Friday, April 29, 2022

Dr. John Piippo - How God Changes the Human Heart

(Thank you, Carol, for helping with this!)

Presence-Driven Pastors Tend, Not Run, the Garden

                                                                 (Redeemer Church building, Monroe, MI)

A Presence-Driven Church is a garden, not a factory. Gardens are tended. Factories are "run."

The garden soil is the hearts of the people.

God is the seed planter.

The people are taught to abide in Christ.

They bear much fruit.

Presence-Driven Pastors tend the fruit.

In the Christ-abiding connection, God sows dreams and visions, course correction and direction, into the hearts of the people.

The Presence-Driven Pastor is not threatened by this. They separate the good from the bad. They welcome and nurture good produce, like parents caring for a newborn baby. The Presence-Driven Pastor is an expectant parent who prays for the child to be born, prepares a room for it to flourish, and celebrates its arrival.

This is Real Church, a community where everyone (not just the pastor) gets to play. Everyone becomes part of the movement. Everyone is a leader. This is anti-top-down leadership.

As Scripture tells us,

When you come together, each of you has a hymn, or a word of instruction, a revelation, a tongue or an interpretation. (1 Corinthians 14:26)

To allow this you must let go of control. Which is hard for an Entertainment-Driven Pastor to do. (Hard for many of us, right?) These pastors control the Studio Church. The many are not as talented or as beautiful or as camera-friendly as the few. So they run the garden, rather than tend it. The people become an audience of outsiders. The Entertainment-Driven Pastor of the Consumer Church has been seduced and trafficked by the American honor-shame hierarchy.

This, Eugene Peterson writes, is a dark vocational shift. It is the "radical fall from vocational holiness to career idolatry," which "goes undetected by all but the serpent." (Eugene Peterson, Under the Unpredictable Plant: An Exploration in Vocational Holiness, p. 7)


Thursday, April 28, 2022

More on... "Deconstruction"

                                                                        (Ann Arbor)

One of my recent books is Deconstructing Progressive Christianity. In it, I define the term "deconstruction." Perhaps this is the most misunderstood word in America today. 

Here is what it does not, and does, mean, to vaccinate us from the fetid swamp of banality,

"Despite this seemingly unrestrained proliferation of the word across the vernacular, “deconstruction” remains a kind of slippery signifier and empty placeholder. We all kind of know or at least think we have a sense of what the word indicates. And yet, if you ask someone to explain it, what you typically get is a rather confused shell game of word substitutions, where “deconstruction” is loosely associated with other concepts like “disassembly,” “destruction,” “reverse engineering,” or “the act of taking something apart.”

Despite the circulation of these familiar (mis)understandings, the term “deconstruction” does not indicate something negative. What it signifies is neither simply synonymous with destruction nor the opposite of construction. As Jacques Derrida, the fabricator of the neologism and progenitor of the concept, pointed out in the afterword to the book Limited Inc: “The ‘de-’ of deconstruction signifies not the demolition of what is constructing itself, but rather what remains to be thought beyond the constructionist or destructionist schema.” For this reason, deconstruction is something entirely other than what is typically understood and delimited by the conceptual opposition situated between the two terms “construction” and “destruction.” In fact, to put it schematically, deconstruction comprises a kind of general strategy by which to intervene in this and all the other logical oppositions and conceptual dichotomies that have and continue to organize how we think and how we speak."

Gunkel, David J.. Deconstruction (The MIT Press Essential Knowledge series) (pp. 1-2). MIT Press. Kindle Edition.

There you go. If you don't understand that, then you remain clueless as to the meaning of the term.

Shame & Guilt - Some Notes & Resources

(Trees at Redeemer)

What Is the Difference Between Guilt and Shame? How can we experience freedom from shame? Here are the notes and resources I presented in a seminar about this.

1. Shame Is Different than Guilt.

2. Shame and Guilt are emotions.

Shame expresses itself in thoughts like I am not enough; There is something wrong with me; or I don't matter.

Shame "is born out of a sense of “there being something wrong” with me or of “not being enough,” and therefore exudes the aroma of being unable or powerless to change one’s condition or circumstances." (Thompson, Kindle Locations 277-279)

Shame often has to do with a "lessening" of our worth and capacity. This lessening is deeper than a conclusion one logically arrives at. It is an emotion, a feeling, that one cannot be reasoned out of. Thompson says shame's essence precedes language; it seems to be woven into a person's DNA.

Shame says I am wrong. Guilt says something I have done is wrong. Shame refers to our being and worth; guilt is about morality. Shame is debilitating. Guilt is a rescue. A healthy, integrated person has a moral conscience that responds to right and wrong. 

The emotion of guilt, when given by God, is a good thing. We want, e.g., a person to feel guilty (show remorse) if they have hurt someone. "Guilt," writes Paul Tournier, can become "a friend because it leads to the experience of God's grace." (See Tournier, Guilt and Grace: A Psychological Study.)

3. Consequences of Shame

Psychiatrist Curt Thompson writes:

Shame is not just a consequence of something our first parents did in the Garden of Eden. It is the emotional weapon that evil uses to (1) corrupt our relationships with God and each other, and (2) disintegrate any and all gifts of vocational vision and creativity.

These gifts include any area of endeavor that promotes goodness, beauty and joy in and for the lives of others, whether that be teaching our first graders, loving our spouse well, managing forests, conducting healing prayer services, creating a new medical technology, offering psychotherapy or composing symphonies. Shame is a primary means to prevent us from using the gifts we have been given.

4. Three Sources of Crippling Shame

5. One of the Hallmarks of shame is Judgment

Judgment refers to "the spirit of condemnation or condescension with which we analyze or critique something, whether ourselves or someone or something else. I may say to myself, I should have done better at that assignment. What is crucial is the emotional tone that undergirds those words." (Curt Thompson, Kindle Locations 335-337)

6. Shamed People Shame People

The act of being judgmental towards other people is rooted in self-judgment. Thompson writes:

"As I often tell patients, “Shamed people shame people.” Long before we are criticizing others, the source of that criticism has been planted, fertilized and grown in our own lives, directed at ourselves, and often in ways we are mostly unaware of.

Suffice to say that our self-judgment, that tendency to tell ourselves that we are not enough—not thin enough, not smart enough, not funny enough, not . . . enough—is the nidus [origin] out of which grows our judgment of others, not least being our judgment of God. The problem is that we have constructed a sophisticated lattice of blindness around this behavior, which disallows our awareness of it." (Kindle Locations 348-352)

7. Shamed People Don't Experience Grace

Grace, as C.S. Lewis understood it, is the Christian distinctive. By it, shame is overcome.



2 Cor. 10:5 - We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ. 
As a follower of Jesus, your status is "in Christ."

You are a God-created, soulish, embodied, "in Christ" person. This means there are some things you are not.

You are not what you doTo define yourself by what you do is to live on a spiritual and emotional roller coaster that is a function of your accomplishments. Your identity does not depend on what you have accomplished. Your productivity does not define you. 
Your worth is not the same as your usefulness. (From Henri Nouwen)

You are not what you have. Do not define yourself by your stuff. Because when you lose any of it you will slip into the indentityless darkness.

You are not what other people think of you. If people think well of you, say thank you. If people think ill of you, pray for them. But do not go up and down and in and out on the basis of others' affirmation and disaffirmation. Refuse to let other people define you.

YOU ARE WHAT GOD THINKS OF YOU. Period. Case closed. Colossians 1:27 says: 
To them God has chosen to make known among the Gentiles the glorious riches of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory. 
When you understand this in your heart three things happen.
1.          You are set free from the punishing of the hierarchical honor-shame systems of your surrounding culture.

2.          You are free from the striving that happens on the ladder of the honor-shame hierarchy.

3.          You are free to love others.


Grace, as C.S. Lewis understood it, is the Christian distinctive. By it, shame is overcome.





For more on freedom from shame see Lewis Smedes's excellent Shame and Grace: Healing the Shame We Don't Deserve. This is one of the best books I have ever read!

The best book on "grace" is Philip Yancey's 
What's So Amazing About Grace? 

Wednesday, April 27, 2022

Nietzsche - Morality is Only About Personal Taste, or Aesthetics

                                                          (Redeemer Church, Monroe, MI)

If there is no God, then there are no objective moral values. Many intellectual atheists agree with this. What about, then, all the moral pronouncements being put forth, e.g., Racism is wrong? What about microaggressions? Here's how atheist Friedrich Nietzsche saw this. Carl Trueman writes:

"Nietzsche’s notion that morality is really about taste is very helpful in thinking about our current moral climate. So often the language we use confirms that Nietzsche’s perspective is now a cultural intuition. So often we will speak of morality in terms of taste or aesthetics: “That remark was hurtful;” “That idea is offensive;” “That viewpoint makes me feel unsafe.” Notice that such expressions do not make a statement about whether the matters in hand are right or wrong. In fact, the underlying assumption is that the offensiveness or hurtfulness of them is identical with the moral content. The subjective response has become the ethical criterion for judgment.

(Trueman, Strange New World, pp. 57-58)

Wokeness... to what?

Tuesday, April 26, 2022

Identity, and the Logic of Nietzsche's Atheism


                                                   (One week ago we had snow! 4/18/22)

The atheist philosopher Nietzsche had so many things right, given his atheism. That is, if atheism were true, then Nietzsche understands what follows.

Here's an example of this, from Carl Trueman's book Strange New World.

"For Nietzsche, the great task facing human beings is to break free of the metaphysical myths that religion weaves and to shatter the moral codes that hinder individuals from being strong. We might express Nietzsche’s thought this way: freed from the burden of being creatures of God, human beings must rise to the challenge of self-creation, of being whoever they choose to be. Put perhaps even more bluntly: be whoever or whatever works for you. You should feel no obligation to conform to the standards or criteria of anybody else." (Strange New World, pp. 56-57)

Robby Dawkins at Redeemer - Sunday Morning 04/24/22


Saturday, April 23, 2022

Two Relationship Lies


Holland State Park, Michigan

The idea that every person has a "soul mate" who they must find is rooted in two relationship lies. Which are: 

1. I need this person to be complete.

2. If this person needs me, I'll be complete.

- From Real Relationships, by Les and Leslie Parrott.

The Parrott's write: "If you try to find intimacy with another person before achieving a sense of identity on your own, all your relationships become an attempt to complete yourself." (Ib.) That is bad news for your soul mate, which they will eventually discover as their ship crashes on the shores of your incompleteness.

"It is only when we no longer compulsively need someone that we can have a real relationship with them."
- Anthony Storr, in Ib.

Maintaining the Appearance of Happiness

Room, in our house

Donna Freitas writes: "The appearance of happiness has become so prized in our culture that it takes precedence over a person’s actual happiness." (Freitas, The Happiness Effect: How Social Media is Driving a Generation to Appear Perfect at Any Cost, p. xvii)

Note the subtitle of her book: How Social Media is Driving a Generation to Appear Perfect at Any Cost.

Christian Smith, in his Foreward to Freitas's book, comments:

"In our attempts to appear happy, to distract ourselves from our deeper, sometimes darker thoughts, we experience the opposite effect. In trying to always appear happy, we rob ourselves of joy. And after talking to nearly two hundred college students and surveying more than eight hundred, I worry that social media is teaching us that we are not worthy. That it has us living in a perpetual and compulsive loop of such feedback. That in our constant attempts to edit out our imperfections for massive public viewing, we are losing sight of the things that ground our life in connection and love, in meaning and relationships. 
Our brave faces are draining us. We’re losing sight of our authentic selves." (Ib., pp. xvi-xvii)

So what is the answer? You must go deep. It will explain a lot of things, including what's now happening in America.

Augustine understood the depth of our human condition. He wrote of our estrangement from God due to succumbing to three temptations: "the love of power, the pervasiveness of lust, and our inability to find contentment." (Richard Foster, Longing for God: Seven Paths of Christian Devotion)

These three temptations keep our hearts in a turbulent mess. We are reminded it was Augustine who wrote that, because God made us for himself, our hearts are restless until they rest in him. Centuries later Henri Nouwen prayed, Augustine-like, asking God if the restless seas in his heart would ever settle down.

Augustine's answer was this: 

"When we are unable to rise above our own self-love, we manufacture all kinds of diversions in an attempt to find a happiness that endures. But eventually we realize that nothing in this life provides the happiness and joy that come from God alone.... Our only hope for enduring happiness is to discover the enduring restlessness of our spirit." (Foster, 29. Emphasis mine.)

My Books

Friday, April 22, 2022

Pastors are Facilitators of Transcendence

(I took this picture of Dan and Allie and the Hagia Sofia in Istanbul.)

People need the Lord. Therefore, introduce people to the Lord. How can this happen?

1. Know the Lord yourself. Cultivate the God-relationship. Abide in Christ, hourly.

2. Teach people how to enter into the presence of God. Show them how to abide in Christ.

3. Tend the garden. The abiding person's life will bear much fruit.

That's it. 

That's all a pastor-shepherd needs to do. 

This is about the Presence-Driven Church, which is the only church worth living for. (During Jesus' time the Temple fell because the religious leaders shut the door to the presence of God.) 

Pastors facilitate this. Pastors facilitate transcendence.

Our main job is to usher in the Almighty. We point people to the Glory.

When transcendence happens, no one notices the program, the preacher, or other people. Anything resembling performance seems out of place. Because all that is visible is eclipsed by what is not: God Himself moving through the church in power and meeting with His people in multifold  ways.  

Thursday, April 21, 2022

Why People Try to Control Others

(Sterling State Park, on Lake Erie, in Monroe)

I still have control issues. This is not good.

I meet a lot of control freaks and controlees. Many marriages are the coming together of these anti-types. Every control freak needs a controlee, and vice versa. I call these "master/slave" marriages.

Most people, if not all, struggle with control issues. I have, and at times still do. The Control vs. Trust polarity is an ontological reality; i.e., it lies at the base of human personhood. 

"Control" is the antithesis of "trust." Trust is huge in the Jesus-life, and life in general, since we control so very, very little.

Keith Miller writes: "control is the major factor in destroying intimate relationships." (Compelled to Control: Recovering Intimacy in Broken Relationships., p. 7) Why do we do this? Why try to control others when we can't control our own selves, and are often out of control? Miller writes:

"The fear of being revealed as a failure, as not being "enough" somehow, is a primary feeling that leads to the compulsion to control other people. When we were children, the fear of being inadequate and shameful was tied to our terror of being deserted or rejected and we had little control over getting what we needed. To counteract that basic terror, we have evidently been trying all our lives in various ways to "get control" of life. This includes controlling other people." (14)

A controlling person is an un-free person. Insecurity is the emblem of control. I like the way Richard Foster once put this: God wants to free us from the terrible burden of always having to get our own way. "Walking in freedom" and "controlling other people" ("always getting our own way") are oppositional. 

The control freak crushes the spirit of the other person, who wears a sign saying, "Crush me." "I'm in control of you"/"Control me" - "I'm in control of you"/"Control me" -  this is the cycle that destroys marriages and relationships. The antidote is trust. Because where trust is, control is not. 

Begin breaking free by learning trust in God. Pray to be less controlling than you now are. Pray to be less controlled by others than you now are. Trust God even when you don't trust other people. Understand this: You will rarely have all your ducks in a row, especially when it comes to people.

Go basic, repeating and praying Proverbs 3:5-6:

Trust God from the bottom of your heart;
    don’t try to figure out everything on your own.
Listen for God’s voice in everything you do, everywhere you go;
    he’s the one who will keep you on track.
Don’t assume that you know it all.
    Run to God! Run from evil! 
(The Message) 

To trust God when around distrustful people is an experiential act of freedom. God can use you to be the catalyst that heals others of their fear of not measuring up.

Wednesday, April 20, 2022

Worth and Dignity

(Photo taken in the Butterfly House, Whitehouse, Ohio)

Back in the late 70s I worked for one year and three summers at United Cerebral Palsy Center of Will County, Illinois. I was a teacher's assistant. A helper. There, I earned a B.A. I was a Bathroom Assistant. I took boys and men who could not toilet themselves into the bathroom, and assisted them.

I brought my guitar into the classes, and played and sang for the students. I carried out tasks given me by the teacher, Mrs. Gulick. I drove the Center's station wagon, picking up kids early in the morning for school, dropping them off after school was over. 

One of the students was an autistic girl named Gail. We had to tie her shoes in double knots, and fasten her clothing top and pants together with safety pins. Because, untied and unpinned, Gail would begin to take everything off, and throw it, with force! 

One day, driving through the northern Illinois countryside with Gail in the back seat of the station wagon, I was shocked when one of her tennis shoes whizzed by my right ear, slamming into the front window of the car. Gail had gotten her shoe off!

I remember David, a young man who was an idiot savant. David was mentally handicapped, but displayed brilliance and genius when it came to birthdays. David could instantly tell you what your birth date was, and what day of the week  your birthday will fall on in 2050, or 2051, or you-pick-the-year. 

Helen was a charming, beautiful, physically handicapped young woman who was intelligent and caring. She could not talk, and communicated through wearing a pointer strapped to her head, with which she touched letters on a small table attached to her wheelchair. One of my privileges was to feed Helen. I had to insert the food, using my fingers, into Helen's mouth, positioning it between her molars. She always smiled when I fed her. Helen was grace-filled and other-centered.

I remember James, whose legs were inoperative and atrophied, but whose biceps were huge. James could do push ups from a sitting position, skinny legs extended. I remember Jimmy, a Down's Syndrome boy. I loved his smile, and wrote a song about him, which I sang for Jimmy at our Annual Graduation Ceremony.

I learned so much from my time there. I saw human dignity on display, exemplified in the staff, the teachers, and the students.

Every person has worth. And dignity. Why?

The worth of a person cannot be in how they look, because a few of our students were disfigured. A person's worth cannot be in their accomplishments, since some of our students accomplished nothing. The worth of a person cannot be in their possessions, since many of our students not only had little, but could not comprehend how impoverished they were.

How, then, are we to understand the worth and dignity of persons? It can't be found in atheism. (See, as an example of this, atheist Steven Pinker's essay "The Stupidity of Dignity.")

It can be found in Judeo-Christianity. Beginning in the beginning:

So God created mankind in his own image,

    in the image of God he created them;
    male and female he created them.

Genesis 1:26

This imago dei is core humanity. It resides deep in us, and is unresponsive to our successes and strengths, our failures and infirmities, our wealth or poverty.

(For deep reading on human worth and dignity, see the 555-page report from the President's Council on Bioethics, Human Dignity and Bioethics.)

Tuesday, April 19, 2022

What Is "Deconstruction?"


(Sterling State Park, Lake Erie, Monroe)

In my recent book I "deconstruct" progressive Christianity. To understand this, one must know what "deconstruction" is. In popular culture it is synonymous with "destruction," with its antonym being "construction." If that's all "deconstruction" means, then its unnecessary, except perhaps as it is used to impress others with one's intelligence.

Here's from my book, chapter 15.

"What is “deconstruction?” It does not mean “to destroy.” Please pay attention to this. Postmodern scholar Mark C. Taylor writes: 

“The guiding insight of deconstruction is that every structure—be it literary, psychological, social, economic, political or religious—that organizes our experience is constituted and maintained through acts of exclusion.” (Quoted in "Derrida: The Excluded Favorite," by Emily Eakin.) 

What deconstruction is, is this. You unravel an event, or a text, to expose what is not there, yet presences itself as required for what is there. Deconstruction is about finding what is excluded, what is absent. Because what is there is only fully understood by what is not there. For example, the letter a is not b, but cannot be understood apart from the excluded b. 

James Faulconer writes, "I take that to be the general meaning of the word deconstruction as Derrida has used it: not just using our words and concepts against themselves, but showing what has been left out or overlooked… Deconstruction is used to show that a work does not adequately address something, not that it should have."...

Deconstruction points to marginalized ideas. Christopher Norris, in his biography Derrida, writes, “To 'deconstruct' a piece of writing is therefore to operate a kind of strategic reversal, seizing on precisely those unregarded details (casual metaphors, footnotes, incidental turns of argument) which are always, and necessarily, passed over by interpreters of a more orthodox persuasion. For it is here, in the margins of the text - the 'margins', that is, as defined by a powerful normative consensus - that deconstruction discovers those same unsettling forces at work.”

(Piippo, Deconstructing Progressive Christianity, pp. 219 - 221)

For those who appreciate expertise, here are explanations of deconstruction in Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy. If you don't understand these, then you don't understand what deconstruction is.

Definitions of Deconstruction – mostly upon Jacques Derrida’s death (2004)

“Mr. Derrida's name is most closely associated with the often cited but rarely understood term "deconstruction." Initially formulated to define a strategy for interpreting sophisticated written and visual works, deconstruction has entered everyday language. When responsibly understood, the implications of deconstruction are quite different from the misleading cliches often used to describe a process of dismantling or taking things apart. The guiding insight of deconstruction is that every structure -- be it literary, psychological, social, economic, political or religious -- that organizes our experience is constituted and maintained through acts of exclusion. In the process of creating something, something else inevitably gets left out. These exclusive structures can become repressive -- and that repression comes with consequences. In a manner reminiscent of Freud, Mr. Derrida insists that what is repressed does not disappear but always returns to unsettle every construction, no matter how secure it seems.”

Mark C. Taylor, “What Derrida Really Meant,” NYT Op-Ed, p. 26, Oct 14, 2004.

“[H]e was known as father of deconstruction, method of inquiry that asserts that all writing is full of confusion and contradiction, that author's intent could not overcome inherent contradictions of language itself, robbing texts of truthfulness, absolute meaning and permanence.”

Jonathan Kandell, “Jacques Derrida, Abstruse Theorist, dies in Paris at 74.”

NYT-Arts, October 10, 2004, p.1.

Derrida himself (qtd. [selectively] in Kandell):

“[In a] 1993 paper he presented at the Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law, in New York, [Derrida] began: ‘Needless to say, one more time, deconstruction, if there is such a thing, takes place as the experience of the impossible.’


“[T]o Dinitia Smith, a Times reporter, in a 1998 interview. ‘Deconstruction requires work. If deconstruction is so obscure, why are the audiences in my lectures in the thousands? They feel they understand enough to understand more.’ / Asked later in the same interview to at least define deconstruction, Mr. Derrida said: ‘It is impossible to respond. I can only do something which will leave me unsatisfied.’"

“Derrida partly provided the thrill of sheer nerve: daring to write something that wouldn't just modify interpretations but challenge the entire philosophical and literary enterprise. His was an imperial ambition, one inherited from Nietzsche and Heidegger: don't reinterpret. Uninterpret. Show not just that some formulations are mistaken, but that all are. And that, moreover, they have to be. Show how all of Western thought is based on a type of ignorance or incompleteness, that everyone

who claimed to get the point was missing the point.” Edward Rothstein, “The Man who Showed us How to Take the World Apart,”

NYT-Arts, Oct 11, 2004, p.1.

“Deconstruction, Mr. Derrida's primary legacy, was no exception. Originally a method of rigorous textual analysis intended to show that no piece of writing is exactly what it seems, but rather laden with ambiguities and contradictions, deconstruction found ready acolytes across the humanities and beyond -- including many determined to deconstruct not just text but the political system and society at large. Today, the term has become a more or less meaningless artifact of popular culture, more likely to turn up in a description of an untailored suit in the pages of Vogue than in a graduate seminar on James Joyce.”

Emily Eakin, “The Theory of Everything, RIP”, NYT Week in Review, p. 12.

Robby Dawkins at Redeemer This Coming Sunday, April 24, 10:30 AM


A Healing in Nairobi

In 2010 I traveled to Kenya to preach in Nairobi, and lead a pastor's conference on spiritual transformation in Eldoret. Al Willingham accompanied me. Here are my journal notes of a healing in Nairobi.

Sunday in Nairobi

Nairobi, while on the equator, has a moderate climate - it's 6000 feet above sea level. Today was a beautiful 75 -80 degree day. Pastor Cliff Msioki picked Al and I up at the hotel and drove us to the place where, on August 7, 1998, the U.S. embassy in Kenya was bombed. It happened in downtown Nairobi, in a congested area. 291 people were killed, and 5,000 wounded. Responsible: al Qaeda. Now there is a memorial to those who died.

We then drove to Ongata Rongai outside Nairobi. Many of these roads have speed bumps the size of Mount Kenya. Literally, on some of them, your vehicle could get hung up and suspended. If it was dark and you were driving and didn't see them that is the end of your car's life mission (which is to transport you). On the way we stopped for a cup of coffee. And, I note, there are many, many Christian ministries and churches along this road.

New Life Mission is a beautiful and effective ministry to children, with a vibrant congregation. As we pulled in the worship was already happening. It was beautiful, powerful, and went on for a long time which, in some of our minds, is very good. "Three verses and we're outta here" is no longer for me. I'm a '7-11' worshiper - 7 verses sung 11 times. Or more. That's tribal, meditative, Hebraic worship, where the stuff gets a chance to sink into the heart. Better a 7-11 worshiper than a McWorshiper. Better one entire day of worship in God's courts than McWorship elsewhere.

After worship there was an offering, and a group of women sang a song as it was collected. Then - announcements. I'm guessing 700 people were there, many of them being young adults.

Cliff introduced me. I preached on the two-fold methodology of Jesus, which is: proclaim and demonstrate. I told the people about prophecy, then demonstrated it with two people God had given me prophetic words for. Please note: 1 Corinthians 14:3 prophecy is to strengthen, encourage, and comfort. It was well received by these two people; they felt it was from God, and for them. 

Then I told the story of Carl, the marathon runner in our church, whose foot was broken and then healed (I've got the hospital records that show this). I asked, "Are there any marathon runners in Kenya?" There was a slight gasp in the people. That's like asking, "Is the pope Catholic?" Kenya is THE long-distance running center of the cosmos! I then made a joke (it seems funny to me). I said, "After church today, I challenge all of you to a long-distance running race." Many smiles among the people... Just kidding, I said.

I asked if there was anyone who had a problem with their feet. A young woman, Julia, raised her hand. She came forward. I explained to the people about "authority" (exousia), and how Jesus gives his followers authority. She had sprained her ankle multiple times, and it was not getting better. I asked her what the pain level was on a scale of 1 to 10. "Eight," she said. I then said, "In Jesus' name, be healed." 

"How is your pain now?" I asked? 

Julia said "Zero." 

And immediately, as she said "zero," before the people could begin to clap and praise God, there was a "pop" as a ceiling light broke, shattered, and fell to the ground right next to this woman and myself.

The people erupted in praise and wonder. I told them that I felt the timing of this light popping (which Cliff said has never happened before) was perfect. It gave an exclamation point to the healing of Julia's foot.

That, I believe, was God. Now there was this increased sense of expectation in all our hearts, because God was in the house.