We’ve done all the defensive things within our means to be ready to ride out Hurricane Gustav. It will hit where we are in Louisiana soon.
Son Josh brought by an old hymnal he found containing the songs we grew up with. What a find!
For the last hour our living room has been place of peace and presence of Jesus. Jean has been flipping the pages and singing (in the most honest and lovely alto voice I have ever known)—and reliving altar scenes out of our youth. Old songs that stirred us as we grew up have not lost their power.
They are the songs that called us to repentance, to a daily walk with Jesus, to the mission field and to lofty times of praise to Almighty God.
Tho we’ve not heard some of them for years the words came easily and were wonderfully warming to our hearts.
The questions hit me. “How many sermons do you remember from your youth?” “How many songs do you remember?”
Of course, the sermons guided our lives, but adding the power of music to the words planted them deeply in our beings.
The abiding refrains of the hymns, in a way, became the script—the scriptures—for our actions. They lay a bed of peace under our uncertain days. They gave us an assured path through hard places. And they enabled grateful hearts to praise and extol and sense the presence of our Savior.
The devil knows how this works and is jack-hammering hell's script into our children's hearts.
A different music stirs our children today. Let’s make sure that the music-script for their lives does not leave out the redeeming power of the Blood, the impending return of Jesus, and the personal commitment to “surrender all.”
Do you remember these lines?
"Softly and tenderly Jesus is calling..." "I'll go where you want me to go, Dear Lord..." "On a hill far away..." "What a friend we have in Jesus..." "I will praise Him, I will praise Him..." "Almost persuaded..." (That one plagued me in my rebellious days.) "Jesus, Jesus, Jesus, sweetest name I know..." "Where He leads me I will follow..." (even to the hard places of the world) "I'll live for Him Who died for me..." "I've anchored my soul in the haven of rest..." "When the trumpet of the Lord shall sound..." "Come ye sinners lost and hopeless, Jesus Blood can make you free..." "Rescue the perishing, care for the dying..." "My Jesus I love Thee..." "Grace, grace. God's grace..." ...and hundreds more.
What old, familiar, and life-scripting phrases have come to your mind?
More than a million people have left where they live evacuationg to higher ground. They are fleeing the wrath of a storm. Our city is one big traffic jam of fleeing evacuees. Healing Place Church has two locations offering safety and relief.
Everybody is concerned.
You would expect me to take it to the next sentence.
Jesus is coming.
How do we get people to take that fact as seriously as they are taking the evacuation orders?
No, I don’t mean that muscle that keeps the blood circulating; I mean that part of Dave that is so deep it’s mostly unknowable.
I’m the part of him that hears words from eternity, past and future—that part that has access to direct communication with God through His indwelling Spirit.
Man’s heart has been called “desperately wicked and who can know it?” and it’s also been called the source of the “issues of life.”
Can a heart know itself?
Can I be sure my advice to you is pure?
Dave, I have watched you struggle to know me. I have done my best to guide you. Sometimes you have listened, sometimes you didn’t. Sometimes I had little to offer you.
Your fault or mine?
I know this. The times when my advice is purest are the times when your mind allows me to be totally open to the infilling of the Holy Spirit of God.
To make our cohabitation work I must be totally open to the Spirit. You must surrender to that Spirit in your actions. I cannot act—only you have that capacity.
You have the power to willfully ignore my counsel. That’s when things go wrong.
Sometimes I want to shout at you but at most I am but a whispered voice in your mind. You can look back and quickly see that the times when you are most productive and at peace in your mind are those times when you act within the counsels of the Spirit in me.
As your heart I wonder how it is possible that I can sometimes give you incomplete or even incorrect guidance. The Spirit can only saturate me to the extent you are willing.
I am not your will.
You must choose to let me be continually filled with that Spirit and then you must trust His counsel relayed by my voice in your inner being. I’ve heard the word “symbiosis” used to describe our kind of relationship.
I think there is a key to this. There is a means to override enemy input and human limitations. It is the precious gift of praying in the Spirit.
It must be an uninterrupted connection so usual and patterned that when your conscious mind must focus on other matters, the inner dialogue in the Spirit stays connected—rather like keeping the telephone to your ear when you must turn your attention to another matter.
And there must be an immediate return to that connection when you mind is free to come back. “Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit” is what I am describing.
In the Spirit we are not limited by human understanding and boundaries—it is our access to the very mind of Christ. So sad that the connection can be severed or garbled so easily.
That connection so deep within and between us can only be enabled by the conscious commitment of your mind to pray and commune with the Holy One within me.
We must open the channel and keep it open.
Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit,
The Queen Mother of Swaziland wanted to meet Children's Cup director Ben Rodgers and thank him for 'Cup's help for the people of Swaziland.
The current project was for warm blankets to be given to needy elederly Swazis.
Ben has an embarrassing memory of this event. Protocol calls for guests to await the Queen Mother on their knees. Well, Ben's legs went to sleep and he couldn't stand up when she called him forward.
So he crawled on his knees to meet her. He was embarrassed but the Queen Mother took it as an act of deep respect.
Recently, the King approved Children's Cup to receive several acres of prime property to develop a youth ministry and sports center where food, education, medical care and skills training and sports are made available to the children and youth.
Swaziland's leaders have observed how Children's Cup cares for several thousand of Swaziland's orphans and vulnerable children.
Hours of careful, yet rustic carving had created a twelve inch high rugged cross on a pedestal. Bold knife strokes had shaped a visible memory of the place where it happened--where Savior Jesus' Blood bought salvation.
Scarlet stains soaked the wood where three nails had scarred the Immaculate and opened Redemptions arteries. Red blotches splattered on the rocks at the foot of the cross, and a stream of crimson stains showed where the blood had flowed off the mount.
On the base a small brass engraving tells the observer, "The Children Win."
"Dutch" had carved it--with the very knife he had used to carve his way through the "green hell" of the Vietnam War.
Notches on its handle marked the lives this knife had ended. Markers of pain and spilled blood. Still-bleeding wounds tormented Dutch's own mind as he remembered the faces of the ones he had killed.
His mind vivid with scenes of death in blood-drenched places, Dutch once again took up the knife. But this time it was to carve a cross--another place of another kind of Blood.
Not the blood of war and death, but life-giving Blood. Cleansing Blood. Healing Blood.
Every stroke, every cut into the wood shaped the form of the cross. Every time the blade hit the wood it whittled away more of the chains of memory that had locked him in torment.
Then, one by one, he picked up the three tiny nails and hammered them into the cross--just like the spikes that nailed his own sins and agonies to Calvary's cross.
His agony-notched knife laid at the foot of that cross on my desk for years--always reminding me that when Jesus, still pinioned by those nails, declared forgiveness it included Dutch, the ones he hurt, and the ones that hurt him.
It was softer than a voice, but louder than a thought.
As I sat at my desk I was paying some attention to business but thinking more about the risk some of our team and the believers in Africa are now facing.
They willingly risk everything for the Gospel.
Part of me is praying most of the time for them and asking God for clear signals on how to proceed.
Something in me said, “Look here for a moment.”
In the scene that filled my mind I was in a vast crowd standing in hushed awe before the Savior, now Judge, Jesus.
It was my turn to stand before Him.
As I neared the intense light coming from His presence, I was sure it would blind my eyes. Instead it made me see every smirch on my soul so very clearly.
Instead of white-hot heat, I felt the enveloping warmth of His presence. And I knew that He knew all about me—there would be no covering up or blame shifting or damage control about how I had lived my life.
I couldn’t stand up. No flesh could stand before Him.
As I fell at His feet I saw the scars.
In the intense holiness of His presence, I knew that I deserved the harshest punishment for my sins.
Back inside time I could never have understood how my entire life could be on display all in the same instant. Every sin, every failure brought hot shame as it replayed in that timeless instant.
Beyond the throne I saw a rejoicing throng—what a joy to see many there that found Christ because of ministry I had part in. Yet, there was no room for pride for I also realized how many were not there because sometimes I stopped short when it got hard or dangerous or too costly.
How could I make excuses to Him for not going to them because of fear for my safety?
Jesus had come to earth for me knowing His death was a sure thing. Do I somehow merit a higher level of personal security than His own martyred disciples did?
I remembered the “things” in my life I had struggled to pay for. Now I saw the throne-side absence of those hurting ones I could have reached with those same dollars. The “things”—and the untold ones--are gone. I saw the scars again.
How must He have felt right then, knowing that too many times I was silent and didn’t tell the ones He took those scars for, that He loved them and had taken their place?
“Unworthy am I, unworthy am I,” the hot words of shame pressed down in my mind even as I heard the Host of Heaven singing, “Worthy is the Lamb!”
Then I remembered the lamb sacrifice scene in the temple.
The priest did not examine the sinner; he examined the sacrifice to see if it was perfect—He already knew the sinner was not. The thought exploded in my heart, “It was the sacrifice, not the repenter that had to be without spot.”
I was not without spot, but my sacrificial Lamb Jesus was, indeed, blemishless!
“Look,” He said as He drew my eyes up to His face and then to the Book. In that instant, the entire panorama of my failures was swept away in a crimson, forgiving stream of His blood—erased out of Heaven’s book and out of my memory.
Never to be remembered again—by man or God!
Maybe He said it in audible words or maybe it was what His eyes were saying so loud that it thundered into my heart, but I heard the words, “Enter into my joy!”
At once the tears were wiped away and I was standing—no, I was dancing and shouting in His presence.
The scene faded and, once again, I became aware of the computer keyboard in front of me.
I’m still sitting here sensing a need to write something or to answer some question about what the scene means.
The first thing my heart wants to yell out is, “Nothing else matters!” I must stay under the blood that sweeps away sin.
I must do all that I can to bring others to that blood—that means going myself and enabling other willing witnesses to go into the hard places.
What an amazing young church! HPC St. Francisville is about an hour away from Baton Rouge.
Pastor Timmy Straight has developed this church to have the same ministry DNA as Pastor Dino Rizzo has developed in the Highland Campus of HPC Baton Rouge--parent to HPC campuses around the USA and several counries.
It is all about serving others and impacting their community--and the rest of the world.
If you are in drive range of this church check it out.
They hosted us and a young candidate missionary for Mozambique, Deborah Williams. What an amazing, committed young, talented lady.
Over this weekend Jean and I had the honor of fellowshipping with some of our personal heroes--Missionaries Gary and Marylin Skinner, founders of the great Kampala Pentecostal Church and the Watoto children's care ministry.
These people are impacting many African countries and thousands of parentless children's lives.
If the Watoto Children's Choir comes within driving range of you it is more than worth the trip to hear them.
President Bush and the Queen of England have asked for private concerts by them.
These were the marks of a good carpenter. Jesus learned well in Joseph's shop.
He bacame what is called in the original writings, "naggara--builder with wood and stone."
There's an intreguing significance in His earthly profession, yet it can easily be missed.
Remember what He said to Peter?
"I will build my church."
The "fit" is good, isn't it?
But examine deeper the precision of this exciting fulfillment.
Jesus, who learned to be a builder with wood and stone in Joseph's house told us, "In my Father's house are many mansions: if it were not so I would have told you. I GO TO PREPARE (BUILD) A PLACE FOR YOU...!
The Carpenter, the Master Builder has gone to prepare our Heavenly home!
Okay, call me a soppy old grandfather but this picture overwhelms me--many reasons.
First, have you ever seen a more lovely little cherub than my granddaughter Trinity?
Next, she is ministering to some of our orphans. She is standing between a brother and sister both infected with AIDS by their father. Trinity prays all the time for them. Notice her comforting hand on the sister's shoulder.
Three times we almost lost the sister--our medical staff and local medical people and prayer warriors brought her back to recovery.
I am challenged to ask myself, "Do I believe in God's healing enough to pray for her healing and to expect Him to do it?"
What an impact that testimony would have on the country.
I have prayed for God to stun the world and heal her. Do I expect Him to do it?
I know He can. You may know He gave me my life back when I was shot in the head as a teenager. Doctors said if I lived I'd be a "blubbering idiot." I lived.
You may have read my recent blog about God healing Jackolyna in three days of a black mamba bite.
Right now I'm praying, "Lord, I do believe. Help thou mine unbelief."
Do you want to pray with me for these precious orphans?
One of Hitler's "final solution" extermination centers.
A sobering place to visit.
One pastor friend from Iowa visited with us. We were out back behind the buildings standing by the posts where firing squads executed the prisoners.
Our friend said, "Take a picture of me standing at the post." As he stood at the post and I set up to take the picture a volley of shotgun blasts came from just around the corner. My friend nearly dropped to his knees from the emotional shock. He's probably glad I didn't get the photo.
We didn't know there was a group of men with shotguns trying to shoot the rats in the moat that circled the camp.
This dear leady was helping clear the ground for our new church and CarePoint in Mozambique. A black mamba--one of the deadliest snakes in the world--bit her.
The doctor said she could not possibly live. My first thought was the people will think the church ground was cursed. People around the world started praying. On the third day she was totally recovered--absolute miracle.
Ben Rodgers asked her where she would have gone if she had died. She just hung her head.
"God has given you a second chance. Do you want to give your life to Him?"
"Yes!" she answered excitedly. She jumped up and said, "Oh, I must tell everybody."
Now she is the hero of the area.
And about that curse--she tells everyone, "If you want to meet the God the beat the snake come to this church!"
I purchased this one for Enrique Mugabe, the President of the Assemblies of God churches in Mozambique. A couple months later on a return visit to Mozambique I didn't see the Land Rover anywhere. I asked Pastor Mugabe about it. "Oh, Brother Dave, please forgive me. I gave it to one of the pastors in a remote area who needed it much more than I."
This Godly and selfless man greatly influenced government officials who often sought his advice.
I realized that even if we could have, it would have been impossible to make him a rich man--he'd give it all away.
“My God!” More often than not that is the explosive invective when one is startled by something good or bad.
Increasingly our society speaks with brave daring-do defying and trivializing God. Why don’t they say “Oh Zeus” or “Oh Einstein”? It seems to be the heart of man will swear by the strongest thing he can think of to give words emphasis.
The unplanned exclamation “Oh God” proves the basic awareness in the core of man that there is, indeed, a sovereign God.
Invoking the name of God to damn someone is taking the Lord’s name in vain, but so is wrongly quoting Him and falsely claiming His authority. I think vain repetition in prayer comes close to profanity no matter how lofty the prose.
What started as a vengeful request—perhaps an honest but misguided prayer-- for God to damn someone or something to hell has become no more than a dramatic invective. Originally it may have been an attempt to strike fear into the heart of the target, but it is now diluted to be just ugly rhetoric.
Frail humankind use “Hell” like they are not afraid of it.
“Hell of a good time.” What sense does that make?
The devil loves to have people pretend he and his domain are mere fiction—not the hideous reality they are.
Using culturally taboo words is a way to show you fear nobody—man or God. In reality you are revealing your own insecurity and lack of communication skills or you would not have to appeal to the forbidden to communicate forcefully what concise words in a well constructed sentence could do. Exhibit A: why is poetry so revered?
“A word fitly spoken…”
Consider what inane, profane words do to The One who is called The Word. Certainly it grieves the heart of Jesus. It is the devil’s device to demean the One Who defeated him on the cross.
Words are building blocks in the construction of relationships. What builder chooses to use inferior or harmful bricks to erect a building?
If I use words to destroy you and you use words to destroy me we both lose. If we edify each other with Godly words we both win.
Dave has written a new book in which he is inviting you to join him on the journey that will take you into some of the most exciting, heart-wrenching, thrilling and maybe even scary places around the world. From the tiniest corners with the smallest little faces to the big cities and important government officials, you will meet people who have found peace in Jesus as he shares the gospel through a compassionate heart of love.
Just the same size as your passport and the perfect companion for your overseas missions trip. You won't want to go without it. Containing words from a lifetime of experience, this handy little book just could make the difference between a nice missions trip and a great one.