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