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.


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.