When Visiting Bethel 

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We are still on the road so I am writing this up on my phone.  I’m not a gmfan of blogging from my phone…it’s usually messy.    And takes a long time.  

This weekend we visited Bethel church in Redding, California.  If you aren’t familiar, it is is difficult to describe other than, it’s a revivalist church, it’s a healing church, it’s a worship church; sime of the most beautiful worship music has come out of Bethel.  

Here is a link from a song they sang yesterday:  

Many people make pilgrimages to Bethel. Here are some things you need to keep in mind….

1.  Dorothy, you aren’t in Texas anymore (or the Deep South).  The people are nice people but you have approach them.  No one approached us as we stood awkwardly looking around needing help for where we needed to go.  I had to ask about childcare.  They get tons of visitors and I get the feeling they aren’t impressed.

2.  If you want a seat in the main sanctuarty, get there early.  The regulars come 30 minutes early and save seats for each other.  They will let you stand against the back walls during worship and try to grab a seat when it’s time to sit down but chances are you will end up in the over flow room.  

3.  They have four Sunday services.  If you make the trip, go to multiple services.  Different worship teams led at each service and they even played different songs.  My favorite worship time was the 10:30 service, worship was lead by Brian Johnson and Steffany Gretzinger.  On a side note, one of the worship leaders forgot some of the lyrics and told the media team he needed lyrics to the second verse on the back screen.  Everyone chuckled and continued to worship.  Loved this…this happens at every church occasionally and they are keeping it real.  

4. If you can only attend one service, I would go to the 6 pm service.  It’s not rushed so worship is long (over an hour) and Papa Johnson (Senior pastor Bill Johnson) spoke.  After the message, they offer ministry.  They had both a “fire tunnel” and a room to pray specifically for healing.  Take advantage of all the prayer you can get.  We took our kids through the fire tunnel.  They loved it and wanted to go again (I kind of wanted to go again too).

5.  They have childcare for the little ones for ok the services (from what I could tell).  When I picked up my girl from the morning service, they gave me a paper with a prophecy for her.  

I love this!  

6.  There are a lot of young people in attendance.  They are not very churchy. There were both young men and young women climbing over chairs to get to their seats. People would bump into you and not even notice…again, it’s not the South.  The culture is different. 

Main thing to remember….get there early!!! At least 30 minutes. 

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Golden Calves and other idols

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It must be the season of the calf because I have heard three sermon messages recently about Moses, the children of Israel and the gold calf.  When I hear something once that triggers for me, I think about it.  When I hear it twice I think, “interesting” but when I hear it three times, I have to write a blog and preach to the choir (myself).

You can read about the gold calf in Exodus 32.  It was a whole hot mess. Moses went up onto a mountain to meet with God and the children of Israel made a statue and started worshiping it and God very nearly disowned/destroyed them to start over with Moses.

The first message I heard was from Bill Johnson  He said that we often turn our blessing into a golden calf and the very thing that God blesses us with become an idol.  He is doing a whole series on Finances.  You can listen here.

The second message was from my Pastor, Harry Fleming he was preaching on the cup of Deliverance.  You can listen here.  I learned from Harry that the Egyptians worshiped a calf or a cow. Moses was up on the mountain for 40 days/nights and with him gone and no one to point them to God they decided to worship a “god” they knew from Egypt.  If I understood correctly the calf represents blessing or prosperity or even fertility.  They were seeking blessing rather than the God of the blessing.  Strange too since they were the most blessed people on the planet and had seen so miracles in the wilderness but they still wanted the “blessings” of Egypt.

Then on Sunday we were visiting Promiseland San Marcos and staff pastor, Will Krauss had an entire message (it may even be a series on the topic of counterfeit idol – is there any other kind of idol?).  You can hear that message here.

As I considered the messages it, another study I did came to mind.  This one was a Beth Moore study that I did with some ladies a few summers ago.  I’m terrible at following through on Beth’s studies.  I get about 3/4 of the way through but I haven’t finished one.  It’s hard for me to admit because I’ve done about four of her Bible Studies.  They are excellent…but the homework can be, at least for me, overwhelming.   If I had two hours a day to do homework then I would probably have time to take a bath or refinish the furniture I have my garage….it’s a lot.  God bless Beth.  The study was on the tabernacle and it was in-depth and I think we had to draw the tabernacle 3 or 4 times.  One thing that I remember as we journeyed through that study was her description of the golden calf was that it wasn’t large at all, in fact it was kind of on the smaller side.  It was a small statue that could be held by an individual.  Ms. Beth studied many commentaries and historic text to come to this conclusion.  Think about it, gold is very heavy so the statue had to be on the small side.  People often think the calf was “actual size” of a calf.  That would be a lot of gold.

Here’s the thing.  Most of the idols in our lives aren’t the big things, the “actual size” things.  The idols in our lives are the little things that sneak in.  The little things that take on extreme importance to us.  The little things that replace God in our lives.  It is the things that we substitute for God in our lives; the friend we go to instead of going to God.

Right after the Hubs and I got married, we had some money issues.  Nothing bad just getting paid on different weeks than the rent was due and not quiet having enough.  I began to get into the habit of asking my dad to spot me and then paying him back when the next check came in.  Yes, I’m being super transparent here.  No one want to admit that in their 30s they actually borrowed money from dad.  My dad was always super gracious about it but God put it in my heart that I needed to stop because I was relying on my dad rather than relying on the Father.

Chatting with a friend recently we were discussing a medical issue and insurance and a lot stress.  We came to the conclusion that as people we tend to put our trust in our insurance or our employer more than trusting God with a thing.

Reminds me of my parent’s many years ago.  We didn’t always have health insurance and when we did, it didn’t always cover the things that needed covering.  I remember when my youngest sister was about 18 months old.  She wasn’t walking and my parents were very concerned.  The doctors were saying all kinds of things.  It seemed like it was a Sunday night and they took her down to the alter at our church and asked our pastor to pray for healing.  They did it because they believed and trusted God and they did it because they had no other options.  They didn’t have money to solve their problems.  They didn’t know the right doctors to solve their problems.  They didn’t have the right medications to solve the problem.  They were at the end of their rope.

A few weeks ago, a fellow blogger, Rob Steele wrote this blog “When Mama Prayed“.   They prayed for their vehicle.  I can remember a few of those prayers myself when I was living in Alabama by myself.  I had no other options.

I’m all about problem solving and I tend to be somewhat self-reliant but maybe, just maybe it shouldn’t be that way.  What if we started praying BEFORE we started looking for options?  What if we prayed BEFORE we started looking to people and things to solve our problems or meet our needs?

And it’s time to be on the lookout for the little idols in our lives. Probably different for everyone.  Maybe it’s that depression medication that you can’t live without.  Maybe it’s the 4 cups of coffee you drink every day.  Maybe it’s the diet drink.  Maybe it’s working out.  Maybe it’s a certain author or book that you quote or read more than your Bible.  Maybe it’s romance novels. Maybe it’s Facebook (sigh…I might be taking a FB break).  Maybe it’s Bejeweled or Candy Crush or whatever game you have been playing every night before you fall asleep…we used to pray before we went to sleep.

Ask yourself what your golden calf might be…and throw in the fire.  It’s time to give up our idols and return to our LOVE.

What I’m listening to

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I wrote a blog yesterday but I didn’t post it.  Sometimes I write and then I let it settle and revisit it and tweek it.  Sometimes I don’t do this but I should.  I wish my mouth had an edit.  Pretty much what comes out of my mouth is my brain racing from 0 to 90 in less than 60 seconds.  That’s another blog.

I try to listen to at least one sermon a day (sometimes two and sometimes more).  It’s not because I am somehow Holy (I am Holy because He says I am Holy) or Holier than anyone else…I just need more of God than most people (at least that’s how I feel about it).

I have a Podcast app on my phone and there are several churches that I download and listen to.  I listen to Bethel (I really love Bill Johnson and Kris Vallotton) , The Hills (John Ragsdale out of Nashville), Gateway Church (Robert Morris) and sometimes I listen to Promiseland San Marcos, Covenant Church (Dallas area), Life Austin, and Lifechurch.tv (Craig Groeschel).

Recently, The Hills wasn’t working in my podcast app so I got behind.  Last week, I figured out how to download it and listen.  I started listening to the series “All In”  (I had listened to some of Promiseland San Marcos’ messages on “All In” too…great messages).  Seriously good stuff.  Pastor John Ragsdale is rocking this series.  Check it out here (where I tracked it down) and enjoy.