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 Buckley had largely withdrawn from public life already-something which had saddened me.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.

The Dream - Is it a Message?

I don’t often dream, but last night 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 3:1-9
1 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.

Testimony of a Dallas Street Church Member

The last two Saturdays bill taught about the bondwoman and the freewoman. He made it clear we are not saved by the law, but only through the grace and shed blood of Jesus. He did a fantastic job. He also shared his testimony, which we urged him to write out and to distribute.
Here it is.

My Testimony: Condensed
By Billy Wells
February 24,2008

In 1992, my wife devorced me. My son was just 5. I took it hard. 12 years before, my first wife passed away. I took that hard. But I still loved the Lord, even though I didn't understand it all. I left Orlando, Florida in 1992, in the spring, on foot. It rained almost every day. One day, as I was walking along a highway in Belleview,Florida a couple headed in the opposite direction pulled over and swung open the back car door and yelled at me: "Get in!!" I just ran over and got in, as if I was obeying a command." What's the matter?" I asked "There's a tornado in the area", they said at the same time. The car sped away like we were going to a fire. "Where're we going?" I asked. "To get some food and then home" She said. (He was driving). I spent 3 days with them on Sunday, we went to church. This was just one of the many times God was there for me.

I arrived in Dallas 2 weeks later, thanks to a ride from Mobile to Dallas. I finally got full time permanate work in 1999 and then I was diagnosed with T.B. I put in quarantine for about 6 weeks, then I was allowed to return to work. Then my sister invited her boy friend, Randy, just out of prison to live with us. We didn't hit it off. We fought, I went to jail, and then I ended up under a bridge at Victory Park and Highline, under I-35. It was the fall of the year. I knew winter was not far away. Miraculosly, I secured two sleeping bags and some warm clothes without having to ask for them.I have not begged, borrowed, stolen, or even so much as asked for help during this time. God has indeed provided!

In May of 2007, I had been attending a tent revival for about forty days, when Howard (last name withheld at his request) walked up to me, after I gave my testimony and said,"I have a three bedroom house, I'm by myself, why don't you come and stay with me?" What a surprise! After I got my breath, I said "I must pray about it" He said "O.K.,let me know when you're ready". 3 days later, I moved in. I've been here almost 9 months. God is good.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Getting to meet a fellow blogger

Richard Wagner is a cool guy from Tennessee. We've followed each other's blogs for a couple of years now, commenting from time to time. Actually I found Richard's blog when I was in my emerging church exploration phase. We've both moved toward a more missional than "emerging" mindset. We have similar journeys. Going from very conservative political backgrounds to more of what is Jesus wanting to do with me? with the church?

Anyway, Richard is in Dallas this week to do some training, so we got a chance to go out to dinner last night. It was a lot of fun. It was amazing as we compared notes how many similarities we had.

Richard is involved in a new church plant that actually hasn't had it's launch date yet. But these are very exciting times for him. We're both dedicated to being missional in our lives.

Check out his blog here.

Richard, I had a blast and am looking forward to connecting up somehow again.

Saturday Afternoon with the Homeless - Dallas Street Church 2-16-2008

Well Saturday was a miserable day. It was cold and raining. I ended up getting soaked just walking back to my car at the end of our time together.

Because of the rain, we weren't really equipped to do outreach on Saturday, but we had a large group. Lou visited us again and brought some of his clothes for the guys. Iting was with us again, though she wasn't feeling well. We had Reggie, John, Bill, David, Kelly, and me. An old friend of George's - another John also joined us.

We had lunch at Subway and Bill lead our bible study time. He did an excellent job talking about the bondwoman and the free woman- Hagar and Sarah. He used the text in Galatians about either being under the law, or being free in Jesus Christ. Bill did an outstanding job. He's going to finish up this coming Saturday.

I just hope - PRAY - that the weather is better.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Getting the mind and heart in sync with God

I read something yesterday that really grieved me. It was an article about a well known Christian leader. The article showed a picture of and described the 4.6 million dollar mansion he lived in. It talked about the fact that the family payroll in the ministry was about 2 million dollars per year, though this Christian leader was only making a bit over 300,000 of it. Not only that but apparantly this Christian leader has a cigar boat, over twenty vehicles and ten airplanes including a cessna citation 10 jet. He has his own hangers and runway at his ministry center. For his seventieth birthday thirty prominent christian leaders flew in directly on fifteen private jets and gave him 2.6 million dollars worth of gifts.

I will say that I was grieved. When so many Christians in the world are suffering. When so many don't have enough to eat and can't afford medical care, how can any Christian justify that kind of lifestyle. I don't mind Christians living in a nice house... but 4.6 million dollars. I don't think so. How can you justify ten airplanes including a jet.

Jesus didn't even ride on a donkey on a regular basis. He and his ministry team went on foot most of the time.

I believe I have the mind of God on this issue. If we have resources available to us and we aren't using them to help brothers and sisters in need, we are doing the same thing to Jesus.

However, I also realized I did not have the heart of Jesus on this issue. He would respond to leaders like this with compassion and love because despite what they are doing, he loves them. My response was not "love" at all. I wanted to blast them. So God still has a lot of work to do in my life. I repented and prayed.... I wonder if I'll ever respond more like Jesus.

Monday, February 11, 2008

Saturday Afternoon with the Homeless - Dallas Street Church 2-9-2008

Saturday afternoon we were blessed to have our COAH (city on a hill) connection partners; Adam and Diana Clay join us on the streets. They are discipling Lou, who came to Christ through the COAH baseball games with the Cuban refugees. Anyway Lou is an excited new believer who is devouring the Word of God. It’s also interesting because Lou is Jewish which really excites me. Anyway, Lou is really beginning to feel like he needs to start doing something for the Lord. (Gotta love that heart). He had been around our guys a couple of times at COAH gatherings and wanted to come downtown.

So at 1:30 they showed up. We all went to Subway and enjoyed a meal, some fellowship, and getting into the Word of God. We studied Acts 21. We had a lot of fun. Along with our COAH friends, I was joined by Kelly, John S., David, Bill, Reggie,Chris and Iting.

Chris started hanging out with us at least for lunch and bible study about three or four weeks ago. Reggie was a young man that Kelly and John had lead to Christ during our Christmas Eve outreach. He really never started showing up to any of our gatherings until last week. He’s been with us two weeks now and really seems to be enjoying himself and his new faith. What really excites me is that the person who is primarily discipling him is John, who we baptized last year. Our guys are beginning to get it. Iting joined us for the first time three Saturday’s ago. She is a Taiwanese evangelist who loves Jesus with all her heart. The Lord told her to start ministering to the homeless in Dallas. She has felt God’s leading to this point to work with our little gathering. She’s bold enough to preach and proclaim to larger groups of people and the obvious joy of Jesus in her life is contagious. Her presence has had a real impact on the guys.

I think it’s time for the Street Church to grow beyond me. I’ve decided to ask other people to come and minister to our little group. But most importantly, I really believe that God wants our guys to learn to give, share and lead in the sharing of God’s word. Next week, Bill will lead our study. He asked what he should share on. I laid hands on him and told him to ask the Lord what he wanted Bill to share and we prayed for Bill that he will hear the Lord.

Then we went out to minister to the homeless. We had socks, some clothes that had been given to me that morning, and about 24 sack lunches. We got to bless people. We prayed for three different people and I had the honor of leading a man to Christ. When everything was done, we gathered and prayed for those we had ministered to that God would seal them, lead them, and guide them. I prayed that God would make sure that Richard, the man I had lead to Christ would be directed to a home church or body, whether it is us or another church. We prayed that God would have someone to disciple and love him into a greater relationship with Jesus.

In addition to everything else, we at the Street Church have the honor of hosting the next COAH gathering of all of the house/simple churches in our network on Easter morning. We began some preliminary thinking and planning for the event on Saturday as well. I really think everyone’s pretty excited about it. I know that I am.

Anyway, God is doing wonderful things in the streets of Dallas and I believe God is leading me to make some adjustments which I believe will result in more people’s lives being touched and more disciples for Jesus.

Monday, February 4, 2008

Today, I made my third Kiva loan, using the same $25.00 I originally started with.
I love Kiva. It's a way to help people in impoverished situations while staying true to my view that while no system is perfect, and any economic system run amok is going to be disasterous, overall capitalism has been the most beneficial economic system on the planet. Kiva allows people to participate in that system and hopefully improve their lives.

I chose this person for no real reason other than he lives in a city that one of my favorite bloggers serves as a missionary in.

If you want to get involved in helping people improve their lives with a small loan, check out

José Amaguaya

Business Description

For the last 5 years, Jose has had his own business selling plastic houseware goods such as garbage bins, containers, bowls, etc. One year ago he also started selling disinfectants and bleach. He began his own business because, since he was a teenager, he helped his father at work and he grew fond of it. Shortly afterward, he began to build his own clientele. His father pitched in the initial capital he needed to go on his own. His business has been growing gradually ever since. He works everyday from 8:00 am until 4:00 pm. He delivers his merchandise to a well-populated area in Guayaquil, known as Guasmo, where he is well known by his customers. His sister helps him run his business.

Loan Investment
Jose wishes to obtain a second loan from Kiva and Mifex. The demand for disinfectants has grown and he needs to stock up enough merchandise to better serve his customers. He will also continue to invest in plastics.

Personal Information
Jose is 25 years old, single, and lives with his parents. He also helps with his family's expenses. He wishes to use this credit to expand his venture and to become a solid source of support for his family, particularly his parents.