This past weekend Mark and I were asked to come speak and teach at a small country town in rural Texas. The congregation is made up of a couple dozen people (on a good day) who found their way to the converted Old-West style saloon that now serves as their church. They range in age from octogenarians to middle-schoolers, and have found their way there for different reasons; some out of dissatisfaction with their previous church homes, and others I assume just looking for a new model in which to worship. So, the point of this post is not to disparage "the Church", but to share how Jesus never disappoints!
Frankly, we expected there to be more people in attendance, and based on other opportunities we've had to share our journey from Salvation [and lukewarm faith] to passionate ambassadors of the Kingdom of God, we had prepared a candid, laid-back talk about what Jesus had called us to, and their purpose in advancing His ministry on the earth. We figured we could slim down our talk to an hour if we hit the highlights; shortened from other versions where we had had the privilege to teach for anywhere from three to six hours. Needless to say, we asked the Holy Spirit to counsel us on what to say to this precious group of Believers; to guide us on what to emphasize that would stir their spirits to new heights of engagement with our Lord. We had a one-page sheet of hand-written notes, and were actually excited to see what Jesus would do in this compressed time-frame.
Well, it turned out to be a challenge for us, but of course, not for Jesus! We were told we had about 20 minutes to speak, which meant that we were going to have to find a way to present some very important principles, while sharing why we were qualified to be the spokespeople for these theological truths. So, we took a deep breath, gave a cursory glance at our notes and just began to talk. It was important [to us] to present how our belief system had evolved, and support it with what we had learned from our immersion in the Word... and do it in 20 minutes. I don't remember my soul praying for help from Jesus and Holy Spirit, but I'm certain my spirit did just that. I can't remember everything we said, but here is my recollection of the high points...
We explained about the dream the Lord brought to Mark nearly 8 years ago that was the genesis of this amazing journey of faith we've been on. The Lord gave Mark the same instructions (in two consecutive nights) in dreams that astounded my husband. He was told to sanctify ourselves [in a specific private manner] and then sanctify our small piece of property to His service. Then we waited ... for several years ... until we were invited to a teaching in a friend's home where author Peggy Joyce Ruth (who wrote a book titled, Psalm 91) related her personal struggle with depression for 8 years. For the very first time, in the 25 years of our history in the Church, we heard that, as Believers, we had power and authority! We shared with this small congregation the verse that changed our faith lives -- Luke 10:19, I have given you authority over serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the Enemy, and nothing shall harm you!
From that point on, the Lord has fast-tracked us. From that divine truth of our power and authority, we were led to a conference by Dr. Charles Kraft, who introduced us to a ministry known as Inner Healing; a ministry that embodies how Jesus, Himself, ministered to those to whom He was bringing the message of His Father's love and the restoration of His Kingdom on earth. We knew we were running out of our allotted time to speak, so we had to abbreviate the glory of God's plan to send His Son to bring freedom to mankind by healing the broken-hearted and setting the captives free (Luke 4:18). Jesus did this by casting out demons, healing the sick, cleansing the lepers, raising the dead, and spreading the Gospel of the Kingdom. As people experienced those miracles/encounters in their lives, they were encouraged and heartened to hear more about the Most High God whose power could restore them physically, emotionally, and spiritually. And we shared with that little church that we have that same power in us to do what Jesus did. And when we spoke John 14:12 ... Those who follow Me will do the things I have done, and even greater ... we could see heads bobbing up and down. Thank you, Jesus!
By this time, we had just five minutes to express our dedication to spreading the Gospel of the Kingdom, which is the greater purpose of our Inner Healing ministry. I knew the best way we could explain why sharing the Kingdom of God on earth is so important was to use the late Dr. Myles Munroe's definition of a Kingdom ... "It's the King's domain; a country ruled by a King who influences and impacts the domain of his kingdom with his values, morality, lifestyle, principles, and laws until the people begin to reflect his lifestyle". We then asked the important question, "Have we, as the Church, represented the Kingdom of God on earth"? Do abortion, pedophilia, sex trafficking, murder, racism, satanism, lust, etc. reflect God's values, or His morality, principles or laws? Does our society reflect what we think Heaven is like? Because that was the charge we were given in Genesis 1:26-28 -- to rule the earth in God's stead and make it look like Heaven.
As we checked the clock on the wall, we knew we needed to wrap it up, so we simply recited Matthew 24:14, which says, "And this Gospel of the Kingdom will be preached throughout all the world, so all nations will hear it, and then the end will come". We pointed out that the Church had limited itself to sharing the Gospel of Salvation, which is absolutely necessary and essential, but as Jesus told Nicodemus in John 3:1-5, we cannot expect to see or understand the Kingdom; and we cannot enter the Kingdom of God on earth until we are Saved. So the Church has done a good job of making Salvation a focus of their responsibilities, but they have neglected to share and preach the Gospel of the Kingdom.
We ended our little presentation by reminding the group that Jesus is King of kings, and Lord of lords. We were meant to be those kings and lords; taking back the dominion of the earth, which was why we were created. My spirit was happy to see lots of heads shaking in agreement and smiles on faces, both young and old. We thanked them for the opportunity to speak of our amazing journey with Jesus; just two ordinary people that were unafraid to say, "Yes, Lord, use us". And then Jesus did what He does so well... He stirred the hearts of that small congregation who, as a whole, asked for more! He used our story to show them the possibilities in their own lives of how they could grow in their relationship with Him, and step in to their purpose in advancing the Kingdom. They also asked if we would be willing to come back and talk to more people; we praised Jesus for sowing His seed in the midst of this diverse group, who were hungry for more of what the Holy Spirit guided us to share.
I know that by the standards of the average Evangelist, this past Sunday was "small potatoes". We didn't speak before a large and energetic crowd, and the worship music consisted of a woman playing a portable piano while we accompanied the worship leader in our timid and quiet voices. We had to basically give our message as a summary, rather than a detailed dialogue. But Jesus used us in this opportunity just as He would have if we had been invited to speak in a stadium. These few blessed souls left with excitement over hearing something that spoke to their spirits. They heard they have a purpose, and it is to serve the King of Kings. They heard that Jesus can use anyone; all you have to do is say "yes". And they heard that they are to play an important part in defeating the evil we see in the world. Their lives mean something to the Father and to the advancement of His Kingdom!
So once again, Mark and I learned to never underestimate Jesus. He can bring unexpected glory to God in the most ordinary of circumstances. He can take the mundane or the average, and turn it into extraordinary occasions to exalt Himself, our Father, and the Holy Spirit. And He can lift up the spirits of people the world would ignore, and light a spark that just might be the beginning of a blaze that changes a small town in Texas. Thank you, Jesus, for allowing me to see You in all the places You long to be! I am extremely blessed!
Romans 8:28 So we are convinced that every detail of our lives is continually woven together for good, for we are His lovers who have been called to fulfill His designed purpose.