Monday, January 31, 2022

Thanks, God, I Needed That!


                                                                     (Monroe sunrise)

I heard from someone who has upped their focused praying time to 30-60 minutes a day. During these times God has been confronting them with unrighteous behavior they were engaging in. This broke their heart. 

As I heard this I am thinking, "This is good. Thank you, God, for doing this for my friend!"

This reminded me of an old television commercial for an after shave called "Mennen Skin Bracer." It showed a man in a bathroom, looking into the mirror. He'd just finished shaving, took a bottle of Skin Bracer, poured some on both palms, and rubbed it onto his face. As soon as he did this a hand came out of the mirror and slapped his freshly anointed cheeks. The man said, "Thanks, I needed that!" That's how bracing and refreshing this after shave was supposed to be. It gave the man a wake-up call.

Many times, while praying, I have had a "Thanks, I needed that!" experience. A divine wake-up call. God points out something about me, something inside of me, that is diseased. When this happens I write words like... "God, You have searched out my heart and shown me something that needs to be removed." This could be pride, a bad attitude, hatred, lust, envy, covetousness, jealousy, a controlling spirit, lack of compassion, resistance to God, or God knows what else. This revelation of inner garbage gets accompanied by brokenness.

In 52 years of following Jesus God has uncovered all of these things, and even more, within me. This is good. When this happens (and it will if you continue to meet one-on-one with Him) it is another "Thank You God" moment. Because: it is another RESCUE OF YOU. 

I've met many who fear meeting with God because of this. They are like the person who fears going to the doctor because an illness will be found. We need to remember that living under the illusion of health (called "denial") is to be on the road to spiritual disaster.

While on one level we may not like being told "You are sick," because we desire to be healthy, on another level we should be glad for the revelation of inner sickness when it is there. The revelation of inner sin-disease is always the beginning of its removal, by God. God never shows us our failure and leaves us in that miserable place. That would be like a doctor who only diagnoses but does not cure.

I have found that when God shows me something inside that is not of Him it is not accompanied by condemnation. People do that; God does not. There is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. (Romans 8:1) God comes only, and ultimately, to rescue us, to save us from ourselves. We may not have even thought we needed a rescue. Then, as we meet with Him for another praying hour, God-as-Great-Physician identifies a spiritual cancer, operates, and bathes us with radiating, healing love. This breaks our hearts. We see that it is very good. We cry out, "Thank You God, for doing this for me!"

Saturday, January 29, 2022

Caregiving as Crucifixion

[What follows is not an invitation to a pity party... no cards or letters please. :) The principle is: when you try to rescue someone they might crucify you. Every caregiver knows about this.]

Many years ago two of our good friends bought a cool work of art that abstractly depicted Jesus hanging on the cross. They gave it to us with a love note that said: "We see how both of you spend your lives helping people. We also see how some of them crucify you after you help them."

If you are a caregiver with a heart to rescue people and marriages and families out of the dark pit of hell, you will get crucified. Not by everyone. Probably not by most. But by some. I forewarn you if you do not already know this. I encourage you if you already do.

There will be some who will be eternally grateful when you, with God's help, rescue them,  As I am thankful for my rescuers. Here are some of them: John and Ruth Peterson, Steve Kovic, Marshall Foster, Tim and Dorothy Ballenger, Pastor Harvey Johnson, Pastor Clarence Anderzon, William Lane Craig, David and Nancy Augsburger, John and Bev Powell, Colonel Will Bisgaard, and my life-saving partner-of-a-wife, Linda Lawson Piippo. 

As for Linda and I, we receive letters from people in our past who are so grateful it's almost embarrassing. We point out that God is the One who rescues, and he sometimes uses people to do it. We wonder if there is any greater joy in life than to be an ex-prisoner whom God uses to break others free from the chains that bind them.

When, in Jesus' name, you follow the call to rescue-caregive, you enter Satan's playground. Imagine yourself as Frodo Baggins, standing on a hill, looking at Mordor. On it is a cross. In Mordor there is far more than meets the counselor's eye. Reason may not work. You meet people who are as welcoming as a Gollum or an Orc. You may not be wanted there. 

Many who are in bondage do not want to be rescued. Locks and chains have  become their norm. You threaten to upset them. The love of God, through you, will take them out of their comfort zones. The battle is on.

In this spiritual battleground strange and wonderful things can happen. First, the wonderful. I have seen people get healed, delivered, restored, renewed, provided for, loved, sozo-ed, and returned to life in the Kingdom. 

Next, the strange. I have poured hours of love and care into people only to find, eventually, that I am their problem and they tell me so, or tell others about me. I have been slandered, mocked, threatened, and hated. By people I have not only tried to help out, but have actually helped. They get free, and use their freedom to figuratively crucify me. 

I am no longer shocked by this. Sadly, I know I have done this myself to others in the past. Yet I still feel hurt when this happens. And, though Linda and I have sometimes wondered about whether or not to keep traveling to Mordor, there comes the phone call for help again, and we're packing our bags and saying good-bye to the safety of our little Shire. All in the Name of Love and the One Who rescued and still rescues us.

Have you seen the movie "The Mission?" Caregiving-as-rescuing is like what happens in this movie. Jeremy Irons and Robert De Niro play Jesus-followers who, out of love, enter spiritual hell. They both get killed for it. This pattern is not the exception, but the norm. Be not dismayed when the world hates you when your whole life is one big rescue mission. 

If the rescuees do not get inner-healed and experience the Father's love, you might experience the truth of transference (the process by which emotions associated with one person, such as a parent, unconsciously shift to another, especially to the counselor). You, their rescuer, become the hated parent that they lash out against. Your response is to be, "Father forgive them, for they know not what they do." If you are free, and secure in the Father's love, you can say those words with authenticity. This allows you to sleep at night, and live joyfully.

Jesus said, "If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me." What he was talking about? One does not stroll into Mordor carrying a cross.

Friday, January 28, 2022



(Linda and I are looking forward to this!)



Friday and Saturday, February 25-26, 2022

Tippecanoe Baptist Camp

featuring Dr. John Piippo, National Co-Director of Holy Spirit Renewal Ministries, pastor, professor, author, blogger, revivalist and musician

–Several workshops included!

Sign up online here:

All registrations DUE by 02/16/22.

With questions, contact Ashton Ousley, or 260.375.2811.

Thursday, January 27, 2022

"The Awakening" Conference - June 26-30, 2022


Holy Spirit Renewal Ministries Conference 2022

The 2022 HSRM "The Awakening" Conference

Bruce Van Natta  and Elijah Stephens will join us along side our HSRM leaders as Guest speakers in 2022 for a spirit filled week June 26 though June 30, 2022 at the Green Lake Conference in Green Lake, WI. 

  • You are invited to the Holy Spirit Renewal conference at Green Lake, Wisconsin from June 26 to June 30, 2022 for a week of spiritual renewal, healing, transformation, equipping and empowerment to walk the Spirit-filled life as described in the New Testament. 
  • Experience God throughout the week in anointed worship and teachings from nationally known guest speakers, HSRM leaders, and gifted workshop presenters. 
  • Youth Ministry, children’s Ministry and childcare make it possible for the whole family to enjoy and fully participate in the conference and receive a touch from the Lord. 
  • Free time every afternoon allows time to enjoy the great outdoors on the beautiful conference grounds of Green Lake Conference Center. 
  • The fellowship among the conferees at the Holy Spirit Conference is a special feature and has earned it the tag line “More than a Conference, It’s a Family!” 
  • Holy Spirit Renewal Ministries has been serving the Body of Christ for 47 years though conferences, seminars, and retreats and has the distinction of maintaining a great balance of word and Spirit-expounding God’s uncompromised truth and sound scriptural teaching while experiencing and releasing God’s New Testament power that was promised to all believers. 
  • He is the same yesterday, today and forever! 
  • Love yourself and your family and make it a priority to “press in” for all the Lord has for you and wants to do in your life. 
  • The conference is a Paradigm shifter that will bless you in every way! 

  • For Lodging at the Green Lake Conference Center (  please make your arrangements with the Center by phone at 920-294-3323. 
  • The Green Lake Conference Center offers a wide range of lodging options, from tent camping sites to cabins/homes and hotel rooms. 
  • Holy Spirit Renewal Ministries does not make arrangements for conference lodging. Off-site hotels are also available in Ripon and Green Lake, WI..
  • ON-GROUNDS DINING is available in the Kraft Center Dining Room 

  • Register for the 2022 HSRM Conference

  • 2021 GLCC Lodging and Meal Rates


The author of “Saved By Angels” and “A Miraculous Life” and founder of “Sweet Bread Ministries”– 

In 2006 Bruce was crushed underneath a logging truck and was on the verge of life and death when he had an "out of body" experience.  God sent two angels to keep Bruce alive.  Bruce's body was almost cut in two.  Main arteries were completely severed in 5 places!  The doctors said there was no medical record of anyone surviving longer than a few minutes with injuries like his.  Bruce should have died before the ambulance arrived.  Yet God kept him alive for over 2 ½ hours, until doctors could operate.  Many of his internal organs were smashed.  In fact, Bruce's intestines were so badly damaged that the doctor's couldn't even save enough intestines to sustain his life. Even after the miracle of surviving this horrible accident, Bruce, (father of four children) was slowly starving to death.  

God spoke to a man on the other side of the country, (Bruce Carlson) to buy a plane ticket, fly to Bruce, and pray for a creative miracle in his intestines.

His true life story stirs the faith of any believer and brings unbelievers to a place where they can accept Christ.  

Many people report being healed of sicknesses, diseases, addictions, as well as emotional problems like fear and depression after getting prayer at one of Bruce's meetings and these testimonies are just as exciting and meaningful as what happened to Bruce.


“We must meld the intellectual, the supernatural, integrity, and love to prepare for the next Great Awakening.”

— Elijah Stephens

Elijah's background is very diverse. He holds degrees in philosophy and psychology. He served in the Army, owns multiple businesses, served seven years as an executive pastor at the Vineyard Chattanooga, is an author, and film maker.  His passion is to train leaders to follow the Spirit, and show them how to teach others to do the same. Also, it is to help churches work more effectively, and develop their next generation of leadership. Also, he loves training church members to walk in their identity, and to see power. He values teaching exegetically correct, theologically solid, intellectually honest, Spirit-led sermons that are healthy and free from hype and pretense.

Coming to Redeemer! Craig Miller and Clay Harrington


Craig Miller (Bio here) has graciously agreed to come to Redeemer and share the weekend of February 19th.  Craig is a licensed Christian therapist with Masterpeace Counseling in Tecumseh and has helped many in our Body.  His message on the morning of Sunday, February 20th will be on "Freedom from Anxiety".  

Saturday, February 19th from 10-11:30am - Prayer Training
To prepare for this time, Craig will be leading a prayer training for individuals interested in being part of a Prayer Team for the following Sunday morning message on "Freedom from Anxiety".  He will be using his two books "Breaking Emotional Barriers to Healing" and "How to Pray When Healing Doesn't Happen" as resources to facilitate these teachings.  If you feel God is leading you to participate in this training, please prepare by taking a look at these books.  Also, to ensure there are enough materials for the training, please let us know you are coming by simply replying to this email.

Sunday, February 20th at 10:30am - "Freedom from Anxiety" Service 
Craig will be sharing practical steps to walk in freedom from anxiety during Sunday morning worship service.  There will also be a trained Prayer Team (see above) available to minister to those in need of healing.  A love offering for Craig will be taken at this time or you can also give online through easyTithe.

Sunday, February 20th from 6-8pm - Worship and Intercession 
Holly Collins will lead us in an evening of worship and intercession.  There will also be a Prayer Team available.

April 9-10th, Palm Sunday Weekend - Clay Harrington (Bio here)
Mark your calendar for this exciting weekend!

Born into a military family that traveled the world, Clay experienced an ‘out of the ordinary’ childhood. With a Mother who was on fire for the gospel, and a disciplined Father who served in the Army – Clay was immersed in a Baptist and Pentecostal upbringing while living in Germany, Texas, Maryland, Pennsylvania and North Carolina.

Despite being prophesied at an early age that Clay would preach the gospel, he turned to a life of sin. However, through many fascinating encounters of God’s grace, Clay answered the call placed on his life and surrendered to Christ at the age of 30. Little did he know that this call would lead him to serve as an itinerant evangelist.

Today, Clay inspires others to press into a rich relationship with the Heavenly Father and has seen a multitude come to Christ as a result. Clay also equips the saints to live naturally supernatural lifestyles in the spirit and provokes the church to live radically for Jesus.

Clay works as the Senior Director of Breakthrough Ministries for Vineyard Cincinnati Church. He resides in Cincinnati, OH with his wife, Regina, and their two sets of boy-girl twins.

Wednesday, January 26, 2022

The Religion of Today's Secular-Progressive Alliance

Monroe County

Only the Thought Police mattered.

George Orwell, 1984

I recently re-read Orwell's 1984 to gain insight into the Thought Police of today.

The new custodians of the Ministry of Love are filled with hatred. Orwell helps me see this, providing a lens through which to view the New Intolerance.

I am among the orthodox religious, and we are being excoriated, in a country where supposedly we have freedom of speech and freedom of religion. Ironically, secular-progressivism has all the marks of a new, alternative religion, with its many mindless acolytes. (See, e.g., "Wokeness and the New Religious Establishment," by James M. Patterson.) .

Side-by-side with Orwell I am reading Mary Eberstadt's It's Dangerous to Believe: Religious Freedom and Its Enemies. Eberstadt writes:

"Belligerent secularism, not religious traditionalism, is the true heir to Puritanism today.
It is standard-bearers within the progressive-secular alliance, not religious traditionalists, who now enforce dogma on the wider society, who police cultural precincts for heretics, and who shun and shame dissenters. They are the guardians of what has become a secularist substitute faith, concerning the sexual revolution and its perceived moral imperatives. And like the Puritanism of yesteryear, today’s secular version does not tolerate nonconformism. Practicing Christians who refuse to cave are on the front lines of the new intolerance today." (p. 17)


Tuesday, January 25, 2022

Want to Go Deep Into the Parables of Jesus?

Tim Curry and I are now, at Redeemer, preaching  through several of Jesus's parables.

The main text I am using to study deep into the parables is Klyne Snodgrass's majestic Stories with Intent: A Comprehensive Guide to the Parables of Jesus. So beautiful, brilliant, and inspirational!

Disciples of Christ Are Humble


                                                                    (Monroe County)

(This is from my new book 31 Letters to the Church on Discipleship.)

Dear Confessing Church,  

A humble heart is the key to experiencing the grace of God.  One of the first books I read as a new Jesus-follower was C.S. Lewis's Mere Christianity. One of the chapters is called "The Great Sin." What, I wondered, could that be?

Lewis said it was pride, or self-conceit. Pride is the complete anti-God state of mind. Francis Frangipane calls pride "the armor of darkness." As I read Lewis, I am sure I agreed with him. I am also sure I did not realize how much pride I had in me.  

In 1993 Jesus gave me a lesson about pride. It began with a dream.  

One night I dreamed I was driving a tour bus in the Smoky Mountains. The roads were curved and twisted. I could barely get the bus around the corners. Then, after an exceptionally sharp curve, the bus came to a cliff, with a deep drop-off. That's when I woke up.  

The dream shook me up inside. Nevertheless, I eventually lost sight of it and went through my day. When I came home in the afternoon Linda had bought a card for me. She sensed I was struggling with things in the church. When I opened the card and saw the cover, I was stunned. It was a drawing of a road, twisting through mountains, that came to a cliff that dropped off into nothing. How could she know? I had not told her, or anyone, about my dream.  

God was trying to tell me something! I decided to take some praying time. I opened to a devotional book I was reading. It was on James 4:6: God is opposed to the proud, but gives grace to the humble. It was like God took a bright highlighter and lit this verse up for me to see.   

When I drove to pick up my boys at school, I arrived early, and went into the gym. I walked around the gym several times, repeating James 4:6. While doing this I felt led to fast from food until God revealed the meaning of the dream to me.  

Two days later, the revelation came.   

I was driving to a leaders meeting at the church building. I was praying about James 4:6, still stunned by the dream and the card Linda gave me. Another Bible verse came into my head - Proverbs 16:18 - Pride goes before destruction; a haughty spirit before a fall.  

That's it! God was telling me if I don't get rid of pride in my heart, I will take this church for a fall.

I felt relieved, and joyful. Every warning God gives contains a rescue. I shared the entire story with our leaders. None of them disagreed. This was another important lesson in the School of Jesus. Humble disciples experience the outpouring of God's grace.  

A humble heart is one that is good soil for God's Spirit to plant seeds of renewal in. A humble heart is teachable. Humility is the foundational attitude for spiritual transformation.   

May this attitude be formed in you.




 Lord, if there is any conceit in me, remove it.

 I have a teachable, trainable spirit.

 I am growing in humility.

 My constant prayer is, more of Jesus, less of me.

Sunday, January 23, 2022

Parents Have the Greatest Influence on the Religious Life of Children


                                                                     (Our back yard)

In my sermon this morning (listen HERE) I mentioned a recent article on the brilliant sociologist Christian Smith (Notre Dame U.) I've been reading Smith's research on the religious life of adolescents for two decades. In this article Smith reiterates the claim that parents have the greatest influence of the religious beliefs of adolescents.

Here's a quote from the article.

"Parents define for their children the role that religious faith and practice ought to play in life, whether important or not, which most children roughly adopt. Parents set a “glass ceiling” of religious commitment above which their children rarely rise. Parental religious investment and involvement is in almost all cases the necessary and even sometimes sufficient condition for children’s religious investment and involvement.

All empirical data tell us that for intergenerational religious transmission today, the key agents are parents, not clergy or other religious professionals. The key location is the home, not religious congregations. And the key mechanisms of socialization are the formation of ordinary life practices and identities, not programs, preaching, or formal rites of passage."

- "Parents Set the Pace for Their Adult Children's Religious Life"

Tuesday, January 18, 2022


(Sunset, Monroe County)

Here are some thoughts about worry.

Of all the things I have worried about in my life, I estimate that less than 5% have come to pass. I have spent too much time worrying about things that came to nothing.

Worry, anxiety, fear… I’ve experienced them all. You have, too. What kind of person would not worry? One answer is: someone who had their brain removed. But then, of course, they wouldn’t be able to enjoy their worry-free life.

How is it possible to have the brains we have and move into greater freedom from worry? The answer Jesus gives is this: a person who trusts in God would not worry. “Trust” and “worry” do not go together. 

Jesus speaks about this in Matthew 6:25-34. Slow down and re-listen to these words.

Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more important than food, and the body more important than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. 
Are you not much more valuable than they? 
Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life? 
And why do you worry about clothes? 
See how the lilies of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? 
So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. 
Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.


Worrying adds nothing to our lives. I’ve read studies that claim worrying actually subtracts from the days of one’s life. Worrying is non-productive. Worry, anxiety, and fear immobilize, and lead to non-action. Worrying makes worrisome situations worse. If today you are worried about something, rest assured that “worry” will not make the situation better and, in some cases, will make it worse because of the resultant non-activity.

2. Trusting in God will lead to basic needs being provided. We must distinguish between basic needs, and personal wants and desires. I have found myself, at times, worrying about something that I don’t even really need. This is a true waste of emotional time and energy!

3. Some run after material things as a cure for worry. But even acquisition can be worrisome. Richard Foster, in A Celebration of Discipline, argues that the more material things a person has, the more things they have to worry about. 

Here I am reminded of research I’ve done on materialistic cultures and levels of anxiety. Dr. David Augsburger wrote a brilliant study showing how some cultures, who have little materially, do not have a lexical entry for “anxiety,” because the condition is nonexistent. These cultures are tribal. In them, the community absorbs the worry. 

Thankfulness is an antidote to worry. I have found that when I am thankful for what I have, rather than needing to have more things to be thankful for, I am more at peace in myself.

“Worry” is the tip of an iceberg. Melt off the tip, and more surfaces. To get rid of the tip, get rid of the entire iceberg. 

Spiritually, this is about our heart. I am asking God to heal my heart that is still too consumed with the cares of this world. Only then can He use me to help others with their cares and concerns. The more self-obsessive I am, the less good I am to others.

Here are some things to get help and healing from worry.

- Keep a spiritual journal. Write down your fears and worries, and give them to God. 1 Peter 5:7 says, “Cast all your anxiety on him for he cares for you.”

- Re-read your journal periodically. Remembering how God has been with you in the past gives hope for the present.

- Saturate your heart, soul, and mind with God-things. Do not let the news surrounding the reporting of the pandemic occupy every room of your heart. I have found that when I make it my first priority to fill my heart and mind with God-things, I gain an eternal perspective on world-things. While the coronavirus is real, surely some of the fears accompanying it will not happen.

- Separate your real needs from your mere wants. Observe how our American materialistic culture works to create false needs within us that lead to false anxiety over a) either not having such things, or b) over having them and needing to care for them, protect them, store them, worship them, etc.

- Follow Jesus more intently and more intensely. Read Matthew 25 about what Jesus says in regard to helping the poor and needy. Take His words seriously and move towards others. As you begin doing this, you will find that your own cares and worries diminish.

- Make a list of blessings you are thankful for. Carry it with you, pull it out occasionally, and re-read it.

Trust God. Trust is not an emotion, but an action. Trust in God and worry cannot coexist in the same human heart.