Posts Tagged ‘service’

“Go take for yourself a wife of harlotry and have children of harlotry’ for the land commits flagrant harlotry forsaking the Lord.”  Hosea 1:2b

For the complete text of this study including extensive scripture references click here


The word of the Lord which came to Hosea the son of Beeri during the days of…”  Hosea 1:1


The formula “the word of the Lord” is of paramount importance to who we are as the people of God.  Without this formula Christianity simply becomes a collection of well thought out doctrines without divine power.  It appears Eleven times in Acts, Seventeen times in the New Testament, only once of which is a direct quote from the Hebrew Scriptures ( 1 Peter 1:25 ).

(See full text for references)

It appears Thirty two times in the Minor Prophets and constitutes the very base of their message and core of the authority by which they spoke.  Unfortunately it is very clear that this formula was also utilized by those who spoke falsely, for personal gain or from fertile imagination, often without immediate repercussions.

(See full text for references)

This formula is used Nine times in the Pentateuch.  Twice it refers to a personal message from God to Abraham.  Twice it refers to those who feared or respected God through his messenger Moses.  Three times it refers to the specific will of God concerning a situation and then twice it is used to denote the general commands of God.  In all cases it is something that should be greatly respected, immediately and continuously obeyed and contains the combination of promise and consequences involved in obedience or disobedience.

(See full text for references)

“The word of the Lord” appears Seventy Five times in the Historical Books of the Old Testament,(See your Bible for references) defining a theme of the redemptive history of the Bible.  Add to it the Four appearances in Psalms and the One Hundred and Twenty appearances in the Major Prophets (See your Bible for references) and we have a biblical formula that must not be ignored.  (This gives a grand total of 267 in the NAS)  Yet it is one that I am afraid is down-played in our modern times.  In fact I would even go as far as to say it is largely ridiculed, relegated to examples of crazy ranting, embarrassing exclamations or simply inappropriate use. However the message of the Bible is clear.  The Word of the Lord is IMPORTANT.  It contains promise, command and consequence.  It brings real love, real judgment and real salvation to a humanity that fell in the garden, abandoned God in the Flood, rejected God at Babel and throughout the redemptive record has struggled with the concept of “The Word of the Lord.”

“Jerusalem, Jerusalem, who kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to her! How often I wanted to gather your children together, the way a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, and you were unwilling.”  Matthew 23:37


Those who have carried this Word have been dismissed, ignored and persecuted throughout history.  So rarely have they been embraced as to almost make it suspect when the general public (even of the People of God) embrace their words.  Today the lack of respect continues even within the church in a land where we have more Bibles per capita than perhaps ever in the history of the world.  We quibble about translations.  We reject inspiration.  We modify to fit our experience and common choices.  Can the end be any different from those who throughout time have rejected the very authority of the Word of the Lord?

The importance in this modern world of the declaration “The Bible is the Word of God” is primary. It is the watershed of modern theological controversy. On the right of this mountain peak are all those who believe that the Bible is the revelation of God and is infallibly inspired. They may differ on many details of interpretation of that revelation, but they agree as to its authority. On the left of this peak are all those who reject the Bible as the primary authority in faith and life, substituting for it any one of several forms of authority ranging from the human mind to the common experience and agreement of the church. Some of these on the left may hold with us as to the truth of every primary doctrine of Scripture, but they themselves do not belong to us because they accept those doctrines on a ground which is insufficient, and if the pressure of the battle becomes too great, they will relinquish those doctrines such as the virgin birth, the unique deity of our Lord Jesus Christ, the bodily resurrection, the second coming, etc. Therefore, though we may differ in many details with those who are on the right of this watershed, we belong together and must recognize this modern division in the theological world. Only on the basis of the Bible as the Word of the Lord can we ever have agreement on Christ, on the way of salvation, and on ecclesiastical matters. When we reject the Bible as this authority, it results in the “don’t care for doctrine” attitude of the liberal.”  Dr. Harold John Ockenga  ( , 10-6-2012)

For Hosea the entry of the Word of the Lord to his world was a life changing proposition.  This was true through out the Bible and continues to be true today.  If one were to research each of the biblical references for this formula I am guessing that one would find someone whose life was changed.  This would indeed be the case for our protagonist Hosea.  He was about to embark on a life journey which would express the heart of God and the depth of His plan for the salvation of a lost world.  It would be an embarrassing and difficult journey.  Disrespect for the Word of the Lord is nothing new.  False prophets, crazy prophets and mistaken prophets clouded the vision of God’s people then even as they do now.  Skeptics doubted and the intellectual explained away the impact of God on Israel, relying instead on the might of nations, the power of wealth and the scheming of men to preserve the nation.  Hosea had a Word of the Lord for them.

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Yes FM Morning Munch Devotional August 13th – 17th

Monday  –  Passionately Involved

Tuesday – The Hard Questions

Wednesday – Ready to Listen

Thursday – Ready to Believe the Unbelievable

Friday – Obedient

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                  (Nisa- Miracle)



We have prayed for this day for 9 years.  We have ached for the losses and doubted our faith.  We refused to give up even when we were labeled as a “Chronic Miscarriage” case.  When the entire world (and even God himself from a purely worldly standpoint) seemed to be saying emphatically NO, the Holy Spirit whispered in our ears to leave it in the Father’s hands.  So we did.  Don’t get me wrong we cried, we wailed, we begged over and over again.  We wanted at times to throw in the towel and act out of our own understanding.  We still do not completely understand, but understand this:  We have a mighty heavenly Father who cares for us in ways that I cannot begin to fathom.  He loves us in a way that is so far beyond my understanding that I only touch the edges of what AGAPE really means!

Several weeks ago while in prayer God gave me the name Nisa Faith.  Indeed she is a miracle of faith, not the simple faith of a single prayer or even the cry for healing but the faith of a 9 year journey.  She represents to us the faith of Abraham as he led his entire family to Canaan.  She represents the faith of Joseph as he waited in slavery, in prison for God to act.  She is even now, yet in the womb that miracle, an incredible act of God.

The difficult part to grasp is that my statement about our Father’s love for us is not just true because Nisa is healthy and strong.  It is an eternal truth that is expressed in both the tragic and the joyful.  He does not love us more now than he did on the very days that we miscarried our other seven precious babies.  The reality is that our journey to the fulfillment of the call that He had placed on our lives led us directly through David’s “Valley of the Shadow of Death”.  While we might prefer a detour around the Valley, God does not promise that.  He does promise that he will be with us, standing by us with His rod and staff and even more importantly for New Testament believers dwelling in us.  Many times it is not until after we are through the Valley that we are able to look back and see that God wielded His rod and staff on our behalf as we walked that  difficult road.

Even more than she represents the miracle of life to us, she is the miracle of faith itself.  Perhaps a better way to say it is that she is an expression of miraculous faith.  Faith inspired by the ongoing presence of God in our lives.  It is the faith that kept Abraham going on his 400 mile journey.  It is the faith that kept him in relationship with God even when he arrived only to face famine.  It is the faith that saw the birth of Isaac and the substitution of a ram for his only child on the mountain before God.  It is not a faith of the perfect life or of perfect people. It is a faith that traverses pitfalls and carries us through our own mistakes; faith that originates not with us but in the very heart of God and comes to us as a gift from the hands of our heavenly Father.  It is Nisa Faith.

The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want.  He makes me to lied down in green pastures; He leads me beside quiet waters.  He restores my soul; He guides me in the paths of righteousness For His name’s sake.  Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I fear no evil, for You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.  You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; You have anointed my head with oil; My cup overflows.  Surely goodness and lovingkindness will follow me all the days of my life, And I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.


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She stood by her seat watching Allana lead the children in dancing to the praises of our savior.  Just her toes wriggled to the music.  She had already been asked several times if she would like to join the children up front and dance but had said,” N0.”  Still she stood there staring and wriggling.  I walked over and asked her again, “Would you like to go up and dance with the other kids?”  She shook her head no but kept staring and wriggling.  “You don’t have to belong or have to know the songs you can watch Miss Allana”, I tried.  Still no, but then I could see her gather her will together and she looked straight at me and said, “I’m afraid.”  Her face turned red with this moment of pure honesty.  “Tell you what, why don’t I walk up there with you and put you right between Miss Allana and Sami so you can follow right along with them.”  Her eyes got big and she slowly shook her head yes and whispered, “OK”.  I walked her up, placed her between Sami and Allana and then watched her blossom to life dancing with all her heart for the next 30 minutes.

Sometimes people will respond to tracts, tv shows, invitations to church services, revivals or even altar calls.  But sometimes they are waiting for someone to take that long walk to our Savior with them.  It seems like just a short and easy stroll to us but they are afraid.  They can see the joy, the fun but for whatever reason that walk is terrifying.  They are waiting for someone to walk with them, hand in hand; to introduce them personally to Jesus and then to tuck them in right between the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.  Maybe they should grow up and get over it.  Maybe they should not be so stubborn and afraid.  Or just maybe we just need  to be ready to walk that walk with them.

There was a man who lived in Jericho, a wealthy and powerful man.  He could have easily summoned Jesus to him or approached Jesus through the crowd using his many servants to clear the way.  But he didn’t.  He ran ahead and climbed a tree.  I think that perhaps he had listened to the greatest lie that Satan ever came up with, “You are not the sort of person that Jesus could love.”  Still he wanted to see Jesus.  How surprised he must have been when Jesus stopped at that tree and said, ” ‘Zaccheus, hurry and come down, for today I must stay at your house.’ And he hurried and came down and received him gladly.  When they saw it, they all began to grumble, saying, ‘He has gone to be the guest of a man who is a sinner.’  Zaccheus stopped and said to the Lord, ‘Behold, Lord, half of my possessions I will give to the poor, and if I have defrauded anyone of anything, I will give back four times as much.’ And Jesus said to him, ‘Today salvation has come to this house, because he, too, is a son of Abraham.  for the Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which was lost.”  (Luke 19:5b-10)

“Zaccheus stopped…”  After the invitation there was the long walk back to Zaccheus’ house.  For Zaccheus it was a walk of shame, a walk that reinforced the lie of Satan.  It is a walk that so many are unable to take alone.  Jesus took that walk with Zaccheus.  It was not in the safety of his home that Zaccheus found salvation.  It was not kneeling at the altar or standing in the revival.  It was walking with Jesus.  “Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children; and walk in love, just as Christ also loved you and gave Himself up for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God as a fragrant aroma.”  (Ephesians 5:1-2:  bold  lettering is mine)

Maybe it is time for all of us to take a little walk, to pray that the Holy Spirit will point out those Zaccheuses waiting up in a tree to walk with us;  those little girls wriggling their toes waiting by their chairs to dance, giving us the opportunity to be imitators of God Himself and walk in love.

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Perhaps the next time that someone asks me about what we do at The Lewis House I will say, “We meet Julius where he is at.”  I first met Julius on the sidewalk in front of TLH.  He asked me for $10.00 and then moved on when I said that we could supply food and personal items but that we did not deal in cash.  Several days later he stopped out front and asked again for money but this time did not decline the offer of a meal.  Since then he has become a regular visitor to the house.

There are many ways and places to meet people.  As I read the Bible I see a recurring theme.  While it is true that some followed Jesus everywhere, they followed Jesus as he went to meet them where they were at.  Whether it was on the hills of Judea, up in a tree, coming to a well in the heat of the day, across the sea naked in a graveyard or up on a rocky crag named Golgotha, Jesus was ready to meet them exactly where they were at.  He came to feed them, to eat with them, to speak truth to them, to free them and ultimately to die and rise again for them.  Then when it was time for him to return to the Father he passed the torch on to the disciples,  “Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you.  And surely I will be with you always, to the very end of the age.”  (Matthew 28:19-20) while still assuring them (and us) that he would always be here to meet them where they are at.  Being missional is just about that, meeting people where they are at.  While God has placed us here in Toledo at TLH, He has also placed every person reading this blog somewhere that has people who need God’s love and a little truth in their lives.  Once we live God’s love and speak God’s truth then it is up to the Holy Spirit.

There has been no radical change, no epiphany for Julius, but his stories seem a little truer and he keeps coming back.  He listens a little longer and is just a little softer with each visit.  That brings me to the other important part of meeting them where they are at, prayer.  The Holy Spirit can meet Julius wherever he is at, at any time and won’t you join me in praying that He does?!

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Memorial Day just passed.  So many posts on Facebook of, “I will not forget”.  Yet as I think about our many holidays and the way that we celebrate them I wonder.  Chilly Chilton recently posted in a group that I belong to about Pentecost Sunday:

We have one Sunday each year that we call “Pentecost Sunday” … Question: what do we call (and live) the other 51 weeks??

The impact of any given holiday and the memory that it is intended to convey is not indicated by what we do on that day or in that season but by what we do in the “other 51 weeks”.

It would seem that as a race (the human race) we establish holidays more to forget an event than to remember it.  My first inclination was to see this as a recent phenomenon but as I consider the Old Testament and Israel I find that this is probably not the case.  Consider Amos 5:21

“I hate, I despise your religious feasts; I cannot stand your assemblies.”

These feasts and assemblies were ordained by God to commemorate his intervention in the history of Israel, but somewhere along the line Israel lost the meaning of  the feasts and followed only the senseless observance.  As the popular song puts it they missed “the heart of worship”.  The book of Amos is essentially a call to Israel by God to return to the heart of worship.  It is about what they do the other 51 weeks out of the year. “You who turn justice into bitterness and cast righteousness to the ground.”  (Amos 5:7). Yet Isaiah makes it clear that while injustice, bitterness and unrighteousness are the fruit, the core of the matter is in the heart, “These people come near to me with their mouth and honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me. Their worship of me is made up only of rules taught by men.”  Isaiah 29:13

Jesus boils it all down to two commands that seem so simple but for fallen humanity are only possible to follow through the ministry of the Holy Spirit.

 Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’This is the first and greatest commandment. 39 And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”  Matthew 22:37-40

I will take the liberty to expand Jesus’ words to include all the feasts and all the Holidays;  all the Sabbaths and all the forms of worship we may have.  If they do not point to and express our love for God and our love for our neighbors they are as Paul put it in the famous love chapter of 1 Corinthians 13, “a resounding gong or clanging cymbal”  If they do not impact what we do “the other 51 weeks of the year” to be obedient to the great commandments then they are worse than useless, they are despised by God.  The great truth in all of this is that it is really not about the form, the holiday, the season, the tradition…It is about the heart and our personal relationships with our Lord Jesus Christ being expressed in all that we do.

This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. 12 No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us. 1 John 4:9-12

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“1. To invest officially (as by the laying on of hands) with ministerial or priestly authority.”  (Merriam Webster online)

Ordination is so much more than I ever though it would be.  As our ordination approaches God has been speaking to me, driving me to explore this idea of an official investiture in ministerial authority and responsibility.  The priests of the Old Testament were ordained to serve before God.  Leviticus 16:32  talks of the hereditary nature of the Old Testament priesthood yet still he had to be anointed and ordained.

The New Testament is perhaps  less explicit yet we cannot but envision ordination in Acts 13 when the elders of the Church of Antioch laid hands on Paul and Barnabas investing them with the authority of the nascent church to carry the gospel message to new lands.  I love the next verse, “The two of them, sent on their way by the Holy Spirit…”  Ordination then is not a symbol of The Lewis House but it is a call to the Holy Spirit by our peers, friends and colleagues.  It is a call for Him to send us on our way empowered by spiritual gifts which as Paul expressed to Timothy, we must fan into flame in the performance of the ministry that He has for us.

For Allana and I it is an acceptance of the responsibilities that are inextricably attached to the empowerment and authority that is represented by our ordination.  I would venture to say that if the past year has been our “engagement” to full-time ministry in service of the Gospel that the ordination is the marriage ceremony.  We commit ourselves to His service and recognize His call on our lives.  We trust that he will bring to completion the work that he has begun in us.

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This video clip is of Allana and I sharing about the ministry that God has called us to.  We are so thankful for Pastor Nate Elarton and the people of Compelled Church  ;For the opportunity to share our heart for The Lewis House and the Five Points neighborhood of Toledo and for their tremendous generosity!

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Wow, the Spaghetti Dinner is only hours away, the beginning of our full-time ministry is only days away and the doubts begin to creep in.  I am 48 years old. As I look around, urban missions seems to be a young man’s game, at least to start.  I am certainly past my “prime” in so many ways.  What a waste of years…

Then the Spirit gave me a very loud “Quit It!”  My mind turns to Owen Carr who felt called to pioneer a church in downtown Springfield Missouri at the age of 83, touched by the lack of godly impact in the very city that the Assemblies of God calls home.  Moses was 80 when God called him out of his comfortable middle class life in Midian.  The thing that matters is the call of God and our commitment to him, our commitment to love the lost.  Love, Love, Serve is our motto at Compelled Church.  Love God.  Love People.  Serve the World. We can do that!  It does not matter whether we are 9 or 90.  God has called my family and I to fulfill this in bringing his hope to the Five Points neighborhood of Toledo and he has made the way for us to do it.  He has already acted in so many miraculous ways to do this.  I look forward to watching his hand at work.  So I am 48 and starting a new phase in my life.  Who Knows maybe I will plant a church when I am 88…

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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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