Supreme Ambition Ministries

To Know Christ and to Make Him Known – Philippians 3:10

NINE MILE: A MICROCOSM OF CHURCH

NINE MILE: A MICROSOM OF CHURCH

 

I am a part of a clan of Scottish decent known as Lewis. We are a proud lot, perhaps too proud sometimes.  However, even though I am nearing retirement, memories of my mother’s family flood my mind with a sense of well-being and gratitude for the good things that I inherited from being part Lewis.

 

Recently, I have been made aware that the Land upon which my mother’s parents forged a life for themselves and their children has been sold.  Many of my cousins are hurt and saddened by the loss of the land.  So am I.  Some feel the loss that their own children will never be able to run, work and play in the creek and hillsides, smell the fragrances of the spring flowers and freshly cut hay, even as we did as children.  Many emotions flood my own soul, even as I pen these words.  In my musings of days gone by, I have a lingering memory of one annual event that left a lasting impression upon me.  Furthermore, God has used that memory to give hope to me about something that has been lost in much of the church for 1700 years . . . Fellowship!

When considering the fellowship of the Church of Jesus Christ one must be careful to not be mistakenly looking for a utopian society; one which is devoid of problems. This is not the Church, at least not this side heaven. Rather, the Church is to be a society lived “in the world and yet not a part of it.” While I would be careful to press an unrealistic concept of Christianity too far, I can definitely relate with those who find a societal image that so captures their attention that everything else pales in comparison, and to which one’s life can be given, unashamedly, and uncompromisingly. Such is my quest for true fellowship in the Church.

As I look back over my life I am made aware that I was placed in varied atmospheres from time to time, which gave hints to the meaning of fellowship. One such realm was at the annual Christmas Eve celebration held by my mother’s family. Both my parents came from rather large families by today’s standards, and, due to the rural nature and economic conditions of the times my mother and her siblings formed a rather close bond with one another. Couple this with a basic Christian world view and the fact that all these siblings raised their families near one another and it is not difficult to see how a virtually spiritual relationship was forged within a biological unit. This was never more evident than when all these families came together for the annual Christmas Eve celebration.  This was a rather informal gathering in an old shanty-like house up the old Nine Mile Creek Road in the hills of West Virginia not far from a little town called Point Pleasant. My! What a time we had! The cousins played, making up games as we went. Some looked at pictures of far away places through the “view-finder”. Others shared war stories, or played Chinese checkers, while still others told the latest funny story. My grandparents little house was literally dancing with activity. The aroma of roasted turkey and country ham was married to the titillating smells of fresh baked pies and cakes. The women and older girls were in the kitchen and dinning room getting everything ready for one of the finest meals anyone ever had. Yes Sir! The old house was alive with all the sounds and smells that evoked a warmth and security that only enhanced the smell of wood and coal burning in the fireplace and the old pot-bellied stove.

Sometime during the evening Grandpa, who was a very educated but simple man, would pick up his tuning fork and a hymnbook and begin to sing a Christmas carol. We all joined in. Then the evening seemed to flow like an orchestra with the Conductor being that unseen Guest. No sooner had one song ended than another began. Interspersed between them, we children stood and said the “Christmas pieces” we had learned for our church programs, as well as poems by noted authors such as Edgar Allen Poe, and James Whitcomb Riley. Then, right on cue, the Divine Conductor seemed to stir Grandpa to pick up his Bible and give it to his oldest Son, Milton, who read Luke’s account of the birth of Christ. Maybe it was my age, or maybe it was because it was Christmas, I’m not sure. All I know is that when he read from the Bible on Christmas Eve the words seemed to dance within my head with life. Afterward, we gave the gifts we had gotten for the one in the family whose name we had drawn some weeks earlier. All too soon the evening was over, but I was left with precious, lingering, memories, and a longing to repeat that evening, or something akin to it, as soon as possible. Now, years later, and with over forty years in the ministry, when I think about what true fellowship in the Church should be, it is the memory of those Christmas Eves that floods my mind. You see, Christmas Eve with my mother’s family became for me a microcosm of the way things ought to be. It may even have been a hint from the Lord Himself as to the only effective way to live the Christian life and to do Church. Yes, this family Christmas gathering so many years ago became the seed of a search that was to fuel the fires of my ministry.

I join my cousins and our friends in the little community of Beech Hill, West Virginia in grieving the loss of something special, but from now and throughout all eternity each time I see their names, their faces, or hear their voices, I will smell the aroma of what God might call FELLOWSHIP.

March 28th, 2012 Posted by | Biographical, Church, Fellowship, True Church LIfe, Uncategorized | 8 comments

Salvation: Frontier Style!

Circuit Riding Preacher Do you remember the moment of your New Birth? Most followers of Christ have an account of their salvation from sin that is as unique as they. None, perhaps, is quite as distinctive as the one related to me, and a few close relatives in the living room of my brother’s home immediately following the wedding of his older son. What made the story so pregnant with meaning is that it was the account of my father’s salvation told from his own lips.

Now, that might not seem like such an exceptional thing to you, but my father was one of those guys who rarely gave you a peek inside his life. For most all our lives and for whatever reason, the man we called “Daddy” proudly wore a facade both at home and in the community that never allowed others to get too close to him. So, as the family and some friends relaxed and shared a meal together, imagine our surprise as this emotionally distant man pulled the cord of the curtain of his life open and let us see into one of the most intimate experiences of his life. Following is the story as I remember it and that day will forever change how I view my father.

“It was in early Autumn in the hills of West Virginia. The leaves were beginning to gain color and some of them had begun their inevitable trek from tree to sod, forming a soft cushion for the winter snows to rest upon. In those days there was not much in the way of entertainment except at the local church. It was common to have ice cream socials and all-day meetings with dinner on the grounds. On such occasions, the church would procure the services of a circuit-riding preacher to come and hold a revival meeting. Since, entertainment was at such a shortage, both saints and sinners often found themselves at these meetings. Such was the case when I was a young man. I lived a rather loose life in those days and had a number of friends with whom I ran around. Our habit was to go to the different churches and cause such a stir that the preacher could not preach and the people could not worship. We laughed, threw spit wads and generally made such a nuisance of ourselves that we had gained quite the reputation for stopping revivals.

Added to our mischievousness was the fact that I had learned the art of making moonshine whiskey and had a still over the creek bank near our parents’ home. Now, all this took place during the days of prohibition. The possession or sale of alcohol was against the law, but for me and my friends that was only a problem, if you were caught. Unfortunately, it was our habit to test some of our ‘home-brew’ before attending these revival meetings. Otherwise we might not have the courage to cause the trouble we wanted. We thought it was all great fun. Others in the community did not have the same attitude as we.

 One memorable Sunday afternoon we heard there was to be a revival starting at the local church.  My friends and I decided to arrive early enough to make our plans as to how we were going to disturb the service.  Shortly after we arrived the evangelist arrived driving and old horse-drawn wagon.  He was wearing a black coat, black hat, black trousers and white shirt.  He slowly got down off his wagon and started towards the church.  My friends and I lined either side of the steps walking up into the church.  We figured that we’d give him a good scare before the service so that our antics inside would not take long in bringing a halt to the meeting.

About half way up the steps the old fella’ stopped and looked us right in the eye as he turned his head first to the right and then to the left.  Suddenly he surprised us by speaking to us in such a deep voice that I was sure God was speaking through him.  He said, ‘Boys, them’s apples in the back of that wagon’ (He was paid two bushels of apples for his previous revival). ‘And’, he continued, ‘When I come out of here tonight, if there is even one of them missing, I’ll kill ya’.  Daddy said that he and his friends didn’t know what to make of it but there plans did not change.

The service began and Daddy and his friends were the last to file into the church and onto the back row.  They put their plan into action.  It was so disturbing that the people could hardly sing or testify.  Finally, it was time for the old Circuit Rider to preach.  He stepped up to the pulpit.  He was an awesome specimen in his black clothes coupled with the long shadows created by the kerosene lanterns that lighted the building.  Then he did something that I’ve never seen any preacher do.  He laid his Bible down on the pulpit.  

Then he reached under the left side of his big black coat and pulled out a pistol and laid it on one side of his Bible.  He reached under the right side of his coat and retrieved a second pistol and laid it on the other side of the Bible.  Then, in a voice that seemed to almost shake the rafters, he thundered, ‘I hear tell that some of you folks don’t like preachers and you don’t like revivals.  Well, this Bible and these two pistols say that we’re gonna’ have revival.”

Daddy said that the man preached a powerful message and at the end of the service he and all his friends walked down the aisle and bowed at the altar and surrendered their hearts to Jesus.

Surely, this method of evangelism would not be taught in any seminary or Bible college.  Nor would I expect Campus Crusade For Christ or the Navigators to put this method in their training manuals.  The old Circuit Riding Preachers who roamed the hills and valleys of this great nation of ours for the first 300 years or so Adapted the Gospel the best way they knew and called to the Kingdom some rough old mountain boys that maybe never would have come to Christ any other way.  Above all else, Christianity must be real.  I will forever cherish this experience my Daddy shared with us that day.  Even if only for a moment, my brother and I got to see the man behind the facade.  Makes me long for heaven.

Oh, by the way!  When Dad arrived home that night, his parents had already gone to bed.  His mother, like most “Moms”, was lying awake waiting on him to get home.  As my Dad put his foot on the first step of the front porch, Grandma said she knew that he was a changed man.  His experience that night had changed how he walked.  Yes, I’m aware of the irony of that last statement.

 

October 22nd, 2011 Posted by | Biographical, Evangelistic, Revival | 4 comments

MY JOURNEY 20

FORTY YEARS AND…

 

 

dkwedding.jpgToday, June 7th, Kathi and I celebrate 40 years of marriage.  I can honestly say, as I look back upon those years that I have at least two views.  One, it seems but a short while.  Two, it seems like a lifetime.  Now before you ladies out there start calling me names associated with the animal which produces ham and pork chops, please give me a chance to explain.  Whew!! 

 

Life really does go by fast.  In fact, sometimes it nearly seems to fly.  Perhaps an experience that convinced me of that occurred about three years ago when we joined our daughter, Stacye and family in the Pocono Mountains in Pennsylvania to watch our son, Nathan perform in a  summer stock presentation of “Seussical the Musical”.  Nathan played the part of the Mayor of Whoville.  Upon arrival, Kathi and I soon discovered that we were in the same area where we honeymooned more than 3 ½ decades previously.  We anxiously took everyone to see the beautiful Resort where we had spent those first precious days of our new life together.  However, when we arrived…it had all been torn down.  All that was left of the beginning of our life there were the memories in the hearts of two people, who were left standing and wondering where the time had gone.

Let me get to the second observation I mentioned: ‘it seems like a lifetime’.  Now, by the grace of God, Kathi and I have reached 40 years together, and folks it has been a ‘Lifetime’.  Don’t get me wrong.  I really wouldn’t trade those years.  There are some experiences I would like to have back and, as we say in golf, “have a do-over”.  However, the years we have been married have been a Journey.  That’s what 40 years are anyway, right?  The Bible has numerous instances of the number 40: Israel spent 40 years in the wilderness, Jesus was tested by the devil for 40 days, and it rained on Noah for 40 days and nights.  Those who study ‘numerology’ talk about the meaning of that number as a sign of testing, trial, or judgment.  I concur, but I see within the testing and trial a deeper meaning.  Could it be that 40 also represents a ‘Journey’? 

  A Journey is supposed to teach one something.  I think it would be terribly sad to spend a lifetime’ on this orb and not to have learned a few things about one’s self while here.  I’ll be the first to say that I’m, perhaps, not the sharpest pencil in the drawer’, but after 40 years I think I’m starting to ‘get it’.  Jesus is teaching me that life is not about me…It’s not about you either.  Life is about Christ.  My presence here is as one of those very special portions of Him.  I have been placed in the arena called ‘Life’ in order to help draw the focus of the Universe unto the only One worthy to receive all praise and honor.  Another thing I’m learning is life is about relationships.  Incidentally, marriage is about that too.  Now, Kathi already knew that, but guys like me take a little longer to realize the importance of the human connection.  We’re all about individual’ and ‘independent’.  Success in life can never be realized outside of relationships.  God knew that so he made the family, and the Church.  An attack upon the family is an attack upon the very core of human existence, and society in her essence.  Still another important issue is the possibility of change.  Although Kathi and I have journeyed together 40 years, neither of us is the same person as we were those many years ago.  I wish I would have changed more in our journey together.  I’ve made some pretty good choices in life, but I’ve also made some that nearly curl my eyebrows. 

Lastly,the Lord has taught me much from my sweetheart.  She is the one who has shown me the way of love towards neighbors, friends, and parishoners.  Her timely words of encouragement, and sincereity in getting to know each one and what makes them ‘tick’ has been a key to her own heart, and the heart of God towards his children.  Hours she’s spent through the years preparing gifts, meals, etc for family, the lonely, brokenhearted and servants of the community both inspire and convict me.  The smile which comes across the face of some American Armed Forces person when she determinedly seeks them out to say, ‘Thank You’ reminds me of the determination which God has in seeking each of us out.  But most of all her consistent hunger for Christ through these years has taught me the importance of perserverance, as she has stood by my side and often led the challenge and charge to and for the Church.

 My deepest regrets are that I wasn’t a better husband and father.  My grandest hope is that there is more change yet to come.  Through this 40 years’ journey Kathi and I have had a lot of stuff to learn and a lot left to finish.  One thing, however, I don’t regret in this journey, by God’s grace, is the one I chose to walk with me in it.  HAPPY ANNIVERSARY, SWEETIE!  It’s been a lifetime, but, oh how very short.

June 6th, 2009 Posted by | Biographical | 7 comments

MY JOURNEY 19

IT WAS LIKE GRAND CENTRAL STATION!
 

 ny_026.jpgHow many times I have heard the statement, “It was like Grand Central Station”, I do not know, but on each of our four trips to NYC after 9-1-1 the Lord seemed to direct us there.  It is a massive building near the United Nations’ building.  During the busiest times of the day subway cars and trains carrying thousands of people arrive and depart to and from the Station.   New York City is a melting pot of every tribe, tongue and nation on the earth.  Grand Central Station seems to be the giant dispensary for those people.  One might go there and enter into the giant room containing the rotunda and find very few people.  However, within a matter of seconds as trains and subways arrive and depart the room could be so packed with people that one could virtually stir them with a stick.

ny_grand-central-station-dave-anderson.jpgOn our first occasion we walked into the Station we had  little knowledge of what we were going to do.  We walked into the Rotunda, spread out into different sections with our sticks and just stood, trusting for the Lord to bring to us those whom He would.    At that time the city was crawling with members of the military.  The city and the nation were shaken to the core, fear clouded the faces of countless numbers.  Once secure people, who gave little consideration about ‘tomorrow’, were now even concerned about ‘today’. Parents, husbands, wives, whose minds had previously been wrapped around the best way to make the next dollar seemed to be thinking of little except how grateful they were to be alive and have their family in tact.

Numbers of people walked up to us asking about the meaning of the sticks.  Among those who asked about the sticks was a very distinguished young woman.  She approached Steve Coder and me in a most unusual way.  She came off a subway into the rotunda, and marched directly toward us.  If you could have seen her, she was like one who was on a mission.  Approaching us she said, “Where can I get one of those sticks?”  Steve said, “Right here!”  She asked how much they were and we explained to her that they were free.  She exclaimed, “Oh wonderful!  I want one!”  Steve said, “Wait, I need to tell you the story of the sticks first.”  She said, “Oh, I already heard it from someone at Ground Zero Yesterday!”  We had been asking people to share the message that we are to be one nation united under one God.  Apparently, someone with whom we had shared the gospel message had shared with her.  She had thought about the responsibility of what it meant to receive and carry a stick and she was ready.  If you could have seen her take that stick and walk away from us into the mass of people, I don’t know what you would have done.  I looked at Steve and said, “Brother, there goes the gospel into NYC…”

Suddenly, the Lord stirred our hearts that we needed to sing.  As I indicated we were not a choir, but a few of us could sing a little.  On one occasion as the rotunda area was packed with hundreds of people rushing to their next destination.  We stood in the middle and began to sing some patriotic numbers, including ‘God Bless America’, and ‘This Land Is your Land”.  What happened next was amazing.  All those hundreds of people, who were nearly stepping on top of one another came to a screeching halt.  The anointing of the Holy Spirit was upon us as we sang.  The people began to cry out, “Sing! Sing!  These are our songs!  We need you now!  Sing!  Sing!”  Tears were streaming down their faces.  Some were holding up their cell phones so that those to whom they were speaking could hear the singing.  Everyone seemed to want a stick.  We quickly challenged them to turn their hearts toward God and share the message with others.  Several people thought we were a choir, but when they found out we were just Christian pilgrims from different parts of the U.S, who had come to bring a message of hope in Christ they could hardly believe it.

Over and over as we walked the streets of the city we saw people carrying their sticks.  An entire floor of one building ny_030.jpghoused several nurses and medical personel.  Each of them received a stick and they began to meet daily at lunch for a Bible study…each carrying a stick.  Wall street lawyers and financial investors asked for them, as well as taxie drivers, police officers and firemen.  We visited fire stations and police precints and prayed with men and women who had been devastated by the tragic events of 9-1-1.  At one fire station we met a man who was the only one left out of 13 at his station.  He looked at me and said, “That would be like losing everyone of you but one.”  The sadness emanating from him was almost more than anyone could bare.  How blessed we were to come with a message of hope in a time of terror and confusion.

ny_fire-station-greenwich-village.jpgThere are times when the hearts of people are so hard that to attempt to share a gospel message is almost futile.  However, God has ways of using experiences of life to make the heart receptive.  It is important that we in the church are ready to take advantage of every open door as it comes.  We must not miss the opportunities given to us.  Just as quickly as a door opens it can also close.  At any moment the quiet road of life you travel may be packed with men, women, youth and children, whose lives have been turned upside down.  Who knows?  It may even look like Grand Central Station.  Will you let them walk on by into a hopeless sea of humanity or will you begin to sing the ‘song of the Lamb’ and bring hope and life into their barrenness? Historically the church has been spiritually AWOL at  the most inopportune times.  The prophet Isaiah said to his generation words that are applicable to ours.  “Awake!  Awake!  Put on thy strength, O Zion.  Put on thy beautiful garments…”  

May 4th, 2009 Posted by | Biographical | 3 comments

MY JOURNEY 18

…WHY WAS I SPARED?

There are no words to express the sense of purpose and destiny I experienced as I walked with my brothers and sisters in Christ all the way from uptown New York City to downtown toward the place known then and now as…’Ground Zero’.  It was as though we were making our way to a funeral.  All along the way people stopped us asking the same question, “What do you mean about these sticks?”  Police officers, Wall Street Lawyers, homeless, business men and women, each from varied tribes, tongues and nations, all stopping us wanting to know the story of the sticks.  Each time we took a few moments to give witness to our Lord, and give the message that ‘God wants us to be one nation united under one God’.  We asked those to whom we witnessed to take a stick and spread the message.  How thrilling it was to watch hundreds of people walking away from us into the massive sea of people carrying the Gospel message. 

ground-zero.jpgDuring the four trips we made to NYC we gave away  between 1300 and 1500 sticks, and each one taking a vital message for our nation to people who were desperately trying to find their way.    It was a crisp October morning and had the sky not been obscured by the smoldering ruins of Ground Zero, I’m sure it would have been very blue.  All around us were the unmistakable smells of smoldering death.  The closer we got to the place where the Towers had fallen the more it felt as though we were going to a funeral.  As we approached Ground Zero we came upon a Baptist group, who had set up a Prayer Station on the street corner.  We paused to have prayer with them and to tell them why we were there.  We joined our hands in a circle very near where the towers had fallen and began to pray for the suffering family members left behind, our wayward nation, and for those who were to find Christ through this horrible ordeal.  When we opened our eyes, there was a great number of people who had joined us in prayer.  One was a man from China, who was working in NYC, and who had been on the 40th floor of the South Tower.  At the end of the prayer, he said, “Why was I spared?  Why did I get out, when so many thousands lost their lives?”  One of our brothers took him aside and shared the Good News with him that Jesus came to save sinners and that Christ had a wonderful purpose for his life.”  This precious Chinese man bowed his head and in a very sacred moment he received the Eternal Life of the Father and the Son.  He was transferred from the kingdom of darkness to the Kingdom of Light. 

There are numerous stories such as this of people, whose lives have been transformed because a few Christians cared enough to go to a hurting city and nation and carry ‘sticks’ with a message.  In fact, we became known on the streets as ‘THE STICK PEOPLE’. alisha-nyc.jpg  Sounds like something out of a Sci-fi movie, doesn’t it? We wore the name, however,  as a badge of honor. 

On another occasion   We were standing with hundreds of others looking over a baracade towards the smoldering ruins.  It was so quiet that one could almost here a mouse sneeze.  Hundreds of people standing, looking and yet each one alone with his/her private thoughts.  Suddenly, the Lord led for our group to begin to sing.  We were not a choir, but God anointed our singing in such a way that people were weeping.  All at once a young woman approached me with tears in her eyes.  Her name is Alicia.  She was in her apartment several floors above us and heard us singing.  She ran down the stairs and onto the street.  Breathlessly she asked who we were and why we were singing.  I tried to tell her of our and God’s  love for the nation and our participation in the grieving of the city and the nation over this tragedy.  I also shared with her how we had come to bring a little hope  in the midst of tragedy.  She related the account of that awful day when her husband had gone to work  in the North Tower.  She continued her story between sobs to say that the explosions had been beyond something she could explain.  The terror was still fresh upon her face and in her voice.  She spoke of trying desperately to find her husband and fearing the worst.  Thankfully, her husband made it out safely, but both  had been left with questions, doubts and fears that would be impossible to explain to anyone.  She said when she heard us singing that God put hope in her heart.  and she thanked me over and over for coming to NYC to share the love of God.  She said, “We need it now!”  In the picture above I have just offered her the opportunity of being an ambassador of hope to her city by taking an Ezekiel Stick and the blessed message of hope it represented.  She was amazed  I was giving her an Ezekiel Stick, but she received it with gladness and went forth to share the love of God. 

Watchman Nee, the humble Chines Evangelist,  once said, “To be used of God once in a lifetime is worth a lifetime of living.”  I am a very blessed man.  My times of being used by him are too numerous to count.  In the midst of tragedy it is human nature to ask, “Why?”  Many of the people we talked with asked this question.  Most wanted to know what such an even meant for them personally.  Suffering without reason gives hopelessness, but, if man can find a reason for his suffering, then he usually becomes more the person he was meant to be.  Thankfully, we had a message to give that offered hope beyond reason.  As we walked those human-laden streets those days,we offered not an abstract hope, but rather a God of hope, who has suffered as we have and has become victorious through it all.  

Why some made it out of the Towers alive and others didn’t, I do not know.  I do know that after September 11, 2001 I have never been the same, not just because I have suffered, but because I have found hope and meaning for life beyond the typical, daily, ‘grind-it-out’ stuff for which most people live. For what are you living today? God forbid, if tragedy should strike our nation again, and threaten the very foundation of our lives, do you have a hope beyond what this world can offer?  How deep does the reason for your living go?  Does it go beyond the daily, ‘gind-it-out’ stuff? Selah!  Think about it.

April 20th, 2009 Posted by | Biographical | one comment

MY JOURNEY 17

WHAT DO YOU MEAN BY THESE STICKS?

ezekiel-sticks.gif

     On September 11, 2001 I was on vacation with Kathi in Pigeon Forge,TN. Our daughter, Stacye, called to tell us that the United States had been attacked and the towers of the World Trade Center had been the target.  Later, of course, we found out about the Pentagon and the downed plane in Pennsylvania.  Just as December 7, 1941 is a day that will live in infamy and June 6, 1944 stands as one of the most significant and bravest events of WWII, so does September 11th tower on the horizon of American history as a day, which marks a significant change in how Americans and the rest of the world live our lives. 

    The day was filled with sunshine and puffy clouds, the last throws of summer beamed from the heavens, but the atmosphere was one of gloom, fear, and confusion.  People were fightened, angry, and some even thought the end might be near.  As I watched the responses of people on the news and observed with keen interest the rescue workers desperately digging through rubble trying to find survivors, my emotions were  vascillating.  The predominant thought on my mind was:  “Is there something I can do?”.  I’m a Christian so I knew one of the most important things to do was to pray.  America needed prayer then and needs prayer more now than any time in history.  We are a nation who has lost her way.  So I began to pray…But I wanted to do more.  However, it seemed as though there might be something more I could do.

     It wasn’t long before I received a call from Steve Coder, the President of Hand to the Plow Ministries.   He said that he was going to go to New York City and invited me to go.  Kathi and I prayed about it and determined I should go.  I took one of the men in the Church with me and we joined a group of about 15 others…What was our mission?  We were going to hand out sticks…Yes, you heard correctly…sticks.

 

alisha-nyc.jpg

     In Ezekiel chapter 37, the prophet is told to take two sticks of wood (walking sticks).  On one stick he was to write the name, Judah(meaning, ‘Now I will praise the Lord’).  On the other he was to write the name, Ephraim (meaning, ‘God has made me fruitful in the land of my suffering’).  God then told Ezekiel to bind the two sticks together into one and hold them before the people.  Then God said, “When your Countrymen ask you, “What do you mean by these sticks?  You should tell them that you are no longer two nations but you are one nation united under one God.”  

     We purchased some very fine walking sticks and proceeded to New York City a mere 3 weeks after 9/11.  Upon arrival at our hotel we met together the evening before for a time of prayer, and worship.  Quite frankly I was not all that excited about taking a bunch of sticks out onto the streets of New York, if you know what I mean.  Really..come on…those people have a reputation for beating people up with sticks and other such things.  So, I decided  the next morning when we started walking the streets with sticks  I would place myself at the back and let folks who were all fired up about this thing  do what they wanted while I just watched.  I think I mentioned before that I am very shy by nature.  What I had failed to take into consideration was those in the front of our group served as the lure on a fishing line.  They got the attention of the people on the street…The succeeding ‘stick carriers’ only enhanced their curosity and by the time I came along…well, I caught the fish, so to speak.  We were walking along Broadway and 34th Street when the Bell Captain at the Holiday Inn looked at me and said, “WHAT DO YOU MEAN ABOUT THESE STICKS”.  Yes, he used the very words the scripture talked about.  I turned towards him and told him the story from Ezekiel.  His name is William.  I said, “William, if you will pass the message along that God wants us to be one nation united under one God, I’ll give you this stick.”  He said, “Praise the Lord!”.  I said, “Glory to God!”  He took the stick and lifted it high over his head with both hands and brought it down hard upon the sidewalk and said, “I claim in the name of Jesus that He will bring people back to NYC and this hotel.”  We went back to NYC about 3 weeks later william.jpgand he told me God had answered the prayer and that the hotel was full. 

This was only the beginning of a grand adventure that came out of a national tragedy.  We gave away thousands of Ezekiel Sticks on four separate trips to New York City.  I will share more in the next edition.

  

April 14th, 2009 Posted by | Biographical | 2 comments

MY JOURNEY 16

“ARE YOU SMARTER THAN AN… AVERAGE CHRISTIAN?”

  test.jpgKathi and I spent from April 1996 – November 1999 living in West Virginia.  During that time we were meeting with a small group of people in our home.  Meeting with Christians in a living room has, perhaps, been some of the most meaningful times in our Forty-year ministry.  We will always cherish those moments and when we think of those who shared that time with us, we shall do so with only the fondest of memories. 

            In November 1999 the Lord led us to a small church in Louisville, KY, which had just recently lost their pastor of sixteen years.  Complicating the situation was the fact that the Church split before we arrived and we were left with half the previous number, many of whom were reeling from the experience.  Our assignment upon arrival was very plain.  We were to help these people walk through a much needed healing experience.  As I write these words we are in our tenth year at this little Church called Ecclesia Fellowship.  Our walk of healing is not completed but we are well along the way..  Sadly, once a Church goes through something like a split, it is difficult for those who are left to see past their hurts and be willing to stay long enough for God to do a deep and abiding healing within them.  Of course, there are always others who feel the need to move on because theirneeds are different and their goals do not fit with the new vision.  Such has been the case at Ecclesia.  As each person has left, a period of further grieving and healing  has been required. Each of these experiences has become the building blocks upon which our faith in Christ and our walk with him is built. Hopefully, we are becoming a living Temple, a proper habitation for our great God. 

It has been my desire since April 1995 to get to know my Lord and to help lead any, who might have the desire to experience Him in his depths .  I claim no special revelation, nor do I hold to the allusion that I might possess something others do not.  I simply want to know Him; His passion, His presence, and His purpose.  Let me state, “I love the Church, the Bride of Christ”.  Many of the experiences I have passed through, both negative and positive have brought me to whatever level of Christian maturity I have.  Some of the experiences Kathi and I have had in Louisville have assissted in that shaping.  It is our prayer that this shaping will always be to the image of the Son of God. 

          scholar-cat.jpg One of the major burdens of my heart in the last forty years has been the shallowness of many in the Church.  A couple of years ago I gave a test of 100 questions to the brothers and sisters of Ecclesia fellowship.  The test covered basic Bible information which should have been known, especially by people who have spent most of their adult lives in the Church.  I didn’t grade the tests (I was tempted).  Instead, we went over the test on a Wednesday evening and I let them give their answers as they could.  Sadly, a few of the youth could answer some of the questions more accurately than could some of the adults.  Of course, I have to take a portion of the blame.  I felt it was important for me to examine my preaching to see if I were delivering Biblically based messages, and if I were doing so in a manner that fostered a proper retention among my people.  While being willing to take some of the blame myself.  I also realized that listening to one man preach a Biblically based message once per week (month, quarter, etc.) will never get the job done.  The popular movement afoot is to do away with Sunday School, and in doing so a generation of Christians has been raised up, who knows little about the Bible and basic doctrine. However, I’ve also discovered that simply obtaining and parroting Biblical information does not a disciple make.  Christians should know the Bible, but Christians should never fool themselves into believing that good Biblical knowledge is not necessarily a sign that one knows God any more than sleeping in a garage makes one a car. Yet, much of the fault cannot be laid at the feet of the Church, but rather at the altar of the Christian home.  I maintain that God spells “Sunday School”  ‘D-A-D’ and ‘M-O-M’.  Many parents have abdictated their role, and wanted to hire a job done that God intended be theirs.  

           discipleship.jpg I have a friend who related the following story.  Apparently, he had the opportunity to spend some time with the Worship Leader of one of the largest churches in the United States.  In the course of the conversation the Worship Leader asked my friend how things were going in his church.  My friend replied, “Well, nothing like what’s going on at your church.  I’m just trying to love my people and take them deeper with Christ.”  To which the Worship Leader said, and with great thought, “Deeper….Deeper….I surely would like to see some Christians go deeper with Christ.  We have (so many thousand) Christians at our church and every one of them is about one inch deep.”  The brother confessed later to my friend that they just didn’t know what to do with them once they got them saved.  He said, “We have discipleship ‘classes’ (misnomer), but the reality is we just don’t know what to do with them so we just move on to get the next one saved.”

      It seems that present day Christianity has learned well how to get people to come to our Churches…Now, if we can just learn how to get God to come, we’ll be doing well. ARE WE SMARTER THAN THE AVERAGE CHRISTIAN?  Maybe that’s the wrong question.  The tell-tale question is, “Do we know our Lord…not know about him, but do we truly know him?”  I may be able to recite all 66 books of the Bible.  I may even know who was the third king of Israel, or the Apostle who replaced Judas.  But, if I don’t know the heart of my Lord, it really doesn’t matter, if I’m smarter than…an average Christian.

April 13th, 2009 Posted by | Biographical | 5 comments

MY JOURNEY 15

scholar-cat.jpgIt’s been some time since I last wrote.  I have been doing some classwork for a degree I’m working on and my goal was to get the classwork completed by the first of the year.  By the grace of God, I was able to complete the 30 hours of classwork required before I begin the laborious assignment of doing research for the dissertation.  One goal accomplished and one to go.  I appreciate so much your prayers for that, and, oh yeah, Kathi and I leave on January 12th for Florida for 3-4preaching/teaching assignments in two separate churches.  I have a deep sense of need for the help of God in this matter.  Lives are hanging in the balance and it is my sincere desire to give each of them word from the Lord.  Please pray…Thanks.

MOUNT KENNY- MY PERFECT DAYhaitian-mountains-saint-ard1thumbnail1.jpg

Do you mind, if I relate another account of God’s leading in my journey with him?  Thanks!  That which I am about to relate to you may be one of the most perfect days I have ever lived.  Now most of us, when thinking of living a perfect day, suppose it would include moral perfection, or a day without sin.  However, the day I am about to share with you is one about which I claim none of that, although I have no conscious remembrance of committing any sin during that time period.  If I did not sin on that occasion, it is most likely due to the grace of God in my life rather than any special ability on my part.  What was it Jesus said to the twelve?  “Apart from me you can do NOTHING.”

As with a number of my experiences in Christ, this one took place in Haiti.  We had spent a long day in travel from Miami, and by the time we arrived at the mission compound and got a little something to eat it was rather late.  At that time, having electricity in Haiti was a luxury.  Things haven’t changed much.  Not having electricity also means no TV or radio. It is surprising how the Lord can work, when there is no noise.  As is our habit while in Haiti, we afford ourselves the opportunity of sitting under the stars on the roof of the missionary’s home (Phyllis Newby).  How long has it been since you were able to view the Milky Way in all its glory?  There is no way for me to explain the beauty of the sky, nor how bright the constellations are.  We began to sing and give testimony, pray and share from the word of God.  Suddenly, one of the ladies felt led to wash the feet of Sister Phyllis.  Each of our hearts was stirred as the water sloshed in the basin and as words of blessing and encouragement were spoken over this precious servant of Jesus.  Well, you might have guessed that others were led to wash still others’ feet.  Until all but one person had experienced this exercise in humility….all that is except one fellow from Central Florida, Kenny Dale.  Now Kenny was on that trip for one reason.  His friend, Ed Joyner, had invited him to come.  We needed an electrician, to explore how to set up a solar, electrical system, and Kenny was an electrician.  PROBLEM!  Kenny was not a Christian.  Furthermore, he had never been in church in his life.  Get the picture?  This guy has never been in Church and his first introduction is a bunch of people sitting on a porch washing one another’s feet.  What must he have been thinking?  Each of us knew someone was going to have to explain to him what was going on, and why no one had washed his feet.  The silence was deafening…Crickets began to chirp, if you know what I mean.  Suddenly, Ed Joyner said, “Kenny.  I know you don’t have a clue what is going on here but I would like to have the privilege of washing your feet.”  Kenny spoke not one word, but began to take his shoes and socks off and let Ed wash his feet.  It was a holy time.  After that precious experience, our leader asked, if anyone had anything else on their heart.  One of the ladies grabbed her chest near her heart and said, “I must get to that mountain.”  Behind the mission station is a range of rugged, barren mountains.  Haiti  means “the land of many mountains”.  When she made her proclamation, a number of us agreed that the Lord had been dealing with us as well about getting to the mountain.

After our dismissal prayer, Steve Coder and I began to pray about the possibility of walking to the base of the mountain.  We were told it would take an hour and a half to just get there.  Since Haiti is extremely hot, we knew we would have to have special help from the Lord with the weather in order for us to make the journey.  Besides we didn’t know what we were going to do once we got there.  We decided to wait to see what the morning brought.

Wouldn’t you know!  The Lord sent a cold front through with a cloud cover, and after breakfast we started our journey toward the mountain.  A group of pilgrims from various age groups began to hike, and as we did I had the feeling that Jesus’ disciples must have felt just what I was feeling at that moment.  You see, for them their  f irst   experiences at Church were not in stone buildings with seats lined in rows, but on a Gallilean hillside, or camping by the side of the road, listening to the master teacher.  As the dust from the person in front of me covered my face, I rejoiced and cherished the moment.

valley-of-dry-bones.jpgOnce we reached the base of the mountain, Steve looked at me and asked me to read from Ezekiel about the valley of dry bones.  This passage has great significance for Haiti, since it is a dry and forsaken land.  Another brother sang, “We’ve come this far by faith.”  Then Steve looked at me and said, “Brother, which of these peaks does the Lord want us to climb?”  As I prayed, the Lord seemed to stir within my spirit on a certain one.  I said, “This one”, as I pointed.  Several of the brothers, exclaimed, “That’s the same one the Lord told me!”

PROBLEM #2: Kenny had a heart problem and had recently had surgery.  Steve told him to wait at the bottom and we’d climb and return after we had obeyed our assignment.  But nothing would do, but Kenny insisted upon climbing that mountain.  I was around 50 years of age at the time, and one of the men, who was 20 years my junior challenged me to race to the top.  I should have known better, but I still feel young inside.  Anyway we took off.  Steve decided to walk with Kenny and told the rest of us to go on.  After climbing about half-way up, my racing buddy and I paused to catch our breath.  Please understand!  There was no foilage on this mountain, only gravel, rock, and very loose sand.  It was a trek you’d want to be sure about, if you had a good heart.  climbing-mountain.jpgWhile we were resting, we looked over the side of the mountain and saw Kenny and Steve stopped and talking.  My friend said to me, “Wouldn’t it be something if Kenny met Jesus on the side of this mountain?”  When he said it I had something happen to me.  I tell people that I’m a baptist and we don’t have visions, but I can’t help it, I had one any way.  This is what I saw.  I saw in vision, Kenny pushing open a door and smiling.  I did not tell anyone what had happened.  Once we all made it to the top we waited some time for Steve and Kenny.  Kenny was struggling to breathe.  However, when they reached the summit, Steve announced that Kenny had opened the door of his heart and met Jesus on the side of the mountain.  Hallelujah!!  It was even as the vision had been.

While on the top of the mountain we felt the Lord would have us take Communion together.  Have you been following this story? This guy, Kenny, had never been in Church in his life, and within a few hours he had been in a footwashing service, been saved, and now he was taking communion.  You couldn’t have scripted it, if you had tried.  We then built a Cross out of the rocks on the mountain.  It can still be seen all the way back to the mission station today.

We hiked back to the mission station and told Phyllis about our journey and Kenny’s salvation.   She encouraged us to clean up and go to a local beach not far from the mission where we could relax.  Steve Coder said, “That’s right we have to have a baptismal service.”  God wasn’t finished yet.  So we went to Wahoo Beach and Ed Joyner and Steve baptized Kenny Dale.  We then had a good meal, and reviewed all the Lord had done that day.  We drove back to the mission house.  Earlier, I had stated that it was our habit to meet out   under the stars each night.  Steve asked me about it, and we both agreed we had already had our devotions, in fact, we had been doing ‘Church’ all day.  We told the people to relax and get ready for bed.  Steve and I sat down on the porch to talk, and before long several of the people came and sat down in the circle with us.  We shared a little and then Steve and I went down stairs to Phyllis’ living room.  Before long here came the rest of the group.  Steve and I finally figured out that the Body of Christ was wanting to meet.  So we began to share, sing, and pray as God led us.  While sitting on the couch next to Steve, God began to deal with me about singing a song from Les Miserables, the Broadway musical.  jean-valjean.jpgThe song is called, “Bring Him Home”, and is a prayer of Jean Valjean for a wounded soldier, the man whom his daughter loved.  In the song, Jean Valjean crys, “If I die, let me die! Let him live! Bring him home”.  Suddenly, Steve looked at me and said, “Brother, could you sing, “Bring him home?”  You’d think it would be “Amazing Grace”, wouldn’t you?  I could hardly believe my ears.  I began to sing.  When I finished, Ed Joyner,who had brought Kenny to Haiti, was sitting across the room.  Steve picked up a pillow and threw it onto the floor, and said, ” It’s time!”  Ed joyner fell face forward on the floor and began to cry, “I’ve been running from this for years.”  God was calling him to preach the gospel.

Some of us had been concerned about Kenny.  Remember, the only type of Church he had ever known was what he had experienced that day.  How are you going to take him back to Florida and stick him in a church pew staring at the back of someone’s head and call that church?  In a 24 hour period God had led a small group of trusting pilgrims from footwashing, to salvation of a soul, to communion, to baptism, chose his pastor, and we ordained him….Oh, by the way, we named the mountain after Kenny as well.  Every ordinace of the Church and then some was performed without any program or human plan.

In sucessive trips we have returned to  Mount Kenny, and each journey has been special with worship beyond words, but none quite so ‘perfect’ as that first journey when God gave me a perfect day in Him.  My experience upon Mount Kenny has fired my spirit to not rest until I reach the unreachable stars.

 

January 6th, 2009 Posted by | Biographical | one comment

MY JOURNEY 14

An Impossible Dream

spain.jpgDid I mention that Kathi and I have wonderful Children and grandchildren?  Yeah!  I thought I did.  It is seldom overkill to mention something a few times, especially when one is speaking fact.  One proof among many was when our daughter, Stacye, and her husband, Fernando, took us to Spain.  You see, Fernando is from Spain.  He came to the United States as an exchange student his junior year in high school.  He played basketball and played for the state championship in West Virginia.  Later, Marshall University gave him a scholarship and he stayed in the States to go to school.  It was while he attended Marshall that Stacye met him.  They married a few years later and, have given us two wonderfully, spirited young boys of whom we are very proud.

Periodically, Fernando goes to Spain to visit his parents, sister, and brother.  A few years ago he invited Kathi and me to go along.  It had been a dream of Kathi’s, since she was in high school, to see Spain with a native.  Kathi majored in Spanish in College, and has retained a deep love for the country to this day.  We had hoped to use some inheritance to finance the trip, but circumstances were such that we could not.  One day in the spring of 2003 I spoke with Stacye on the phone and told her we would not be able to go.  I assured her, when the money was available we would put some back for the trip.  She was disappointed, but very understanding.  In just a few hours she called back and said she had spoken to Fernando.  He said, “Stacye, the only way your parents aren’t going to Spain with us is if the Lord tells your Dad not to go.”  He continued, “I had intended to pay for everything anyway.”  How excited do you think we were?  From the time Kathi was 16 years old she had an ‘impossible dream’ to go to see Spain with a native.  How just like Jesus it was to allow her to see this beloved land with a beloved Native, our son-in-law.  A bonus for us was that we were not to be merely tourists, but rather, guests of Fernando’s family in their home about an hour and a half north of Madrid in the little village of Pozaldez (400 people). (Below is the train station in Pozaldez). train-pozaldez.jpg Fernando’s father is the mayor, and we got to see his installation service.  Spain is a beautiful country with a rich history in culture, arts, religion, and culinary delights.

It seemed there was a castle on nearly every hill.  Seriously, almost everywhere we looked there were reminders of ages long ago.  From ancient ruins, outdoor markets and cafes, to walled cities, evidence of civilizations from the past rose from the fertile plains and virtually begged to be explored.  Fortunately, we had a few days to skim the surface of this precious adventure.  Interestingly, some of the most enduring memories for me were the smells and sounds.  One day a shepherd and his sheep wandered by our home (Kathi loves sheep, and she squealed as we ran outside and struck up a conversation with the Shepherd).  All the while we were being kept at bay by a very protective Border collie.  Walking the quaint, old, brick streets, and hearing the echoes of voices along the narrow corridors of the hamlets and villages caused me to pause and wonder, if I might have heard the ‘clacking’ of horses’ hoofs as a Roman platoon made its way toward me.  Perhaps the most delightful of all were the many unique aromas that stirred our senses as we passed by the outdoor cafes and bakeries.

As you can see, I can have quite an imagination.  That might be expected, since I think I have a little Don Quiote in my blood.  For those of you who don’t know, Don Quote is the valiant fighter of windmills from the great classic by the same name, and written by Miguel Cervantes.  The story was made into the long-running Broadway musical, “The Man of La Mancha”.  The song made famous by that musical is “The Impossible Dream”.  Kathi and I had that song at our wedding.  I keep the lyrics taped inside the front flap of my Bible. don-quiote.jpg

To dream the impossible dream, to fight the unbeatable foe,

To bear with unbearable sorrow, to run where the brave dare not go,

To right the unrightable wrong, to love pure and chaste from afar,

to try when your arms are too weary to reach the unreachable star.

 

This is my quest to follow that star, no matter how hopeless, no matter how far.

To fight for the right without question or pause, to be willing to march into hell for a heavenly cause.

And I know if I’ll only be true to this glorious quest, that my heart will lie peaceful and calm, when I’m laid to my rest.

And the world will be better for this, that one man scorned and covered with scars,

Still strove with his last ounce of courage, to reach the unreachable stars. 

I mention this song because of a beautiful gift from our Lord while we journeyed through Spain.  We took an overnight avila.jpgtrip to the beautiful walled city of Avila, where St. Teresa had intimate communion with Christ.  We traversed the entire city wall and then paused to do some shopping.  I found two silver-plated statues of Don Quiote and Sancho Panza (The former’s Squire).  With some encouragement from our daughter and my wife, I purchased them and they provide inspiration for me as they sit in my office today.  We walked from the shop to an old restaurant for the evening meal.  This place was really old, dating back to about 1200-1300 A.D.  It was a part of the wall of the city.  When we walked in we were greeted and seated.  No sooner had we been seated than over their music system was played the “Impossible Dream”.  I was in tears, along with Kathi and Stacye.  Fernando got in on the joy as well.  He exclaimed very excitedly, “You just bought the Quiote!”  All of us knew that we had just been a part of a “God thing”.

                As I review these words and look back over my life to this point, I see many reasons why the Lord would have done such an impossible thing for us on this journey.  The miraculous nature of my birth,  the healing of my stammering tongue,  the remarkable salvation experience at Marshall University, the unusual way in which he got Kathi and me together, the marvelous ways he has provided for us through the years are only a few of the many instances in which God has done the impossible for us.  Couple all of that with the few battles and struggles we have faced in the ministry, and therein lays a prescription for an Impossible Dream. 

                I have had a dream from my college days that the Church would return to Christ the same kind of passion he has shown for us.  I have gone against the tide of ‘Churchianity’, found both in some dead orthodoxy and some fanatical spirituality.  I have issued the clarion call and challenged Christians to know the joy of intimacy with a living Lord in the corporate setting of a connected Church.  I have stood my ground against a progressive spirituality, which tends to leave solid Biblical teaching by the side of the road.  I have pressed past the entrenched carnal attitudes of the “Seven last words of the Church (We never did it that way before).  I have tried to be willing to march into hell for the heavenly cause.  I have been beaten, battered, and broken.  My dream…well, it’s still out there on the horizon somewhere.  Often I have been tempted to quit, saying, “What’s the use?”  However, I know my dream may seem impossible, but with God…all things are possible.  So…though my foe seems unbeatable, and my sorrow often seems unbearable…My scars are too deep, and the star is… well…just too far away.  However, I join the vision of the Lord of La Mancha…and say to my squire, “Sancho, My sword!  My shield!  There are yet more adventures before I rest.  Why do I continue on?  HE IS THE GOD OF THE IMPOSSIBLE!

November 3rd, 2008 Posted by | Biographical | 2 comments

MY JOURNEY 13

YOUR MISSION IS COMPLETE
Often I have thought  of Jesus’ parable of the talents.  To one servant he gave five talents, to another two, and to still another he gave one talent.  This was a test to see what they would do with what they were given.  Most of you know the story.  The Master went on a long journey.  Each of the first two servants took what was given them and doubled what the Master had originally given.  However, the third servant took what was given him and buried it, thinking he might lose it, and that the Master would be harsh with him upon his return.  Jesus alluded to his own expectations from his disciples, when he revealed the response of the Master to the servants.  The first two received the commendation, Well done, thou good and faithful servant: thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things: enter thou into the joy of thy lord.  On the other hand, the careless servant heard the words that men shudder to even think they might hear: cast ye the unprofitable servant into outer darkness: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.” This portion of MY JOURNEY has to do with the term, WELL DONE.
tortoise-and-hare.jpgSome people are good ‘starters’, but poor ‘finishers’.  They, like the proverbial Hare, start out very fast but soon run out of enthusiasm.  There endurance level is somewhat lacking.  God has a purpose and reason for each person both in the here and the hereafter.  For the follower of Christ our chief desire is to Complete the Mission to which we have been called.  Of course, the ultimate fulfillment is to live our lives in such a way that God receives the glory for all we accomplish in this life.  There are, however, ‘missions’ along the way to our Mission.  In my life I have had many ‘missions’.  My prayer is that they add up to the fulfillment of the Mission to which he has called me.
One such mission took place in August of 1997.  Being a Regional Representative for Hand to the Plow Ministries, Inc., I have had numerous occasions to minister with the brothers and sisters in the land of Haiti.  Haiti is the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere.  It is known now as a Fourth-World Country.  Through the years our ministry has had the privilege of preaching the gospel, providing food, clothing, clean water, building churches, and giving gifts at Christmas to thousands of children.  Haiti is a nation, whose culture is polluted with Voo Doo.  It is even recognized as the State Religion.  Voo Doo, being a part of the culture, has stretched her tentacles into most households, social organizations, and even into the Church.  The ‘spiritual darkness‘ associated with this demonic influence has  almost choked the life out of the people.  Six out of every ten children die by the age of five or six.  The average life-span is forty-five.  Economically, socially, and politically Haitians have no hope of their situation ever being better.map-of-haiti.jpg
For that reason a group of twelve felt directed by the Lord to take a special trip to Haiti to pray for the nation.  One hundred hears previous to our going on this prayer vigil a group of Haitians went to Cape Haitian (a city in the North), spent three days worshipping the devil, slaughtered a pig, drank its blood and sold the soul of the nation to the kingdom of darkness.  About the time the Lord led us to go pray, a hundred years later, another group of Haitians went to the same place, worshipped God for three days, took Holy Communion (the Body and Blood of Jesus), and purchased the nation back for God.
Prior to the trip we felt there might be a few places we would go in the country to pray, but one such place was on top of one of Haiti’s mountains in a little village called Cha Cha (Sha Sha).  This village is 4000 feet up on the mountain.  The only way to get there is by foot.  It is absolutely one of the most difficult trips I have ever taken.  We left the mission compound about 4:30 a.m. and travelled for a couple of hours to the base of the mountain.  We began our asscent at about 7:00 a.m.  It took us 4 hours to climb.  Did I mention we were in Haiti?….in August?  Man!  Tongue outWas it hot!  By the time we reached the village at the top of Cha Cha, I don’t know about the rest of the group but my ‘transmission’ was draggin’ the ground.  We found the porch of the little Church we had built some years before and we each layed down to rest and ended up falling asleep for a couple of hours.  When we awoke, I felt like I had been hit by a Mack truck, and the last thing on my mind was praying…for Haiti…or anybody.  That’s not quite true.  I had one prayer request.  I was asking Jesus how he was going to get me back down that mountain.  Yeah…back down…We had to get back down and then drive two hours back to the Mission House.  The ladies had fixed us some peanut butter sandwiches and lemonade.  We thankfully ate, and I remember sitting inside that little Haitian Church muttering, “Jesus, I don’t know how I’m going to be able to participate in this prayer meeting.  I don’t even know, if Ican walk back down the mountain”
Suddenly,  One of the brothers from the back of the room began to sing, “I  bowed on my knees and cried ‘holy…”  Friend, I cannot explain what happened to me and to the others, but the power and presence of the Holy Spirit came into that Church through our brother’s obedience to sing.  Each of us was strengthened by his mighty hand.  For the next 2 1/2 to 3 hours we were lost in the wonder of his Presence.  It was on that day that my definition of prayer changed.  We sang, we rejoiced, we worshipped…but not once did anyone bow his/her head and pray a traditional prayer.  We were in precious communion with our Lord and with one another., and ‘prayer as ususal just simply would not work.  Somewhere during this glorious time each of us sensed the Lord speaking to us.  And what was his word to us?   He said, ‘ALL I EVER WANTED YOU TO DO WAS LOVE ME.’  We have made Christianity so complicated.  It is really very simple, so simple that a child can do it. mountain-of-haiti.jpg
We felt released by the Lord to begin our journey back to the Mission House.  Yeah, that meant walking back down that mountain.  We had other places to go to ‘pray’ or so we thought.  About 1/3 of the way back down the mountain as we walked single file over the rough terrain and under the hot evening sun, something wonderful occured.  As I was walking along I sensed the Lord speaking in my spirit.  He was saying, “Your mission is complete”!  My dear friend, Steve Coder was about 30 feet behind me in single file.  He quickly ran up beside me and said, “Brother, the Lord just spoke to me back there”.  I said, ‘Really!  What did he say?”  He said, “Your mission is complete”!  We had several more days in Haiti…Now what were we going to do with the time left?  No worries!  God wasn’t finished yet.
I wish I could express to you how I felt at that moment and even now as I review  this experience.  The thought of“Mission Complete” still revererates through my spirit.  I don’t know how many times in my life I have heard, “Well Done”, but this was one.  From that day to this there has been a significant change in the spiritual climate in Haiti.  She’s still sick…but at least now she’s not dead.  This remains one of the watermarks of my life.  I discovered that pleasing God is not about how many things on a religious list I can check off, nor is it about making notches in my Bible.  No!  Pleasing God is about drowning in the flood of His love and being a conduit of that love to others.  If we do that, He’ll be very “Well-pleased”.  
More to come…

October 13th, 2008 Posted by | Biographical | 3 comments