Flow 4 days with no agenda…

I had an amazing week. I traveled to Pensacola to rebuild broken bridges with some great people. When I left sixteen years ago I had no idea that Liberty Church would grow into one of the largest multi-site churches in the USA. Buford Lipscomb and his son Josh, a great crew of leaders, and a church full of some great people are focused on reaching their world.

http://www.libertychurch.net/



Also, I was able to attend a ground breaking for Globe International, the mission group I served for eighteen years. They are also making a huge difference in our world. Director Doug Gehman is a very educated, smart missional practitioner who enjoys surfing, and investing in the next generation. Globe is made up of a great support staff and many of their missionaries are long term, some spending over thirty years on the field. This speaks both to the commitment and quality of the people serving, and to the training they received. 

Many graduated from the first Liberty Bible College(not confused with Liberty in VA) located in Pensacola. Bob and Beth Bishop the first leaders of Globe invested their lives reaching, teaching and training and releasing young and not so young men and women. Doug and team are continuing to enlist, train and deploy people to the nations.

http://globeintl.org/


My trip was exciting. On the plane I met a man and had a great conversation discussing his commitment to raise his kids.

The next day I met RC. She owns a Coffee house on Navy Blvd. Seems she is having to close the doors two days later. I was able to spend about forty five minutes with her. Answering questions, encouraging her, and praying for her healing.

Later, I met Rob, a friend who pastors Coast Community in Gulf Breeze. We had an amazing time together and prayed for our waiter. As we prayed I had a picture of my wife holding on to me as we rode a four wheeler. I explained what I saw. He said, “This means more than you know.” Seems he and his wife to be were heading to NYC for an adventure. She was nervous about the trip. I told him to mention that a balding guy told her to hang on.


 I was also able to pray for Rob and had a strong sense Joy was coming his way. It was interesting that his new series was starting the next Sunday…An Uncommon Joy.

 
I then went for a walk looking for Alonzo. Pattie and I were is Pensacola last year. We met Alonzo, a homeless man in distress. He was depressed, had several illnesses. We spent some time with him and in the end I hugged him until we both wept.

This year i went to the same park to see if Alonzo was there. I met another homeless guy and asked if he knew him. He did, and said he’d tell him I was waiting in the park. I noticed another guy sitting on a bench so went and sat next to him. He had had 3 stokes and was very discouraged. “I’ve worked all my life. Now I’m homeless.”  We prayed together.


As I was listening I noticed Alonzo riding up. He was out of breath, shaking and saying, “O my God,” over and over again. He began to weep and repeat, “I was in another park asleep when Jesus spoke to me to wake me up He said “gather up my things and ride to the other park.” So, I  quickly gathered up my things and rode over here and you are here. I’m out of breath!”

He sat by me and wept, and wept repeating the story. Then he pulled out his Bible and said read Isaiah 30:21 “and your ears shall hear a word behind you, saying, This is the way, walk in it,” when you turn to the right or the when you turn to the left.”

“Yes, God woke me up thirty minutes ago and told me to come here.” Then he told me about his mom who had just died, he was in pain and grieving. I held him as he wept. I called Pattie and handed Alonzo the phone. He exclaimed, “I know your voice!” She encouraged him and prayed for him. At the end of their conversation he said, “I love you Pattie.”

Much more transpired between us. He left challenged and encouraged. He knew it was a defining moment set up by a loving Father, and it was a call for him to come off the streets.

The big wow in this story is the love of our great God has for a homeless prophet. He reached out to a humble homeless man sleeping on a park bench. Get this, He woke him up thirty minutes before I arrived at the park and then beckoned him toward wholeness. Awesome!

Several other encounters over the few days were filled with with small and large encounters where I was able to encourage and pray for people. I’ve noticed since returning to Ohio that we pray for a lot of people at the Dayton Vineyard. It’s the norm. Have an issue, we pray. Need encouragement, we pray. You have pain in your body or emotions, we pray. Maybe that’s why we see people healed, helped and encouraged.

I was invited to speak for a few minutes at the end of a lunch with some amazing missionaries and leaders. I simply reminded us all to remember to spend time with Jesus. He is what’s most important. He is the one who makes all things possible. When He is our delight, we receive Him the desire of our heart. Receiving Him we have all we need. At the end I prayed and invited the Holy Spirit to come and rest upon us and to draw us to Jesus. It is always The Holy Spirit’s delight to do so. It was an honor to be honored by some great people in Pensacola. I am most grateful.

Flow, encounter after an encounter all in a week with no agenda. Amazing love. Amazing Jesus.

Whew what a month!

April and May are the longest months back to back. April has five Thursdays and May has five Fridays. I somehow find that interesting.

Things that happened in April.

  • Traveled with Stephen Bell to a few places encouraging people. This was huge fun and confidence building. He is smart. He always takes people with him where ever he goes. It was an honor to be honored by him.
  • Easter Egg hunts, yes plural, were a great success. Hundreds of families showed up at Delco Park. We also launched two small neighborhood sites. Families came, had fun and several were connected to who we are as a church.
  • Power and Love is kicking off today. Six hundred people will be learning, growing and heading out into the community. I had a blast helping with the team by gathering people to serve at the school. 

  • Next week I fly to Pensacola to be with some friends. Globe International is an amazing missionary supporting, sending group. They have a history of long-term missionaries. Some have been on the field  for over 20 years, and one family just celebrated their 30th year. This shouts loud to the quality and commitment of the people on the field around the planet and Globes commitment to reach the world. http://globeintl.org/

  • DSSM has been off the chart good this term. We began at a whole new level and have continued to see some amazing God things happen when we come together…seriously amazing!
  • Presence had it’s second gathering. We lean into Presence, worship, train and go. We headed to UD campus area on Brown St. Some amazing connections. Three ladies knocked it out of the park by their love, kindness and straight-forward-ness with the students.

    So that’s April. I know something good is going to happen in May, a shift for us Bowen’s. We are getting ready to down size and sell our home of 11 years and rent in the area. We are going for lean and mean.

      Closing thought. Yes, I often slip away, and yes I do worship and lean into His peace. Peace I leave with you; My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Do not let your heart be troubled, nor let it be fearful. (John 14:27 NASB)

      “Set – ell yer sel” Scottish phrase for calm yourself down, let peace begin to reign in your soul, and mind. 

      But the Lord answered and said to her, “Martha, Martha, you are worried and bothered about so many things; but only one thing is necessary, for Mary has chosen the good part, which shall not be taken away from her.” (Luke 10:41-42 NASB)

      Jesus to Martha, But the Lord answered and said to her, “Martha, Martha,you are worried and bothered about so many things; 

      but only one thing is necessary, (to sit at His feet, to worship, and listen, which is the good part that brings peace)

      for Mary has chosen the good part,

      which shall not be taken away from her.” (Luke 10:41-42 NASB) 

      I’m choosing the way of peace.

      Take a selfie…

      What is God Space? It is a space that we create by faith. It’s an atmosphere or an environment where God’s goodness, power, presence, love, and kindness can touch another human being..

      Take a selfie. What do you see?

      It’s interesting that God chooses to reveal His nature through imperfect people. He always will, and He always has. He chose messengers to embody and to reveal His message. 


      Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Ester, Daniel, Jesus, the Disciples, Martin Luther King, William Wilberforce, John Wesley, John G. Lake, Billy Graham, Mother Teresa, and people like you and me embody the message. 

      Amazing is this grace. Awesome is the responsibility. Joyful is the privilege. 

      We are stewards, entrusted ones, and great is His investment in us. He invests His love and grace into us in order to flow through us.


      Acts 1:8 But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”

      Notice, He didn’t say we would do witnessing, but we would be His witnesses and be witnesses with power.

      A witness: a person who has seen, heard, or experienced something: to have personal or direct cognizance of a fact, a situation, an event or a person.

      A witness is one who attests, authenticates, testifies (to), vouches (for), one who certifies as true. A witness is one who sees, declares what they have seen, heard and experienced.

      The Disciples were experiential witnesses.

      1John 1:1-3 
      That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked at and our hands have touchedthis we proclaim concerning the Word of life. 




      The life appeared; we have seen it and testify to it, and we proclaim to you the eternal life, which was with the Father and has appeared to us. 



      We proclaim to you what we have seen and heard,  
      so that you also may have fellowship with us. 

      And our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son, Jesus Christ. 


      We write this to make our joy complete. 


      Jesus reflected the Fathers love. 

      He was the Light, the Revealer. The disciples walked with Jesus for three years; at the end they still didn’t understand. They saw and heard what Jesus said and did. They saw His compassion, His anger, His love, His friendship, His power, and were soon to see His agony, then His glory. 

      Bottom line if we really see, behold, and experience Jesus, we see, behold and experience the Father’s love.

       Scenario:
      Last discourse with the disciples. A last meal. Last words of encouragement. Last action before the cross… Washing the disciples feet. Last command… Love well.

      He states, “If you had really known me, you would know who my Father is. From now on, you do know him and have seen him!”

      Philip said, “Lord, show us the Father, and we will be satisfied.”

      Jesus replied, “Have I been with you all this time, 
      Philip, and yet you still don’t know who I am? 

      Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father!                                                              

      Just believe that I am in the Father and the Father is in me. 

      Or at least believe because of the works you have seen me do.“                                                        John 14:7-9 (NLT)

      Jesus came to reveal the Father. 
      All He was and all He did revealed, reflected and pointed to the nature and character of the Father through the power of the Holy Spirit.

      The Gospel of John revealed seven signs, and seven I am’s. 

      They, (the words and works of Jesus) were written to encourage people to believe Jesus was the Son of God and pointed toward the nature of a loving Father.


      The seven signs:
          Changing water into wine in John 2:1-11 
          Healing the royal official’s son in Capernaum in John 4:46-54
          Healing the paralytic at Bethesda in John 5:1-18
          Feeding the 5000 in John 6:5-14
          Jesus’ walk on water in John 6:16-24
          Healing the man born blind in John 9:1-7
          Raising of Lazarus in John 11:1-45

      The seven I am’s: I am
          “the bread of life”[6:35]
          “the light of the world”[8:12]
          “the gate of the sheep”[10:7]
          “the good shepherd”[10:11]
          “the resurrection and the life”[11:25]
          “the way, the truth, and the life”[14:6] and
          “the true vine”[15:1]

      Jesus reflected the Father because He was with the Father. He only did what the Father asked Him to do. He only did what He saw the Father doing. Jesus reflected His love for His Father in His final act on earth by going to the cross. See the cross, you see the love the Father has for the world. You also receive a glimpse of Jesus’s great love for His Father. He loved His Father so much that He gave it all. This is amazing love!

      Jesus often went to a garden in the Mount of Olives to talk to His Father .  

      It was His custom… He went to the Mt. of Olives… He would leave crowds, slip away, spend time alone in His Father’s Presence. 


      In the same way our life disciplines / habits / customs are stepping stones that move us forward toward knowing the Father’s heart.

      Good habits build a bridge to help us move from where we are, toward where we want to go.

      The importance of Being
      The messenger is the message. We reflect who we are and who we have been with. This is why it is so important to spend time in the Fathers presence and learn to be. 

      When we serve someone we reveal the love and care of our Father. 
      When we pray for someone we reveal the love and care of our Father. 
      When we encourage someone we reveal the love and the care of our Father. 
      We in a very real way reveal the Father’s nature. 

      Our good deeds reflect the Father’s love.

      For a couple of years I prayed daily. “Jesus, you reveal the Love of the Father, please reveal the love of the Father to my heart.” I also prayed, “Father,  no one can come to Jesus unless you draw them. Father please draw me closer to Jesus.”

      I was expecting an encounter that would come upon me and give direct revelation of the love of the Father. I thought the revelation would come during my worship time, or my prayer time or at a special meeting. 

      Over time I realized as I was praying for people, I was seeing the love of the Father reflected through what He revealed and what He gave to the people I was praying for. 

      Recently, I’ve had several people stop me and thank me for praying for them. One lady told me I prayed for her over a year ago and she has had no pain or issues since. Amazing!

      I marvel, “Wow! Father I see your nature. I see your love. You loved her so much that you met her need abundantly beyond all we could ask or think! You are truly a loving Father.”

      God’s love for me was revealed not by some mysterious experience, (I’m all in for those) but by her need being met through an answered prayer… through me. He reveals His love as I serve someone, or when I stop for the one. Sometimes He reveals His love as I encourage someone with prophetic insight or by giving a gift to someone.

      Here’s the deal. God almost always reveals His love and grace toward people… through us, His imperfect people. This is both amazing and most humbling.

      The message is the messenger. The messenger is the message. If you are in doubt, take a selfie.


      The Messenger is the Message.

      What is God Space? It is a space that we create by faith. It’s an atmosphere or an environment where God’s goodness, power, presence, love, and kindness can touch another human being..

      The messenger is the message.
      My friend Marc Dupont often declares this statement. I’ve observed his life for many years and he attempts to live what he says. His message has power because he is the real deal. Marc, the messenger is the message. http://marcdupontministries.com/

      Acts 2
      In my former book, Theophilus, I wrote about all that Jesus began to do and to teach until the day he was taken up to heaven, after giving instructions through the Holy Spirit to the apostles he had chosen. 

      I love this statement, “all Jesus began to do and teach.” I am so glad He is alive and doing amazing things among us, and teaching us today.

      3 After his suffering, he presented himself to them and gave many convincing proofs that he was alive. He appeared to them over a period of forty days and spoke about the kingdom of God. 

      The text implies Jesus showed up in their midst from time to time.

      Imagine, you are with the disciples, then Jesus suddenly shows up. “Hi, guys.” Some probably wondered, “When will He show up? Will it be today?” I’m sure some were startled. Maybe someone said, “Jesus, you gotta stop doing this suddenly showing up. It startles me. No I didn’t know what I was saying. Please keep showing up.” I think we all love it when Jesus shows up and amazing things happen. 

      Acts begins by proclaiming the Kingdom of God and Acts ends with Paul continually declaring, and teaching about the Kingdom. The principle of first and last.

      4 On one occasion, while he was eating with them, he gave them this command: 

      “Do not leave Jerusalem, but wait for the gift my Father promised, which you have heard me speak about. 5 For John baptized with water, but in a few days you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit.”

      6 Then they gathered around him and asked him, “Lord, are you at this time going to restore the kingdom to Israel?”

      7 He said to them: “It is not for you to know the times or dates the Father has set by his own authority.

      8 But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”

      Notice He didn’t say we would do witnessing, but we would be His witnesses and witnesses with power.

      A witness: a person who has seen, heard, or experienced something: to have personal or direct cognizance of a fact, situation, event or a person. A witness is one who attests, authenticates, testifies (to), vouches (for), one who certifies. A witness is one who sees, declares what they have seen, heard and experienced as true.

      Trouble
      A man receives healing when Peter and John were going along their way. It’s interesting most healing, miracles happened as people were simply going along their way.

      One thing followed the disciples… trouble. Trouble from the religious. They are being warned, stop talking, stop healing, stop being. One aspect they did recognize, and they took note.

      Acts 4:13 When they saw the courage of Peter and John and realized that they were unschooled, ordinary men, they were astonished and they took note that these men had been with Jesus. 14But since they could see the man who had been healed standing there with them, there was nothing they could say.

      This is how people become a witness. In order to become a convincing witness we have to have first hand experience of being with Jesus.

      John summed it up in his writing.

      What was from the beginning, what we have heard, what we have seen with our eyes, what we have looked at and touched with our hands, concerning the Word of Life- and the life was manifested, and we have seen and testify and proclaim to you the eternal life, which was with the Father and was manifested to uswhat we have seen and heard we proclaim to you also, so that you too may have fellowship with us; and indeed our fellowship is with the Father, and with His Son Jesus Christ. These things we write, so that our joy may be made complete. (1 John 1:1-4 NASB)

      Jesus often said, “If you have seen me you have seen the Father.” Why? Jesus often separated himself from the business, and busyness of ministry and went to be with His Father. Jesus had a habit, He often went  to the garden to pray, and to the Mount of Olives. What He received from the Father He proclaimed and demonstrated.

      The importance of Being.  

      The messenger is the message. We reflect who we are, and who we have been with. 

      This is why it is so important to receive first hand knowledge and experience from Jesus in order to Be.

      The Father is the great investor. He invests into us because He loves us. He gives to us because it is in His nature to give. He wants to give to us. He gives us talents, abilities, skills, and gifts to exercise according to the faith He has given us

      Matthew 7: 7 “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. 8 For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened.
      9 “Which of you, if your son asks for bread, will give him a stone? 10Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a snake? 11If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children,

      how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!

      12 So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you; sow who you are into others for this sums up the Law and the Prophets.

      Pastors, leaders, and many believers often do, and do and do. It is most important that we position ourselves to receive, and have a hunger to receive more.

      The reality: You can’t give away what you have not received.

      It’s tied to the law of inflow, outflow.

      Receiving and giving is like breathing. Living in… gaining strength, energy, insight, and grace, then living out… to share your strength, energy, insight and grace in toward the people of your world.



      No inflow = no outflow.
       

      If there is more outflow than inflow, it will lead to your downfall.

      Matthew 10:8 (NIV)
      Freely you have received; freely give.

      The paradox: often we receive more when we give to others from our overflow.

      Luke 6:38 (NIV)
      Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.”

      Context: Love, forgiveness, care. Giving and receiving is tied to stewardship. We are entrusted to steward what we have by giving what we have received

      Give honor; you will receive honor.
      Give love; you will receive love.
      Give friendship; you will receive friendship.
      Give life; and you will receive life.
      Give blessing; and you will receive blessing.You are blessed in order to be a blessing. 

      Nations will be blessed because you are first blessed; if you give away what you have received.

      Big Idea:
      Your consistent time worshiping, loving and receiving from Jesus is what is most important.

      Over time we begin to serve and give out of our overflow.

      Psalm 73:25 (NIV)
      Whom have I in heaven but you? And earth has nothing I desire besides you.


      We don’t spend time with Jesus in order to have power, love and healing. We spend time with Him because of who He is. As we spend time with Him, we then begin to reveal Him.

      The by product of our time with Him is often love, power, insight, and blessing in action.

      One of my friends is getting ready to make a difference here in Dayton. He needs people to help him move into a new arena of service. One very influential man wants to help. Why? Seems my friend has been noticed and watched for over five years by the man. He mentioned that he had seen my friend in action. He saw his heart and his selfless lifestyle. He wants to get on board because the message my friend speaks flows from his life. 

      We are the message. What we have received we give. The messenger is the message.