The God of Elijah – November 11, 2006

“Elias prayed earnestly that it might not rain: and it rained not.”

The God of Elijah still answers prayer—your prayer!

I am deeply grateful for everyone who prayed with us during the weekend of our daughter Hillary’s wedding. We had asked for friends and family to be in prayer for specific requests and God answered dramatically.

Our primary request was that the Holy Spirit be honored and bless the event with His anointing.

Second only to that request was that it not rain and that the sunset would be pretty. Hillary’s romantic dream since childhood had been to be wed on the beach and a San Diego sunset was her ideal setting. There was little room for error in that dream. The weather had to cooperate or the wedding would be a mess. After the plans had been set, once the guests had flown in from across the country, the wedding had to proceed as planned on that day’s sunset. There was no ‘plan B.’

But rain was forecast. The clouds hung in the sky as visible proof. All that day, Hillary’s and Dave’s choice of time, setting and dress seemed ill-advised.

But God! Just as our son-in-law, Randy Jumper, pronounced them man and wife, Kathi nudged me. Look at the sun, she said softly. The setting sun was lighting the low-hanging clouds on the horizon with glowing shafts of red and orange. Not only had God held off the rain, the very clouds that threatened were being used to paint a beautiful backdrop.

Less than four hours later, God lifted his hand and those clouds poured rain so heavily that I was forced to slow my car to a crawl on the freeway. The message to me was clear. God had answered.

How can we thank all of you who stood with us in prayer? The Lord was truly honored and acknowledged through the whole ceremony. I felt His presence in that little family group in a sanctuary of His design and provision.

May I place a further prayer request on your list? We have begun to itinerate in the Arkansas district with whom I am credentialed. The pastors in the district have been very welcoming. Some churches have already graciously pledged support for our ministry before I meet with members of their congregation to present our calling. This weekend I will be speaking at a missions convention in a wonderful church in northwestern Arkansas.

As God reminds you of us, could you pray with us for His leading and anointing as we make new friends among the pastors of Arkansas?

With love and gratitude for your friendship,

Examining Cana – October 7, 2006

Next weekend, Hillary, our younger daughter and Dave will exchange solemn wedding vows as the sun sets on the waters off San Diego. Any of you that are parents will understand our longing to have the manifest presence of the Lord blessing the wedding. The setting, beach or sanctuary, is not the significant detail; the Holy Spirit brings the anointing we want.

I happened to be reading in John’s gospel so I slowed down in the 2nd chapter to examine it a little more closely. Remembering that the miraculous event at the wedding in Cana was the first of Jesus’ incarnate ministry, I expected to find some parallels between Cana and creation:

Exclamation: Jesus just spoke and the power of the Word that instantly created vast exploding stars with detailed precision, added to pure Cana water the perfect recipe of wine elements.

Extravagance: Something close to 134 gallons of wine came into existence that day–an over-the-top gift from the creator of an awesome universe.

Excellence: When the guests expected the least expensive wine, they received the best. God looked over his exquisite creation and saw that it was good.

As I put myself into that marriage experience, I wanted to shake the blindness from those guests at Cana; the Great Creator himself was there! But I have been just as blind as they without any excuse for casually overlooking his presence. But on exhibit that day in Cana was more than creative power—Love walked among them. Next Friday as Hillary and Dave stand to pledge their love, pray with us that our hearts and theirs will be open to all the Holy Spirit has for us.

And to all of you, we are extremely grateful for your friendship and prayer.

Thank you so much!

Facets of Love – August 2006

For the first time in over twenty years there was no answering purr or soft fur under my fingers. The early morning quiet with the low lamp light on my Bible was comfortably routine but I missed my cat.

I knew where she was. I had felt her last breath in the vet’s office and then laid her in the garden as the sun was setting. A friend had teased me about burying her, “Don’t you have a dumpster? What are you going to do, preach a funeral sermon?” I doubt he has ever owned a cat.

Why did I fight back tears in the vet’s office? What did I feel toward that soulless animal—was it love? I’ve been taught to define types of love using Greek vocabulary: agape, eros and philia. I have none of those feelings toward a cat. But should I let the heathen Greek culture define, and therefore limit my thinking about the facets of love?

We accept that God is both the source of our love and infinitely greater than we are. Jesus shone a little light on God’s feelings toward his creatures when he said that even a sparrow doesn’t die without the Father seeing. Does the emotion I feel reflect something of the Father’s heart? Does my Father feel what I feel toward a cat? Only more? “If ye being evil … how much more the Father….”

There in the quiet of the night, suddenly the story of Jonah’s vine slipped from my intellect deeply into my heart. “You have been concerned about this vine,” God told Jonah, “should I not be concerned about this great city?” Oh, Father, if I feel this way about one cat, a single cat that has no eternity, how your great heart must feel about the millions of Chinese who are dying as I sit here!

Some Scripture must be experienced.

BTW, since the ancient Greeks are no help, can anyone else give me a word to describe the kind of love that I felt toward that funny little calico?

Pentecost Sunday in Hong Kong – June 4, 2006

I couldn’t follow all the Cantonese words, but the tune was familiar, “I could sing of the love of the Lord forever”.

Behind me, beside me, from the platform, the sound was almost overwhelming. Possibly three hundred Chinese voices surrounded me at full voice. I felt the presence of the Holy Spirit accepting their worship and a sense of the scene yet to come that is described in Revelation 7:10, when the multitude no one can number from every nation and language worships the Lamb with a loud voice.

It was Pentecost Sunday. I was blessed to be preaching in one of the Wa Wai churches that started 40 years ago in Hong Kong. As a teenager, I helped my parents teach simple choruses to noisy little children on the roof top of a “resettlement block” built to house refugees from China. Now the second generation of some of those little children is in leadership in the Wa Wai churches and the reality of the out-pouring of the Spirit as on the day of Pentecost is a regular experience in their worship services.

When that day of Revelation 7 comes, we won’t pay much attention to the languages spoken around us; our focus will be on the Lamb. But it’s very likely we will have Chinese voices near us and, I assure you, the sound will be sweet.

They raise their voices, they shout for joy;
From the west they acclaim the Lord’s majesty
Therefore in the east give glory to the Lord;
Exalt the name of the Lord, the God of Israel
in the islands of the sea.
From the ends of the earth we hear singing,
“Glory to the Righteous One.” (Is 24:14-16 NIV)