Friday, October 14, 2011

Evidence Of Angels

(at least, if you ask me)

Josiah at The Keep, post accident.
Apologies if this ruins any suspense.
Photo by: David McLain 
Last Saturday etched itself into my history book for a few reasons. Some reading this might notice it was the day before my wedding. Others may recall this was also the day Hurricane Irene hit the East coast. Neither of these, significant though they may be, impacted my memory like the experience my dear friend Josiah had.

That morning, Claire and Josiah opened the coffee shop. As they were preparing the shop for the day, they realized a few crucial supplies were missing. On weekends the shop operates sans manager, so Josiah offered to drive to Cash & Carry to remedy the situation. "Don't speed," Claire made sure she told him.

Maybe an hour after Josiah left, an ambulance showed up at the shop. Paramedics stepped out, and Claire's heart raced as they walked toward her. "Are you the only one working today?" they asked. "I'm afraid Josiah won't be making it back in."  After she was assured Josiah was alive and OK, and her initial panic subsided, she began calling the list of Mud Bay employees to find someone to cover his shift. After initially ignoring her phone call, that person happened to be me. Jeremiah dropped me off, called Josiah's dad and left straight for the hospital.

In between pulling shots and steaming milk, Claire relayed to me the details of the incident. Just minutes after leaving the shop, Josiah flipped his 4Runner merging onto I5 from Highway 101. He may or may not have been speeding, but he did wind up with a ticket for "Speeds too fast for Conditions." Regardless, he found himself upside down on the side of the highway in a totaled SUV.

Here's where the story gets me grinning. The first to arrive on the scene was a pair of bicyclists. Bicyclists who were also off duty EMTs. "I was upside down," Josiah recalls. "The next thing I realize, they are reaching their arms in, checking me out, and pulling me out the window."

A volunteer firefighter happened to be driving by, and was next on the scene. He held Josiah's head in his lap and asked him concussion questions while they waited for an ambulance to arrive. Next on the scene was yet another off duty EMT, who took more vitals and did more EMT-like procedures.

By the time Jeremiah arrived at the hospital, fully prepared to sit at Josiah's bedside and read him tabloids as long as necessary, Josiah was up and walking. His parents dropped him off at the coffee shop a couple hours later looking banged up, but confident he'd be at work the next day. (The rest of us were not nearly as confident, and so he was written off the schedule for the next day or two. Must admire the boy's spunk, though.)

Josiah sustained some solid bruising on the side of his face, a concussion, and his ear turned an odd shade of blue-ish purple. His mother informed us that he's always wanted a black eye, so wish granted so to speak. The way I see it, God's got his back and it's a good thing.

By Kaylani, from OlyActs


Thursday, June 23, 2011

The Church is Dead (Does Anyone Care?)

“You have a reputation that you are alive – but you are dead.” This was the diagnosis Jesus had of the church in Sardis. Ask anyone who doesn’t visit a church on Sunday morning and they’ll agree. It seems like those inside are the only ones who are in the dark.

Jesus wanted his disciples to be salt and light in the world. Two thousand years later we are in the dark and rather than preserving and seasoning like salt – the 21st century church is lying like a dead body in the yard. Ask anyone in San Francisco if they’d like to see another church being planted there. We all know the reaction, and the reason for it. Those outside the church despise the ones inside.

It wasn’t long ago, as an atheist, I also had a loathing for the church. Eight years after God opened my eyes, he finally pried the lid off my heart. Now I am beginning to see the problems in church again. The list is long. We in the church are perceived as divisive, narrow-minded, greedy, hypocritical, judgmental, self-righteous, environmentally ignorant, socially insensitive, uncaring, unloving and untrustworthy. Yeah, I know – there’s more.

We believe we are the body of Christ, but our own music laments the fact that the hands ofJesus aren’t healing, his feet aren’t going and his love isn’t showing. The band Casting Crowns and many others have been sending a message to the church, but a dead church can’t hear it.

I could go on, but this message isn’t about complaining; I just wanted to establish the nature of the problem. Now it’s time for the solution. In the letters to the churches in Revelation 2 and 3, after condemning the churches, Jesus warns them to repent, or else! The church has ignored those warnings, so God is going to do something unheard of.

I heard a nice British fellow preaching in church this week from the book of Habakkuk. He read the verse where God said, “I am about to do something so extraordinary that even if you saw it with your own eyes you wouldn’t believe it.” I waited for him to tell us what it was – but the answer never came.

Most of the prophets know God is about to do something suddenly in the church, something big and something dramatic. What is headed for the church is nothing less than a tidal wave that will completely transform the landscape we now see.

Today God told me what’s going to happen. Because the church has refused God’s mission to reach its community and has failed to show His love to those who need it, because the church has destroyed His healers and shunned His prophets, God is going to take his poweroutside the stained-glass arcade.

What the reformation of the 16th century didn’t accomplish, this reformation will. The last one was about doctrine, this reformation will come in power and healing and miracles. This movement is about those whom the traditional church has deemed unworthy.

Many people believe the miracles God did through Todd Bentley were a kind of first fruits. “God is going to do more miracles,” they say. Well, they are right. But they see the pierced and tattooed, wild and undisciplined man as a weirdo, just a blip on the radar who crashed and burned. Yes, Todd is a kind of Kamikaze, but what the church doesn’t know is that there is a squadron of several thousand Todd Bentleys approaching, just out of view of their radar.

The church believes the miracles will happen inside its holy and sacred spaces. But the church is “dead” wrong. The church has failed its mission. God is going to do His new miracles in the community. Todd was the right man in the wrong place. Not only is God going to do miracles like the ones He did through Todd, He’s going to use people just as weird in the eyes of the church. If Todd’s ministry had happened on the streets, people would still be rejoicing. But the church did what it does best – criticize and destroy those that are different. It’s the only human organization that eats is young and kills its wounded.

God is going to raise up prophets and healers from the coffee shop owners and race car drivers of America. His apostles will work in art galleries. His pastors will be high school coaches; his evangelist will be a punk rocker. God is going to bless the people he wants to bless and the church won’t be able to stop it.

I happen to love the people I attend church with. They are some of the most warm and sincere people I’ve ever known. I love my pastor. He’s funny, loving, and a wonderful teacher. But this isn’t true of many churches. God is going to do a wonderful work in Olympia (and other places) The traditional church has no place for artists, dancers, poets and dreamers. But my hometown is a community of artists. God is the master creator, the master poet and master painter. We honor His creativity in our own artistic expression. God is going to use the arts for His glory.

We have ignored the native culture of our region and in doing so we have dishonored our heritage and earned the resentment of our neighbors. The new move of God in this area will use the arts as a unifying force. His healing will be felt by the gays and lesbians, his love will be brought to the Wiccan, His message of hope will reach the tree-huggers. And the traditional church is going to have a holy cow over it. The grave has been dug, it’s time to bury the corpse and move on.

A prophet, a healer and an evangelist walk into a bar. They shoot a few games of pool, and love on the patrons in the bar. They are invited back, and this time they interpret some dreams and pray for a healing. They are invited back and this time the evangelist opens his mouth and declares the incredible love God has for these folks. A new church is born. Are you seeing the picture?

If the traditional church folks repent and decide to show God’s love to their neighbors, God will honor them. If not – His work will be done among those outside the chapel anyways. To those who embrace the new wine God is preparing: you’d better bring a new wineskin to the party, the old kind won’t do.

I hope you will join in the new and wonderful work that God is going to do. Cheers!

By Dave Hayes


Friday, June 10, 2011

This Will Set You Free

By Matt Evans

There are some things I've wrestled with over the yrs, I've been aware that God's heart is to impact this world, but also that he wants all fruitfulness to come from intimacy, as Heidi Baker would put it. Looking for the balance between those aspects of our call has driven me to re-examine some core elements of what is called the christian life.

I remember the days when I sat under/was influenced by teaching which centralized such messages as, "The Lord is not willing that any should perish... we've been given the great commission to go and preach the gospel to all the world... the way to please God is to fulfill your destiny of saving the lost and building the church... having a successful ministry through favor with God and man..." There are truths IN those things, but one foundational problem; many of us learned to attempt to please God by laboring for him, even when that mentality of performance opposes the most basic message of the gospel. We thought that we would be successful christians when we had a mega-popular ministry, or when we were slaving away to do all the "right" things to save the world and please the church. Whatever happened to the foundation of repentance from our own works and faith towards God? In reality he doesn't call us to perform and achieve and suffer for him, not from that focus anyway. He simply calls us to labor to enter into his rest.

Meditate on this one: If we never did another work for the kingdom of preaching or evangelistic ministry or intercession or toilet scrubbing or anything else, but only learned to believe in his love for us a little bit more, God would be more pleased with that. Much more. If we enter his rest he can work in us and through us, but it is the rest that matters to God first, not the performance. He's looking for those who will believe the good news of entering his rest. He finished the works Himself.

I remember a time when I felt burdened to pray and receive love from God, even turning that into a performance. I told him "I really don't want to sit here and do this right now, I want to do something more exciting, but here I am, show me your love." I saw the Father bow down to kiss me on the head and then he urged me on gently, telling me to go and play.

There is a lot in scripture about God having ordained works for us to do, and rewards based on our works, but I gather that he wants our works to be an overflow of playfulness, not a messiah complex where we feel like we need to do it ourselves.

There is a passage in John 5 where Jesus says that he only does what he sees the Father doing, that the Father loves the Son and shows him all things that he himself does, and will show him greater works than these, even to the raising of the dead. This has been taught as a key to Spirit-led ministry, but a downside is that we can take it like, "OK, I've got to go out and see and hear what the Father is showing me so that I can move in the miraculous to save the world to please God."

The greek word for love in this passage is not agape (self-sacrificing, unconditional love) but phileo. (brotherly affection) The Father gives brotherly affection to the Son and shows him all things that he himself does... This points to a relationship centered on companionship and displays of affection, not a relationship of distant love and sacrifice. That means it is all about having fun. As we receive God's affection and desire to return a response of affection to him, we are led into what he wants to do through our lives. He can do greater works while playing with his children than we can do in our serious messiah complex. Really, there isn't any other solution to the deepest problems in this screwed up world but this one that God has ordained: playful children. Jesus modeled that and he said that he is the only way. It's so easy to get scared that it won't work and to try and make up our own way instead.

Suddenly, absolute surrender seems a lot more doable. I don't have to surrender to a life of grueling performance, where I'm going to be fasting 40 days a week, interceding in tongues 5hrs every morning, working my butt off all day and coming home to get a quick meal before going out (wait, I don't get a meal because I'm fasting 40 days a week) to preach on the streets every afternoon so that if I'm really good and somebody in power really likes me I can be a missionary to Africa someday. I get to surrender to a life of playfulness and affection. Where I am even empowered to obedience by the grace that flows from Jesus victory on the cross as I rely on him. It doesn't matter whether anybody ever thinks I'm a good christian or not. I only have to do what I see my Father doing in our exchange of affection. Ultimately, he alone will judge me based on whether or not I believed and entered his rest.


Saturday, January 15, 2011

Are You Willing?

How far is too far? Does forgiveness of sin really mean "it's as if it never was?" When it comes to betrayal, do we extend trust until the person gives us reason not to? How much is that going to hurt? Holy Spirit what do you think of all this? Am I a risk taker or not? Can I pray for healing for the body and ignore the pain in my close relationships because it's too hard to speak of the white elephant? Will I risk the personal pain and hurt to see His glory and His promises fulfilled in loving others?

These are the questions I have been seeking answers to. Not just from the latest book or teaching; but in my life, with my friendships, with the relationships He brings about. Jesus has brought me into friendships with others that I never would have picked on my own. But, oh! How GOOD He has been in the midst of them! His glory and power are all over them!

It is entirely another thing to be able to freely share the stories though. We can share stories of miraculous healings because it's not necessarily as personal. So, I write to encourage anyone else asking the same questions. God is opening closed hearts and He is using us, every day, in seemingly normal encounters, we bring grace to those He gives us. Just choosing to look for ways to show love is a valuable tool of healing.

I was so convicted of not being willing to truly walk out forgiveness all the way down it's long and often windy path to real reconciliation. Am I willing? The whisper of Papa..."will you go? will you trust Me to keep your heart safe?" In the setting of friendships and relationships Holy Spirit has place to flourish all involved. Of this I am certain. Healing hurts, removing painful memories, replacing them even with good memories; there is no limit to the ways Jesus creatively makes us whole!

So as we grow in Christ together, my heart is to shout out YES!!! I AM WILLING! Daddy, give us the grace to be willing to be ridiculous, hilarious lovers of others! Pour out through us as only You can!