Friday, December 10, 2010

Ministry Update - December 10, 2010

God has continued to bless Bethany Urban Development with material blessings, fresh revelations, and His glorious grace. Recently, Molly received a vision from the Lord as we conducted a worship service at my parent's home. I trust her encounter draws you closer to our Savior's heart.

TEARS OF LOVE

The music had begun and I remember walking over to my grandparent's large window that overlooks Serpent Lake. I closed my eyes and started to worship. Tears began to fall from my face as I reflected on the glory and wonder of my God. All I could say repeatedly to Him was, "I am so in love with you. I have to have more of you. I am desperate for you."

Within a few minutes of crying this prayer, I saw the heavens open wide above the lake. Suddenly multitudes of angels came down, one assembly after another after another. Throughout this glorious scene, I couldn't stop worshipping. There were so many angels; I could not see the end. They all just stood motionless, watching me. Their faces were solemn. Despite my curiosity, I continued to worship the Lord. Then I heard something in my spirit. "They have come to watch worship that makes their God weep."

All of a sudden, the heavens opened up again and a brilliant light came down. Because of its majesty, the light could be felt, not just seen. I was only able to capture a silhouette within the radiance but I knew it was my Jesus. He then began to walk towards me. He had the same look as the angels, as He watched me worship Him. Within this brilliant light, I was able to see tears falling from His face. He then stopped right in front of me and asked me a compelling question. "Molly, if you could bring one thing with you to Heaven, what would you bring?"

I softly spoke back to Him and said, "I know you have spoken in your Word that you will wipe away every tear, but if it's not too much to ask, can I keep mine? I cannot worship you without them. My tears remind me of where you have taken me from and where you are taking me to. They are my silent "I love you's."

Jesus then spoke back and said, "I will let you keep them, if I can keep mine." At that moment I realized that His tears are His silent "I love you's" too.

LET US WORSHIP

Later, I began to consider how much the Lord is attracted to our worship. At times, I have worshipped God when my bills were high; when sickness seemed to rain down like a flood; and when doubt seemed so much easier than faith. I also remember that in all these situations, He came through-often in the midnight hour.

Because of what we have had to face on earth, the angels will never be able to worship God as we do. Their worship and praise is much easier and natural. They have not had to battle the world, the flesh, and separation from His presence as we have. Our basic weakness is what makes our worship so special to the Lord. "Do you realize how fortunate you are? Angels would have given anything to be in on this!" (1 Peter 1:12 MSG).

When we someday enter His gates and are presented to our King, we will be stepping into a new reality. We will no longer have to cry out for God to come because He will already be there. We won't have to ask for help because we will have everything we need. We will not need to ask God to stay just a little while longer because His presence will never leave. Until then, we only have this brief time on earth to worship God in such a unique and precious way.

The birth of Jesus brought indescribable worship and praise from on high. But let us remember where Jesus was. He was not above in the heavenlies but near the simple, poor, and undistinguishable worshippers below.

During this Christmas season, let us lift Him up as no one else can in the universe. He has been so faithful and is worthy to be worshipped. Let us give Him the gift that will brings tears to His eyes.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Ministry Update - November 8, 2010

JAILBREAK! (THROUGH)

Can you imagine a group of female inmates crying out to God with faces full of tears? Can you imagine them declaring God's promises at the top of their voices? Can you imagine the guards watching in total disbelief? What could they do - throw them in jail? This is what is happening as many inmates are experiencing the Presence of God and breaking out in a spirit of worship to Him. My mother has faithfully ministered at the Crow Wing County jail for over ten years and has never seen anything like it. One of the women cried out, "Lord take these shackles from my feet so I can dance!" We covet your prayers for these women. They are so hungry for God. I believe He has given them a special anointing and destiny.

Celina - I am now 30 years old, and thanks to God, I am in Crow Wing County jail learning everything I need to know about: His love for us sinners, His Word, and forgiveness. When I leave here, I will follow a righteous path to eternal life in Heaven. Thank you God for everything!

Cindy - I thought I was saved but continued in sin. When I came to jail and that door slammed shut, I felt worthless, like a failure. Satan was there to tell me the Lord hated me, that I wasn't worthy. I cried out to the Lord - either let me die or help me to live only for you! I knew then and there that it would have to be one or the other, life or death - but only in Jesus. I believe he brought me to jail to save my life in many ways and I have gained the fear of the Lord! My eyes have been opened!

Andrea - I grew up believing in God, but never really knew him until I got caught doing what I'm not suppose to do - what a good mom shouldn't be doing. I came to jail thinking I wouldn't learn anything but to do "time" and I found God as my friend, and love in my heart.

Melvina - We are dealing with a lot of pain and paying the price. God, we do love you and ask that you help us.

Anonymous - The Bible gives us hope because in here, there are two choices. Satan, who got me here, or God, who will guide me and see me thru until the doors allow me to see the sun again. Being here gives us time to come back to God! He has an eraser called forgiveness!

Mardella - Since I've been in here I found the Lord again! I grew up with Him in my life and have followed His paths but many times have slipped into sinful ways. Each time I get forgiven I feel closer. This time I want to STAY ON THE PATH OF JESUS! When and if sometime I find out who turned me in I will thank them instead of wanting to hurt them.

We havce found that in the midst of paying the consequenses of sin, God still leads people to Himself and moves them towards their spiritual destiny.

"To all who mourn in Israel he will give: beauty for ashes; joy instead of mourning; praise instead of heaviness. For God has planted them like strong and graceful oaks for his own glory"

(Isa. 61:3 TLB).

FULFILLING OUR DESTINY

About two and a half years ago, God gave me a vision of the deep spiritual darkness that overshadows our land. Since then, I have seen it continue to grow in its power and influence. It has affected our spiritual sensitivities and perceptions. It had manipulated the way we live and think. Our current conditions remind me of something that happened years ago.

His leader was gone. His closest friends were dead. He was banished to a forsaken island with few provisions. Around him was nothing but darkness and despair. The circumstances refused hope and the future looked foreboding.

Suddenly, with a trumpet blast, a voice penetrated this desperate scene. The Apostle John turned around to witness "His head and hair were white like wool, as white as snow, and his eyes were like blazing fire. His feet were like bronze glowing in a furnace, and his voice was like the sound of rushing waters. In his right hand he held seven stars, and out of his mouth came a sharp double-edged sword. His face was like the sun shining in all its brilliance" (Rev. 1:14-16).

John's response was dramatic and swift, "When I saw him, I fell at his feet as though dead." It was a spectacular yet natural response. When Jesus reveals Himself, nothing can stand. No error in thinking. No spiritual blindness. No suffocating darkness. Nothing.

What happened next was equally amazing. Jesus extended undeserved mercy and tenderness to John's quivering body. "Then he placed his right hand on me and said: 'Do not be afraid. I am the First and the Last. I am the Living One; I was dead, and behold I am alive for ever and ever!'" This is how God handles dark circumstances. He comes with penetrating brilliance to replace shallow understanding and take away all our fears.

But the story doesn't finish here. Jesus proceeds to give John specific instructions on what he needs to do. This is a critical point. The encounter has made John both willing and able to fulfill God's desires.

Unfortunately, many Christians today are combating the darkness and doing spiritual work in in their own mind and strength. This was King Saul's problem. He was trying to do God's will through his own abilities and understanding. But according to John Mulinde, a Christian leader in Uganda, this type of religious activity is never true ministry.

Probably we will never experience the exact same circumstances John faced. Probably we will never experience the exact same revelation he had. But God has not changed the way He works. Today, He wants to penetrate our darkness and lift us with His voice. He also wants to show us how to fulfill His will. This is the critical need of the hour. We must do God's work His way to fulfill our spiritual destiny.

OUR MISSION

We are passionately committed to intimacy with Christ that compels us to reach the lost and expand His Kingdom on earth.

We seek to transform hearts, homes, and communities through a prayer and worship lifestyle.

Ardor Media, a division of B.U.D., exists to provide resources for those who want more of God.

Consuming Love promotes our marriage with Christ based on commitment, friendship,
and passion.

Liberating Love describes our battle for those outside the safety of His embrace.

The Clash of Kingdoms is a call to fulfill our spiritual destiny through disengagement of this world's system and adopting the values of God's Kingdom. (due to be released early 2011).

Set Me Ablaze expresses the heart of B.U.D. It is a powerful 2 CD collection of prophetic poems and instrumental music.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Ministry Update - October 2, 2010

Dear Friend,

The great revivalist, Charles Finney, once spoke about virtue and how it is determined in our Christian life. He explained that when someone, who is not naturally patient, demonstrates patience, it is virtuous. However, when a naturally patient person demonstrates patience, it is more natural than virtuous. When we read in Revelation about the living creatures, elders, and angels falling before the Lord in worship, we imagine God is greatly pleased. This may be true, but consider that their worship is primarily a natural response of who they are and what they see. Now consider a simple godly person who is buffeted by the storms of life. When he or she lifts up their heart in worship, the virtue of this act is so much more significant to God. Can we dare to imagine the honor and joy it brings to Him? Can we envision the beauty and fragrance that the Lord enjoys? If so, let our worship fill His heart today!

Steve Harrison

KINGDOM EXPANSION

As Martha recovers from her successful cancer surgery, we are increasing our ministry outreach in the Brainerd Lakes area. Every Tuesday night we meet for prayer at my parent's home in Crosby. Several of their friends have been recently joining us. We have been focusing on digging a spiritual well and God has met us in powerful ways. We believe this has been instrumental in opening many other ministry opportunities. Every week, the Crow Wing County jail ministry grows in numbers and spiritual hunger. More inmates are coming to Christ and seeing answers to their prayers. Teen Challenge has a center nearby which we hope will be the next stop for many of those who have been transformed. This past week, an inmate who had previously visited our Urban Jungle coffee shop in Minneapolis, gave her life to Christ. The seed that was planted years ago has now been harvested Our ministry to the pastors in the area is also going well. There is a sincere hunger and desire for unity in the Holy Spirit. God is providing fresh bread and life-giving water to His faithful shepherds.

We also continue to be involved in the South Minneapolis area. New urban missionaries are moving in from Bethany Church and a "prayer furnace" will soon be formed in the Phillips Neighborhood. They will live just a few blocks from where B.U.D. began over ten years ago.

NO CHURCH TOWN

The village of Ironton is our new home. It is a community of 500 people. Unfortunately, it does not have a single church! The Town Tavern appears to be the focal point on Main Street. Martha and I were able to rent a small house across the alley from it. Through a divinely orchestrated turn of events, Molly and Adam have been able to move into the house next door to us. We are excited to see the Kingdom of God expand in this community. Opportunities to minister to needy people are increasing. Sickness, especially cancer is very common because of the local iron ore mines and depression seems everywhere. What a wonderful place for renewed hope and spiritual restoration.

TUNING OUR EARS

In our current culture, "seeing is believing" but in the Kingdom of God, true "faith comes from hearing" (Rom. 10:17 KJV). Many who met Jesus insisted on seeing before they would believe. They were looking when they should have been hearing. I've noticed that physicists are increasingly converting scientific data into sounds. They are doing this because the ear is sensitive to the slightest changes in pitch. Hearing is more sensitive and accurate than sight. Recently, the Lord impressed upon me the importance of following His voice. He said, "If you know my voice, you will not be lost in the dark." I believe there is a darkness coming to this earth and if we walk by sight, we will lose our way. In these days, it is critcal that we learn three keys to knowing His voice:

1) Familiarity. Mary only recognized Jesus at the empty tomb, when He spoke her name. Peter was only willing to jump out of the boat into the stormy seas when Jesus said, "Come." Even in heaven, we will be drawn to the Lord primarily because we recognize His voice rather than His physical appearance. As we spend more time with Him, His voice will become more familiar.

2) Attentiveness. Jesus continually admonished "he who has ears to hear, let him hear." He knew there was a distinction between hearing and listening. It takes greater attentiveness and effort to listen than merely hear words. Are we living with our ears tuned to His voice? Do we quickly respond when He calls? "My sheep listento my voice; I know them, and they follow me" (John 10:27).

3) Proximity. Physicists have also discovered that the closer we are to an energy source; the deeper is its resonance. In Romans 6:26, we find that the Holy Spirit aids us in prayer "with groanings too deep for words." This experience is only possible if we draw close to Him. Many have heard His cry but are we close enough to hear His groan?

DEEP CALLS UNTO DEEP

God continues to lead us to train and build spiritual wells in homes. Recently, I was in prayer with a good friend of mine. Suddenly I received a vision of a powerful spring coming up in his life. I immediately was drawn to Psalms 42:7, which is one of themost intriguing passages in Scripture. "Deep calls to deep in the roar of your waterfalls; all your waves and breakers have swept over me." Later, I discovered some interesting root Hebrew words used in this passage. The word "deep" refers to a surging mass of water, especially a subterranean water supply. The word for "waterfalls" can actually be translated "water shaft" (see 2 Sam. 5:8). Finally, the word "breakers" can be translated a "spring of water"

This passage reminds us that if we respond to God's call to dig spiritual wells, we can expect a gusher of limitless, life-giving water to sweep over us. Everyday will give us fresh opportunities to exercise spiritual health and vitality. By God's grace, we will possess the ability to touch and bless a hurting world!

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Ministry Update - September 5, 2010

WHERE IS HIS PRESENCE?

Our recent stay in Mexico was a wonderful experience. One of the most distinguishing marks of the Cave of Adullam is their dependency on the Presence of God. Whenever they gather, it is always a non-negotiable requirement. They just could not imagine doing any ministry without the aid of the Holy Spirit. Moses was a man who also valued the Presence of God. While leading the Children of Israel through the wilderness, he came to a point of crisis. Moses knew it would be impossible to complete the task God had given him without His Presence. In desperation Moses cried, "If your Presence does not go with us, do not send us up from here" (Ex 33:15). God granted Moses' request and a nation found its destiny.

Since returning from Mexico I have noticed the Church in America has learned to do a lot without the Presence of God. It reminds me of another bible character - King Saul. Throughout much of his reign, the ark of the covenant, remained in an obscure region called Kiriath Jearim. Saul never had it brought to him like his successor, King David. This misguided king thought it was unessential for running his kingdom. He was anointed for service but failed to draw near to God's Presence. Saul's willingness to lead a nation while far removed from the Presence of God was a sign of his weakness rather than his strength.

There is a dramatic shaking going on in the Western Church. Old structures and paradigms are being challenged and even removed. I believe God is trying to prepare a bride that is not dependent on religious rituals, physical facilities, and secular business strategies. However, it is not enough to change our programs, we must have the Presence of God! If we do not have His Presence we cannot fulfill our spiritual destiny. The Great Commission can only be fulfilled through one means - through the power of His Presence.

NORTHERN EXPANSION

Recently, we have felt God directing us to expand B.U.D. into a few select communities in Northern Minnesota. We are currently establishing a base in the Brainerd Lakes Area. Already, we have forged spiritual ties with several of the local pastors who have a heart for revival. There appears to be increased anticipation for God to do something new in the area.

Opportunities have also opened in Crow Wing County jail. We love ministering to those who are hurting and hungry for love and direction. Everywhere we go, we want to share the importance of digging spiritual wells and disengaging from this current culture. These have become core values of our ministry.

We continue to maintain fellowship and strategic prayer with the pastors in South Minneapolis. Whether in large cities or small towns, God is always looking for those who will seek His face and share His Kingdom blessings.

A NEW CHALLENGE

My wife, Martha, has been a pillar of strength throughout the thirty-four years we have been married. She has consistently served all those who God has placed in her life. Her faithfulness and spiritual depth have often been taken for granted, which I am most guilty.

A couple of weeks ago, Martha was diagnosed with skin cancer. It appears to be Squamous cell cancer which is not as dangerous as Melanoma but more serious than the common Basal cell cancer. The plan is to have surgery this Thursday. Since it is substantial in size and located on her head, there will be a longer time for recovery. It also puts her plans for returning to work on hold. We covet your prayers. Martha is currently on Facebook.

A NEW OPPORTUNITY

We were not able to have medical coverage when we were in Mexico this past year and currently are not covered. In addition, finances are needed to complete the Clash of Kingdoms project and set up our expanded ministry base in Northern Minnesota. We need your prayers and support at this critical time.

We must expand our support team immediately. Would you ask God right now what level of involvement you should have with us? If God directs you to make a large pledge, that's great. However, a commitment of $10, $20, or $30 per month would also be greatly appreciated. Please let us know by replying to this newsletter as soon as possible. Thank you so much for your help!

Monday, July 26, 2010

Ministry Update - July 26, 2010

SAVING THE BEST FOR LAST

This past month has been the most rewarding and exciting time of our entire stay in Mexico. The Cave of Adullam School continued to experience the Presence of God in the classes and during their outreach. The city of Jerez was impacted by the consistent zeal and love demonstrated by the students.

On the final week of the school, the ministry hosted a conference for the alumni of the previous schools. People from many parts of Mexico attended. Their hunger for God was richly rewarded. This conference was different from typical ones in the U.S. and Mexico. There were no well-known speakers. There were no music groups. There was only a large cross in the center of the stage with a crimson robe draped across it. A spotlight helped to accentuate its presence while some prerecorded background music helped create a suitable atmosphere.

Every meeting was focused on Christ and honoring Him. There were signs and wonders throughout the three days of meetings - healings, deliverances, and prophetic words. We were caught up in God's heart and no one wanted it to end. I cannot describe in words the joy that comes when you witness God in His glorious splendor ministering to His precious Bride.

On the final day, the students officially graduated. It was an opportunity for their lives to shine on a larger scale. Everyone was moved by their testimonies and Christ like attitudes. The love of God seemed to radiate from their faces. Their lives give me great hope for Mexico and the world. May God raise up an army of them!

GOING OUT WITH A BANG

As we prepared for our return to the U.S., we realized that we were going to need some help. Our van and trailer was not large enough to transport two families. We contacted a member of one of the churches who offered his fruit truck to drive eight hours to the border. The only problem was the truck could not cross the border into the U.S. We then rented a U Haul truck on the U.S. side but it also could not cross the border into Mexico.

Our only solution was to drive our van and trailer across the border and unload its contents into the U Haul truck. Then our empty van and trailer could return to Mexico to pick up the remaining items in the fruit truck. It was a hot and exhausting endeavor but that was soon to be overshadowed by a dangerous development.

While unloading our trailer into the U Haul truck on the U.S. side, our Mexican friends were approached by a policeman from the border town of Nuevo Laredo. He asked them what was going on with their fruit truck. Our friends explained the whole situation and the policeman said that was fine. However, when we later arrived back in Mexico with our van and trailer, the policeman also returned with additional officers. They were now saying that we were not allowed to load in a public place without a permit and the cost of the permit was $1,500.00!

They threatened to arrest us if we did not pay them immediately. Finally, one of our Mexican friends told them that he and my son-in-law, Adam would be willing to go with them and take our chances before a judge. At this point, they got very upset and the rest of the police officers started waving their guns, screaming profanities, and saying "You think we are stupid or are you stupid?? This is not about going to the judge or paying a fine or permit, it is about giving us a cut. That is the way things are done around here. We work for the "Z" (that is one of the biggest mafia cartels here in Mexico right now). We can just cut your heads off right now and no one would care." They then confiscated our cell phones and checked all of our pockets. They shouted many threats including, "Don't you know we can strip you guys naked take everything from you and kill you??" At one point, they stuck their gun barrels into a couple of our friends. The tense standoff went on for close to an hour.

Finally, they were willing to listen as we shared that we were Christian missionaries who had been serving in Mexico to benefit their nation. As the police officers began to consider who we were, their demeanor started to change and they went aside to talk. They were saying things like, "You idiot, why did you take the money away from that guy?? We have made a huge mistake." One female officer made eye contact with me and I sensed a spiritual connection. Later she pointed at me and said, "He is a good man." I began to feel more at peace after that.

After they discussed a little bit more, they gave everyone back their cell phones and all our money. They even escorted us back to the border. We do not know what they experienced spiritually. We just know they had a complete change of heart and God had intervened on our behalf. Thank you so much Jesus!

A NEW SEASON

Since arriving back in Minnesota, I have sensed B.U.D. is entering into a new season of ministry. God has done much in our hearts during our team's stay in Mexico. We believe the spiritual insights our team received this past year were not just for Mexico. We want to be a part of spiritual transformation in homes, churches, and communities in the U.S. If we can help serve you or your church, please let us know.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Ministry Update - June 14, 2010

THANK YOU, LORD!

We continue to experience an open heaven in the Cave of Adullam School. Every day there seems to be something special happening. Several people have come to the sessions from other cities and just off the street. I guess you do not have to advertize a fire!

The school has become a blessing to others in the community. Recently, several students went to the local hospital and prayed for those who were sick. There have been numerous reports of healings. The students seem to be fearless in sharing their faith with others. As a result, many local residents have had life-changing encounters with God.
There is also a strong prophetic anointing on the class. God has brought great encouragement to the students and visitors through this particular gift of the Holy Spirit. I have never seen it operate as clearly and strongly. God is raising up a generation of worshipping warriors that know His voice and will act on His command.

As you know, our B.U.D. team has used worship music in our home prayer meetings for a few years. Since coming to Mexico, I have added several hours of Spanish music to our library. We have used much of this music in our worship times with the students. This would not be so remarkable except that the classes are conducted in Spanish and I have definitely not mastered the language! Somehow, the Holy Spirit has been able to direct me to chose the correct songs to complement what is being said. I have never experienced such divine direction in worship.
Many of the evening teaching sessions never get past the worship time. The Holy Spirit comes and we just follow His lead. As God's Presence descends, everything changes - the music takes on a heavenly tone, hearts melt, people cry, many slump to the floor. People stop in front of the building, gripped by an unseen power. Those present know they have connected with something that is beyond the physical realm. God is here!

The Cave of Adullam school has adopted a declaration that they use frequently. The atmosphere of the room changes as they shout it out with conviction and authority.

DECLARATION OF VICTORY

I am what the Word of God says that I am;
I have what the Word of God says that I have;
I can do what the Word of God says that I can do.
I am more than a conqueror in Christ!
Greater is Christ that is in me
Than the problems that are in the world,
Than the circumstances that are in the world,
Than the demons that are in the world,
Than the sicknesses that are in the world.
The Spirit of God is upon me.
He has anointed me
To preach his word
To heal the sick
To cast out demons.
Satan will not win and I will not lose!
I was born to win;
I was born to conquer;
I was born to defeat;
I was born to triumph.
I have won;
I have conquered;
I have defeated;
I have triumphed.
Satan will not win and I will not lose!
In the name of Jesus.

AMEN

PENETRATION THROUGH SEPARATION

Recently CNN did a story on Christians who have intentionally separated themselves from the culture. I thought it would be interesting but found several disturbing elements. Most of the people seemed sincere but had a common grudge against the government. They also appeared to be living undisciplined lifestyles. Finally, I noticed that the majority had moved out of the city to a rural location. Before His ascension, Jesus gave the disciples specific instructions on where they were to meet for prayer. He told them to wait in Jerusalem until the Holy Spirit came. I do not believe the location was random or insignificant. They sought God in the midst of a vibrant and diverse city, amongst a strong religious culture controlled by an oppressive military government. This is where they would have a historic encounter with the Holy Spirit.

When the Spirit fell on the 120 believers gathered in the upper room, they unknowingly formed the perfect metaphor for the Christian life. They were in the world but not of the world. Their encounter caused a separation from the culture and a corresponding penetration of that culture. As a result, a world-changing movement began that has never been equaled or surpassed. This is the glorious Kingdom of God in operation!

ON THE ROAD AGAIN

This past year in Mexico has gone by too quickly. We have had an incredible time and will never forget this special season in our lives. Our plans are to return to Minnesota at the end of July. We are anxious to finish the printing of "The Clash of Kingdoms" and increase our ministry involvement in Minnesota. God gave us a message regarding His Kingdom before going to Mexico. Throughout the year, this message has been confirmed and reinforced. We cannot wait to share what God is saying and doing with our friends and family! If you would like to get together, please let us know. We would just love to visit and pray with you. You can reach us by email or phone 612-598-3270.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Ministry Update - May 11, 2010

THE CAVE OF ADULLAM BEGINS!

The Cave of Adullam School has started in Jerez and we are so thrilled to be a part of the staff. As you might guess, this is not your typical Bible School. In fact, some students came without having a relationship with God. They were looking for answers in a world that has none.
The focus of the first week was on repentance with Robert Duran taking most of the classes. This was not a subject that was quickly addressed so that we could concentrate on more positive topics. Without sufficient repentance there can be no freedom from sin and demonic influences in our lives. Sin blinds the mind and suffocates the spirit. Repentance has always been a key to spiritual transformation within individuals and communities. Hidden sin and spiritual transformation are paradoxical. On the second week, the focus shifted to inner healing. It is amazing the physical, psychological, and spiritual devastation many young people have experienced today. It is also remarkable to see the healing power of God's love flowing upon wounded hearts. Tears are common in the school and often reflect breakthroughs in deep areas of their lives. Most have never been so transparent and thorough in dealing with their past.
By the third week, there was a freedom and joy that most had never felt before. I had the privilege of speaking on the subject of our marriage with Christ. We discussed the three components to any successful marriage - commitment, friendship, and passion. At the end of two days of teaching, we conducted a marriage ceremony where every student was able to walk down the aisle and recite his or her vows to the Lord. As we prayed, one of the married students felt Jesus put a ring on her finger. She later admitted that she had a greater encounter with God than in her literal wedding!
This past week much of the teaching was focused on the power of the Holy Spirit.This is a critical element in the process of refilling what has been cleansed. There were many opportunities for the students to begin to exercise their spiritual gifts. Visions, dreams, and miracles began to happen among those in the school. One of the students came to the evening session with a desire for healing of her bad eyesight. She took off her glasses and put them in her purse as an act of faith. As the Holy Spirit began to move in the room, Robert asked her if she wanted prayer for her eyesight. She admitted she did and within a minute, her eyesight was completely restored! She now is seeing as clearly as she ever did with glasses. As I have been able to witness firsthand the power and love of God, I couldn't help but dream of this happening on a much larger scale. Can you imagine if a community collectively went through the simple steps of repentance, inner healing, and empowering of the Holy Spirit? It may sound farfetched but why can't we stop adjusting our culture and instead replace it with something superior? We were created to live much better than we are. God, we need your Kingdom to come!

THE JOY OF THE LORD

One of the most quoted verses in the Bible is "The joy of the Lord is your strength" (Neh. 8:10). We often use it in church to get the faithful smiling and improve our outlook on life. What is interesting about this passage is that it does not necessarily say that the joy we get from the Lord is our strength but that our strength comes from Hisjoy. So how can we improve God's joy?

* Embrace a prayer and worship lifestyle. Rather than at specific times and places,
make Him a greater part of your everyday life. Fill your home and car with music
from heaven and make Him the center of your conversation.
* Disengage from values of the current culture. Money, possessions, overbooked
schedules, and entertainment addiction do not have to rule you. Simplify your life
to reflect His Kingdom values and provide more time for Him.
* Accept the fluctuations of this life as opportunities to deepen your love for
God and knowledge of His ways. There is no reason to waste your sorrows. You can
live with a grateful heart.

THE CLASH OF KINGDOMS IS COMING!

We are so excited about our next media project. Here is a small sample of what is in the book.

Moses was in a place of desperation at the shore of the Red Sea. With no boats in sight, the Egyptian army was closing in for the kill. Something needed to happen and it needed to happen fast. At Moses' moment of crisis, there was no one to help - except God. When the Red Sea parted for the Children of Israel and drowned the Egyptian army, Moses was so thrilled and thankful that he burst into a beautiful song.

In the book of Revelation, we discover the eternal rewards awaiting us. Recently, I noticed something I had never realized before. In the midst of the worship and rejoicing, there is a beautiful song clearly heard from an unusual earthly source. Surprisingly, God does not sing this wonderful song, the elders do not sing it, and even the angels do not sing it! Only those who found God in their place of crisis and desperation sing it - it is the Song of Moses (Rev. 15:3-4).

WILL YOU JOIN US?

With all the excitement in Mexico, we are also facing some unexpected expenses - 990 filing, book cover design, editing, etc. We covet your prayers and welcome your donations. If God is leading, please let us know. We appreciate your help so much!

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Ministry Update - April 12, 2010

A NEW OPEN HEAVEN

The Cave of Adullam school is just a few days away and we sense an excitement in the heavenlies. Robert Duran and Carlos Perez were recently at a youth conference where Robert preached and shared about the school. During the conference, I received a call from Carlos. He explained to me that He had awakened that morning with such an awareness of God that he literally became frightened. He quickly went to Robert's room and soon they were both raptured into the Lord's Presence. This lasted for the remainder of the conference. Robert shared that evening and felt wired into a heavenly computer that was downloading spiritual principles and concepts he had never considered before.

Carlos also mentioned that the Holy Spirit was very evident during a worship song entitled "Holy." The following evening our family was driving down the road, speaking about the things of God, when the CD player unexpectedly turned on and started playing by itself! The music that poured out was the same song, "Holy." Unbelievable!

LESSONS BEING LEARNED

Robert has a strong sense God is doing something different from what has been done in the past. As Moses had no one to teach him how to lead a nation from one country to another, so we will not be able to find precedent for what God is asking us to do. This requires total trust and sensitivity to Him.

In this season, we have a much greater awareness that God is the Alpha and Omega. We often talk about coming off our thrones and making God number one in our lives. We appear willing to be number two or three. However, if God is the beginning and the end then there is not much room for number two or three either! I believe so much of His plans are based on our willingness to die to our desires and live only for His. This is much more difficult than it appears. Most people would like to be successful in man's eyes. It is so tempting to use a move of God to validate a person's ministry or suggest special favor from God. However, it has never been about us - it is about Him. He alone is the King and it is His Kingdom. He alone is worthy.

During this fresh encounter, Carlos has received insights into another important spiritual principle. James 3 is a familiar chapter regarding the dangers of the tongue. However, we often overlook the last part of the chapter, which speaks of the importance of honoring one another. We believe this is a key component to spiritual transformation in our communities.

"Real wisdom, God's wisdom, begins with a holy life and is characterized by getting along with others. It is gentle and reasonable, overflowing with mercy and blessings, not hot one day and cold the next, not two-faced. You can develop a healthy, robust community that lives right with God and enjoy its results only if you do the hard work of getting along with each other, treating each other with dignity and honor" (James 3:17-18 MSG).

A related commandment is, "Honor your father and your mother, as the Lord your God has commanded you, so that you may live long and that it may go well with you" (Deut. 5:16). Notice, this commandment does not say to honor only those parents who live honorably. To honor is not necessarily an endorsement of conduct. It is showing respect to those in this particular position of authority. This command has a spiritual as well as physical application. When we honor our spiritual fathers and mothers, we are showing honor for their position. This is critical if we want revival to go well and last a long time.

Soon after this was impressed upon Robert and Carlos' hearts, the Lord led them to call and honor a spiritual father who had fallen on hard times. There was tremendous reconciliation and an outpouring of God's power and anointing!

NEW MINISTRY OPPORTUNITIES

Recently, I stumbled upon a coffee shop overlooking the town square here in Jerez. I was impressed with the number of young people who were there chatting and doing occasional Karaoke. I met the manager who spoke a bit of English. She was extremely cordial and welcomed me back. On a later visit, I mentioned that I was a minster and once ran a coffee shop that reached out to drug addicts and troubled youth in South Minneapolis. She then asked, "Could you do that here?" I was shocked! I then mentioned that I knew of a ministry in Minneapolis that did a weekly Bible study in a secular coffee shop similar to hers. She then asked, "Could you do that here in my coffee shop?" She then went on to offer to pay to be able to attend the Bible study herself. I assured her that there would be no charge and that she could attend anytime. Please pray for Shelly, the manager and her husband, Victor. I believe God is reaching out to their open hearts. Shelly is currently reading my book, Consuming Love.

Finally, a facility has recently become available that would be ideal for the school. It is strategically located in the city and would also supply space for the church. The owners have given us very reasonable terms and we are praying for the necessary finances. Please pray that all the financing and logistical issues come together quickly.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Ministry Update - March 13, 2010

CAVE PREPARATIONS

The Cave of Adullam School is only a month away. Preparations are being finalized and anticipation is growing daily. Recently, there was a large house available that would have been ideal for some of the students. However, before we could secure the property, it was rented to someone else. Surprisingly, last Sunday the owner came to our service and said that the property would be available in April. It was vivid reminder that "The king's heart is in the hand of the Lord ; he directs it like a watercourse wherever he pleases" (Prov. 21:1). I love when God is in charge!

More prayer meetings are springing up as a reflection of a longing to go deeper with God and to be prepared for whatever He wants to do. We also sense a greater spiritual battle ensuing. Great victories are often the result of great battles. Will you join us in praying that His Kingdom comes and His will be done in our lives, the school, and this community?

PREPARING THE WAY IN THE DESERT

The Scriptures tell us that John the Baptist was "A voice of one calling in the desert, 'Prepare the way for the Lord" (Luke 3:4). Most believe that this Old Testament prophesy began when John the Baptist left his solitary lifestyle to pursue a public ministry. However, it may have started sooner. The Bible tells us that John the Baptist lived in the desert and after Jesus' baptism, He too went into the desert.

I wonder if Jesus went into the same desert where John the Baptist had previously lived. Certainly, as cousins, they knew each other personally. Perhaps Jesus even visited John at his remote camp. Now that John was gone, his desert hut was empty and available.

The point is that before John's public ministry, he had made a way for the Lord in the desert. Possibly the same rocks and creatures that had heard John so many times, now heard Jesus' prayers and cries. But why prepare a way in the desert? Because the desert is the best place to have your faith tested and strengthened. Not too many things survive in the desert - certainly not fragile faith. Very little resources and creature comforts. No support system of friends and spiritual advisors. Ironically, no one lives comfortably there - except the devil.

The devil and his demons did not just pay a visit at the end of Jesus' forty-day stay in the desert. The Bible says that Jesus was tempted from the beginning to end (see Luke 4:2). However, the Spirit of God still led Jesus to this foreboding place because something else happens in the desert. The Bible tells us that Jesus went in by the leading of the Spirit but He came out in the powerof the Spirit" (see Luke 4:1,14). Ultimately, greater testing yields greater spiritual authority.

Many today are in a desert - not a physical desert but one just as real. In your desert, there are limited resources and very little happening to make you feel secure and comfortable. No great accomplishments, no miraculous testimonies, and no rain in sight! In addition, the devil has plenty to say and his voice becomes stronger as you become weaker. At these times, you may only be capable of doing one thing - just holding on.

If that is you, then I have good news. Your faithfulness in the face of adversity is bringing you to a place of greater spiritual authority! Remain steady and you will go out "in the power of the Spirit" to be a greater witness than you could have ever been without it.

THE CLASH OF KINGDOMS IS COMING!

This summer we will be releasing the final installment in our Warrior Bride series. The Clash of Kingdoms is a provocative analysis of the current state of the Western Church. It includes Kingdom principles long forgotten or neglected in our Church culture. Without rediscovering our New Testament mandate, we cannot fulfill our spiritual destiny. This message has totally changed my life.

If you would like to contribute to this important project, please make your check payable to B.U.D. / P.O. Box 8940 / Minneapolis, MN 55408 and indicate "book project" on the check. As a token of our appreciation, we will send you a free copy when it is released.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Ministry Update - February 10, 2010

BRINGING THE TEAM TOGETHER

I am constantly amazed at the way God directs His people for the expansion of His Kingdom. Here in Jerez, Mexico we have seen a number of gifted ministers recently come together to work in the Cave of Adullam school this April. This has prompted greater anticipation and more earnest praying. Everyone wants to be a part of something greater than themselves or their ministry.

It prompted me to consider the passage in Ephesians 4:11-13 that speaks of five key ministry gifts: apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors, and teachers. Not surprisingly, as I began to think of the various Mexican leaders that have come, I found each of these ministry gifts are clearly represented. Besides my involvement as a teacher, there are four couples here with very powerful spiritual giftings.

I have known Robert and Ani Duran personally for over thirty-seven years. They are the founders and directors of the Cave of Adullam. As they have faithfully served in Mexico for over thirty years, God has brought them to a place of pastoring pastors and ministry leaders. Many consider Robert to have an apostolic anointing.

Meno and Ivette Longoria have worked with the Cave of Adullam for over ten years. Meno has a prophetic anointing that is quite remarkable. He often receives supernatural dreams and visions. This couple has a heart to serve and they are both accomplished chefs.

Carlos and Christie Perez have been with the ministry since 1999. Christie is the daughter of Robert and Ani. Carlos has ministered in the United States and has been leading evangelism crusades throughout Mexico. They have two children with a third expected in July.

Manuel and Lula Dominguez have been pastors of the Cave of Adullam church in Jerez since 1995. Manuel and Lula were Robert Duran's first converts in Zacatecas. They are spiritual gatekeepers in this city.

I so appreciate the unified diversity we are experiencing. Please continue to pray for this team - that nothing will separate our hearts.

WHY WAS JESUS ASLEEP IN THE BOAT?

A Mexican pastor asked this provocative question once in a church that I was attending. The question continued to provoke me long afterwards and prompted me to reflect on a couple of key events in Christ's life before He faced a life-threatening storm. Soon after Jesus was born, He faced a threat that appeared insurmountable. Herod was determined to kill Him and he had the power to do so. Fortunately, Joseph received a supernatural dream warning him to take his family and flee to Egypt. Because of this divine intervention, little Jesus slipped through Herod's grasp. We can only imagine how many times Joseph and Mary retold this story to Jesus as He grew up. As Jesus began His ministry, He announced His call and authority in His hometown of Nazareth. However, the people in the synagogue responded to Jesus with jealousy and rage. They took Him to a cliff outside of town to throw Him off but Jesus miraculously slipped out of their grasp.

Now we return to the disciples who are caught in a violent storm on the Sea of Galilee. It was so terrifying that they feared their boat and even their lives could be lost. However, Jesus was able to sleep comfortably through in all. Why could He do this? It was because He had faced danger before and His Father had always provided a way of escape. His spiritual calling from above gave Him the assurance that nothing or no one had the power to keep Him from it.

Like Jesus, I believe our Father is protecting us as we fulfill our spiritual calling. Rather than fearing any circumstance, we need to rest in God's commitment to help us fulfill it. We need to remind ourselves that we possess divine destiny and no one can take it from us. It is ours to hold on to or cast away but it will always be ours.

UNREDEEMED ESCAPE

Jesus' ability to escape every peril took a strange twist one day. As a prisoner, He now stood bound before Pontius Pilate. With no help in sight, He faced an unprecedented threat. Amazingly, Pilate's wife had experienced a deeply disturbing dream the night before. As a result, she sent a message to Pilate telling him to leave Jesus alone. This again, was Jesus' miraculous way of escape. However, this time Jesus took a different position. Rather than redeeming the opportunity, He chose to do nothing. Even when Pilate encouraged Him to respond to the charges, Jesus remained silent. His decision to forfeit His way of escape sealed His fate.

King Saul was delivered into David's hand twice but David forfeited the opportunity to eliminate his mortal foe. The Apostle Paul was prophetically warned of suffering and imprisonment if he went to Jerusalem but he went despite the danger. All of these men chose not to redeem their way of escape. They did so because they believed their sacrifice would bring greater glory to God and His Kingdom.

God may also give us a similar opportunity someday. If He does, we can redeem our protective aid or rest in the knowledge that our sacrifice is bringing a greater glory. This is the perfect love that drives out fear.

Do not fret or have any anxiety about anything, but in every circumstance and in everything, by prayer and petition (definite requests), with thanksgiving, continue to make your wants known to God. And God's peace [shall be yours, that tranquil state of a soul assured of its salvation through Christ, and so fearing nothing from God and being content with its earthly lot of whatever sort that is, that peace] which transcends all understanding shall garrison and mount guard over your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.

Philipians 4:6-7 AMP

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Ministry Update - January 10, 2010

FOLLOWING THE CLOUD

This past week, we were able to secure housing for our next ministry assignment in Mexico. It is in the city of Jerez de Garcia Salinas in the central state of Zacatecas. Originally founded in 1563, Jerez once served as a military outpost to protect silver mining shipments going from the city of Zacatecas to Guadalajara. At 6,500 feet above sea level, Jerez is a small agricultural city with 39,000 residents. Most homes have family members working in the United States. They have many annual festivals including the El Festival de Primavera in the spring, which attracts visitors from all over Mexico.[i] Catholicism is the predominant religion with a few evangelical churches in town.

The Cave of Adullam planted a church in Jerez many years ago and we have seen it growunder the faithful ministry of Pastor Manuel and his wife Lula. They have been working to expand God's Kingdom in the area and feel the time is ripe for revival. This spring, the Cave of Adullam will be conducting a twelve-week training program for the first time in Jerez. Students will be coming from many parts of Mexico to deepen their walk with God and learn principles of evangelism and church planting. Incorporated in their training will be ministry opportunities in the area. Many believe the students will play a vital role in the next move of God's Spirit. My daughter, Molly and her husband Adam will be on staff in the school and I will be teaching some of the classes. We are all anxious to see God penetrate hearts and transform lives. God is raising up this generation to be living witnesses of His power and love. King David understood this dynamic when he declared, "One thing God has spoken, two things have I heard: that you, O God, are strong, and that you, O Lord, are loving.Surely you will reward each person according to what he has done" (Ps. 62:11-12 emphasis mine).

[i] "Jerez de Garcia Salinas," Wikipedia.

STORM CHASERS

One of the most fascinating and potentially dangerous occupations in the United States is storm chasing. Perhaps you have seen a documentary of these meteorological radicals chasing tornados on the Oklahoma and Kansas plains. They use sophisticated equipment and multiple vehicles to maximize their contact with the tornado. What they are able to record and experience becomes valuable information for those in the path of the storm. When others flee or hide in a safe location, storm chasers seek out the storm in anticipation of a close encounter. Rather than looking at the storm as a threat, the storm chasers look at it as an opportunity. It had not rained in Israel for over three years and the land was suffering from a terrible drought. To make matters worse, the nation groaned under the maniacal rule of Ahab and Jezebel. Never in the history of their country had life been so hard. However, there was a flicker of hope. God had anointed Elijah to be a prophetic voice to the people. Through Elijah, God would demonstrate His power and love. After Elijah successfully exposed the false prophets of Baal, he sought the Lord for rain. He contended in prayer until a cloud the size of a man's hand appeared on the horizon. Elijah then instructed his servant to warn King Ahab of the impending storm. It was not coming for Ahab's benefit so he would do well to run from it. On another occasion, God came upon Mt. Sinai in a cloud with thunder and lightning. It was so powerful that the Children of Israel refused to meet with God directly and begged Moses to speak on their behalf. Moses relented and then went up directly into the storm.

In this day, many people see storm clouds and respond with similar anxiety and fear. However, recently in one of our home prayer meetings, God gave us a different perspective. Like Moses, we must trust Him so completely that we can go into the storm rather than hide from it. By doing so, we will experience the essence of His power and love.

When God's wind begins to blow and storm clouds appear, it creates an atmosphere of fearful beauty. It is fearful for anyone who is not seeking Him with all their hearts and it is beautiful for those who are. "When the storm has swept by, the wicked are gone, but the righteous stand firm forever" (Prov. 10:25).

THE CLASH OF KINGDOMS

My next book, The Clash of Kingdoms, will be coming out in a few months. We are in thecopyediting stage and will soon turn it over for final proofreading. I am so excited about this project because I have never had a message so burn within my heart. The book will focus on disengaging from our culture and replacing it with the Kingdom of God. One key will be a reassessment of our definition of success. The book will show us the value of coming down as well as going up the mountain. It will offer many spiritual principles including the critical need of digging spiritual wells in our homes.

The Clash of Kingdoms will provide important keys for facing pending storms and transforming our communities. We are also planning a Spanish version. I am convinced, more than ever, that this message is vital for the entire Body of Christ.

CHRISTMAS IN MEXICO

Thanks so much for the generous Christmas offerings for the children. We were able to give all the kids in the San Luis Potosi church at least one gift. Without your help, some of the children would not have received anything for Christmas.

PLEASE PRAY:

We need your prayers in some key areas this coming month.
1) For safe transport of our furniture and household goods.
2) Finalizing staff and facilities for the Cave of Adullam.
3) For God's Spirit to fall on the city of Jerez.
4) For completion of "The Clash of Kingdoms" project.