Monday, September 22, 2014

2014 The Year of Divine Intervention

At the beginning of this year, during our 21 days of fasting and prayer, the Lord spoke to my heart that this would be a year of God intervening.  He led me to Ezekiel 20:14 where it states God acted for the sake of His name.  And we have experienced just that!!! We have seen God lead and open up doors like never before.  God began speaking to my heart about going into our local county jail.  My first visit was just to listen for what God might speak to me.  I ended up preaching twice that first night and had an overwhelming feeling that I was home.  Within two weeks God began bringing back to me a ministry that He laid on my heart 6 years ago.  It is a re-entry program for inmates to help disciple, train and equip them to stand on their own two feet after getting out of jail/prison.  This is when I began seeing God open doors and lead the way.  I just followed excitedly.  There were a couple of guys in Cell Block 1 that God put on my heart early on.  Within a month I was committed to going forward with the live in program called "Freed to Serve Ministries".  A name that God had given me years earlier but not for this ministry.  But I began to see that this is what it was for; Men getting freed from sin and freed from jail and using that freedom to serve the Lord Jesus Christ and others in the community.

The very weekend that I told the two guys in jail about the ministry and that I wanted them to be the first into the program we were under attack.  We got news of loss of income for both me and my wife and attack after attack against our family.  I have never seen so many things happen so quickly with just a decision being made.  The day it all hit was the day I was suppose to be going into the jail.  I didn't want to go that night.  I had nothing to say...nothing positive or uplifting that is.  So, I prayed and prayed and cried out to God.  I was so ready for Him to just take me home for good.  I was tired, worn out, and finished.  Or so I thought.  Thankfully God didn't grant my request for my final homecoming but instead began to show me something.  You see, nothing had happened yet.  It was all things that were threatening to happen down the road.  I then began to think of the Children of Israel walking through the Red Sea with a wall of water on either side.  What must have been going through their minds? "This isn't natural"; "We shouldn't be here"; "We could die at any moment".  The huge walls of water were just a threat of what could happen.  But guess what ? It never did collapse on them.  They walked through and could have with absolutely no fear.

So, I began receiving strength and comfort in that fact that nothing had happened yet.  It was just a fear of what could.  I began to receive strength and encouragement from the Lord and decided one thing.  "If I go down then I am going down trusting in my God!!!!!"  

I shared that night in the jail with the guys and they all prayed for me and said "WE" will trust God together!!!!! wow.  I never thought that this would be what happened.  I was receiving encouragement from the men in jail!!! Thank you Lord.

We began the program with 3 men from the jail and continue to reach out to those still incarcerated twice a week.  We believe the Lord wants to move us to some land out in the country and develop a facility there in the future.  We are believing God for something that will have a profound impact on men's lives.  There are so many that I talk with that have never been in an environment that was positive in any way.  My hope and prayer is to be able to have a facility that is thriving with men that have given their lives to God and are growing in Him every day and can in turn be a positive influence on those just getting out of jail/prison.  Not just with words but with lives that are a living testimony of how God can turn a man's life around for His glory.

The next thing we have seen happen this year was a ministry to abused and battered women and their children, "Psalm 10:18 Ministries".  God has birthed this in my wife's, Beth, heart for many years now.  The Lord has beautifully orchestrated her being there for some women in the jail and also some on the outside to assist, support and minister the life and hope that Jesus has for them.

We both had laid these ministries at the Lord's feet a long time ago and had no idea that they would both take off within a couple months of each other.  We have no idea how God is going to come through financially but we do know it is what He does best.  We are utterly dependent on Him for our family as well as these ministries.  I want to thank Him and praise Him for how He has provided for the men and women, and us as well, through all of this.  He will sustain us.  All we have to do is stand in Him and have faith that He will do it.

God has truly intervened and is doing awesome things.

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Out of the Fire and Onto the Anvil.

Have you ever said to yourself, "I can't take anymore?" Regardless of what we may be facing or how difficult it may seem when compared to someone else's problems, we find ourselves at the end of our rope. We truly feel and believe that we can't endure any more pain, suffering, hardship, disappointment or attacks. Then, when it seems the fire has somewhat subsided, we begin to see all sorts of junk in our lives that make us question if we were the cause of the trouble to begin with. Let me assure you of this...You Are Not Alone!!!!
There is a process that we are undergoing that is likened to the forging process of a metal. This process is of utmost importance to us as Christians; first, because it helps us to understand what we are going through, so as not to become defeated. And secondly, it is necessary in order for us to be formed into the image of Jesus Christ. I find that it is often through circumstances that we can't see how God can possibly be using them that He actually can do the greatest amount of work within us.
I can't recount the number of times in the past 5 years that I have asked myself the opening question above. You know what amazes me when I look back? I have undergone more than I ever thought that I could. I definitely must tell you at this point that it wasn't because of my ability or strength that I made it. It was all because of God's grace that sustained me even when I was at my weakest. I would like to say that through every fire I acted like the ideal Christian but I know that would be so far from the truth. But even in my failures and shortcomings, I felt the presence of God there to help me and do something that was beyond my own feeble attempts. God is faithful and good and will work when we least expect it.
Like the metal when it is being melted or refined, I have seen more junk and impurities come into view when going through these things. One of the biggest mistakes that we can make at this point is either to try and hide what is coming out or work feverishly trying to clean things up. Both of those are mistakes but often one of those two are what we naturally do at first. But we must realize that the work is God's and not ours. We are reminded clearly of this in two verses in the letter to the saints at Philippi:
Philippians 1:6 (NASB) 6 For I am confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus.
Philippians 2:13 (NASB) 13 for it is God who is at work in you, both to will and to work for His good pleasure.
This is easy to read and understand but something entirely different to walk. If the enemy or just our sinful flesh can trick us into thinking that we are the ones to do the work (or at least to give God a hand) then he knows that he can hinder the work of God's kingdom. But like most things we learn through our weaknesses and failures what doesn't work. And God is still there working and telling us to just have faith in the finished work of the cross.
So, once we are out of the furnace and we see so many impurities revealed we may think that we have a moment of rest and relief. But this is where the working and forging begins. Up to this point we are just being softened so that the next stage can take place without utterly destroying us. God's word is the hammer that begins the shaping;
Jeremiah 23:29 (KJV) 29 Is not my word like as a fire? saith the LORD; and like a hammer that breaketh the rock in pieces?
As we submit to God and get out of the way, so He can work, then this process happens little by little and over and over. I must admit that this is not a pleasant or fun process. Anyone that tells you otherwise hasn't truly experienced it. It is painful and frustrating and a continual dying to ourselves. But, on the other side.....Glorious!!! If we allow God to have His way and surrender to Him continually and put our trust in Him then through the most horrid of circumstances He can mold and shape us into the image Jesus Christ. And then all we can say on the other side is that all the Glory goes to God. Because, like the metal, all we did is go through a process and somebody else did all the work.
We can experience a greater and greater freedom in Christ if we allow God to do the forging process in us. Remember you are not alone and there is someone else in that fire with you.

Monday, March 19, 2012

The Keeper of Our Soul.

Psalms 121:5 - 8 (NASB) 5 The LORD is your keeper; The LORD is your shade on your right hand. 6 The sun will not smite you by day, Nor the moon by night. 7 The LORD will protect you from all evil; He will keep your soul. 8 The LORD will guard your going out and your coming in From this time forth and forever.

Through the darkest of times we don't fully comprehend how much God is keeping and sustaining us. It is usually only when we begin to come out from under the cloud that we can look back and see how He was there at every trial, every adversity and every turn; Guiding us, leading us, caring for us and working something so wonderful within us. This speak so much of the goodness of God!!!

During these times we don't feel the promise of this Psalm. However, that is why we need faith. That regardless of how we are feeling, overwhelmed and defeated, God is still doing a work because He is the one who promised to do it. He is Faithfull!!! Even in our faithless times, He is still found faithfull. He is such a loving and compassionate God. His beauty is seen so much clearer when we emerge from the darkness that hid our steps. We have a joy in our heart; a peace in our soul; and a fire within our spirit. God brings about His will, in His time, and in His way. All we have to do is continue surrendering ourselves to Him and allowing the Holy Spirit to do His work.

Lord, I am gratefull for the brilliance of the light and seeing what you are doing, but I am also grateful for the dark times when I didn't see what you were working. But, you did even more within me during that time than any other. Thank you and have your way! Amen.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

All We Need Is Love

If you ask most christians today, "what is the one thing you would like more of in your life?" you would get such a wide variety of answers. Some spiritual and some not. However, I fear that the thing you wouldn't hear overwhelmingly is "love". Yet, when we read the bible we find this being the primary thing that is to be within our lives. Jesus summed up the whole law with this one word; LOVE...first towards God then towards our neighbors. Why is it that we desire so many other things instead of love? Ie. God using us in some aspect of ministry, having the gifts of the Spirit operating through us, or a number of other good things. But none of this means anything without love. Not the love that we can muster up within ourselves but the unconditional love that comes from God. This is the most important thing that can be within any child of God's life. It doesn't matter how much you know or how much you do, but how much you love. Oh, if we could just love more the body of Christ would be transformed.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Nothing Left to Trust In.

It's amazing to think that when I started serving the Lord, about 25 years ago, I thought I fully trusted in Him. Now to some degree that was true, but 25 years later I feel like I am just learning what trust in Him really is. And I readily admit that I have a long way to go.
It is easy to say, "God, I trust in You", and to the most part we believe it. But, it is a totally different thing to walk down a path that seems to leave you with nothing else to lean on except God. One by one, God seems to remove these things until we are in a place that we feel so vulnerable and alone.
The children of Israel faced the same thing, after God had miraculously delivered them from the hand of the Egyptians, God led them in a very strange route right to the Red Sea. He basically took away everything that could have been some benefit to their escape when the Egyptians came after them. However, this is the exact thing that sets the stage for God to step in.
I believe the biggest step is allowing God to take us to this place. We don't have to go; we can choose another path; one that is easier, but definately won't produce the same results.
I think when the children of Israel were crossing the Red Sea that they were terrified. Just think about, a wall of water on the right and a wall of water on the left. And everything within them was telling them that they shouldn't be there; Any minute we could drown; Problems are all around us. However, their feet were on dry ground.
You may be surrounded right now by circumstances and problems that are telling you the same things; Any minute you will be overwhelmed; You shouldn't be here; You will be defeated. Howver, by God's grace, you are still standing. You are alive! You have made it one more day! All you have to do is get your eyes off the wall of problems to your right and to your left and set you eyes on Jesus because He is going to see you through. One step at a time, a little by little. God didn't just pick up the children of Israel and put them on the other side. He made them walk through a place that they had no business being. Surrounded by their problems and just a second away from death, God led them step by step until they came out on the other side.
Your going to make it! Just trust that God is there and He will walk you through everything that shouts your demise. And on the other side you will have a song that has been born out of anguish and hardship but will be the sweetest praise you have ever known.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Momentary Relief

Have you ever had a time when God seems to pull back the veil that seems to be hanging over you and give you just a glimpse of something that makes everything your going through seem to vanish? I have had so many of these moments in the past year that I honestly can not count them all. I assume that we have these moments more often when we are walking through the valley. It is amazing what we can "get use to" at times. Sometimes trials and sufferings become such a norm that we forget what it is like to rise, even for a moment, out of these. I know God's children all over this world are experiencing these things on a level like I have never seen in my life time. God is preparing His church and His people to be a true representation of His Glory. We are learing to trust in Him, lean on Him, and become completely surrendered to His will. These are all things that I thought I knew all about and have been doing for some time. However, I feel now that I am only beginning to learn. In the midst of this though, God will lift me up in a moment and give me a view, that is so refreshing, that He is in control and all is well. I know that I need these times and they usually come when I am not expecting it.
I pray that God will lift your veil, if just for a moment, and give you a glimpse of Him. That's all it takes. Just one glimpse of something we didn't see and our spirit's are lifted and our soul is rejuvenated.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Precious in the Sight of the Lord

Psalm 116:15 tells us "Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of His saints." I don't think we can even begin to comprehend the beauty of this verse. We see loss, heartache, hurt, and death, but God sees victory, union, perfection, and life eternal. Maybe it's because we are so surrounded with the material and only occasionaly see with spiritual eyes that facing the loss of someone in the family of God is so tough.
But I find comfort in this: Anything good that I have received from someone in the Lord, was not something from them but Christ within them. Though they may be gone, Jesus is still here; within me and others. So, the true life is not gone but still here to bring life on an ever increasing level!