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. 

When You Walk into the Room

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I know…I am posting in spurts.  I love writing but this season, I have to be very inspired.  I am taking my Texas Real Estate classes and that is taking a lot of time…besides the babies and our plan to homeschool our son this year.  I’m sure homeschooling is going to inspire some “Momlog” posts.

In the meantime, here is a song I’ve really enjoyed lately.  It’s time for some of y’all to update that playlist.  Just in case you don’t know who you are…if you are still rocking out to “Shout to the Lord” (you don’t need to delete it) it’s time to update your music.  I rarely purchase an entire album but I have enjoyed Bryan and Katie Torwalt’s album.

One of my favorites off this album is this one:


 

Escapee

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I want to be an escapee.  There are some things I want to escapee and some things I should escape.  The problem is how I escape sometimes.

I love worship. I can remember standing in church as a little girl, before I could read,  clapping my hands and singing at the top of my lungs, “Victory in Jesus”.  I knew all the words by heart (I still do), “Victory in Jesus, my savior forever, He sought me and He taught me, with His redeeming blood….”  I’m not sure I knew what the words meant but I loved Jesus and I loved His house (the church).  And I still love worship.  If you check my playlist, 97% of the songs are worship songs.  My husband the worship, musician, prophet psalmist, told me the other day, “You only have 37 songs on your iTunes.”  That seems like such a small number of songs to him….he probably has 1200 songs.  Every one of my 37 songs are really good.

Last night, I had an impromptu (not planned in advance) girl’s night out.  My sister, Judy, my sister-friend, Kimberly and I went to The Deep, a worship service hosted on the first Sunday Night of each month at LifeAustin.  We heard that our friends, the Ragsdales were going to be there.  You can check them out here.  I didn’t really know what I was getting into but I knew it would be good, because I trust these pastors.  It turned out that it is a worship service…the focus being on worship and not on a message.

Yes, our church has worship every Sunday but we are also a church plant which means we  only have our facility for a few hours on Sunday morning.  Which usually means we have 4 or 5 worship songs and then we move on to a message.  There have been times in my life when I would have my own worship service at home and that is certainly ideal.  The reality is, it doesn’t always happen.  A service that is just worship with no other agenda…that’s like water to my soul and it washed over me. They didn’t even take up an offering.

As I sat (because they let you sit during worship there) and sang along with John Ragsdale singing, “You are Holy, Oh, so Holy, You are Holy, Lord on High…”  As He sang, it was like Zephaniah 3:17, God rejoicing over us.   Worship is like that.  We sing to Him and He rejoices over us.   I felt some walls in my heart begin to melt away.  I was surprised because I didn’t know I had walls.

I’ve often written about growing up in church and how it was from my perspective.  I grew up in a Pentecostal church.  You may think from some of the things that I have written that I despised that place but I do not.  I know that some things were not “right” or even accurate but that place laid a foundation for my life.  There are times when we receive a message that wasn’t exactly taught; the non-verbal message.  The message taught or words spoken and the message received are not the same.  Here is an example.  Growing up in church, I believe we did not have the understanding of the Holy Spirit that we have today.  We believed you had to speak in tongues to be saved; That was the point of salvation.  It was my understanding that if you spoke in tongues one time, you were saved and you may not speak in tongues again.  There were a few people who you would hear speaking in tongues in the prayer room (I miss churches having prayer rooms), but they were usually prophetic type people.  So they were consider a little “spooky-spiritual” and they were also put on a pedestal.   There seemed to be some criteria for people “getting touched”  1. The Holy Spirit mostly moved on Sunday Nights.  2. The Holy Spirit mostly moved at church.  3. The person who “got touched” had to “do” something…for example, they had to step out, they had to go to the alter, they had to raise their hands, cry.  And 4. When it happened, somebodies’ hair was coming down.  Chatting with the girls, we found out the phrase, “they shouted their hair down” was pretty exclusively Pentecostal or UPC.  Apparently, the charismatics didn’t use it and didn’t understand what it meant.  Let me explain.  If you were Pentecostal in the 70s or 80s and you were a woman, you had very long hair.  For the most part, you wore your hair pinned up either in a bun or some intricate updo.  When the Spirit moved, someone was sure to “shout” which really meant dance but we were not allowed to dance so we called it shouting, although no yelling was involved.  It might not make much sense unless you were there but bobby pins were flyin’.   I am going to look for some pictures to scan in…it will be fun.  What we believed and what I found was true were different.

When I was filled with the Holy Spirit I found that I could “be touched by God” at any time and anywhere.  It wasn’t limited to church, I didn’t have to do anything other than talk to Him.  I didn’t need a pastor or special speaker to pray for me and I didn’t have to dance my hair down.  God was much closer than I imagined.  God’s still small voice is sometimes a whisper.  Don’t get me wrong…I understand people liking to be zapped and it feels great when you get a powerful word and all of that.  But to really change, requires every day communication with God.  Paul wrote about it in I Corinthians.

1 Corinthians 14:15

 I will pray with the spirit, and I will also pray with the understanding. I will sing with the spirit, and I will also sing with the understanding.

After walking this walk for many years, my belief is that we need to communicate with God daily and our spirit needs to communicate with His Spirit daily.  Full access is available to us.  We have full access to the living God!  Take the time to pray today.

Back to Sunday night and the walls.  I was worshipping and feeling the walls begin to thaw. And found myself praying and telling God, I don’t want to have walls that need to thaw.

I want to be open that what God is doing.

The thing about walls is people build them, not God.  We build them to keep something out or we allow others to build them in our lives with their words.  Either way, the walls that perhaps meant to keep something out usually turn out to be the walls that keep us in.  That’s right, the walls we allow others to build, the words that define us, become our prison.  The walls we build to keep the pain out or to keep other people out, become the cell that we seek to escape.

What are the walls to your prison?  Something someone said?  There was a season in my life when it seemed I couldn’t “get it right”.  I had friends who I thought were like sisters to me who exploded and walked away from our friendship.  I was told I was a toxic person…I was mean….I was rude.  At the time, I became focused on “Why did this happen?  What did  I do?”  And I failed to look around at all the successful relationships in my life.  I began to allow those words to define me.  It became harder to let people in…I began to lay bricks on top of the words that had said.  I agreed with some things they said that were not at all true.  The truth in my life is I am a “people” person and God intends for me to love people and be transparent and to allow others in my life all things which are hard to do with the walls that had been erected.  Once the walls are built or in process it doesn’t take much to complete the project.  And then one day you look around and the walls are closing in on you with no way of escape.

But we try to escape.  We try lots of things to escape….tv, movies, books, alcohol, drugs, sex…so many bad things in the world are just people trying to escape.

What I knew, but needed to be reminded of, is the greatest escape artist on the planet; Jesus was waiting to bust me out of that prison. Worship used to be my escape.  Not music necessarily but worshipping God.  I cannot keep my walls up when I worship Him.  He makes me free.  I cannot hold back the tears (by the way, they are not tears of sorrow but tears of thanksgiving for all He has done in my life).

I want to remain an escapee.  If I can, I want to help you become one too.

Friday Night

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My friend Charlie emailed and called us about Friday night.  Promiseland Central is having an all night worship service.  Musicians from all over the area have been invited to participate.   They still have some openings if anyone is interested.  Dennis is going to play the midnight to 2am shift. 

If anyone from Kyle/Buda/San Marcos area wants to go with us, let us know.  We will make an evening of it.  Our perfect plan also involves going to Kerby Lane Cafe.  Thank God they are opened 24-7.  We will probably head out there earlier in the evening.

Heavy cloud no rain

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I was just taking a look at Twitter and noticed a friend of ours, John Ragsdale had typed in “Heavy cloud no rain”.  It caught my attention.  These words captured how I’ve been feeling lately on a spiritual level.  I wrote another post this week about the rain.  It has been raining here and there in the Kyle/San Marcos area but in the spiritual, I feel like there are some heavy clouds but no rain yet…maybe a few sprinkles but not that soaking rain we need.

In my thoughts recently about rain, I’ve been remembering a series I listened to a few years ago called “Climates, Atmospheres, and Dimensions”.  The preacher was Bishop Tudor Bismark.  The series related physical climates and atmospheres to spiritual climates and atmospheres. 

Over the history of the world, climates have changed.  There is the possibility of climate changes.  In order for a climate to change, the atmosphere must change; the atmosphere must change frequently enough and for extended periods of time in order to effect the overall climate of an area.  The same is true spiritually.  If you want the spiritual climate of your city to change, you must first begin changing the atmosphere.  As you change the atmosphere, influence others to change the atmosphere and increase the frequency of the change, you will begin to see change in the overall climate of the region.  In my mind, it is a revitalization project.  When a city wants to “revitalize” an area, they develop a long term plan.  City planners know it could take 10 or more years to see long term change happen in a region. 

According to Bishop Bismark, if a church or city wants spiritual change there must be some atmosphere changers.  These people are a little different.  They may pray harder, longer and seem more passionate.  They just want more of God.  They are the first ones in the alter; they are the last ones to leave.  Their actions may embarrass others.  They get out of their comfort zone.  They push for spiritual breakthrough.  They may make you uncomfortable.  When they begin to worship, the atmosphere changes.  He used the example of Jesus being anointed by Mary (See Matthew 27, Mark 14, Luke 7).  When she broke the flask on Jesus, the room changed.  The fragrance of her worship filled the air.  They were having a men’s meeting and she came in (1st atmosphere change).  The men had forgotten to wash Jesus’ feet.  She broke her flask and perfume filled the air.  The could not ignore her worship.  They crowd was uncomfortable.  They were judging her (the Word says she was a sinner).  They were aware they had forgotten to wash Jesus’ feet.  Changing the atmosphere requires us to get past ourselves and those around us and simple worship our king. 

In order for a spiritual climate change to occur, the atmosphere must be changed on a regular basis.  Uninhibited, unbridled worship must become our “norm”. 

Jeremiah 29:13
And you will seek Me and find Me, when you search for Me with all your heart.

We’ve been seeing a lot of clouds lately but no rain.  Maybe we’ve seen a sprinkle here or there but not that heavy soaking rain.  I do not just want a soaking rain, I want to live in a spiritual atmosphere of soaking rain.  I want to soak up the Holy Spirit.  Spiritually, I want to look like a drowned rabbit; I want to be someone that when you see me, I’m dripping wet and you know I’ve been with God.  This isn’t a pie in the sky dream…I know it can happen.  I’ve seen it happen before and I know God wants to soak us but we must begin to seek Him.

I don’t want to be a people who just walk in the cloud but never experience the rain.  I don’t want to know that God is near but never really feel His Spirit.  A cloud may block out the scorching sun which is good for a while but unless the rain comes, the ground will remain parched. 

Ask the LORD for rain
      In the time of the latter rain.
      The LORD will make flashing clouds;
      He will give them showers of rain,
      Grass in the field for everyone.
Zechariah 10:1

It’s time for RAIN….

Rain and Youth Camp

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Out here in Central Texas, the land is parched.  Last summer, it rained every day in June.  Seriously.  When we were getting married on July 7th, last year (That’s right, today is our one year anniversary) we had to pray that it wouldn’t rain.  These days we are praying for rain. 

I’ve been praying for spiritual rain and physical rain.  Spiritually, we’ve been feeling parched.  Lately, it feels like spiritually, we’ve hit a dry spell. 

Over the years I’ve had the opportunity to soak in some great spiritual rain.  The thing about that type rain is once you’ve experienced it, you are much more aware of parched, dry seasons.  And you begin to long for a soaking season.

When we arrived at Camp on Wednesday night (Hey, I promised a “Youth Camp” Post) the service had already started.  When it comes to high school students and worship, we often find ourselves cheer leading.  Usually, when worship is about to start, the student’s are “invited” to come up to the front.  Get them out of the seats, in some open space and maybe they will move around a little while they sing.  When we arrived on Wednesday they were already singing but all the students were still in their seats.  It was different than how we have seen things done in our group in the past.  It was a good service.  Pastor Robin spoke and he said some things the students really needed to hear.  At one point, he basically said there comes a time when you need to work out your relationship with God; at some point, it becomes your responsibility.

We found out later, that on Tuesday, during the devotional time, the students were asked what they believed was their biggest distraction when it came to their faith and being a Christian.  The goal was to gauge where they are spiritually.  For the most part they said school was their biggest distraction.  However, this spurred on a deeper discussion about what they would like to get out of youth group.  As the discussion continued, at least one student said that they felt like we talk about Jesus too much and basically, they just want to have fun activities.  Pastor Dan responded that, without Jesus, the youth group would just be a club.  (By the way…every parent of a student at Promiseland San Marcos needs to hug this man and thank him and his family for their commitment to Jesus and the youth of our church).   Several students agreed and even said there was too much pressure at church for them to be Christians.  This really broke the heart of the youth pastors and leaders. 

On Wednesday evening, when service started there was no “push” to worship.  Some of the students responded.  By the end of the service students were in the alter praying.   It was a beginning.

Dennis spoke on Thursday morning.  We didn’t really know what had been said at the other devotional times but the subject of camp was “One Way”.  We had prepared a skit named “Religibucks”.  Religibucks is where you can get many flavors of “Jesus” but only a “straight” Jesus is free.  The point being that you cannot add to the message of Jesus.  When Dennis began his message by relating the account of King Josiah.  King Josiah became a king at age 8 and when he was a teenage he began to pursue God.   Josiah tore down the alters to false gods and began rebuilding the things of God.  He told the students they could be world changers.  Not much response from the students.

Thursday at the Ranch was HOT.  There is no other way to describe it.  I just wanted to go for a siesta (nap in the air conditioning).  There were a few random clouds in the sky.  I started praying for rain again.  By the afternoon,  the air had cooled a little and there was a nice shower.  What we really needed was a soaking ran that would leave puddles but a refreshing, cooling shower was nice.

On Thursday evening, the service started off fairly typical.  The worship was very good.  I don’t remember every song they sang.  The students began going to the front to worship.  There is a place in every  praise and worship service that a transition can be made from praise to quiet worship…it’s like going into a secret place; a holy place; it is where God’s Spirit resides.  The only way we can get to the secret place is through worship.  The woship team made the transition.  Harry was playing the keyboard and he began to just worship God…not a song, but what was in his heart.  It was the right thing at the right time.  Students were raising their hands and kneeling.  From where we were sitting in the back, we felt a refreshing, cooling shower of the Holy Spirit. It felt soaking because we’ve been so parched but I’ve been in soaking services and I know this was only the beginning.  When the service was over, the worship team didn’t want to leave.  We didn’t want to leave and several of the students didn’t want to leave.  We continued to worship.  It was so refreshing.  I felt like everything I ever needed was in that place at that moment. 

On Friday as we “wrapped up” camp, Pastor Dan spoke.  He told the students we plan on having some fun activities in the future but we would never take “Jesus” out of our message.  We are about Jesus.  (Pastor Dan is the man!  He stood for what we believe.  He wasn’t bullied or pressured in to letting up on the core or what we believe!  You Go, Pastor Dan). 

I believe that God can change us in one moment; in one service; at one camp.  There are moments in our lives that we can look back on and say “In that moment, everything changed.  Nothing was the same”.  Youth Camp may not have been a “Everything changed” moment; but I feel one of those moments is coming very soon.  I am anxiously anticipating what God is going to do next!