Friday, August 3, 2012

Ministry Update - July 2012


 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!


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!