Thursday, 26 June 2008

Angels Guarding the Intersection

The young man approached the crash scene a couple of days ago. It had been one of those side T-bone crashes that usually results in serious injuries. As a trained first-responder, he offered to help. But the police said it was under control.

He walked to a nearby parking lot. He asked God for help in understanding what was going on and how he might help. Then he saw them. There were winged angels, one on each of the four light posts around the intersection.

The ambulance drove away without any lights going. In this case, the injuries were very minor. Angels had provided protection.

Welcome to what is becoming the new normal. Even here in Minnesota, Christians are seeing angels and are becoming more aware of the unseen things around us. There is unseen protection. There are unseen battles for lives and souls. God is on the move.

Lord help us be aware of your acts on our behalf. And help us join in as you work to draw more people closer to you.

Premature Desperation

Many people in the Twin Cities area and northwestern Wisconsin followed the story of an autistic man lost after straying from a camp between Grantsburg and Trade River, Wisconsin. It was part of our discussion at a family graduation Saturday afternoon. Despite the searching of hundreds of people, the man was not found until a week later, still alive. That was Sunday evening. He is now recovering. We may never know his adventures of that week.

Read more at (still a featured story as of this writing) or

Part of the drama of the story is that there was discussion to call off the large-scale search after Sunday's efforts. He was found Sunday evening. I understand some of the difficulty in those decisions. And I probably would have supported any decision to continue or discontinue the large search efforts. I understand they may have had some feelings of desperation and hopelessness.

But the whole situation got me thinking (a dangerous thing). I have been with extended family five of the last six weekends for graduation parties. If I am truthful, I have to admit that in many cases I have given up hope for them. And quite possibly, I just don't care enough. Let me elaborate.

In most parts of the United States, and certainly in this area, a person can gain some knowledge about Christianity quite easily. There are Bible-believing congregations and fellowships scattered all over. Radio and TV and the Internet give us 24-hour-per-day teachings and encouragement. Theoretically, most of us have at least one person we can look to as a representative of Christ for us. I know I, and others, misrepresent him terribly at times. And the message presented does not always appear to be relevant. But those issues are for another blog article or two someday. But the point is that for most of my readers, the gospel, the good news, is accessible.

Still many reject it. God in his wisdom and love wants relationships built on love and commitment, not coercion. So he lets us choose. We can live in a committed relationship with him, or choose a life separated from his love and power and goodness. And that choice will follow us after death. We will be with him or separated from him. It is our choice.

I know that God can see people's hearts far better than I. But it appears many of the people I know have little interest in a life devoted to God and his purposes. There are numerous reasons for that, which I won't get into at this time. Without that relationship, they will have a very limited experience of the love and power of God working in them and through them to touch the lives of others.

It is easy to conclude people will never change. It is easy to assume they have no desire for change. But assumptions can often be wrong.

I admit I have often become complacent with people's choices and kept silent in both words and actions. Some would say that response is respectful. Some may say it is good Scandinavian behavior to be quiet. But the true motivators for us believers being silent may include things like lack of caring, lack of love, lack of mercy, fear of rejection, pride, fear of failure, insecurities about our communication skills, insecurities and guilt about past behavior, a lack of understanding of God's love and power available for them, and many more reasons. When it comes right down to it, many of us believers are quietly letting those around us suffer from a life without God, now and for eternity.

I believe in the prophetic and dreams and revelations. Some of the revelations with the most impact are the continuing revelations of what is inside us. Fortunately, God seems to space out those revelations over time as layers of our lives are revealed. Some of the revelations are good things we fail to see in ourselves as well.

Since some of my readers are family and friends and possibly coworkers, they are probably wondering what is next. I am wondering too. But I know I need to start caring more. Or, in some cases, I have been caring but I need to express that care more.

There has been some progress this week. Praying over the workplace led to a breakthrough in a frustrating phase of a work project. And one person nearby sold their home that had been on the market for months. Jesus taught that the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand, present with us. My prayer is that the power and love and grace of the Kingdom will be present in our lives in the coming days, starting with now.

As long as people are alive, let us not give up hope for them.

Jamaica Trip in Progress

My son, David, is on a mission trip to Jamaica with 12 other students from here, plus a couple of great leaders. In the first days they served through a lot of physical construction work. They also visited a school, an infirmary, and a children's home where they could be an encouragement to others. And they helped out with a Vacation Bible School. The kids at the VBS loved them.

The group was "prayed up" before they went. Several of them prayed nine-to-five Wednesday night through early Thursday morning. David got home as I was getting up for work Thursday. I am so proud of him. There are also ongoing prayers for the trip.

Because of the prayer preparation and covering, there is a hope and expectation that God will use this trip in powerful ways. Lives will be changed. Like many activities, the fruit, or results, of the trip will be a combination of things. Some results will be immediately visible. Some of the impact may not be seen until months or years later.

Please pray that the Kingdom will be advanced in the lives of those served, those serving, and in the communities and fellowships of believers both near and far. Thank you.

Monday, 16 June 2008

Sloppy Wet Kiss

Like a sloppy wet kiss...

As I read the lyrics, I had to smile. This wasn't from a CD of love songs. Those were the lyrics on the screen at the front of the church.

I was enjoying passionate worship with a group of mostly twenty-somethings. They needed no prompting to cry out with passion and tears "Oh how he loves us. Oh how he loves us."

How can I describe the love God has for us, the love he has for you? It is lavish, passionate, compassionate, never-ending, and always faithful. Like a flooding river, it just flows and flows and flows. It is full of mercy, pure, tender, and so much more. It is amazing. It is simply outrageous, in a good way. It is both powerful and gentle. Let him wrap his arms around you and hold you safely in his arms.

"I realize how great your affections for me....
So heaven meets earth like a sloppy wet kiss
And my heart turns violently inside of my chest.
I don't have time to maintain these regrets when I think about the way...
He loves us, Oh how he loves us..."

~ How He Loves Us by John Mark McMillan

Listening to the song again tonight, it brought tears. The lyrics aren't necessarily profound. But there is power in the passion and, for me, the memories of that recent evening.

Here is a version similar to the way I heard it live with a band and a young lady singing with passion:

The song is mostly background for this one. Crop out the last minute or so and this is a powerful
statement that few churches would dare attempt. Grab a Kleenex. If your browser has a zoom
feature in the lower right (or Ctrl+), you may wish to zoom in to 150 or 200% for reading.

Here is a version by the songwriter with some background behind the song:

Fathers Day 2008, Never Too Late

I am thankful I was with both my son and my Dad for Fathers Day this year. The morning was a little hectic. My son David and a group of teens were commissioned (prayed for) for an upcoming mission trip. Immediately after that was done we had to hop in the car to another church service where I had prior commitments to serve. Fortunately, that one started later. So it all worked out fine.

The afternoon was more relaxing. We took my Dad miniature golfing. He did great like he practiced all the time. I played cane caddy on most holes. It was fun.

But it was clear as we were done that the go-carts had his attention. He hadn't been in a go-cart for at least 30 years. So, after some hesitation, I bought us three tickets to drive. I wasn't sure how he would do. Driving skills and reaction times tend to go down with old age. But he did very well and stuck with the pack of other drivers. The worker there remarked that he was (one of) the oldest to drive the go-carts at age 80. Or, as my Dad put it, almost 81, like a child looking forward to the next milestone.

As long as we are breathing, it is never too late for something new. It is not too late for change. It is not too late for a fresh start in some aspects of our lives.

We can try some new activity or maybe stop a harmful activity. We can try a new attitude or perspective. Perhaps it is finally time for those words of thanks or apology. Perhaps it is time to really listen. Maybe it is time to learn something new. Maybe it is time to share your knowledge and experience with others.

But the most significant changes can come through spiritual changes that will affect the rest of our lives. It is never too late to say "I will live for God, above all other priorities." It is not too late to invite the power of God into all aspects of our lives. Biblically and historically, it seems God most often brought change to circumstances and health when the people were also inviting his authority into the rest of their lives as well. And that humble posture can be very difficult for most of us.

To see God's greatest work around us, through us, and especially in us, we must get out of the way. We must put aside what some would call "good" and choose what is "best". We must choose those values and priorities that will really last long after the things we physically see are gone. I write this to myself as well.

For most of us in the Midwest, as we look around the countryside, things are very green with new and renewed life. Life did not look quite that optimisic when that grass was dormant, when the seeds were still in a dark, dry package. But change came, sometimes in drastic ways. And new life emerged. Perhaps we will see change and new life this summer as well.

Sunday, 15 June 2008

Wide World of Christianity

Yeah, I’m a little slow at getting thoughts from my head to the keyboard sometimes. I’m not a big sports fan. So it may seem kind of strange that the death of Jim McKay would bring me out of blogging slumber.

I do not know much about Jim McKay. And I have not seen him much in several years. But as best I can remember he frequently spoke positive words about athletes regardless of their performance. He also helped us learn more about the personalities and background of the athletes. He treated them as people with value beyond their athletic abilities. And I respect him for that.

Besides the Olympics, Jim was on Wide World of Sports. It was a Saturday afternoon highlight long before the days of ESPN. It exposed us to more than the big four of sports television: baseball, basketball, football, and hockey here in the states. We saw tennis, ski jumping, track, and numerous other sports. This exposure to dozens of sports not only showed us the variety of sports we could watch. It also showed us the wide variety of sports and recreational activities we could participate in.

Christianity has severely lacked anything resembling Wide World of Sports. Fortunately, primarily through the Internet, this is changing. In most Christian congregations, it is rare to hear much about what is happening around the world, or even in our own region. The focus is nearly always on activity within the four walls of the church and perhaps some reports from the denomination.

God is on the move. And there is a wide world of opportunities for participating. It isn’t just that I am in different circles of influence and hearing it more now. There are fresh things happening these days.

There have been thousands of healings and even people raised from the dead around the world. It has been less common in the states. But the revival meetings of Lakeland Florida the last few months are seeing a fresh work of healing and anointing. Watch on in the evenings.

Locally, there have been scattered healings around the Twin Cities metro area. There were several in Blaine during a series of meetings. I will need to write more about The House down in Burnsville. But they are seeing the miraculous on a regular basis. I am especially encouraged when I heard last night at The House about a 13-year-old praying for the healing of a 50-year-old and seeing it. Even the fitness center in the same building senses the power of their prayer gatherings.

There is stronger openness and wider experience of the prophetic. Insightful and specific words from the Lord are rather common in some circles. God wants to speak to those willing to listen and respond.

Across the nations, there are areas where the church has grown rapidly with whole communities changed. Some communities that have sought to please God have closed their jails because they were no longer needed. Watch the Transformation videos to learn about the dramatic changes in some cities.

Even in Muslim areas, there are now some growing vibrant churches. They have counted the cost. They are committed to being faithful to the true God. Dreams and visions have played a big role in getting the attention of many Muslims and other doubters.

Thousands of youth and those in their twenties have a passion for God that goes way beyond their parents. Recently 3,000 students went to Paradise, Kansas just to seek God. There weren't any celebrities or other distractions. It was just students humbly seeking an encounter with the living God through heartfelt worship and prayer.

Prayer is becoming more prominent. The International House of Prayer in Kansas City has had a huge impact in the Midwest. One report was that there are ten churches or organizations working toward 24/7 prayer in the Twin Cities area. I know there is at least one church in Iowa who just built a prayer tower to overlook their city. There has been a house of prayer over in the Chippewa Valley area in Wisconsin as well. I am sure there are many other examples of renewed focus on prayer. Locally, I am thankful for the great work of Beth Nephew to focus the Forest Lake community on prayer.

I have a few favorite resources of frequent news and encouragement:

  • Mission Network News has a daily podcast of timely information with both prayer needs and reasons for praise and thanksgiving.
  • God Network News periodically has podcasts with exciting news of what God is doing among the nations.
  • Brigada is the place for learning about new resources and possibilities for mission and ministry. Even though I don’t personally use many of them at this time, just reading about innovation and creativity is encouraging and inspiring.
  • For generic ministry, Catalyst and The Fermi Project podcasts are good for hearing about innovation primarily related to congregational ministry.
  • And there are many more good sources too.

If Wide World of Christianity isn’t listed in the TV schedule, assemble your own collection of inspiring resources. With the Internet, we are no longer limited to what our favorite pastor or teacher may share with us. We can go way beyond that and learn much more.

God is on the move these days and eagerly desiring that we join him.