Sunday, March 13, 2011

Ministry Update - March 2011

COUNTY CHAPLAINCY RESTORED!

After years of inactivity, the Sheriff's Chaplaincy Program in Crow Wing County has been reestablished. I have met with the sheriff, deputies, and jail staff along with the board overseeing the previous program. Other chaplains from neighboring counties have provided invaluable assistance. I have received specialized training in death notification and some preliminary training in Critical Incident Stress Debriefing. This is a big step for Bethany Urban Development especially because the program was not funded by the county.

The spiritual potential is enormous and I continue to see God's favor in the reestablishment of this ministry. The population of Crow Wing County is 60,000 but because it is a vacation area for many Twin Cities residents, it typically triples in size during the summer. It contains nearly a thousand square miles and is home to several municipalities including Baxter, Brainerd, Breezy Point, Crosby, Deerwood, Crosslake, Nisswa, and Pequot Lakes.

The Sheriff Department's impact on the county and local municipalities is huge. I am convinced that God has strategically opened this door of ministry for the sake of those serving in the Sheriff's Department and the citizens and visitors of Crow Wing County. May your kingdom come and your will be done on earth as it is in heaven!

THE BREATH OF GOD

We find in Genesis that "the Lord God formed the man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living being" (Gen .2:7). Surprisingly, God didn't bring life into Adam with a word or even a touch but by His very breath. This breath came from deep inside of Him. More than bringing forth life, this breath deposited His life into the deepest parts of Adam's being. This made man unique in all of God's creation.

Tragically, the human race turned from God and resisted His efforts to bring life into their lives. The Scriptures reveal that "The Lord was grieved that he had made man on the earth, and his heart was filled with pain" (Gen. 6:6). According to Wycliffe, this passage reveals that God's heart-rending disappointment produced a divine gasp. Humanity's sin had caused God to experience a shortness of breath.

When Jesus began His ministry, it was with divine purpose and direction. Faithfully, He preached a message of restoration with our Creator. Lovingly, He demonstrated our need for His life. Finally, upon Calvary's cruel cross He "called out with a loud voice, 'Father, into your hands I commit my spirit.' When he had said this, he breathed his last" (Luke 23:46).

Remarkably, death and the grave could not contain Him. The tomb was now empty, but sadly, so were the hearts and hopes of Christ's disciples. As they huddled in fear, their pitiful condition was suddenly shattered by the appearance of the resurrected Son of God. Immediately, overwhelming relief and joy filled their once-trembling hearts.

However, something else happened at that moment. What Jesus did next was simply amazing. The Scriptures reveal that He "breathed on them and said, 'Receive the Holy Spirit'" (John 20:22). What had been tragically interrupted with the fall of humanity was now dramatically restored. Because of Christ's sacrifice, God's breath could now flow freely into those yielded to Him.

This spiritual dynamic reminds me of an unforgettable encounter I had with God several years ago. While praying with a Christian brother, we became overwhelmed with God's presence. The Lord continued to remain for an extended period of time. As He did, I remember His voice calling out to us, "Breathe Me in!"

Now I know why.

This is His everlasting desire and our eternal purpose.

THE CLASH OF KINGDOMS IS HERE!

We are excited to announce that The Clash of Kingdoms is now available. I believe this message is critical to the Church at this challenging time in our history. Who will awaken the slumbering Bride? What will rekindle her love for the Bridegroom? Will she arise to her destiny for such a time as this?

Today, we face unprecedented challenges to our Christian faith. Many of these threats are obvious but the most dangerous ones are unseen or unknown. In The Clash of Kingdoms, we expose the most powerful kingdom threatening the Church today. We look at how it has infiltrated the Western Church creating a contaminated religious culture. We also explore the power and majesty of God's unshakable Kingdom that offers an amazing remedy.

On the day of Pentecost, something happened that went beyond revival. There was a reformation of mind and heart. These young believers became citizens of a different Kingdom. They discovered a revolutionary way of life. As a result, they turned the world upside down or should I say right side up. They possessed a power that comes from seeing the world from God's Kingdom perspective.

The Clash of Kingdoms presents biblical principles often forgotten or neglected in our church culture. By rediscovering our New Testament mandate, we will be empowered to fulfill our spiritual destiny. "Let us be grateful for receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken" (Heb. 12:28 RSV).

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