Running With Fire Ministries

God is speaking, are we listening?

May 9, 2015
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I started out this morning mindful of welcoming the Holy Spirit into my day, when I do this, it never ceases to amaze me how many things I am shown that normally I might miss. While getting my cardio in, later in the morning, I listened to some old time gospel music on Pandora. That was such a treat – I had the whole walking track to myself as I worshiped and just enjoyed the presence of the Lord. A while later, as I was driving through downtown I heard church bells ringing, I glanced at the clock and it was 10 am. I listened intently and the bells rang exactly ten times and then there was silence. I began thinking back to a time when we heard a lot more church bells ringing (my childhood). The only churches that have bells anymore are the older churches, you know, those huge old monstrosities that soar into the sky, many with a cross at the top. I began thinking, “how many people really hear the church bells, or is the sound drowned out by all the other sounds around us.”

When we pastored Indian Fellowship Church in Minneapolis some years back, the front foyer had a rope hanging from an opening in the ceiling. We knew that it was for the church bell but when we pulled it nothing happened. We had a few brave women that decided to climb up into the bell tower – come to find out that the bell was wedged upside down – once they were able to get it right side up again the bell was able to be rung so we decided to ring that bell on Sunday mornings  – announcing to the neighbors that it was time to go to church. We gave several of the kids in the church the opportunity to ring that bell. One of them was our son TJ, who was about 8 or 9 at the time. The kids got a kick out of ringing that bell but I’m not sure that the neighbors were pleased with our decision after having the church bell silenced for who knows how long.

As I continued to drive home I couldn’t stop thinking about the church bells and wanted to know more about why they originally were rung. Once I was home of course, I went online and found all kinds of interesting things about the ringing of the bells. According to Wikipedia its a Call to Prayer. In Christianity, many Anglican, Catholic, and Lutheran churches ring their church bells …… three times a day, at 6:00 A.M., 12:00 P.M. and 6:00 P.M., summoning the Christian faithful to recite the Lord’s Prayer.

Now this doesn’t explain why the bells were ringing at 10 am, yet I believe that the ringing church bells are a reminder to us all that there is a God in heaven, He is alive and well, He’s waiting for His creation to seek Him. In our world full of noise, chaos, distractions and temptations, when we hear those bells ringing we can stop, pause, listen and acknowledge God. One of the songs on Pandora this morning was “Sweet Hour of Prayer.” I think it was no coincidence that I happened to be downtown at that time of day today. I heard the bells, I heard the call to prayer, I recognized that God was trying to get my attention through the bells and I do not take it for granted. I had my sweet hour of prayer.

Sweet hour of prayer! sweet hour of prayer!
That calls me from a world of care,
And bids me at my Father’s throne
Make all my wants and wishes known.
In seasons of distress and grief,
My soul has often found relief,
And oft escaped the tempter’s snare,
By thy return, sweet hour of prayer!

Sweet hour of prayer! sweet hour of prayer!
The joys I feel, the bliss I share,
Of those whose anxious spirits burn
With strong desires for thy return!
With such I hasten to the place
Where God my Savior shows His face,
And gladly take my station there,
And wait for thee, sweet hour of prayer!

Sweet hour of prayer! sweet hour of prayer!
Thy wings shall my petition bear
To Him whose truth and faithfulness
Engage the waiting soul to bless.
And since He bids me seek His face,
Believe His Word and trust His grace,
I’ll cast on Him my every care,
And wait for thee, sweet hour of prayer!

Sweet hour of prayer! sweet hour of prayer!
May I thy consolation share,
Till, from Mount Pisgah’s lofty height,
I view my home and take my flight.
This robe of flesh I’ll drop, and rise
To seize the everlasting prize,
And shout, while passing through the air,
“Farewell, farewell, sweet hour of prayer!”

We just had National Day of Prayer, Anne Graham Lotz has a nine day MayDay Prayer Devotional online and tomorrow is March for Jesus at the Capital in downtown St. Paul. Don’t wait for the church bells to ring Saints – we have an open heaven. Watch and pray.

CLV

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Victim or Victor?

October 24, 2012
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     When I was converted in the mid 70’s I left behind a life of anger, hate and prejudice, among other things that had finally overwhelmed me and brought me to a place of total surrender to Almighty God. In those early days as a new believer we used to sing a song: to be like Jesus, to be like Jesus, all I ask is to be like Him, all through life’s journey, from earth to glory, all I ask is to be like Him. This had been my prayer; I was a “baby christian”, only six months old in the Lord the day I received the devastating news that my younger brother Mike had been shot and killed. It tore me up inside! I questioned God asking over and over again, why? How can this be. Once again anger, hate, prejudice began to raise their ugly heads. My soul was in great turmoil as I battled thoughts of revenge. In my flesh, I wanted to kill the man that had killed my brother. My mind started devising a plan, I asked myself, “could I really pull the trigger? Why not? My brother was an innocent victim.” After a supreme court hearing the man got off “scott free” – we were all screaming injustice, injustice, injustice!” We all felt that the reason was skin color; the shooter was a white man and my brother was a minority.

     Where do we go when we are faced with such dire circumstances and we are hurting so bad? My flesh and the enemy of my soul said, “go back to drugs, drinking, go back to the old life. If this is what i’ts like serving God, what’s the purpose? This Christian life isn’t worth the pain.” The enemy is always there whispering thoughts of doubt and unbelief. The war for my soul was intense. Finally, I found strength to pick up my bible and hear the voice of the Lord. As I read Mark 11:25-26, Matthew 6:14-15, and Ephesians 4:32 – the whispers of the “father of lies” began to fade away. I cried out, “I can’t do it, I won’t do it!” My questions were still there though, “Lord, don’t you know my brother has been taken from us? He was only 21 years old.” The Spirit of the Lord said, “I know son, my own son gave his life for you and for all. He was only 33.” It was then I fell on my knees crying like a baby at the foot of my bed. For me it was the foot of the cross – there I laid it all down, I let it all go, gave the sorrow and pain to God. The Holy Spirit gave me a word from Romans 12:19-21 – it just appeared in my mind – and I started praying for the man’s soul. He needed God just as we all do. 

     As I look back over 35 years of ministry, I believe the enemy of my soul has strategically set up traps and snares to try and get me to slide back into my old life. I can’t go back, I won’t go back. This world has nothing to offer me. Whatever it is that you may be going through, whatever it is that this “world” may throw at you – my prayer in writing this blog is to encourage you in the faith. Choose to be a victor rather than a victim.


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God is Love (Pt 2)

September 25, 2012
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As we look at the Scriptures, we find that the Bible teaches (1) knowing the love of God is important, (2) it is for every believer, and (3) it is suppossed to be foundational to knowing God.

When I came to Christ back in the 70’s, I was encouraged to ask for the baptism in the Holy Spirit. I was attending a spirit-filled Episcopal prayer meeting where I had witnessed prayer and song in “tongues;, my initial thought was that all those folks were crazy. You have to realize that I was raised a Catholic. It seemed like a lot of baby babble to me. One thing I knew though, those crazy, spirit-filled people  had something that I had never experienced: love, joy, and peace. I desperately wanted what they had but I wasn’t too sure how to go about getting it, if I really wanted to surrender myself, and if this was the “real thing.”

I began asking the Lord for proof from the Scriptures; I found that proof in Acts 1:8, Acts 2:1-20, Acts 8:14-17, Acts 10:44-48. It was within these scriptures I found myself testing God’s Word. Even though I had now read about it, heard it, and had seen the evidence of tongues and of people operating in their spiritual giftings, I still had doubt. I didn’t have the faith to believe. What kept me searching and seeking was the fact that I wanted ALL that the Lord had for me and nothing was going to stand in my way.

I began praying and meditating on the above mentioned scriptures. My faith rose to the occasion and I began to believe and asked God for the infilling. My first trip to the altar was a bust, or so I thought, because I had not received; as I look back I understand that I was holding back.  I continued to seek the infilling  and one evening as I was singing and praying as I walked home, the Holy Spirit came and filled me right then and there! I received my prayer language that night and I have never been the same. Our loving God waits for us, He does not coerce. I tested God’s Word and found it to be true.

 


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“God is Love” (Pt 1)

September 13, 2012
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     As I’ve been sitting with the Lord these past few days, Proverbs 30:5 came to me and the Holy Spirit said, “Park here, I want to speak to you from this verse.” The NASB says, “Every word of God is tested. He is a shield to those who take refuge in him.” As I look back over 35 years of walking with my God, I have tested God’s Word for my own spiritual growth, health, finances, etc. There was always a battle before the victory. Let me expalin: you see, I was raised Catholic and I was an altar boy and wanted someday to be a priest .The teachings of Catholicism wew heavily ingrained in me such as lighting candles, praying for the dead, praying the rosary, confessing your sins to a priest in order to receive communion. The teachings I received basically taught me that I had to earn my way to salvation; so, when I heard and read John 3:16 (For God so loved the world, that He sent His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life) and Ephesians 2:8-9 (For by grace are ye saved through faith: and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast), that salvation was a free gift from God – I couldn’t believe it. I felt I had to work/help God out to obtain salvation. Then, to top it off, I was a wicked man and headed for divorce. I battled in my heart and mind with the thought that “God is love”, and that God loved me even though I was so sinful.

     I thought to myself, “why would God give his son for me, a wicked, mean and sinful man? God can’t really love me. I’ve hurt my wife and my kids.” It was tearing me up inside. How far I had fallen in sin. But John 3:16 assured me of God’s love. WOW! In awe and wonder I would sit with my bible open to that scripture. God loves me. It was so deep, I couldn’t fathom it in my mind. I had to receive it by faith.

     Looking back over all these years I know now that the enemy of my soul, satan, the master deciever, was trying to torment me with my past, telling me that God didn’t love me, couldn’t love me, and surely couldn’t forgive a sinner like me. He tried to convince me that I was too far gone. I began searching the scriptures – God’s holy Word – for help. I stood on Colossians 1:14 (In whom we have redemption through his blood, [even] the forgiveness of sins).

     I testify to you this day: I have tested God’s Word and found it to be faithful and true.


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Sometimes our battles choose us!

July 29, 2012
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For those reading my blog for the first time I would like to tell you that I have been preaching and teaching the Word of God for more than 35 years. Over the years, through my travels as an evangelist and my pastoral positions in churches in the U.S. and Canada, I have noticed a battle that many people in ministry are fighting: The Battle of the Bulge! 

I’m blogging on this subject not to condemn but to encourage – sharing with my readers my own battle and how I found the road to victory. To some folks it may be common sense to watch your diet, exercise and get the proper rest; I was never taught how to take care of myself. The Word says in I Cor. 6:19-20 – “…do you not know that your body is the Temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God and you are not your own? For you were bought at a price, therefore glorify God in your body and in your Spirit which are God’s.” 

By the year 2000 I had bulged up to a whopping 345 pounds, I wore a size 60 suit jacket and I had a 54 inch waist. I learned a lesson the hard way when I became sick and ended up in a doctors’ office looking for answers. My cholesterol was “sky high” and the doctor who prescribed Lipitor for me told me that most likely I would be on this medication for the rest of my life.  It was my wake up call. I asked the doctor what it would take to get off the medication and he told me that I would have to make a life change: change my diet, start exercising and lose weight. I told him I would do it. He told me to come back in six months. 

I took the shocking news from my doctor to the Lord in prayer. Matt 6:33 says, “Seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness and all these things shall be added unto you.” The Holy Spirit said to me, “you’re a fat boy!” I said, “Lord, you can’t talk to me like that, I protest that comment.” Here I was a joint heir of Christ and the Spirit was telling me that I was a “fat joint heir.” 

This is the word I needed to hear to get me going, to regain my health. Because I humbled myself and received what the Holy Spirit had spoken to me, the Lord told me He would help me lose the weight – He would give me the victory over the Battle of the Bulge.  (to be continued…)


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Free Will

June 12, 2012
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Free will. A most precious gift given to us by Almighty God, though it may be the very thing that keeps many from acknowledging and serving HIM. The Creator of the world made the decision to give us a free will when HE knitted us in our mothers’ wombs, knowing full well,  that in doing so, we would be able to choose for ourselves whether we would serve HIM or SELF. Now if that isn’t love, I don’t know what is. Many refer to God as “the Man upstairs” who hasn’t got the time to be concerned with us mere mortals here on earth. Not so! God’s word tells us that HE is concerned about His creation, down to the last minute detail. HE knows our uprising and our downsitting and HIS ears are open unto our cries. You see, “the Man upstairs” came downstairs in the form of Jesus Christ and walked among us. HE experienced the things we experience daily. HE came as a ranson to save us from ourselves – our sin nature (we are our own worst enemies); and God in HIS mercy and grace is a gentleman. HE patiently waits and watches, even as HE sees HIS creation struggling, rebelling and dying in a world that refuses to call on HIM, the ONE that created it all. Knocking, gently knocking, and pricking and prodding at our cold, stony hearts. HE will not enter uninvited. We are the ones that must open the door and welcome HIM in. The daily news reminds us all that the earth is groaning, humanity is out of control, our leaders aren’t leading, our financial institutions are failing; all around us is sinking sand – and yet we trudge on still trying to manage it all in our own strength, all the while shaking our fists at God (and HIS followers) – saying, “how dare anyone try to tell me how to live my life!” The multitudes: medicating themselves with the drug(s) of their choice, choosing to believe the lie – that this is all there is and then we die. All around us creation proves to us that there is a God. How long will we choose to ignore HIM, how long will we live a life of mediocrity, how long we will resist HIS Holy Spirit conviction, reproof and correction? Today is the day of salvation. Call upon the name of the Lord. Those who seek HIM will find HIM.


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Hello world!

November 4, 2011
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