Monday, May 29, 2017

Don't Sweat It, for the Kingdom of God is Real

Monroe County

If you are looking for summer reading I recommend Eternal Living: Reflections on Dallas Willard's Teaching on Faith and Formation. I finished it this morning. It's touching, moving, deep, and inspiring.

I have highlighted many things. I'm going to slow-cook more in this book by re-reading all I highlighted.

God is addressing me in many ways through Willard's life. One is my need to do my best in obedience to God, and then to leave the results to him. I still worry too much about results. My worrying adds nothing to the outcome, but subtracts from the wellness of my soul.

Mindy Caliguire writes:

"One of Dallas’s greatest gifts to me personally was his repeated, if simple, challenge to place my confidence in the reality of the kingdom...  Whatever part I have to play in this world, I will do it with all the intensity and passion I have to offer. But not with more than I have to offer. And having made my offering, I can let go of the outcomes. I can rest. I can both care and not care." (Kindle Locations 2812-2817)

Kent Carlson writes:

Dallas "continually trusted that the kingdom of God was real, active, operative and advancing all the time. Since this was true, it was not dependent on him or anybody to make it real, active, operative or advancing. Therefore there was no need for worry, anxiety, manipulating, controlling, rushing about or “making it happen.” Certainly we are to work, and to work hard. This is neither an invitation to laziness nor to passivity. Rather, it is an invitation to a life lived in actual confidence in God." (Kindle Locations 2897-2900)

Keith Meyer quotes Dallas as saying, "Leave the results to God - don't sweat it."

The process looks like this.

1. To the best of my knowledge, I have heard from God.

2. To the best of my ability, I have obeyed God.

3. To the best of my faith, I leave the outcome to God.

Saturday, May 27, 2017

Show Up on Sunday Mornings

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Redeemer sanctuary

Studies show that people who call themselves Christians are going less and less to Sunday morning worship experiences. This phenomenon is part of the general colonization of secular, individuated culture, in the Church. Like the alien who found a host in the astronaut, anti-Christness lives in the belly of the American Church. (If you doubt this read The Benedict Option, by Rod Dreher.)

Christians who go less and less on Sunday mornings are being occupied and secularized. Secular culture places no worth on Jesus-followers gathering together. Sports leagues for kids is but one example of paganism successfully colonizing the Church. (See here.)

This is tragic, because if you are a Jesus-follower, then you are one of the "called-out" (
ek-kaleo; ekklesia) people of God and his Kingdom. You are part of The Movement. You are the Church.

"Church" is a tribal thing. We see this in the little word "you." In the letters of Paul, "you" is almost always plural. This is significant.

Tribal Church is seen in the "body of Christ" passages of 1 Corinthians 12-13-14. We are members of one Body. We need one another. None of this is about individual happiness. In Scripture there is no true blessedness unless it is corporate blessedness.

Hebrews 10:25 says, Do
not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing. Today the word "some" has become "many," and in the days ahead "many" will become "most." At that point, pagan individualism will have won the day, at least in the Western Church.


Meet with your family members. And plug in. Get active. Stop being a mere attender. Be a contributing body part. Stop saying your church does little for you; start doing much for your tribe.

Be exorcised of Western consumerism. Church is not something you either like or don't like (like salad dressings). It was never about that.

Don't forsake gathering as Church. If you forsake Church gatherings you are abandoning your spiritual brothers and sisters. And you are forsaking your core identity as a follower of Jesus.

Jesus did not say "I will build individuals," but "I will build my Church."
 

Thursday, May 25, 2017

Join Me at the Holy Spirit Renewal Conference - June 25-29

Holy Spirit Renewal Conference
Coming Soon ~ June 25-29 
EARLY BIRD REGISTRATION ENDS MAY 31st
Teamwork couple hikers success in sunset mountains accomplish with arms up outstretched. Young man and woman on rocky mountain range looking at beautiful inspirational landscape view Gran Canaria Canary Islands.

There's a whole new world waiting to open up to you this summer at the
Holy Spirit Renewal Conference, Green Lake, Wisconsin.
Come and receive strength for today and bright hope for tomorrow.
Great is God's faithfulness!

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

There Probably Was a Global Flood

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Detroit

See the New York Times, "Looming Floods, Threatened Cities."

“I don’t think the biblical deluge is just a fairy tale,” said Terence J. Hughes, a retired University of Maine glaciologist living in South Dakota. “I think some kind of major flood happened all over the world, and it left an indelible imprint on the collective memory of mankind that got preserved in these stories.”

I Don't Believe in Fairies Either (On the Conceptual Confusion of Unlearned Atheists)

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Small Plates restaurant, Detroit



David Bentley Hart, in The Experience of God (Yale University Press), writes something related to my post "It's False That an Atheist Just Believes in One Fewer God than a Theist Does." Hart states (pay attention here):

"At a trivial level, one sees the confusion in some of the more shopworn witticisms of popular atheism: “I believe neither in God nor in the fairies at the bottom of my garden,” for instance, or “All people are atheists in regard to Zeus, Wotan, and most other gods; I simply disbelieve in one god more.” Once, in an age long since vanished in the mists of legend, those might even have been amusing remarks, eliciting sincere rather than merely liturgical laughter; but, even so, all they have ever demonstrated is a deplorable ignorance of elementary conceptual categories." (Hart, The Experience of God, p. 33)

When you do a philosophy degree, you regularly meet, interact, and dialogue with atheists and theists. In all my years of studying I never heard one of my atheist professors compare their God-disbelief with fairy-disbelief, or disbelief in Zeus. The proliferation of these silly quotes are the result of not-so-brights invading the intellectual atheist camp. It's embarrassing! (Remember atheist Michael Ruse's embarrassment at Richard Dawkins's God Delusion?)

In the real discussion about God's existence or non-existence these quotes mean nothing. Let me help the unscholarly atheist out of their conceptual confusion by quoting Hart once again.

"Beliefs regarding fairies are beliefs about a certain kind of object that may or may not exist within the world, and such beliefs have much the same sort of intentional shape and rational content as beliefs regarding one’s neighbors over the hill or whether there are such things as black swans. Beliefs regarding God concern the source and ground and end of all reality, the unity and existence of every particular thing and of the totality of all things, the ground of the possibility of anything at all." (Ib.)

If you understand that ,then you've been set free from all those cute quotes about fairies, Zeus, Osiris, "my invisible friend," the Flying Spaghetti Monster," "we atheists just believe in one less god than you," and so on and on and...
  

Seeking Knowledge, or Just Doing Research?

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Linda's piano/vocal students - May 2017

In my college Logic classes I told my students that critical thinking helps us arrive at the truth or falsity of statements (claims, beliefs). We want to know if our beliefs are true.

I loved talking with students about logic and truth. Many of them had never heard such talk before, and seemed confused by it. They were especially boggled by the idea that, in logic, if a statement is true, it is true for everyone.

For example: Water freezes at 32 degrees Fahrenheit. This statement is true, which means: the described state of affairs obtains. If it obtains, it obtains for everyone. Thus, regarding statements, there is no "true for you, but false for me" discussion.

Logic is a tool that can help us evaluate and formulate what we can know. It is precisely this claim to knowledge that troubles students, since it seems arrogant. Dallas Willard (USC Prof. of Philosophy) understood this. He wrote:

"It is not irrelevant that contemporary institutions of higher education see themselves not as knowledge institutions, but as research institutions. To paraphrase G. K. Chesterton, when people no longer believe in truth, they don’t believe in nothing, they believe in research." (Willard, Eternal Living: Reflections on Dallas Willard's Teaching on Faith and Formation, Kindle Locations 1273-1278)

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Feeling God's Presence (The Presence-Driven Church)

Redeemer sanctuary

"When I entered your church's sanctuary I felt the presence of God."

Over my twenty-five years at Redeemer I have heard these words many times, in many variations, spoken by people new to our Jesus-community.

"I sensed God's peace as I approached your building."

"I encountered God's power as I worshiped with your people."

"Surely the Lord is in this place."

I experience this, too. This is how it should be. Jesus-followers encounter, regularly, the earth-shattering presence of God.

This is not about a physical building, but about a people who host the presence of God. Remember how Jesus changed the whole Temple thing from a physical structure to a people, individually (1 Cor. 3:16) and corporately (1 Cor. 6:19). (In the first verse the word 'you' is singular; in the second verse the word 'you' is plural.) God has come to dwell among His people, to inhabit His lovers, in their singular hearts, and in their plural midst.

This is a visceral, experiential reality, and not just a theory or a propositional truth. One
feels God, within and without.

As God lavishly pours out His love into our hearts, this is, precisely and Hebraically, best understood as a feeling. (Note: part of my evangelical heritage is to pause at this point and warn me about the dangers of "feelings." I respond to this by noting the dangers and vacuity of theory and intellect without feelings. I want to know God-feelings as experience, since experience, not theory, breeds conviction. All talk about God's "love" is meaning-deficient if it does not include feeling.)

Consider these words from Robert Barclay, written in 1701.

"When I came into the silent assemblies of God's people, I felt a secret power among them, which touched my heart. And as I gave way to it, I found the evil in me weakening, and the good lifted up. Thus it was that I was knit into them and united with them. And I hungered more and more for the increase of this power and life until I could feel myself perfectly redeemed." (Barclay - see
here, p. 357; cited in Richard J. Foster, Sanctuary of the Soul: Journey into Meditative Prayer, Kindle Locations 302-304)

Welcome God's presence into your life today.

Host the earth-shattering presence of God.

Get ready to "know," in the sense of to "feel."

Dallas Willard and the God Who Is Near

Dead tree in my backyard

For anyone who has been influenced by the life and writings of Dallas Willard here is required reading - Eternal Living: Reflections on Dallas Willard's Teachings on Faith and Formation. This book is a collection of thirty people who knew Dallas, and their gratefulness to God for his friendship.

Two Evangelical Friends pastors recommended it to me at the conference last week. One of them said he has read it three times. I can see why. I just picked it up and am halfway through it. Along the way I have been touched by many things, including the reflections on Dallas's life and integrity. Reading these testimonials makes me want to be a better person.

Dallas believed that reality is far bigger than what can be accessed via the five physical senses. He believed we could know reality, to include spiritual realities. In support of this thesis Dallas drew heavily on phenomenological philosopher Edmund Husserl. And, he drew upon personal experiences that corroborated it.

Here is one story of an experience Dallas had with God.

"One evening, following a special service on campus, Dallas had an unexpected encounter with God...  a vivid experience with the presence of God. “It stayed with me for days, weeks. It never left me really,” Dallas said. “After that I never had the feeling that God was distant or had a problem hearing me.” That night when they went to bed, Jane related, Dallas exclaimed, “There is an angel at each corner of the bed.” Dallas added, “I did not have an image but a sense that they were there.”"  (Willard, Eternal Living, Kindle Locations 183-188)

Saturday, May 20, 2017

Many Who Leave Christianity Don't Know What They Have Left


"New social science research indicate[s] that young adults are almost entirely ignorant of the teachings and practices of the historical Christian faith." (Rod Dreher, The Benedict Option: A Strategy for Christians in a Post-Christian Nation, p. 2)

Seventeen years of teaching philosophy at our local college confirms this, for me. Even most students who call themselves Christians don't know what historic Christianity is.

The "nones," Millennials who say they have left Christianity, are ignorant of what they claim to have abandoned.

None: "I left the Christian faith."

What is the Christian faith?

None: "I don't know."

Or,

None: "I left a caricature of Christianity, which was not historical Christianity."

The ignorance of the "nones" extends to their "noneness." They don't believe, and don't know why. Or, they don't believe, and then google to find a reason why they don't believe, and then present that reason as a justification for unbelief. (This especially applies to nones raised in legalistic, fundamentalist environments.) 

Socrates, in an appeal to critical thinking, said, "The unexamined life is not worth living." Most, he said, would rather be pigs who are nonreflective but satisfied. Socrates would rather live the examined life, even if it dissatisfied him.

That was 2500 years ago. Since then, no progress has been made.



Friday, May 19, 2017

Pride and Shame

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Dead tree, in my backyard

I tell my seminary students that they still have too much pride. I say this because I believe it to be true. So do you.

So do I.

This includes, obversely, having too much shame.

Pride and shame are two sides of the same coin. The coin is self-obsession. Pride and shame are both forms of self-obsession. Pride says, "I am great and to be admired," and shame says, "I am  despicable and deserving of neglect."

The antidote to self-obsession is humility. Humility is produced as one abides in Christ and is transformed into greater and greater Christlikeness. The humble person discards the coin of self-obsession, knowing it has no cash value in the kingdom of heaven. The humble person is therefore the free person, having been rescued out of their subhumanity.

Proud and shameful people cannot love others purely, being tainted by their need to be recognized. A humble person does not need to be recognized; therefore, they are free to recognize others. 

The Twofold Task of a Presence-Driven Pastor

Kitty Hawk pier

The task of a pastor in a Presence-Driven Church is twofold:

1. Enter into God's presence and dwell there; and
2. Introduce your people to the presence of God in such a way that they abide there.

That will be enough because, as Howard Thurman once wrote, everything is available in the presence of God. To abide in God's presence is to live a fruit-bearing life.

Beyond this, nothing is needed. As Eugene Peterson writes:

"God and passion. That is why I was a pastor, that is why I had come to this place: to live in the presence of God, to live with passion — and to gather others into the presence of God, introducing them into the possibilities of a passionate life." (Peterson, Under the Unpredictable Plant: An Exploration in Vocational Holiness, p. 45)

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Why Isn't Everyone Healed?

Some of Redeemer's youth praying for someone.

(I spoke at our church's youth group tonight on Power and Authority for Healing and Deliverance. I'm re-posting this for them.)

Over the years I’ve seen people healed of emotional and physical illnesses. One of them was my grandmother. She lived with my family 6 months out of every year when we were growing up. When she was in her mid-80s she was diagnosed with breast cancer. She decided not to have it medically treated. The cancerous tumors in her breasts grew. My mother used to bathe her, and visually and physically saw and felt the hard, growing tumors.

Grandma knew she was going to die. She had lived a long life, and was ready to leave this world for another one. She even bought the dress she wanted to be buried in.

When Grandma had spent what we assumed would be her last 6 months in our home, she went to live with my aunt and uncle, who cared for her during the other 6 months. One day my aunt called. She told my mother that, while bathing Grandma, she noticed that the tumors did not appear to be there. My mother could not believe this, yet wanted to. Mom packed her bags and traveled 400 miles to visually inspect Grandma and confirm this.

Grandma lived for 12 more years. She bought two or three more dresses to be buried in. She died at age 97. What happened? How can we explain this? I, and my mother, knew this:

1. Grandma once was cancer-filled, and then one day the cancer was gone.
2.  God healed Grandma.

I’ve heard of, and personally seen, other things like this. (For some really good, current, encouraging stuff see Eric Metaxas's book Miracles. For simply the best academic presentation see Craig Keener's Miracles: The Credibility of the New Testament Accounts.)

I’ve also prayed for people who have not been healed, at least as far as I can tell. Which raises the question: Why? Why do I not see everyone healed when I pray for them? 

I’ve thought long and hard about this over the years. I don’t have all the answers. I don’t think I can, given my quite-limited epistemic access, expect to have all the answers. Nonetheless, when I am asked this question, here’s how I respond.

1. Sickness and disease are not caused by God. God hates sickness and disease.
2. Sickness and disease are in this world because we live in, as Jesus referred to it, “this present evil age.” We live in a fallen world that’s ruled by Satan, who is called “the Prince of this world.”
3. Some diseases are part of living in this fallen world. The entire world is crying out for redemption (release) from this bondage.
4. The "age to come" in all its fullness is not our present reality. So, my physical body wastes away even as my spirit is being renewed.
5. See some of the resources I cite below.

Why did God create a world like this? Why a world where such suffering was even allowed? For me the answer is this:


- God is love. That is, God, in His essence, IS love. God cannot not-love.
- Therefore love is the highest value for God.
- God created persons (and spiritual beings) out of love.
- Genuine love is only possible if created agents have free will.
- Therefore God gave created agents free will.
- This is risky, since free will implies that one can choose to not love God.


From God’s end, giving his created agents (that's us) free will is worth it,. This is because God is love, and love is the highest value for God. Much of this world’s suffering happens because of people exercising free will to hurt themselves and others.

This is no mere theory, no abstraction from reality. It is an explanation of reality. As a pastor I’ve been around a lot of death and dying, to include in my own family, even my son David. How do I continue to find hope in such a world?

My understanding of what Jesus taught about the kingdom of God provides answers for me. Jesus talked about “the age to come” where will be no sickness, no struggle, no tears. When God invaded earth in the form of a Person, the “age to come” invaded this present evil age. Jesus once said that, “If you see me cast out demons by the finger of God, you can know that the kingdom of God is in your midst.” That is why I pray for the sick to be healed today, and will continue to do so.

I am part of a faith community. This makes a huge difference. I know people (even Christians) who would never pray for someone to be healed. In a faithless community one should not be shocked that healings are not seen.

Sometimes a deeper spiritual healing is needed. Some illnesses are, at root, spiritual and emotional. I have found that, for example, a person who lives for years with bitterness towards others and refuses to forgive others can be especially subject to physical illnesses. The account of Jesus' healing the lame man let down through the roof (Mark 2:1-12) implies that the forgiveness of the man's sins had some connection with his ability to pick up his mat and walk.


Don't lay blame on the person who is sick. When Jesus prayed for sick people he never blamed them for their sickness. For example, Jesus rejects his disciples’ assumption that the blind man in John 10 was blind because either he or his parents must have sinned.


Persist in prayer. When some sick people are not healed through prayer, it may simply be because we haven't prayed long enough to bring the healing to completion.

***
FOR FURTHER READING SEE:


In Francis MacNutt’s classic book Healing he is gives 11 reasons why people may not be healed:
  1. Lack of faith
  2. Redemptive suffering
  3. False value attached to suffering
  4. Sin
  5. Not praying specifically
  6. Faulty diagnosis (is it inner healing/ physical healing/ deliverance that is needed)
  7. Refusal to see medicine as a way God heals
  8. Not using natural means of preserving health
  9. Now is not the time
  10. Different person is to be instrument of healing
  11. Social environment prevents healing taking place


John Wimber, Power Healing. Chapter 8, "Not Everyone Is Healed."

Praying At the Intersection of Heaven and Earth

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Kitty Hawk, North Carolina

(This excerpt is from my book Praying: Reflections on 40 Years of Solitary Conversations with God.)

Praying is Inter-asking N.T. Wright believes that “we are people who live at the interface between God’s world and the life of this present world. We are people who belong in that uncomfortable borderland. We are called to stay at this post even when we have no idea what’s actually going on.” ( N. T. Wright, After You Believe: Why Christian Character Matters, Kindle Locations 4725-4727)

To stay at this post is to be a praying person. Praying is the act of interfacing this world with the kingdom of God. Praying is a relationship occurring where heaven and earth intersect.
In conversational praying, I confer with God about what we are doing together. This viewpoint radically changes a traditional view of prayer as   only  “ petition,” or “asking.” Instead of sending prayer requests up to heaven, heaven meets earth in the place and act of praying. Praying includes asking, but is more than that. It is interacting.

Praying is inter-asking. As you pray you interface with the Maker of heaven and earth. This is important. We are given the location of the God-conference, which is the intersection of heaven and earth. Praying is the place where God and humans meet. Prayer is the point where God and I converge. The moment of praying is when the rule of God (the “kingdom of God”) invades this present darkness.

Real praying is when this happens. For example, Colossians 1: 9 reads:  “ For this reason, since the day we heard about you,   we have not stopped praying for you.   We continually ask God to fill you with the knowledge of his will   through all the wisdom and understanding that the Spirit gives…” Here, Paul prays for the Colossian Jesus-followers. This has been called “intercessory prayer.” To “intercede” means: to come between.

The word “intersection” is helpful here. The intersection of Telegraph Road and M-50 is one mile north of our church building. If a person’s car stalls in the middle of this intersection, will their car be on Telegraph Road, or on M-50? The answer is: both. This is because, in this intersection, the properties of Telegraph Road and the properties of M-50 are shared, or are the same.

Set theory, in mathematics, illustrates this. Imagine two sets representing realms of experience: Set A (the realm of God), and Set B (earthly reality). Set A equals the being of God; viz., all God’s attributes, God’s desires (God’s will), and God’s character. Set B equals the Colossian Jesus-followers (and, by extension, Jesus-followers today).

Now imagine that these two sets overlap, or intersect. Intercessory praying happens at the intersection of God’s reality and my reality. In Colossians 1: 9, Paul kneels at the intersection of A and B, the place where heaven intersects with earth. In that place he asks God to bring heaven to bear on the earthly existence of the people he is interceding for.

Praying people are “intercessors,” kneeling before God in the place where heaven intersects with earth, where God interacts with humanity.

Piippo, John. Praying: Reflections on 40 Years of Solitary Conversations with God (Kindle Locations 1114-1137). WestBow Press. Kindle Edition.

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

The "As Usual" Prayer Life of Jesus

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Sign, in my neighbor's driveway

A significant prayer life is defined, for followers of Jesus, as the kind of prayer life Jesus had. We see this in Luke 22:39:


Jesus went out as usual to the Mount of Olives, and his disciples followed him.

Jesus went out to pray, "as usual." Jesus habitually prayed. He was accustomed to praying. Jesus' default lifestyle was dialed to: praying. 

By my logical lights this then follows: 
  1. I am a follower of Jesus. 
  2. Jesus prayed. 
  3. Therefore, I pray. 

And not just a little bit. The old hymn "Take a Little Time for Jesus" is misleading. Love takes much time with the Beloved. If my Lord engaged in "as usual" praying, then who am I not to replicate this in my life?

Habitual, "as usual" praying produces increasing familiarity with God. As an analogy, Linda and I celebrate forty-four years of marriage this summer. We have spent much time communicating over the years. The result is that Linda knows me better than anyone does, and I, her. There is no substitute for this.

In the same way knowing God requires much time praying. 

A.W. Tozer writes:

"Progress in the Christian life is exactly equal to the growing knowledge we gain of the Triune God in personal experience. And such experience requires a whole life devoted to it and plenty of time spent at the holy task of cultivating God. God can be known satisfactorily only as we devote time to Him."
- A.W. Tozer, The Root of the Righteous, Kindle Locations 134-136

Devote yourself to God in the act of praying.

Pray, as usual, like Jesus did.

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Have a Good Eye for God


On my first date with Linda I monotasked. Not multitasked. I suppose I could have invited her to be with me while I did five other things. Had that been the case she would not have been interested in me.

Multitasking has its place. That place is not the strengthening of human relationships. Multitasking weakens relationships, as it spreads oneself too thin over many things. I can assure you that, on that first date with Linda, my heart, soul, mind, and strength were locked onto her, and, i might add, nervously and hopefully.

Richard Foster writes: "My pattern [when being with people] is always to be as fully present as possible to the people and activities of the moment. When I travel there is no multitasking for me. No cell phone calls. No extraneous interviews. No catching up on e-mail. No laptop computer work in between events. All my energies are focused on the present moment and the precious people filling those moments." (Foster, Sanctuary of the Soul: Journey into Meditative Prayer, Kindle Locations 950-952)

Multitasking inhibits full presence, with people, and with God. Full presence is the experiential place where glory is revealed. When fully present to people and places, you see things you've never seen before. This concerns "really seeing." As in photography, when people speak of "having a good eye."

Learn to love God this way. Develop a good eye for God. Put down the cell phone, lay aside the laptop, step into God's creation, and behold the beauty of the present Lord.

Monday, May 15, 2017

Speaking in Kitty Hawk, NC - T/W/Th

I'll be speaking at this conference in North Carolina T-W-Th.




We all have a desire for progress. We want things moving forward: our lives, our relationships, and our churches. But, sometimes in our efforts to see things progressing, we forget one of the most valuable disciplines in the desire for forward motion. The patient practice of prayer has tremendous power. Scripture encourages us to "pray without ceasing" and to "pray in the Spirit on all occasions." Yet, it is a discipline that is often neglected and seldom utilized. During our Pastors Conference 2017, it is our hope that you will be blessed with new insights into this ancient practice, and that you will experience its power in a profound way. 
We look forward to seeing all of you!
- The Conference Planning Team
Rich Bennett, North Olmsted Friends
Pete Fowler, Salem First Friends
Kolbi Shartzer, Porstmouth First Friends

Lodging Information

Hilton Garden Inn
Outer Banks/ Kitty Hawk, NC
5353 N. Virginia Dare Trail
Kitty Hawk, NC 27949
hiltongardeninnouterbanks.com

Registration Information

The deadline for registrations has passed. Contact Kolbi Shartzer at (757) 488-0484 with questions.

Brochure

Download the PDF here

Saturday, May 13, 2017

10%

Monroe County

11 Now on his way to Jerusalem, Jesus traveled along the border between Samaria and Galilee. 12 As he was going into a village, ten men who had leprosy met him. They stood at a distance 13 and called out in a loud voice, “Jesus, Master, have pity on us!”
14 When he saw them, he said, “Go, show yourselves to the priests.” And as they went, they were cleansed.
15 One of them, when he saw he was healed, came back, praising God in a loud voice. 16 He threw himself at Jesus’ feet and thanked him—and he was a Samaritan.
17 Jesus asked, “Were not all ten cleansed? Where are the other nine? 18 Has no one returned to give praise to God except this foreigner?” 19 Then he said to him, “Rise and go; your faith has made you well.”

Luke 17:11-19

Long ago I wrote a song about this story. It bewildered me.

My reasoning was, if I was healed of leprosy, I would throw myself at Jesus' feet and thank him. I would go to him and give praise to God. I would spend the rest of my life following Jesus. I would never forsake the assembly of believers. I would be the first to arrive on Sunday morning, and the last to leave. My time, my resources, my abilities, would all be spent on Him. Yes, my physical healing would be amazing. But my spiritual healing would even be more amazing. My gratitude would never end, and would be evidenced by not only my words, but by lifestyle and behavioral changes.

I would never walk away from Jesus again.

I would never be too busy to pray again.

On that day, one out of ten who were healed worshiped at the feet of Jesus. And he was an outsider. 90% went back to life as usual. 90% got busy again. 90% had no time for God. 90% had other things to do. 90% showed up on Christmas and Easter. How could they do that!?

I have seen some who were healed, and their spiritual, inner lives changed. Their choices changed. They have never been the same since God healed them. I have friends who were healed, delivered, and redeemed, and dedicated the rest of their lives to Jesus, with overflowing, unceasing gratitude. These are the 10% Jesus was talking about.

I have seen more who were hopelessly diseased, cried out to God for healing, begged for prayers for healing, were miraculously healed, and then, after a month or two, went on with life as usual. These are the 90%. They go to God when they have a need, and leave God when the need is met.



Friday, May 12, 2017

Dinner and Auction to Support Mary Robey Koch - Saturday, May 13

SCROLL TO THE BOTTOM FOR SOME OF THE AUCTION ITEMS. 






(Written by Mike Ansel)

Scripture says to mourn with those who mourn and to rejoice with those who rejoice. As people, and especially as a group of Christian (Called out ones) people, our hearts are drawn to this sister who has been through more than we can imagine or even fathom!  

Mary Robey Koch entered the hospital with the hope of delivering her first child and the joy this would bring her and her husband.  After delivering her healthy son Cooper Mary contacted Sepsis and was thrown into a fight for her life!  Her extremities were under attack and within two days of delivery her feet and lower calf were amputated.  Muscle and infected dead skin were also removed as the doctors at the University of Michigan raced to save her hands!  Prayer warriors were called upon to stand in the gap for Mary.  It was not to be so as two days after loosing her feet Mary lost her hands! Unimaginable nightmare for this young first time mother, her mom and dad, and her inlaws!

Mary spent seven months in the trauma burn unit at the U. of M. hospital, and has been home for a month now.  Mary has a long road ahead of her with therapy, prosthetics, Dr. appointments, and caring for her now 8 month old son!  Of course Mary has had her "down" moments, but her faith remains strong as she puts her spiritual hands to the plow and moves forward with grace, strength, and dignity!  Mary has had a lot of support from her family and friends, and that's where we come in at Redeemer Fellowship. We believe in the Church as the wider body of those who have been saved and sanctified by the sacrifice of Jesus. Mary is a fellow sojourner on this road leading to the Celestial City. It is our Christian honor to help her along the way!  

Mary and her family have many needs, and one of the most pressing is monetary. We (at Redeemer) are planning a Dinner/Auction in order to raise funds toward those needs. I (we) want to partner with this sister and her family in a show of Christian unity and support. 

Of course we welcome help from all people of good will and compassion toward this cause.

The time is fast approaching when we will collectively bring forth a sacrifice of praise as we fellowship around a meal and auction/fundraiser in support of Mary at Redeemer Fellowship Church in Monroe.  

The date is May 13th. with auction viewing at 4:00 p.m. and dinner at 5:00 p.m. Live auction to start after dinner.  Silent auction bidding will start upon your arrival.  Two separate dinners will be served.  The wild game dinner is $15.00 dollars for adults 13 and up and $8.00 dollars for those 12 and under.  4 and under free!  The alternative dinner will be a simple hot dog, sloppy Joe, potato chips, dessert, and drink dinner for $6.00 for adults and $4.00 for children 12 and under.

In order to have a smooth operation it would be so helpful if we can have a "head" count as to who will be attending so the proper amount of food can be prepared. Auction items are still being accepted, as well as desserts, or a special "wild game" dish you would like to prepare!  
Monetary donations are also greatly appreciated. Call Mike Ansel at 734-241-3329 home or 734-770-4660 for information.  Lets make this day before Mothers Day a time of rejoicing for Mary and her supporters!

Email Mike Ansel at - mikewansel@yahoo.com

Email John Piippo at  - johnpiippo@msn.com

***
These are just a few of the items that will be up for auction at the Mary Robey Koch dinner/auction. George Foreman grill, Fit-Bit watch, quilt stand, cordless tools, lamp, golf clubs, tackle box, hunting stuff, casserole set, 12 vases, snow-blower!


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Thursday, May 11, 2017

Real Church Is Not About Making People Feel Good

Monroe County

"The task of religion," writes Eugene Peterson, "is not to make people feel good but to make them good." (Peterson, Run With the Horses, Kindle Location 1081)

With this one sentence the Entertainment Church becomes irrelevant. If a pastor is focused on pleasing the people and making sure people "like" the service, they may be popular, but they hinder spiritual formation.

Leadership focus is not to be on the feelings of the people. Leaders in the church are to equip the people to do the stuff of ministry.

What needs to happen, writes Peterson, is "the self must be toppled from its pedestal." (Ib.) This may not give happy feelings, but it is the beginning of making a person good. Not happy. Not sad. Good. Which means, Christlike.

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Declare God's Power to the Next Generation

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I am privileged to be in five episodes of Darren Wilson's TV series "Adventures with God."
With me here are Darren, Jamie Galloway, Brian Schwartz, and Robby Dawkins.

This morning I read Psalm 71:18 in The Message.

Even when I am old and gray,
do not forsake me, my God,
till I declare your power to the next generation,
your mighty acts to all who are to come.

Am I old and gray? I am definitely gray. I am sixty-eight years old. Therefore.....

Last week at Redeemer's youth group, and tomorrow evening with our youth, I am sharing on "Power and Authority for Healing Diseases and Delivering People From Evil." I am declaring God's power to the next generation. I will tell our youth of God's mighty acts that I have seen. Even though I am old and gray.