Monday, July 27, 2015

Who defines you? Your thoughts define me. Part 2


 I was scheduled to speak at our Riverdale campus. All morning I had been thinking about our identity and how important it is to be secure in whose we are and confident in who we are. As the worship progressed every song pointed toward this theme.

Danatta began to sing Abba I belong to you, As she sang, " Your thoughts define me"... heaven came down.

Abba
Jonathan David Helser

You're more real than
The ground I'm standing on
You're more real than
The wind in my lungs

Your thoughts define me
You're inside me
You're my reality

Abba, I belong to You
Abba, I belong to You

You're closer than the
Skin on my bones
You're closer than the
Song on my tongue

Your thoughts define me
You're inside me
You're my reality

Abba, I belong to You
Abba, I belong to You
Abba, I belong to You


When it was time to speak, I stood up and declared, "We've heard the message today. His thoughts define us; not our friends, family, culture, nation, boss, our selves, nor our church define us. He and He alone defines us. He is inside of us. He is our reality. Therefore, we can confidently say, Abba I belong to you. 
Well, we can all go home now."

The truth:
We can be fully who we are when we pay attention to His voice and allow His thoughts to define us. He is a good, good Father who loves to define who we are.

We are beloved, saved, redeemed, rescued, forgiven, called, anointed, and favored. We are His sons, daughters and much more. His thoughts define us. 

Our parents, our boss, our friends, our culture, our church, our selves and those around us may try to define us. They may try to squeeze us into their mold. However, His thoughts, what He says and thinks about us, are what we must focus on if we are to truly become who we are meant to be.

See... how great a love the Father has bestowed on us, 

that we would be called children of God;  

and such we are.
1 John 3:1 NASB

I love this statement...See... how great a love the Father has bestowed upon us." The question, "Do we see / experience His great love that He has bestowed, placed, lavished upon us?"

The statement, "and such we are" is truth, fact, reality, and the basis of our security as sons and daughters.

In the last post Who defines you? Part 1, I mentioned a story about my driving, showing off and my friend telling me, "Steve you don't have to do that any more." He was reminding me, "Stop it. That's not who you are now."

It was the truth, a voice of a caring friend. That one statement, "You don't have to do that anymore," began to set me free. 

Sometimes we listen to the voice of the stranger instead of listening the voice of our friend the Shepherd. When we do, we forget whose we are and who we are.

The good Shepherd always has caring words for His sheep, His words / His thoughts define me.

Mindset
Our battle is in the mind. We must chose who's voice we listen to. There are many voices fighting for our attention, but only one voice speaks consistent encouraging truth to our hearts.

Herman Melville author of Moby Dick stated, "Heaven have mercy on us all - Presbyterians and Pagans alike - for we are all somehow dreadfully cracked about the head, and sadly need mending."

Yes, it's true, everyone is cracked about the head; we desperately need mending. 
Our minds do need a daily renewing, and sometimes we need to pause; stop the negative input; push the reset button to reboot our thinking. Sometimes we need to consciously  change our input system.

I've had to shift over the last eighteen months in so many ways. Change, shift, think differently, and learn to guard my heart and mind. I've had to position my self to hear His voice.

The battles in our minds, emotions: There is no future for you. You and your family will be begging bread. You have nothing to offer. Your children... Your spouse... No wonder this happened to you, you are so stupid. The sky is falling. We are all doomed. Quit. Give up...yada, yada, yada.

This voice, is the voice of a discouraged soul, or the voice of the stranger. Sometimes we need to discern whose voice we are hearing, the Shepherd's or the stranger's.

 Tip: words leading toward fear, are always the stranger's words; we need to flee from that voice.

 John 10:1-5 NASB
“Truly, truly, I say to you, he who does not enter by the door into the fold of the sheep, but climbs up some other way, he is a thief and a robber. “But he who enters by the door is a shepherd of the sheep. “To him the doorkeeper opens, and the sheep hear his voice, and he calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. "When he puts forth all his own, he goes ahead of them, and the sheep follow him because they know his voice.  

“A stranger they simply will not follow, but will flee from him, because they do not know the voice of strangers.

John 10:27-30 NASB
My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me; and I give eternal life to them, and they will never perish; and no one will snatch them out of My hand. “My Father, who has given them to Me, is greater than all; and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand. “I and the Father are one.”

The Shepherd's voice says: I have a future and a hope. My God shall supply all my needs according to His riches. I have been young and old and have never seen the righteous begging bread. I will be with you until the end of the age. I am called a child of God and such I am. The Lord is my Shepherd and I shall not want, He leads me in paths of righteousness for His name sake, He anoints my head with oil and my heart overflows. He is the stability of my times. Surely goodness and mercy will follow me all the days of my life.

My decisions to whom I listen to do determine my destiny.


Who's voice are you listening to? In order to hear the shepherds voice we have to position ourselves to hear His voice. Hearing His voice is so important. Our identity and our sense of security depends upon it. His thoughts define you. He lives inside you. He is your reality. He is your Abba, and...you belong to Him.

For further help read. Victorious Mindsets.



Monday, July 13, 2015

Who Defines You? Good Question.

The messenger is the message.

It's interesting, all humans seek acceptance and identity. There is something in us all that longs to be known and to be secure in who we are.

I remember my sense of rejection. I never felt loved or cared for. I was also small, my nickname was flea. When I was a freshman in high school I weighed seventy five pounds. I always felt I had to prove myself. I acted out. I drank, smoked dope, dropped pills and usually did all things to excess. I had very little confidence and was insecure. I was searching, looking for something to fill my heart, to find a place where I could fit and where I could be accepted.

My freshman year I was sent to St. Joe, a boarding school. During that year my parents divorced. I thought they split because of my bad behavior... that I was the reason. The feeling of loss, disappointment and guilt was overwhelming. 

One day I decided to go the chapel to talk to God. I knelt down and began talking, pouring out my heart. Suddenly, I felt a presence. I didn't know anything about the Holy Spirit, but I did know this felt Presence was God, and I knew He was Holy. I also knew I was not. I was fearful of this awesome presence and quickly left the room.

Years later I met Jesus and was filled with the Holy Spirit. The greatest gift I received, outside of forgiveness, was a new sense of Whose and who I was. I gained a new identity and loving acceptance. I began to understand.



I was driving a friend's car one day. When I turned into the gravel driveway I slid the car sideways showing off; gravel spewed every where. My friend, who owned the car, calmly walked over to me and said, "Steve, you don't have to do that anymore." I understood. I could just be me. I didn't have to prove myself to anyone any more.To be honest it's been a life long process.

Who defines you? This is a great question. We allow so many voices into our lives: bosses, parents, friends, and culture.

I have a friend who is Native. When she was a child she was taken from her family by "missionaries" and placed in a school far away from all she knew. She was punished if she spoke her native language. Yep, this really happened. People were attempting to squeeze her into their mold and redefine her. Over the years she began to study and now has two masters degrees. Amazingly, she is now following Jesus. Here's the kicker, she is recording her language so it will not be lost. She defined Whose she is and who she is, and more importantly, did not allow her experiences to hinder her or limit her abilities.




Her decisions determined her destiny.



I believe identity, understanding Whose we are and who we allow to define us, is a key to unlocking the hearts of a new generation who are searching for a new reality. We have the Good News.

Who defines you?

A good question?








Tuesday, July 07, 2015

Audience of ONE.


I've been pressing into personal worship for a few years. Often I'll head into the Big Room, grab my guitar and worship. Just me, no one looking, no one listening except One. It's been interesting. 

Sometimes I'm afraid to open my eyes, other times new songs bubble up, and sometimes nothing, just the discipline of leaning in. Many times my prayers, crying out, my heart exposed is given in song. Sometimes I just play softly saying nothing. 

When my notes and songs seemed to bounce off the floor... same notes, same songs, and my playing is so limited... I've continued to venture in, to seek His presence.

One phrase I've found myself repeatedly saying, "Jesus we need you as you really are. Jesus, be who you really are to us in this place. Walk among us." Interesting phrase, Jesus be who you really are to us in this place. Walk among us.

Who is He?
He is salvation.
He rescues and saves.
He is redemption.
He is healing.
He is provision.
He is forgiving.
He is protection.
He is wisdom.
He is comfort.
He is power.  
He is mercy.
He is grace.
He is holder together of all things.
He is who He is, and so much more.
He is Jesus, King of Kings and Lord of Lords.

He has eyes of fire, yet there is kindness.
His voice sounds like many waters, yet He often speaks most powerfully in a whisper.
His Spirit is like a flowing river, yet often touches our lives like the early morning dew, or a soft spring rain.
When He walks among us He sees, hears and knows all things.
He is Holy... yet, He invites us into His presence.

One thing I do know, I want Him to be who He really is in my life, in my family and in my church. He is the One who gives us access to the Father's love, presence and power.

This is amazing love! A love that gave His very best, and a love that willingly sacrificed His life for others. We are now sons and daughters.

“I tell you the truth, anyone who believes has eternal life." Jesus. (John 6:47)

At the moment we believe, we receive everlasting life. The life we now live is an everlasting life that deepens as we experience the love and the knowledge of the Father through the Son, experienced by the agency of the Holy Spirit. (I know run on sentence but couldn't say it in another way.)


"This is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent." (John 17:3)
 
R.C. Sproul expresses the thought this way:
"The moment Jesus died, the instant the just one died for the unjust, the veil in the temple was torn. The presence of God became accessible to us. We now have access to His grace (*which brings peace) but even more we have access to Him. (*His presence) Now we can feel welcome in the very presence of a Holy God."
The Holiness of God, R.C. Sproul
*my note

This is the good news Jesus brings... we have access.

My friend Stephen Bell states, "The really good news is that the Father now has access to us!" This truth is most amazing.

His sacrifice for our sins brings peace for us. It's settled.
His resurrection to life, ensures our confident access into the presence of our loving Father.


To fear and yet to be unafraid is an interesting experience.

R. C. Sproul sums it up:
"But when we come, we must remember two things: (1) who He is; and (2) who we are. For the Christian the holy war is over; the peace has been established. Access to the Father is ours. But we still must tremble before our God. He is still holy."
The Holiness of God, R.C. Sproul

Yesterday, I heard a whisper as I worshiped, "If this was the only thing you did, would it be enough?" 

My honest answer... I don't know. I'm so driven, I strive so much. I did know I want to be a worshiper the Father seeks. Jesus made it possible.

Monday, May 11, 2015

Flow 4 days with no agenda...

I had an amazing week. I traveled to Pensacola to rebuild broken bridges with some great people. When I left sixteen years ago I had no idea that Liberty Church would grow into one of the largest multi-site churches in the USA. Buford Lipscomb and his son Josh, a great crew of leaders, and a church full of some great people are focused on reaching their world.
http://www.libertychurch.net/



Also, I was able to attend a ground breaking for Globe International, the mission group I served for eighteen years. They are also making a huge difference in our world. Director Doug Gehman is a very educated, smart missional practitioner who enjoys surfing, and investing in the next generation. Globe is made up of a great support staff and many of their missionaries are long term, some spending over thirty years on the field. This speaks both to the commitment and quality of the people serving, and to the training they received. 

Many graduated from the first Liberty Bible College(not confused with Liberty in VA) located in Pensacola. Bob and Beth Bishop the first leaders of Globe invested their lives reaching, teaching and training and releasing young and not so young men and women. Doug and team are continuing to enlist, train and deploy people to the nations.


http://globeintl.org/

My trip was exciting. On the plane I met a man and had a great conversation discussing his commitment to raise his kids.

The next day I met RC. She owns a Coffee house on Navy Blvd. Seems she is having to close the doors two days later. I was able to spend about forty five minutes with her. Answering questions, encouraging her, and praying for her healing.

Later, I met Rob, a friend who pastors Coast Community in Gulf Breeze. We had an amazing time together and prayed for our waiter. As we prayed I had a picture of my wife holding on to me as we rode a four wheeler. I explained what I saw. He said, "This means more than you know." Seems he and his wife to be were heading to NYC for an adventure. She was nervous about the trip. I told him to mention that a balding guy told her to hang on.

 I was also able to pray for Rob and had a strong sense Joy was coming his way. It was interesting that his new series was starting the next Sunday...An Uncommon Joy.

 
I then went for a walk looking for Alonzo. Pattie and I were is Pensacola last year. We met Alonzo, a homeless man in distress. He was depressed, had several illnesses. We spent some time with him and in the end I hugged him until we both wept.

This year i went to the same park to see if Alonzo was there. I met another homeless guy and asked if he knew him. He did, and said he’d tell him I was waiting in the park. I noticed another guy sitting on a bench so went and sat next to him. He had had 3 stokes and was very discouraged. “I’ve worked all my life. Now I’m homeless.”  We prayed together.



As I was listening I noticed Alonzo riding up. He was out of breath, shaking and saying, “O my God,” over and over again. He began to weep and repeat, “I was in another park asleep when Jesus spoke to me to wake me up He said "gather up my things and ride to the other park." So, I  quickly gathered up my things and rode over here and you are here. I'm out of breath!”

He sat by me and wept, and wept repeating the story. Then he pulled out his Bible and said read Isaiah 30:21 "and your ears shall hear a word behind you, saying, This is the way, walk in it,” when you turn to the right or the when you turn to the left.”

"Yes, God woke me up thirty minutes ago and told me to come here." Then he told me about his mom who had just died, he was in pain and grieving. I held him as he wept. I called Pattie and handed Alonzo the phone. He exclaimed, “I know your voice!” She encouraged him and prayed for him. At the end of their conversation he said, “I love you Pattie.”

Much more transpired between us. He left challenged and encouraged. He knew it was a defining moment set up by a loving Father, and it was a call for him to come off the streets.

The big wow in this story is the love of our great God has for a homeless prophet. He reached out to a humble homeless man sleeping on a park bench. Get this, He woke him up thirty minutes before I arrived at the park and then beckoned him toward wholeness. Awesome!

Several other encounters over the few days were filled with with small and large encounters where I was able to encourage and pray for people. I've noticed since returning to Ohio that we pray for a lot of people at the Dayton Vineyard. It's the norm. Have an issue, we pray. Need encouragement, we pray. You have pain in your body or emotions, we pray. Maybe that's why we see people healed, helped and encouraged.

I was invited to speak for a few minutes at the end of a lunch with some amazing missionaries and leaders. I simply reminded us all to remember to spend time with Jesus. He is what's most important. He is the one who makes all things possible. When He is our delight, we receive Him the desire of our heart. Receiving Him we have all we need. At the end I prayed and invited the Holy Spirit to come and rest upon us and to draw us to Jesus. It is always The Holy Spirit's delight to do so. It was an honor to be honored by some great people in Pensacola. I am most grateful.

Flow, encounter after an encounter all in a week with no agenda. Amazing love. Amazing Jesus.

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Whew what a month!


April and May are the longest months back to back. April has five Thursdays and May has five Fridays. I somehow find that interesting.

Things that happened in April.
  • Traveled with Stephen Bell to a few places encouraging people. This was huge fun and confidence building. He is smart. He always takes people with him where ever he goes. It was an honor to be honored by him.
  • Easter Egg hunts, yes plural, were a great success. Hundreds of families showed up at Delco Park. We also launched two small neighborhood sites. Families came, had fun and several were connected to who we are as a church.
  • Power and Love is kicking off today. Six hundred people will be learning, growing and heading out into the community. I had a blast helping with the team by gathering people to serve at the school. 

  • Next week I fly to Pensacola to be with some friends. Globe International is an amazing missionary supporting, sending group. They have a history of long-term missionaries. Some have been on the field  for over 20 years, and one family just celebrated their 30th year. This shouts loud to the quality and commitment of the people on the field around the planet and Globes commitment to reach the world. http://globeintl.org/


  • DSSM has been off the chart good this term. We began at a whole new level and have continued to see some amazing God things happen when we come together...seriously amazing!
  • Presence had it's second gathering. We lean into Presence, worship, train and go. We headed to UD campus area on Brown St. Some amazing connections. Three ladies knocked it out of the park by their love, kindness and straight-forward-ness with the students.

So that's April. I know something good is going to happen in May, a shift for us Bowen's. We are getting ready to down size and sell our home of 11 years and rent in the area. We are going for lean and mean.
Closing thought. Yes, I often slip away, and yes I do worship and lean into His peace. Peace I leave with you; My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Do not let your heart be troubled, nor let it be fearful. (John 14:27 NASB)

"Set - ell yer sel" Scottish phrase for calm yourself down, let peace begin to reign in your soul, and mind. 

But the Lord answered and said to her, "Martha, Martha, you are worried and bothered about so many things; but only one thing is necessary, for Mary has chosen the good part, which shall not be taken away from her." (Luke 10:41-42 NASB)

Jesus to Martha, But the Lord answered and said to her, "Martha, Martha,you are worried and bothered about so many things; 

but only one thing is necessary, (to sit at His feet, to worship, and listen, which is the good part that brings peace)

for Mary has chosen the good part,

which shall not be taken away from her." (Luke 10:41-42 NASB) 

I'm choosing the way of peace.

Monday, March 30, 2015

Right Time, Right Place, for Right People.

Today my wife and I encountered three women at the Vineyard. We had just finished lunch and were headed to the Big Room to worship. The ladies "just happened to show up" as we were walking toward the door. We were able to spent time with the ladies explaining the good news and how Jesus could set them free from some issues they were having. We  prayed with the women.

It was interesting to see their responses as they encountered presence and power of the Holy Spirit as He came upon them. Two decided to give their hearts to Jesus and to follow Him. All were elated and so grateful we stopped, welcomed and prayed for them. They knew we all were at the right place, at the right time, for the right reason. Amazing!

Weekend Training
I had a great time with Champion City Vineyard this past weekend. I was able to encourage their outwardness using some simple tools. 


The process: I broke the group up into four teams. Each group chose fun descriptive items from a display area, a box of markers and three giant Post It's. They had to incorporate the items as they developed their plan. 

They were given 30 minutes to work; at the end of the time allotted each team presented their ideas and plans.

They were given this scenario: You are part of an outreach development team...


1. Your team has been given the task to create a comprehensive plan to equip and to deploy people to reach out to your community.

2. If you could develop an ideal missional person… what would they look like? 


The groups did a great job of developing and expressing their ideas. 











After the break we spoke about creating space where God things happen. The teams then went to lunch and reached out to their community.

I encouraged the leaders to save the work and to actively use the group work to help move the church toward outwardness.

If you are interested in hosting a day, or evening training in your area let me know by going to ssbowen.wix.com/eyesoutward.