Christmas is fast approaching. I love this time of year, winter, snow, lights, and family. We will be heading to Birmingham to be with Pattie’s family. We call ourselves the Gisbo’s on Christmas Vacation.
Guidance and where we are heading. We traveled to Pensacola a while back. We were testing doors and seeking to find our path on this adventure. While we were in Pensacola it became very clear we had to return to Ohio. We knew we had a few loose ends to take care of before we could fully step into what God has for us. My sister was one of the take care of’s. My sister who has lived with us for three and a half years moved out this month into her own place. We are so glad she is taken care of and her future is now secure.
We are still finding our way forward. We are investing in a couple local churches and a non-profit in the area. Pattie is still working at a school in the area. In January I’ll be speaking in a couple of conferences and in the new year leading a couple of teams outside the USA.
Encounters… I’ve been thinking about Encounters…those special moments in time when the Holy Spirit makes His tangible presence known.
In Luke, Jesus is about to breathe his last breath. Just before He declares,”It’s finished!”, the sixty by thirty, four inch thick veil in the temple is rent from top to bottom. The renting of the veil signified the finished work of the cross. What
Jesus did for us now gives us confident access to the Father.
What’s more amazing… He now, because of what Jesus did for us, …has access to us.
Ephesians 2:13;18 NIV
But now you have been united with Christ Jesus. Once you were far away from God, but now you have been brought near to him through the blood of Christ.
For through him we both have access to the Father by one Spirit.
Eph 3:11;12 NASB the eternal purpose which He carried out in Christ Jesus our Lord, in whom we have boldness and confident access through faith in Him.
(See Hebrews 6,8,9,10)
His Presence Saved Me. Years ago when I was a troubled teenager. I went into the chapel at St. Joseph’s to talk to God. My parents were divorcing. I was broken. As I was talking to God, suddenly His Presence came into the room. I remember I left the room in a hurry.
Years later, I was messed up. I had overdosed the night before. I was driving back to Pensacola when suddenly Jesus began to speak to my heart. He said, “Steve, this is your last chance.” I knew if I prayed and asked for help I was going to have to leave my past and press into following Jesus. I prayed, “God help me!” When the words left my mouth, suddenly His presence filled my car. I knew at-that-moment everything was going to be ok.
Recent Encounters. Throughout the years I’ve had more that a few suddenly’s.
A few months ago a friend and I were in Virginia. We were walking up a staircase to go into a meeting when we both felt the power and presence of the Holy Spirit. We suddenly encountered His Presence. We paused and stopped for a moment in the stairwell and looked at each other in amazement. The awareness of His presence and the sense of His love for us was wonderful. We walked to the top of the stairs. When we opened the door, the door ahead had a simple handwritten sign that said … Encounter Joy!
The meeting was beyond awesome! A lady who had been in a wheelchair for years walked out of her wheelchair! Last reports she is doing well and the doctors are dumbfounded.
Yet, my heart wondered about the staircase encounter. I wondered what would have happened if we had chosen to stop, pause, listen, and receive? I wondered what would have happened if we had laid aside our hurried agenda? I wondered what would have happened if we had slowed down and sat on the steps to be with Him and had taken some more time to linger in His presence? I wondered.
Communion was Communion. A week or so ago I was meeting with a leadership team. We talked for a while, then dove into the whiteboard. Arron Simmons, who was leading, suddenly stopped writing and said, “We are getting ahead of ourselves. Let’s wait a few minutes before we dive into our work for today. Let’s pause, listen to some worship and take communion together.”
As we were taking communion suddenly His tangible presence touched all of us at the same time. We were filled with awe and wonder. We did press pause. We put the planning meeting on hold. We lingered in His presence. His presence did increase and we were all very encouraged.
Our work flowed and we accomplished what we came to accomplish. I later thought, “The moments of worship and receiving was the most important part of the meeting.”
I also wondered, “What would have happened if we had laid aside our work for another day, and had taken full advantage of our advantage?”
These two recent encounters with His presence made me want to create space in my life. When I notice His presence I want to intentionally pause. I want to learn to seize those moments in time. I want to slow down and enjoy His suddenly’s, His access to my heart.
Thanks again for your friendship and partnership.
People have asked how we are making it. Pattie is working and we have a few gifts that come in to help cover living expenses. We are amazed at His faithful people who care for us.
Another leader was in a doctors office and noticed a young receptionist tactfully and lovingly handling some patient conflict. He could tell she was frazzled. After the patient left. He asked her if she would be in the office the next day and she said, “Yes.” He returned with a gift for the receptionist. He praised her for how well she handled the conflict. He thanked her and then presented her with a gift. She immediately began to cry. He comforted and encouraged her. His surprised comment, “Such a small thing, has the power to reveal the love of Jesus. Amazing”
Revive Ohio. Their foundation for reaching people is founded upon the principles found in the Gospels. Jesus was the best example.
It’s the love component that stirred my heart.
- Love helps us have focused listening… an ear toward heaven, and an ear actively listening to the person we are speaking to.
- Love enables us to discern the Father’s heart for the person we are talking to. Love also enables us to meet their need.
- Love gives us the wisdom to respond kindly and appropriately.
Learning to be a person who loves well takes time and practice. This is the challenge for every person who trains others to reach their world.
Methods are easier to learn than learning to be a person who loves well from the heart.
People using a method, rather than loving and interacting with a person is a frustration.
Jesus was probably just a little frustrated. He had two disciples in training who wanted to call fire down from heaven and nuke a town. Wrong attitude. Wrong response to being rejected.
Honoring a person’s space, and honoring their right to end the conversation at any time is part of loving a person.
Questions to ask ourselves. Am I being kind? Am I being patient? Am I seeking my own success? Am I just going through the process of the method, or do I genuinely care about the person I am talking to?
In my book, Go. Sow. the Forward states:
Every person on earth has a life story which filters their world view. People are complex, and most have a God history. Their experiences and their pursuit or non-pursuit of spirituality is unique; no two people are alike. This understanding is the beginning place. We must ground ourselves in this truth as we seek to share who we are and what we have received with others.
How well people are listened to, understood, spoken to, and loved by you and me is all important. Jesus came to seek and to save. His life reflected genuine love. It’s my hope we too will be reflections and expressions of His love as we reach out to our world.”
The Bible, wristband, and the card Revive have developed is color coded and helps explain the good news in a way people can understand and respond. It’s a great tool.
A man on a swing. Our team had a powerful encounter with a man on a swing. When we headed out we had a map. The map helped guide us. One of the ladies said, “I think we need to go to the green area.” When we arrived there was a man on a swing. He was the only person in the park. We walked up and started a conversation. As the conversation continued we discovered his life was a train wreck… not of his making or choosing. He mentioned three different tragic relational issues. He was sitting on the swing pondering the events of his life. Any one of the issues he was facing would have destroyed most people. He needed hope. That day, for this one man on a swing, was the day he encountered the God of all Hope. He decided to follow Jesus. The Bible and wristband were a great help to communicate the good news. We prayed with him and for him. When we left he was sitting on the swing reading the Bible we had just given him. The hour and a half encounter became one of the most radical encounters I’ve ever had in my life.
This is what we have been called to do. To equip and encourage people to love and reach out to people within their sphere of influence.
Thanks again for your partnership and friendship.
John Wesley’s mom would go to her place when she felt overwhelmed. She would sit in her rocking chair, flip her apron over her head to meet with Jesus. Remember? She had many children running around needing to be cared for. She found her place of connection in the midst of chaos, sitting in her rocker with her apron over her head. Where is your place?Dew upon the ground. One lady was standing away from the group watching what was happening. (An amazing outflow of the Holy Spirit touched the group. A lady in a wheelchair was receiving a huge measure of healing; others were receiving emotional breakthrough, One lady had experienced depression for 10 years and was being set free.)
We prayed for the lady viewing the action. We told her every person receives and responds differently. Some laugh, some praise, some clap, some are silent, some cry etc. As we were talking with her we noticed the Holy Spirit was indeed upon her, yet she was not aware. He was landing upon her gently, like a fresh dew landing upon the grass. He knew her emotional need. She needed a gentle touch. When we explained what we saw she relaxed, and she received. Later during the testimony time she began to weep as she shared how much her encounter with the Holy Spirit encouraged her. He knew her. He knew how she was wired and He knew what she needed in that moment.
The whole purpose of hearing the voice of the Lord is to know Him better. When we hear Him, we can have a relationship with Him. Having a relationship with Him, we can then make Him know to others. Freely we receive. We can then freely give.
I keep asking that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father may give you the spirit of wisdom and revelation so that you may know Him better Ehp1:17-19
Stephen spoke at a youth event. Sharon, the leader, has been gathering young Korean teens together for many years. The fifty teens come from many different area churches. They are trained, encouraged and sent back to their local church. One of the leaders has trained many guitarist and worship leaders. It was an amazing meeting!
Teaching in the Korean school was really fun. Most of the students being trained were over sixty. There was a lot of hunger and humility in the group. The last night was powerful. Korean men usually do not show emotion and are rather reserved. We received several accurate words of encouragement for the men. They were very encouraged and had tears running down their faces. The Korean people are a wonderful people.
Not many people know I had trained many Korean pastors and leaders while working at Cincy Vineyard. I started a weekend intensive. They would come for three days, be trained and head back to their area. They would always bring gifts for Pattie.
Phillips Temple. I’ll be starting to train the leaders at PhillipsTemple in Trotwood in November. The leaders have a great foundation of prayer and the Word. Pattie and I have popped up to worship with them a few times. We always come away encouraged. I believe they are shifting the atmosphere in Trotwood. They have a desire to reach out to their community. This should be an exciting season for me and for the church.
If your group would like to have a session learning about hearing the voice of the Lord. Let me know on the connection section.