Thursday, May 15, 2008

Ministry Update

Ministry Update

WE DO NOT NEED GOD!

Suddenly I woke up. I looked at the clock and it said 4:00 AM. Something immediately began to stir in my spirit. I closed my eyes and saw a map of the United States and Mexico. Covering the United States was a black darkness and somehow I knew it was poised to cross the Rio Grande River into Mexico. "What is this blackness?" I thought. Suddenly it came to me - its name was BABYLON.

Later that morning, I was scheduled to complete a week-long teaching session with the students of the Cave of Adullam in San Luis Potosi, Mexico. I was prepared to speak on reaching the poor and immigrants of the urban core. With this fresh revelation from the Lord, I knew my plans were about to change. I jumped up and began looking for my notes and computer. The subject of Babylon had recently come up in my studies but it seemed so elusive. As I started to dig into the Scriptures again, I faced the same challenge. "What is Babylon?" The Bible tells us it is a woman (Rev. 17:3-5), a city (Rev. 18:10), a land (Isa. 39:3), and a kingdom (Isa. 13:19). If that wasn't ambiguous enough, it was also called a mystery (Rev. 17:5).

Not to be deterred this time, I decided to attack it from another angle. "Where did it come from? How did it start?" Soon I was reading Genesis 11:1-7 - the story of the Tower of Babel.

"Now the whole world had one language and a common speech. As men moved eastward, they found a plain in Shinar and settled there. They said to each other, "Come, let's make bricks and bake them thoroughly." They used brick instead of stone, and tar for mortar. Then they said, "Come, let us build ourselves a city, with a tower that reaches to the heavens, so that we may make a name for ourselves and not be scattered over the face of the whole earth."

This passage reveals three characteristics of Babylon that are foundational:

1) Intelligence. The builders of the city and tower of Babel were very industrious. They revolutionized structure building by creating bricks to replace stones. This gave them virtually unlimited building materials. Not only that, but they also discovered a substance that would serve as mortar for the bricks.

2) Independence. The passage states that they wanted to build a tower that "reaches to the heavens." God was in heaven and they determined to go there also - only without His help.

3) Pride. It is obvious from the passage that pride was a prime motivator for the tower. The outcome of completing it was "we may make a name for ourselves."

I then began to reflect on two other Scripture passages regarding Babylon - Isaiah 47 and Revelation 17, 18. Both speak of the fall of Babylon and the reasons for God's judgment against it. Several sins are exposed. Babylon is described as a lover of pleasure, especially sexual pleasure. It is also a lover of money and riches and capable of producing it. Babylon likes to dabble into witchcraft - for the power it promises. Finally, it hates the true followers of God and is responsible for many of their deaths.

As I reflected on these additional characteristics, I thought, "These are evident throughout the earth in various degrees. So why is the United States in blackness and not Mexico?" The answer came quickly and powerfully into my spirit. "Mexico has not received the heart of Babylon." "But, what is in its heart, Lord?" In my spirit, I clearly heard the answer, "WE DO NOT NEED GOD."

To be continued next month:

OUTREACH REPORT

A couple of months ago, the Lord directed us to the book of Joshua. I was struck by the manner in which the Promise Land was taken. Before commencing the battle, Joshua sent spies into the land to see the strength of the city. They discovered in Jericho some people who were for them and many who were against them. An assessment was critical in the process of taking the city. It is also strategically important in any city-wide spiritual transformation today.+Last month we had the privilege of facilitating an urban outreach involving 40 students from Bethany College of Missions and four South Minneapolis churches that are connected to our Wednesday Pastor's Prayer Meeting. A spiritual survey was conducted door to door throughout the Phillips West, Midtown Phillips and Regina neighborhoods.

Hundreds of folks were contacted. Dozens wanted prayer. Some had encounters with God right on their doorstep. Besides the local residents, many of the students received a fresh revelation of God's love for people, especially the poor and disenfranchised. Here's what some students had to say afterwards:+"I am changed and I do not even know the full extent at this point. Once again, I love. I feel. I long. I desire. I know this was a monumental week and I will look back to this as the beginning someday, the beginning of several things in my life."

"I really learned how to live a life of ministry despite the things that are going on in my personal life - and it was beautiful."

"I operated in my gifts and I found the immense satisfaction that comes from loving like Jesus loved. Living life this past week woke something up inside of me. It woke up the part of me that wants nothing more than a backpack, flip-flops and my bible!"

IN MEMORY of EFRAIN

Recently, we were saddened by the tragic death of six year old, Efrain - son of our urban ministry partners, Pastor Jose and Luz Elena Anleu. This brave young man had been taught to choose Christ above everything else. At the funeral, Luz Elena offered some powerful insights into the journey of life from earth to heaven. "All around the world God raised up intercessors who cried out day and night for two days proclaiming life over our son and God permitted them to see him standing on those stairs, he tried to climb, but our prayers made him return, he wanted to climb, but our cries made him descend. Suddenly a portal opened and Efrain looked first down and then at the pearly gates and said: 'PLEASE TELL MOMMY NOT TO BE ANGRY AT ME BECAUSE I DON'T WANT TO COME BACK.' And just like that he climbed and entered the gates to heavenly glory as a "more than conqueror" where we encounter our eternal destiny."