And the three men I admire most:
The father, son, and the holy ghost,
They caught the last train for the coast
The day the music died.

                                                                                  Don McLean, American Pie

Am I the only one who's noticed?

I visit a city from time to time where there’s a great Christian Bookstore. I say “great” because holding court behind the music counter is a veritable modern-day Revolutionary. He’s a young man with vision who senses the shifting of wineskins. Though he’s ordained by an evangelical church, his heart is with the Emerging Church. When I’m in his city, I always ask, “what’s new and good?” The last two times I asked, the answer was not encouraging.

The other day I was looking for some new music to download onto my brand new iPod, and over the course of several days’ searching, what I discovered only underscored what my friend in the bookstore told me: “There’s really not much out there right now.”

Have you noticed? Christian artists currently seem to be left to producing “The Best Of . . .” or “Best Loved Favorites” in order both to provide the Body of Christ with something “new” to consider and to keep an income stream flowing for themselves.

Sorry to say it, but new arrangements of old compositions is not  “new” music.

Contemporary Christian worship music just isn’t “contemporary.” The current state of the “current” is a far cry from the days when our hearts were pierced by the sounds of the “Best of Heaven” and the “stream” was the river of God.

In the 1990’s, there was a sudden, rushing flow of inspired, brilliant, heart-burning music; a sound like we’d never heard before.

It seemed in those days that every time we experienced a new worship CD and new corporate worship, the lyrics, the sound, the flow touched us right where our hearts were. The music of the new century is – well, not new. And the difference between the two is palpable. In the ‘90’s, there was movement, there was wind and fire. There was inspiration, a realization that God was among us. In the first years of the 21st century, there is a certain “deadness,” a “staleness,” a “lifelessness” compared with the decade past.

Yet if I hear the worship leaders and the songwriters correctly, they are at a stalemate, not in their spiritual lives, but in their hearing a distinct “sound” from heaven. Blame them if you like, but I don’t believe our worship leaders are at fault in this period of silence.

I think the lack of contemporary, creative, heart-piercing music is suggestive of a larger drama playing out before the eyes of the church world-wide.

What I sense is that the hand of God has been extended – not in blessing, but rather “staying,” silencing the church and her ability to create a clear stream of worship. It is as though heaven were saying, “Stop!” “Hold it!” “Wait.”

I think that God in His mercy, grace and goodness is refusing to allow the train to just charge down the track without direction, purpose and pace.

It's as though God’s finger has touched the “pause” button on the iPod of  His church.

I talk with lots of Christian people, from all kinds of positions in the Body and from different nations, denominations, persuasions and distinctions. I’m with the pastor of an Institutional church one day and with a band of “out-of-churchers” the next. Interestingly, I hear much the same kinds of things from those on all sides of the spiritual-religio bandwidth. They all say similar things: What once worked isn’t working any longer. Sunday morning church is stale; worship is musty and bland; sermons are harder to compose, harder still to preach and   harder yet to find lodging in hearers hearts. Or “We left the church structure, but what we’ve found isn’t any better.”

When a physician examines a patient complaining that “something doesn’t feel right,” a series of tests might be ordered the results of which will be measured against a known “baseline” of “normative” indications and a diagnosis will be made, eventuating in a prescription for recovery.

When the “something doesn’t feel right” amounts to “God’s not speaking, moving, touching like He was,” the  resulting diagnosis may lead to a painful prescription – “Don’t move: Listen!”

When heaven speaks, the Body responds. When heaven is silent, we should  be still.

I believe there is coming a new “sound” from heaven – not simply a new variation on the old; not a new “style” or  beat or rhythm, but an entirely new “sound.” Some might call it an “unction” or an “anointing.” One thing is for certain – when heaven releases the awaited “sound,” the “ear” will hear it.

Until then, this may be a good opportunity for some sorting of our own “stuff,” tossing out “excess luggage” – you know – those seemingly “little” things like wrong attitudes, and wrong actions, bitterness’s, resentments, petty, childish behavior and holding on to the precious principles of spiritual life. God will move and speak and guide in the not-too-distant future. I want to be positioned for His use, ready to move at His command, listening for “The Sound” to come from heaven.

In His Grace,


Night Lights and Long Flights . . . .

It's late. The night is "far spent." I'm tired; bone-weary. The cup of coffee that has been keeping me company must have been sitting in front of me for hours - I just took a sip and the black liquid is as    cold as rain.

In just about 24 hours I will board another airplane, find another seat, buckle another seat belt, and watch the concrete runway transform itself into blue sky. It's a familiar course we will set: Across      the Cascade mountains, and then the Rockies, followed by the Great Plains and then southward,     across Georgia, coming to rest at Atlanta. I know the terminal there like I know my own back yard.      I'll exit the plane and move to another gate where I'll watch the clock move towards my next     departure time, the interminable waiting more exhausting than driving nails into wood for eight hours. Then another flight will be ready and we'll make our way north, from Georgia's pines to Maine's woods, and then our craft will plunge out over Newfoundland, piercing the airspace over the cold Atlantic, passing by Greenland's white ice mass and Iceland's green valleys. And then, some eighteen hours    after I began my journey, we'll land again, this time in London, England.

My friends there are more family than they are mere acquaintances. We've been through fire and      wind and rain together. I've agonized in prayer with them, waiting to see God's salvation and   deliverance come. They've prayed for me - for my family - during times of crisis and pain. And     together we've watched the hand of God intervene, drive out the enemy, bring healing and strength   and provision and blessing.

This is why I do what I do; why I endure the long, cramped flights and the cold, remote concourses.   It's why I don't mind arriving somewhere, far away, exhausted before I've begun to pour out. It's      why I endure the painful separations from family. Because this is what the church is intended to be.     Brothers, literally, and sisters, walking together, believing together, hoping together, holding one   another when one is weak and one is strong.

I've seen enough of surface, fair-weather Christianity to last a life-time. I'm hungry for relationship,     for sharing good times and bad times, victory and defeat, laughter and sadness, dancing and     mourning with someone who likewise is willing - who desires the same kind of association.

And so, in less than 24 hours, I'll gladly move into the confines of another jet aircraft, strap myself to    a miniature seat and settle in for a journey not to another church, but to family.

What is it you would be willing to do to get to somebody who is real, who is your true friend, brother, sister, companion? May I suggest you just go ahead and do it? I can promise you, the pain of getting there is worth the joy of arriving.

In His grace,


Note: There is much peace and far less conflict in Northern Ireland today than there was in the late 1990's. We give thanks to God and to the people of Northern Ireland and Great Britain for coming to a place where peace has a chance and much of the aggression, killing and the wounding of the National Heart is giving way to healing. The following is in the context of those days, during the late 1990's when a small band of us - some would call us "Conquistadors of the Impossible" were jousting with the enemy of God - the devil - in Northern Ireland in the meetings that were known as "Fireland".                

Dreamers Of The Day

 "All men dream: but not equally. Those who dream by night
in the dusty recesses of their minds wake in the day to find
that it was vanity: but the dreamers of the day are dangerous
men, for they may act their dreams with open eyes, to make it
                    - T.E Lawrence, "The Seven Pillars of Wisdom"

Grace and love like mighty rivers

Poured incessant from above

and Heaven's peace and perfect justice

Kissed a guilty world in love

There's another one we sang over and over in Northern Ireland. I'll share the lyrics in a moment, but first, do you recall these, have you ever heard the names?: South Armagh. Lisburn Barracks. Omagh where my friends were killed days after we left the city. Do you remember or have you heard of Ballyclaire or Londonderry; Coleraine or Antrim, Ballymena, Belfast, Upper Falls Road, Lower Falls Road, Crossmaglen or Enniskillen? Does the name Bessbrookmill mean anything in particular to you? Do you remember Portadown, or Newtownards? Or Bangor - the Valley of the Angels - where St. Comgal planted the longest running 24-hour a day house of prayer and worship since the Tabernacle of David in Jerusalem. Bangor; where three thousand holy men sang and prayed responsively in continual praise and thanksgiving to God for over two hundred and fifty years. Some say that the influence of this community became the very basis of modern Western Civilization. Do you know the story of Coleraine, where a schoolboy went home from school sick and was healed on his way. Revival came from that healing and swept the land. That was a hundred years ago.

We started in a building constructed in the field where John Wesley preached in Hillsborough. There are cows in the field now. It's green grass; rolling meadows. The wind whispers over those hills. It's just another "place" but once Wesley's voice thundered out the grace of God. And we met night after night there and we sang:

Be Thou my vision, O Lord of my heart
Naught be all else to me, save that Thou art
Thou my best thought by day or by night
Waking or sleeping Thy presence my light
Be thou my wisdom and Thou my true word
I ever with Thee and Thou with me, Lord
Thou my great Father, I , Thy true son
Thou in me dwelling and I with Thee one

Riches I heed not nor man's empty praise
Thou mine inheritance now and always
Thou and thou only first in my heart
High King of heaven my treasure Thou art
High King of heaven my victory won
May I reach heaven's joys, O bright heaven's Sun
Heart of my own heart whatever befall
Still be my vision O Ruler of all

I wrote in my journal in those days: "And now the pain; the broken lives and destroyed families. The distrust and the    ache that rises up when cemeteries are passed by. Religion is a killer. Jesus is the Healer. Northern Ireland, America, England, the Republic of Ireland, Wales, Germany, Croatia, Latvia, the World needs a Harbor and not a Holy Hierarchy. The earth cries for a Refuge and not the cloak and the cancer of Religion. There is a generation that calls forth the Dreamers of the Day. A people, young, unspoiled, untouched by the edicts of spiritual politicism and untainted by the deadly stupor of a lifeless Institutionalism languishes, cries for the Fathers, looks to you and to me to find not merely Dreamers, but Doers of His Word in this hour.

. . . . the dreamers of the day are dangerous
men, for they may act their dreams with open eyes, to make it

I think we must do it. I think someone must do it. I think the time of aimless dreaming, of pointless scheming is past. I think we must act on our dreams with open eyes; make it possible for the generation - for this generation.


What Does One Say When There is Nothing to Say?

We've become such a noisy people, and with all our noise, we hear so little.

We talk and laugh and sing and shout and increase the volume of our radios and television sets and mp3 players in order to hear over the other "chatter" of life that pulsates and pounds at our ears and our minds and our hearts.       

We’ve nearly lost our appreciation for gentle silence.

And yet, so often, it is in the silence that God speaks. When we’re calmed and quieted, when we’re hushed and serene, somehow, that “still, small voice” can be discerned: The Voice that is so easily drowned by the sheer Volume of Life.

I have grown quiet in the past several weeks. In the stillness and silence I’ve groped for “something to say”,  something to produce, something to offer in this little column, but for all my investigations into this subject or that theme, I have heard nothing......but silence.

I stood a few days ago on the banks of a cold, flowing river in Alaska. It was early morning; the day had not yet   been imprinted with Noise and I stood silently, watching, gazing, observing. Looking above, the high snows of a mountain’s summit shimmered in pure and blazing white; untouched by the footprint of man or the detritus of creation’s Creation. At my feet, like a magnet a current pulled at waters flowing from the lake above me to the ocean below me.

I listened to the quiet, and in hearing the indiscernible, perceived a hush of wind, whispering through the thick pine forest just across the river.

And I thought of the unchangeableness of the sound of the wind in the trees. A hundred years ago, the sound was the same; a thousand years ago, from the time the first forest grew upward on the ridgeline above, the sound had not changed. What I heard, standing there on an April’s morning in 2005 was heard by passing bears, moose, swans and geese for a millennia. I was not alive, was not conceived and the Sound had remained the same. Kings and Rulers and Potentates rose and faded and disappeared and the Sound remained the same.

In all of the time of history’s passing, the sound never changed.

And standing there, with nothing but His creation around me I “heard” the Voice, still, small, persistent;                      ".....Jesus Christ the same yesterday, and to day, and for ever.”

And standing along that riverbank, in the early morning light and silence, I thought I heard another voice; an anthem, a choir, a song:

Great is Thy faithfulness, O God my Father;
There is no shadow of turning with Thee;
Thou changest not, Thy compassions, they fail not;
As Thou hast been, Thou forever will be.

Great is Thy faithfulness!
Great is Thy faithfulness!
Morning by morning new mercies I see.
All I have needed Thy hand hath provided;
Great is Thy faithfulness, Lord, unto me!

Summer and winter and springtime and harvest,
Sun, moon and stars in their courses above
Join with all nature in manifold witness
To Thy great faithfulness, mercy and love.

Pardon for sin and a peace that endureth
Thine own dear presence to cheer and to guide;
Strength for today and bright hope for tomorrow,
Blessings all mine, with ten thousand beside!

What does one say when there is nothing to say - When  there is nothing to declare, nothing to announce, nothing to proclaim?

What does one do when God’s silence preaches a sermon louder and more powerful than any human voice ever pronounced?

Along a riverbank, in the midst of the silence, booming out of the cavity of nothingness, exploding from the hush of emptiness, His Voice speaks when He is not speaking. . . .

“Before the mountains were brought forth, or ever You had formed the earth and the world, even from everlasting to everlasting, You are God.”   

“Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and comes down from the Father of lights, with  whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning.”

There is no problem, no difficulty, no circumstance beyond His knowing about or out of reach of His hand to repair, to heal, to resolve.

What does one say, when there is nothing to say?

In His Grace,


on a mission in the midst of the noise

"Meaningless! Meaningless!"
says the Teacher.
"Utterly meaningless!
Everything is meaningless."

What does man gain from all his labor
at which he toils under the sun?
Generations come and generations go,
but the earth remains forever.

Ecclesiastes 1:1-4

It’s noisy outside today. The press of humanity makes it so.
Loud cars
Loud music
Loud voices
Loud people

I yearn for a quieter dawning.

Wind Whistling,
          on its way through valley and forest: Its melody rising to meet the harmony that man grasps hard to reach but never achieves.

I relish the remembered sound of cold snow crunching underfoot; of ice creaking as it claims dominance
over fast-flowing streams.

Or the lone call of the crow, lifting its wings to depart a nighttime roost in the early morning, taking flight on the wings of the wind, searching out sustenance to energize another day’s requirements.

Sounds in my mind, drowned by the Noise of Progress; Evolution; Development; Life.

Moving forward, sometimes it seems we only regress and so become more desperate to find our
essential qualities in the abundance of senselessness.

It’s noisy outside today.
I want to hear the whisper,
The soft murmur of life gently singing in the stream of eternity,
But the clamor obscures life’s sweet melody.

Where is the insulation? Where is the protection from the confusing din?

What does man gain from all his labor at which he toils under the sun? All things are wearisome, more
than one can say.

And then, a still, small Voice.

So it was, when he heard it, that he went out and stood. And a voice came to him, and said, "What are you
doing here? Go, return to the Wilderness; (the Wild-er-ness) and when you arrive, anoint..... 1 Kings 19:11-13

Life is seldom what we’d like it to be. Our minds paint wonderful portraits of the way we would position all the components of our masterpieces, were we God.

But we are not God. We are merely mortal; fragile; temporal; impermanent beings with perpetual souls.

And so we are cast into life’s flow without our permission,
Or asking,
Or liking.

Performers on a stage, we live out our destinies in full view of eternity, asked merely to answer the call of our duty.

To return from our complaints into the Wilderness of life
And to anoint: To pour out oil; to bless; to bring the lubricant of God’s grace into lives devoid of Goodness And Mercy And Truth.

Someone we will meet today, in the midst of the noise, is in need of that anointing, that lubrication.
A broken heart,
A broken family,
A broken dream,
A broken marriage,
A broken image,
A broken life waits for anointing to bring healing.

And we are called today to carry God’s grace, in the midst of the annoying sounds of life, on a mission in the midst of the noise.

In His Grace,


I've been recently captivated by the awareness that the current generation of youth is largely "fatherless."

So many young men and women seem to be drifting through life, searching, probing, wandering; looking
for something elusive and unknown, unidentified - searching for a father. The following is a call for the
fathers to rise up, to realize their purpose on the earth and to father those whose sometimes raucous and grating cries beg for a man "to stand in the gap" for them.... This, then is for The Men.

 EVERY MaN Needs a CAUSE  

It’s the way we were made, wired, formed.
We didn’t choose to be this way.
It’s not because dad or mom bought us toy soldiers or toy rifles

Or because we watched The Sands of Iwo Jima
Or Platoon
Or Saving Private Ryan
Or Band of Brothers

Or because we read Sgt. Rock comic books
Or read Guadalcanal Diary
Or We Were Soldiers Once, and Young

Or because of images or profiles or the demands or the expectations of a pressing society around us.

It’s the way we are; the way we were put together.
It’s in the assembly and not because of the neighborhood we grew up in.

We are “cause” oriented. We want to be rescuers, heroes, achievers, doers.

But we have so few role models;
So few to look to.
The examples we’ve seen are largely defective, damaged, destructive.

Our dads didn’t turn out to be the heroes we thought they were, or if they were heroes, They never told us.
They lived busily and died quietly.

We feel alone, unaided, unaccompanied

And we need a Cause, A rationale for
Why we are,
Where we are,
Who we are

We want to stand up and cry “Give me liberty or give me death!”
We want to shout “I regret that I have but one life to give for my country!”
We want to gather with Roosevelt’s Rough Riders at the foot of San Juan Hill
We want to join with brothers, shoulder to shoulder on the summit of Mt. Surabachi, atop Iwo Jima, raising
Old Glory. We want to jump into the skies of France on a June night in 1944 with the Screaming Eagles,
crying “Curahee!”

We want to save a damsel,
Slay a dragon,
Defeat an evil

We want to be Defenders, Liberators, Victors
We want a Cause; our Cause;

A Cause worth living for,
Investing in,
Dying for.

We’re made that way. We don’t just decide one day to find The Cause
We live our entire lives looking for “it.”

And some of us stumble,
Lose our sight,
Lose our way,
Squander our time,
Our energy,
Our lives

Some of us surrender to the grind, relinquish the call, submit to the day to day, lose our passion, get in line
and become just another number in a numberless company moving in silent procession between the cradle
and the grave, wondering all along, where “it” is –

The Promised Purpose,
The Anticipated Action
The Fruit of Boyhood Dreams

And some of us die, having never lived.

But still The Cause is there
And The Cause beckons
The Cause awaits

And for those few, those blessed few who find it, the Cause becomes

The reason,
The rationale,
The purpose,
The point of life

And so, stirring within us,
Awakening from it slumber,
Rising from its stupor

Is the memory of the Dream
And the recognition of the Hope
The Desire
The Need
The Cause

And The Cause beckons.
It Calls.
It Whispers and Shouts and Cries
To those who will hear
To those who can hear
To those who, though dying, are yet alive

“Whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake and the gospel's will
save it.”
“For this cause I was born, and for this cause I have come into the world, that I should bear witness to
the truth.”
“For this purpose I have come forth."

"In Him also we have obtained an inheritance, being predestined according to the purpose of Him who
works all things according to the counsel of His will,”

And to those who are dying, yet live

He calls
He beckons

His Spirit Awakens

He bids us come,
Follow Him,
Learn of Him,
Imitate Him

“And we also ought to lay down our lives for the brethren.”

For the Cause
For the Call
For the Purpose
For the Reason we were Fashioned

“stand fast in the faith, quit you like men, be strong.”

And answer the Call
For the Cause

Rise up, O man of Destiny and of Purpose and of Promise!
“Rise up from the ambush, and seize upon the city: for the Lord your God will deliver it into your hand.”

On July 1, 1898, Colonel Theodore Roosevelt saw that his attack was stalled. The Americans appear to
be stymied - unwilling to move forward and unable to retreat. Suddenly, Colonel Roosevelt emerges on
horseback from the surrounding woods and rallies the men to charge: He cries, “If you don’t wish to go
forward, let my men pass, please!”

And the men rallied, they sprang into line and they charged....

If you don’t wish to go forward, let My men pass, please!

It’s time
It’s the hour
It’s the moment

It’s the place
And we are the men.....

For the Cause

In His Grace,

Abandoned to be Found

What images do these words conjure for you?   






Whatever impressions emerged or pictures were drawn in your mind as you thought of these words, it is likely that you have also experienced the feelings, the emotions, yes, the hurt and pain of abandonment or rejection.

Perhaps it was a parent – a mother or a father who abandoned you. Maybe it was a spouse or a child or a brother or sister who rejected you. Those you believed were your friends forsook you and you found yourself suddenly and silently alone in your aloneness, shivering in the icy chill of your isolation.

Rejection and abandonment can come in a thousand costumes and speak with myriad voices. The effect, the result produced is always the same:

Rejection brings injury to the soul and anguish to the mind. Abandonment makes the heart grow weak, but more; desertion destroys self-worth. We learn early in life to discard what we do not need; what we do not want; what is not essential or profitable or useful or even acceptable.

Garbage is disposed of; trash is discarded. We keep only that to which we attach value.

An abandoned soul feels valueless, worthless, insignificant, useless.

A forsaken heart is more than empty and crushed and bruised and injured; it is a playground for devils, a gymnasium for demons, a potential abode for the citizens of hell.

From the soil of rejection flourish the sour fruits of bitterness, resentment and, dark, brewing rage. Implacable, stone-hearted and pitiless wrath proceed from hearts that have known the frigid winds of torment spawned by the uncaring, the unfeeling and the unaware.

From such renunciation Americans have become familiar with the name “Columbine” and are now becoming aware of “Red Lake High” in northern Minnesota.

Most rejected and broken-hearted people never pick up a gun or seek to lash out at others. There is no need and no desire. The slow, grinding suicide begun by the deadly injection of aloneness and friendlessness is as deadly as any bullet that ever roared in tortured anguish.

We cannot control if and when or by whom we will feel the lethal claws of abandonment.

What we can do, what we wield control over is our response to rejection. Options exist for the heart that was crushed. Brokenness may come, but annihilation is not inevitable. No soul that was crushed was ever beyond repair.

And there is Someone who knows.....feels..... empathizes.....understands..... cares and Who also possesses the power to heal even the most trodden and crushed heart. It was foretold of Him;

“I have put My Spirit upon Him; He will bring forth justice....He will not cry out, nor raise His voice, Nor cause His voice to be heard in the street. A bruised reed He will not break, and smoking flax He will not quench.”

Who is this shining Knight; this Rescuer of offended hearts? Who is this Champion of the soul Who comes to right those who were wronged and to heal those who’s destruction seemed certain?

He came forth of misinterpreted illegitimacy and was raised in humble anonymity; He came forth from obscurity and moved about in lonely exile. He left His home country and renounced his nobility, He was  self-effacing and pointedly unassuming. He sought nothing for Himself and was content by Himself.

He was “despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief: and we hid as it were our faces from him; he was despised, and we esteemed him not.”

It is He Who “will bring forth justice for truth,” and God will hold His hand; “He will keep You and give You as a covenant to the people, as a light to the Gentiles to open blind eyes, to bring out prisoners from the prison, those who sit in darkness from the prison house.”

And to the One Who promised, “I will hold Your hand” hear the anguished cry from the central cross on that Crucifixion Day of all Days when Innocence was fixed to the Tree of Final Death: “My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?”

“Yet it pleased the Lord to bruise him....” because He saw your face and knew your brokenness and He anticipated through forsaking Him, your wholeness.

This Man above men, “made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men. And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross” So that He might see you, find you, know you, touch you, heal you, a bruised reed, tender, delicate, nearly too far gone to be repaired, but repairable in the Hands of a Master Physician.

And when we – you and I – accept and receive healing and restoration and the comfort of friendship with Him, we then carry within ourselves the knowledge, the ability and the sympathy to carry Him to another abandoned, rejected, forgotten heart, “that we may be able to comfort those who are in any trouble, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.”

So, we reach to the “least of these.” We find ourselves among “orphans and widows.” We observe pure religion and undefiled before God because we become what He has always been; a Father to the fatherless; a Lover of the unlovely; a Friend to the friendless. A visitor of prisoners and a provider of a cloak, a meal, a home...a heart that knows, that feels, that sees, that understands.

Our Abandonment was essential for another’s Recovery

We were deserted so that we might learn to Salvage

                     Discarded so we could Recapture

                              Forsaken that we might Comprehend

                                         Alone that we might point to the true Companion

What images are conjured in your heart? What scenes play before your mindscreen? Someone has been abandoned, deserted, discarded, forsaken. And who will notice? Who will go? Who will touch them in their brokenness and in their loneliness and Who will bring them to the Forsaken One Who alone has the antidote for this poison of the soul?

In the Shelter of His Grace,


Ten Years After . . . .

The date was March the twelfth, 1995. It was a Sunday morning, like so many Sunday mornings before, but unlike any from that day forward. This was the day that God "showed up" in the midst of our church service. Oh, we had thought, we had been certain that God had been with us every time we worshipped. After all, "where two or three" of us "gathered in His Name, there He was in the midst of us." Only today would prove to be a different kind of "in the midst of us."

A young preacher, still wet behind the ears had come to minister that morning. As he was preaching, God "showed up." I wound up falling to the floor. I knew what this was, our church history called it being "slain in the Spirit." When it happened to me that day I would have called it "embarrassing." Laying out for all my congregation to see, I tried to raise myself to the pew only to discover I couldn't get up! It was like a scene from the old TV commercial where the aged lady cries out "I've fallen, and I can't get up!" After the initial embarrassment had passed, I jokingly prayed, "Well, if I'm going to be stuck on the floor, You might as well do something in me." For the next two or three hours (I can't recollect the time span), God seemed to reach into my spirit and begin to pull "things" out. It seemed that He would examine them briefly, shake His head sadly and toss the "things" over His shoulder. After this had gone on for a time, I said, "Lord, if You don't stop throwing things away, there'll be nothing left!" It seemed at that moment that time stopped. I felt as though He laughed in pity and said, "That's the whole point! You've asked me over and over to fill you, but you were so full of yourself, there was no room for Me to fill you with anything; I'm just making room for Me." In the days to come, we would learn to call our experience "renewal."

Today marks ten years since that day. I wish I could tell you that the journey has been enjoyable, that it has been great fun, filled with peace and joy and good memories. I wish I could tell you that when God reaches into a man's life, only good things follow. The reality for me is that these ten years have been filled with pain, sorrow, the ugly kind of pain at looking into a mirror and seeing oneself as he really is. The past ten years have been years of death. Ten years of thinking the process had ended only to discover that there was another level of pride, of self, of rebellion to uncover and to kill. I'd like to tell you that after ten years I've arrived; that the dying is finished. I'd like to tell you that life is now a bowl of cherries.

What I will tell you is that life is better; much better than it's been in all my life. I have more peace, more joy, more intimate friendship with Jesus than I've ever experienced at any point in my life. I have a family that loves me and who I love. I have a life that I never knew was possible to experience. I hear the Voice of my Master, my Friend, my King often in the night hours. He speaks to me in the early morning hours. He talks with me through the day. He shows me secret things - He reveals truth to me. I find myself singing to Him often, without thought, without rehearsal and without embarrassment. Ten years ago I thought I had accomplished something for the Kingdom of God. Tonight, as I write these words, I'm just starting to live.

I hope you live, too, when the dying is done.

In His Grace,


On War and Reality and Brothers

War isn't like the movies portray it. War isn't neat and orderly and clear-cut: War is messy.

Those going to war need to understand that the brave will turn into cowards while some, thought to be cowards will stand up and be counted. Brilliant plans will become ridiculous babble and simple ideas will win the day. Strength will be discovered where it is least expected and weakness, hidden by careful manipulation will be exposed like a flimsy tarp, blown into the wind by the merciless wash of a helicopter's rotor. And when the day of battle ends and the guns have grown still, tired, silent men will look into one another's eyes and know - they will be brothers from this day on.

Look around your town today; does it appear that America is at war? Probably not. The War on Terror is being not fought on conventional battlefields by conventional means. This war is largely unseen, yet more deadly in its potential for destruction than a marching army; the nearly invisible war on terror is a reality although most of us have never seen an enemy combatant or heard the angry sound  battle. And while we don't see the battles, we witness the devastation left in their wake. New York City, The Pentagon, Pennsylvania, Afghanistan, Iraq, Spain, Indonesia. These names awaken terrible memories of death and destruction, of sorrow and grief beyond words.

But there is another war, deadlier in its execution, more insidious than any terror network that wages war daily everywhere in the world. It is the war for the souls of mankind. We may never see our enemy with our natural eyes, because he is invisible; yet we feel the effect of this war, calculated in broken families, destroyed lives, wrecked dreams, crushed and discouraged hearts.

The basic building block of any army is the individual soldier; but soldiers seldom fight for grand causes or for lofty ideals. From history's first war until now, soldiers have always fought for each other. What is needed in this deadly war of the spirit are brothers who fight for each other; sisters who war alongside sisters. What heaven is seeking is an army, an army of brothers, soldiers of the cross who will rise to the challenge of heaven, who, "out of weakness will be made strong, become valiant in battle, turn to flight the armies of the aliens . . . ."  And when the battle has ended and the guns have grown still, tired, silent men will look into one another's eyes and know - they will be brothers from this day on.


Curing Neurological Disorders

"We are a nation that is unenlightened because of religion. I do believe that. I think that religion stops people from thinking. I think it justifies crazies. I think flying planes into a building was a faith-based initiative. I think religion is a neurological disorder. If you look at it logically, it's something that was drilled into your head when you were a small child. It certainly was drilled into mine at that age. And you really can't be responsible when you are a kid for what adults put into your head." Bill Mahre, February 15, 2005

I sat up and listened this week as Bill Mahre put himself in the media spotlight with his remark that “religion is a neurological disorder.”

My initial knee-jerk reaction was to get angry with Mahre and condemn his statement until a commentator brought me back to reality with this; “we must distinguish between “religion” and “faith.”

If you've studied world history, you know that it was the socialist Karl Marx who said, “religion is the opiate of the masses.”

John Lennon’s famous song, “Imagine” talks about “nothing to kill or die for and no religion too.

Christians have long had problems with the likes of Marx, Lennon and now Mahre – but perhaps we need to take a closer look at what's really being said by non-religionists and ask if there might be grains of truth in their bushels of attack.

I’m not defending Bill Mahre’s position on God or his politics. I certainly am not a follower of Karl Marx or a proponent of Lennon’s philosophies, but there is something in their statements that underscores a truth that is emerging from the “fog of war” that exists between  spiritual, religious and secular segments of society. Notice the differentiation between “spiritual” and “religious,” the distinction the commentator quoted above noted.

I don’t believe most non or anti-religion people really have as much a war with God as they do with religion.

Years ago, I heard Dr. C.M. Ward – a conservative Pentecostal Christian leader say “The tendency of religion is to muddy.” I didn’t fully appreciate his words then. Much later I really looked hard at what Jesus said about religion: “ have made the commandment of God of no effect by your tradition.” (Mt. 15:6).

I remember someone, back in college days telling us “religion is man’s attempt to get up to God; Christianity is God reaching down to man.” That’s why we’ve often said to non-Christians “we’re not talking about religion, we’re talking about relationship with Jesus. "Christianity is not a religion," they would intone," it is a relationship with a Person, Jesus Christ." But really, we, the collective "us" of Christianity have twisted our faith into a religion as surely as ancient Israel created for themselves a king just like the other nations around them had.

The word “religion” has an interesting etymology: It comes from the Latin religio, which means both “supernatural constraint” and “religious practice,” perhaps from religare to restrain. The root of the word also gives us the word “rely” which means to be dependent.

Think about that for a moment: Religion restrains and causes dependency.

Restraint is defined as “a device that restricts movement.” Jesus said He had come that we might have life and life more abundant; yet millions of people who have come to the church to find God and to find a relationship with heaven have also walked away in varying degrees of disappointment frustration and confusion.

Some, as Bill Mahre had religion “drilled into your head when you were a small child. It certainly was drilled into mine at that age.”

Sad, isn’t it? The thing that was sent to give life, to bring liberty and to set us free was corrupted and twisted into something that is “drilled into” heads of small children: “restraint” and “dependency.”

I guess religion was drilled into my head when I was young. Like many people of my generation I attended Sunday School and Church and all the attendant meetings, programs and services. But when I was 21 years old, I met a Person named Jesus. I discovered that God liked me, that He wasn’t angry with me, and that He intended to be my best Friend in this world and my Companion one day when I step out of time into eternity. I found a relationship and the relationship displaced religion.

The more I think about Bill Mahre’s comments, whatever else he means or intends by them, I’m beginning to agree with him, “I think religion is a neurological disorder.” I would recommend to Mr. Mahre and to everybody who has a problem with religion – meet a Man named Jesus; He specializes in healing neurological disorders.

In His Grace,


What We Want.....

We're not cute; I know. We don't use "cutting edge" graphics; I know. We haven't employed  "trick" designs and we haven't used the current "buzz words" of emerging church language to communicate our message to you. We don't use titles such as "apostle" or "prophet" to describe ourselves because, to us, we're just people with names given us by our mothers and fathers and we're much more comfortable on a first-name basis.  I know, we don't seem "cool." Maybe we're not "cool." And if we're not, I don't care that we're not.  Being "cool" isn't our objective; it doesn't even appear on our radar. 

We want to be accepted by God. 

We want to accurately represent Him to the world around us. 

We desperately want to walk in close relationship with Jesus. 

We want to effect our world with His presence, Spirit, anointing, touch, healing.

I know, we're not "cool." And that's really ok with us, as long as the moment appears when we hear Him say to us; directly to us, "well done, thou good and faithful servant."

So if you're looking for "cool," do a Google search. If you're looking for the reality of a group of people given entirely to the single purpose of pleasing Him, we invite you to join with us on our quest to see the church that Jesus promised He would build.

That's the Emerging Church that this site talks about so incessantly and so passionately. It's the church we invite you to join.

On Forgiveness

Forgiveness or the lack thereof is a critical issue in the Body of Christ.

I recently read a
report of secretly taped conversations between George Bush and Doug Wead when Mr. Bush was considering entering national politics in 1998. You may not know Doug, but he's a good man and a former Assemblies of God minister. He wrote a book in 1972 titled, Father McCarthy Smokes a Pipe and Speaks in Tongues. It was pretty controversial then, but it also was true. Doug is a former aid to President George W. Bush.

In the tapes Wead revealed, Mr. Bush talks about meeting with James Robison and James' advice: "What you need to say time and time again is not talk about the details of your transgressions but talk about what I have learned. I've sinned and I've learned."
"I said, 'James' - he stopped - I said, 'I did some things when I was young that were immature,' "Mr. Bush said." He said, 'But have you learned?' I said, 'James, that's the difference between me and the president (Clinton). I've learned. I am prepared to accept the responsibility of this office.'

So the question becomes," is it appropriate for Christians to forgive George Bush and elect and re-elect him as President while refusing to forgive another person and to accept him as a brother or sister?"

James Robison struggled with lustful thoughts and sexual temptation until he wanted to die. He awakened to his sin. He repented. He sought counsel and prayer and forgiveness from his wife and from his God. God forgave; Betty forgave; James' friends forgave and James' life and ministry were restored and he is now touching and helping millions of people. It is possible that the same people who are condemning someone of lesser fame also are receiving some level of ministry from James Robison.

David, King of Israel, sinned. He committed adultery with a young girl and arranged for her husband to be killed.  Yet David is known as "a man after God's own heart" because he repented of his sin.

I have sinned. You have sinned. The Pope has sinned. The General Superintendent of the Assemblies of God has sinned. The President of the Southern Baptist Convention has sinned: All have sinned and come short of the glory of God.

Is one person required to attain to some spiritual level greater than another? Must he or she achieve and maintain a higher standard of spirituality and holiness than James Robison or any other respected leader within the Body in order to be received into fellowship?

What is required in order to obtain forgiveness? The Bible indicates that repentance - an acknowledging of past sin and a heart-decision to turn away from that sin and to go another way is the key to unlocking the door to forgiveness.

Works cannot be the determiner of when forgiveness is given, because Jesus said to the woman taken in adultery, "Woman, where are those accusers of yours? Has no one condemned you?" She said, "No one, Lord." And Jesus said to her, "Neither do I condemn you; go and sin no more." Forgiveness was issued at the point of repentance, not after a period of appropriate behavior.

Another question regards restoration. What are the criteria by which we determine when a man or woman is "restored?" Is there a one-year waiting period? Does it require three years to restore a sinner? Religion wants to neatly organize spirituality into a manual complete with a quick-reference guide. Religion wants to establish rules and regulations to cover every conceivable sin and failure so that we can just flip to the appropriate page and find the solution to our problem. But God doesn't operate within the pages of an "operating manual." God operates in the arena of the heart. God knows when a heart is sincere. God understands when a "broken and contrite heart" appears. God is the restorer; not man. And when a man or a woman has confessed sin (to God and to one another) and has repented of sin and has begun to live "another way" and has demonstrated to someone to whom he or she is accountable that he or she is indeed living "another way" it is incumbent upon all Christians to underscore God's love, forgiveness and acceptance by their actions and by their acceptance of such an one. As God has forgiven, so must we. As God has accepted, so must we. As God has endorsed a life by the provision of His grace, so must we.

For what and for whom was the precious blood of Jesus spilled at Calvary? What is the blood of Jesus intended for? Is the story of the cross merely a wonderful story of love and of sacrifice? Does the blood avail only for the "special ones" who have not committed public and grievous sins? Or is the blood of Jesus made available for those desperate, guilty, wicked, evil and wretched sinners such as you and me?

To favor or to forgive one person above another is as great a sin as adultery or murder. To judge any man after the flesh is a transgression of God's law and an assumption of God's authority:

"Therefore you are inexcusable, O man, whoever you are who judge, for in whatever you judge another you condemn yourself; for you who judge practice the same things." (Ro. 2:1)

Who are you to judge another's servant? To his own master he stands or falls. Indeed, he will be made to stand, for God is able to make him stand. (Ro. 14:4).

Therefore judge nothing before the time, until the Lord come, who both will bring to light the hidden things of darkness, and will make manifest the counsels of the hearts: and then shall every man have praise of God. (1 Cor. 4:5).

The Body of Christ rises and falls on this solitary issue: In what manner will we treat any sinner who has repented?

If we reject a repentant sinner, God will reject us. If we receive a repentant heart, God will receive us. If we say we hunger for revival, we must begin by forgiving those whom God has forgiven, and then He will forgive us.

If My people who are called by My name will humble themselves, and pray and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land.

If we err in our judgments, let us err on the side of grace



Of Water Bottles and Old Wineskins

In my younger years I climbed mountains. Whenever the weather cooperated, I could be found crossing a glacier, dodging crevasses, or inching up ice and rock toward a summit in the Cascade Range or in the Olympic mountains.

One of the challenges of climbing is finding water. Climbers melt snow or ice on small stoves to produce the water necessary to climb. In the early days I carried cheap plastic bottles to hold my water supply. The plastic gave the water a terrible taste, but my need for water superceded the luxury of good flavor. One day a fellow climber offered me a drink from his bottle. As I drank, I realized there was no bad taste! When I asked my friend how he kept his water pure-tasting, he told me he only purchased bottles made by a company called Nalgene
©. These were expensive bottles: The cost was more than double what I paid for my cheap, plastic-tasting bottles, but there was no bad after-taste! Incredible! The water that filled our bottles was the same, but the difference in taste was amazing.

I was musing as I often do, about the tension between what we call Institutional Church and Emerging Church.

Those of us who are “Post IC” Christians often find our motives for leaving the existing church and even our very faith called into question by IC folks – and especially their leaders.

One argument I’ve heard is this: “Of course the church has problems. The church will always have problems, but if the Holy Spirit is here, why do you have problems with the church?”

And I was musing. And it occurred to me in the form of a question: “Does it matter what container holds water, so long as the water inside is pure?” Before you quickly agree that it doesn’t matter, remember the story about cheap bottles and expensive Nalgene
© containers and consider this: If the container is dirty, or if it is made of materials that include PCBs or other harmful substances that would taint or give a bad taste or even poison the water, does the container matter?

Perhaps if we’re willing to spend a little more, we can find a container that will allow people to Taste and See that the Lord is good!


I agree with Conrad Lampan's article,


Conrad has written a wonderful treatise as a response to the following statement: A few moments ago I read an email that quoted from Evan Roberts, the revivalist God used to spark the 1904 Welsh Revival:

 “Evan Roberts prayed after seeking God 13 years for revival in Wales, "Lord, the altar is built, the sacrifice is laid upon.  We await the fire from heaven to ignite the flames of revival."  WE ARE AT THIS STAGE OF REVIVAL IN AMERICA AND THE WORLD.  GET READY! GET READY! GET READY!”

Lampan continues: Reading the above quote one question explodes in my mind: can we seriously declare that “we are ready”? Can we, looking at ourselves with all honesty declare that we are “oh, so ready?” We need to take another look in the direction of the Throne. When Isaiah saw the Lord on His lofty throne he did not shout out “oh how ready I am” rather he cried out: “Woe is me!” and only after that he was sent by Lord. This is the readiness we need, an encounter with the most High that will leave us “without strength” like Daniel; or “as a dead man at His feet” as John in Revelation; or an encounter that will set us off the horse like Saul. Every man God used first had an encounter with God that left them undone. HOW UNDONE ARE WE? Our “undoneness” is the most accurate measure of our readiness. 

What was the sacrifice that was “laid upon the altar”? Evan Roberts himself. He also said “I have reached out and touched the flame; I am burning and waiting for a sign” We can read all the books, and visit all the places, and be prayed for by every anointed preacher, yet until we are ready to surrender it avails for nothing, yet until we ourselves are burning no fire of revival will ever burn. Wesley said when asked about what he did to have revival: “I set myself on fire and people come to see me burning”. Read more of Conrad Lampan at

When I visited Loughor (pronounced, "Lock Ah") at Moriah, in Swansea, Wales where Evan Roberts preached and the revival was born in 1904, the current pastor told us the story of the Welsh Revival.

The key to the revival he said, and its defining moment did not occur at the church or at the school adjacent to the church. It happened at a ladies' prayer meeting in a home after Roberts had traveled to Brecon seeking and failing to obtain matriculation so that he could be ordained.

Dejected, Roberts returned to Loughor and was invited to speak to some ladies at a home prayer meeting. There, on his knees, in utter desperation, Roberts spoke two words: "Bend me!" The next morning he spoke to young students at the church's school, and the rest is history.

When we finally come to the place of utter desperation and cry "bend me!" God hears.

When we proudly proclaim, "WE ARE AT THIS STAGE OF REVIVAL IN AMERICA AND THE WORLD.  GET READY! GET READY! GET READY!” I believe God simply says, "yes, why don't you - we.....get ready?"

In His Grace,


Why Not Ask – “Why Not Me?” 

I recently ministered in the place where Spurgeon once ministered. The location is on Spurgeon Road in Croydon, London, England.

The history and the legacy of Spurgeon’s ministry were not lost on me as I came to the pulpit. In fact, an almost strange sense of awareness of Mr. Spurgeon accompanied me throughout the days I was there.

As I spoke that first night, I remembered preaching in a building constructed in a field where Wesley preached in Northern Ireland. I recalled that two summers ago we stood in Moriah church at Loughor in Glamorgan, at Swansea, Wales. This was the epi-center of the Welsh Revival of 1904. It was here that Evan Roberts preached to school children resulting in worldwide revival.

Charles Haddon Spurgeon, John Wesley, and Evan Roberts became God’s Generals in their time. They shook nations and turned millions of hearts to God. I revere their memories; I thank God for their examples. The kind of anointing of the Holy Spirit on their lives is something for you and for me to strive for.

A few years ago I listened to an excited preacher crying out to get hold of Smith Wigglesworth’s anointing and mantle. Shortly afterward I heard somebody else proclaiming boldly that we (our generation) needed to lay claim to the Azusa Street anointing. While we were in Northern Ireland, some of “the lads” on our team got excited about Patrick – Saint Patrick; the man who brought Ireland to Jesus in a single generation. Some of the guys wanted to find Patrick’s tomb and stretch out over his grave and somehow “absorb” Patrick’s anointing.

I admired their zeal, but didn’t accompany those dear friends on their quest. It occurred to me then as it does today that while I thank God for Spurgeon and Wesley, Roberts and Wigglesworth and Patrick and the boys of Azusa Street; and while I admire and appreciate the anointing God gave to each of them, those men all are dead. Each of these blessed men was given an anointing for his generation and for his time. You and I live in a new generation and in a new time and require a new anointing to touch our world in this hour.

We need to honor the past and appreciate those who have gone before us. Many faithful, dedicated men and women have accomplished hard work to plow the ground and to prepare the way for you and for me; but while we admire past heroes and learn from their experiences, we must press on and receive Our Anointing for Our Hour in Our World.

There is a verse that sings to me. It’s a verse that pushes at me and encourages me and beckons me: Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us... (Heb.12:1).

This verse follows immediately after the incredible list of “Faith Heroes” in Chapter 11. No mention of seeking the anointing of Gideon or Barak or David or Samuel or the prophets. No encouragement to run back into history to obtain faith, power, miracles, determination. Only this: “let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us.” And this, “and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us.”

The heroes – this cloud of witnesses ran their race; now we must run ours. We don’t get to choose the race or conditions on the race track; it’s the one “set before us.”

So what about you? What are you doing today to “lay aside” and to “run?” A generation awaits a new Spurgeon, Wesley, Roberts, Wigglesworth – why not ask, “why not me?”

Grace like a River

As I write this I have been listening to Delirious? while preparing for a week of ministry. The band is singing “River of Grace” and I've been captured by the lyrics so much so that I've lost track of what I had been meditating on, which was the subject of The Presence of God.

Listen with me for a moment:

Mystery of mysteries
That you could love someone like me
In your hands eternity
And yet you have the time for me
A love so undeserved
You held nothing in reserve
Heaven played its symphony
I took your hand you rescued me

Grace like a river
Is flowing down
Is flowing down
Grace like a river
It's flowing down to me

Written by Stu Garrard/Martin Smith ©2003 Curious? Music UK

And it occurred to me, as I pored over the same Scripture verse in various Bible versions, trying to catch the import of the words that what I was trying to discover; what I was really seeking; what most likely actually led you to this web site and to this page is literally a cry and a hunger to experience His grace. When we talk about finding His presence; getting to where He is, we discover that it’s impossible for man – for you and me – human beings – flawed, imperfect, broken, sometimes discouraged, weary of trying and failing and flailing, to get where He is.

And so Grace, “like a river” flows down; emanates from Him, from His Throne of Grace, from His very heart. From the innermost counsels of His very being, He steps out, bows down, reaches low, and demonstrates that grace in the giving of His Son so that you and I can find what it is we truly seek; to be embraced by Grace; to be enveloped; to be consumed; to be overwhelmed.

 Well, I must move on. The song has ended. Delirious? is singing another tune, “Majesty (Here I Am).” Listen with me,

Your grace has found me just as I am
Empty handed, but alive in your hands
Majesty, Majesty
Forever I am changed by your love
In the presence of your Majesty

Written by Stu Garrard/Martin Smith ©2003 Curious? Music UK


On Mercy and Grace and My Worldview...for now

We were touching our city. In our sanctuary the poor and the homeless, the victims of HIV and Hepatitis C and drug addicts and alcoholics mixed with the prosperous and the righteous. We were "doing it the right way."

I was driving to my office early on a Sunday morning. As I passed the homes of neighbors and strangers - mostly unbelievers - words rang in my mind: "Mercy and Grace..."  And suddenly I heard another Voice. It was His Voice, speaking to me. "You're altogether too harsh."

I was shocked! I was one of the most loving, accepting, forgiving men in town! How could God call me "harsh?" Yet He said it because I was just that; harsh in comparison with His heart. I was judgmental, critical, self-righteous; cloaked in a costume of holiness.

That morning I would enter a wilderness journey created to teach me, as no other instructor could teach me the meaning of those words: Mercy and Grace.

We want to "do it the right way." We want to please God. Sometimes we just want to "make points" with heaven. But we don't "make points" and we can't please God without actually understanding those words: Mercy, Grace. Because they are so much more than "just words." I couldn't know the true meaning and the true spirit of those words until I had walked through the valley of judgment and endured the agony of looking at my own heart and considering my own motives. I began to see His heart and His mercy and grace toward me even in the pit of my self-created ugliness. And slowly, painfully I began to change. And that change allowed me to see with new eyes; to understand with a new heart; to speak with a new compassion.

In nearly thirty-five years of ministry, with all the education and all the instruction and all the learning I think I've only learned three things for certain: 1) God is 2) His love for mankind is greater than our hearts can know or our words can say and 3) Our Creator's greatest desire is that we - the collective "we" of the world; red and yellow, black and white; all of us, should spend forever with Him in His heaven.

And greater than all our mixed up theologies and all our cultural predispositions and our “holy” prejudices are those words: "Mercy and Grace."

I think I would rather possess two ounces of mercy and grace than a trillion tons of prophetic gifting or apostolic anointing or slick, charismatic appeal. And that’s My Worldview.....for now.




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