Friday, February 29, 2008

Pastor Tito's newest arrival, Stacy!

I spent the last couple of days ministering with a friend in Nashville, Tn. It was wonderful. I haven't been there in a long time. I hadn't seen the friend in years. I hadn't heard his heart in longer.

What God does in the bonds of friendship is significant! We all need people in our lives who love us and surround us with a similar walk with Christ. The deeper they are in Him, the better for us. We need to try to surround ourselves with people who are in love with Christ. This spurs us on in our own walk!

The young man I was with is a youth pastor at Faith Presbyterian near Nashville. When I had the opportunity to meet his pastor, I was stirred deeply. This man walks with the Lord in such ways that upon meeting him, I could sense the power of the Holy Spirit in his life.

I love it when the Lord provides those kinds of opportunities! This man, Pastor Richard, is the father of six and a man who has seen the ugliness the world can throw at us, and has survived to point others to Christ!

Just having a few minutes with him was a refreshing, long cool drink of water! Fellowship, and the sharing of hearts in the few moments we were allowed, has been such an encouragement to me. He is one who seeks hard after the Lord, the way we all need to. He is not perfect, he has made mistakes, but his undeniable love for Jesus, shines brighter than any other passion or thought in his life.

That is what I want my life to look like!

I want to reflect Jesus for all to see! I believe that is what He calls us to do.

I want to take up my cross and not bear it like a heavy burden, but with a thankful and gracious heart for the realization of all He has done for me! I want to deny myself as Jesus taught and did. How often was He serving the needs of others above His own?! He did this routinely.

Too often when we do so, we also add our complaints and frustrations and it eliminates any godliness from the experience. When we serve, we need to reflect Jesus, period.

I am most grateful for the opportunities the Lord has given me to hang out with and get to know other believers over this past month!!! Wow, how incredible it has been! How encouraging!!!

This morning, I close out the month by speaking at Evangelistic Temple Christian School. I cannot wait to see what God has in store!!! What an adventure this life is, when we truly are seeking after Him!!!


Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Ready to go!

This m0rning, I leave for Nashville, Tn. to speak at Faith Presbyterian, tonight. I return tomorrow afternoon, and then speak at Evangelistic Temple (Christian School) Friday morning.

I want to thank those of you who have taken the time to review our book on-line. I know it was time consuming and a bit of a pain, but I appreciate it a great deal.

I want you to know that we have been hearing from around the country from those who have read the book and have been greatly moved to make changes in their lives. I praise the Lord for what He is doing through this testimony. Pointing others to Christ and seeing them release themselves fully to His service is what this has been about.

A grandmother in Florida read the book and went promptly to her church to enlist as a teacher of students after seeing what a difference the life of a sold out young man could make.

A number of students have read, had their eyes opened to what God wants to do, and are following Him in obedience, in ways they never have.

Please, let me encourage you to share your own stories here on the blog, while I am away.

I know my sister Lisa was speaking at a prayer meeting she was asked to run, and was using the book as a call to prayer...a call to obedience.

I hope you will encourage each other in this way. Many of you have shared the book with others. I encourage you to share what the results have been. It is truly our desire to see God receive all of the glory for what He is doing. We have manufactured nothing, and do not desire to. We only want to see Him continue to move in the hearts of His children as He draws us each closer to Him.

A few believers excited about their relationship with Jesus can make a huge difference in our communities, our cities, our states, our world!

Please share openly as you have time and opportunity, both on this site, and with others.

While this book will never be a substitute for the Bible, the way God is using it, it can make a difference in the lives of the lost, who would never read the Word until they are shown the truth.
We can do this.

Please share!


Tuesday, February 26, 2008

We recently received a writing from a young lady in the midwest. Her name is Jill. She illustrated and wrote a paper about a young man by the name of BJ. I wish I could show you this paper. Perhaps I will figure out a way to do so. For now, I want to describe for you what she has done.

The cover begins with: A TRUE STORY, dedicated to the Higgins

Page 1:

Once there was a boy named Brent Junior (BJ for short). He was fifteen. He loved God. Let's put it this way, say if you were in a pool and somebody pulled you under the water and after some time let you up. As much as you would want that air, that's how much BJ wanted God to be in his life.

One day he went to Peru. Right behind him, standing, were four policemen. BJ felt God wanting him talk to these policemen.

The next page is illustration. She has drawn BJ (it even looks like him) standing in the foreground with his Bible, and four policemen, in various poses in the background. One is sitting on the police car. A thought bubble protrudes from BJ's mind with the question, "You want me to do what?"

BJ was surprised, and wondered, "God I hope you know what you are doing," and went to them, witnessed to them and prayed with them. And a little after, all four of them were baptized.

BJ was a great boy and loved God so much. And right now, he is in heaven with God.


The last page is another illustration. It is a picture of BJ kneeling, facing one of the policemen who is also kneeling. BJ is holding out the Bible, the other man has his hands folded and both are praying. As they pray, a shaft of light descends and engulfs them from the heavens. Off to their left stands another policeman with his head lifted skyward looking toward the light. He is also seeking God, from the looks of it.

For BJ's life to impact children in a way that they can understand, is a blessing to us. He cared a great deal for children. He took time with them and loved on them. He leaves behind a legacy of that love. His testimony and his life will always point us to Christ.


Monday, February 25, 2008

This past weekend, Deanna and I headed to southwest missouri to a small church in the foothills of the Ozarks. It was a beautiful setting. I spoke at a church in Golden (not even on most maps).

The skies were grey and a bit gloomy, on the way there. As we came over a rise and headed down a hill, I could see below that everything suddenly seemed to disappear. It was very odd. It appeared that there was suddenly fog at the base of this hill. I scanned the horizon for a lake or some reason for the fog. I could find none.

I watched as car after car headed into it and seemed to disappear. It was very unsettling! I drew Deanna's attention to it. As we drew near, I could see that it was not fog, but smoke. Heavy, thick, billowing smoke. There was so much of it that it was impossible to see the source.

My senses were suddenly heightened. I remembered seeing signs on the highways here in Oklahoma that I haven't seen in other states. They read "Don't drive into smoke."

The problem was, I was on a highway with cars before and behind cruising at 65 mph or more. I became consumed with what I was driving into. I slowed up, oblivious to anyone behind me.

Suddenly as I reached the low point of the hill, I was side by side with a car completely engulfed in flames. It was a raging inferno. I feared explosion and pressed hard on the accelerator.

I noticed a couple of things. First, there was no one standing at the edge of the road as if they were wathcing their car go up in flames. Where was the driver?

Next, I saw a man standing by his truck, just past the burning vehicle. His body language declared annoyance with oncoming traffic as he was waving his arms violently, trying to speed everyone past the blackened mass of metal.

The problem was, he stood in a spot that noone could see until they were upon the vehicle. He didn't seem to realize that he was hidden from everyone's view by the smoke. All drivers were forced to slow down as none could see where they were going. It was obvious that he believed people were intentionally "rubbernecking."

We each experience times in our lives when we cannot see things clearly. When the whole of life seems consumed by confusion and we experience lack of direction. We would give much in those moments to have someone nearby, telling us what our next move needed to be.

How often do we speed headlong into circumstances that are clearly dangerous, without a plan? I drove into this smoke as if I had no choice. I did. I could have pulled over to the side of the road. I could have taken the exit this burning car sat just beyond. I had options other than heading into danger.

In the heat of the moment, I did not weigh options, I went with the flow.

This is where most of us fail. We get so focused on what is ahead that we fail to see warning signs and our curiousity compels us forward, though we do not know what is coming. Sometimes those around us seek to offer caution, but due to their own issues, they fail to realize their warning is being offered from an obscured disposition.

We serve a God who is never confused. He does not desire that we be, either. He has provided us the benefit of His Holy Spirit. His Spirit brings us direction from positions of clarity. He does not stand in obscure locations, undetectable, until it is too late.

However, we seem to be masters of missing the obvious. Too often we are motivated by our own curiosity, and walk in blissful ignorance, when clear direction is available.

Many of us do not discern direction easily. This is not because it isn't being provided, but because we are not walking closely with Him. Now I realize that there are times when God is silent in our lives. Even in His silence, we find direction. Often, it is reason enough for caution or waiting, rather than forging ahead because we want to, or because it seems right in the moment.

I truly believe we each need to spend more time courting our relationship with our Savior. Along with that comes a mind receptive to His teaching and leading. The closer we walk with Him, the more readily we can discern His voice and His direction.

We just have to get out of the fast lane, and not be afraid to pull off the road when things ahead appear to be unclear.

Slow down. Heed the warning signs. Disengage from the world for a few moments and allow Him to direct your path!


Friday, February 22, 2008

Deanna ministers to a woman in Peru.

Through the long process of the book coming together and waiting for it to be published, our hearts desire has been to see it impact our country...our world.

I believe I have shared before that one of BJ's top ten list of goals to accomplish in life, was to write two books. He so wanted to have an impact on the world for Jesus. Let me restate that, he so wanted Jesus to impact our world and he wanted to be useful in that process.

We have begun to hear from some of you who have read the book. We have been hearing about transformed lives, and those who have had their eyes opened to what God wants them to do.

Along this road we have continued to hope for the book to have impact outside of our country.

In the last week, we have received two reports that have been a huge blessing. First we heard from missionaries in Chile. They spent much of their mission life in Peru, and knew many of the people talked about. They wrote to tell us what an encouragement the book has been to them and their ministry.

The second story requires a bit of set up.

Since coming to Tulsa, we have met many new people. Most we consider to be family. Every fall, we host a missions focused conference. In 2006, a youth pastor named Mike came. He was with others from his church. Awe Star would connect with Mike and the staff at his church, as they began to reach out to us. God laid an intense heart for missions focus on he and the other staff.

Over the months, we would begin to connect. So much so, that last April, another staff person an I took Mike and his pastor and worship pastor to Mexico for a few days to show them our work there and to assist them in capturing their own vision for missions.

On the return trip, Mike and I really began to talk. He relayed to me that they had recently had a guest speaker come and share with his youth. That guest speaker told them BJ's story. He was a youth pastor himself, and the father of one of the young ladies on BJ's last Peru team.

Mike was marveling at the move of God to take him from a distant knowledge of our journey to an intimate one. We spoke for hours as it was a long drive.

This past weekend, I spoke to Mike's youth at a weekend retreat. We had an incredible time with the Lord and the student response to God presence was wonderful.

Somewhere along the way, Mike began to share a story with me. He had recently gone with his pastor to India and Nepal. They want to adopt a people group there for their church to minister to. It was a vision trip.

While there, Mike met a young woman who is the same age BJ would be. She was their to serve the Lord for around a nine month tour. To find one so young there for that length of time is rare.

She was listening to music. Mike asked her what she was listening to.

She replied "MercyMe."

He responded, "Oh really, what song?"

She began to convey to him that they had written a song that really touched her heart. It was her favorite song. "It's called, I Would Die for You!"

Mike responded in disbelief. He pulled out the book he had with him which carried the same title and gave it to her. They discussed BJ's story and how it affected each of them. She was very excited to receive such a gift. So far from home, God was at work in and through her life, and Mike was a vessel of blessing.

We are so thrilled to hear such stories. We invite you to share your own.

We thank God for His incredible provision!

Deanna and I would appreciate it very much if those of you who have read the book, that purchased it on-line, would return to the website you bought it from and review it, PLEASE?!?!

We know it is a hassle and that you must jump through some hoops to do so, but it helps others who are interested in the book to know if they really want to read it or not. We believe God is using this book to further His kingdom, and bring glory to Himself! We are asking you to help in this process by offering your words in this way. Thank you so much!


Thursday, February 21, 2008

Whitney lays her stone atop the Cairn where BJ rests in North Africa
Lauren pauses a final time to say goodbye in a special way, before returning to the USA

The view from the can just make out the edge of our host city as it wraps around the mountain to the right.
When BJ passed, away the weeks and months after were very painful. While we knew that through that time God was being glorified, we often tried to make sense of what had happened. This is not easy to do. Clear answers do not always bring the desired comfort. The brokeness is searing and deep.
We began to realize that God was calling us to return to a land, first visited by my father at the end of his military career. I did not want to go. We did not want to go. We went, because God called us to do so.
It was a Muslim land where it was illegal to share the Gospel. While we were there, we met one believer who had been persecuted by his government and jailed on many occasions. Conditions in the prisons there are far below humane. Overcrowding is a term far too friendly for what they actually experience.
We knew we were there at the call of our Lord. We saw little fruit of our effort along the way. that did not stop the Lord from breaking the hearts of many on our team and placing a deep seeded call within them.
For us, it was a trip filled with many mixed emotions. We began the journey by having a Praise and Worship service (planned by our missionary contacts who live in the village in the above picture) where we also built a cairn. I laid the bottom stone and them poured out BJ's ashes upon it. Deanna came and placed a stone upon it. Then Lauren came and did likewise. So did Whitney, followed by two students from BJ's last Peru team. Then each of the team came and did likewise, each sharing scripture before laying their stone.
It was a precious time of worship for our family.
Building this cairn and leaving behind our son was symbolic to us of the days ahead. To us it was about hope for the future. Hope for this village and many others that could be seen from this mountain. Hope that is only found in Jesus Christ. Our missionary contacts believed that this Hope would begin in their village. The one God had planted them in.
During our entire summer in this land, we saw one person come to Christ. We knew this was not a trip about the harvest, but about breaking up the ground and planting seed. We were obedient. We were most thankful that God had allowed us to be there and to see Him work the way He did.
One of the men that worked with us was a gentle man. I will call him "Nathan." He was very humble and came from a Muslim family. He had heard the Gospel many times from many other workers who came to assist our missionary contacts. Out of respect to his father, he did not want to make a decision for Christ. He wanted to wait until one day when his father had passed.
I remember sharing with him from the depths of my own heart. He knew my pain. He sought to bring me solace on more than one occasion. I told him of Jesus and the difference He could make in his life and that of his father (who was ill). He would make no decision.
Many times since that trip I have pondered all that happened and why it had happened. On many occasions I have shared in churches, on college campuses and on the radio that our decision to leave BJ behind was a symbol of the Hope that country would one day come to Christ. We felt God had led us to leave this symbol of hope behind. We knew it encouraged our contacts.
Last night I received word through one of our teammates who had just met with our missionary contacts who happened to be in his church for a missions conference.
Our contacts are a couple who retired from business here in the USA and then headed off to this land to live and serve because God had called them there...after retirement.
He told us a story that I have shared before. He knew a man that tilled ground on a mountainside. Land his family had owned for generations. He tilled the land and planted seed.
His pursuit was in vain. He was far from a water source and it never rains in this land. When our contact asked this man why he continued to plant seed knowing it would not rain and therefore the seed could not germinate and produce anything, his reply echoed into our hearts.
He said, "Perhaps it will rain! There is always hope!"
This phrase shaped our contacts ministry there in a desolate land without much hope.
On our last day in that country, we spent it in that village. God sent the rain. It poured unbelievable amounts. We left with hope of what God might do.
Last night, I was told that in that village that BJ's cairn overlooks... where hope resides... three churches have been established! My friend "Nathan" is pastoring one of them!!!
I know these have to be underground house churches as it remains illegal to be Christian in this land. I Praise God for His provision of Hope and His attention to this place. He cares for the hopeless and lost. Though we may forget them, He does not!
This is miraculous and needs to be celebrated!!! Thank you Jesus!!!
To even be a small part of this story is so incredibly humbling! To know God has a plan and is working through that plan in this desolate land where there has been no rain and no hope is invigorating as a believer.
If we will walk in His obedience, He is faithful in His timing to bring not just hope, but restoration!
Thank you Jesus, and Praise your Holy Name!!!

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

There is within each of us, a hunger for the things of God. An appetite not easily quenched, but as we seek to do so, we routinely substitute things that may seem to resemble godly fulfillment.
He desires that we seek Him with all that we are, with all of our energy.

I was reading a new devotional that was recently given to me. It takes passages of Scripture and digs into original Greek meanings, then attempts to reconvey in todays terms what might have been implied. I have found it most inspiring.

The entry speaks from Hebrews 11:6, which ends with the words "He rewards those who earnestly seek Him."

This caused me to stop and think about my own life and the life of those close to me. I do not mean to stand in judgment, but simply to say, I don't know how "earnestly" we truly are seeking Him. I have an intense desire to do so, but I don't always do what I want to (the whole Romans 7 thing).

If I were following Him as hard as I want to be, there would be many around me who would have life changing experiences.

When Christ moved from place to place, lives changed by His teaching, His preaching and the way He pursued the Father. He followed hard after obedience to the Father. He did only what the Father told Him to. He didn't get caught up in trivial, useless pursuits.

I do too much of nothing in between the times the Lord has provided me with the privielge of ministry. Clearly, we all need times of rest. I don't mean to imply I shouldn't. I just know that I can do better in using my time. I need to do better. He needs me to do better.
Often my nothing is a very busy time of something, just not anything significant, kingdom wise.
My hunger for Him is intense, and my longing pervasive. It just seems that at times my way of dealing with it is to almost hide out from it. To get involved in other things that draw attention away from Him. I'm pretty good at that. I want to be better at the fully investing in the pursuit of feasting on the Word.
I have been priviledged of late to spend time with brothers and sisters in Christ. They seem to be in the same place suffering, similarly.
If we fully affix our eyes on Christ, He will by His Spirit, lead us into places of Truth. Our desire for unity and fellowship with Him will outweigh our yen for the world. We will, like He did, get alone with God the Father. We'll seek Him in prayer closets, on mountainsides, on bodies of water, or any other place we can get alone with Him.
It is amazing how much we can grow from these moments alone with Him. It is curious how far we can fall if we spend this same time fulfilling our own desires. We've become pretty good at ignoring the gnawing pangs of spiritual hunger that pulse within us.
I just want to love and pursue Christ and leave these crippling desires behind. I have to surrender the fight within to Him moment by moment. This is the only way I have found to overcome the world. I'm afraid I'm not very good at it, but with His help, and seeking Him "earnestly" myself, the reward of growth and time in His presence await!

Monday, February 18, 2008

One of the struggles I consistently see in ministry that involves students, are young men who are surrendered to the Lord, and will follow Him with abandon.

Our culture vies hard for their attention, and desires for them to be involved in so many different things. Even within the church, when a young man displays leadership qualities, he is generally plugged in quickly. I am not saying this is necessarily a bad thing, but we need to be sure they are getting the discipleship they need outside of their leadership arenas.

The problem seems to be there are not enough of them to go around to fill the needs that are present in ministry.

While looking at this, I am thankful and mindful of that fact that there are many women who are available to be used by the Lord as He needs them. The godliest young women I know are also looking for young men who are strong in their faith.

The competition for a young mans heart is significant. Most want to be found desirable, by young women. Most want to be favored in a crowd. Most want to be accepted by their peers. The majority want to be the best possible in any pursuit that captures their attention.

All of these things bring definition and meaning to life experiences, and most believe these things help define who one is.

It seems to me that we have on our hands a culture that teaches young men to be more about the worldly pursuits and less about godly ones.

While gratification in these pursuits are generally short lived, the over arching principle of being accepted seems more appealing than going against the majority, to truly take a stand for what matters in life...the things of God.

Real answers in our lives are never going to be found in population contests, or who is the best in any sport. Those things will bring crowd approval, but are often accompanied by men who read and believe their own press, and soon fall out of favor.

We must do something to reach the hearts and minds of young men to help them understand that the needs the Lord has for them, outweigh the needs they have for personal gain. We need godly men to invest in the lives of young men.

One of the things that tended to set BJ apart was how he pursued men who were deep in their faith and knowledge. There were men around that he could engage at church, and he did. He went beyond that and sought to build relationships, even long distance ones that could be cultivated over the internet. These allowed him to ask deep, hard questions.

I was in contact with two such young men recently. Both are student pastors now. One is a doctoral candidate at his seminary. I am most thankful for both of these men and their influence in BJ's life. He did not accept just anything they told him. He wanted proof and would dig into the Word with them to find it. He offered alternative postulations to whatever they were studying and didn't believe just because they said it was so.

How do we turn the tide in our culture to causing more young men to be interested in the things of God? For every young man like BJ, I know many times that number that are found seeking their mentors in athletics or other fields that appear glamorous and/or wealth producing.

It begins, by each of us being surrendered in our own walk with Christ. Then we each need to take interest in those who are around us. I have learned to believe in the ones who seem unlikely to amount to much. Invest in them, and see them flourish. We have to pray for them. All of them. There are no "lost causes," out there.

The Lord desires that "none should perish." We need to align our desires with His. We must believe in these that are around us. We've got to love them through these difficult years, where godliness seems most connected to weakness, in most of their eyes.

There are too many examples of fallen men around. Young men often equate this with the impossibility to live a Christian life with success. Fallen men are not useless. They may be broken, but God uses brokeness to demonstrate His power and ability to restore.

We need to learn to glorify God through our brokeness, that He might raise up those He wishes to walk in His power, with His authority.

We tend to be quick to judge the fallen and condemn their efforts.

Failure in attempt is a part of the Christian experience for each of us. We need to love others through those difficult times in the same way we would want to be cared for.

From the eyes of a young man, it would seem to make more sense to seek hard after something that appears to bring fame and riches and be gratified for a moment or two than to seek to be godly, only to fall and be condemned by the very peers they sought to be in fellowship with.

Each of us needs to be more Christlike in our attitudes...loving, forgiving and offering restoration. We cannot turn the tide of a culture if we are not surrendered ourselves. We need godly young men to begin to answer the call of Christ, and to get uncomfortable for Him! We must seek to show them the way.


Friday, February 15, 2008

Kara (from our Peru 2007 team) and I, sharing a moment of laughter at our book release party.

This walk of faith is significant and challenging. There are certainly times when it is eaier than others. When you are watching and waiting for a specific thing to happen, the journey can be so difficult to handle.

The Lord has promised He will never leave or forsake His own (Deut 31:6). We know that and cling to it. When the period of waiting is upon you, things intensify in ways they really shouldn't. If we really have faith, then we know we can leave things in His hands and if we are walking in obedience to Him, He will take of things.

Still, we want to help Him. We want results more quickly. We go through so many justification processes and truly try to speed things to a conclusion. The problem is, when we insert our own desires into the mix during a time of waiting and start to initiate action in order to get a desired outcome, we are no longer being faith-ful.

There is a time for action. Their is a time for waiting. Waiting should not become action unless we are prompted forward by God's Spirit. He does provide peace to us in the waiting, but so many of us have our mind filled with what people around us are saying. If what they say is congruent with our desires, there is a tendency to follow them because it seems more logical.

"Doing,' most always makes more sense than "waiting," to us.

There are times when we have certain things we have to "do" while we "wait." However, that is walking out obedience, and not trying to produce our own speedy outcome.

When God called me into ministry, I thought it would happen right away! Initially, I thought I would be plugged into whatever He wanted me to do, within weeks, or months...certainly not years.

When we read His Word, it most always was a process of years of preparation before anyone was plugged in. We focus easily on the calling of the disciples as evidence of immediate action. Yet, they had gone through years of preparation without realizing it. When called to action, they immediately dropped their nets, but then followed Christ for years before they were given much responsibility to actually minister.

We are not well equipped for 'waiting' it would seem. We like 'doing!'

God is leading me through a time of waiting right now that requires only the action of obedient walking. I have had a sense of peace, but my growing impatience threatens to have me taking things into my own hands. Some would argue that that would be the right move. I know it would not be, regardless of how easy it is to justify action.

When we wait, and let the Lord lead, it ultimately increases our faith. We see Him follow through as He said He would, and we know that we can and should trust the next time.

It's kind of like being in the hospital waiting room while a loved one is in surgery. When the time frame passes of the expected length of surgery, we stop being patient. We begin to pace. We check our watch. We go to the desk and ask questions. We get irritable. We express our displeasure to innocent by-standers. Our minds operate in hyper-active mode, entertaining all the negative possibilities of why the waiting is not over.

The doctor comes through the door and says everything is fine and went well! Our reaction?

"I knew it!" (and a huge sigh of relief)

Faith teaches us to allow the peace of Christ to reside closer to the surface than irritability and the need for taking over.

He is in control. He knows best. When the time comes, He will reveal His answers and we will walk in obedience.

My responsibility is to learn to live with His peace, and not my frustration. The former yields a fruitful life, the latter, a difficult one for anyone around you.

We have each already learned this lesson.

I just need to act like it.


Thursday, February 14, 2008

WFLO Radio in Richmond, Virginia will be interviewing me live tomorrow morning at 8:05 ET or 7:05 CT.
KBJS Radio in Jacksonville, Texas will be taping an interview tomorrow at 11:05 CT.

Deanna clears a vacant lot of broken glass, big rocks and other debris so the team has a place to minister from (Mexico).

What an incredible last few days it has been. God has so clearly demonstrated how jealous He is of us, our attention and affections. His pursuit of His children in Erin Springs, Oklahoma has brought pause to me as I review my time with them.

His passion and intensity for us and for who He wants us to become is 'gi-normous' (I prefer "e-gantic"). That He allows such times of coming together to richly dwell in Him and His presence is significant. What must break His heart is how often during those times, we fail to allow His Spirit to move us as He is seeking our intimacy.

God reaches out to us frequently. All too often we fail to realize it as we are too connected to the things around us...the understand that it is Him who pursues us and desires fellowship with us at the very deepest level. When we yield to His advances, the result is intimacy that we do not expect. Our every desire is met in ways that we have missed, tremendously. How do we forget? How is it that we cannot seem to remember this and too often are found seeking similar fulfillment from places and people that cannot satisfy?

We are genuinely surprised and disappointed when our needs are not met by these other visitations that we instigate.

God is Love!!!

He sent His Holy Spirit to bring Comfort to us, IF we will allow Him to do so. Too often, we get a bit too self absorbed, and falsely believe that our significance needs to come from the affections of another, and we do not just abide in the love that He extends to us.

On this Valentines Day, there will be many who are frustrated, hurting and curious about why a loving God has allowed them such dire circumstances on the day that celebrates love and intimacy.

We need to make a concerted effort to reach out to those around us, and remind them of Christ the Saving One, who has paid the ultimate price, that they might have life. Their worth, their value is and will always be, found in Him.

We each need to stop seeking in the world, that which only comes from the hand of our Father in heaven. He will satisfy. He will meet each need we have. He will love us beyond expectation or measure.

We have to let Him do so! Then, we need to reciprocate.

Happy Valentines Day!


Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Brent does not have internet service in Lindsay, OK but the revival is going well. They are having a "quail fry" tonight before services. Thank you for your prayers!

Friday, February 08, 2008

The Lord has put before us many incredible opportunities over the next several weeks. We are most humbled and thankful for them. We are also in great need of your continous prayer support. I know the Lord has significant plans. I also know the enemy is stirred up.

I want to share our speaking schedule so that you can know how to pray:

2/8/08 Radio Interview (taping) SOS Radio, Las Vegas, Nv. 4pm CT

2/10 -2/13/08 Revival at Erin Springs Baptist Church, Lindsay, Ok.

2/11/08 Radio Interview (live) KBLP 105.1 FM, Lindsay, Ok. 8:30am CT

2/15/08 Radio Interview (live) WFLO Richmond, Va. 7:05am CT

2/15/08 Radio Interview (live) KBJS Jacksonville, Tx. 11:05am CT

2/16-2/17/08 Ridgeway Baptist Youth Retreat at Grand Lake, Ok.

2/20/08 Radio Interview WGRT (taping) Port Huron, Mi.

2/24/08 First Southern Golden, Mo.

2/25/08 Radio Interview (live) WVNE Worcester, Ma. 1-2pm CT

2/26/08 Radio Interview (live) WTLN Orlando, Fla. 1:30pm CT

2/27/08 Faith Presbyterian, Goodlettsville, Tn.

2/29/08 Evangelistic Temple Christian School, Tulsa, Ok.

There is more coming in March. We do need your prayer support as we seek to bring Him and Him alone the glory. I am still working full time at Awe Star and Deanna is still teaching. We believe God has opened these doors and that we need to walk out the obedience He has called us to. I apologize for failing to share our January schedule (which has been similar) as I know many of you are praying, and I just haven't communicated well.

We cannot do this without you! We Praise God for your love, encouragement and intercession!


Thursday, February 07, 2008

This has been a difficult week for many. I do not separate myself from this number. I have seen the enemy prowl and ravage brothers and sisters in Christ as if they did not even realize that they have ultimate victory in Him.

I am not helpless. I can pray for them and do. There is great power in prayer. Even here, the enemy seeks to distract and confuse, to render our prayer life, impotent.

The edge the enemy has taken of late is humiliating and is wrecking families. Lives of children, students and parents are being destroyed as decisions are being made from very selfish dispositions.

In each case there is one who seems to surrender to the whims of the enemy, ignoring the gate through which he entered, and entertaining the unwelcome guest as though he had been invited. The best that used to be offered only to the Savior is now forfeit, for temporary pleasure.

This temporary pleasure is consuming lives and diminishing faith.

The enemy has gained more than a "foothold" in these lives. Outward appearances reflect residence has been taken up within. Still we must remember, these are victims of our foe, Satan, and not our embodied enemy. We must not fight against them, but for them. Condemnation must not be found protruding from our lips, but prayer penetrating in frequency, earnestness and intensity.

Ephesians 6 explains very clearly how to stand against such attacks. How to arm ourselves to prevent such downfalls. The gospel of modern media paints an allure that too many are surrendering to. It would appear to be a mindless embrace, yet each fallen one has said "Yes!" to sin.

We need come alongside these to bring encouragement.

Too quick is the Christian community to cast the first stone. We are all acquainted with the dark halls of sin chosen. From hideous remembrance we often hurl self-righteous darts at our weakening ally. Where we should be found helping them to overcome, we shovel dirt onto their waning testimonies.

When will we stand? When will we fight? When will we serve?

We must lead the way to reclamation of our falling brothers and sisters. Many of them long for someone to offer the assistance they are too weak to grasp. At the very least we need to posture right angles of prayer or horizontal intercession.

We have been equipped by the One who wins in the end! Let us surge foreward and recapture broken hearts. We should so enwrap them that potential embarassment fails to birth as even a thought. Conviction comes not from us, but from the Holy One. Ours is to fight for those He has put within the reach of our outstretched arms.

Unsheathed swords in the hands of willing warriors circled around the fallen with backs in, will net more protection and healing than one who rides alone and falls down, lonely.
The enemy continues to range over the land looking for those he can devour. Too many fall volunteer. Too few volunteer to retrieve the fallen.

Christ fell that we might live. The same Spirit that raised Him from the dead dwells within us, empowering us to stand and fight. This is a battle, not a vacation.

WE must fight.


Wednesday, February 06, 2008

It's time to be reminded. From behind those piercing, loving eyes, he wrote:

"You see, as Christians we are to give our lives up every day, to die to ourselves every day, to let go of all of our attatchments and affections and be willing to let go of life itself everyday because we treasure Christ higher than life.

So often we get preoccupied and distracted with all of the little details and life and all of our wants and dreams and desires, and yet as Paul says in Philippians "To live is Christ." All of the details don't matter, all of our wants and dreams are of no consequence because our lives, as Christians, are to be for Christ and Christ alone.

How often do we really live as Christ? How often do we lay our own dreams and wants down for God? At church camp? On mission trips? Maybe even every Sunday or Wednesday? But Christ says DAILY. Too often do we attempt the whole "Christian living" on Sundays and Wednesdays, and forget the whole "DAILY Christian dying" Christ calls us to die daily.

It's time that we as the professed Christians of America wake up from our sleep of lethargy and hypocrisy and stop only living for Christ on Sundays and Wednesdays and start acting as Christ says all of His disciples must act. (As Luke 14:27 says, "Whoever does not bear his own cross and come after me CANNOT be my disciple") We must die to ourselves daily. We must forget our comfort zones, and our cliques of friends and go out and share the love and rescuing truth of Jesus Christ with the lost, empty, suffering, and dying people of the world all around us as Christ commanded!

Our lives are for Christ, not ourselves, so as it instructs in Hebrews 12:1-3, we need to actively, forcefully, and even violently (spiritually speaking) THROW off EVERYthing that hinders glorifying Christ through our lives! Don't want to because you enjoy your life? But Christ says "I have come to give them life and to give it to them abundantly," John 10:10. You see, because we were made to glorify God, it is the one thing that satisfies us most and that we can find the most enjoyment in. We spend our lives seeking satisfaction and enjoyment, but its only to be found in Christ. So what better reason to turn to Him and let go and throw off everything that holds you back?

Also, as the apostles are constantly reminding us in their letters, we have a hope and a certainty for the future that no one else has. We know that at the end of all things that Christ will gather us together and reveal His glory to the world on the day of judgement, and that instead of receiving the judgement and condemnation that we deserve, we will be able to take part in the GLORY of Christ.

So then, let us with His glory and our hope in mind, throw down our own lives and pick up His--that is, pick up our cross, take our life of suffering for Him and His glory. Let us die daily for Christ so that we can follow Him and better obey His call: that we reach the dying people of this world and tell them of Jesus Christ, the saving one." BJ Higgins

He says it well, and I love his heart,


Tuesday, February 05, 2008

For many months we have had an overwhelming sense of purpose. I suppose we knew this day would come, but its arrival is no less unwelcome.

The last months have stretched into over two years, as we awaited the release of this book. It could not come quickly enough to suit us. We were so very anxious for such a long time. Our lives seemed to be a collective gasp as we drew breath in and held it, awaiting the inevitable, not really knowing what that would be.

A month after the book is released one cannot tell very much. This is very much like living our lives for Christ. We walk along in obedience wanting to serve Him well, but not really knowing what impact we may have as He shields us from the positive impact, lest our heads become full. We understand why He works this way, but it doesn't keep us from coveting the knowledge of what He is up to through us.

Somehow, we believe that if we could see the impact He was having through our lives, it would all be worth it. The truth is, at least for me, it becomes more of an intoxication accompanied by addiction.

I need to be satisfied that if I follow Him in the obedience I am called to, that I do not need to see what He is doing with that. Loving Him and being loved by Him should be enough.
Being human, the hunger for more abides.

Yet over time, more is required to reach such aretes and the joy in Him is too often lost.

I knew the day would come that when the book was out, and I had followed Him to where He led my family to minister, that the exhale would begin. I find myself a bit lost in its current and unsure what to grab onto as it's expelled.

There has been such a tremendous sense of purpose for the last months and that has been welcome. Now that many of those things have come to pass, it is a bit more difficult to abide. It should not be this way... the apparent way of the flesh pressing through His purposes, demanding attention. This is not what I desire, but still it seeks to force its way in.

My focus needs to remain on Him and not ego-centric needs. It's just that being human and therefore a seeker of gratification, it often comes more swiftly in tangible results.

With improper motivation, tangible results yield short term joy and that is not what I desire.
I just want to want Jesus, not the fluff of worldly promises wrapped in insatiable, carnivorous appetite.

Father, please help me to keep my eyes on you today and to seek Your will, not mine.


Monday, February 04, 2008

Lauren and Rusty Kennedy at our book release party. They are seated on the quilt made for us by Linda Ronne, from this blog family. The reverse side of it has pictures and writings of BJ sewn into the fabric. It's really quite amazing!

One of the things I struggle with that the Lord has been growing me in, at this point in my life is stepping out of my comfort zone.

I have written before about being a person of routine. I like to have them, they make my world more tangible. It is easier to face each day knowing that certain things will happen in a certain way and at certain times.
Our lives seem to be becoming less and less routine, as we are drawn to new places with new things to do, meeting new people, some who are movers and shakers in the Christian world.
Several months ago, I believe I shared a story about going to meet with the producers of "The End of the Spear." We spent several hours together. Of the men in that meeting, I connected with one in particular. I never expected anything to result from this. Again, it was a situation of finding common ground and getting "comfortable."

This past week, those same men came to our offices. I cannot tell you that I know for sure why they came, or what will result of our time together praying and sharing hearts. I can tell you that I know the Lord is doing a work.

Once again, I was drawn to one particular man. The same man.
At lunch, I was seated next to him. We began to talk about our backgrounds, something we did not get to do last time. In the process of this, we began to explore on a personal level, where we had grown up, where our families were from, etc.

In the course of this discussion we realized very quickly that our families had grown up very near each other. So near, in fact, that I recognized some of the names of his family members.
This is a man who lives in Oklahoma City and has for some time. I lived in Indiana, and now Tulsa and had never heard of him.

To make our world seem desperately small, through the course of getting to know each other, we discovered that not only did our families grow up near each other, and not only did we recognize names from each others families, but this man I had never met or heard of before a few months ago, was connected to me.
His mother's brother married my mother's sister!

Somehow, I think that makes us cousins by marriage! I cannot tell you how strange it was in those moments to realize this! At the same time, I found myself wondering, Lord what are you doing here? Is there more of a reason for all of this than I can fathom?

This morning, I received an email from the oldest daughter (my cousin) from that marriage. Guess who elses name was included in the address section of this email? I never would have looked at it twice before. On this day, the name jumped out at me and I wasn't even looking for it!
There are no coincidences in what the Lord binds together.
Suddenly, I find the accomplishments of my friend (and cousin?) to have new meaning. I remember when Deanna and I went to see "The End of the Spear." It was not long after BJ had passed. We felt a connection with this movie that is a bit hard to portray. One of the couples who inspired this man and helped put him on the path that led to his involvement with this movie, was the same couple I looked at and revered for their service to the Lord.

They were missionaries to the Navajo Indians throughout much of their lives. My aunt died a few years ago from cancer, but the legacy she left behind with her children and extended family has found its way to the stitchings of a new relationship.

Both of us revered Uncle Ward and Aunt Hattie. They lived their lives outside of their comfort zones and made a difference for the Kingdom. They had a deep impact on the lives of two men who though on different roads are drawn closer to the hem of Christ, because of simple obedience.
They taught us not to embrace the world, but the people in the world who need our Savior's love.
What an incredible God we serve!

Friday, February 01, 2008

Many years ago when the Lord first began to draw me towards ministry and before I had really experienced the clear moves of the Holy Spirit in my life, regarding how He allowed me to see His desire for my obedience to connect with others, He acted in a very tangible way.

It was Easter, and our church had outgrown the ability to seat everyone in one service. We rented an auditorium at Butler University to be able to accomodate all members plus any visitors into one worship experience.
We underwent brief training as a "response" team who were going to counsel those who came forward at the end of the service. It was going to be my first opportunity to do such a thing. I was very nervous.

I don't remember anything about the service, except that I wondered what kind of reaction people would have to it. Would the Holy Spirit stir them? Would they come forward? Would I be pressed into service? How would I know who to talk to?
During our briefing, we had been told, "the Holy Spirit will lead you to the person(s) you are to counsel."
Oh great! What was that going to look like?

Did that mean that my person (if there was one) was going to have a neon sign around there neck that said, "Brent, pick me?" I was hoping so. I had no idea how to discern who I was supposed to wrangle to a quiet corner. I was very nervous.
The service closed, and the time came. I got up from my seat and moved into position. Nothing after that happened in a way I had feared.
What ensued was the most natural experience I could imagine.
A crowd of people responding to God's call on their lives moved forward as one. For a moment, I felt overwhelmed, looking for that flash of neon.
Then, a young man emerged from the crowd. He was a face I recognized. He had grown up in our church. His parents were pillars of the body. He had been a frequent special music contributor in his teen years. I knew of his story. He had gone away to college, and walked away from the Lord.
When I saw Him, I almost involuntarily moved towards him. I knew this was my person. There was such peace. There was such comfort. My angst was gone. This was why I was here this day.
Our eyes locked and he redirected his shuffle towards me with purpose.

We spent the next several minutes together as he recounted his life over the last few years. God had moved in his heart. His parents and many in our body had been praying for him. He was an amazing young man who had gotten off track, as many of us do. Over the next few weeks, we would connect a time of two more, for encouragement. His desire to follow the Lord was intense. He struggled with follow through. The world had a grip on his heart.

I would continue to pray for him for some time to come. I would only see him occasionally at church. He just could not shake loose from the world's grip. I found myself from time to time in the last few years, wondering how he was doing.

When the Indiana team pulled up to my house and spilled into my yard a week ago, my heart lept with joy!

There he was, and he wasn't alone. We walked towards each other and embraced warmly. My mind was flooded with memories from that Easter. I don't know what he remembered or thought (we were never close) but the joy of the Lord was written all over his face! With him was his son. A young man I didn't even know.
He was training his son in the ways of his heavenly Father. He was starting early in teaching him how to serve. I was so blessed to have them here!
Praise God for father's who get it! For men who have struggled through their lives, failed, and gotten back up to seek Him again! He was spending time with his son, training him how to follow after the Lord.
Praying for those who are far from the Lord is never a useless effort. Only God knows the timing of reunion. Let us not falter in our responsibility of lifting them up!