebuked the pain and spoke healing. After a few minutes of that, the pain went away. He was healed.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Reflections on Working with the Homeless

I've been away from Downtown Dallas a bit over a month now. Frankly I'm a little impatient. I don't sit and do nothing very well. I think in times like this, I see more Martha than Mary in my life. I'm sure that God is working on that in me. I have been spending more time in prayer, worship, and in the Word. Right now the Lord has me pouring over the Gospels... nothing else... just Matthew, Mark, Luke and John.

What I do know is that I've learned some things about ministry from my time with the Street Church.

1. Be careful that you do not make people dependent upon you. While ministering with the street church, many of our folks began to see me as an answer to some of the things they wanted. It began subtly at first. After a time though, I learned some only wanted the "stuff" I could give them.

2. Dependency should be on the Lord, not you. You are not the source. God is.

3. I went downtown and ministered using "servant evangelism" approaches. I like to help people - so I took socks, and gloves, etc. This is ok on occassion. It cannot be the foundation of ministry.

4. So how do we minister. We minister in faith, in prayer, and in word. We must be more like Peter and John, silver and gold have I none but such as I have give I thee. The reason is that if you make disciples, they watch you. If you reach out to people using stuff, even if your heart is right in it, then they will feel they can't do that. Why? Because they don't really have stuff to give so they do nothing or very little.

5. I am re-evaluting how ministry is done. I don't want to be dogmatic, but I know I made big mistakes. I believe God blessed in spite of them because I did it out of love even though I messed up. There has to be a way to minister to people out of faith, letting the Father be their source and yet continue as God leads to use my own resources. The danger in this thinking is that I could become stingy, and excuse it by saying I'm teaching them dependence on God.

So that's what I am considering now.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Lakeland Outpouring - Trip 2

I really don't have much to say yet about this trip. Actually, I have quite a lot to say, but am feeling directed by the Lord not to say much right now. I can only say that God is still moving, but I also feel there are some real dangers beginning to appear. So Pray God's will be done.

Saturday, July 5, 2008

Back To Lakeland

Tomorrow after I finish work (yea, working on Sunday - yuck!) some friends and I will leave out around 8pm for the 1200 mile drive to Lakeland. Unlike last time though, it won't be as rushed. We'll have nearly a week this time.

I can't wait to get there. It really isn't about most of what happens on the platform. Last time I got lost in the worship and Jesus became very real to me, and even gave me direction. I am hoping for the same this time.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Mission Trip

Kelly attended and served the Street Church for nearly a year. She called me last night with some news. She is going out of country for two months to serve as an ICU nurse on a Mercy Ship in Africa.

This is really exciting. I know she'll bless a lot of people on this trip and if the Lord opens the door, she'll share Jesus with them. I am convinced though, that God has something wonderful in store for her as well.
If you get the chance, pray for Kelly. She'll leave in August and return in late October.



Sunday, June 22, 2008

First Saturday away from the Street Church

I got this email from Bill this week.


Hello John,
I just want to say that you are very special to me, as well as Ben and Kelly, and I completely understand your position ( not that you should worry if I didn't)
And I want to tell you that I care a lot about what you started, and I intend to continue it until Jesus says otherwise. I also realize
that HE will prevail on matter what. I will stay in touch.

Highest regards,

Billy


I was both gratified and saddened. This was my first Saturday where I'm no longer a leader or part of the Dallas Street Church. I bless Bill, David and Chris and ask God to direct their paths.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Crystal Balls... not yet

I'm pondering my future. What does God want me to do? I've been involved with the homeless in Dallas pretty intensely for the past couple of years. I know God is leading me in different directions. I have a hard time just being still. Already this week, I've been thinking about checking out the homeless hang outs in Fort Worth this weekend.

I know I'm supposed to stop for a moment, and spend the time seeking God. But I have a hard time just sitting back. I don't feel like I'm being a profitable servant if I'm just "going" to church.

This is a time of transition and preparation. I really don't know what for yet. I actually prayed God I'll go anywhere for you. I've never had a desire to do foriegn mission work, yet I've actually become open to the possibilities. When I see kids dying of AIDS or starvation, it hurts me.

Of course I'm also touched by what is happening to children in the Appalachian mountains in our own nation. In some areas it's almost like having a third world nation within the borders of one of the most blessed nations on this planet. It really baffels me. When I see the feed the children commercials, I want to pack up my car and head out.

So on one hand, God is really continuing to touch my heart for the poor.

On the other hand, I believe that the church has lost touch with its supernatural heritage. I come from a pentecostal/chairsmatic background. I read the Gospels and the Book of Acts and drool. Oh where is that kind of power in the church today. They believed God and God did miraculous signs. In the last couple of months I've made it my mission to pray for sick people. I've seen some healed. Nothing dramatic yet, but I'm believing God. Last Saturday evening at Awakening Church, I had a word of knowledge about a back problem. It wasn't a big deal really. We had a guy who had been bowling and his back was sore, bothering him some. We prayed for him, and the soreness left immediately. We prayed for a number of other people. I don't know the results yet, but I am believing God.

God has always done the supernatural. Why not now? If Jesus was glorified in it in the Gospels and the Book of Acts, why is he not glorified in it now.

So part of my life mission I believe is to see restoration of this in the church.

I've even thought of buying an RV, going into poor areas, hanging out, preaching the Gospel, praying for the sick and starting new gatherings.

If I went this direction I would

1. Get to hang out with, minister to and preach the Gospel to the poor.
2. Be part of the process of seeing the supernatural power of God at work in the church.
3. Discipling people
4. Starting new gatherings - The RV could be the starting hub until a home in the community is found.

Well that's just thinking out loud. God didn't say that's the way I'm going. He hasn't said much yet. But that's kind of on my heart right now.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Endings are New Beginnings

Saturday was a sad day and yet an exciting one.

Over the past several weeks the Dallas Street Church has dwindled in size. I'm not upset. Most of the reasons were good. Most of our guys have gotten jobs and were beginning to move off of the streets. Sometimes their jobs kept them from gathering with us. In a couple of cases the guys are now working and living in the Fort Worth area and it's not practical for them to come to Dallas. One of them, John, is now a part of one of our sister Churches in Fort Worth, The Way, which is a great church led by my friends Willie and Emily Butler. As a result, our normal Saturday gathering were composed of David, Bill and myself.

In addition, in the past six weeks or so, The Bridge, which is the new Dallas homeless facility has opened up, dramatically changing where the homeless hang out, their traffic patterns and everything. Frankly, most seem to be hanging out in the new Bridge courtyard. It's not a place I want to minister for a couple of reasons. First, having that many people in close proximity isn't really conducive to one on one ministry. Second, just getting close to the facility I absolutely feel the presence of demonic forces. It's so strong, I feel it. While I have taken on demons before. I have no desire to try to face that much demonic presence by myself. I try to use wisdom when I go after the Kingdom of darkness.

Over the past few months both Ben and Kelly who were great sources of support have felt the need to move on.

As a result, a couple of weeks ago, I really started asking God for the next step. What did he want us to do? I really didn't know what direction we should take. I prayed. A few days ago, I got part of an answer. I felt like I heard the Lord say that my time with the street church was completed. I was done there.

I didn't know if that just meant I was to move on and it was to continue without me or if we were to shut it down completely.

Saturday, I told the guys that the Lord had told me my time was done. There was a lot of sadness. Bill wondered if God had been displeased with what we had done as a church. I told him I didn't think that was it at all. We had missed God many times, but we tried to be open and repentant and if we felt we missed God we tried to get back on track.

For a group that usually ran between seven and ten people, here's what happened in the year and a half that we gathered as a body.

Two people confessed Christ as their saviour and were baptized
Many grew in their relationship with Christ.
Many grew in their knowledge and study of the Word of God.
Some were healed as we prayed for them.
Some received a baptism of the Holy Spirit and the spiritual gift of tongues for prayer.
Some got to go spend time with their families as we helped provide finances.
Many were warmed in the winter as we provided blankets, sleeping bags, and hot hands.
Many experienced Gods love as we brought them clothing and socks.
Many were fed.

I don't believe that God was unhappy. As a matter of fact, there were times I think he may have smiled.

Bill and David decided they would continue meeting and would spend time in prayer to see what God wanted to do with them. Would he continue having them meet? Will he bring new life, new breath, and new direction? Or will he tell them this season is done and he has somthing else for them? I don't know. God didn't let me in on the plans for them.

I started hanging out with the homeless back in October 2006. We became a simple church in January 2007. I've been ministering in downtown Dallas almost every week for nearly two years now and really I don't know what's coming next.

I've been in a place of transition all year - actually since the end of last year. I believe God has ministry planned for me, but I don't know what it is yet. God hasn't spoken to me about it. I don't know if it will be among the homeless or who. I've been trying to surrender my will to the Lord more and more to the point where recently I've told him wherever, whatever he wanted.

I think for a short season though, I'm going to relax in the Lord and seek him and make sure he is the focus in my life. I've been to Lakeland Florida for the outpouring once where God met me powerfully and I am returning, hoping for more.

So one journey ends and another begins.... or actually in many ways it's part of the same journey and we just stopped at a railway station waiting for the next leg of the journey to begin.

Friday, June 13, 2008

Dreams


God rarely ever speaks to me through dreams. Maybe I just don't get them and he has to be more direct. As a matter of fact, I rarely remember dreams, but the other day I had a spiritual dream.


I was in the door of a house. I was coming into the house. On my left, on a shelf in the entryway was a vase. A large cut rose was in the vase.


I looked ahead, and I could see Jesus' back. I didn't see his face, but somehow I knew it was him.

I looked and suddenly the rose started moving. It turned to face him, like some plants track the sun. I was amazed.


Then suddenly it burst into flames, leaving only the stem.


Then Jesus turned toward the stem. I still couldn't see his face, I just sensed that was what was happening. I watched in amazement as the stem blossomed out again, this time with a rose far more beautiful and far larger than before.
I don't know why the dream. I think I get the interpretation, helped out by a friend of mine, Larry.
As we seek Jesus, we die. But as we die, he brings his resurrection power into our lives and makes us better than before.
That makes since to me. I don't know why the dream, since I understand that principal already and have lived it to some degree.
But it was really a cool dream.


Thursday, June 12, 2008

Another Homeless guy gets a job

I got an email yesterday. One of our newer guys who had gone missing for a few weeks contacted me. He has a job in Fort Worth now. He and his wife are getting custody of their child back. That's another positive.

That really only leaves two in our group without jobs. Pray for them. It's also time to make some decisions. As the guys are getting jobs, they are moving on to other churches closer to where they are working and living. This makes perfect sense and I encourage it. But that means we are down to just a couple of guys now. So there will be some key decisions about the future of the Dallas Street Church that are coming up. Pray for us.

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Lakeland Day 3

Our third and last day in Lakeland we experienced the change of venue. That was the first night in the new venue out near the airport.

Again I had to wrestle with the whole church pastor/leader special line thing. It ticked me off, but I was able to release it to God again and I asked the Lord to bless those men.

The new venue was interesting. It's like a tent with an aluminum frame. But it was cool, they have plenty of air conditioning. I hated the seats. I'm a big guy and the chairs they are using just felt flimsy. But it wasn't a big deal.

During worship, I began to press in again. I wanted the authority and faith to do miracles, to heal the sick. Just what I was watching - just what Jesus told us we would do. I had contended or this the night before and I still was.

Then the Lord began to speak to me. He told me "I want to teach you the supernatural power of Love." I know it seems shallow, but my reaction was to reject it. I didn't want to hear that. It isn't what I wanted to hear. God has been working on me about love for years. That's part of the reason I've been involved in ministry to the homeless. I need power that works quickly was one of my arguments to God. Love is slow. Love is painful. Love hurts. I have learned many of those lessons. I just want to be able to have faith to declare healing and see people healed.

Frankly, I didn't have a clue what God meant by the supernatural power of love. I argued with him. I cried. I just didn't want to hear it. Then it was like he spoke inside and said that he knew I was having problems with it. Would I be willing to let him make me willing to go that direction.

I cried for a while before surrendering. I said yes. But what does it mean. I don't know really. It's the start of another journey I believe. In his goodness, he didn't reject me for my initial refusal and he didn't rebuke me. I felt him loving me.

I really didn't pay any attention to most of the rest of the evening. Todd Bentley and his teams layed hands on everyone (ever so briefly - there were several thousand of us), but that really didn't seem to impact me. I was trying to process what the Lord had said.... I still am. I've asked.

I think God used the Lakeland experience to bring me to a transition point. I know I'm not the same and by God's grace I will go back for a longer period. I had such intense fellowship with the Lord. Maybe he'll talk to me more.

God is moving in Texas too.

I spoke with Joseph, leader of Awakening, a house/simple church I'm part of. While I was in Lakeland, God showed up powerfully. A new person came to the gathering and as I understand it, she manifested some demons. She was ministered too, the Demons were cast out. If that wasn't enough, another lady in the gathering, while they were ministering to and praying for the first lady was instantly, and soveriegnly healed of partial deafness in one ear. No one was praying for it. She wasn't praying for herself. God just did it.

Tuesday evening, I had the chance to go to a meeting in a house. I'm not sure that it is a "house church." I believe it was just a wonderful couple in Jesus who want to see God doing wonderful things. I believe that God exceeded everyone's expectations. See my view of it here.

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Another one of the Guys gets a job

Chris, one of the guys downtown sent me a text message yesterday
He has a job and start orientation next Tuesday

Praise God.

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Working Man

John Sandford was one of our original guys at the Dallas Street Church. He is now a working man. Yesterday he started working at a factory in Fort Worth. He's staying with Ben Heap who has taken him under wing to disciple him. As a matter of fact, Ben baptized him about a year ago while Ben was a part of the Street Church.

I'm really happy that John's got a chance for a new start and I am praying that he'll make the most of it. I'll miss him downtown. He'll start attending THE WAY, one of our sister churches in Fort Worth that Ben attends. It'll be a good place for him to go deeper in the Word.

Our prayers are for you, John.

Lakeland Day 2

I've been back from Lakeland Florida for about a week now, and I'm still processing everything that happened in me there.

All of the miracles of healing excite me. But something seem to come more alive in me. I experienced more of the awe of God and the love of God.

The second day I just felt caught up with the Lord, and that seemed to permeate the place. It was the last night at the Lakeland Arena. The worship time was intense. At the usual time, David T. tried to transition out of worship... but the people there wouldn't have it... God wouldn't have it. He just had to step out of the way and let the worship continue.

I honestly don't know what happened on the platform that night. I was too caught up in my time with the Lord. I also began wrestling with him on the supernatural. I am convinced that we need the supernatural power of God for ministering to people, especially people on the streets, they need to have hope - and another sermon isn't going to give them what they need. They need some of the demonstration of the Kingdom of God.

I've wrestled with God before. I wrestled with him when I got saved. I've wrestled with him at other times. I will wrestle with him until I get what I'm after or he transforms my heart. I began wrestling with him. I want the annointing to command sickness to leave. To command the lame to walk and see it happen, to command addictions to leave and wholeness to come to a person and watch it happen.

I prayed, I cried. I was undone about myself. I had two words from others that night that I don't know. One lady told me I had faith. Another man prayed for me. He asked if I was a minister. I told him about the street church. He said that God would increase my love and the ministry would explode because people would see the love.

I really didn't think too much about those words at the time. Day 3 kind of changed that. But that's another post.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Lakeland Revival (florida outpouring) Day 1

It was a long trip through the night Friday night. We arrived in Lakeland, Florida about 11 am on Saturday.

We stopped by our hotel. We wouldn't be able to get into our room until after the meeting that night.

Honestly, that put me in a pretty bad mood right there. I knew check in was at 3pm, but they said it would be 4-5 before they could have a room ready for us. That mean I would be going to the meeting without a shower for nearly two days. That didn't make me happy at all. We stopped someplace to eat, I excused myself and went into the men's room and cleaned up the best I could.

Hopefully, I didn't smell too bad. God used that to give me a little lesson. It was that I would let something like that affect my attitude to the point that I would not be able to receive from him.
So I determined to let it go.

When we got to the arena at about 3pm, there were about ten people there before us. Several people were praying for a lady. She had been deaf for fifty years due to a fever she had as a child. It was interesting, a demon actually manifested. It was cast out. Then the lady could hear. She pulled out her hearing aids and several people tested her hearing, making sure she was not reading lips. Her husband explained how long it had been since she had heard. While she wore hearing aids they were almost useless. She relied more on reading lips than the hearing aids. She began to hear singing. She went up and down the line looking for the source. She couldn't find one. Some speculated that maybe God was letting her hear in the spirit. That is speculation. We don't know. Maybe when God healed her physical ears he gave her spiritual ears. I don't know, but she was extremely excited. She was also excited because she had a numbness in her right foot that she had for years and it went away as well.

Of course I couldn't just keep rejoicing for this lady. One of my pet peeves acted up and it took a fair portion of the evening to get over it.

Everyone we talked to said the presence of God was strongest up front. However, even though people showed up early, the only people that got up front were the internationals and "pastors and senior leaders." So while most folks who were hungry for the Lord waited hours in line, the "pastors" got their own line and got to go in half an hour earlier getting the best seats of course

I could have done that well. I had the necessary "credentials" but I won't do that on principal. There is not supposed to be a clergy laity split. I know the reason for this. The folks leading the revival will say they want to encourage pastors to come, get an impartation and take it back to their churches.

I'm a bit of a skeptic about this. I've seen this in charismatic circles all too often. I think it is designed to bring favor with Pastors so they will 1. support the revival and 2. perhaps encourage them to think of inviting the leaders for meetings at their churches later. I really believe that's what is going on. I hate that. If pastors are really hungry, they can come stand in line like everyone else.

Anyway, I really got ticked off about this, almost to the point of not even wanting to go in. I hate the whole laity-clergy thing that I was quite ready to say the heck with it. I prayed asking the Lord to help me with my attitude. I really felt like he said this wasn't his doing, but there would be no difference between what people received "up front" and what they received elsewhere in the arena. He didn't care where people were sitting. He was after one thing only, hungry hearts. Whoever was hungry would receive.

With that, I was able to enter into the worship. God was true to his word. Some of the young people decided they weren't going to sit on the sidelines, they went outside and started praying for people and laying hands on them. I got blessed in a major way and most of it that night was from young people - kids as young as junior high students who were ministering with power.

Was everything done "of God." - No. Some was flesh. There needed to be some wisdom, but these young people were full of zeal, love, and a desire to see God do great things and God did.

So Day 1 was an interesting day with a lot of opportunities for me not to receive what God had for me. In the end I was blessed.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

John Got a Job

One of the men we've been praying for, John has a job and starts Friday. Thanks to Willie Butler, leader of THE WAY in Fort Worth, Kelly and Ben. They just got everything put together and got John over to Fort Worth for the appointment. Everything went great. He starts Friday. This is really exciting.

Just pray now we can work out housing arrangements for him until he earns enough to get his own place.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Lakeland Florida Revival

There's lots of talk in some circles about the "revival" in Lakeland Florida. I don't know if it is a revival, outpouring or what, but after watching for several nights I am convinced that Jesus is at work.

I experienced the strong presence of the Lord several times, almost overwhelming. My focus was not on Todd Bentley or others "leading" but on Jesus himself. I've experienced a level of intercession and worship that I hadn't experienced before. In a very powerful way I feel like I've met Jesus again.

Is it God? Whatever is of God will stand. Whatever is not of God will not. Revivals tend to be messy business. You have what God is doing, then it gets mixed in with the works of the flesh and unfortunately often the enemy sends in some stuff too. That's why we have to ask God to help us discern what is of him and what is not. Never -Never accept that because some of it is God - all of it must be God. It just doesn't work that way. Remember the parable of the wheat and the tares.

I do know God is doing a mighty work. People who have been sick a long time are getting healed by their own testimony. There are notable miracles where Doctors have said there is no hope and yet God has intervened.

There are hundreds coming to Christ. That is obvioiusly Jesus. I'm sure that Satan is not going to be involved in efforts to lead people to Jesus. This is some of the greatest victory.

While there has been lots of focus on angels and one called Emma in lots of posts, I've not seen that much mentioned of Angels in this revival. I've probably watched about seven or eight nights now. I did hear Todd Bentley mention something of seeing the Angel of the Lord one time and that was to point out a woman to be prayed for. The vast majority of the time, he keeps pointing to Jesus. That's critical.

I know Todd Bentley has gone into some wierd doctrines before, but I haven't seen that happening the nights I've watched. It stayed focus on Jesus the healer, Jesus the saviour, and Jesus our Lord. I think Todd has experienced a change. If so, I'm thankful.

As for some of the physical manifestations people see that seems wierd. Church history is full of it. Some of it is God, some is flesh and probably some is Satan as well. Don't let the physical manifestations of someone else keep you from experiencing what God has for you. Don't focus on them. Focus on Jesus. It's not a show for you to watch.

How do we know that we won't be exposed to deception? If your heart is focused on Jesus. If you honor him and his word you'll be fine. What are you seeking? If it's more of Jesus. That's what you will get.

We have the promise from Luke 11:

9 “So I say to you, ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. 10 For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened. 11 If a son asks for bread[d] from any father among you, will he give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will he give him a serpent instead of a fish? 12 Or if he asks for an egg, will he offer him a scorpion? 13 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!”

I am not comfortable with everything that has happened in Lakeland. I certainly am not comfortable with all who have been involved. I believe some have had some terrible theology and it concerns me. However, I believe Jesus is there. That's what I'm going for. More of him.
Can I get it sitting at home? Possibly. But there seem to be times when the veil between the Kingdom of God and the Earth seems a little thinner.

So I am going. I want to experience more of his presence.

Monday, May 19, 2008

Transitions

This week, I told the guys that it is time to seek God about leadership within the group.
Some would say that this is crazy, but I really sense this is God's leading. So, I put it out there to them. I will be out of town next week, so I asked them over the next two weeks to pray and seek the Lord about who should lead the Dallas Street Church going forward.

I believe that God wants me freed up to reach out beyond the group more. We have a couple of guys that are quite capable of leading the study of God's word and prayer. We still need someone to lead worship.

I will not abandon them. I will plan to meet ocassionally with the person God selects to lead to help out. We'll work out ways they can communicate with me regularly. I am also looking to connect them up to our COAH network leadership team.

I still plan to be a part of the street church, but my presence will be diminished as the rest grow and mature into leadership. I've been leading the group for nearly a year and a half now and feel like we have a couple of folks certainly that God could use to continue helping the rest of their brothers in Christ grow.

In many ways I feel like Dallas Street Church is my ministry baby. But now, it's time for the baby to grow beyond what it can if I keep my hand on it.

I don't really know what that means for me. I'll probably be out on the streets more - sharing. I still feel that I'm supposed to spend time reaching out to other groups of homeless in the area. Maybe I'll be in other parts of Dallas. Maybe I'll be downtown near the new homeless center near downtown. Maybe I'll go to Fort Worth or Denton. I really don't know yet. Soooo, the adventure continues.

Monday, May 12, 2008

Back Downtown

I missed last week down on the streets. I had driven downtown, but was having trouble finding a place to park because of the Cinco De Mayo celebrations. I forgot to bring cash so I couldn't use any of the pay parking areas. Anyway, I was back this week.

Bill is still working, helping get a house ready to sell. Munday and Leonard weren't there, so I don't know how it was going with them.

We went to Subway. It's been a while since we shared a meal. We ate and I taught about hearing the voice of God. Reggie was supposed to teach, but said he hadn't had a chance to prepare. He says he'll be ready next week.

John is pretty frustrated with his job search. He's put in about twenty applications so far and hasn't had any interviews. He's frustrated with the application process. I pointed out that he has to keep working it.

Anyway, no real changes in the past two weeks. I really am praying for these guys to be able to find work. It's scriptural. God wants men to work. In addition, I think it will help them out of the cycle of hopelessness they often find themselves in. Of course, as we keep reminding them, their true value is in what Jesus has done for them. It really is all about Jesus.

Monday, April 28, 2008

Podcast

Last week I was on Robin Yardell's and Roger Kegg's Podcast, "Road to Emmeus."
http://rd2em.wordpress.com/2008/04/20/r2e-014-john-lunt-and-the-dallas-street-church/
If you want to know some of my story, check it out there.

Good News from the Streets

On Saturday I ran late getting downtown. I was about half an hour late. We normally start at 1:30 and I arrived at 2:00. What I found really encouraged me. The guys had already had a time of worship and were already into the bible study when I arrived. I was so encouraged to see them taking the initiative. Munday was teaching on being our brother's keeper.

On the job front. Leonard has worked at his new job for a week and gets his first check later this week.

Bill was offered some temporary work that will probably last a few weeks. He is helping get a house ready for market. He started working on it last week.

Munday has several temporary jobs going. Early in the week he goes to Canton to work for a farmer. Then later in the week he is helping with restoration of a house with some other odd jobs.

We prayed for God to help each man get a job.

God is moving and I'm grateful.

Monday, April 21, 2008

Updates on Jobs

One of our guys got a job last week. He starts work this morning. Praise the Lord.
Two others have had interviews. The rest did put in several job applications.

One of our older guys, is a little discouraged. He has been putting in applications for several weeks. He really worked to better himself, going through a special computer course at a local community college. He successfully completed the course, earning a certificate showing that he had become proficient using a number of applications. He dresses well and carries himself well. Unfortunately, he feels like he isn't being hired because of a misdemeanor assault charge back in his past - and his age.

Those of you who read this. If you can pray that God will give these guys favor with employers. I believe God wants them to work. I believe the Word of God makes that clear. They are now taking steps, acting in faith, trying to do their part. But we need help from the Lord.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Taking the Step

This past Saturday I met with our little street church. We didn't do our usual activity. Instead, the Lord laid it on my heart to help these guys move forward with getting a job. They have all said they wanted to work, so my mission was to try to take away an obstacle.

I made a withdrawal from my checking account and met with each of the guys one on one. We talked about what they needed to move on. They all needed dockers or dress pants. A couple needed shoes. Some needed shirts. Some needed socks and underwear. Others needed deoderant. I tried to make sure each had enough money to get what they needed along with money for DART (Dallas Area Rapid Transit) passes.

Some asked why we didn't just get their sizes and go get the clothes for them. Wouldn't that be more responsible. In a lot of cases it would. However, these guys have to start taking some responsibilty themselves. I believe that's what God wants and that's the direction we are moving.

Each man told me he had somewhere he could go to clean up, shower, shave, etc. So that wouldn't be an obstacle for them. It was mainly the clothing and transportation.

One of our men Bill, said he had been trying to get a job all that week, but he was running into trouble because he didn't have his own car. When they saw that he had to ride the bus, they weren't interested. That of course was a downer to everyone. I reminded Bill and the rest that this is in God's hands and his Word makes it absolutely clear that he wants them to work. So we prayed. We prayed for favor. We asked God to move obstacles out of the way and we are believing God that he will help each of them get a job to start moving back to being part of the working world.

I believe we've helped establish a good foundation for most of these men, so I am hopeful, God will take this and do something wonderful with it.

If you read this and have the opportunity, please pray for Bill, John S., Reggie, Munday, and David as they try to start a new life. Even if they get a job, things will still be difficult until they can earn enough money to get an apartment. I'm hopeful that God will help in that as well.

Monday, March 31, 2008

What is Going On

This weekend I didn't get downtown. Fortunately Kelly did. I have a friend, who's a believer and he was having a bit of an emotional crises, so I thought it was more important for me to spend time with him.

I felt like I had to bring up something with him though that was bothering me. My friend goes to a large mega church in the area. I asked him if he had developed any relationships there. He said no. Now my friend has been attending this church faithfully for five years.

My friend loves God. He's in the word. He's a prayer warrior. At work he witnesses to a lot of people. He is truthful but very warming. He never acts in a condemning way.

Come to find out the only reason he goes there is that he often feels like the Pastor is speaking to him. But he confessed that he doesn't pursue any relationships because the people all seem plastic.

So I have some questions.

How can someone go to a church five years and not develop relationships?

If the people in the church all seem plastic, what does that say about the leadership of the church?

I'm on the other side of the building from my friend now, so I don't get to talk with him as much any more. I am a brother in Christ so I'll try to step up and encourage my friend. But the truth is that we move in different circles and there really aren't intersection points for us. For instance, to spend time with him I had to set aside my normal ministry on Saturday. What angers me is he attends church at a place that should be there for him and they don't know he exists. Is some of it his fault? Yes.

If a church is so big that the pastors don't know the people they are supposed to be pastoring. It's too big and it is wrong. If you don't know the sheep, you're no pastor. You may be a teacher. You may be an evangelist, but you are not a pastor. Quit calling yourself one.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Learning the Faithfulness of God


A couple of weeks ago, Bill had felt a lot of compassion for someone downtown. Bill only had $10.00 himself, but he gave it away.
He immediately was attacked by the enemy and had a lot of concern that he had done something that had put him in trouble.
We talked and prayed. I prayed that God would meet every need Bill had. I had thought about going to a nearby ATM and getting some cash to replace what Bill had given, but the Lord made it clear I wasn't to do that. He wanted Bill to learn about his faithfulness.
At our Resurrection Sunday gathering, I asked Bill how it had gone. He grinned broadly. He said that God must have brought in at least $100 in blessings to him. He didn't miss the $10 at all. I think Bill is getting it. His trust is not in the money, but in his Heavenly Father who loves him so much.
I'm so proud of Bill and how he is growing in faith.

Thank you Jesus

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Proud of Bill

Last Saturday, Bill felt compassion on someone downtown while we were ministering. Bill is living in a home temporarily. He's looking for work, but doesn't have a job yet. He had a ten dollar bill in his pocket and ended up giving it to this person.

Afterward he was concerned. He really needed that ten dollars and had given it away. I took him aside and asked him if he thought God was pleased by what he had done. He thought a second and he said yes.

I was very tempted to go find an ATM machine and replace the money Bill gave away, but I had a check in my Spirit. I believe God is teaching Bill something, to trust him for his needs.

We prayed together. I prayed that God would meet every need Bill has. I look forward to hearing the testimonies. After praying, Bill felt calm and at ease. It's not easy, but I believe God is taking Bill through some major steps in Kingdom thinking and I am really proud of Bill.

Monday, March 10, 2008

Changing Course

It's not about me. I understand that intellectually, but somehow, even when I think I'm doing right, it often crops back in.

The first evidence I saw of this was a while ago when I started looking at the fact I was "leading" our bible study at the street church?

How will our guys learn to make disciples if they're not even being equipped to lead a bible study. How will they learn to share the Word of God with others. So, a few weeks ago, I started having the rest of the folks lead the studies. It's been fun watching them grow this way.

Then I felt conviction about the way we serve the homeless. Often we take socks or winter caps and other items to give away. I have always enjoyed doing what is called servant evangelism. So, I brought over the approach I knew to use.

There's a problem with this approach. It's dependent on me. Most of our street church folks can't duplicate this approach because they don't have the financial resources to do it.

I was reminded of Peter and John going to the temple in the Book of Acts when they met the lame man. "Silver and Gold have I none, but such as I have, give I thee." Our folks on the street don't have silver and gold, so how can they serve? How can they minister? What can they do?

They can pray for the sick and see them recover. They can pray for God to move in people's lives. They can share the good news. They can share their testimony. These are the things we will begin to work with them and teach them. That's the kind of outreach we will do on the streets. That's not to say we're going to stop giving out socks completely. But I don't want our folks thinking they can't share with people and minister to them because they can't duplicate what I've done.

After this the Lord got really personal with me. He told me that I was allowing too much of my identity to be in the fact I was labeled as the "leader" of the street church. He wants my identity to be in him and in him alone. I don't think I intended to start thinking that way, but unfortunately, I have. That's got to change. I've repented.

Some more changes appear to be on the horizon. Willie, leader of THE WAY, one of our simple churches in our network, believes he can help get some of our guys jobs at a factory in Fort Worth. He knows the management and has worked with them placing refugees before. Well I told our guys about it a couple of weeks ago. Three of the guys want to pursue it which excites me. They have to be drug free, have ID and their social security card. All three meet these requirements. So hopefully in the next couple of weeks we'll be able to take them to fill out applications and take their drug tests - then hopefully they'll move into the world of the gainfully employed.

I've offered to pay the firts month's rent if they get a job and they are willing to be roommates.

But if this goes on as planned, there won't be much of a group left in Dallas. So then what? Probably the guys that go to Fort Worth would be part of a new evangelism effort our COAH network is doing with the homeless in Fort Worth. They may even be part of a new gathering in Fort Worth. So what will I do? Will I work with Fort Worth or work with Dallas? Or is the Lord preparing to move me in a completely different directions? I don't know yet.







Saturday Afternoon with the Homeless - Dallas Street Church 3-10-2008

I've been spending a lot of time in prayer the last couple of weeks. I believe prayer is a necessary foundation for ministry and I had been trying to do a lot in my own strength, so I needed to spend some serious time with the Lord.
Last Tuesday night or so as I prayed, I felt like the Lord prompted me with a question. "Would I like to feel his heart for the homeless in Dallas?" I said yes.

He showed me the Day Resource Center and then I felt a brokenness. I felt like Jesus was weeping over the people there. It was painful and it was pure. It was pure love for them. It only lasted a moment. I don't think I could handle it very well.

After that I felt the Lord say, they need to know my love. I want you to wash their feet.

Frankly, I hadn't really expected that, but I went back to the scriptures in John 13:

12 So when He had washed their feet, taken His garments, and sat down again, He said to them, “Do you know what I have done to you? 13 You call Me Teacher and Lord, and you say well, for so I am. 14 If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet. 15 For I have given you an example, that you should do as I have done to you. 16 Most assuredly, I say to you, a servant is not greater than his master; nor is he who is sent greater than he who sent him. 17 If you know these things, blessed are you if you do them.

I wondered about the fact that we may not be washing the feet of disciples, so did this scripture really apply? Maybe I was trying to talk myself out of it. But the thought persisted through the week. "Wash their feet."

I started hearing the weather report. Earlier in the week it was supposed to be in the sixties on Saturday. Then as we got closer, the temperature was only supposed to get up in the 50s. So I wondered if we should do it if it were cold. I still got the response "wash their feet."

So I figured out how to take some warm water downtown.
As we usually do, we had our meal time and time in the Word of God. We had a fairly large group with us; about ten people. Reggie's girlfriend joined us along with a couple of other gentleman. I'm terrible with names and had forgotten them. But I will pray for them this week.

Kelly did an excellent job sharing the Word with us. She pointed out that we can rely on the Power of God to give us boldness to speak to people about our faith. The initial text that she used was 1 Corinthians 2:

1 And I, brethren, when I came to you, did not come with excellence of speech or of wisdom declaring to you the testimony[a] of God. 2 For I determined not to know anything among you except Jesus Christ and Him crucified. 3 I was with you in weakness, in fear, and in much trembling. 4 And my speech and my preaching were not with persuasive words of human[b] wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, 5 that your faith should not be in the wisdom of men but in the power of God.

This was an excellent lead in for me. I told our guys what I believed the Lord was saying to me about washing people's feet. I knew this would be a problem for some of them and I didn't believe I was supposed to twist any arms. I asked them to spend thirty minutes praying and if they were interested meet me by my car.

As we were praying Ben joined us. At 3:30, almost all of our regular group was there. We went over to the Day Resource Center and set up a couple of chairs.
We had a lot of people come over, but when they found out what kind of ministry we were doing, most left quickly. We did wash the feet of two ladies, both believers, both wanting prayer.

One lady was on the streets because her transportation broke down. That kept her from being able to get her child to daycare. As she was trying to work that out, she lost her job, then her place. She is now at the Gateway Center for moms and their children. She is trying to get her child in a childcare that will work out so she can start looking for work again, but her child is way down the list. So we prayed for her and ministered to her as we washed her feet. She really enjoyed the foot washing. Then we rubbed lotion into her dry skin and gave her a new pair of socks.

Another lady just wanted a Christian Lady friend that she could share with and talk to. She was looking for some Christian fellowship on the streets. So we ministered toher and prayed with her as well.

We had another couple, who wer Christians, but were trying to stay clean from drugs. We ministered to them and prayed for their marriage as well.

There were several others who wanted prayer for various things. I believe God is going to move powerfully in each of those situations.

At then end Kelly said she really enjoyed this kind of ministry. People who were just interested in stuff, didn't stay around long. Both those who were looking for God came. I think she was right about that.
It doesn't mean we won't still try to minister to everyone. I don't mind giving out socks and meeting practical physical needs. But I want to introduce people to Jesus and his love. I don't want people looking at me as their source. Jesus can meet their needs, I can't.

I was glad we got a chance to minister to people this way. Interestingly, both ladies who's feet we washed were disciples of Jesus.




Monday, March 3, 2008

Dream about the church Continued

In the past couple of years, a message keeps coming through to me loud and clear. God is going to get his church back. He’s tired of what the church has become.

Lately, I’ve been feeling a great deal of churning in the Spirit. The image I have is a great body of water, slowly, almost unnoticed beginning to move in a circular motion. Many don’t know it’s happening. The movement is slow, but the power behind it is irresistible. I believe it’s picking up speed and it’s going to wreck some things, shake up many things and will change everything. I don’t believe it is something that can be stopped. I believe God himself is doing it.
This is additional reflection about a dream I posted about last week.


THE DREAM

I don’t often dream, but last week I had one. I’ve included what I believe the Lord was giving me as an interpretation, but I am open to correction. As I said, I rarely have dreams, so this was unusual for me.I saw an aircraft carrier. It looked impressive as aircraft carriers usually do.
Just a note of information: American aircraft carriers are the most powerful conventional warfare ship in the world. I say conventional warfare because they are equipped with a variety of aircraft (up to 80) that can control the sea around them, the air, and are capable of long range land attacks. The only ship arguably more powerful is the ballistic missile submarine ( they carry 24 missiles each with 8-10 nuclear warheads). All large deck US aircraft carriers are also capable of nuclear strike as well.
The ship looked impressive from the outside, but suddenly I was inside and it was very much a different situation. People were looking for explosives. They were sure that someone was trying to blow up the ship. I was going to start looking to when I realized there was something very wrong with this ship. It had a top deck, it had the side walls. It had a bottom. But there was nothing in it. There were no supporting structures. There were no decks at all. From near the top, I could see down to the very bottom of the ship. There were no hangar decks. There were no airplanes. There was no machinery, no engines. The ship was actually powerless to move. It was equally powerless to defend itself or to attack. In essence it was nothing more than an illusion.
I wrote the dream down and asked the Lord about it. I felt like the Lord was telling me that was the Church in the United States.. With grand buildings it looks impressive. But it is lacking in power and purpose.A real aircraft carrier is a hub of activity. Sailors are running engines, steering, navigating, serving fellow sailors by cooking and doing laundry. There are electronic experts. There are gunners and armament experts. There are mechanics. What sets apart a real aircraft carrier, what makes it powerful, are the people in it. Without them, it’s only a shell.
That’s happening in the American church. The church is the people of God not the structure or form they find themselves in. Many churches have fantastic structures or outward appearances, but the truth is they are not equipping the Saints to fulfill their Kingdom purpose.
Most churches can’t get people set free of demonic activity. Most people aren’t encouraged to make disciples, instead they are prompted to invite them to church so they can hear the preacher and get saved. Most people are not being encouraged to feed the hungry (unless it’s a church special event or project.)
I got the real sense that in the dream, someone was trying to blow up the carrier. It was God himself. He wants to break the illusion of the church being one thing, when he intends it to be something else.
The following scripture came to mind:
2 Timothy 3:1-91
"But know this, that in the last days perilous times will come: 2 For men will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, 3 unloving, unforgiving, slanderers, without self-control, brutal, despisers of good, 4 traitors, headstrong, haughty, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, 5 having a form of godliness but denying its power. And from such people turn away! 6 For of this sort are those who creep into households and make captives of gullible women loaded down with sins, led away by various lusts, 7 always learning and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth. 8 Now as Jannes and Jambres resisted Moses, so do these also resist the truth: men of corrupt minds, disapproved concerning the faith; 9 but they will progress no further, for their folly will be manifest to all, as theirs also was. "

Further Reflection

I wasn’t satisfied with this dream as it was. I believe that if God gives you something like this then he has something he wants his people to do. There has to be a response from us. What is God looking for. So I asked the Lord and I reflected on it.

One question I asked however had an answer that chilled me. In the original dream it was a small group. Then I saw the following. It wasn’t a dream, it was more like movies clips running.

But I saw what looked like a Navy Seal team, coming ashore in their Zodiac boats. They penetrated enemy territory. I saw them destroying his works and I watched them set people who were in bondage free. They took these newly liberated people in villages and other places and they began to teach them. These villagers, became powerful soldiers themselves, to go out and fight against tyrants, releasing more people. It was more of a guerilla war than a full frontal military assault.

So what does it mean?

God’s new navy (or the church), will be made up of small little boats of people. They are not “rag tag” however. They are purposeful they know their calling and their destiny.
There won’t be any one Lording over the others. They will love God and each other fervently. They will be willing to lay their lives down for the Lord and each other.

“This is My commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one’s life for his friends. You are My friends if you do whatever I command you.” John 15: 12-14

The Navy seals are believers. They are in small groups, or teams. These are possibly small organic home churches and or Apostolic teams. There will be Apostles, Prophets, Evangelists, Teachers and Pastors. There will be those who work miracles and do signs and wonders. There will be those that heal the sick and raise the dead. They will cast out devils.

They are confident. There confidence is in God though not themselves. They know they will not fail, because they are confident that God is in control and the has sent them

“Those who do wickedly against the covenant he shall corrupt with flattery; but the people who know their God shall be strong, and carry out great exploits.” Daniel 11:32

These soldiers are willing to take risks and are willing to risk their lives.

”And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb, and by the word of their testimony; and they loved not their lives unto the death.” Revelation 12:11

God also showed me something else that was frightening. When I saw the original aircraft carrier image in my dream, there were people looking for explosives. The number of people I saw was a small group, not a large group. A real aircraft carrier would have 4000-5000 people on it. I asked the Lord about all of the people in the churches today. What I felt the Lord saying was that I the small group I saw were the believers. They may have been misdirected, but the number of real believers in the American church is a small number relative to the people in the church structure. This was actually frightening for me.

The last thing God pointed me out in this set of images is that Navy Seals do learn in the classroom, but where the learning and confidence comes is out in the world. They face the elements. They face the reality of the world around them. As closely as possible, they face the real risks and threats that they would in war. They are equipped. You cannot become equipped sitting in a church building or a bible study. You can learn scriptures and concepts, but a soldier is not simply taught concepts. The people of God will never be effective advancing the Kingdom until they put into practice the things they learn in scripture in the real world. A surgeon doesn’t learn to operate simply by reading books, but by doing.

Another thing the Lord showed me is that these Seals operate stealthily. The whole idea is not to bring attention to themselves. That will be the same with the Christian teams. They will be part of the body of Christ, doing the work of Jesus, but they will not draw attention to themselves. The focus will be Jesus and they will always turn the attention of others toward Jesus.

What does this mean for me and the Dallas Street Church?

I felt like I had failed in the street church. Even though we’ve discussed dying to self. The fact of the matter, we haven’t focused nearly enough effort and attention on equipping the saints to go out and do the work of the ministry. My job is to get the guys on the street ready to serve in teams like these. I really don’t know what that will look like, but we’ll be starting next week. Frankly, the thought of this is overwhelming, but God has directed us so far, and I believe he will accomplish what he wants to do.

What does this mean for the Church in North America?

I believe a lot of changes are coming and I believe there will be some very difficult times ahead. But God is going to get his church back.

Saturday Afternoon with the Homeless - Dallas Street Church 3-1-2008

Saturday afternoon we met and had lunch at Subway. It looked like it was going to be a smaller group, but it filled out later. We had David, John S., Bill, Reggie and myself to start. Then Iting joined us, followed later by Kelly, then Ben, Dione and baby Torry.

John S, opened the Word of God for us. He taught on faith using the story of David and Goliath. It was a good message. Kelly will be teaching next week and Reggie made it clear he wants to now.

I'm really enjoying this. First it allows me off the hook, but as these guys become more comfortable sharing the Word of God, I believe they will be more willing to do it during the week. This is all part of the changes that I believe are in store for the Dallas Street Church.

Iting let us know that March 16th will be her last day in Dallas. She doesn't know where she's going next, but she believes the Lord is moving her on.

I reminded the guys about a friend, Willie Butler ( a COAH connection leader and leader of The Way in Fort Worth.) and his offer to try to get them jobs at a factory in Fort Worth. Bill and John are very interested. If they got a job, I've offered to pay the first month's rent on an apartment. Yes they would have to be roommates at least at the start, but it would be an opportunity to get off the streets.

I took the time to repent to the guys. I told them the Dallas Street Church was built on a messed up foundation. I used servant evangelism which I enjoy and am comfortable with to begin to build relationships. It was I believe a mistake. Don't get me wrong, I don't have any problem with people coming and serving and giving to people in need. But the question is - if these guys are going to reproduced disciples - and they don't have "stuff" to give out - how will they do it.

I think the scriptures themselves are clear. Peter and John on the way to the temple. There was a lame man asking alms. "silver and gold have I none, but such as I have give I thee. In the name of Jesus rise and walk."

Can we have faith for God to do miraculous answers to prayers and draw attention to himself. The guys don't have "money and stuff." But I believe they can pray in faith and watch God do things that will open the door for the gospel and discipleship. We'll still do things to help the homeless. I don't believe that will go away. But I believe we must refocus what we do and how we do it. The stuff cant be front and center. Jesus has to be front and cener.

So next week, we start putting it to the test. I'll be talking more about this in the next post.

Thursday, February 28, 2008

William F. Buckley Jr.


I had pretty much decided to stay with Kingdom topics on this blog, but the passing yesterday of William F. Buckley Jr., was enough of an event to warrant an exception.

As I grew up, it's safe to say that William F. Buckley shaped a great deal of my conservative politics. Much of that I retain today.

Unlike other "conservatives" who were really small people full of hate and distrust such as the John Birchers, and the George Wallace's, William F. Buckley was both passionate, and intelligent. He derived his views from reason and higher morality.

I loved his vocabulary. Frankly, I had to go to the dictionary often to look up a new word that he had used - or perhaps a very old word that wasn't used in normal conversation. But that was part of the richness of Mr. Buckley's legacy. He tried to elevate debates and conversations.

He was polite and respetful to all of the guests on his show, Firing Line. Some of his closest personal friends, were political opponents.

When I look at many of the people out there today spouting their so called conservative rhetoric, I wince. I have no desire to watch or listen to the likes of Rush Limbaugh or Ann Coulter. I don't want to listen to people to are quick to label people who disagree with them as ignorant, stupid, unpatriotic or worse.

Mr. Buckley had largely withdrawn from public life already-something which had saddened me. I feel like we have lost a giant. I know that most Americans probably have no clue who William F. Buckley Jr. was, but I believe he has had a major impact on the nation we have today.

I can't say that I would still agree with Mr. Buckley on everything. Jesus is the one I follow now, and he shapes my views on life and community more than anyone. But I still appreciate the great contribution of this man. I hope there are some more, somewhere who will follow his lead instead of the big names currently on radio or tv.

Thank you Mr. Buckley.

Monday, February 25, 2008

Saturday Afternoon with the Homeless - Dallas Street Church 2-23-2008

Saturday was an unusual day. Frankly, it started out looking pretty negative. David's birthday had been that week, and he wanted to go to TOPS instead of subway. So we did. TOPS is a new restraunt in the area. Everyone ordered, and I paid. We went to sit down.

Iting, our Taiwanese evangelist and fireball brought a friend from Fort Worth, Jim. Jim is a bit older than me, he loves the Lord. He is a member and serves at "The Slab" in Fort Worth. It's called "The slab" because it is a concrete slab covered with a large tent. They bus in the homeless on Sunday's and Wednesdays. They attend church, and then get a hearty meal. Many years ago some friends of mine and I served for a season at the slab, cooking dinner once a month and serving on Wednesday nights. So it was good to hear what was going on back on the Fort Worth side of town.

We got in the restraunt, and Lawrence decided to join us, well sorta. Actually he joined us long enough to get something to eat then did his own thing. I'm not suprised, but I was a little dissapointed. Lawrence has often been just on the outside perimeter.

We found out very quickly that the restraunt did not have an available restroom. They said that it was leaking. I don't know if it's true, or they don't want homeless folks coming in. Anyway, some of our team took offense and one got quite loud. It was obvious that this was not a good witness at all and beyond that, I could sense a spirit of disunity coming into our gathering.

So I began praying, loud. It was as much to get our group focused back on the Lord as it was to get the Lord to intervene. Fortunately, Jesus worked it out and everyone did focus. We ate our meals, then Bill shared the Word of God with us, continuing his message from the previous week. I was really impressed. God had really been working this message into Bill and it was pouring out of him.

After we left TOPS, we headed to my car, I had brought cupcakes to celebrate David's birthday. Never Ever Ever get cupcakes from Wal-Mart. I don't know what they did but the food coloring in the frosting was industrial strength. It dyed our hands, our mouths, and for crying out loud even our teeth. Thank goodness it eventually went away. If Wal-Mart wants to sue me over this... let them... I have pictures.

We also had an impromptu time of worship on the sidewalk on Ervay Street. It was beautiful. We had no instruments, no leaders, but the Holy Spirit seemed to be guiding it. Some of us don't have great voices, but God was there.