Thursday, December 17, 2009

Ministry Update

MINISTRY EVENTS

This past month we have been involved in several events. We enjoyed a fantastic Thanksgiving celebration - Mexican style with several of our friends. We also were able to attend the 30th anniversary of Robert and Ani Duran's ministry in Mexico. It was a wonderful time of remembering the past and looking towards the future. There was lots of music and food too!

This past week we Participated in a Pastor's Conference in Jerez, Mexico. It was a powerful time of ministry and experiencing God's presence. On the last evening, my daughter received a dramatic vision from the Lord. The next morning we shared it with Robert and discovered God had recently given him a similar message from the same passage of Scripture.

I believe God is desperately trying to get His bride ready. The Church functions as if she is ready but it is only Because she has focused on the present rather than the future. Below is the vision Molly received.


RELEASE OF THE BLACK HORSE

I was the last one to go to bed on Thursday night. Everything was silent and dark. All of a sudden I heard the distant sound of horse hooves. They started out faintly and then quickly became louder and louder. I knew whatever it was, it was coming closer and at a rapid pace. I opened my eyes to see what I was hearing. I then saw me approaching horses. I could not count how many, but there were just a few in number. Upon them were riders. They were not of flesh, but of spirit. I could not see the colors of the horses except for one and it was black. As this horse Approach Me, both he and his rider stopped and looked at me very intensely. The horse was menacing and appeared to be possessed by a spirit. As he passed, I could feel his breath upon my cheek. I just began to cry out and tremble. He then continued on his assigned mission with determined urgency. My vision then expanded to where this horse was going. I saw him fly over the nations and as he did, darkness consumed all that he passed over. Nothing was unaffected. Wherever I went I brought mourning and woe, darkness, and ignorance to the land.

I just began to cry out to the Lord and as I did, my vision changed. I saw and heard the Lord crying out in agony. He was weeping, "My people are not ready. My people are not ready." He just repeated this over and over and over. Each time I've cried it out, it seemed as if His heart was breaking more. I then saw him go throughout the different churches across the nations, and the places where one gathered His people together. I started overturning their tables and chairs. As I did this, I cried out, "What you are doing is not going to prepare you for what is to come!" I have never felt the agony and desperation of the Lord as strong as that moment.

This open vision went on for over two hours. After it passed, the Lord directed me to His Word. He led me to Revelation 6 Which describes the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse. The black horse represents famine upon the earth. I believe this is not only a physical famine but graver still, a spiritual famine. In the passage it speaks of wheat and barley that were once their inexpensive price but now has Increased substantially. So now it will be for our spiritual food. Where Once We could easily preach, teach, prophesy, heal and we will now have to pay a higher price to receive from the Lord. No longer will we be able to have God and the pleasures of this world but we will have to clearly disengage from the culture and spend more time with the God we profess to love.

In Revelation 6, no other horse and rider are given instructions but the black one. The Lord said to the rider, "do not damage the oil and the wine." I started to consider the difference between The Roots of the wheat and barley compared to the olive tree and grapevine. Because of the wheat and barley's root system they are picked Once and then they die. They only last for a season and then the soil needs to be replanted. The olive tree and grapevine are different. When these plants are picked, they continue to live, even in dry seasons. They remain season after season. This is because their root systems are deeper and more substantial. I believe the Lord was saying that those Whose roots are strong and deep in Him will be protected in the trials that are to come.

The black horse was not standing at the starting line. He was already running. The flag had been lowered and I was off with only one thing on his mind - devastation. This is not something that Christians can ignore, rebuke, or cast back from where it came. It is already coming. Now is the time we must get ourselves and others ready.


A Christmas Thought

I believe God, as our loving Father, is warning us of what is to come - not out of anger but out of love. As we prepare for Christmas and another new year it is important to realize how every person is valuable to Him. Of all the billions who are alive today, not one is worthless, hopeless, or a mistake to God. He is consumed by our welfare and wants us to be prepared for whatever lies ahead.

When life gets difficult we can either allow our hearts to get as cold as a Minnesota winter or we can draw close to the biggest and warmest heart in the universe. He is always there - loving, caring, and Pursuing our hearts. I am constantly humbled by His unselfish love for us. He just never stops giving and has provided us with the one true hope that exists in this broken world. Thank you Jesus for giving us your life that we may live!

More Gifts of Love

Last month we requested donations to purchase Christmas gifts for the Mexican children. Thanks to all who have already contributed. If you have not given yet please send your donation to Bethany Urban Development at PO Box 8940, Minneapolis, MN 55408. Please attach a note stating the gift is for "Children's Christmas Gift." The deadline is December 18th. Thank you so much!

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Ministry Update

THE INCREDIBLE GIFT OF LIFE

Last month we had an unexpected break in our schedule so We decided to head back to Minnesota for the birth of our next grandchild. October 9th we left for a three week visit. Madelynn was born November 1st at 12:13 AM and was seven pounds, nine ounces. She is doing great along with her parents, Dan and Autumn and her big brother, Joshua. It was such a blessing to stay with them and help with the transition.

The joy of being with family and friends was tempered however, when my mother Suffered a mild heart attack three days after Madelynn's birth. I've taken for granted my parents health over the years and this incident was a vivid reminder of how precious their lives are. My mother is quite the saint. Although she is in her mid-seventies, her favorite activity is ministering at the woman's jail each Friday night. She never stops talking about her girls and how much the Lord has changed their lives.


THE BATTLE CONTINUES ...

On this visit back to the U.S. we encountered some surprising culture shock. For one, I had not ever realized how many food Advertisements Americans are inundated with each day. We had none in Mexico and not surprising, most of us lost weight. It makes you wonder how much people actually eat some slick Only Because advertiser has told them to do so - certainly some food for thought.

The other culture shock was discovering how busy everyone seems to be. Social interaction in the U.S. is far less spontaneous than in Mexico. It seems most American get-togethers have to be scheduled far in advance. Perhaps, in our effort to make more efficient use of our time, we have lost our freedom to live and love simply.

But Mexico is certainly not a utopian society either. A few days after our arrival in Minneapolis, we received a phone call from Chuck, our colleague and neighbor in San Luis Potosi. Apparently, someone Decided to break into our home and steal our LCD television monitor. They had also caused extensive damage to the front door, Which needed to be fixed. We quickly transferred funds to cover the door repair and an additional deadbolt lock. I felt relieved that they had only taken the monitor because i rarely watch TV anyway.

Only when we returned to our home in Mexico, did I discover that they had also taken two other items. One was a beautiful shofar that had been given to us several years ago. The other was my entire CD music library. This consisted of hundreds of worship albums - Which were several rare, out-of-print discs. I felt just sick and just had a hard time comprehending it. My mind flashed back to when we lived in the urban core of Minneapolis about ten years ago. As we were beginning Bethany Urban Development, Burglars struck our home more than once. On one occasion, they took my entire Christian music collection there as well. At the time it seemed so strange - like stealing a case of bibles or a box of Sunday school lessons. What would they do with them? Listen to "Here I Am to Worship" while they try to peddle their stolen goods to those who like Christian music?

After several years, I was finally able to purchase replacements for most of the CD's. But now it had happened again - only on a much greater scale. Even though my collection had been stored discretely under a sofa, they managed to find them. This was just too much of a coincidence. Something else was going on. Could it be that the devil hates worship, especially in our homes? It is worth considering. I believe he wanted to literally steal our worship and praise. But he will not be successful and he is a fool for trying.

Ironically, just a few weeks prior to the break in, I felt led to copy all of our music in a higher quality format (320 Kbps) onto my computer. It was a big project and took days to accomplish but now I know why. Even though I do not have the liner notes and the benefit of owning the original recordings, the music lives on. In addition, I have everything backed up onto two separate storage devices so if my computer is ever damaged or stolen we will not be silenced.


THE VICTORY IS OURS!

Along with the arrival of our granddaughter, we had another wonderful experience in Minnesota. I was able to connect with my pastor friends in the urban core and join them in prayer. Coincidently, they had scheduled a prayer vigil on October 30th and asked if I would be willing to share at the event. Prayerperation VII turned out to be a very special time together. God was with us throughout the worship, prayer, and times of exhortation. We experienced unity in the Spirit and a fresh vision for the city. Something deep is happening in South Minneapolis.

We also had several prayer meetings in the home where we were staying. On one occasion, I had a vision of a train pulling up to the house. I thought that was strange and asked the Lord why it had stopped. I felt the impression that it was not a passenger train but a supply train. The next day, I was informed that two sizable gifts had been sent to our ministry months ago but had never arrived. The donor now wanted to reissue the checks and it could not have come at a better time!

Shortly before we left for Minnesota, the one we shared clothes dryer with Molly's family Decided to quit on us. We scheduled a repairman to come out and arranged for our friend Chuck to meet with him while we were gone. The repairman determined that the motor was bad and the replacement would be delivered in three weeks. This did not bother us too much Because it would still be fixed before we returned to Mexico. However, when we finally returned we got some bad news - they could not locate a replacement engine so they needed to replace the entire dryer unit. The only problem was that it would take some additional weeks. My wife, had plenty of laundry to do when we got back and started in without the dryer. Well, Martha just informed me that she turned the dryer on and it is now working fine! God is not only able to raise a person from the dead but I've also brought our dryer dead back to life! I just love the Lord and the incredible life that He has created us to enjoy with Him.


GIFTS OF LOVE

Since coming back to Mexico we are now faced with the holiday season. We see the difference in how much "stuff" we give each other compared to Mexico where our friends are trying to earn enough pesos to give their children just a small gift. Toys for children cost almost double in Mexico what they do in the U.S. In our prayer meeting last night, Martha felt we should ask our American friends if they would like to help this month so that we could get some presents for those who can't afford them.

To give a gift of love simply make your check payable to B.U.D. and send it to P.O. 8940 Minneapolis, MN 55408. Also, please attach a note indicating "Children's Christmas gift." Thank you so much!

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Ministry Update

MORE OPEN DOORS FOR MINISTRY

This past month we have continued to enjoy some wonderful ministry opportunities. On one occasion, we visited the church of Pastor Reynaldo Torres in the city of Zacatecas. This church has experienced revival in the past and continues to hunger for a fresh move of God's Spirit. We conducted three consecutive nights of worship and prayer. During the second night something broke in the heavenlies and we discovered a new found freedom. Upon the conclusion of the third night, several men including the pastor, remained at the church for extended prayer. At one point, he drove around the entire city, crying out for revival. The prayers just flowed the entire time. Afterwards, Pastor Reynaldo expressed that it was the greatest night of his life. What a difference prayer becomes when the Holy Spirit is in charge.

On the fourth night we did something that was different but critically important. We had a prayer and worship time in the pastor's home. This was the beginning of what we believe is a critical part of the spiritual transformation of a city. Christians must enter a lifestyle of prayer and worship, not just attend a church meeting. This is also important because much of the activities in our homes are leading us further from God's Kingdom rather than closer. As Christians, we must penetrate our environment and replace it with the Kingdom of God. There is no better place for this to occur than in our homes.


HOW DEEP IS OUR LOVE?

Peter said to the Lord in Mark 14, "Even if all fall away, I will not." "Even if I have to die with you, I will never disown you." Impressive words but Jesus saw a problem. Peter's love was conditional. Peter had stayed beside Jesus until the day He was arrested because he was in a position of receiving. To others he may have looked like a faithful servant but when Jesus was taken away, Peter stayed at a safe distance. This was because Peter was interested enough to follow, but not intimate enough to help. He took a seat near the warm fire because the one who once gave him comfort was gone. Peter was now looking for comfort somewhere else.

Why did Peter ultimately deny Jesus? Because in that midnight hour, he was no longer in a position of receiving but now he needed to give. The problem was he had nothing to give. Peter's lamp proved to be dry. Before this crisis, Peter was so confident that he would be forever faithful to the Lord. He even promised Jesus his life unto death. However, what he failed to promise Jesus was his love. Jesus knew the shallowness of Peter's love and it took the rooster crowing and a penetrating gaze from Jesus for Peter to finally realize the true state of his heart.

But Jesus was not through with Peter. Several days later He met Peter and his friends on the shore of the Sea of Galilee. After a simple meal, Jesus revealed the true purpose of His visit. In the presence of others, Jesus asked Peter if he loved Him completely and supremely. It was an awkward moment for Peter as he confessed he only loved Jesus as a friend. This exchange became another painful reminder of the lack of depth in Peter's love.

I have to believe this question of love continued to press upon Peter's conscience right up to the day of Pentecost and I don't think he was alone. Along with the necessity of embracing a Kingdom lifestyle, I believe this was the major issue for all those assembled in that upper room. As they grew desperate for a change in their dull minds and reticent hearts, suddenly the wind of the Holy Spirit came and filled the room. He penetrated their lives with fresh revelation of His everlasting Kingdom. But after the wind, came the fire. Fire can represent several things but in Song of Solomon 8:6 it states that love is like a blazing fire and a mighty flame. This fire of love fell upon this humble assembly and quickly separated itself to each individual. The Holy Spirit clearly demonstrated that God's love is not only powerful put very personal and intimate.

Christ's question, "Do you love me?" has continued to echo throughout the generations. Today, we are once again in the midnight hour. It is critical that our hearts are ready to give Him love, not just receive it. God is looking for those who will love Him without rival, worship Him without tire, and serve Him with the deepest of devotion. Like our brothers and sisters two thousand years ago, this is the hour when our love must shine.

Ministry Update

OPEN HEAVEN

Our time in Mexico is definitely getting more exciting. God seems to be taking many of the spiritual lessons we learned in Minnesota and expanding them here. For the past four years God has been leading us into a prayer lifestyle. This has involved countless nights of prayer in our home using worship and warfare music.

Now that we are in Mexico, we have been sharing the principles of having a prayer lifestyle in the Mexican culture. Recently we went to the city of Jerez where we spoke on Sunday morning followed by three nights of intense prayer and worship. Robert and Ani Duran, the directors of the Cave of Adullam ministry were able to join us for these meetings.

During these three nights we experienced an open heaven as God's Presence met us in a powerful yet intimate manner. I found that His Presence remained with us after each evening meeting and throughout the next day. At times it was overwhelming as He revealed spiritual principles that caused our hearts to burst into greater love and devotion. Since coming back to San Luis Potosi, we are getting more reports of changes in the lives of those who attended.
This week we will be going to the city of Zacatecas for four nights of meetings and a Sunday service. We want these meetings to be a catalyst for prayer lifestyles which are then maintained in their individual homes. Please pray with us for an open heaven and sustainable spiritual renewal.


LEARNING TO FEED OURSELVES

Today so many Christians are overly-dependent on others for spiritual nourishment. We believe the days of carrying others so that they don't have to walk are over. We must "fan into flame the gift" that God has given us rather than looking for the pastor or the anointed minister to sustain us. Pastors, by biblical definition, are shepherds. Good shepherds will protect the flock, lead them to green pastures, and bring them safely back to the sheep pen. What they don't do is literally feed the sheep. When Jesus told Peter to feed His sheep the word "feed" meant to "pasture." I've never seen a shepherd pull grass and hand-feed his sheep! When sheep eat for themselves they quickly become stronger and healthier.

How do we eat on our own? First we must personally seek the face of Jesus. The bible tells us to "fix our eyes upon Jesus." Peter could walk on the water in the midst of a storm because he was focused on Jesus. When he took his eyes off of Christ, he began to sink. It would have been senseless for his friends to jump in to keep him standing on the water. Only by focusing on Christ will we be able to be sustained in these stormy times. We may wish for others to sustain us but we will only sink if our eyes are on other people or things.

Secondly, we must learn to listen for His voice. Once again we can easily be distracted by so many other voices. Jesus continually admonished "he who has ears to hear, let him hear." He knew there was a distinction between hearing and listening. Often it takes more effort to listen than to hear. My wife Martha, lets me know if I am hearing her but not listening! Today, Jesus is speaking but are we listening? Is this a priority in our lives or are we allowing others to always tell us what Jesus is saying? We must reduce the distractions in our lives and tune into Him.

Thirdly, we must follow Him. When the disciples saw Jesus walking on the water, He wasn't necessarily walking to them (see Mark 6:48, 49). As Peter called out, Jesus directed him to come to where he was. This is significant. I believe Jesus always knows where He is going. The problem is we are often going in another direction. Most men don't like to admit they are driving the wrong way. They often hate admitting they are lost. By following Christ, we must often adjust the direction of our lives. This can be humbling but it is the only way.

The parable of ten virgins is found in Matthew 25. They were all anxiously awaiting the bridegroom to come and the marriage feast to begin. Five of the virgins were identified as foolish. Why? Because they assumed they could get additional oil for their lamps from others. Their assumption was incorrect and they were forced to go back to town to purchase more. While gone, the bridegroom arrived and the door was shut. Upon returning, the foolish virgins tried to gain entry but were refused by the bridegroom. He made the solemn statement, "I don't know you."

We will not be able to join the Bridegroom unless we have obtained sufficient oil ourselves. Our commitment to seeking His face, hearing His voice, and following Him will ultimately determine whether Christ will know us or not.

Feed Your Soul and Mexico Missions!

If you haven't gotten a copy of our books and music please visit us at Ardormedia.com. The proceeds help support the ministry here in Mexico!

Friday, August 21, 2009

Ministry Update

Greetings from Mexico!

I still have to pinch myself to make sure I’m not dreaming. It is hard to imagine that my family has been given the honor of representing the Lord in Mexico. It is a dream come true for all of us. God has been incredibly faithful. We are now settled in and starting to minister locally. To recap the last three weeks:

Mexico or Bust

It was really tough deciding what we could bring from Minnesota and what we would have to leave behind. Box springs and some mattresses just didn’t fit. Neither did our dining room set or office furniture. We knew appliances were more expensive in Mexico but we just didn’t have room for a refrigerator and a washer and dryer. We just had to cram what we could in our minivan and a 7’ x 16’ trailer. So on July 6th we headed down Interstate 35 for the border of Mexico.
There were seven of us in two vans plus our little dog named Riley. We decided to take it slow because of the load. Everything went according to plan until we reached Oklahoma City. On a routine stop, we discovered that the van pulling the trailer had sprung a radiator leak. We tried to repair it but it didn’t hold. We were forced to stay the night and get a replacement installed the next day. At this stage of our journey the weather had become incredibly hot - 105 degrees and humid!
On the fourth day we finally made it to Laredo, Texas on the U.S./Mexican border. There, we met our Mexican associates who helped us across. Everything went well except the registration papers for one of the vans. Apparently they were not sufficient and we were forced to stay an extra night. The next morning we were able to secure the required documents and continue into Mexico. Finally we arrived in San Luis Potosi late that evening. We had been on the road for six days and had travelled more than 2,000 miles – a very challenging trip.

Our New Home

The next day we went to our rented houses. Unfortunately, we discovered neither house had water. We secured the necessary water pumps but when we turn them on we found there were several leaks in the house. With the help of our local friends, we were able to fix the leaks but our toilet bowl still only fills up with hot water! When I tried to take a shower, the shower head snapped off exposing a thin plastic water pipe barely protruding from the concrete wall. We managed to fix it but I wouldn’t dare adjust it again.
There are so many sights, sounds, and smells that are new - everything from the tamale vendor that cries a mournful wail every morning in our neighborhood to the clang of the bell announcing the arrival of the garbage cart pulled by a dutiful horse. There are the local police on their bicycles asking fifty pesos twice a month for security and the “bottle gas” man who drives his truck equipped with a roof-mounted speaker that blares a catchy jingle starting at 8:00 AM each day. The traffic near us moves like organized confusion over countless speed bumps while assorted smells seems to greet us everywhere we go. San Luis Potosi is a city God loves and where He is moving in desperate lives and hungry hearts. What a blessing it is to join Him.

Ministry Time

Last week I was able to preach at the church planted by the Cave of Adullam. It was a wonderful time of ministry and worship. The students from the discipleship program attend this church. We also travelled to the city of Jerez for a woman’s conference. On Sunday, I preached at a church in the nearby city of Zacatecas. Months ago the Lord spoke to me, at the same church, about coming to Mexico. We enjoyed a powerful time of ministry in the service. There is a hunger for revival and desperation for God.
Recently, Adam, my son-in-law, was able to share his testimony at two cell group meetings. Molly preached at the San Luis church this week about the difference between having a word from God and being a voice for God. She used the life of Moses to powerfully challenge us all. There was a wonderful response at the altar.
Each Friday night we lead a prayer meeting at the church using much of the music that we’ve used back in Minnesota. We also have been teaching the Phase II students at the Cave of Adullam. There seems to be no shortage of ministry opportunities.

Please pray!

We covet your prayers during this time of ministry. We so want to be in tune with the Holy Spirit. Please pray for health, safety, and our language learning. Finally, let’s continue to pray together that His Kingdom comes and His will be done on earth as it is in heaven! We love and miss you!
P.S. We now have internet service and would love to hear from you (contact@loveontheedge.org). We were also able to get a home phone. To call, dial 01152- 444-198-7784.

Ministry Update

In these past few weeks we've experienced so many blessings that I just have to share with you a few.


OPEN DOORS in MEXICO

Last month I had an opportunity to minister at the Cave of Adullam training program in San Luis Potosi. It was a wonderful time of ministry, teaching, and experiencing the presence of God. I just love the hunger of the students and seeing the Holy Spirit move in their lives.

I also had an opportunity to share at the church that shares the school's facilities. Later, the church had a baptismal service at a local lake. I was invited to help with the baptisms and saw a vision of the fire of God resting on the water. Shortly after, I along with my friend Robert Duran, could clearly feel the change in the water temperature!
Martha, my wife, was able to locate housing for us and my daughter's family. The rental units are close to the housing of the staff and students of the Cave of Adullam.

THE BEAUTY OF THE BODY OF CHRIST

On June 12th, the urban pastors hosted an appreciation service for us. It was humbling to hear their testimonies along with others who know us. I was blessed to the point of embarrassment. They also took up a generous offering to help us in our Mexico mission trip. What an incredible ministry family we are a part of!


SPIRITUAL SANCTUARIES

One of our favorite worship leaders is Jason Upton. He possesses a gift of knowing and feeling God's heart. Recently, I read a short biography and came across this key element to his spiritual sensitivity.

After getting married to his wife Rachel, in 1995, the two had an encounter with God that would change their lives. This encounter made them question why they just sang in churches and left them with a desire to impact people for Christ. During their time at Regent University, finishing their Masters of Divinity programs, they set up a worship room in their home where they regularly gathered with other worshipers to pray and intercede. It was during these times that they realized that the songs God was giving them during worship were not simply songs but keys that would open and shut doors in the spirit (see http://rs6.net/tn.jsp?t=tc8ys7cab.0.0.ak5r6ybab.0&ts=S0401&p=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.myspace.com%2Fjasonuptonfaithandfly&id=preview).
This description closely mirrors what God directed us to do nearly four years ago! These precious worship and prayer times in our home have been the foundation for our ministry. The beauty of this spiritual practice is that it is open to everyone. You don't have to be a singer, intercessor, or full-time minister - you just need a hunger for Him. I believe this is a critical component in our battle over sin and the spirit of this world. It also empowers us to be a voice for God in this fallen culture!


KEEPING IN TOUCH

We are planning on leaving Minnesota for Mexico on July 6th. Please keep us in your prayers. We so appreciate it! Dan, our son, will be handling our Minneapolis office while we are away. You will still be able to contact us through our mailing address (P.O. Box 8940 / Minneapolis, MN 55408), phone number (612-598-3270) or email address (bud@visi.com).

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Ministry Update

THE SIGNAL LIGHTS OF GOD


Crossing a hectic intersection or navigating through a busy shipping channel can be disastrous if we fail to obey the warning lights. Unfortunately, our nation has entered into such a position in its history. Without a clear sense of what to do, we will experience painful loss. It is critical we recognize the warning lights.


GREEN LIGHT

We need to be ready to move into a new season of ministry. This past year God has been leading us to put our house in order. We have taken steps to simplify our lives and break from a materialistic and entertainment-oriented culture. We also sense the importance of keeping short accounts with God and others.This is the time to strengthen relationships and mend others. We continue to cultivate God's presence in our homes.


"For the wedding of the Lamb has come, and his bride has made herself ready"(Rev 19:7)


YELLOW LIGHT

We need to be putting our ears to the ground. God is speaking today but many are not slowing down enough to hear Him. This is not the time to be running scared but to develop a keener sensitivity to His voice. Knowing His word is absolutely essential at this time. There is a shaking going on - both physically and spiritually in our world. We would be remise to ignore this and presumptuous to act according to our own understanding.


"But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all truth. He will not speak on his own; he will speak only what he hears, and he will tell you what is yet to come" (John 16:13)


RED LIGHT

Within a few days my wife and I will be going to Mexico for a week of teaching as well as searching for a place to live when we move in August. Ironically, we have recently seen a number of news reports about the country and none have been very encouraging - drug wars, earthquake, and swine flu. During times of trouble, there is a temptation to change our position. However, often God wants us to focus on Him and not the circumstances.


THROWN OVER

The violent storms have come upon us;
We have been caught unaware.
The waters rage as fire
Causing us to panic, to be fearful and scared.

What is the source of such a tempest?
Whose offense caused such a rage?
Must we all go down for another soul's wrong?
Let us cast lots and find the blame.

Then the waves may be appeased;
The storm may then be calm.
Our lives once again secure,
Once we find who's in the wrong.

We searched high and low the boat;
Interrogation filled its rooms.
Until one man was found
Asleep, amidst all the ruins.

Quickly we aroused him;
He must be who we seek.
For he sleeps through such a storm as this;
He cares not of our needs.

Once awoken, the man complied to come;
He put up not a fight.
He simply came when we called
And faced the tempestuous night.

We found him guilty because of his silence
For he seemed so uninvolved.
Besides, we needed someone to blame
So the turmoil could be resolved.

And so we threw him over the boat
Into the raging seas.
Left alone and forsaken
That the storm may be appeased.

And even though we once held him dear
And even called him friend.
We now kissed him goodbye
And all turned our heads.

And as we waited for the seas to calm
And the winds to be at peace.
Our waiting proved in vain
For the uproar did not cease.

Why could this be? We asked ourselves,
We had it all figured out.
We cast off the problem
So then none of us would drown.

He had to be the one we sought;
His actions confirmed who he was.
Why else would he show such apathy?
He just had to be the cause.

And yet these waves are now more severe
Then when we had him cast.
Did we forsake the innocent?
Is the guilty still among the mass?

Could it be the one that we forsook
Had the power to calm the seas?
Was he the only one
That could save you and me?

Was his apathy not really such,
But rather a burdened heart?
Was his willingness not guilt,
But rather a desire to be set apart?

Was his lack of fear not disregard,
But faith in one above?
Could it be this storm was nothing
Compared to the pressure of his love?

If we had just had faith in higher things
And not looked at events around.
Could we have seen what this man saw
And then have peace abound?

Could it be the guilty party
Was not the man forsook?
But rather faithless followers
Who needed to take a deeper look?

For the storms around do rage
And the winds are fiercely blowing.
And yet we've thrown our fearless captain over
Who was the great All-Knowing.

All we can do now is pray
That who we renounced may turn his ear.
That he may forgive our fainting hearts
And satisfy our fears.

May our hearts turn to deeper things
Than what our eyes may see.
May we not again point fingers
But rather cry for mercy.

For this man's love silenced
the waves that fiercely warned.
His authority broke the violent skies
And calmed the raging storm.

Although our love proved to be a facade;
Our dedication was with conditions.
He submitted to still give his life
Because he embraced a greater mission.

May we conform to a life such as his;
May our hearts be forever transformed.
To see our God-given destiny
And not a raging storm.

And not forsake the one who saves
When the storms grow greater still.
But hold tightly to his promises
Eternal words he has vowed to fulfill.


Molly VanHeel

Thursday, April 30, 2009

Selections from Liberating Love

I have always had a keen interest in revival and I try to follow accounts of God moving in powerful ways. A while ago, I felt challenged by God, “Don’t just look for the fire, look for the wind. Wherever the wind blows, that’s where the fire will come.” This is important for two reasons. First, fire is clearly visible but wind is often not. It is important to realize that God’s wind involves the unseen aspects of our lives. We may experience revelation and breakthroughs in the unseen realm but not enjoy the physical fruits immediately. During this time, we must recognize the value of the process and not judge by outward appearances (see 1 Sam. 16:7).


Secondly, while tempted to focus on the fire of what God is currently doing, we need to watch for the wind—ready and anticipating God’s next move. The prophets of the Old Testament lived with this attentiveness. They knew what God was intending to do in the physical realm because of what had been revealed in the spiritual realm. Unfortunately, the prophets were often misunderstood and rejected because people valued the physical more than the spiritual, the present more than the future. There is a double-edge sword for those who have received revelation from God.


Many would rather follow the crowds to revival meetings and hear nationally recognized conference speakers. They quickly grab the latest and greatest books and Christian hit music. I believe we need to be sensitive to the Holy Spirit so that He will show us what is yet to come (see John 16:13). On the day of Pentecost the fire of heaven fell, but that fire was preceded by the wind. If we look to the wind and are attentive to where it is blowing, we will have an opportunity to be part of what God is going to do. Those who seek His face are invited to join Him in forming the future.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Selections from Liberating Love

We ran several programs and events. We specifically prayed that God would send His guardian angels around our place to protect the people inside. One night we had a concert and the place was packed out. Folks spilled out on the sidewalk and alley. Besides contending with the large crowd, Ben, a staff member, said there was trouble across the street. As I walked outside to investigate, a gun was fired. Ben shouted to our patrons, “Hit the deck!” Other shots were fired and people outside started screaming and running. Soon the sound of police sirens filled the air.

After a few anxious minutes, we told everyone it was safe to get up. Besides being shaken, everyone appeared okay. However, one guy, who had been standing on the stage, came over to us. He opened up his hand and asked, “Is this a bullet?” We looked at the smashed remnants of an obvious bullet and asked, “Where did you get it?” He replied, “Could you check my back?” Slowly we lifted up his t-shirt to discover a small round mark on the lower part of his back. It was red, but the bullet had not even broken the skin. Then we looked at one of the large display windows facing Lake Street. There was the bullet hole that confirmed he had been shot. “Looks like you're going home with a bullet and a testimony tonight,” I said. He smiled nervously. I recalled the prayer for angelic protection we had before the concert. God had definitely answered our prayers.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Ministry Update

MEXICO UPDATE

I am happy to report that progress is being made for our missions trip to Mexico. We have located a facility where we can store some of our personal belongings while we are gone. Everyone has obtained their passports except one grandchild and we are halfway to achieving our support goals. We have also increased our Mexican vocabulary. Luz Elena Anleu, the wife of Pastor Jose has been very helpful in our language learning.


THE QUALIFICATION FOR KINGDOM CITIZENSHIP

As we have worked for spiritual transformation in the urban core the past few years, we have come to a basic conclusion - there needs to be a reformation in the way we think, live, and express our faith. This has led me to a more thorough examination of the Kingdom of God. I believe the Kingdom provides a blueprint for not only surviving these troubled times but the power to transform our society.

With all our efforts to fit into the Mexican culture, we will still only have a visitor status in Mexico. The reason is understandable. It is not enough to know the language and culture of Mexico. It is not even enough to become familiar with Mexican history and their political process. We simply cannot possess the rights of a Mexican citizen unless we follow a precise naturalization process - much like in the U.S. This process culminates with a solemn oath of allegiance. In this oath, there is a renouncing of all foreign allegiances and titles.

The Kingdom of God operates in a similar fashion. Many people in our churches have become familiar with how the Kingdom of God operates. They have learned its history, language and culture. They may have followed the rules respectfully and supported the goals of the Kingdom. However, despite all these efforts, they are still not citizens. Why? Because their lives demonstrate that they have not renounced the kingdom of this world.



THE FALLACY OF DUAL CITIZENSHIP

Today people are travelling abroad more than ever. To do so, they must always carry a passport to prove they are citizens of their country. There is an exception however - a dual-citizenship status for those who qualify. This provides the unique advantage of being able to move freely between two countries and enjoy the privileges of citizenship in both.

One night I was hanging out in front of our Urban Jungle coffee shop. Suddenly, a stranger walked up to me and offered me some cocaine. Instinctively, I began to tell to him that I was a minister and the proprietor of the coffee shop. Immediately, the man changed his demeanor. He started talking more energetically using Christian terminology. Quickly he pulled out a New Testament from his back pocket and started waving it with passion! He was now trying to convince me of his loyalty to God's Kingdom. It would have been funny if it wasn't so tragic. What was his problem? He was attempting to prove a dual citizenship status. But it was too obvious. It was a sham, a ruse, and simply unconvincing. He hadn't learned another important fact: There is no dual citizenship status in the Kingdom of God.

This reality should challenge the lifestyles of many who claim to be followers of Christ. The Scriptures tell us "Examine yourselves to see whether you are in the faith; test yourselves" (2 Cor. 13:5). This examination should not be done at church or at our favorite bible study but rather at home, at work, and when we are alone. The results will soon reveal what we spend our money on, what we most like to talk about, and what we put on our facebook profile. Sadly, it appears many of us are trying to be citizens of two kingdoms. We want to be accepted in Christian circles as well as in the world. We are not aliens to this world like the disciples after Pentecost. The Church may know us but the world recognizes us as one of their own.

Tremendous changes are occurring in our country right now. We are fast becoming a pagan nation and a secular culture. This is a critical time for the Church. But how can we effectively stop that which we also embrace? Where is the unwavering voice crying in the wilderness? Where is the clear and powerful word of the Lord to bring freedom from our spiritual captivity? Where is the God of Daniel today?
He is waiting for Daniel to call upon Him.




GET LIBERATING LOVE NOW!

Here's the story of Bethany Urban Development and God's passion for the poor and disenfranchised. If we want to know God, then we must love who He loves. If we want to walk by His side then we must go where He goes. Here is a recent response to the book.

I just finished reading Liberating Love. I didn't take time to highlight anything or flag anything. I was so engrossed in what I was reading. God was speaking to my heart big time. I so want to be a part of what God is doing in the cities. I don't know where God is leading me or what he wants me to do, but I know he is preparing me for something. Your book was like an enormous tug on me to get busy and reach out. I very much believe like what you said in the last chapter that there is a final harvest and God wants to reach out to those who are lost and forgotten by the Church. Please keep me in your prayers. I want to be a part of that final harvest. - Sandra

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Selections from Liberating Love

When we come to the Lord for the first time, He totally transforms us, much as a diamond is formed from coal. Once we’re transformed, God then begins the process of cutting off the rough edges of our lives so we begin to take shape and form. As this process continues, we feel the pain from His chipping, but also the joy of knowing we are being made better. During this time, we often imagine how God will use us. Will we be admired for our beauty? Will we be placed in an expensive gold setting of nobility? Will many recognize and honor us? Will our reputation extend to distant lands?

To our surprise, when the Master Craftsmen is finished, He places us not in an expensive gold setting but on an industrial drill bit. Quickly we find ourselves being plummeted deep into the dark earth. There, we are constantly battering against dirt and solid rock. Often our progress is slow and painful. We often question the value of such drudgery.

It is only when we finally reach a subterranean spring that we realize our purpose—to bring life-giving water to those who live in a dry and thirsty land. Beautiful jewelry is worthless when people do not have pure water to drink. God is using us, but often it causes us to question His love and wisdom. If we patiently yield ourselves, we will be used in the most important mission of all—bringing life and hope to both people and their communities.

Monday, March 9, 2009

The B.U.D. Prayer Room

Because You Loved Me

Though my longings were for another, you dared to love me.
Though my hands were in another, you dared to break them free.
Though my eyes were closed and blind, you dared to open them.
Though my ears were deaf, you dared to unlock them again
And though my legs could no longer walk, you dared to help me stand.
And though my heart was hard, you dared to soften it again.
And why did thou dare to risk it all, what motive could there be?
Only one reason was found……because you loved me.
And to love that which loves another,
To desire that which cares not,
Is a love that will stand the fires
And will forever refuse to give up.
And because thou dared to risk it all, I now risk my love for you.
I give you my heart because I dare to
And I give you my hands because I dare to.
And I give you eyes because I dare to
And I give you my ears because I dare to.
And I give you my legs because I dare to
And I give you my life because you loved me.
And now I want to love you.

Molly VanHeel

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Ministry Update

Dear Friend,

We continue to make preparations for our trip to Mexico. My daughter, Molly and her family of five have the toughest job but it is starting to come together. I thought you might want to know what the Lord has been showing her recently.

Sincerely,

Steve Harrison


MORE THAN ENOUGH

As I woke up early one morning to spend time with the Lord, my heart was unusually heavy. I opened my Bible to read and pray, but could not shake how burdened my spirit felt. All I could do was wait upon the Lord and hope He would reveal to me what was happening. I continued to pray until I had to go to work. The weight upon my spirit grew more intense. I soon realized that it was going to be quite a struggle to work. I was determined to be faithful to the Lord and be there for Him as He needed me-however tough that was becoming.

Within an hour of being at work it happened. The supernatural broke through the natural; the spiritual penetrated the physical and a door opened up into the very throne room of God. I was now listening to what was going on in a place where the Lord was not alone yet loneliness consumed Him. This is a place where glorious worship never ceases and yet I heard nothing except the grieving cry of the Lord. My heart began to break as I continued to listen to the Lord weeping amidst all the beauty and glory of His surroundings. Only one sentence was uttered from His lips over and over as His weeping grew more intense,

"Why am I not enough?"......... "Why am I not enough?"

Today many of us profess that we love the Lord and that we understand the necessity for Him in our lives, but do our lives show that He alone is enough or do we seek after other things and people to also find fulfillment and pleasure? As the years go by and we continue to search in the wrong places, we don't realize that everything we ever needed and wanted has always been right in front of our faces. The only person who could truly complete us has been silenced by broken promises and vows fallen short. But now His cry has come up from the silence. In His desperation, He is trying to make us understand just how deeply He desires our total affection.

I pray that we may turn our ears from the sounds of this world and listen to the cry of a broken King. I pray that we may break before a Bridegroom that has been abandoned by His runaway Bride and tell Him how sorry we are. May we return to Him and forsake those things which stole our heart even if it costs us our finances, our time, and our affections.

He showed us He was willing to give up everything to answer our cry. Can we do the same for Him? May we become faithful to Him as He has been to us and may His question be forever satisfied with our response,
"Lord, you are more than enough!"


COMING THIS MONTH!
FROM ARDOR MEDIA

The sequel to Consuming Love


True love doesn't eliminate risk it triumphs over it! "

For Christ's love compels us" (2 Corinthians 5:14)

When we first meet God, He lovingly transforms our lives into something new and beautiful. Illustrated in the Song of Solomon, this love encounter should naturally cause us to follow Jesus wherever He goes.

But few have embraced this lifestyle. Rather, many today are working hard, praying occasionally, and hoping God will follow them. As a result, they have not fulfilled their spiritual destiny-to join Christ in rescuing those desperately trapped in sin.

Using personal experiences and biblical truths, I present what it literally means to follow Jesus. I want to challenge others to go with Christ into the greatest mission field - the City. Liberating Love shares both the excitement and obstacles we can expect to face. It covers such important topics as:

The Fear Factor...............Battle for the City

The Shadow People ...............The New Mission Field

Now is the time to let go of our fears, failures and inadequacies. If our hearts are open, God will make a way because, "Perfect love drives out fear" (1 John 4:18)

Order Now and join the fight!

All proceeds go to Bethany Urban Development!
Bulk discounts available. Call 612-598-3270 for details.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Ministry Update

B.U.D. GOES SOUTH!

Something exciting has been going on in our ministry and I want to share it with you. On a recent solo trip to Mexico, I was invited to a marriage enrichment class at a local church. The pastor and different couples began to discuss ways to love and honor their spouses. I started to think, "What would be the best way I could demonstrate my love for my wife?" Suddenly, without hesitation, the answer erupted in my spirit - bring her to Mexico. The thought was radical - perhaps too radical. I love Mexico but would God actually want us to go?

You must understand that my wife, Martha is one of the godliest women in the world. We've been married for over thirty years and she has been a virtual rock of stability and a consummate servant. She possesses great wisdom and insight but is always willing to be in the background - often to the point of being overlooked. For the past three years, Martha has faithfully served in the accounting department of a drug rehabilitation center but has had a burden to do more - much more for the Kingdom. She has been an administrator, teacher, musician and mentor. She has a tremendous heart for abandoned children.

I also began to consider my daughter, Molly, who is working part-time for B.U.D. A few years ago, she experienced an incredible transformation in her life. As a result, she possesses prophetic giftings and a heart for the hurting. She loves to minister to others and suffers when she is not able. Both Molly and her husband, Adam, want to minister full-time but lack the necessary resources to do this in the U.S. They have three beautiful children who are being used in powerful ways for the Lord.

Both Molly and Adam have been greatly impacted by Mexico. They attended the Cave of Adullam training program that was birthed there. Molly's first opportunity to minister publicly was in Mexico. Adam was greatly used when he prayed for the sick in Mexico three years ago. They were even married in a Hispanic church in Minneapolis to demonstrate their love for the land and its culture.

As I sat there in the marriage class, I knew there was no question Martha, Molly, and Adam would jump at the opportunity to go to Mexico for an extended period. As I continued to mediate on this idea for several days, events began to confirm that God was preparing us for something new.

But my mind and heart also went to South Minneapolis. What about our work in the urban core - the vision we have carried for transforming revival? What about the urban pastors we have partnered with for years? I can't abandon this dream or these beautiful people. This could only work if it also benefitted the people of Minneapolis.

HOME BASE UPDATE

When I got home, I began to share privately with my family, friends, and our Board of Directors. I also discussed this with our urban ministry partners. It was so encouraging to discover that everyone felt this was a true God-given assignment. I am also confident this experience will have a positive effect in South Minneapolis. Mexico is currently experiencing major spiritual breakthroughs. I believe it is important to tap into this for the sake of our country - especially our cities. But this cannot be taught, it must be caught. We must allow sufficient time to absorb the passion, power, and faith that are being poured out. We then want to serve as a catalyst and bridge of God's transforming power.

Recently I went to Texas where I discussed these issues with my friends, Robert and Ani Duran. I began to work with Robert in the early 1970's in California. Since then, we have worked together in three seperate ministries including Bethany Urban Development. The Durans have been missionaries in Mexico for many years and run a very effective ministry called the Cave of Adullam in the city of San Luis Potosi. They have a tremendous vision for training, church planting, and have been very active in reaching the indigenous peoples of Mexico. They are seeing the Kingdom of God penetrate and replace the kingdom of this world.

The Cave of Adullam staff and their Mexican associate pastors are welcoming us enthusiastically. More than anything, we want to be a blessing to them. They have asked us to assist them in several areas. Many details need to be worked out but this is the current plan.

EXPANDING THE MINISTRY

At the end of this coming summer, Martha and myself along with Molly, Adam, and their three children will be leaving for San Luis Potosi for nine months. We will be taking some of our household possessions and storing the rest. While in Mexico, we will be a part of the Cave of Adullam staff and faculty. Molly and Adam will be involved in the day-to-day operations of the training program with the thought that someday they could provide operational oversight for a similar program in the Twin Cities.

Martha will be investigating opportunities to minister with abandon children along with home schooling children of some of the staff. One of the ministry pastors, who was once an orphan himself, has already begun to make this vision a reality. I will continue to teach in the school along with exploring the possibilities of opening a coffee shop ministry in the city - Urban Jungle Mexican style!

We will be helping students, pastors, and staff create prayer sanctuaries in their homes. This has been our major source of revelation and strength the last three years. We also will be working to translate Molly's CD, Set Me Ablaze and my book, Consuming Love into Spanish.

During this time, B.U.D. will continue to function in South Minneapolis, with different volunteers covering the major areas of responsibility. My son, Dan, will become a key U.S. representative for B.U.D. during this time. I will be continuing to communicate with our U.S. partners and will be accessible by email and phone.

We covet your prayers during this transition phase. We need wisdom, strength, and resources. The cost of living in Mexico is less than the U.S. but we will need additional support because of the loss of income of Martha, Adam, and Molly's jobs. Molly and Adam's family need an additional $800 in monthly support to make this work. Please pray about what part you could play in this key transition.

WE WOULD SO APPRECIATE YOUR INVOLVEMENT!

PRAYERPERATION V

On Friday, January 16th, we conducted our Prayerperation V prayer vigil at Oliver Christian Ministry Center in the heart of South Minneapolis. The evening was filled with prayer and worship. We were scheduled to go until 1:00 am but couldn't stop for some time. More churches and ministries were involved than ever before. There were times of deep repentance, communion, spiritual warfare and spontaneous praise. It was the Body of Christ praying and working together for a key urban neighborhood.

"The people walking in darkness have seen a great light; on those living in the land of the shadow of death a light has dawned" (Isa 9:2).