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“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.

Out of the Mud and Up on a Rock 

In March 2015 I was in Hong Kong to do a 12-day songwriting workshop with a dozen worship leaders there.  One morning while I was there, I read Psalm 40 in my daily Bible reading.   God spoke to me powerfully through that Psalm, which begins, “I waited patiently for the Lord; he turned to me and heard my cry.”  I had been waiting a long time for a breakthrough.  Finally, God was bringing it to me. 
  
"He brought me up out of the mud and dirt...he gave me a new song to sing (Psalm 40:2,3)." 
  
For me, "the mud and dirt" was a combination of things.  I was feeling like I was going nowhere, I wasn't moving forward in ministry.  There was a lull in my worship-leading ministry.  I was leading worship in various churches, but I didn't have an overall plan or vision for what I should be doing. 
  
Four months before this, God began "lifting me out of the mud."  Within one week in November of 2014, heaven opened up and God initiated a whole new chapter in my life. 
  
The first breakthrough was a physical healing.  For 13 years I had suffered from a severe case of tendonitis in my hands and forearms.  I was “trudging through the mud.”  Playing the guitar for only 20 minutes was painful.  Doing any household chore with my hands was painful.  It was very discouraging.  I played through the pain but it was hard to write songs and really enjoy worshiping. 
  
Then God healed me!  The Holy Spirit came on me powerfully as a few family members prayed for me in church.  Since this healing, I can play guitar and work with my hands for hours.  I am not 100% free of pain, but my life is radically different because of this healing. 
  
The gushing of God's blessings continued with an outpouring of his presence, and an increase in hearing his voice.  In two months I received dozens of powerful prophetic words from many people.  Many people independently confirmed the same message:  God was going to give me a fruitful season of creativity, songwriting, and imparting his kingdom and healing to many people. 
  
Since that time, I have written over 50 songs (some of them still in process), and have recorded about ten, including “I Waited Patiently,” an adaptation of Psalm 40 that I began to write in Hong Kong.  Like the Psalm says, God gave me a new song to sing. 

In my next blog post I will share the climax of this story:  God continued to bless me as I freely gave what God had given me.  It’s in giving that we receive.

Your Family is Your Treasure 

A friend of mine gave me this word some years ago:  “Your family is your treasure.”  It referred to my immediate family.  I’ve often thought about it, and God has used it to keep my on the right path.  Sometimes I get too busy with the work that I love, and forget my family that I love even more. 

Last week I was in Cannon Beach for the annual gathering of worship leaders from the western U.S. (This year we were joined by several friends from other nations, as well). As always, it was a great time in God’s presence with old and new friends.  After four decades in the Vineyard, I’ve had so many precious experiences with this family of God.  When I see them, I’m reminded of God’s amazing goodness to me. What a privilege to be a part of this God-begotten community. 

This week, I couldn’t help but think, this family is my treasure.  I also thought about the counterfeit treasures that lure me, namely, finding affirmation through my music.  It’s human nature to want and need love and affirmation.  Where do we really get it?  From our Father and our family. 

What our hearts really long for is relationship with God and our family.  But, in this world of American Idol and The Voice, we often look for fulfillment through receiving recognition for our gifts.  But it’s just an illusion.  Sure, we get strokes when we do our thing on stage, but it doesn’t last.  We’re in for a huge let-down if we depend on the praises of people for our happiness.  Our idols always disappoint us. 

True friendship with God and our family members is such a beautiful thing—it’s completely unconditional.  What we gain from friendship and fellowship is affirmation...being with people who enjoy being with us.  We get the feeling, "I belong here!  These people love me and like me!  I don't have to strive or performfor acceptance.  I don't have to prove anything." 

So, remember what your true treasures are.  Be content to be a friend of God and included in his household of sons and daughters.   Cherish and savor the friendships God has given you.

The Miracle of Birth  

On January 31, around 7:00 pm, my daughter-in-law felt the beginning of labor pains.  My wife, who is a licensed midwife here in British Columbia, quietly sprang into action, making preparations for the birth.  For the past several months, the plan was for Shannon to give birth in our bedroom, for more space. 

It was very exciting as Shannon’s birth pangs increased in intensity and many family members gathered to wait and offer support.  My 2-year old granddaughter, Azélia, sat with my two daughters, along with several other women, mostly Parks. 

Around midnight, I went to sleep in my downstairs office for a few hours, intermittently being woken to the sound of groaning from upstairs.  At 2:30 am, I heard the sounds of pain turn to bursts of laughter.  I thought, “This is a good sign!”  So I went upstairs and heard the good news that Zebedee Park was now among us! 

What a miracle to see little Zebedee: a perfectly formed baby boy, wide-eyed and calmly looking around the room.  Holding him to my chest, I was overwhelmed with gratitude for God’s gift to our family.  There were complications with Shannon’s first birth, so this fast and healthy delivery was especially sweet. 

I have a grandson!  It doesn’t matter how many times I’m around a newborn—I’m in awe every time.  Having a granddaughter was amazing, now our joy is doubled.  Looking around the room at my daughters and daughters-in-law, I thought about the grandbabies in our future…with eight of our own children, I wonder what the final tally will eventually be?! 

God keeps giving us blessings we don’t deserve and haven’t earned: that’s his grace.  At times like this, I think about what is most important in life:  loving the people that are close to me.  The busy-ness of life is briefly suspended as we gather to cherish the precious moment of a new birth.