Tuesday, January 17, 2012

I'M a Believer

Prophetic words are heard (most of the time) and processed through the filter of our minds. When that happens, we can create images of how we think things are going to happen. Also, when we hear a prophetic word, we think “immediately.”
Some of them do come to pass quickly, but my experience seems to indicate that they are fulfilled at later dates than we expect or want.
I received numerous prophecies in my late twenties that I did not see come to pass until I was in my fifties. Sometimes you almost give up on the words and think that the prophet missed it or you missed it. While I know that prophecy speaks to our potential, there is a component that when you are seeking Him, it will come to pass sometime.
Such are the words that have been spoken over the church for years. I believe that God has a purpose for the existence of every church. We are outposts of His kingdom, called out ones to his political party, ambassadors of His kingdom, who have a mandate for their very existence. When that purpose is violated, ignored, or strayed from, the church wanders and God waits for them to return to Him. When that happens, God can release the fulfillment of prophetic words and promises.
The River has had a calling and a destiny. The enemy has fought that destiny for decades. There have been and are many prophetic words to be fulfilled. And it is starting.
The words concerning being a hospital, a place where the wounded could be treated and healed is starting to come to pass. Last Sunday we baptized Jesse who came from a really dark place including demons that were pushing him to suicide. When he was born again, he began to tell others of his experience. In the matter of one week, his testimony has brought 2 or 3 others to salvation and baptism this coming Sunday. The Lord spoke to us and said they were coming, get ready. Well ready is now, not later. We are here. It is not down the road.
To hear the testimonies of a couple of young adults encourages me. Shawn Dawson spoke of the truth and that he was responding to the truth. Another young lady who will be baptized Sunday also responded in the same way. She commented that she did not know why she had not been baptized yet; but she now knows the truth and wants to obey the Lord. She is ready. This encourages me greatly that truth is reaching young adults and their response is not out of religion, but truth. They are responding, not because of family tradition, but truth.
Another prophetic word was that God was going to bring a lot of people back home. This is coming to pass as well. One of our men stated that they left because the church had left its calling, but he knew he would be back someday. That is today. Another couple left because the Holy Spirit was being limited and driven away. But they have come again and are plugging in. They are here. Numerous others have come and visited, taking a fresh look at what is happening.
To the church’s credit, you, the comments have been how well they have been received with love and genuine friendliness. 
This is just the beginning. Larry and Carolyn Lotz are desiring to return. They are just waiting on the sale of the lodge so they can move back. There are others who will come. We have a number of really good new families and young families coming. There is something going on and it is God fulfilling His word.
Do not give up on your prophetic words, they will come to pass in His timing. We all get discouraged and we all have had disappointments. We all have wanted things to happen more quickly or we have prayed to slow them down, but as we walk this life out, we find His hand to be more prevalent than we thought.
Twenty years to God is nothing. I received a number of prophecies in my twenties. All of them seemed fantastical, beyond what I thought could be done; and yet, here we are with so many of them fulfilled. Paul Smith once commented that here he and I were, two preachers with minimal income and traveling around the world. It has been amazing to see the provision made to carry the Gospel out to other places. We have made numerous trips and have touched thousands of lives. All fulfilling prophetic words spoken to us.
Now, we are standing in a place where there is a wave of fulfillment flowing our way. Me, I want to remain faithful to the vision God has given us as a church so we can keep the blessings flowing. There is no greater joy than seeing God do something that He said He was going to do. It makes you believe!

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Talk to ME

I just started reading another book by Tom Brokaw. My brother gave me this one for Christmas. I had read his book, The Greatest Generation, a few years ago. In The Greatest Generation, he chronicles the stories of the World War II generation which is fast leaving the earth. So, he wanted their stories told, his father’s and mine’s generation.
In this book, The Time of Our Lives, he begins to explore the ideas which have changed rapidly and asks poignant questions regarding our country and our culture. Such questions as, “Have we lost our way?” And, “Who are we now as a nation?”
As I was reading the preface and the introductory questions were being asked, I thought to myself that the church and Christianity ought to be asking the same questions. One of the real questions for thought is the technological breakthroughs and inventions and how cyberspace is changing us, in fact, dramatically.
We are radically changing the way life is lived. When I first saw “texting” being advertised for cell phones, I thought, “Why text when you could just call?” But, it caught on and now we live in a texting world. We gave up writing letters and started using e-mail and now we have given up talking for texting.
What is amazing is that you can make a call to a person, particularly younger ones, and get no response. But, if in the next minute, you text; you will get a reply shortly. I think it has come to the place that we do not want to talk. The culture has dismissed civility and dispensed with the hello’s and how are you’s to cut directly to the terse point and counter point. We have further reduced the joy of the language to cryptic phonics to convey our message in as few key strokes or taps as possible. Yet, the communication has increased to the point that no one in the room is really connected to the folks in front of them; they are connected to anyone who texts them from anywhere in the world.
The ubiquitous smartphone lives in the hands of people. I know some that never put it down. They nap with phone in hand so the slightest vibration alerts them to the demand of the text. Young  people and adults live hunched over their phones as they punch out cryptic messages oblivious to their surroundings. The attention span of most people has been reduced to 160 characters.
Now, while saying all of this, I am one who enjoys the technology and uses it. However, my life is not a Facebook expose’. There are people who have ruined their lives thinking Facebook is a good forum to vent their feelings on or show pictures that may be compromising. Really!? Cyperbullies? Turn your computer off.
At Christmas, all the kids came in with their newest tablets, electronic I mean, and they were enjoying all the new apps and movies. I commented to them that this could be the first Christmas when the family gets together and no one talks to each other because they are engrossed in their own little cyber world. Well, they did not continue and we had a great time, but that one moment when I walked into the room, it was everyone hunched over their device in the own world while all were around.
“Techiness” is fun but not at the expense of human interaction, I mean a real human, flesh and blood. Avatars, screen names, fake personas, all are fantasies that mean a person never learns how to be anyone; they are adrift in a sea of zeros and ones.
The whole culture will have to re-discover the arts of human civility, privacy, diplomacy of conversation. The very fruit of the Holy Spirit is the essence of human interaction that appreciates and honors and builds the community.
As a church or Christianity, I think our challenge is a communal one. Will we continue to extol relationship where one faces the reality of sin, the reality of grace, and the transforming power of God? Can we use technologies in a way that is godly rather than ungodly. Each new thing comes to us in a fairly moral neutrality, but man perverts it and many times makes it’s use immoral.
The church is challenged to be a place where people can still relate human to human and human to God. We must not lose our way, lose focus, or fail to tell the age old story of redemption. We still have to touch people. The Gospel is not the cyber message; it is a message of human pathos as one human touches another with redemptive grace, making room for the Holy Spirit to bring new life through a new birth.