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!

Monday, October 4, 2010

An Underground Gathering

My information said that the meeting started at two o’clock or so, but I didn’t have the chance to get there until a couple more hours after that. Besides, I wasn’t sure about it, so I wanted to arrive after they were well under way.

By the time four o’clock rolled around, I was quite lost in the county roads trying to find the place: It was already dark, and I was looking for an old barn, maybe half a mile from the nearest paved road so finding it was no easy task. I backtracked, tried the turnoff that I’d passed by a couple of miles back, saw another truck pulling into a dirt road, and headed down the same way. The road ended at a place that was obviously not what I was looking for, but we turned off just before that, wound around some sharp corners, and emerged into a field full of parked cars surrounding a barn, looking in the dark like a flock of baby chicks around their mother hen. Out of the barn came the sound I was expecting, the sound I was looking for. When I heard it, I realized how much I’d been longing for it.

I parked my truck and walked through the parked vehicles towards the barn; I noticed some older SUVs, some fancy new cars; the variety caught my attention. There were a handful of other folks arriving, and we said very little as we approached the barn: words weren’t actually necessary. This was also the sound that they were looking for; their faces showed the same sense of expectation that I was feeling.

We slid the door open, and the sound washed over us. It was palpable, nearly physical, though it wasn’t all that loud. Inside were maybe a hundred people. Twenty or thirty of them were playing instruments, men and women, black, white and others, young and old. The instruments were equally diverse: guitars, keyboards, drums from America, from Africa, from Ireland, from Asia, from places I'd never heard of. Even a didgeridoo from Australia, wired into the sound system. There were young kids playing drums and rhythm instruments. Most of the sound came from the instruments and from the several people singing into microphones. There was a basic sound system set up, but it was obvious that this was no show.

Nobody but the handful that entered with me even knew that we had arrived. Maybe twenty people had their hands in the air, others were kneeling, still more were dancing or waving flags. Some were visiting together near the tables in the back, tables piled high with food and drink. Kids played on the dirt floor. They took nothing away from the worship.

I worked my way to the back of the room. I was trying not to disturb the worshippers, but I needn’t have bothered: most of them were oblivious of my passage; those that were greeted me with the great bear hugs of old friends or the whole-hearted hugs of family; it didn’t seem to matter if they knew me before that day or not. The diversity of people struck me again: these were people from almost every imaginable background, age, race, socio-economic group, religious persuasion.

The music never took a breath. There were a couple of microphones set up where anybody could walk right up and sing along with the music; those mics were nearly always busy, with intricate harmonies and counterpoints accentuating songs that nobody had ever heard before. Before I realized it, four or five hours had passed.

There were a hundred people there, and people were coming and going throughout the night. But the audience had only One. His presence filled the room like birdsong in the spring, like a welcome home after a long journey. There were a hundred voices singing a hundred different songs, all blended into one glorious chorus, and our Audience roared back His approval.

This was worth getting lost in the backwoods county roads for. This was worth being part of.


Sunday, September 19, 2010

Future Memory of Revival

Kim Clement refers to some dreams as 'future memories'. At times God will take us in a dream to some point in the future and allows us to see it for a brief moment. This was one of those moments.

On August 30th 2010 I had the following dream:

The dream began during a great outpouring of the Holy Spirit that had been going on for quite a while in our area. (I'm not certain what the entire scope of the geographic region was. I just knew it was the Olympia area) In the dream we were living every day in a strong, sustained outpouring of the Holy Spirit. I didn't get much detail on what specifically was going on as far as miracles, salvation, etc.

Dave McLain, myself and a few other friends (I didn't recognize most of them in the natural, except that perhaps Joe Myering was one of them - I can't be sure because I've never met him in person) were sitting at a table discussing the current revival and how it had manifested in different places in town. One of the significant things in the dream was the tangible presence of God. I could feel the weight of glory on me as we talked.

We seemed to be at a place where worship music was playing. I saw bright lights and heard a festive crowd cheering in the background. I don't recall many of the details of the conversation, though we talked for a considerable amount of time. I remember talking about some of the miracles we'd seen and the cool ways God had touched so many people in town.

Just before I awoke from the dream, Dave McLain told me about one event that I remembered after I woke up. He mentioned the time that the glory of God first came to the church called 'Glory House' in Olympia. He reminisced fondly about how deeply Dennis Teague was affected by that particular move of God, which Dave said had happened 4 years earlier.

After he said this, I woke up and spent a few minutes collecting memories of the dream, then wrote it down. I believe I woke up pretty close to 12:25, because when I looked at the clock after writing the dream down it was 12:30.
(End of dream)

We were four years into a strong, sustained outpouring of the Spirit and it was still as powerful as when it began. Several different leaders from different churches in the area were involved. I believe God wants us to know that it's coming. It will not be about one church, one man or one city. It will be a regional move with widely different effects wherever it comes.


Saturday, August 28, 2010

Standing at a Critical Juncture

In a small town in the Northeast, something wonderful is happening.

Is this what we ought to do, as well?

Standing At A Critical Juncture from JHOP Boston on Vimeo.