Friday, March 17, 2017

A Little View and Experience With the Historical Person and Places of St. Patrick

We’ve been blessed over the years to be able to visit some different places connected with historical events and figures while on ministry trips. One of those places is associated with the man known as St. Patrick.

With this particular figure one needs to be discerning though, because as scholar Ruth Tucker (PhD in History, Univ. of Northern Illinois) says in her book From Jerusalem To Irian Jaya, “Popular opinion notwithstanding, Patrick was neither a Roman Catholic nor an Irishman and his promotion to sainthood was bestowed at the council of Whitby some two centuries after his death as an incentive to bring the Celtic Church under Roman Catholic domination, shrouded by legend and glorified by sainthood, his true ministry has been obscured almost beyond recognition.”

When I was attending Fuller Seminary, sometime before I graduated, Ruth Tucker came and lectured on this very topic at a special symposium. I began to see the truth of the saying “History is often written, or rather rewritten, by the victors.” In this case, the real story is much more interesting than the inaccurate legends promoted in Catholicism, such as: St. Patrick was the first Catholic Bishop of Ireland who drove the snakes out of the land. He wasn't a Catholic bishop and  snakes have never existed in Ireland.

As a result, finding some of the real places that have some historical connection to St Patrick has almost been as hard as finding out about the real story of him.

We spent hours at a big cathedral named after him in Dublin only to find out later it has no historical connection to him whatsoever. It was built after his time and thus he never laid one brick there, nor visited it.

I did happen to here of an actual little church he built while out on the coast in County Sligo. We had headed out there and it was a bear of a trip from the start. Long hours in a bus with a not-so-cheerful driver. We actually went right by the hostel we booked but the driver said we couldn't get off there for some unknown reason. He drove us a good five miles away to an official bus stop in town so we could have the fun of hiking back, schlepping along with all our stuff on streets, many of which had no sidewalks, in places with cars whizzing by rather close—makes you realize what a miracle it is when someone goes out of their way to help you like a bus driver did in Germany once

I heard there was a little church in the area built by Patrick, but it was hard to get info on where this little church might be. It was hard to find anyone who seemed to know or care about a real place connected with St. Patrick. A bit of fun surf in the area compensated for all the difficulties we endured.

Finally, I met a guy while getting a bite to eat who knew a thing or two; it was quite the relief after having people just shrug their shoulders whom I’d asked before this. We were informed, however, that getting there would mean running across an active airport runway…What??

So, we got the lowdown from the guy and headed out, walking out a ways to a little airport, where we found our way round and made sure no planes were coming in and did our mad dash across the runway. Ok, survived that, then it was through some bushes and up a little hill onto an overgrown path taking us out to the ruins of the very humble and broken down walls of an ancient little church. Such a stark contrast from the grandiose cathedral in Dublin.

I felt the Holy Spirit speaking through it all, that this is where he often meets us: in the low, humble, broken places of our lives. Jesus’ very words as he began his ministry were: “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; he hath sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised..” (Luke 4:18)

These were the very words Jesus chose to speak as he began His ministry and He still carries this activity on as we open our hearts to the One who was born in a manger and died on a cross. It was quite the contrast to the traditional cathedral that put Christ high on an altar, far away.

He meets us down in the nitty gritty broken places of our lives. This is where St. Patrick himself first met Christ. The real story has important biblical parallels to learn from, as Patrick experienced a conversion to Christ and was called supernaturally into the ministry. While he was herding pigs as a slave, he came to Christ: He had been taken captive amongst a group of boys in Roman Britain by Irish barbarian raiders.

He had grown up previously in Roman Britain in a Christian family with a father who was a deacon and a grandfather who was a minister in the Celtic Church. This was before Roman Catholicism imposed itself upon the area and ministers in the Celtic Church were married.

However, Patrick didn't have a personal faith yet. But while he languished in Ireland, that land of difficult servitude, forced to herd filthy pigs, he had plenty of time to reflect on his life and way, and in that lowly time Patrick began to call upon God and experienced a conversion to Christ.

He says: “The Lord opened the understanding of my unbelief…that I might remember my faults and turn to the Lord…he had regard to my low estate and pitied my ignorance…He comforted and strengthened me as a father does a son.”

There in that lowly time he was redeemed and brought into relationship with Christ. Through this relationship, he discerned the leading of God supernaturally to escape and was led hundreds of miles away to find a ship out of Ireland.

He eventually returned to his family in Roman Britain and they considered him as one who had come back from the dead.

Later on, however, he felt a call to return to Ireland, this time as a missionary. In the depth of the night “I heard the voice of the Irish, of those of Focluth by the Western Sea call out, please holy youth come and walk amongst us again. Their cry pierced to my very heart and so I woke up.”

This Macedonian Call as it is known—a la Paul in Acts 16—led Patrick to go back to the land of his former servitude, Ireland, not as a slave but as a faith missionary.

He didn't go right away though, he spent considerable time preparing, in fact he didn't venture off to Ireland until well after he was in his 40s, which with the short lifespan of those days would be considered pretty late in life.

Once there he had many power encounters with Druids and others with pagan beliefs and the demonstrated power of God led many to conversions. Those converted were taught the Scriptures after receiving Christ, unlike in the Roman system. He also used the shamrock (three leaf clover) to explain the Trinity

Though he saw many converted and became a noted man in his own lifetime, he was ever aware of his own weaknesses and shortcomings, much like Paul the Apostle (Romans 7:14-25; 1Tim.:15-17)  and credited God with all that was accomplished, saying of himself: “I pray that those who believe and fear God…[will see] Patrick of Ireland, the sinner, an unlearned man to be sure, that none should ever say it was my ignorance that accomplished any small thing in accordance with God’s will… let it be most truly believed, that it was the gift of God. And this is my confession before I die.”1

As stated by scholars Lang, Curtis and Petersen in their historical piece on St. Patrick: “The Church in Ireland had developed outside the hierarchical system of Rome, because Patrick evangelized the people without relying on the established church.”2 Rather, he was a faith missionary-evangelist that relied on God’s power and leading.

Footnotes
1 -- From Jerusalem to Irian Jaya by Ruth A. Tucker.
2 -- The 100 Most Important Events in Christian History by A. Kenneth Curtis, J. Stephen Lang, and Randy Petersen.

Links
To watch our YouTube video on the Real St. Patrick click here.
Direct link: https://youtu.be/puQ-sT0K2dU

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Tires and Trials

We were on a car trip just recently when we had a gnarly tire blowout. We were going full speed on the freeway when a front tire literally exploded.

Within one moment we found ourselves in the middle of a dangerous situation. Suddenly, it was really hard to control the car as it began to pull us all over the place; I muscled it best I could to the shoulder while running on the rim with smoke and tire bits flying everywhere.

We were glad to have made it to the shoulder but we were now stuck on the side of the freeway. The exploded tire had wedged itself in the wheel well and was stuck, while cars came whizzing by fast and close so there was no way to work on it ourselves. So we sat there waiting for the tow truck, which finally showed up over an hour later.

The mechanic who worked on the car after getting it towed, said: "You're very lucky to be safe after that. Many times cars roll, or spin out, or get hit by another car, with that kind of blow out.” I told him it was more than luck, I said, “It was the grace and mercy of God."

Well, after some more fun times hanging out and waiting around for hours for the car to be done, we finally got back on the road. We were a little shocked by the bill, we had to buy two new tires since the other front one got messed up too.

We were hoping everything was fine now after we finally got going again; however, as we went along, a small transmission leak became progressively more severe after the blowout.

While driving through the desert in the middle of the night, we discovered that the transmission was now severely leaking, not the kind of place or time you want to discover such news. We turned back to a motel we’d seen and just happened to get their very last room for the night.

Used For Good


All the stress of the situation caused us to call out to God when we got into the room. His presence suddenly swept over us with great power. All three of us, were brought forth into an incredible outpouring of the Holy Spirit in the middle of the night that was so powerful, it was mind blowing! God met us in such an intense, intimate, and healing way, it was just overwhelming as His presence swept over us with such grace.

We realized the Lord had His hand on us in spite of the situation. A revelation came that He was using it for good even though it was a trial with one car problem after another. It was such an awesome encounter that we were just caught up in His presence.

The next morning more divine intervention took place as we had a divine appointment at the motel and we ended up leading a woman to the Lord:

She was a worker at the place and started talking to us while we were eating breakfast. After a bit of conversation with her, I felt the leading of the Spirit to share the Gospel with her. Though she had a Catholic background she said she had never heard the Gospel in all the years there, rather was just told to do rituals that she said had become empty and meaningless in the end.

We shared the Gospel with her and told her that God desired a personal relationship with her and Christ had paid for her sins on the cross. She understood as we shared that she needed to receive Christ. We told her that we would pray with her to do so if she wanted.

She said she would like to do that and so we prayed with her, right there in the breakfast room, to receive Jesus Christ as her Lord and Savior.

She had quite the smile on her face afterwards as the Lord filled and touched her heart and it was awesome to see how the Lord had entered into her life.

Back to Earth


After all this encountering God at every turn in the previous hours, it was like falling back down to earth as it came time to leave and face up to the reality of our car problem.

Fluid was leaking out of the transmission in a significant way when we turned the engine on. What to do? I certainly didn't want to get stuck at some “highway robbery car repair shop” out there in the middle of nowhere, which would likely hit us with another large bill and maybe have us stuck for days. Towing home would be outrageous from this distance too.

We were at the end of our trip and felt we just needed to get the car back home and deal with it there, we just gotta cross the desert and drive some 230 miles to do it.

We prayed for an answer and felt we should pour in some more fluid and just go for it and start heading back. To our surprise, it was holding out ok as we drove, that is until we hit some hills…

As it shifted gears through the hills, warnings came from the car system. We pulled over, put some more fluid in, and prayed in tongues over it as we continued on. The stress level became quite high as I surveyed the vast expanse of empty desert before us while the car continued giving warnings. I thought, “This is what ship captains must feel in the middle of the sea when the boat starts having trouble.” As I looked out into that vast expanse I felt my heart fall into my stomach.

About this time, thoughts began hitting: “Was this a big mistake? Are we gonna get stuck in the middle of nowhere?”

As those heavy thoughts hit, a song came over the speakers: it was Amazing Grace. As we travelled through the middle of the empty expanse, the line unfolded: “Through many dangers, toils, and snares, I have already come, ‘tis grace has led me safe thus far, and grace will lead me home.”

The Spirit of God fell in power and His comfort was poured down upon my heart! The Lord began reminding me of many trials he’d brought us through, for example:

Stuck in horrible blizzards in the Sierras, the Rockies, in Iceland, and by God’s grace making it through.

Stuck in the hot desert in the middle of summer on another occasion with another car that was overheating and we made it through!  Every ounce of water, however, was drained from us physically, as we had to keep the heater on in the 100+ temperatures to alleviate the overheating engine.

Another time way south of the border we ran out of gas in the middle of nowhere and a friend somehow just showed up not knowing our situation. He happened to be carrying a 10-gallon jug of gas that he gave us in our time of need; we both knew it was a divine appointment.

I remembered times where God had miraculously supplied money, like one time when we were so broke, I didn't even have money to get some food. I went surfing to forget about the trial,  and while in the water sitting on my board, a five dollar bill floated straight to me coming from out at sea. I grabbed it realizing how miraculous it was! We got some Del Taco tacos that night,  and we were glad for at least something, but more amazed at how it had been supplied!

I remembered all these trials and more we’ve come through, and the Lord ministered grace and comfort, yet meanwhile the car kept giving warnings and flipping out while the desert still lay before us….

Having come through many trials and seeing miracles and divine intervention many times before, some might think it is no problem when you're yet in the middle of another trial.

However, each trial, situation, need, step of faith, mission trip, etc., has its own set of circumstances. Though faith rises and comfort is given by the presence of God, you still have mountains to climb and feel the burn in your legs as you climb. Presently, the car was still issuing warnings, acting weird, and leaking fluid, and we still had the expanse of desert before us with many a mile to go.

It is as the Bible says, “we have been seated in heavenly places,” and that is true theologically in the realm of the Kingdom. Yet we are at the same time still dwelling here on this fallen earth with this frail flesh, which the Bible also talks about. It holds both things together as true in a dialectical tension.

Thus, even though you may sweat and bite your nails in the midst of a trial, at the same time you pray and believe, praying both with your mind and natural understanding and praying in the Spirit as well.

Sweating and biting your nails is not an act of unbelief; rather it is the natural, flesh, man, reacting to stressful, trying circumstances. Some religious people want to brag that they don't feel anything during trials but they’re just good at hiding how they feel. Like the Pharisees, they want to make a big show of how great they are, not how great Christ is.

The apostle Paul gives us a good example of personal honesty with the state of our weak, natural, side of ourselves, when he says: “ I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses so Christ’s power may rest on me.” (2Cor. 12:9) Wow! Paul says he’ll boast about his weaknesses even more so that God’s power may rest on him even all the more.

Not something you hear much these days. One thing that seems to be lacking in the Body of Christ, especially in charismatic circles, is a good dose of humility! I think we need a refresher in the realities of the Word, for it is: Christ who overcomes, Christ who paid the price, Christ who rose again, and it is He alone who is to be glorified, not fallen man!

Well, after that touch from above during Amazing Grace, I knew now, one way or another, God would get us home, just how so was still a question.

We finally reached the end of the desert, a welcome sight. I understood why sailors who’ve been through a storm at sea kiss the ground when they finally hit land.

We still had freeway to go on and the problem was still there but the heaviest part was now behind us, hallelujah!

As we finished the rest of the drive, pouring in fluid periodically, we finally made it home!

As I walked in through the front door, I happened to see the words of an old hymn over in a corner, and the Holy Spirit fell on me and filled me with His power and I felt His presence as I reflected: Surely His hand rested upon us as he carried us through that desert and brought us safely home!

(We still have some repairs to make to of our vehicle. If you would like to contribute to help us out click here. Thank you!)

Video: Humble Beginnings -- Erik Jannson, who spent some time in the mission trenches with us, talks about our early days in ministry, as he's interviewed by pastor David Sloane.

Monday, March 16, 2015

Driving Through the Irish Countryside: Learning to Walk by Faith, Not by Sight





We were in Ireland some time back, heading to Belfast to meet with friends for some ministry, when we stayed at a backpacker hostel in Bonduran on the way. While having breakfast, we met a man who suggested taking the scenic route through “The Bloody Foreland” on our way to Belfast.

We figured, why not take a little adventure along the way through the Bloody Foreland, as it was called? Wow, what a name! Sounded like a wild place, plus the man told us it would only add a couple extra hours…

The Bloody Foreland, as it is called, is a frontier-like, largely undeveloped, outer peninsula on the northern part of the Emerald Isle. It is known for rough seas, tough weather, and harsh winds. As we ventured out to the peninsula and motored out past deep scenic valleys we were blessed to have God’s leading confirmed by a cloud leading the way for a short time. We’d need that confirmation, as the hours would draw out longer than expected.

It was easy to lose track of time as we passed through villages with ancient churches surrounded by grassy hills, with picturesque streams running through the valleys.

No matter what Irish locals tell you about how long it will take you to get somewhere, we should have remembered to, at least double that and maybe even triple it. Flying fast around blind little hairpin curves without room to spare is a “locals only” deal. Sane people shouldn’t think they can keep that pace (you’re there to see the place anyways).

I just had to brace myself for trying to remember how to maneuver when driving on the left side of the road next to a steep cliff with the very occasional car coming right at you on those narrow little roads. Thankfully, we only saw a few other cars the entire time out there, quite the unusual experience anywhere on this earth these days; seemed like there were more sheep than people in many of these parts.

Recurring mental flashes of driving off the side of a cliff aside, Ireland is just one of those places where jumping in the car and driving out somewhere can leave you awestruck with the beautiful scenery!

The midnight sun finally began to fade away. With no idea where to eat or sleep we just prayed and pressed on. Little pockets of civilization were beginning to pop up every now and then. We came into sleepy little Irish villages with old pubs with names like O’Malley’s and O’Neill’s. Even late at night, the scenery remains entertaining in Ireland.

We were somehow, by the grace of God, able to find the birthplace of the historic missionary Columcille (aka Columba).

Columcille took the Gospel from Ireland in an act of daring, across the sea in a little boat called a curragh over to the Picts in Scotland, landing on the sparse windswept Isle of Iona. Through divine leading and divine appointments, he finally won some converts when Brude, the king of the area, was now willing to listen to his message after seeing the gate he had locked to keep Columcille out, fly open after Columcille prayed before it (you can hear his story on our video).

With the extended days surrounding the summer solstice in the air and the allure of another picturesque sight around every corner, we were lured into a bit of a time warp, not really catching on to the reality that evening was setting in, because it looked like mid-afternoon with the sun so high in the sky.

After all that driving, it was time for a break. Having to drive on the opposite side of the road leaves one a bit worn. You need to think all the time about what you’re doing rather than just reacting from learned behavior. I knew that having a go out in the cold surf would give me the fresh bolt of energy I needed after all this time on the road.

Just getting to the surf, however, turned into a whole other adventure. We overdrove a good 20 miles only to come back to the original spot we’d passed by earlier. You have to maintain a good sense of humor in those situations and have fun with all of it and remember at least it wasn’t missing the turnoff by about 200 miles like we did one time in France. We could see a little point break from up on the road; getting down there would be another task altogether.

After some exploratory driving in circles, we found a dirt road leading off the main highway that seemed to go in the right direction, but which also seemed to keep ending in an isolated house/farm backyard. After a couple more attempts, we still kept ending up in the backyard. We finally got out and knocked on the door of the place to be informed that their yard was indeed part of the route—“just drive through the little opening in the middle of the farm equipment, pass through some laundry, then go down a dirt embankment which will hook you up with the dirt path that will take you out to the beach.”

We proceeded on driving past the farm equipment and then right around and under the hanging laundry, one of the more unusual routes to a surf spot ever, and eventually reemerged with the dirt path leading out to the surf spot.

We made it out to the point, through laundry and other hazards, and had ourselves a situation few surfers get to experience anymore in this modern crowded world. A point break that was completely empty, not another soul in sight as far as the eye could see. After enjoying the scenery and relaxing a bit, the wetsuit was finally donned, and it was out into the cold water and wind for a few fun waves on one of the most northern tips of civilization. With the exception of an overfriendly lonely seal, no one was around for miles; it felt very surreal. The sun shone on into the late hours of the evening. We were in God’s country, with just the waves, a few sheep, and a lonely seal, out there at the top of the world.

We got back on the road a bit more awake and refreshed now, and as we marched on, we realized the last time we ate a full meal had been in the morning; we had a little snack on the way, but it had long worn off.

The hour and remoteness of where we were led to the quick realization that you would find nothing to eat in this area unless you killed it and cooked it yourself—but catching a rabbit? Don’t think so!

Onwards we went with no idea where we could find anything to eat or a place to stay the night. One thing seemed for sure: it didn’t look like we’d even get close to Belfast tonight. So much for just a couple extra hours! We’ll just keep heading towards Belfast and see how far we get tonight and do the rest tomorrow.

We amazingly found an open “fish and chips take away” in a little village in the middle of nowhere. What it was doing open, at that late hour, in a tiny little village, is hard to figure—but it was, it just was—hallelujah!!! An answer to prayer for sure!

Fish and chips had never tasted so good. It sure satisfied our hunger, and what do you know, it wasn’t just some fast food joint we had to settle for, it was something authentic and tasty from the area. The guy closed up shop right after we finished eating. It seemed like he had been waiting for us to come to serve that one last meal of the night before heading home. It was another surreal moment, seeing that the whole town was closed up and fast asleep as we drove off, yet somehow this one lonely fish and chips place had been waiting open, just for us it seemed…

Thanking God for that answer, we kept pressing on into the night, and after some more driving, we finally came into a bigger town that was more than just a pub, petrol station, and a fish and chips stand.

We found two places available to stay there. The cheaper one seemed like the obvious choice.

For some reason, I said, “Let’s pray about this,” thinking at the same time, Why should we pray about it? The answer looks obvious. As soon as we did, I wished we hadn’t done so. The next thing I knew, I was wrestling with God who was leading us to stay in the more expensive place!

We’re used to making money go as far as possible so going to the pricier place was still a wrestling match. I felt strongly one way in my natural mind about what to do, yet we felt led by the Holy Spirit in another direction. It really is not an easy thing to pray about your decisions sometimes, and especially so when the Lord starts taking you in directions other than what you think look right. This is why most Christians don’t pray about their decisions and why they often make fun of those who do pray about even the small things.

It is much easier to just go forth on what you think you should do from your own natural inclinations. This can cause us to miss out on the better things, however, when we only rely on the natural. We are spiritual beings and the Lord does use our natural senses, but he also wants to lead us by the Spirit. There are things we can’t see right off in the natural that God may want to bless us with that we’ll miss if we don’t seek Him.

It is much easier to make your own decision and say, “God bless this,” than to pray and say, “What do you want me to do Lord?” and seek an answer from Him. It is a part of surrendering what the reformers call “the bondage of the will.”

At this point we were getting tired, but we both felt the same thing, so at the end of it all we were obedient to what we felt the Spirit’s leading, and went to the higher-priced place.

We checked into the hotel, and it was refreshing to get a shower and relax a bit without having to worry about making noise. We happened to see the other place the next day in the full light, and it looked to be quite the dump, it was hard to tell that it was that bad at night. Furthermore, it was so tightly quartered it looked like they’d hear a pin drop, or you going to the bathroom, and complain if you did either. We truly enjoyed the place we were in, and even though we should have been zonked from all the adventure of the long day, we seemed to have some renewed energy in spite of the lateness of the hour.

With Patrick fast asleep, we were able to unexpectedly have some quality time alone. Something that with all the traveling we hadn’t gotten to experience in a while nor would we get to for some time after this point. For the next few months, we would be hard on the missionary path, staying in people’s homes, sleeping on floors, and even in cars some nights on the road.

We woke up the next morning to a breakfast you get to experience only now and then. Some of the best smoked salmon, pastries, cold cuts, cheeses, and other foods you could find anywhere. The fact that the place that cost a bit more included an incredible breakfast had eluded us the night before. And it was a breakfast that was in fact quite outstanding, and would end up carrying us through the whole day, and in the long run, actually saved us a lot of money that day. The Lord knows those little details we sometimes don’t figure in, that is why it is important to seek His guidance. Not always an easy process, but well worth it when we do: “Father knows best!”

Rested and ready we headed off to Belfast where we had a powerful Holy Ghost meeting with other missionaries and friends that day. The power of God showed up and poured out His glory. It was quite a moment with the presence of God completely overwhelming some people to the floor while we prayed together there.

We’d spend the next three months constantly ministering and being always on the move with little time for rest or relaxation. When traveling and ministering for long stretches like we did for months on end afterwards, there was just no opportunity for any time alone or to relax; it was the right choice in the end to go to the pricier place but one that was not obvious to the natural mind at the moment of decision.

We were quite glad we listened to the Holy Spirit at the end of that long day in Northern Ireland. It’s important to listen and be led by the Holy Spirit in our regular lives. Not just in ministry or for big decisions, but in everything, by prayer and petition, let your requests be made known to the Lord…Paul says in Romans 8:14: “As many as are led by the Spirit of God these are the children of God.”

It is not always an easy process but is something that is well worth going through as you find that God has so many unexpected blessings in store when you do, just as we did in those few days in Ireland traveling from the Bloody Foreland to Belfast.

How The Trip Through The Bloody Foreland All Got Started

While in Bonduran that morning I was reading the Bible and noticed an open map on a table next to us which seemed to beckon to a remote northwest region with a strange name called “The Bloody Foreland.”

Just a bit later when we went down to breakfast, the little hostel we were staying at had a man filming for a TV show who popped in with a cameraman in tow asking questions and interviewing those sitting around eating.

Finding we were from “The States” he asked us a few questions and we got to share on camera for the TV show about some ministry we were doing and explain a bit of the Gospel. This opened up a conversation with the TV interviewer after the filming.

He told us he admired what we were doing and then went on with, “You know, I’m a good Roman Catholic, I go to church every Sunday, but you know, I don’t really believe in God.” He kept traditions alive but faith was far off; religion had more to do with national identity and social connections.

He explained that this was the same situation with many of his fellow parishioners, friends, and countrymen, as well as many throughout Europe, many who were religious were so without real faith he said.

The religious system for him, he explained, was more of a barrier than a bridge. He told us, “You know, with its corrupt history and all those centuries of the Catholic Church burning people at the stake and on and on, it hasn’t really inspired faith in me.”

Listening to him was a view into what we already knew and seen so much in Europe in so many places: religious forms with no reality of relationship or connection with God at all.

I shared my testimony and worked to plant seeds as I explained that I didn’t come from a religious background at all myself, but had actually come to know and experience God in a very personal way. We shared from our hearts about the Gospel and he had never heard it this way. It clearly planted some seeds in his heart. We explained that Jesus himself was killed by those who were religious, the Pharisees, but whose hearts were actually far from God. It is not religion that saves but faith in and relationship with Jesus Christ.

It was a divine appointment with a view of the need for the saving Gospel of Jesus Christ to be organically shared and communicated on the European mission fields today. Only 3% of Europeans have any kind of real or saving faith, according to the US Center for World Mission. The Gospel must once again be shared, preached, and testified to throughout the continent.

He returned the favor of our sharing from the heart by telling us about “The Bloody Foreland” and how it was worth “the short drive.”

Well, the drive wasn’t really short, but it was a great adventure and experience and well worth the little extra time and miles it all took. By God’s hand, we got to plant seeds of the Gospel as well as have some amazing experiences.




To learn more about the Celtic Christian legacy, click here.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

A Spontaneous Visit to Launceston Castle



George Fox, John Wimber, and the Priesthood of All Believers

Corrie Ten Boom’s book Tramp for the Lord has always been inspiring. After surviving a Nazi concentration camp she became a Spirit-led missionary.  She often went places solely by God’s leading and with nothing set up. Once arrived, she’d seek the Lord for what He was leading her to.  Sometimes, the Lord opened up regular ministry, or had her there to witness or minister to just one person, or sometimes just to speak to her with some revelation for her own life.  Either way, she was always ready to obey the leading of the Spirit and go as He led.  

Divine Appointments With Others and Some History

Many of our 11 Euro-mission trips—often staying three months or more—had us experience many similarities to the things Corrie Ten Boon described in Tramp for the Lord in her trips and adventures:

On the last one, the Lord opened up doors, often in unusual ways, and often at the last moment, to minister in various places, followed by numerous divine appointments.  Things worked out to preach at a church in London literally two days before we were leaving.  

So we ministered in London, which was accompanied by a radical outpouring, and afterwards we discerned that the Holy Spirit was leading us to the English countryside. As we were driving, we made a stop at a gas station-service area to fuel up and get some breakfast, and while we were sitting at a table we pulled out our Bible and started reading, and ended up having a divine appointment.  

A lady came up, and seeing that we were reading the Bible, told us she didn’t run into that very often in England. We ended up sharing some things and then praying for her.  She then had a revelation regarding the trip she was on presently as something that had been pre-ordained.  “The Lord just sent me out to talk with someone at a wedding that had experienced a death in their family recently, and then I run into you afterward.  Divine appointments! Yes, that is what the Kingdom of God is all about, isn’t it?” she remarked.

We were off driving again, thinking about what a blessing that divine appointment just was, when I saw a castle in the distance and felt the Holy Spirit leading me to get off the road. 

We checked out the castle and found out that it had been a place where the historic minister George Fox had been imprisoned as leader of the radical Protestant Christian group known as the Quakers.

Video of George Fox at Launceston Castle: 
http://youtu.be/PJJnbgFcG0s



The Quakers

They were called Quakers because when they experienced the presence of the Spirit they would quake and shake. The Holy Spirit came upon them during their ministry meetings and people saw them shaking and quaking and disparagingly called them Quakers, and the name stuck.

The Quakers were a Protestant group that took Martin Luther’s revelation from the Bible of “The Priesthood of all Believers” very literally and seriously.  

They had no formal order in their services; rather, they would wait upon the inspiration of the Spirit to lead one of those present to share a word, a psalm, or to preach.  They had a strong view of equality and all were welcome to share, be it men, women, young, or old; they simply put Acts 2:17- 21 and Galatians 3:28 into practice.  

However, this, along with other issues such as their unwillingness to take oaths, see others as superiors, participate in war, or swear allegiance to the King, caused them to be widely persecuted.

George Fox, the founder and leader of the Quakers, had experienced a powerful conversion.  He had sunk into a period of depression as he neared his twenties, and began to seek out different religious leaders.  And yet, he found no one that could help him.  At a certain point of desperation, however, a voice spoke to him.  

He writes in his journal: “When all my hope was gone so that I had nothing left outwardly that could help me, nor could tell me what to do, then, Oh Then! I heard a voice which said ‘There is one, even Jesus Christ, who can speak to thy condition.’ And when I heard it my heart did leap for joy.” He began a ministry as an itinerant preacher traveling from village to village, wishing to bring the Gospel to all.  He ministered to individuals and groups as the Spirit led.  

Along with the Puritans, Fox also saw the formal, ritualistic, practices of Anglicanism and Catholicism as stumbling blocks that kept people from God rather than lead people to Him.  He proclaimed what he himself had experienced: “Let Christ! Let Him be your prophet, priest and king! Obey Him!”  

He encouraged people to go directly to God, not the clergy, for “Christ is the one mediator between God and man.”  He refused to attend formal state church services or pay their tithes.  These were practices and beliefs in that day that would get you landed in prison.  

Completely fearless, he was often imprisoned for proclaiming his convictions—just as he was in the Launceston Castle which you can see in the accompanying video, where he had been imprisoned for proclaiming the Gospel.  

He and other Quakers boldly stood up to judges and magistrates for their rights.  In doing so, they set a historical precedent for the right to speak freely and publish freely as they willed.   

This led to a historical trend in Western society, growing into little concepts we know today as freedom of speech and human rights. Religious toleration was granted in 1689 in England and is one of the legacies of the Western world.  Quakers were not tolerated and yet stood up for their rights, helping to influence the toleration that these rights eventually brought forth.  This principle of freedom was first brought forth in the American Colonies in Pennsylvania by its founder the Quaker William Penn, and was later adopted into the American Constitution. 

Moreover, Fox’s view of the priesthood of all believers also extended into many aspects:  He denounced class privilege in society, pioneered the care of the mentally ill, demanded just treatment for Native Americans, and refused to see any man as superior to another; rather, all were equal.  These views and practices help set historical foundations. 

The Quakers today however are nothing close to the early radicals of the same name.  Due to inherent errors in some of their beliefs, they’ve drifted far off and are in serious need of reform like many other denominations.

Yet, their historical influence continues. To paraphrase historian Kenneth Scott Latourette:  The Protestant ethic of the Priesthood of all believers and the faith of the individual before God to judge for himself wove itself into society through diverse Protestant movements.  “Thus it is no accident that out of Protestantism arose democratic movements in both Church and State.”  

In fact, when it comes to America, Latourette says: “The radical Protestantism which predominated in churches in the Thirteen Colonies, seeking as it was to carry through the distinctive principals of the Reformation, “salvation by faith of the individual” and “the priesthood of all believers,” underlay and permeated the democracy which characterized the United States.”  

History shows that America’s roots are distinctly influenced by a Christian ethic regardless of  faithless naysayers and the ill-conceived agenda they ram down every child’s throat in our schools today like one would a goose’s throat to make foie gras!

Contemporary Connections

John Wimber was himself originally a Quaker before his involvement in the Vineyard movement. He later understood something of the wells of revival that had been stirred up when Lonnie Frisbee ministered on that unforgettable Mother’s Day service and the Holy Ghost revival that ensued. An ongoing empowering followed.  All kinds of regular people, who were not in formal ministry, began to pray for the sick and the filling of the Spirit, as well as move in deliverance. 

Wimber eventually encouraged this and began to teach on the subjects of healing and signs and wonders.  At the center was the equipping of the saints to do the works of the Kingdom: healing, miracles, and deliverance could be performed and experienced by all believers.  

In retrospect, what was actually occurring was a fulfilling of Martin Luther’s call in the Reformation for “a priesthood of all believers.”   Even though those participating back in the early Vineyard didn’t realize it, Martin Luther’s revelation that the Body of Christ was called to be “a priesthood of all believers” was finding fulfillment some 460 odd years later. 

Luther’s view was that Christians are all priests; there is no higher tier of an elite “priesthood” and a lower class of “lay people” (a Catholic term Luther despised) who were to be pulled around by the nose by a spiritually elite class of so-called clergy.

Fox’s view of all as equals and able to participate in meetings was similar to the “Doing the Stuff” ethic of the early Vineyard itself were everyone were encouraged to join in on.  There was also the similar manifestation of quaking and shaking under the Spirit’s power that the early Quakers experienced as did those in Vineyard outpourings—something of the wells of revival stirred back up.

Personal Experience

I personally experienced being filled with the Spirit in that early movement—when it was still called Calvary Chapel Yorba Linda back in the Canyon High School Gym. 

After that experience, I ended up leading some people to the Lord and started my own Bible Study with a group of surfers down at the beach.  We just looked at the Book of Acts and saw them laying hands on others and started doing the same things ourselves. We were amazed to experience the same effects:  
The sick healed, the Holy Spirit filling, deliverance, and the lost getting saved.  

I’ve come to realize over time, as a friend put it, that “we were children of revival,” who experienced that rallying principle of the Reformation: “A Priesthood of All Believers.”  Hallelujah! What a blessing it was and is to be part of that!

Well, the beat needs to go on, there needs to be a return to those early roots, if there is a hope of life with any of these movements.  Billy Graham even said: “If we as God’s people do not get back to Acts chapter 2 and the power of the Spirit, there will be no hope for us in this present generation.” (1)

Divine Appointments and More

Historical people like George Fox and others can serve as inspiration, whether we agree with every point of doctrine they espoused or not.  Like Corrie Ten Boom, who experienced divine appointments and sought to be led by the Lord, their lives can inspire us by their passionate desire to fully follow Christ.  

It is a blessing to see God move on people’s lives, whether it is in a group situation or with just one person.  People encountering the Kingdom of God is what it is all about. People with vision to help those who, like us, work to see the Kingdom touch others, are essential as well.

We were recently ministering at a church when we had seven people receive the Lord.  Many were also touched with healing power and compassion.  Some gave us personal testimonies afterward of how they experienced God’s freeing and renewing power. It is awesome to see the Kingdom of God encounter people like this; being “led by the Spirit” (Rom. 8:14) is key to seeing the Kingdom demonstrated.

We were up the coast recently when we had a spontaneous encounter with a young maid at a motel. She was walking by numerous times and I began to wonder if maybe God wanted us to talk with her.  Patrick happened to step in dog poop right then on the way to the car. This led to being forced to talk to her to get some cleaning materials. The Lord can sure use unusual things to open up a conversation. After some discussion in Spanish, it turned out she was a believer who needed prayer.  She rarely got to go to church because of her work schedule. We ended up talking and praying with her and could visibly see her life and heart had encountered God’s love in a very real way.  

Maids who don’t speak much English can often be overlooked people in our twisted society that is so focused on celebrity and riches. Jesus took time to minister to those like the women at the well or the little children, those not on the celebrity “A list” in those days.  Ministry to the one person is just as important as to the many! (Luke 15:1-32)

Whether it was healing one little boy, teaching a couple of sisters the value of waiting and listening to the Lord, or teaching a larger group about prayer, Jesus and His disciples spent a lot of time doing things that are typically not going to make you a lot of money in this world nor even be seen as that important in the fallen view of the day, where people only see value in things that can make a profit somehow or flash some big impressive numbers around.   He spent His time ministering whether it was to just one or to many.

Even though Jesus and His disciples experienced miracles like the coin out of the fish’s mouth or the multiplying of bread on occasion, they still had to function on the day to day. Yet, how were they able to be out there doing this ministry all the time?  This was their calling, but it wasn’t a big money-making operation there, was it? Rather they were out being led as the Spirit guided them to those the Father wanted them to minister to.

There are verses in the New Testament that often get overlooked. One of them is Luke 8:3: Here we see that Jesus Himself and His disciples were undergirded financially by a small group of women who were “helping to support them out of their own means.”  

Whether the particular situation at hand for us is ministering to one person or a group, we ourselves seek to follow the example of Jesus and do the will of His heavenly Father who was led by the Holy Spirit, not something that makes a lot of profit but whose eternal consequences are immeasurable, priceless really! 

We so appreciate those who help to support us, and obviously see and understand the value of the Kingdom of God being brought forth and extended to others! You are of those who have heard that heavenly sound and know that treasure laid in heaven is so much more valuable than just the passing riches of this world!

We ask that you would consider lending support to our efforts if you haven’t done so.  For, just like those women who were doing such an important thing in supporting Jesus’ ministry, which had such unseen eternal consequences, your support is so important in helping us fulfill the things God calls us to do and has more eternal value than you could understand. Learn more at: 
www.graceworldmission.org/contact_us.htm 

Footnotes:
(1) Excerpted from Billy Graham's opening sermon at Amsterdam 2000.


Additional Resources:
Video-- Martin Luther: The Priesthood of all Believers


Friday, February 14, 2014

The Holy Spirit Releases the Father's Love



A powerful testimony and some fun surf here in this video. Check it out.

Happy Valentines Day!  We are blessed to be celebrating 22 years of marriage this year! Hallelujah!  Time flies when you're caught up in the glory!  With love being the key ingredient it is important to remember that love is the first mentioned fruit of the Holy Spirit by Paul in Galatians.  Yes, that heavenly love from above can transcend all trials and tribulation when you yield to the Spirit's presence.  Remember it is a fruit of the Holy Spirit so yieldedness to the Spirit is key.  We have a testimony below that tells of a life touched and changed by that heavenly love released when the Holy Spirit is given place to minister.


So first a bit of intro...

A few years back we were blessed to minister with a mission group in Hawaii called Surfing the Nations that uses surfing as a tool to go into different countries and share the Gospel and bring relief. 

We had a powerful time of ministry while we were over there and a friend recently sent us a testimony about how his life was unexpectedly touched and forever changed by the power of the Spirit when we ministered there which we share here below today.

It was also an unlikely encounter that took place that sparked the move to go over to Hawaii and minister:  I was walking up the beach after a surf in California one day when I saw a group of Pacific Island-looking people having a luau with leis around their necks and Hawaiian music playing and the whole deal.  I stopped to check it out for a moment, just watching it all, and the Holy Spirit struck me with power suddenly, the Lord revealing to me as His presence poured over me: “You’re about to go to Hawaii and minister.” 

Shortly after that, our friend Mel Tari mentioned he was connected with a ministry called Surfing the Nations in Hawaii, so he made some calls and connected us up, and not too long after that we were on our way. 

We had some powerful ministry times there and it was a blessing to also minister the Gospel afterwards to my uncle who had lived in Hawaii for many years and was terminally ill with cancer at the time.  I had spent many seasons over there at his house just surfing the Islands, and in fact had first started surfing in Hawaii right near his place as a young pre-teen, but now I had a mission to also share the Gospel with him before cancer took its full toll, which we were able to through many conversations while visiting him after our time at Surfing the Nations.

The group at Surfing the Nations was mostly made up of evangelical believers from different parts of the world, many from Scandinavia at that time, which gave us a smooth path since we had ministered in Scandinavia so much. It was mostly evangelical non-Charismatic people though, so the leader encouraged me to “go for it and minister in the Spirit, just don’t oversell the Charismatic stuff; rather, just start ministering and let the Lord do it.” 

We’ve had the same experience in many other evangelical-type mainline settings where we’ve seen the Lord go past people’s preset barriers and touch them with the life-changing power of the Holy Spirit in awesome ways. 

Below is a testimony from Dave Estrella, a good friend of ours, who, though he grew up in church all his life, had never really experienced the power of the Spirit, and his life was touched and changed forever by the glorious love of God through the outpoured power of the Holy Spirit as we ministered to him and others at Surfing the Nations. The Holy Spirit will meet us right where we are and minister that heavenly love if we will just let Him.


“I just wanted to share this with you. Blessings!!!”  From Dave Estrella:

I was just writing this for a talk that I am giving at “Hungry” which is the young adults group at my church, and I decided to share it with others now too! I hope it blesses you as you read…

I definitely remember the first time I realized I loved God. It was the first time I realized that God loved me. I grew up in a family where both of my parents were strong Christians. They loved God, His word, each other, and us kids so much. They took us to church every Sunday, and we enjoyed it most of the time. Sometimes I didn’t want to go, but for the most part I had a very positive experience with church.

I don’t know if I ever really understood what it meant to be a Christian though. I remember trying to think of what the gospel was just in case I had to tell someone about it, and I couldn’t really put all the pieces together. I knew Jesus died on the cross for our sin, but I didn’t truly understand the good news. But I enjoyed my youth group and going on fun trips and stuff.

There were moments that I remember noticing the one weird girl in the youth group who actually seemed like she loved God. I could see something different in the way she worshiped. It wasn’t pretty. It seemed more awkward and uncool than anything else, but it was genuine and it made me think a little. I, on the other hand, was the most plain vanilla, average, normal, nothing crazy about me kind of Christian high schooler kid, and I never thought I would ever do anything great for God. I was planning on living a normal life forever.

But then a miracle happened, a miracle that I wouldn’t recognize as a miracle for years to come - until now pretty much. An old friend, Rudy Mena, from Salinas High came to my church and told me about a bible study that he was starting up on Monday nights. He practically forced me to come. He was so excited! I didn’t really have an excuse cause it was literally two blocks from my house and I wasn’t busy. I had just graduated high school and was praying for new Christian friends cause all my old friends left, so I guess God was answering my prayers.

My first experience at Rudy’s bible study was a little uncomfortable to say the least. They were all like that one weird girl in my youth group who seemed like she loved God. Their passion for God was what made me uncomfortable, but it was also what drew me in because deep down inside I wanted to love God passionately like they did. So for the first time in my life, I was out of my comfort zone and in a new environment where I didn’t really know what it meant to be a Christian. Rudy and I became close friends and we began to seek after Jesus together. He truly helped me so much. I hung out with Rudy for about a year and a half and grew little by little in my faith. Nothing too crazy ever happened though.

A year or so later I joined a cool group of young hippie-like surfers (in Hawaii) who really loved Jesus. It was an organization called Surfing the Nations. I traveled the world with them and had many new experiences, but one experience in particular topped them all. (This is the part where I finally get it).

One normal day at Surfing the Nations, some missionaries named Bryan and Mercedes Marleaux came to speak to us in our daily morning meeting. What seemed to be a normal meeting turned in to something that was everything but normal! After they shared their message (I can’t even remember what they talked about) they began to pray for us. It was kind of a free for all. Everyone stood up and they went around praying for different people. Some people started to cry, some started to laugh, some started just moving around a little (shaking etc). I on the other hand was “in the zone.”

My eyes were closed and I was focused on God. If I had experienced an environment like that a few years earlier I would of just shut down, or left the room. But God had been slowly moving me out of my comfort zone ever since I started hanging out with Rudy and his crazy Jesus-loving friends a few years back. I was about to get it….

All of the sudden I began to feel something. I knew exactly what it was, but I had never felt it so strong in my life. It was love, the love of God poured out by the Holy Spirit as Bryan and Mercedes ministered amongst us. I felt a warm loving embrace start to fill the air around me, and wrap around me, and fill my whole body. God himself tangibly wrapped His arms around me and spoke deep into my heart.

Something else kind of weird was happening at that very same moment that played in to the whole thing. My friend Matt, whom I had just met a few months prior and didn’t know very well, just started bear hugging me. Not like a little pat on-the-back let me comfort you a little kind of hug. It was like let me squeeze the life out of you till you are no longer breathing kind of hug. Ok maybe not quite that intense, but it was a strong grasp. However, it was through this bear hug that I heard God speak to me. He told me as clear as day, “this is how tightly I am holding you, and I’m never gonna let you go.”

Now, it’s hard for me to communicate to you what I was feeling in that moment, but I can tell you that it was the best thing ever. Nothing, absolutely nothing, no love, no feeling, no experience, no nothing ever has or ever will come close to the ecstasy and joy that I felt in that moment. It was the love of God; the love of my heavenly Father revealed through His Spirit. It was so strong that it changed me forever. I am not the same because of that one life-changing experience.

Romans 5:5 tells us that God pours His love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit. I believe that’s what I was experiencing in that moment, and have continued to experience in moments like that in even greater measures as I just walk with Jesus.

This precious gift of experiencing God’s love is available to all believers. What’s the requirement? Just faith. You don’t have to do anything to earn it because God knows that you could never deserve it. Just stop striving, stop trying to earn God’s love through the righteous things you do (a message I need to hear every day), and simply believe that He loves you just as you are and go to Him and ask Him to pour out His love upon you. He will not deny you O child of God.

…How much more will your Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him Luke 11:13

Here is another encouraging chunk of scripture. I just wanted to include this cause sometimes it’s good just to chew on a chunk of the word…

“Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. Through Him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God. Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us. For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. For one will scarcely die for a righteous person – though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die – but God shows His love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Since, therefore, we have now been justified by His blood, much more shall we be saved by Him from the wrath of God. For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of His Son, much more, now that we are reconciled, shall we be saved by His life. More than that, we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation.” Romans 5:1-11


Surfing the Nations in Hawaii
Direct link to video: http://youtu.be/Mnyn16l_2Zw