Monday, April 07, 2014

Digging potatoes...a way of life.

digging potatoes

servant:1. a person working in the service of another 2. one who expresses submission, recognizance, or debt to another: your obedient servant. 3. one who serves another

How does a person learn to become a servant? It's simple he or she begins to serve.

I remember being in Scotland, just arrived at our YWAM base. I had a BTH degree. I was expecting much and anxious to travel and to share the good news.

One day during my Disciple Training School I was pushing a wheel barrel after spending many hours digging potatoes in a cold damp black soiled field to help feed our community of believers.

I began to think and ponder, "What am I doing? I have a degree in theology. Here I am in a rainy muddy field digging potatoes, not just potatoes, but cold, dirty stinky potatoes. This is crazy. I came here to change my world not to dig potatoes."

I remember I was aggravated and my heart was beginning to burn with frustration. As my frustration grew I finally threw the wheel barrel down, spilling the potatoes on the ground. Looking up at the rain filled sky I shouted, "God I have a BTH degree in Theology, I'm a graduate. What am I doing in this stinking field? What are you doing with me? I came here to reach a nation."

As soon as the words left my mouth I heard a friendly familiar inner impression, "I'm shaking your head knowledge into heart knowledge." Stunned, I stood still. I did not move. In that instant I understood. Hearing His voice I was humbled. So, I bent down picked up the potatoes put them back into the wheel barrel and sheepishly took them to the shed. I returned to my muddy field. I kept digging potatoes. However, I was changed. I served with a much better attitude.

A year went by and I continued to serve, to do what needed doing. One day I heard another impression. "You've learned how to begin to serve, now I'm going to propel you forward into what I've call you to do."

Lesson relearned re-do.

I arrived back to the USA after 18 years of proven ministry. Guess what? I had to start all over. No one knew me. Know one knew what I had accomplished, the people I'd touched, the messages I had spoken, nor the price my family had paid.

I had to learn to dig potatoes all over again in a different field for 18 months. During my 18 months I was kicking against the process. I was missing the blessing. I was learning or not learning to manage, mainly working in administration.  I was serving a pastor of a distressed church. He was stressed and I was stressed. We had words and I had attitude. It stunk. Not all the time, but it stunk. It was routed in pride. I'm now ashamed of my attitude, my words and my behavior toward a friend. I have apologized for my arrogance and pride. At the time I was wanting out of my situation and missed many valuable lessons that were designed to equip me for my future.

A way out.

A friend visited our city to help us with a major outreach event. During our time together he asked me to help him with his world-wide ministry. He wanted me to organize his travel, set up contracts, manage his time at conferences and at the church. I was also, mandated to help keep him alive as we traveled from A to B and to get us there with all the needed materials.

In that moment if invitation I realized I did not learn what I was sent there to learn. I had been resisting, not learning and now understood what the season had been all about. It was God's way to train me, humble me and prepare me for my future which needed a totally different skill set. I was going to have to manage, plan, administrate a lot.

I agreed to the new job. The next day I quickly ran out to the nearest bookstore and purchased a book, Managing for Dummies. I was the Dummie. I read the book from cover to cover and carried the it to my next post.

I moved on to Cincinnati to travel as a man-servant, Kato, booking flights, listening, being a friend, carrying bags. Digging potatoes. I'm not sure I learned all I needed to learn during that period but I did begin to serve, not perfectly but better.

I remember being in New Zealand. I had to set up projectors, encourage people, sell books and was pretty worn out. One day I was pulling the equipment around in a field totally discouraged and ready to quit. That night my friend spoke to a couple thousand people. He was on form. The message was amazingly powerful. Loren Cunningham of YWAM happened to be in the audience. He was moved by the message. He went on the stage and embraced my friend. He then encouraged the crowd to become doers, servants and to begin to reach out to their world through acts of service. I once again was humbled. I adjusted my attitude and began to serve again.

I'm digging potatoes with a great team of fellow potato diggers.

Years later, I'm serving in Dayton. Part of my job is to plan fun, upbeat, outreach endeavors and events to help the people focus outward.  However, I've had to adjust my attitude much, and continue to learn how to serve with a good heart and a good attitude.

I've discovered digging potatoes is a way of life. Serving is actually death. Death to self for a greater purpose. It never ever stops. It's a process. Serving others is the way of the process that works humility, grace and love into my heart. It continues to be challenging, mainly when I begin to think I'm a big deal.

Last week, I had a blast cleaning a freezer that had a pool of stinking biological unsafe putrid rotted meat product floating on top of wet bread crumbs.

Why? One of our key ministry partners told me he was going to clean the freezer. I thought. "Nope. He's served his time." It was actually kind of fun, kinda. The freezer was well cleaned. I was a digging potatoes for a great purpose, the love for my friend, for all the people who would later receive frozen food and for my King.

Guess what I've discovered? Digging potatoes is the way toward becoming a servant...

After serving, day by day, week by week, month by month and year after year I think I've learned (or am learning) an important lesson...

It's how you serve that really matters, the heart attitude, learning to serve with a willing heart that is full of genuine love and joy. My fellow potato diggers and I often find ourselves in situations where our attitude is all important. It's most important during the times we serve the less served in the rain, snow, wind and heat as we touch our city with God's love.

Genuine serving happens when we have the realization that we, no I, am no big deal. Those who know they are no big deals can become truly surrendered servants who have learned they can do anything, small or great for the glory of God and to the honor of His name. Serving helps us to understand our identity is not tied to what we do, but tied into Whose we are, sons and daughters.

Jesus washed the disciples feet. How? He knew Whose he was, who He was, and what He came to do.

Mark 10:45 NLT
For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve others and to give his life as a ransom for many."

Key verse:

Ephesians 6:7
NIV. Serve wholeheartedly, as if you were serving the Lord, not people,

NLT. Work with enthusiasm, as though you were working for the Lord rather than for people.

EVS. rendering service with a good will as to the Lord and not to man,

NAS. With good will render service, as to the Lord, and not to men,

KJV. With good will doing service, as to the Lord, and not to men:

HCSB. Serve with a good attitude, as to the Lord and not to men,

ISV. Serve willingly, as if you were serving the Lord and not merely people,

How long does it take to become a surrendered servant? A moment in time, yes, but also it takes a life time. It's a process. He is working in us conforming us into the likeness of His Servant Son.

Most probably you'll find me somewhere digging potatoes.
It's now who I am and what I do.
It's how I'm learning to become like the Servant King who humbled Himself, came to earth, and reached out to save me... a dirty muddy potato.

Wednesday, April 02, 2014

Egg Hunt 2014

Easter Egg Hunt!

Seems hard to believe we've had 12 years  throwing a community Giant Easter Egg Hunt in Kettering OH. Each year we are amazed that how many families from the community show up.

Last year we had a blast. Two huge fields, free face painting, kidz zone, free hot dogs, prizes, clowns and kidz zone. 
One Grand-mom was sitting next to our free food line and asked me, 'Who are you people? I've been sitting here for the last half an hour. I've seen the people serving, smiling, laughing. All have good attitudes. They don't complain even when they are asked to do difficult tasks like picking up half eaten hotdogs and paper. The atmosphere is wonderful. Are you the Kettering City Parks people? My answer, 'No we are the Dayton Vineyard a church in you area that loves to serve the community.' It was interesting to see her smile and continue to comment more positively. 

 Parking is limited so park across from park.

Friday, March 14, 2014

Where's your well?

Where is your well?   

      I know that God the Father is seeking worshipers, and I know that no one can come to Jesus unless the Father draws them. I also understand that no one can know the Father’s love unless Jesus reveals the Fathers love. Therefore, many times each week I position myself to become a worshiper the Father seeks. I play my guitar and just worship. I’m not worshiping to get something. I’m worshiping to give God glory and honor. I am seeking Him in order to know Him better. 
    Sometimes the time I spend seems boring and unproductive yet, no matter how it feels, I keep going, keep playing, and keep worshiping. Over time I’ve noticed a change in my heart and noticed that I have an increased awareness of His presence. I’m not fully where I want to be, but I am pursuing.
    I have also noticed my steps are so ordered that I bump into just the right person at the right time, or when I pray for a person they are amazingly touched and impacted by God’s Spirit. One lady after a simple spoken command was healed of 17 kidney stones. She had one kidney and a 90 percent chance of dying if operated on. After receiving prayer, three days later she went back to the hospital. They discover the stones were not longer there. She didn't have a UTI, or any other issues. She was totally healed! I was amazed. Still am!

     I don’t worship to gain God’s favor, or so I will have power encounters with people. I worship Him simply because I want to know what it is to love God from my heart and what it is to receive more of His love. It’s a time investment that I am choosing to make toward Him. As a by product, I'm refreshed as I receive His grace, and experience His love as He leans toward me. Often I'm able to pass on what I have received.

     It is possible to live out of the overflow. Personal time with Jesus, private worship and prayer, and waiting in His presence are often the key investments we make as we return to our first love. As we position our lives to lean toward Him, He in turn, invests in us. As we draw near to Him, He draws near to us. His promises are true. 

    If you are reading this most likely you are an overflowing believer or you want to have more of an impact with the people in your life. My advice is to find a well where you can refill your fountain­­, a place where the Holy Spirit is moving. 

    It’s also important to take some time off to go a location where a well is flowing. There are hot spots all over the world where the Spirit is moving. Take some time off and take a field trip. Go there, worship, receive prayer and learn from others who are pursuing more.

    My personal well is the “big room” where we meet as a church on weekends. I’ve attempted over the years to go there, to sit on the stage, to walk around the chairs, to worship, pray and to receive. Being there reminds me of the greatness of God and reminds me of the people who come and worship with us.
     Often, I sing new songs directed toward His heart. Sometime they include appeals for mercy, grace, greater healing. Usually at the end of my time I ask for His presence to be manifest in my heart. 

   Often I simply sit, become still and read my Bible, or read part of a book that inspires me to press in. Later, after my time of focused worship, I walk around the room singing and praying for the people in our community, asking for salvation to spring up and for Heaven to come down. I personally believe it’s a good thing for church leaders to go to their “big room” consistently.

    Many years ago, I heard Pastor Jack Hayford speak about how he developed his personal time with Jesus. He too often walked in his big room worshiping and praying. He shared how he noticed a dark area in the room, a space that just didn’t feel good. He believed that God is light, and as we worship, the God of light comes and dispels darkness. As he continued to come into the room and worship, one day he noticed the dark cloud was gone and the heaviness had lifted even though he hadn’t addressed the darkness or heaviness directly.

   He noted, “We don’t always have to address the darkness, we just need to be the worshipers the Father seeks. As we worship Light comes and darkness flees. We don’t worship with the intent of removing the darkness, we simply worship and the Father takes care of the rest. True worship is always for God and God alone.

    He also shared that he believed that as we worship alone or together, we create pinpoints of light that reach up to Heaven; worship can change the atmosphere in a church, or over a town or city. I agree.

    Sue Rinaldi is a brilliant worship leader from England. She travels around the world leading worship in churches and conferences. She once stated, “Worship is the scene of His appearing.” I believe this to be true and attempt to live and apply this principle.

    As I draw near to Him in worship, He draws near to me, He appears. Somehow, I’m refreshed, changed, empowered. I then I attempt to live life out of the overflow.
    Why not position yourself to go there, to your well, ­­to your place, wherever your place is? Go with a hunger and thirst for more, spend time in worship, and rest in His Presence. It’s what is most important.

Times of refreshing come from the Holy Spirit.

John 4:13-14 NIV
Jesus answered, “Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks the water I give them will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give them will become in them a spring of water welling up to eternal life.”

John 7:37-39 NIV
On the last and greatest day of the festival, Jesus stood and said in a loud voice, “Let anyone who is thirsty come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me, as Scripture has said, rivers of living water will flow from within them.”By this he meant the Spirit, whom those who believed in him were later to receive. Up to that time the Spirit had not been given, since Jesus had not yet been glorified.

Times of refreshing come from the Holy Spirit.

“Who is the Holy Spirit? How is He reflected?
    He is the Father’s active agent in the earth today. He heals, reveals knowledge, and wisdom. He is power and the one who empowers us. He is our comforter. The one who is called alongside to help. He is pictured as water, wind, rain, fire, oil and as a dove. He convicts the heart. He guides us into all truth. He teaches us all that Jesus wants us to know. He is in us to encourage us. He upon us to empower us as we encourage and help others. He is with us to walk with us, to guide us and to lead us into our destiny.
    The fruit of the spirit passage in Galatians describes Him, as revealed in the life of  believers, as love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self control.
    He is not an impersonal force. You cannot see Him directly, but you can see what He does especially through the life of Jesus, and now through His faithful disciples.

How can you be refreshed?

Intentionally Position yourself:

  • Personal time with Jesus.
  • Private worship and prayer.
  • Waiting in His presence.
  • Watch great messages, worship.
  • Go on a field trip.
  • Receive prayer.

The above are often part of the investments we make in order to be refreshed as we go to our well.

Friday, February 28, 2014

The Power of Story... New Book offer...

I've finished writing the book. Go. Sow. A simple practical guide into an outward focused life. 
    Now I have to develop cover, put placements etc.


Tell your story
In John 4 Jesus reveals three key principles: 
the principle of progressive revelation, 
the power of story, 
and the principle of sowing and reaping.

     In the chapter, we see the impact one woman’s story had upon an entire town. Jesus was speaking with a woman at a well. As He spoke with the woman she received more than she bargained for. She was looking for water; she received revelation. The revelation of who Jesus really was changed her life. As the conversation developed, Jesus encouraged the woman to go and bring her husband.
    “I have no husband,” she replied.

    Jesus said to her,
     “You are right when you say you have no husband. The fact is, you have had five husbands, and the man you now have is not your husband. What you have just said is quite true.”
    I love her understatement,
     “Sir, I perceive you are a prophet.”
    At the end of the conversation, Jesus plainly told the woman He was the Christ.

    Here’s the progression.
    She first saw Jesus as a nice Jewish braking all the rules man.

    Next, she defined him to be a religious person and questioned the where of worship.     He explained it was not the where that was important. It was the Who and how which was most important.

    Then He revealed knowledge about her life. She knew he had no way of knowing, so she perceived him as a prophet. 

    Finally, as the light entered her heart, she responded by boldly asking Him if He was the Christ. His affirmative answer revealed who He really was.

    She was so moved by the insightful encounter that she left her water pot, went back to her town, and told her story to the men of the city. She said,
    “Come, see a man who told me everything I ever did. Could this be the Christ?” (John 4:29, NIV)

    Jesus had not told her everything she had ever done, but just enough to let her know He knew. Her simple story had power. All the men of the city came out to see Jesus.

     The result.
    “Many of the Samaritans from that town believed in Him”…and then they asked Jesus to stay. He stayed and interacted with them for two days. Because of their encounter, many became believers.They said to the woman,

       “We no longer believe just because of what you said; now we have heard for ourselves, and we know that this man is the Savior of the world.” (John 4:39­42, NIV)

    Her simple “come and see a man, could He be” story had the power to draw the people of the city toward Jesus. As they were drawn to Him they were then able to hear for themselves, and hearing Jesus for themselves, they believed. The whole region was transformed.

     Your story has this kind of if­-it-­happened­-for-­you­, maybe­-it­-can­-happen­-for­-me kind of power. Your story can ignite faith and draw people to Jesus. Then as they spend time seeking Jesus, and as they begin to hear Him for themselves, they believe.
     This is the main purpose of all of our stories—that people would hear for themselves, and that by hearing, they would believe and come to saving knowledge of the mercy and truth found in Jesus.

Your story is powerful.

Sunday, February 23, 2014