Thursday, April 17, 2008

The man that prayed me through!

Today I got word that one of my former Pastors that helped me in the early beginnings of my salvation experience, passed away. His name was Joe Barnes and he pastored First Assembly of God church in Huntsville, Texas for many years. I was attending Sam Houston State University in 1979 when I met the Lord Jesus Christ. During that time of my college life, I began attending Chi Alpha which was a student run ministry on campus. My friend (Tim Kroon) and I went because we were hungry for God. Previous to our experiences with Christ, we hard tried the things of the world and all that comes with it and we knew there was something better.

I remember a time he and I went out to a cemetery where a year prior to this, we would go because we heard their where Satanic sacrifices or rituals going on and we wanted to crash the party, not knowing really what we where going to encounter. We never really saw the party nor the sacrifices, but at least got to say we went to explore. So we're going out to the cemetery now to seek God. We knew it was definitely a quiet place, so we parked my truck, got into the back and began to pray, until we began to hear noises and became very distracted. Finally as we where praying we saw a line of car lights coming from deep inside the cemetery and we'd had enough. We jumped into the truck, sped off like crazy men. Maybe there was something going on in that place, but now with our life changed we didn't want any part of it. So we made our way back to First Assembly in Huntsville, it was late at night so we drove to the back of the church thinking we could find a quiet, but safe place to pray without distractions, but that wouldn't work either. Seemed like every time the wind blew and the trees waved their branches, we got side tracked and couldn't concentrate on the reason for why we were there. You see, we were praying to receive the baptism in the Holy Spirit. We had heard about it, saw others receive it, saw the results of lives changed by it, and now we wanted it for ourselves. Our motto was "if God's got it and wants us to have it, we wanted it". Needless to say, nothing supernatural happen that night to either one of us.

Several weeks later, a brother in the Lord, a student leader in our Chi Alpha group was teaching about the Holy Spirit. There was about (seemed like 60 people) crammed into a double wide mobile home that was on the back side of the church, sitting and learning more about the things of God concerning the Holy Spirit. I made a decision that night. I was not leaving that building until I had received the gift of the Holy Spirit with the evidence of speaking in other tongues as mentioned in Acts 2, 1 Corinthians 12-14, and other areas of the bible. After the meeting the leaders asked if there was any that wanted to pray and tarry for the baptism, and immediately my hand went up. There were about 6 of us, so they took us inside the church, and it just so happened that Pastor Barnes was there that evening taking care of some routine church duties, so he came in to pray with us. He talked to us briefly about receiving the gift of the Holy Spirit, and I remember kneeling down at that old altar and praying, trying my best to figure out what was happening or what was to happen. It seemed like hours, but really just a few minutes. Brother Barnes was on one side of the altar and I was on the other. He began to speak in a heavenly language that I could not understand nor tried to, and just minutes later God consumed my life with His presence and filled me with the Holy Spirit and gave me a prayer language of my own. What a day of rejoicing that was. God's gift freely given to any believer willing to accept it by faith and allow its operation in their life. I am indebted to three men that have had an impact on my life. Pastor James McKeehan of Lindale Assembly of God-Houston, Texas, Pastor Joe Barnes of First Assembly of God-Huntsville, Texas, and Pastor Lloyd Maddoux of First Assembly of God-Conroe, Texas. Pastor McKeehan and Pastor Barnes are both now with the Lord. They were men of God that I admired greatly. If I can do for someone just a small portion of what these men have done for me, I will have accomplished much for the Kingdom of God. Brother Barnes, thank you for being the man "that prayed me through".

Friday, April 4, 2008

others cannot!

Back in the 80's when I knew that God had called me into service for Him, I ran across this paper (author unknown) that impacted my life so much, the message I have saved and held onto for over 20 years now and have tried at best to live what I felt was a call to a consecrated life with Christ. I knew the Lord had His hand upon me, but being young in the Lord at the time I didn't know really what that meant, nor did I know where the Lord was leading me. Today, I'm still not completely sure, but I do know He has continued pressing this message into my life.
"Others cannot"
If God has called you to be really like Jesus in all your spirit, He will draw you into a life of crucifixion and humility, and put on you such demands of obedience, that He will not allow you to follow other Christians, and in many ways He will seem to let other good people do things which He will not let you do.

Other Christians and ministers who seem very religious and useful may push themselves, pull wires, and work schemes to carry out their plans, but you cannot do it; and if you attempt it, you will meet with such failure and rebuke from the Lord as to make you sorely penitent.

Others may brag on themselves, on their work, on their success, on their writings, but the Holy Spirit will not allow you to do any such thing, and if you begin it, he will lead you into some deep mortification that will make you despise yourself and all your good works.

Others will be allowed to succeed in making money, or having a legacy left to them, or in having luxuries. But it's likely God will keep you poor, because He wants you to have something better than gold, and this is a helpless dependence on Him, that He may have the privilege of supplying your needs day by day out of an unseen treasury.

The Lord will let others be honored, and put forward, and keep you hid away in obscurity, because He wants to produce some choice, fragrant fruit for His coming glory, which can only be produced in the shade. He will let others be great, but keep you small. He will let others do a work for Him, and get the credit for it, but He will make you work and toil on without knowing how much you are doing: and then to make your work still more precious, He will let others get the credit for the work you have done, and this will make your reward ten times greater when Jesus comes.

The Holy Spirit will put a strict watch over you, with a jealous love, and will rebuke you for little words and feelings or for wasting your time, which other Christians never seem distressed over. So make up your mind that God is an infinite Sovereign God, and has a right to do as He pleases with His own, and He will not explain to you a thousand things which may puzzle your reason in His dealings with you, but if you absolutely sell yourself to be his love slave, he will wrap you up in a jealous love, and bestow upon you many blessings which come only to those who are in the inner circle.

Settle it forever, then, that you are to deal directly with the Holy Spirit, and that He is to have the privilege of tying your tongue, or chaining your hand, or closing your eyes, in ways that He does not seem to use with others. Now, when you are so possessed with the living God, that you are in your secret heart, pleased and delighted over this peculiar, personal, private, jealous guardianship and management of the Holy Spirit over your life, you will have found the vestibule of Heaven." (End of quote).

While eating dinner last evening with my wife of 27 years I mentioned to her that so many times in this season of my life I am overwhelmed with God and His presence in me. He is so real, almost tangible at times. The bible says in Hebrews 12:29 "For our God is a consuming fire". I feel at times consumed by His love, His mercy, and His grace. It is in these times when I know that He speaks to those who will take the time to listen. The one lost component of prayer, the listening side. We've been good at speaking, praying, giving our request, proclaiming, taking dominion, casting out this and that, but are we listening? God desires a people of fellowship. Many people today in the church cry out for fellowship, something their lacking in their lives that only others can fulfill. What about the Lord? What about fellowship with God? We were created for His good pleasure, may we never lose sight of that fact.

Thursday, April 3, 2008

Where do you start?

This has been a dream of mine for many years to write about my experience in ministry or just my journey with Christ, knowing Him more intimate, knowing what He wants for my life. Wow, I really don't know where or how to begin, so I'll just start with where I am currently along this journey and weave into this tread past experiences, miracles of God in my life, good times and definitely a lot of hard times.

Currently I Pastor a small, but growing & vibrant church in The Woodlands, Texas called The River. We run about 125 people overall and we're a little over 4 1/2 years old. This church was started out of our home during a very stressful time in mine and my wife's life. Our daughter had just married her high school sweetheart, which was awesome, but our son was beginning a downhill spiral in his walk with God and his overall choices he was making in high school. During that season the Lord was placing a desire in my heart to begin a church in The Woodlands with a vision to become a large, spirit-filled place of worship where the presence of God was sought after, and where people could grow in their hunger and relationship with Christ. I had been a part of this community (The Woodlands) for some time now, and had visited several churches to get a feel for the spiritual atmosphere around us, when the Lord said to begin a work for Him. I went to my Pastor that I had worked under since 1991 and he was willing to release us and committed to helping us financially and prayerfully for the first year while we began our work.

During that time, I can't honestly say my wife was totally on board with starting. We both were under a lot of stress with our son, and our focus was really directed on how to help him. We battled guilt, confusion, anger, and all of the other emotions that come into play when God has called you to do something for Him that's always bigger than yourself, but you feel so inadequate or unworthy because one of your own is suffering with choices they've made. So, what do you do? Scripture says when you've done all to stand, keep standing! Don't quit, don't give in to the war around you, but fight your way back with one purpose in mind, and that's not even to really get you child back, it's's to give glory to God with our lives and allow our selves to become a living sacrifice for the Lord.

I can't explain to you all what I really feel about the Lord, or even how deep of a yearning I have to know Him better. Proofing and re-reading the previous paragraphs stir up feelings I had several years ago, even back when I know He placed His "Call" on my life in the early 80's. Feelings of complete surrender to the will of God. Feelings that cause self examination stirring questions about life, purpose, and meaning. Maybe we've all asked the question: Why am I here? We're here to have fellowship with God. We're here to give glory to Him at all times. If there's one thing I've learned over the years, it's that this life is not about us, it's about the Lord. He purchased us with the blood of His son Jesus Christ. He paid a price for us that no one can match. What he's asked of those who follow Him is a life lived for Him. Many people feel there's no real obligation to serve God or live for Him consistently. They even feel once they've made a commitment to the Lord, that God knows their weaknesses and their inability to live for Him, therefore justifying or excusing themselves from consistent devotion or prayer because of the weakness of their carnal nature. However, something we fail to remember or remind ourself is when someone gives their life to Christ, the Holy Spirit of promise comes to take residence in that life. The Spirit of God becomes our guide, our teacher, and our comforter. The bible says in John 16:13 the Holy Spirit comes to "guide you into all the truth". John 14:6 says Jesus is "the way, the truth, and the life", so the Holy Spirit living in us leads us in Christ. I believe He leads us in every aspect of Christ. We become the Lords treasured vessels that He lives in. What an honor and what a blessing. We live in days that demand a deeper surrender to God's will. Everyone battles the sins of the flesh (mind, will, emotions), but God will always make a way of escape to those who seek Him. I leave you with a quote from a family member. "God reveals the secrets to those who seek Him". Be a seeker of God!