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: