Saturday, March 30, 2019

We Stopped Singing Songs to Heavy Hearts

Christopher G. Green (D.Hon.Causa)

I am reminded of a scripture the Holy Spirit whispered to my heart just before we held our first public gatherings in Harrisburg, PA.  It was the fall of 2004 and every morning, at around 5:30AM, I would go to our facility in Uptown Harrisburg to pray. I was desperately seeking God for wisdom in how to reach out in what was a foreign land for me. 

After serving for 17 very successful years in my home church, I was keenly aware that I would need a new strategy in this new season and new region of the country. I will never forget this simple, yet profound passage from Proverbs 25:20, 

"Like one who takes away a garment in cold weather, And like vinegar on soda, Is one who sings songs to a heavy heart." ---(NKJV)

"Like one who takes off a garment in cold weather, or like [a reactive, useless mixture of] vinegar on soda, Is he who [thoughtlessly] sings [joyful] songs to a heavy heart." ---(AMP)

I recall how I first shared this word with our team. I didn't quite know how to implement it, accept to tell them that we would change our strategy. We would no longer be placing emphasis on the typical church gathering. Instead we would place more emphasis on prayer and teaching to bring healing to heavy hearts.

This scripture had literally snatched away all of the strategies that worked for us in our home city. God was clearly telling me that if we tried to do what worked before, we would be like those who were taking away garments in cold weather. 

Our current strategy would be like pouring vinegar on a substance called nitre. Vinegar dissolves the nitre, and makes it useless and ineffectual. Our method would make our efforts useless. We would not be comforting the lost and hurting. Instead, we would be thoughtlessly agitating them and making things worse. 

It took several months and years for us to understand the weight of that scripture. As individuals and families began to attend, each person came with severe damage in their hearts and homes. Due to our change in strategy, we did not always start our sessions with joyful songs (praise and worship). Many traditional church goers struggled with this because they had always been taught, according to Psalm 100:4 that we must "Enter into His gates with thanksgiving, And into His courts with praise."

But, something amazing happened as we followed the leading of the Holy Spirit. We found that when it came to heavy hearts, if we jumped right into a group discussion surrounding the issues of life, that the joyful songs came forth in the midst of their healing process.

Sometimes we simply started our gatherings with prayer, but by the time we came to the end of our sessions, we would somehow end with joyful songs. We found that when we started with conversation or even prelude music that spoke to the hurting souls, that it was like GIVING them warm garments on a cold day.

We look back over the years and we are amazed at how accurate that simple scripture was for our strategy in this community, and how appropriate it is for many devastated families across this nation, today. This Proverbs 25:20 understanding has forced us to stop following formulas and church traditions that no longer work. 

We are moving into the new seasons with great excitement and anticipation. Now we know how to better describe our work. We are a ministry that prepares and trains Believers to wisely bring healing to heavy hearts and homes. 

We now have open doors to work with a local employment service, a women's shelter, and a drug/alcohol addiction recovery center. We are teaming up with intercessors for monthly corporate prayer gatherings that will give us the opportunity to collectively stand in the gap for this city, region and state.

Many of the community outreach efforts in our inner cities have been established by Believers. Most of them are looking to the Church to supply the volunteers and resources to help them reach the lost in their neighborhoods. We believe that we are one of those ministries that is called to raise up and train Believers who can serve with various community outreach efforts. We don't need to start new community outreaches. All we need to do is prepare God's people to go and bring aid to the places that are already on the front lines.

One of the prophetic words that was spoken over us, when we were sent to Harrisburg in 2004, was that we would strengthen that which was already built. So, we were not sent to Harrisburg to start anything new. We were sent to build people, so they could be released to serve households, neighborhoods, ministries and outreach efforts that have already been established.

From year to year we are moving forward in the zeal and excitement in which we approached our assignment way back in 2004. We are seeking God for His wisdom in how to minister to heavy hearts. And whatever HE speaks and however HE tells us to do it, we will obey HIS word.

We look forward to singing songs to joyful hearts!

Chris Green

Saturday, March 23, 2019

Where the Floods Overflow Me

Carol L. Green (D.Hon.Causa)

Welcome to Listen, Lift, Launch Letters!

Have you ever had a dream and wondered what it meant?  I’d like to share a dream I had several years ago. I asked the Lord for the meaning for a long time afterwards.

The dream started with Chris and I standing on the corner of 16th and North facing 17th Street in Harrisburg.  The sun was going down, but there was still plenty of light in a cloudy sky. We walked down North Street headed toward 17th Street, passing a woman dressed like a hillbilly. She had a shot gun in one hand and was smoking a cigarette with the other.  As we passed her, she waved us on without a word.  I was relieved she didn’t try to shoot us.

We turned right onto 17th Street and walked to the corner of 17th and State Street.
 As we stood on the corner, we looked for traffic, but there was none and there were only a couple of parked cars on the street.  We continued walking along 17th Street across State Street and came to the center of the 2nd block facing Market Street.

Suddenly water started flooding over the houses to our left and the water began rising higher and higher. We began holding onto a porch post and then a roof gutter. Once the water was too high to hold onto anything else, more water began cascading over the houses on our right. The water rose very quickly and it was moving violently. The water from the right side rushed in so fast that it caused us to be tossed into the air. I saw Chris disappear in a high wave to my right. The water was so high that I couldn’t see the top of mountains. As I was falling down from having been tossed into the sky, I thought “Lord are you going to let us die?” I woke up holding my breath in anticipation of splashing into the water.

One Sunday night I was doing my daily Bible reading in our Study Bible. The passage was Psalms 69-71: songs of lament written by David.  Psalm 69 leapt off the page,

“Save me, O God for the waters have come up to my neck.  I sink in deep mire, where there is no standing; I have come into deep waters, where the floods overflow me.  I am weary with my crying; my throat is dry; my eyes fail while I wait for my God. Those who hate me without a cause are more than the hairs of my head; they are mighty who would destroy me, being my enemies wrongfully; though I have stolen nothing, I still must restore it.'

This is a Psalm expressing David’s innermost feelings of deep distress regarding those who chose to hate him without cause. I saw that the deep waters and floods were directly connected to those who hated David without a cause. I believe God was showing me the kind of waves that have come and will continue to come against us (Believers) in this hour. We will be hated and opposed even though we haven't done anything wrong.

I watched the dream play out in the months that followed. The warfare against my husband was just as strong and violent as I had seen in the dream. While we were receiving promotions, distinctions and honors, my husband was being overwhelmed by the waves. I called in help and prayer from our overseer and family back in St. Louis, and we made it through victoriously.

I saw in the Psalm that David was very transparent with God about how he felt. God truly understands how angry and hurt we may feel and how much we will need His help when people choose to plot against and hurt us. We are going to have to be completely open with God by sharing our hurts, frustrations, anger and pain with Him, especially when someone chooses to speak or act against us without a cause.

This kind of transparency helps us remain open to the dealings of God in our lives; so that we don’t miss how HE wants us to respond, which is in forgiveness. This will leave Him free to deal with those who choose to oppose us.

We need to recognize that if the opposition is from someone who is not in relationship with God, they are acting as a person would who has chosen not to live according to kingdom of God principles. Therefore we need to pray for their salvation and forgive them. 

Of course it may hurt us more deeply if the opposition comes from another Believer who we considered to be a trusted friend, with whom we may have worked with or had fellowship.

In this kind of flooding, it is even more important to spend time with the Father, sharing with Him our feelings, allowing Him to empower us to respond in forgiveness and prayer for the person; allowing Him to heal us.

The negative spiritual floods and high-water experiences that some of us will have, may be the result of envy because of what God is doing is our lives. Whatever the reason, we must choose to walk in forgiveness because it closes doors to the enemy in our lives.  Forgiveness is a process which requires that every time that person comes to mind, we must choose to forgive.

Chris and I have experienced this type of flooding several times over the years. The Lord has taught us that the Believers who opposed us and/or tried to discredit us have been people who:
1.) need healing from past issues; or
2.) don’t know who they are in Christ and may not know or understand their purpose in God.

God has been faithful to us, through the years, to deal with those who hated us without cause. Some of the relationships have been restored, while others have yet to be healed, but we have chosen to keep our hearts clear so that we don’t miss the goals God has for us to reach.

Many people are turning against God in this hour. Many Believers are turning on each other. Many are beginning to fall away from the faith. I can see the tide rising now.

In spite of those who may hate us without a cause, we must remain true so that the kingdom of God can continue to be spread in and through our hearts and lives.           

We Listen, We Lift, We Launch,

Coach Carol Green