Wednesday, March 25, 2015
The moment has arrived. The decision has been made. The wheels are in motion. There has been a release of the sequence of events that were necessary so that the will of God could be fulfilled in our lives and this ministry.
In two days, my employment with the state of Pennsylvania will come to an end. After nine years of working, training, relationship building, and seizing on-the-job ministry opportunities, I will step away from a major source of income and support. It was not just the support of our family, but also very key for the financial base of the ministry itself.
God has been accelerating our progress since June of 2014, when he connected us with other prayer warriors in this region to host a prayer conference. In September of 2014, God sent some very powerful prophetic promises about the next phase of our ministry, through Abby Abildness (Healing Tree International) during our 10th anniversary celebration. That was followed by a spontaneous outbreak of prayer and prophecies by the elders and leaders in our home church (Metro Christian Worship Center) during our visit to St. Louis in October. Next, the Lord gave us a prophetic exhortation through another area leader, Pastor Paul Lebo in December.
Since the start of the New Year, Pastor Carol has been reading through all of our devotional books and rediscovering prophetic promises that we have received over the last 10 years. Then we were given a posh resort get-away weekend in February, which spoke to us that God was going to take care of us in some very surprising and lavish ways. Finally, just two weeks ago, some visitors from Pittsburgh and Israel, declared prophetic promises over us that were so overwhelming that I found myself on my knees weeping with Carol standing next to me travailing in the Spirit. Little did we know that all of these prophetic events were part of a sequence of events that would eventually lead up to this moment.
In two days, I will be unemployed, from the world's perspective, and totally employed by our Father God (from His Kingdom perspective). We have deadlines to meet and no way to meet them unless the Lord fulfills His promises to us. We are not in fear. There is no panic. I will step away from this job on March 27, 2015. Here's an interesting coincidence: Exactly ten years ago (March 27, 2005), we held our first Sunday Service in Harrisburg, PA. Ten years ago, to the day, we publically revealed God's vision and mission for us in this community.
On that day, ten years ago, I didn’t know that we were about to enter our wilderness journey. I didn’t know that I was going to be in great internal turmoil because our lives and the ministry were about to fall apart. I didn't know that most of the church congregation was going to leave while we faced deadlines and bills with no way to meet or pay them. But, God came through with water out of a rock and manna from heaven by the helping hands of family and friends. Then HE opened a door for state employment for Carol and me. He has guided us through a very difficult wilderness season that lasted ten years.
Today, we stand on the brink of the Jordan River, like the Children of Israel at the end of their wilderness journey. We’re coming out of wilderness living and moving into the Land of Promise. The stage is set. The moment has come. We cannot and will not retreat. We cannot and will not quit. It’s time to move on from the wilderness. It’s time to advance into the moment of destiny.
God’s hand is in this. I will leave the state's job on Friday, and our first ministry invitation is already set. Carol and I will be ministering in Mechanicsburg, PA on Sunday night. The WAY is already opening up before us.
We thank you for your prayers, and we only ask that your prayers be prayers of faith.
The prayer of faith goes something like this:
Father God, we thank you for doing what you promised to do! We refuse to bow to the threats of the enemy. You will not let the plot of the enemy be exalted. You will not let his threats come to pass. We step forward and move out as your servants. We are overcomers! We are under orders! Have your way in our lives, our family and in this ministry. We covenant to always give YOU the glory and honor.
Let it be so…. Amen!
Wednesday, March 18, 2015
After our monthly Unite to Restore meeting, this group of people gathered around us and began to talk and encourage us. We took this picture to commemorate a powerful move of God in which a mighty travail fell upon Pastor Carol as she gave birth (spiritually) to the twin ministry we have been carrying since moving to this area.
It all began when the woman (Rania Sayegh) standing in front of us, started asking me questions about the African-Americans and the disconnect with Israel. She is an Arab Believer who founded a prayer ministry in Nazareth called HOPE (House of Prayer and Exploits). She is a well-known speaker and intercessor from that part of the world. She took out her mobile device and recorded my answers and responses to her questions. The Spirit fell upon me as I talked and the whole group gathered around us. They prophesied and prayed over us for about 30 minutes.
The other woman (Jillienne Beaver) standing in front of Carol, leads worship in a 24/7 house of prayer in Jerusalem and is an intercessor in the HOPE prayer ministry as well. The couple pictured on our left is from Pittsburgh, PA. They brought the women to the meeting that night. Pictured on our right is Abby Abildness, who you guys already know and standing next to her is a woman who is a Nigerian Bishop.
For some reason, God has included us in this elite group of world-class speakers and intercessors.
While praying for us, Jillienne said, "I don't know if you realize who these people are that are praying for you, but I'm honored to meet you. This is a historic moment."
They spoke out many powerful things. They spoke of things that are too humbling to mention. Just know that our time has come to walk away from our government jobs and move forward into the next level of ministry.
As we drove to this meeting, we asked God to speak to us and HE met us; He overwhelmed us. It was such a powerful moment that we all felt we should take this photo because it was a very important, historic moment. We just feel that years from now, we will look back at this photo and be blown away at how God brought us together.
The Nigerian Bishop has already invited us to come to her country to minister there in October. Rania Sayegh has invited us to come to Nazareth.
Abby is begging us to not move away from this region because, as she said it, "Harrisburg needs a Father and Mother, too."
We have another invitation back to Cumberland Valley, PA to minister at the end of this month and we just received an invitation to St. Louis, MO in September.
God is moving. Our time has come.
We're asking all to join us in praying about this. We're at a crossroad. I've even been told by my boss, that my job is coming to an end.
We certainly don't have the finances to go to these places, but we have the Word of the Lord.
This is the moment we've been waiting for, all of lives.
It's all for the harvest!
Wednesday, March 11, 2015
Excerpt from Knowing Our God
Four years ago, we were sending out weekly emails and writing blogs that sounded more like desperate cries for help. Even though we tried to put on a brave face and keep a positive tone in our writings, sometimes we just couldn’t help but express our pain and frustration.
We were going through a very rough season. We were walking through our wilderness. There was no water, no food, and no protection that we could see in the natural realm.
We were living in the shadow of a home foreclosure and still trying to minister to a tiny group of people. Meanwhile, visitors continued to come and go. We kept reviewing the prophetic words that had been spoken over us, our children and this ministry, but that seemed more like torment than encouragement. All we could do was hold on and wait for the promise of God to come into reality.
Many years ago, when I was the administrative pastor in our home church, we had just moved into a gigantic facility in the inner city of St. Louis, MO. We needed help in everything: cleaning, painting, hauling, sanitation, repairs, etc. At that time however, many people were ready to sit back and relax because we had just been triumphant in obtaining the facility. Others, when they beheld the huge building, began to take on the attitude that the church should be doing more to help THEM with their personal needs.
While praying about the best way to communicate to our congregation the reality that our work had JUST BEGUN, the Lord brought to my mind the words of President John F. Kennedy. He once said, “Ask not what your country should do for you, but ask what you should do for your country.”
So I adjusted his appeal to the nation and placed signs all over the church in strategic locations that read: “Ask not what your church can do for you; ask what you can do for your church.”
For many years, many different types of people have attended Urban Life and for some of them, all they wanted to know was what the ministry was going to do for them. Many Believers have been psychologically programmed to join a church for the primary reason of receiving, receiving and receiving. It never occurs to them that being a part of the church means being called out. They have been called out of the old life of sin, poverty, and selfishness. They’ve been called out of the old mentality of waiting for someone to do something for them.
Today, we have that rare breed of Believers who want to know what they can do for GOD. They desire to make themselves available for the Lord to use them in reaching out to this community through Urban Life.
We know that many people have been hurt and wounded in ministries where either the leadership or the congregants had selfish motives. For nearly seven years, we have done all that we could to try to prove that we were not out to steal from anybody or take advantage of anyone.
However, we believe that it is time for us to stop apologizing for what other pastors or leaders have done and simply move forward, by the grace of God, with what HE has called us to do in Harrisburg.
We know, from personal experience, that once quality people start joining your team, incredible things can happen in your city. We saw it first hand in our home church. We watched God take us from 7 people to 700 people, in an inner city environment, during an era in which ours was one of the fastest dying cities in America.
Now we are in Harrisburg, PA and watching God do it again. God has touched hearts and homes and those same people, YOU GUYS, are now responding to HIM. You will never regret it. There will be tough times and there are difficult things to overcome, but you are setting yourself up for the greatest moments and blessings of your lives.
Relatively few people ever come to know the joy of the journey that you have stepped out to experience. Many, many Believers attend church and just wait…wait…wait…wait… and never actually step out in faith. But the ones who experience the powerful breakthroughs are the ones who step up the way you guys have done over these past few weeks.
We are continually overwhelmed by your generosity and blessed by your sincerity to follow us as we follow Christ.
And to think, this is only the beginning. The best is yet to come!
Wednesday, March 4, 2015
1 Peter 4:7-11 reads: But the end of all things is at hand; therefore be serious and watchful in your prayers. And above all things have fervent love for one another, for “love will cover a multitude of sins.” Be hospitable to one another without grumbling. As each one has received a gift, minister it to one another, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God.
If anyone speaks, let him speak as the oracles of God. If anyone ministers, let him do it as with the ability which God supplies, that in all things God may be glorified through Jesus Christ, to whom belong the glory and the dominion forever and ever. Amen.
In this scripture, we find four admonishments:
• Be sober and watchful in your prayers
• Have fervent love for one another
• Be hospitable without grumbling
• Minister your gifts to one another
Peter knew that he was coming to the end of his life and he was writing to some very discouraged Believers during a time in which thousands of Believer’s were being tormented, tortured and killed because of their faith in Christ. In the midst of great trials, he simplifies the Believer’s focus to these four things.
We share this with you today because that’s what it all comes down to for our church family. We can sense that exciting things are going to happen in our ministry.
Yet, the focus for us is to first be sober. This means: to be of a sound mind, to exercise self-control, to put a moderate estimate upon ourselves (to not think more highly of ourselves because of what God is doing in our church), and to curb our passions.
We are admonished to be watchful in our prayers. In this scripture, the meaning of watchful is: to be temperate and circumspect. We find it interesting that the first thing we are told in the midst of crisis or excitement is to not let our feelings and thinking run out of control as we pray. We’re going to continue to seek God’s face and not His hand. We’re not going to start making request for all sorts of blessings to only benefit ourselves.
In fact, Peter says that above all else, we are to have fervent love for one another. This means: unceasing love, intense and earnest love. Peter was talking about the kind of love that not only expresses benevolence, but also the kind of love that covers, hides or veils another person.
You see. We’re going to get to know one another really well and we’re going to discover some not-so-good things about each other. When that happens, we are to demonstrate covering love. One of the definitions for this kind of love means: ‘to hinder the knowledge of a thing’. Isn’t that amazing? This kind of love holds a family together. It’s the kind of love that we will demonstrate here in Harrisburg because people uncovering one another’s faults and sins have devastated this community.
Peter moves on to say that we must be hospitable without grumbling. This Greek word for hospitable means: to be generous to guest. You know how generous and open we are to guest when they visit our homes. We are extra polite, patient and accommodating to their needs. Peter tells us to be that way with one another on a regular basis. Normally the more familiar we become with one another, the less hospitable we become.
Finally, we are encouraged to minister our gifts to one another. One of the most powerful definitions of the word ‘minister’ is: to attend to anything that may serve another's interests. This definition includes such specific word images as waiting on a table to offer food and drink to guest like a waiter or waitress in a restaurant. We are encouraging YOU, our dear church family to serve one another, with the gifts that God has given you.
Peter concludes the four points by telling everyone the real purpose for doing these things. The reason for doing these four things is so that God will get the glory through Jesus Christ. We aren’t doing these things so that Urban Life would be proclaimed or that its leaders and people would be celebrated.
Family, we appreciate the acknowledgements and kind words that have come our way, but we don’t want you to put any emphasis on any of us. We're just instruments and tools in the hand of God. The true goal in all that we do is to make sure that ALL GLORY WILL GO TO GOD! He gets all the credit! He gets all the attention! So determine that in all you do, that God will get the glory through Jesus Christ in your life!