Friday, August 3, 2012

Ministry Update - July 2012


WHAT DO YOU SEE?

 One day, Jesus made a bold declaration regarding His cousin, John the Baptist. "I tell you, among those born of women there is no one greater than John" (Luke 7:28). Jesus greatly admired and respected John. He wasn't alone. The Jewish populace couldn't seem to get enough of him. Even King Herod was in awe of this voice "crying in the wilderness." John the Baptist had captured the admiration of the masses like no one had in recent memory. So how did he gain such popularity? Was it his lineage? Was it his spiritual calling? Was it his message?

A few days ago, Molly was driving when the presence of God filled her car. He seemed so close and tangible that she could feel Him breathing. He then asked her a simple question. "What is the strongest part of your ministry?" Molly thought of many different answers that would suffice but none were what He was looking for. She then said the word "lifestyle" and He responded, "That's it!" The Lord further added, "When people went out to see John the Baptist, they were not drawn because of His message but his lifestyle."

John's lifestyle drew people like a magnet. They came from Judea, the region of the Jordan, and even the capital of Jerusalem. Matthew understood the significance of John's lifestyle. In the third chapter, He explains his ministry address, wardrobe, and even diet. All these details had to do with the way John lived.

In the seventh chapter of Luke, Jesus revealed an interesting point about John. "What did you go out into the desert to see? A reed swayed by the wind? If not, what did you go out to see? A man dressed in fine clothes? No, those who wear expensive clothes and indulge in luxury are in palaces. But what did you go out to see?" What is fascinating about Christ's description is that He used the verb "see" rather than "hear" three times. There is no doubt that Jesus was aware of John's powerful sermons but John possessed something of even greater power in God's eyes. You can hear a message but you must see a lifestyle.

John the Baptist declared to all those who desired to follow the Lord, "Prove by the way you live that you have repented of your sins and turned to God" (Matt. 3:8 NLT). His mission was to lead others into a different way of living. Many people were baptized by John including Jesus. This religious observance was meant to be a public declaration of a commitment to a lifestyle greater than our world's system.

Like in biblical times, a Kingdom lifestyle can have a powerful impact on the prevailing culture. I believe the reason the Church has lost its influence today is because the lifestyle of its followers reflects rather than resists the current culture. This is in total contrast to New Testament Christianity. We cannot fulfill our spiritual destiny unless this changes.

Does this mean we need to all switch to camel's hair clothes, and a diet of locust and honey? No, but it does mean we need to have very different interests, goals, and priorities. It does mean we need to let go of things in our life that have nothing to do with His Kingdom. Like John Mark McMillan's song, it does mean we need to "shine like diamonds against the jet-black sheet of night." This is the key to making an impact in our world. This is how to prepare the way for the Lord's return. This is what the people will go out to see!


A PRODIGAL COMES HOME

I am so excited to see the spiritual passion in some of our law enforcement officers. This week, I met with an officer who asked for prayer for an old friend. This friend had immersed himself into the biker lifestyle and was addicted to methamphetamines. Suddenly, the officer's phone rang and it was his old friend calling! The officer immediately invited the man to join us for prayer. Soon the old tattooed biker friend showed up disheveled with his head hung down in shame.

As we worshipped the Lord together, he began to weep. The law enforcement officer then placed his hand on his friend's shoulder and started to pray. Soon the old friend could not stop crying as the Holy Spirit began to lovingly expose his heart. Then the man began to call upon the Lord to forgive him and help his estranged wife. Discouragement and shame were replaced by faith and hope. Since then, the Lord had continued to feed his spiritual hunger and the man has already begun to be a witness to several of his old friends!


Upcoming Events

•Forty years ago, I gave my life to Christ while attending a Bible camp. Winkie Pratney was the speaker and he made a huge impact in my life. Winkie has returned to northern Minnesota and will be speaking July 20-29 at "The Gathering" hosted by Firestarters in Ottertail, MN. The theme of the conference will be the Jesus People Movement. I will be there and it will be a blessing to all who attend.

•On July 23 and 30, Lakes Area Chaplaincy and Bethany Urban Development will be hosting fund-raising events at the Baxter Pizza Ranch. We will be sharing about our ministries and waiting on tables. All tips and a portion of the evening pizza sales will be donated to our ministries. Please join us for dinner between 5:00 and 8:00 PM. It would be great to see you!

•We continue to make progress on our new website. It will have a new name and many new features. It should be ready before the next newsletter is released. We are so excited and believe it will help develop a Kingdom lifestyle in all of us!

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Ministry Update - June 2012


In our last newsletter, I shared about my granddaughter, Jamie's miraculous escape from a serious car accident. Since then, Jamie has gone on a missions trip to Guatemala and El Salvador. Below are some of Molly's insights regarding this important season in Jamie's life.

A CALL TO DESTINY

Six months ago, when Jamie asked if she could go all the way to Central America without me, my immediate response was, "No way!" She begged and pleaded but I just couldn't part with my first-born even though it was for a good purpose. Then one morning the Lord spoke something to me I was not expecting. "Molly, she has the desire now. Don't wait until she no longer does." I knew then that the stirring that Jamie had in her heart was from God and I needed to respond to it.....NOW.

Six months later, the day finally came; the day I was going to learn how to trust in my Jesus more than I ever have had to in my life. I waved goodbye as my fourteen-year-old daughter left the church parking lot in her team van. I was crying so hard that I couldn't even see her trying to wave goodbye back. All of a sudden, flashes of when she was born came flooding through my mind. All those years, all the joys and tears were all for this moment; the moment when I no longer carried her along in my destiny but now she walked in her own.

A few days later Jamie wrote in her journal from Guatemala:

"Today we got to visit an orphanage. No words can explain the love I have towards them. My heart broke when I had to say my last goodbye. Those kids were filled with more love than I've ever seen in any other person. They assured my heart and my mind of my purpose in life - I AM going to reach those in need; those who are begging for help yet no one stops to care. I will show them there is a Jesus who cares. I will go where God calls me...anywhere.

I will never stop serving God. I want to build up what God desires and be the difference that the world is searching for. I use to want to be normal but now all I want is to be different. Lord, use me for your works. Guide me with your wisdom. Transform lives with your love because if they just experience a hint of your love, they will never walk away from you. Amen."

Twelve long days and many sleepless nights later, she came home. I was expecting my same bubbly little Jamie to come running over to me, to hold me and tell me how much she missed her mommy. Instead, I approached not a little girl but a radiant young woman of God. Though nothing can take away the moments we shared when I helped her learn to walk, or to ride a bike, or even her first day of kindergarten, I knew things would be different. She had found someone new to help her do things; not just ride a bike but to scale mountains and set captives free. She had finally found her Jesus, not my Jesus, but hers and suddenly it was okay that she let go of my hand because now we could each hold the hands of Jesus together.


THE DANIEL GENERATION

Daniel is one of the most interesting young men in the Bible. He appears during a time of great discouragement in the nation of Israel. Babylon has just overtaken Jerusalem and the temple has been destroyed. The people have been led into captivity and the glory of Israel has been devastated.

As the book begins, we witness Daniel along with Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, facing enormous pressure to conform to the culture of a pagan kingdom. Interestingly, Daniel had already been mentioned three times in the book of Ezekiel. In each case, Daniel's righteousness and wisdom were particularly noted by the Lord. Daniel's friends were probably part of his prayer group because they mirrored his moral strength and courage.

Although of no priestly pedigree, these four young men were spiritual giants in the midst of a religious establishment that was strangely silent during the years of Israel's captivity. Apparently, the older religious leaders were more interested in assimilating into the new culture than becoming a challenge to it. Perhaps they thought it was the key to their survival. Actually, it was the key to their loss of power and influence.

I find it fascinating that every time God displayed His miraculous power through Daniel and his young friends; He also dismantled the glory of the existing earthly kingdom. God was sending a clear message - His Kingdom is superior to all other kingdoms and will never be defeated.

In many ways, the book of Daniel reflects our national condition. Today, our political and economic resources have been overwhelmed in the face of unrelenting difficulties. Our religious establishment is in turmoil and struggles for relevance and influence. The sins of our nation have produced a state of spiritual captivity.

In the midst of our desperate condition, God is once again stirring the hearts and minds of this next generation to be a voice for His Kingdom. This may challenge our preconceived mindsets and spiritual paradigms. Nevertheless, can we still do our part to train and support them? Can we pray for the fulfillment of God's purpose in their lives? Can we use our influence, experience, and resources to provide them the greatest chance for success? Our response may not only determine the accomplishment of their spiritual destiny but the fulfillment of ours as well.


FIERY UPDATES

I was also able to participate in a Crisis Management Briefing conducted in the city of Sartell, sixty miles away. An explosion had occurred at Verso, a paper mill that was the largest employer in the city. One person died and several were wounded in a fire that took several days to extinguish. As leaders in law enforcement, company HR, and city administration shared their experiences, people rallied in support for one another. I saw evidence of God at work in the midst of a community tragedy.

Back at our office, we continue to work hard at preparing a new website for those who hunger for revival fire. The website will have a new look and a new name. There will be blogs, compilations, sermons, and revival resources. We can't wait to share it with you.

Finally, thanks so much for your prayers and support. Because of your participation, you share in the rewards of everything God has done through the ministry.

Ministry Update - May 2012


A WAKEUP CALL

My name is Jamie. I am fourteen years old and live in Brainerd, Minnesota. Steve and Martha Harrison are my grandparents and Molly and Adam VanHeel are my parents. I come from a strong Christian family so you would expect me to be the same. Wrong. Well, at least until a week ago. Before then, I struggled to know who I was because I kept looking to find myself through my friends, guys, school, and secular music. I always had temptations and I would often give in to them. I knew that I wasn't what God wanted me to be but I always thought that I would ask for forgiveness in the end.

Well, I know who I am now. I am God's servant, a missionary, and a committed Christian. I don't need a guy, I don't need bad music, I don't need unsaved friends; all I need is my Jesus. I found my purpose and from this point on, I am giving up EVERYTHING; everything that I thought was me. I want to live out what God has planned for me so that I can be who I am supposed to be. I want to be different. I want people to know me as the girl who is the radical Christian - I would be honored to have that title.

You might wonder how I made this change of heart. Well, let's just say God gave me a wakeup call. On May 6, my friend gave me a ride in his new car after church. Unfortunately, we were going too fast around a corner. Before we even knew it, the car flew into a ditch and rolled over several times. I knew I was going to die. I knew this was the end. I remember wondering if I was going to make it to heaven. No, no I wasn't ready. Heaven is a perfect place and I was a sinner who knew that I was doing bad things and was just going to wait to ask for forgiveness at the end. Well, all of a sudden, the car stopped rolling... and I was still alive.

At first, I couldn't move; I was so confused because I was still here. Then I realized that God saved our lives and didn't want us to die. I climbed out of the car window and called home. They brought me to the hospital to see if I had any injuries but miraculously, I only had a sprained arm. I couldn't stop thanking my Jesus for saving me. God really opened my eyes and showed me that my purpose wasn't to mess around and not take Him seriously but to follow Him, trust Him, and do what I was created to do.

Before I didn't feel like I was anything but now I know that I am something. God has given me a greater sense of purpose. I want to make a difference and I want to be different. I have been waiting my whole life to have this kind of courage. Because of God, I now have purpose, strength, and life!


ROAD TO REDEMPTION

Recently, Martha and I had the privilege of attending the annual Teen Challenge banquet here in Brainerd. Around 600 came to the famous Cragun's Resort where we heard the testimony and music of Sheila Ray Charles, the daughter of Ray Charles. It was a very successful evening highlighted by the testimonies of several students in the program. The local director of Teen Challenge also shared a story that touched us all. He spoke about a young man who had recently joined the program.

This young man had come from a typical bad past - addictive lifestyle, crime, and incarceration. Fortunately, he had given his life to Christ and became anxious to know the Lord's will for his life. He sought and was granted an opportunity to enter Teen Challenge as an alternative to his jail sentence. However, a requirement was imposed that he had to report to the Brainerd Teen Challenge facility by a specific date and time or a warrant would be issued for his arrest. Arrangements were made to transport him from St. Cloud to Brainerd a couple days before the deadline - a distance of sixty miles.            

When he didn't show up at the Teen Challenge facility at the expected time, concerns grew. It was not uncommon to see individuals have a change of heart just prior to entering the program but this was not the case. This young man's ride had failed to pick him up. Knowing he had to get to the Teen Challenge facility regardless of his misfortune, he took a radical approach. He began to walk the entire distance!

He walked for miles, day and night, and developed a severe case of sunburn. At one point, a patrol officer stopped and questioned him. The young man showed him the official papers of his Teen Challenge assignment. The officer kindly gave him a ride to the next town. Unfortunately, he still had many more miles to go. But this young man wouldn't give up. He couldn't imagine doing anything else except fulfilling God's call on his life. Miraculously, he finally made it to the Teen Challenge center - just before the imposed deadline.

The Teen Challenge director summed up the story by telling the dinner guests that this young man illustrates the power and motivation of a changed life. It is what makes the ministry worth all the time and effort.

This past Tuesday, several of the Teen Challenge students came to our B.U.D. praise and worship service. One of them was this young man. As I met him for the first time, I discovered a key detail of his story that wasn't shared at the banquet. He had actually met Christ at the Crow Wing County Jail when a ministry volunteer shared with him on a Sunday evening last fall. It turns out that this ministry volunteer was Adam, my son-in-law, who was in the service! Now, by God's grace, they were reunited, worshipping the Lord together as transformed brothers in Christ.


A COMING SOON:

We are so excited about a project we have been working on for you. A new ministry website is in the development stages and will soon be accessible. It will provide many fresh and powerful tools to strengthen your walk with the Lord. We promise to let you know when it is ready. We still have some dates available to share at your church or Bible study. Please call 612-598-3270 if you are interested.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Ministry Update - April 2012

KINGDOM EXPANSION!

We have stayed busy this past month ministering in various locations. In addition to our regularly scheduled meetings and chaplaincy ministry, I spoke at The Church on the Wise Road for four consecutive Sundays. It is a Southern Baptist church and is located just outside of town. The congregation was very responsive and we developed some great friendships. As a result, we've been asked to consider a longer-term commitment with the church.

We also were invited to speak at Firestarters Ministries in Ottertail, MN. The ministry consists of many Christian artists and musicians. Several are members of the popular prophetic worship band, Firestarters. The ministry is formulating a training school for young artists and have asked us to provide some of the teaching. Every summer they host an art festival called "The Gathering." This year, Winkie Pratney will be the main speaker.

The Tuesday Pastors Prayer Group hosted the third annual Good Friday Service in Brainerd. Over 2,500 came to worship the Lord and hear a message from the President of Minnesota Teen Challenge. The united worship was very powerful and confirmed our sense of God moving in a significant way in the area.

Cragun's is Minnesota's largest four-season resort and is located just outside of Brainerd. Recently, we were invited to conduct the Easter morning service for their guests. We had a wonderful time ministering to both the adults and children. This area offers excellent ministry opportunities for those coming here on vacation.

Twice a year, Central Minnesota Teen Challenge conducts a "Spiritual Emphasis Week" for its students. This year, they asked us to do the evening sessions. It turned out to be a fantastic week of ministry. The students were very responsive as the Spirit of God revealed their hearts and His. A few days later, many of them joined us for our regular Tuesday Night Praise and Worship. The Spirit once again fell in a powerful way. Several of the students have recently come into the program and had first-time encounters with the Holy Spirit. I just love to see the joy and amazement they experience. It also reminds me of the promise God made in Isaiah 61, that the poor, broken, and prisoners would rebuild our ruined cities. What incredible spiritual destiny!


DEAR DADDY

Thank you so much for all your prayers for our little Esther (Essie). On March 27th, she celebrated her first birthday. We are happy to report that she has been seizure-free for almost two weeks! We continue to covet your prayers though as the doctors are very concerned about her weight. She has gained only two ounces the past six months. Please continue to pray for a full recovery for our little one!

Recently, I (Molly) came upon something the Lord gave me while I was pregnant with Esther. It was written as a prophetic letter from Essie to her dad, Adam. At the time, we were genuinely touched by the innocence and beauty that it expressed. We now realize how much deeper its purpose was. The Lord was preparing us for the challenging road ahead and yet promising us she would make it through. I pray it ministers to you of the power of God's spoken secrets and how they can come from the most unlikely of sources.

Dear Daddy,

I know you don't know me very well, but Jesus has already told me so much about you. He said you were big and strong but very safe. He also told me you love Him very much. You sound so perfect for me! I can't wait to meet you!

Jesus and the angels have been getting me ready. They said I have a very important job to do once I am born. Jesus said I won't be able to do a lot of the things other kids get to do, but that's okay; I don't mind. He also told me it will be hard and I will have to really trust Him and be very brave. You know what He promised me though? That no matter what happens, or what other people say, He will always be there for me. That made me feel so much better because He is bigger and stronger than EVERYTHING!

My favorite thing to do so far is when Jesus holds me and reads me stories. He has been doing that a lot lately. His eyes get really wet when He reads them though. One time, after He was done reading, He looked at me and said something, but I didn't understand some of it. His eyes were really wet then too. He said, "My little Esther, though to many, you will look small, I will help you scale mountains and give you courage and love to go into places others have refused to go. My words are forever written on your heart and My love for you is everlasting. I ask only one thing of you, My little one. Please do not forget about Me while you are there." When He was done talking, He looked like He needed a big hug, so I hugged Him and said, "How can I forget about you? You're my Daddy!"

You know what else He told me? He said when I am all done with my special job for Him; I get to live with Him forever in paradise! I don't know much about paradise, but I do know I want to be with Him forever! I can't wait!!! He said you and mommy would be there too, even my brothers and sisters!

I really want to make Him proud of me. He is really counting on me, so I don't want to let Him down. Do you have some of those special stories He was reading to me? I would love if you read some of them to me while I am there. Jesus said they are all real so that makes them extra special.

Please help me to be brave and strong like you. And you don't have to be scared for me. Jesus showed me my very own angels and they are very big and do everything Jesus tells them to do. Oh, I am so glad I will have you to help me! I love you so much already! See you really soon.

Your little Essie


ATTENTION:

We do have some ministry dates open this spring and summer. Here are a few of the subjects we have been teaching:
1. Increasing intimacy with God
2. The Kingdom of God vs. the world system
3. Digging spiritual wells in our homes and community

Please email us if you are interested bud@visi.com.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Ministry Update - March 2012

A SONG IN DISGUISE

My knees hit the floor as I scooped up Esther's seemingly lifeless body into my arms. She had just had another seizure and was going in and out of consciousness before my eyes. Tears seemed to hit the floor as hard and fast as my weary body. This had been her third seizure in four days and with each occurrence, our little Esther seemed to grow weaker. I felt as the Israelites did when gazing at the endless body of water blocking their passage. They could not move forward and yet they could not go back because the Egyptians were right behind them. They were forced to stop.

While sitting at Children's Hospital in St. Paul, after her fourth seizure, I made a choice - a choice to be still. A choice my little eleven-month-old made without any hesitation. For to remain still, is to acknowledge that you have full confidence that God will do exactly what He has said He will do. That He does not need my help but rather my worship.

I saw my little baby, the day she had her EEG, not crying but worshipping. She wasn't angry with her God that she now had epilepsy. To her, God had not changed. So if she was now going to have to worship him with epilepsy, well then she would because that's just what lovers of God do. They don't let anything stop them.

My last tear may not have fallen that day, but one thing I do know. When I "stood still," I gazed upon a God whose eyes were so fixed on my baby that it caused light to pierce the jet-black sheet of night. A love I'd so quickly forgotten because I had allowed this struggle to overshadow my heart with doubt and fear. God parted my "Red Sea" to remind me that afflictions are often songs in disguise - melodies that can draw us closer to a lovesick God. Esther taught us to dance again to our "Love's" song, no matter where He may lead. As long as the Lord is with us, we really shouldn't care.

BEAUTY IN SUFFERING

A couple of months ago our newsletter contained an audio segment from Molly. Many listened and were blessed by that important message. I recently asked Molly to do another audio clip on the subject of suffering.

Many today are dealing with heartache and disappointment. It is during these times, that we have an opportunity to go much deeper with God. He has given us the ability to experience a level of His grace that is only reserved for those who are suffering. Please be encouraged as you listen to Molly's short message:

http://ardormedia.podbean.com/mf/web/qjnfi/Beautyinsuffering4.mp3

The readiest way to escape from our suffering is, to be willing they should endure as long as God pleases. - John Wesley

TIMES OF REFREASHING

This past month, we were blessed to have David Ravenhill come and minister to a coalition of local churches. Every night the crowds grew with over seven hundred the final evening. Some older saints commented that they had not heard such holiness preaching in years. Many came down to the altar seeking God for revival in their lives and in our community. It was so encouraging to see Charismatic and Evangelical churches working together to fulfill God's will.

All the pastors involved felt something strategic had happened. We sensed a significant spiritual breakthrough had occurred. We are now looking forward, with anticipation, to the joint Good Friday service on April 6th. Last year nearly 3,000 attended. This year, Pastor Rich Scherber, the Executive Director of Minnesota Teen Challenge, will be the keynote speaker.

Oh God, continue to transform our communities so that the Lamb that was slain may receive the reward of His suffering!

Monday, February 13, 2012

Ministry Update - February 2012

Since our ministry began in the Brainerd Lakes Area, we have reported incidents of God's miracle-working power in the county jail. Karen Sikkink was one of the early converts that God miraculously touched. She recently celebrated a full year since her incarceration. Karen will soon be receiving training so that she can return to the jail and minster to the women inmates! This is her testimony.

FROM TRAGEDY TO TRIUMPH

I first came to know the Lord when I was thirteen years old. However, I was sent to a group home due to behavior problems. I stayed there until I was sixteen and was sent back home. By this time, drinking and drugs had become a part of my everyday living.

A few years later, I moved to St. Paul after my marriage failed. I had several arrest warrants because I could not stay sober long enough to comply with my probation. I lived there for seventeen years. By this time, I had become a full-blown alcoholic and drug addict who was constantly in and out of jail, drug treatment centers, and prison. I remember calling on God to get me out of my situation but I would go right back to my old lifestyle when my prayers were actually answered. I really wanted a change but was uncertain how I was going to do it.

I moved back to the Brainerd Lakes Area in 2006 with my daughter who was about two years old. I wanted to give her a better life but I just couldn't do that with the lifestyle her dad and I had. Her dad ended up moving to Brainerd about a year later and we both got a job and established stable housing for her. Tragically, my daughter's father died February 16, 2009 and my life completely fell apart.

I went right back to the alcohol and drugs and I could feel my life spinning out of control. I remember calling on God (once again) but this time I was completely broken and it wasn't to just get out of a bad situation. On July 12, 2010, I was arrested for a felony DWI and placed in the Crow Wing County Jail. There God blessed me with some people who showed me a better way to live. I discovered I needed to surrender my life back over to the care of God.

Since I got out of jail, the Lord has blessed me over and over countless times. He has restored in me what I thought I could never reach. Thank you Jesus! I give all the glory, praise, and honor to the Lord Jesus Christ because through it all, I was never alone. I just had to let God be in control.



Brainerd has recently had the highest unemployment rate of any city in Minnesota. This unfortunate fact hit home when our son-in-law, Adam was given some unexpected news by his employer.

VINE AND BRANCHES

Recently, I was working at a job that I felt was secure. I had grown confident that the company was dependent on the work I was doing for them. To my surprise, I was "terminated" along with several others when the company lost some major contracts. That was hard for me to deal with. I had bills to pay and a family to feed.

When we face hard situations, it is tempting to make decisions based on human understanding. We sometimes think God is not moving fast enough or we can think we can do it on our own. When I got the bad news, I wanted to take the first job that I could find but I knew I had to put my trust in God. I sought Him to know what His will was for me. I knew if I remained in Him, He would provide for me.

As I pressed into God during this challenging time, He made things happen. First, He provided a job for me for a week. Then I was given a full time job with overtime opportunities. I had asked the Lord to provide a new job for me and my family and He did. God is so faithful!

In John 15:1-17, Jesus teaches that we are the branches and He is the vine. Life comes from Him. He feeds us and helps us grow outwardly as we remain dependant on Him. If we become anxious or self-sufficient, we will soon wither, die, and fall off. We must remain in Him, because He is our only source of life and strength.



WHAT ARE WE TRAINED FOR?

When a young soldier goes to boot camp, he/she is not given a tourist brochure with recommended restaurants and places of interest located on the battlefield. They are not orientated on the personal benefits of visiting the war zone. That would be foolish and disingenuous. Rather, they are given combat training regarding the dangers they will encounter and how to overcome life-threatening situations. As a result, when they experience the dynamics of war, they are not surprised or unprepared.

The Western Church may preach that Christians are at war but we generally focus on increasing our creature comforts and benefits. When we do experience spiritual battles, we often struggle with discouragement because we were not trained to expect it. We see conflict as an intrusion into our well-deserved lifestyles. The problem is that we have been taught to expect the bounties of peace rather than the hardships of war.

Jesus properly trained His disciples. He told them "Do not suppose that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I did not come to bring peace, but a sword" (Matt. 10:34). He did not minimize the battle they would face. Consequently, when the disciples faced numerous adversities and struggles, they were thankful Jesus had prepared them. They were emboldened by His life and straightforward teaching, "In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world" (John 16:33).


COMING SOON: DAVID RAVENHILL

We are pleased to announce that David Ravenhill will be coming to the Brainerd Lakes Area February 17-19. This strategic ministry opportunity is being hosted by several local churches that have been praying for revival. Please contact us if you are interested in attending. We also covet your prayers for a fresh move of God's Spirit during this time.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Ministry Update - January 2012

I am tremendously excited about 2012. There just seems to be so much spiritually going on. I believe we've entered a new season and God is speaking loudly to His Bride and this nation. We have sensed this daily at Bethany Urban Development. Recently, Molly had another dramatic encounter with the Lord. Rather than transcribe the entire account, I am providing the first part in print and then an audio link so you can hear Molly share the conclusion.

A NEW SEASON

I went to my special spot one morning to spend time with the Lord but when I arrived, He wasn't there. I began to call for Him, but there was no response. "Where are you my God? I must find You!" As I sought for Him, my heart's longing became more intense. I finally found Him sitting on the edge of a cliff, overlooking a vast city. As I approached Him, I cried out, "There You are! I have been looking for you!" He did not turn towards me nor respond with words. All He did was weep. I looked once again at the city that stole His gaze and then back at Him. After what seemed like hours, His tears were finally interrupted by one momentous statement whispered from His lips. "This is the last time I am going to see so many of them ever again."

Word has come to our country of foreign cities and lands that have been spiritually transformed. With what might have started as a visitation eventually became a habitation of His tangible and genuine presence. Those who have cried out to God, in these countries, are like the parable of the person who persistently knocked on their friend's door at midnight until their request was answered (see Luke 11:5-8). They didn't want God just to come but to remain.

We, in the United States have responded to these dramatic testimonies by asking that God do the same here. We hope and trust that our time will come. In our efforts to boost faith in the promises of God, we have neglected to see that He has already visited us. Repeatedly He has showered mercy and grace upon our country, our communities, our churches, and our homes. God's pure and unconditional love has been unceasing, as He has faithfully poured out His promised Spirit upon us. Unfortunately, our response to His visitations has notconstrained Him to remain. Real revival has always been more than getting close to God. We have held Him, but we have also let Him go.

Centuries ago, Pharaoh had a dream of an extended season of abundance. Our country has been in that season. We have experienced plenty both physically and spiritually. Encounter after encounter through meetings and conferences have left us with more than enough to sustain ourselves and even share with others. Our problem is; we have not heeded the warning contained in the other half of Pharaoh's dream. Young Joseph warned Egypt's ruler that following the years of plenty, there would be years of deprivation. To avoid starvation and death, they were to store up during times of prosperity.

We have been cautioned repeatedly to do the same. God has been desperately trying to open our eyes to the absolute necessity of a deeper relationship with Him. He has been crying out for us to dig spiritual reservoirs that would sustain us during times of drought. Sadly, we have carelessly squandered away the heavenly rains and rippling rivers through bartering them for worthless junk. We are as the Israelites who "exchanged their Glory for worthless idols" (Jer. 2:11). I believe we have now entered the second season in Pharaoh's dream; a time where what we have stored up is all we will have. How much we heeded the cries of our God will now be tried in the valleys of barren rivers and brassy skies.

Select link for audio conclusion (5:44)
http://ardormedia.podbean.com/mf/web/7sr5q7/ANewSeasonPart2.mp3

CALLING ALL MEN!

It doesn't seem so long ago when the churches in America were attended by a majority of women. Men would occasionally come but it was typically the women who were volunteering in the church and taking the spiritual lead at home. Recently, I have begun to see a change in this scenario. More and more, I see husbands desperate for God and fathers becoming responsible spiritual coverings in their families. This appears to be happening in several local churches. Pastors are taking note and helping encourage and strengthen these men. As their lives change, their families begin to experience the benefits.

Much of my recent work as the Sheriff's chaplain has been helping Christian officers become greater examples in their homes. Many of them have non-Christian wives but remain committed to weekly Bibles studies and prayer. We are witnessing families coming into alignment with God's design. As fathers take their place as spiritual leaders and mothers provide spiritual nurturing and care, children have the best opportunity to grow up loving God and respecting the sacred institution of family.

GREAT NEWS!

Consuming Love, the first book in our Warrior Bride Trilogy, has recently been published in Korean. We are excited to see the message of God's consuming love become more universally accessible. I believe Korea is a key nation in God's plans and purposes. If you are interested in owning a copy or know someone who would appreciate the book as a gift, just let us know.