Hungry for God

Come Be Filled

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Fires from Heaven 

In the Bible, God’s activity among us is sometimes compared to fire. What does the fiery Holy Spirit do?   He purifies, refines, ignites, makes alive, imparts passion and zeal for God, and his coming is accompanied by spiritual gifts and boldness.  John the Baptist said that Jesus would “baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire” (Matt 3:11). 

The Holy Spirit baptizes all of us with fire.  He brings his fiery love into our midst as we worship.  He dwells in us as a burning presence.   When two disciples broke bread with the risen Jesus, they said to each other, “Were not our hearts burning within us while he talked with us on the road and opened the Scriptures to us?” (Luke 24:32). Each one of us is individually a temple of the Holy Spirit, and the collective body of Christ is another kind of temple of the Holy Spirit.  We are exposed to a larger, more powerful fire when we gather as the church. 

How do we steward the presence of the Holy Spirit in all arenas of life? 

1. We respond to him as individuals.  Each of us is joined to him.  “He (or she) who is joined to the Lord becomes one spirit with him” (1 Cor 6:17).  His presence in us is a flame that is never extinguished.  We pray and listen to him everyday, and we do our best to respond to his words and his voice inside us in all kinds of practical ways.   

2. We “keep the home fires burning.”  I picture a family hearth in a simple, medieval home.  The fire had many purposes.  It kept the house warm, provided hot water for cleaning, and was used to cook food.  It was also the gathering place for family fellowship.  Most of us don’t gather around literal fires in our homes, but we gather in response to the love-fire of the Holy Spirit in all of us.  We have to be attentive to the “home fire,” continuing to stoke it with fresh fuel to keep the fire alive.  For us, this means fanning the flame of God’s love in our own hearts and being attentive to relationships in our family and with our roommates.  

3. We welcome the fire of the Holy Spirit in our church gatherings.  Much of the time, the Holy Spirit’s effect on us is simply to warm our hearts towards him and towards one another.  At other times, he reveals the holiness of his fire, leading us to repentance (Hebrews 4:28-29).  We give place to the unpredictable move of the Holy Spirit, allowing his fire to kindle and ignite us however he wants. 

4. We gather with Christians from all kinds of other churches.  Throughout church history we see seasons of God’s fiery visitation, which draws together people from all kinds of churches, and those who aren’t churchgoers.  The fire spreads into the community, into every neighborhood and coffee shop where people will welcome his burning love.  The fiery love of God propels us to help and serve people everywhere. 

Will we let him burn in us?

Hungry for God 

How do we become hungry for God?  I think it’s partly God’s gift, and partly our choice.   Recently God has made it very easy for me to pray because he has visited me with amazing power and regularity.  I am swimming in a sea of revelation.  I see it as mostly God’s doing.  God is taking some big steps towards me these days, and I am trying to keep stepping towards him.  The result is wonderful and also challenging.  He is calling me to make a career of seeking him.  But that’s where the action is.  I feel like this is a season of great opportunity for anyone who will step towards him.

I find that it’s very easy to become satiated and satisfied with all kinds of things and activities that are NOT God.  Many of those things are good.  But if I fill myself up with entertainment, recreation and taking care of my possessions, I have a very shallow life.  So, we have to put aside the good stuff to get the best—God himself. 

I think when Jesus said, “I am the bread of Life, come to me and drink” and “I am the living water, come to me and drink,” it was the real deal.  We can actually get sustenance and the satisfaction of an intimate relationship with the God who is love.  But there are so many inferior substitutes available in this era of great wealth and super advance technology. 

“My food,” said Jesus, “is to do the will of him who sent me and to finish his work.  Doing God’s will feeds us.  We know our lives have meaning when we do God’s work.  That is very fulfilling. 

Our hunger can be satisfied with nearness to God, just as the Psalmist who wrote these words: I will praise you as long as I live, 
and in your name I will lift up my hands.  I will be fully satisfied as with the richest of foods;  with singing lips my mouth will praise you (Psalm 63:4,5).

Post #10: Living in Humility 

A life-changing conversation between mother and son 

When he was 10 years old, David Eisenhower was vey excited about joining his older brothers to go trick-or-treating on Halloween night.  But his parents wouldn’t let him go.  They thought he was too young.  David threw a terrible temper tantrum.  He begged his parents for the chance to join his brothers.  In a rage, he screamed and cried and beat his hands against a tree. 

His father spanked him and sent him to bed.  Later on, his mother came to comfort her son, taking him into her lap and gently rocking him.  After a time of quiet, she quoted Proverbs 16:32: “He that conquers his own soul is greater than he who takes a city.”  She explained to him how dangerous it was to hold bitterness in your heart towards others.  Hanging onto anger will damage and imprison you. 

Sixty-six years later, when he was seventy-six, Eisenhower wrote, “I have always looked back on that conversation as one of the most valuable moments of my life. To my youthful mind, it seemed to me that she talked for hours, but I suppose the affair was ended in fifteen or twenty minutes. At least she got me to acknowledge that I was wrong and I felt enough ease in my mind to fall off to sleep.”[i] 

Here is another example of foot-washing.  In this case, we see the long lasting impact of sitting quietly with a person and speaking kind words.  Ida Eisenhower was doing what all faithful mothers do.  She was consoling and counseling her young boy.  She couldn’t have known she was shaping the character of a boy who would become President of the United States.   She couldn’t have known that this 20-minute conversation would always be remembered by her son as one of his most life-changing moments.  The slow, steady, humble work of showing compassion to a weeping child has long-term benefits that we can’t see in the moment of crisis.  This was another “secret place” moment of showing love to a hurting child. God sees every kind word, every minute and hour you’ve spent in compassionate caring. God sees that kind of faithfulness and rewards it—even if it takes a long time.  Through the centuries, mothers have had huge influence in shaping the character of their children and students, some of whom become leaders and influencers.  Abraham Lincoln said, “All that I am, or hope to be, I owe to my angel mother.” 

What if David Eisenhower had turned out to have an unproductive, unremarkable life?  What if he had spurned all of Ida’s wisdom and guidance?  Would that have changed the value of Ida’s tender care for him?  No. If you’ve loved, you’ve succeeded.  If you “make love your highest goal,” as the Apostle Paul says, you’ve done well. We can’t control how the recipients of our love will respond.  

[i]   David Brooks, The Road to Character, Random House, New York, 2015, Page 52.

“God is Love” Song Story 

I am inspired to write songs for many reasons.  One way I catch a vision for a new song begins with seeing a need.  I sometimes do music for a dinner outreach to needy people.  It’s one expression of Nightshift, near where l live in Surrey (nightshiftministries.org). 

As we play and sing, looking out over the crowd, you see a lot of abused folks who came from broken homes and have struggled to survive on every level – emotionally, socially, physically and spiritually.  Many of them did not have a safe family of origin.  Home wasn’t a place they wanted to be. 

Seeing this group—a mix of the working poor, wandering teenagers, addicts, sex-trade workers and homeless—inspired me to write, “God is Love.” 

God is Love 

Have you been struck down, have you been bruised 

In danger and so afraid? 

Have you been slandered, hurt and abused 

And you barely have the strength to pray? 

There is a home, there is a shelter, 

There is a hiding place 

Jesus is here, his healing is near you today 

Chorus 

God is love, pouring like a waterfall over you 

Taking all your pain, taking all your bitterness away 

God is love, crashing like a breaker over you 

Darkness and death can no longer hold on to you 

Verse 2 

He’s your defender, he’s your protector, 

Run to the shadow of his wings 

Rest like a baby, in his tender mercy, 

There is healing in his wings 

He is your home, he is your shelter, 

He is your hiding place 

Jesus is here, his healing is near you today 

Bridge 

This is the kingdom, this is the life, 

It’s what you’ve been waiting for 

This is the freedom, this is the love, 

It’s what he has made you for

City of Light 

City of Light is the first track on the Bring Your Healing Love EP.  It’s a reggae tune that I’ve played a lot at Nightshift, a ministry in my city that serves a nightly meal to people in need.  The theme of the song is taken from the book of Revelation, which describes heaven as a shining city:  “The city does not need the sun or the moon to shine on it, for the glory of God gives it light, and the Lamb is its lamp.” 

We can experience some the blessings of heaven now – unity among people of all backgrounds, peace, inclusiveness, helping and sharing with one another and celebration.   Seeing a picture of heaven makes us long for the “full meal deal” and it should also make us pray for and work towards bringing heaven now, 

JKA Smith, in his book, You are What You Love,  describes well this concept:   “Christian worship should tell a story that makes us want to set sail for the immense sea that is the Triune God, birthing in us a longing for “a better country—a heavenly one” that is kingdom come (Heb. 11: 16). The biblical vision of shalom—of a world where the Lamb is our light, where swords are beaten into ploughshares, where abundance is enjoyed by all, where people from every tribe and tongue and nation sing the same song of praise, where justice rolls down like waters and righteousness like an everlasting stream.”

On the Road Again 

Here are a few highlights of worship events from this fall in India, Langley, BC, Penticton, BC and St Louis, Missouri. 

A conference in Dehradun, India at the Vineyard church pastored by Sunny and Vika Gilbert.   This Vineyard was planted 20 years ago and is a fruitful sending church.  Lots of wonderful people and a great time with folks from many different churches in the region. 

Meetings in Delhi, India’s capitol city, hosted by Aradhna Vineyard.  This church is pastored by Emmanuel and Joyce Qureshi, a wonderful couple who were born and raised in India, moved to the U.S. for around 3 decades, and then moved back to Delhi to plant a Vineyard church when they were 60 years old.  It is a fruitful Vineyard with a wonderful 2nd congregation in a low-income neighborhood.  Lots of children from Hindu backgrounds are attending their services and equipping center. 

A worship weekend at Penticton Vineyard in B.C.  This 31-year old Vineyard is full of great people.  Really enjoyed hanging out with their worship teams.  God visited us in a special way in those meetings.  Always great to see Hart and Louise Loewen. 

A worship conference at Hope Vineyard in St. Louis, Missouri.  What fun to be back together with many of the band members from my Anaheim Vineyard days.  John and Audra Wyrosdick, David and Laurie Klein and Leo Song and I had a great time worshiping together and hanging out.  Some people were healed of physical ailments on Friday night.  I enjoyed staying with Robert and Kim Stovall, the pastors. 

In the 2nd half of November I’ll be in Denmark and Sweden for more worship events…Vineyards in Copenhagen and Gothenburg, a worship school in Umeå and a Nordic Vineyard worship leaders retreat.  Looking forward to it!

Harvest Vineyard Prayer and Worship Summit 

Last weekend I led worship sessions at the Harvest Vineyard Prayer and Worship Summit in Edmonton, Alberta.  One of the first things that struck me at this event was the angelic presence in the sanctuary.  Sometimes I know in my gut that angels are present.  Months of prayer offered up by the Harvest Vineyard beforehand made me feel like I was walking into an open, free space of connection with God. 

This tremendous grace was present for me not just in the meetings but while I was alone—to hear from God and prepare for the meetings.  It began a few weeks before I came to the event. That kind of thing happens because people have been doing the consistent plowing up of the spiritual ground, planting the seed through prayer and a lifestyle of worship and service. 

I love how they employ the arts:  their worship dance team is very unique and sensitive and really enhances the connection with God in the room.   Another prophetic use of the arts was Rik Berry’s painting during worship.  Rik is a Vineyard pastor and professional artist who skillfully brings forward God-themes through his work—done right before our eyes on the worship platform. 

The Harvest Vineyard has a high value on regularly setting aside long times for corporate worship where they can open the door for anything God wants to say or do.  (Once per month, they do an evening of extended worship and prayer with their community). They have a high value on going right to the holy of holies, listening to God and responding to his agenda, while holding their plans lightly.  This has been a core value in the Vineyard from the beginning, but it’s easy to slip away from actually doing it in week-to-week church life. 

There was a prophetic word about “The Northern Gateway.”  It seems to me that Harvest / Edmonton Vineyard could be a gateway through which God wants to bring something precious to the rest of Vineyard Canada and probably to many other churches, both inside and outside of the Vineyard.  They have a culture of prayer and worship that I think is rare in the Vineyard movement. 

They are humble people who have been reaching out to the needy in their community for over 25 years, and this year was their 15th annual prayer and worship summit.  There is no substitute for being a community that loves God and loves others, patiently building Kingdom—momentum over the long haul.

Take A Rest 

Just got back from five days at Gabriola Island with some family at a friends’ rustic cabin.  Their spot in the forest is only a few minutes from one of the most beautiful beaches I’ve ever seen.   Cedar and Arbutus trees line the coastline. Sandstone rock formations in all shapes cover the shore.  Whitecaps are mirrored by puffy clouds overhead. 
  
It’s Peaceful. Serene.  The constant susurrating motion of the waves on the shore mesmerizes and calms.  In the background a long line of coastal mountains hover over the expanse of sea water in front of us.  The sun sets in a fiery orange-red ball on the watery horizon. 
  
At the cabin we are surrounded by The Gift of Green – the many hues of God’s green creation: grasses, wild shrubs and trees, topped with a light blue sky-covering.  Colorful accents of wild flowers dot the landscape. 
  
For most of these five days, my cell phone was far away from me, thank God.  We are not driven or held accountable to chronos time here.  No frantic rushing.  We enjoyed the freedom of kairos time.  Kairos is defined as an undetermined period of time in which something special happens. Jesus, Paul and Brother Lawrence operated in the kairos view of time. They saw every moment as a chance to enjoy and glorify God. 
  
In times of rest, there is ample time to think and be thankful.  To consider what really matters in life.  To let the tension drain out of your body.  To catch up on Sabbath rest.  To take opportunities to enjoy the sunset, share tasty food and reminisce about days gone by.  To share memories with loved ones. 
  
This summer, make sure to take time to unplug from the demands of work and a thousand other things. Whether it’s on an island for a week or in your own apartment or backyard for a weekend ‘stay-cation,’ find a way to slow way down and get out of your normal routine.  If possible, spend some time surrounded by nature and get away from your online devices.  You’ll be refreshed, revitalized and get fuelled up for the journey ahead!

Looks Like the Book of Acts 

Just got back from a 17-day trip to St. Stephen’s Society in Hong Kong.  Here is what I saw and absorbed and want to live: 
  
1.  A Culture of extreme generosity. Everyone is generous to everyone else.  They demonstrate the maxim: Give and it will be given to you. 
2.  Close community.  Sharing life, friendship, laughter, breaking bread together day-by-day. 
3.  Helping the poor...lifting up the downtrodden…freeing the oppressed…welcoming the outcast.  A few hundred people living with them in different properties around Hong Kong—from teenagers to the elderly. 
4.  A steady stream of people coming to Christ. Example:  Their “Go Kids” program welcomed around 1,000 mostly non –Christian parents and toddlers on Good Friday, for worship, a chance to receive Christ and games for the kids. (see picture above with my son and daughter, Jessica and Ben)
5.  Healings and deliverance from demonic oppression. 
6.  A very strong emphasis on worship and the Bible. 
7.  Slow steady growth of this ministry began by Jackie Pullinger 50 years ago, now with affiliate communities in several other nations. 
  
It really does look like the gospels and the book of Acts. 
  
How I will try to follow this example: 
1.  1 day at a time 
2.  1 person at a time 
3.  Don't let my life get too busy and cluttered with things that don’t really matter. 
  
 

Numb Fingers 

Our fingers were numb before the set started.  The temperature was 5 degrees Celsius (41 Fahrenheit). Last night, our band set up the PA and our instruments outdoors at Nightshift (nightshiftministries.org).  We played for an hour while people ate. This is a nightly dinner served for people in need.  The volunteers mingled with the crowd, and prayed for some. 

We’ve been playing at Nightshift a couple times per month since last summer.  In the winter, it’s kind of crazy but it’s always fun.  We bundle up in several layers and my guitar goes way out of tune because it’s so cold.  Why is it fun?  Because we love to play good music together and see people touched by God—mostly people who wouldn’t go inside a regular church.  This is the closest thing to church they have.  Most of them are too broken and wounded to have the courage to walk into a traditional church (even if it’s a church that would welcome them). 

Another reason it’s fun is that we can play whatever we want to, and turn it up.  It’s not the regular “church rules.”  When you play outdoors during a meal, the boundaries of what’s appropriate are much larger.  Outdoors, the sound disperses and you don’t have people complaining that it’s too loud. 

Last night was typical – a handful of guys approached us to express their gratitude for our music, and our willingness to serve.  They always tell us what a huge difference it makes that we’re there.  It creates an entirely different atmosphere to have worship music (along with a few secular/Christian tunes) playing during the meal.  We welcome the Holy Spirit to speak and heal and he does it. 

This is where the action is.  “The meat is in the streets,” as John Wimber used to say.  It’s in giving that we receive.  We started playing at Nightshift because it was an obvious opportunity to bless the poor with our gifts of music and worship. 

God healed my arms in 2014 to show his love for me and to enable me to worship in places like Nightshift.  Freely you’ve received, freely give.