Archive for July, 2010

God is so cool.  I knew when we started this trip that it would not just be a vacation but a journey of ministry.  When we first came here it was weird because I did not feel the need to search for opportunities.  I had asked around for some ideas but the urgency that I had felt at other times was not there.  It was almost to the point that I was questioning my committment to the idea of ministry on this trip when God just gently nudged me to look around online.  It was pretty amazing.  My friends at Bethel would say that the choices were highlighted to me.  I still don’t really understand what that means but I know it happens.  Within a couple of minutes online I was looking at and knew that this was the place that God had for us.  I emailed them and 15 minutes later was talking to Mary A. from Metro Hope Ministries.  They are a Jesus centered addictions recovery ministry here in the Twin Cities.  We will be serving at a facility that houses women who are battling addictions and their children.  We will be helping out with the daily program they have for the kids.  I am excited about what God is doing in our lives and excited to what God will do through our lives!

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Spent most of the day painting the concrete floor in the basement today.  It already looks awesome and we are not even close to being done with it!  Then off to Everfree tonight.  Johnny Kelley of .   He challenged the youth of Everfree to “Get Uncomfortable for Christ and change the world”.  It is kind of a punctuation to my life this year.  God has certainly removed me from my comfort zone and is getting me used to being uncomfortable for Him.  I saw just a little fruit of that tonight as I watched Emily, who came to live with us last June get up on the stage as part of the worship team for Everfree.  I look forward to seeing the fruit as the community center portion of the Lewis House gets into full swing in the fall and winter.  Johnny is certainly right.  When God’s people move out of their comfort zone things happen.  Back to Gideon for a moment.  His comfort zone was at the bottom of a winepress so he could hide the grain that he was winnowing.  This is the place that God called him from.  If he had said, “Thank you Lord but I am doing just fine down here at the bottom of my winepress.”  we would have some very different chapters in Judges.  Gideon listened to God and then stepped out of his comfort zone.  First among his own people and then in opposition to the Midianites.  I think that sometimes we believe we are ready to go out and fight the Midianites when we haven’t accepted God’s call for us right in our own home towns, among our own family and friends.  What is God calling you and me to do.  Feel that knot in your stomach, the sweat building up, the nerves rattling your bones… Get Uncomfortable for Christ and He will change the world through you.

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Wow into another awesome week of ministry at the Lewis House.  God is speaking His Kingdom into my life.  He has me wrapped up in Gideon and through Gideon, Abraham, David, Peter, Paul; all men who had God as their focus but at times lost that focus.  Yet still they are remembered as men of great faith.  Still the stories of when they took their eyes off of God and let the locust distract them, stand as lighthouses over a hidden reef warning us of what can happen.  The locust get LOUD.  They get CLOSE.  The smack against your skin and fly into your face.  All in effort to shake our focus.  The more focused you are on God, perhaps the louder they get.  They want your attention and they want my attention.  They want us to lose focus. 

We know that God could speak and they would all vanish.  No distractions, a life of external spiritual peace; but God says “I am going to lead you into the swarm.  Feel them, know them and focus on me”  Suddenly the swarm doesn’t change.  They are still charging at me with reckless abandon.  Yet they fade into an unimportant after thought as “I look full in His wonderful face, and the things of earth will grow strangely dim in the light of His glory and grace” (Turn Your Eyes upon Jesus, loosely quoted).

The locust are getting louder.  God whispers, “Are you focused on me”

24 Immediately the father of the child cried out, “I believe; help my unbelief!”  Mark 9:24

Here was a father who was in the middle of the locusts.  He understood what he needed to do, but he needed help to do it.  He was not ashamed to admit his distraction.

Lord I am focused on you, help me not to be distracted!

We have his promise that we will never be tempted beyond what we can bear (I Corinthians 10:13) but that doesn’t mean it will be easy.

  The locust are getting louder, Lord hold my eyes, my heart, my soul on you!

Your word have I treasured in my heart that I might not sin against you.  Psalm 119:11

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July 2010

Bringing His Kingdom to Earth.  This link is the newsletter for the ministry that we are serving this month.  What a joy it has been to serve God here.  What an awesome goal this ministry has.  I think that sometimes we have a skewed view of what it means to Bring God’s Kingdom to Earth.  We measure that in so many ways that have moved our focus from God to so many other things.  The kicker is that the things are not bad, they can even be important parts of our Christian walk, but when they become the focus instead of the means of our walk with God then we begin to lose the essence of His Kingdom. 

 Sometimes we feel that we are inadequate to bring God’s Kingdom to Earth.  We dont’ have the skills.  We don’t have the confidence.  We have a past that continues to haunt us.  God’s word is full of the unskillful, the timid, the downright fearful and those with pasts full of evil, whom He has used in OUTRAGEOUS ways to serve His Kingdom.  He may not call you to be his vessel for parting the Red Sea, or defeating 135,00 Midianites with 300 men, or raising the dead and bringing the Gospel to the totally un-evangelized, (and then again maybe he will).  He IS calling you.  Focus on HIM.  Let the “locusts” fade and way and then serve.  Clean a floor, paint a wall, hold a hand, high-five a child, raise the dead, part the sea.  Ministry is in the focus.  The opportunities are out there.  Let God enhance your vision of the world.  When you focus on him ministry opportunities abound.

14 Beyond all these things put on love, which is the perfect bond of unity. 15 Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body ; and be thankful. 16 Let the word of Christ richly dwell within you, with all wisdom teaching and admonishing one another with psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with thankfulness in your hearts to God. 17 Whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through Him to God the Father.  Colossians 3:14-17

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Too Early?

It may be too early in the morning for me to Blog but I am going to do it anyways.  Of course that begs for the question to be asked, “Why are you up so early?”  I fear that I do not have an adequate answer.  I woke up with a bit of the sniffles.  I don’t know if I have managed to acquire another cold of if my allergies are kicking in again.  I guess we will see what happens over the next few days.  So I have been spending my morning FBing and working on my blog as well as having some quiet time with God.  l guess really it is no longer so early.  All things considered the morning has been productive so far.  It is actually a little chilly which is nice after the spell of hot weather that we have had.

We are beginning to iron out the plans for the second half of the summer and are looking to the fall also.  Allana is going to Pittsburgh in October for a Worship Leading conference.  She is very excited and a little apprehensive.  I have been invited to take a trip to Haiti later in October and I am feeling led to do it.  However it will really be stepping out in faith financially. 

The whole school thing has bogged down a little bit but I am still working on it.  It is nice that I can work on it over the internet.  There was a misunderstanding about the paperwork that I needed so I am in the process of getting everything to CBC that they need.  I am just trusting that God has it under control and that he will work it out the way that he wants and the way that is best!

Well of course having had my morning coffee and now that it is after 8 and the girls should be up soon, I am beginning to feel drowsy.  Well today is pretty much an unplanned day.  We went to church last night and most of the Lewis House will be away.  I should be able to nap, catch up on some Bible studay and just generally relax.

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” Now the Midianites and Amalekites, all the people of the East, were lying in the valley as numerous as locusts; and their camels were without number, as the sand by the seashore in multitude.” Judges 7:12

Yes I am still hanging out with Gideon.  Up to this point I was really focused on God’s commands to Gideon.  Then I caught the metaphor of the locusts.  We all have locusts in our lives.  For Gideon and the Israelites they were the Midianites and the eastern people.  If there were just a few of them it would not have been a big deal, but there were enough that they could keep coming and coming.  The author of Judges gives a picture that there were so many that even their camels could not be counted.  What are the locusts in our lives?  Perhaps the economy, unemployment, illness, bad relationships, poor working conditions, low pay, debt, or expenses are some of the things that come together to overwhelm us.

“Because the power of Midian was so oppressive, the Israelites prepared shelters for themselves in mountain clefts, caves and strongholds.  Whenever the Israelites planted their crops, the Midianites, Amalekites and other eastern peoples invaded the country.  They camped on the land and ruined the crops all the way to Gaza and did not spare a living thing for Israel, neither sheep nor cattle nor donkeys.  They came up with their livestock and their tents like swarms of locusts.  It was impossible to count the men and their camels; they invaded the land and ravaged it.”  Judges  6:2

It is all too easy to focus on the Locust.  We make the problems and issues of our lives the focus of our attention.  This takes our attention off of God.  When I lost my job in July of 2009, my attention was fully focused on the locust.  I blew the trumpet and gathered my army and marched off to get a new job.  When one job fell through after another I was crushed in my spirit.  I had not been unemployed since I was 16.  I looked over my army and felt ready to march against the locust again.  I felt that I gave God his due, asking him to bless my army and assuring him that when he blessed me with a new job I would serve him as never before.  BUT the whole time my eyes were not on GOD they were on the locust.  My focus was not on what God would have me do but on gathering my army and setting off to battle the locusts on MY terms with MY army….in God’s name of course….

So perhaps you have already read “What do you do when God says send your army home”.  So I sent my army home.  Don’t get me wrong I am still out there looking for a job but my focus is on GOD and the blessing have been incredible.  The opportunities for ministry have multiplied.  I don’t want you to get that unemployment is intrinsically a blessing from God or that we should just sit back and wait for God to do it all.  Gideon had to step way out of his comfort zone.  He had to tear his focus away from the Locust and move it onto God.

God anchored this focus by leading him directly into the middle of the locusts.  While he was hiding in the middle of perhaps 135,000 locusts God let him know that HE IS THE GOD OF THE LOCUSTS TOO.  And what happened to Gideon?

 ” When Gideon heard the account of the dream and its interpretation, he bowed in worship. He returned to the camp of Israel and said, “Arise, for the LORD has given the camp of Midian into your hands.”  Judges 7:15

Gideon worshiped.  There in the middle of the locusts, Gideon’s focus shifted to God.  The fear was gone.  The contentment that Paul talks about settled in

 Not that I speak from want, for I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I am.  I know how to get along with humble means, and I also know how to live in prosperity ; in any and every circumstance I have learned the secret of being filled and going hungry, both of having abundance and suffering need.  I can do all things through Him who strengthens me.  Philippians 4:11-13

Gideon found the source of strength that Paul is talking about.  He was ready to go with God and the 300 men chosen to serve God in a unique and miraculous way.  He was ready to follow God to victory.  The locusts were defeated the moment Gideon took his eyes off of them and put them on God.  The Spiritual victory won that day far outstrips the footnote in history that the real defeat of the Midianites amounts to. 

Lord help me to truly keep my focus on you and thank you for the opportunities for Spiritual Victory that you provide for my family and I.  Amen

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Wow what a day yesterday!  Allana was still sick so she was out of the picture for most of the day.  We got Sami and Emily up and moving.  They are on half days of school.  Then it was time to feel the power…the power washer that is.  We are getting the basement floor ready to be painted.  Chipping, scrubbing and spraying with the pressure washer and then channeling all that water to the available drains.  It was DRAINING.  I know all of us were beat but our Friday night meeting started at 7:00.  We enjoyed an awesome dinner of hamburgers and pasta salad (thanks Sarah!)  Then we were thrilled to have 4 kids come.  We played games, colored and spoke the fruit of the spirit into their lives for two hours.  Then we headed off to BCC for the fireworks.  By the time we got home, everyone was exhausted.  This leads into our busy day today.  No school today so we were able to sleep in a little.  Then it was breakfast, some nice fellowship at the table with Naomi and then off to our Party in the Park.  We were able to hand out a bunch of invitations to the Ice Cream Party that we are having next Friday night here at the house.  We are looking forward to sharing our lives with these wonderful children in the neighborhood.  Big Kudo’s to Chris and his gang from Calvary Bible Chapel.  They are bringing God’s kingdom into the darkness that is life for many children in this area.  Robert jumped right in with the neighborhood kids.  He is an awesome model for relational ministry.  Tonight we are headed to New Life on Summerfield near Petersburg for their fair, then greeting at BCC and then possibly back to the fair.  God is opening the doors of peoples hearts.  So many are ready receive, they just need someone to model the Love of God and speak the Gospel!

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During that night the LORD said to Gideon, “Get up, go down against the camp, because I am going to give it into your hands.  If you are afraid to attack, go down to the camp with your servant Purah …”  Judges 7:9-10

So back to Gideon for a minute.  Let’s run it down real quick…

winepress hiding…Great Warrior…Who me?…offering…fire…wow….Altar of Baal…Asherah pole….Broken down…burnt offering to the Lord…..who did it….let Baal defend himself….Midianites….Amelakites….Spirit of the Lord…fleeces…32,000…10,000…300 and here we are. 

God wants Gideon go after more than 100,000 with 300 and IF he is afraid God has an even better plan.  Walk into the enemy camp, just two of you.  I have no idea how difficult it would be for the Midianites to recognize two Jews among them.  Regardless it doesn’t seem like a great plan to me.  But often God calls us to walk into and through the Valley of the Shadow of Death.  It is there in that valley that we can receive the greatest encouragement.  It is there in the valley that our faith is affirmed.  I think of David and Saul, Daniel and the lion’s den, three young men and a fiery furnace

 The Midianites, the Amalekites and all the other eastern peoples had settled in the valley, thick as locusts. Their camels could no more be counted than the sand on the seashore.  Judges 7:12

“As thick as locust”, most of us have not had a opportunity to see a locust swarm utterly destroy an entire agricultural area.  I have seen videos but I am sure it cannot compare to feeling of the locusts beating against your body as you desperately try to salvage the crop that is your life.  This would have been a very pointed picture to the people of the day.  It alludes to more than just the number.  Locusts are incredibly destructive and in this time period the people had no defense.  I can almost hear Gideon describing the Midianite army to his grandchildren and their squeals as he describes them as a huge swarm of locusts.

   Gideon arrived just as a man was telling a friend his dream. “I had a dream,” he was saying. “A round loaf of barley bread came tumbling into the Midianite camp. It struck the tent with such force that the tent overturned and collapsed.”  His friend responded, “This can be nothing other than the sword of Gideon son of Joash, the Israelite. God has given the Midianites and the whole camp into his hands.”  When Gideon heard the dream and its interpretation, he worshiped God. He returned to the camp of Israel and called out, “Get up! The LORD has given the Midianite camp into your hands.”  Judges 7:12-15

God supplied exactly the encouragement that Gideon needed and he supplied it from the mouth of the enemy.  God has it ALL under control.  Trust Him and he will demonstrate it over and over.  Gideon’s encouragement came from the object of his discouragement.  God recognized Gideon’s fear, drew him to it and then blew it away.  If we trust Him with the object of our fear and discouragement, He will blow it away. 


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Another awesome day at the Lewis House.  It started off a little rough with Allana down with a bad cold.  She is still wrestling with the sniffles now but looks and feels better.  Stacey, one of the full-time workers here, took Robert (instead of me because of Allana’s condition) to Sydney (I don’t know if I spelled that right) to stop at a ministry that helps to supply our foodbank here.   We were getting a little thin in the pantry.  I know this is a big problem for  food driven ministries now.  Fishes n Loaves in Adrian is running low on food also.  So if you have extra or want to donate to a food pantry now is a good time.  There is almost certainly some sort of Organization helped to feed the poor who could really use your help.

So since I did not go to the foodbank, I got to move furniture and sweep floors.  We prepared the floor in the  fellowship hall to be power washed which we are doing tomorrow.  Sami and Emily did an awesome job carrying about 100 chairs up two flights of stairs from the hall to the auditorium.  George and I stacked tables and swept.  George had previously finished putting the plugs in for the lighting.  As we moved the furniture we planned out our plan of attack tomorrow.  By the time we were done the place was ready for powerwashing.  This is a very different face of ministry.  Yet it is ministry.  We need to stop narrowly defining what is and is not ministry.  I believe at least in part this was Martha’s issue in Luke 10.  Martha thought she had a lock on what the ministry should look like, and she WAS ministering.  Her mistake was thinking that Mary had to be serving in the same way.  You may be called to be Martha and called to be Mary all in the same day.  We were blessed to be Martha this morning.

Later in the day one of the regular attenders to our Friday night meeting brought in a homeless man whom she came across in the Kroger parking lot.  George was busy so I put together a food box for him and prayed with him.  God said love him…so I did.  It was a learning experience.  Don’t judge…love.  Don’t assign blame for his circumstance…love.  Don’t be the cynic…love.  It felt good.  I may try some more of this loving the people that God loves even when my flesh wants to be cynical thing…It feels good when you can feel God smile.

Dinner was a potluck affair with some of our regular Friday night crew and people from the neighborhood.  WHAT A BLESSING!  We had a great night of fellowship.  Relational ministry, love the people that God love’s.  Definitely the lesson for today.  Love the unlovable.  Love that family member who is a pain.  Love your neighbor.  Love the little kid down the street who is desperate for any kind of attention.  Love the brothers and sisters in Christ  who are all around us. 

Robert had an awesome day on his trip.  He has been so awesome with the kids here.  Plus they got chickens, not frozen oven roasters, real live chickens.  You can see a picture of Emily holding one of the chicks in my facebook mobile uploads album.  The kids in the neighborhood when wild.  They mobbed Stacy when she pulled back into the neighborhood.  She had called one of the Mom’s and let her know that live chicks were coming.  Stacy spent time letting them all see the chicks.  Relational ministry, Love them.  Love the little children who mob you.  Love their silly questions.  Show them God in action.  It requires love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self control.  Hmmm I think I have heard that somewhere before.  I guess I need to do more than memorize it.

Pray for Allana that she feels better soon.  Pray for the people in our neighborhood, that they would know Jesus!  Pray for the people in your neighborhood, that they would know Jesus…then show him to them.

God Bless and Goodnight

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