July 27, 2009

Tales of the Movement

People of the Movement, take a minute and record what you have seen God doing in your churches and communities in the comments section of this post.

We are working on a better forum for sharing what God is doing through you, but for now this will have to do. As I bounce around Facebook and Twitter, I see that there is a real stirring. Finding ways to see what is going on will really help push the Movement along.

Looking forward to seeing what you share.

We are a movement,


July 25, 2009

Here Somewhere

It’s all here somewhere

It’s all in here somewhere. Throughout the day, I occasionally feel a comment coming, but seem to lose it before I can get in front of the computer.

Last week we saw an incredible advance of the Kingdom. The Movement is stirring. The long awaited fruit of obedience is blooming. The Lord is frustrating the plans of those who stand against him. I certainly have had a plan or two wonderfully frustrated!

I spent the whole week in Kerrville with 250 Sr. High students. I was in a room of oil soaked teenager and couldn’t help but drop a match. Dozens made first time commitments to Christ, hundreds re-committed to following their Lord, and almost 70 stood to give their life to ministry. They placed pins in a map to show where they were committing to personally carry the Gospel witness.

The integrity of their commitment is already manifest as I have received numerous requests for names of missionary sending agencies and cries for funds to send the kids on their way. I think maybe we will need to add a component to the WWMM’s (Worldwide Methodist Movement) organization. A wing that does nothing but raise money and book travel for kids to go to the nations.

I am coiling myself in holy anticipation of the next steps. Much is clear, much remains in motion and somewhat blurry.

More to come.

July 8, 2009

Comment Here

I would like to invite all of you who participated in the reading of Scripture to record your comments here. I think it will be an encouragement to each other and helpful to me as I work to discern God's plan and appeal for wisdom to follow hard after Christ. This is open to all who participated, by reading, hearing, praying - both for those near and far.

July 8, 248 pm

Last night I was headed home for a quick shower. I walked out of the green room where I have been staying, turned around and grabbed my Bible. I smiled at Mark and said, “I need my shield.”

As I pulled into my garage and went to get out, I reached over and grabbed my Bible, again saying, “I need my shield.” Alone in my garage, God responded to my off-hand comment.

He said, “It is not a shield, it is a sword.”

I have been playing defense. The constant and blistering attack of the enemy had worn me out. I had a small window of ease this Spring, but as I got focused on preaching and attending to the ministry of the Word, the attack came again. Honestly, I have spent much time trying to build a bigger spiritual wall to hide behind.

No more. I have drawn my sword which is the very Word of God. Arise! men of God. Arise! women of faith. Lay claim to the nations. Draw your sword and pierce the heart of all men. Lay claim to the nations.

The Kingdom of God lies in wait before us. On behalf of our Lord, Jesus Christ to whom all glory is due, lay claim to the nations.

July 7, 2009

July 7, 1:58 pm

Mid-morning, I rose to read. I finished the last chapters of 1 Chronicles. It is a powerful accounting of the faithfulness of David, King of Israel and man after God’s own heart. In those chapters, David makes a great offering for the work of the Lord. Not only does he place the resources of the nation into the building of the Temple, he empties his personal treasury – everything this rags-to-riches man has accumulated after a lifetime of unparallel success in military operations. At Solomon’s inauguration, 1000 bulls, 1000 rams, and a 1000 lambs are offered with other sacrifices “in abundance.” I was on my feet preaching with passion and power (to a room empty of all but two!).

A bit later, I had to go meet with some folks for about an hour. When I came back, there was a need for me to read again. I took over just in time to finish 2 Chronicles and start Ezra. In one chapter, I read the quick death of the nation and the pillaging of God’s Temple. After all that – all the laborious work of counting the people in Numbers to ensure a right distribution of land in Joshua. After all the birthing pains during the era of the Judges. After all the splendor and wealth of a nation being poured out for the Lord. After all that God had done and in spite of all their promises to the contrary, man just couldn’t stem the evil in his heart. He wouldn’t stop rejecting the God who established him.

So, God swept them away. As surely as he built them, he swept them away in disgrace.

I got choked up, but knew Ezra would send the people back to Jerusalem because of God’s great mercy. I started the first chapter of Ezra but could go no further. Between sobs I read the pitiful inventory of what returned with Ezra to Jerusalem. The rebuilt Temple was consecrated with 100 bulls, 200 rams, 400 lambs, and 12 goats.

Having been soaking in the Word from “the beginning,” I was living Ezra 3.12-13. “But many of the older priests and Levites and family heads, who had seen the former temple, wept aloud when they saw the foundation of this temple being laid, while many others shouted for joy. No one could distinguish the sound of the shouts of joy from the sounds of weeping, because the people made so much noise. And the sound was heard far away.”

Thy will be done . . .

This is not about our reading here, but at the same time, it is. It was written by my friend, Denise - recording her experience last week at a Jr. High Camp that Rusty, Mark, and I were leading. She is a gifted author - you should probably seek out her blog. (Posted here with her permission!)

"I make known the end from the beginning,from ancient times, what is still to come.I say: My purpose will stand,and I will do all that I please." --Isaiah 46:10

Last week, I drove to Kerrville, TX in order to attend evening worship at the Mt. Wesley Retreat Center. Two hundred jr. high kids were attending Mt. Wesley for a week of fun, games, and the opportunity to explore their relationship with Jesus Christ.

I spent much of the 300 mile trip in communion with God. I worshiped the Holy One. I prayed for my loved ones. I prayed for what was going to take place that evening. People, near and dear to my heart, were in charge of leading the campers in the week's activities, teaching moments, and times of worship. My daughter and her friend had been invited to sing with the worship band that evening. All of this, I lifted up to the Father.

You might think after all that praying that I was done for the day.

But that was not so.

The leadership team and the worship band gathered before the kids arrived. They prayed with an urgency and a humility that only comes from those who are completely submitted to the will of the Father. Prayers for God's will, power, healing, strength, for the courage to answer God's call, and protection from the evil one, were spoken with fervency. It was obvious to me that the Lord intended to do a mighty work in the lives of those young campers. It was just as obvious that satan had much to lose and would do everything in his power to disrupt the evening's plans.

Later, as the kids poured into the worship center, I sat on a bench watching and waiting. I knew God intended me to be more than a spectator. It didn't take long before I recognized my assignment.

There were double doors leading into the room. Large and heavy, each time someone entered or exited the place they closed with a bang. On the surface, it may have seemed like no more than a minor distraction. But on a deeper level, it represented a subtle interruption of the worst kind...

{Bang}...and a split second later, a young mind loses their ability to focus and wonders again why they are there

{Bang}...and there is a disconnect between the heart beginning to be warmed and the praise words being sung

{Bang}...and the whisper of God's call that accompanies the pastor's message is lost

Without question, I walked to the doors in order to ease them closed each time someone passed through them. I felt conspicuous. Anyone coming in or out had to go around me. Even so, my discomfort was secondary to obeying God.

God had physically posted me at the door to do more than close it gently. He expected me to pray, with authority, over all that was happening inside, as well as that which was taking place outside.

I had my Bible with me and opened it to the Scripture lesson for the evening: Acts 1:1-11. For the remainder of the evening, my Bible remained opened to those pages.

These were the words I lifted high above my head in worship. These were the words I clung to when I boldly faced the doors and claimed, in Jesus' name, that the enemy had no authority, and had to leave the premises. These were the words I wept over when I could no longer stand up and found myself stretched out full length on the floor, weeping and shaking.

A part of me wanted to get up...I was in the way, someone was going to step on me, what if I was distracting someone? Another part of me was powerless to move. Twice, someone came and prayed over me. Overwhelmed, in God's presence, I could do nothing but remain on my face before Him.

Prompted by the Spirit, I began to pray. The prayer was simple but incredible...the same four words spoken over and over again. Thy Will Be Done. Each time I spoke them they took on new meaning.

Thy Will Be Done... and it was a plea that God move as He promised

Thy Will Be Done... and it was a surrender of my own selfish ways

Thy Will Be Done... and it was a declaration of faith in God Almighty

Thy Will Be Done... and it was a blanket of protection for those leading the way

Thy Will Be Done... and it was a stamp of authority against the darkness seeking to disrupt the holy awakening taking place in the hearts and minds of 200 precious souls

Thy Will Be Done... and I was in complete agreement with Him

Eventually, I was able to stand up again and resume my post. A young man (college age?) came up to me towards the end of the evening. He said that God wanted me to know that even though I was a small person I was a spiritual warrior. What I had done that evening, by guarding the doors, had made a difference.

His words blessed me but, not so much because I needed to hear them. I am at a place in my journey where I know that I was doing exactly what God wanted me to do. I felt God's approval and pleasure without a word being said.

No, the blessing came from the look on his face as he delivered the message to me. His expression was that of confusion and wonder.

Out of obedience to the Father's will,
he returned to a room he had already left and
spoke words he never intended to say
to a woman he had never seen before.

Out of obedience to the Father's will...

May Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven. In Jesus' name, Amen.

to access past reflections go to: biggodlittled.blogspot.com

July 6, 2009

July 6, 5:48 pm

As I listen to the Word of God proclaimed, I am haunted by this verse: “It would not be right for us to neglect the ministry of the word of God in order to wait on tables.” No, we are not to Acts yet (Acts 6.2), but it is running through my mind.

The word of God is so powerful. I feel like I am being soaked in it – saturated. I can feel the authority of the Spirit rising inside of me as I am renewed. You cannot believe how hard it is for me to observe this simple instruction. As a pastor, I get more thanks for waiting tables than sitting, meditating on the Word of God. Frankly, I feel like I’ve accomplished more when I go through a day of marking things off my checklist.

Yet, as I am confined here in this place, as the Scriptures are pouring out over me, I am overcome with the sure and certain knowledge that faithfulness requires greater attention to the word and will of God. I must be engaged in a great work – refuse to become mired.

Waiting on the table is an important ministry – it is absolutely vital! But it’s not my ministry. If I wait on the table, who is attending the ministry of the word? Worse, I am robbing another of their opportunity to exercise their gifts for building the Kingdom of God.

Those early leaders of the church chose seven men who were full of the Spirit and wisdom to attend to the needs of the community. Because of it, “the word of God spread. The number of disciples in Jerusalem increased rapidly.” I am painfully aware of my ability to shrink ministry to the size I can manage on my own strength.

To be faithful to God, I must learn to say no to men. Or better yet, turn responsibility for carrying out the ministry of the table to others. My job then, is to “give my attention to prayer and the ministry of the word.” It comes down to this, do I believe that prayer is more powerful than taking another meeting? Do I believe that giving study and attention to the word has a greater Kingdom impact than answering emails? If you check the words of my lips, then the answer to these questions is, YES! But if you looked on my calendar, or followed me around for a week, I’m not sure my life would agree.

July 6, 12:49 p.m.

It is hard to explain the power that is available here. The men and I are experiencing the palpable presence of God among us. The cloud of presence is growing thicker. Those who have come plan to come back again. It seems to work best when there are a number of men here who can cycle through the reader position a few times.

As I read earlier from Exodus, I was so powerfully struck by the encounter between Moses and Yahweh. Honestly I didn’t know if I could finish reading. Consider: “The Lord would speak to Moses face to face, as a man speaks with his friend.” Ex 33.11 And, “Then Moses said to him, ‘If your Presence does not go with us, do not send us up from here. How will anyone know that you are pleased with me and with your people unless you go with us? What else will distinguish me and your people from all the other people of the face of the earth?’ And the Lord said to Moses, ‘I will do the very thing you have asked, because I am pleased with you and I know you by name.’ Then Moses said, ‘Now show me your glory.’” Ex 33.15-18.

Is the presence of God in my life the defining characteristic of who I am? Are we a people distinguished from all other people on the face of the earth because of our relationship with Jesus Christ?

July 6, 8:38 am

I am so encouraged. So far, each time a few men leave, a few more drift in. One man told me that God woke him and sent him up. What else can you do if God tells you something?, he said.

It seems to me that this is an important work of the Lord that is going on here. There is so much power in the Word of God. John wrote that the Word became Flesh and dwelt among us. In a very real way, as we proclaim the Scriptures, Christ is made manifest here in our sanctuary. What a joy to be co-located with the very presence of our God.

A few women have come in to pray and support us as well. I know there are a great many more who are lifting us in prayer. I know that the women of the church so desire our men to carry an ever increasing burden for living sacrificially, praying continually, and rooting ourselves in the Word. Thank you, Lord for the women who too often stand in the gap alone for the church, their families, and their communities. May we be men who lead with grace and love in all that we do.

July 6, 6:51 a.m.

A while back, the Lord gave me a vision for spending 30 days in prayer. I invited a hundred men to join me. We began our 30 days this morning at 6 a.m. We are beginning by reading the Bible from cover to cover in our North Sanctuary. I expect that we will finish sometime mid-morning on Thursday. Right now I am encouraged as a steady stream of men have come in to participate.

I really struggled with how to organize this reading, but ultimately received this instruction from the Lord to give the men, “Just tell them to come when I wake them in the night. To come when I move them at work. The worst thing that will happen is that you will end up reading a lot of my Word, Ryan.”