Turmoil in Middle East

February 24, 2011

The turmoil in the Arab world is reminding me of the fall of the Iron Curtain. Communism was a major obstacle to the spread of the gospel in the Soviet Union as well as eastern Europe for many years after WWII. Yet what seemed to be an impenetrable barrier was broken and removed with little bloodshed very quickly from 1989-92.

I think we are living in a similar time, when the barriers imposed by Islam are being shaken. This shaking may be messy, but this is an answer to the prayers of many intercessors who have been praying for the Muslim world. These regime changes may provide wonderful opportunities for fruitful ministry for those who are called and willing to serve God in missions.

My sermon this Sunday is “Interpreting the Dreams of Life” from Genesis 37, and 39-50. This is the story of Joseph, one of the patriarchs of Israel. There are many parallels between the life of Joseph and the life of Christ. Joseph was a righteous, moral man who was sold for silver by his jealous brothers. Joseph’s betrayal ultimately led to many lives being saved. What his brothers meant for evil, God used for good.

There are three sets of two dreams each that dramatically impacted Joseph’s life. These dreams gave Joseph hope in dark times and ultimately led to his divine destiny. There are significant lessons we can learn about how God works in our lives as we study the life of Joseph. We all go through difficult trials sooner or later. At times God gives those who are filled with the Spirit dreams and visions which can help guide and encourage us as we fulfill our divine destiny.

We will be looking at a lot of scriptures this Sunday. If you take the time to read them in advance they can enrich your life with understanding.

Sunday Preview ~

February 10, 2011

It was a blessing for me to return to Living Streams last weekend and see many of you for the first time since November. I feel so grateful for your prayers and the love that has been extended to me by our church since my heart surgery. I’m looking forward to returning to preach at Living Streams this weekend.

The title of my sermon for this Saturday evening and Sunday morning is “I Have a Dream,” from Acts 2:14-21. You probably know that this is not an original title. Martin Luther King used this title for his famous message about his dream for equality for all people of all races in America. He laid down his life for his dream, and as a result there is more equality in America now than ever before.

My dream is an understanding from the Holy Spirit about God’s plan for the expansion of His Kingdom and the ministry of Living Streams. Every believer who is filled with the Spirit has a dream or a vision from God. In this message I plan to give you three reasons why the dreams of a disciple will be fulfilled. I will also explain three reasons why the dreams of many people are never fulfilled. I’ll briefly tell you about my dream in this message. Just as importantly, my hope is that you will be aware of the dream the Holy Spirit has planted in your heart. My prayer is that you will see that divine dream come to pass.

I wanted to give you a quick update on my condition and plans. By the grace of God and thanks to the prayers of many of you, I continue to heal every day. I have needed to delay my return to Living Streams this month because I literally get so excited being around a large group of people I love, that my newly repaired heart starts racing beyond what is healthy for me at this time.

Shortly after moving to Arizona in 1984, I attended a pastors’ retreat in Cornville where I met Bud Miller, a pastor from Dewey. Bud’s wide grin and warm heart drew me to him. He welcomed me and helped me feel at home. I needed encouragement from leaders who were trying to be faithful and fruitful in a culture I did not understand. Cornville seemed like Hicksville to me.

A few months later, Bud invited Kristina and me to Dewey to speak to Christ Unlimited, the church he and his wife Betty had started. Their church building was on Highway 69, a two lane road to Prescott, the original capital of the Arizona Territory, 100 miles northwest of Phoenix. Dewey is a high desert town on the eastern end of Prescott Valley. Many citizens in this Wild West outpost were well-armed, dodged taxes, and preferred isolation to community living. You would not want to ignore their barking dogs, walk past their junked cars, and go through their doors without knocking.

The day after the service, I went with Bud and Betty for a drive to Cherry, Arizona. They wanted to show me the base they were establishing for their ministry. We drove for miles down a dirt road which dead ended in Cherry, a tiny town with a dozen old houses. We walked in to a partially remodeled two-story house which they said was the future headquarters of their ministry.

Bud and Betty told me how the Lord had spoken to them about a ministry based in Cherry. Betty was creating teaching materials they said would be distributed around the world. Bud and Betty really loved the Lord and believed God had spoken to them. But I kept wondering how they could possibly have a worldwide ministry from a tiny place where a dirt road dead ends in scraggly mountains. I didn’t think it was practical or probable that their vision would be fulfilled.

In 1994, I sat down at my computer with our new dial-up modem. I was attempting to get on the internet for the first time. I couldn’t think of anything special, so I typed in http://www.bible and hit Enter. It took awhile for an image to slowly appear on the screen. It said, Christ Unlimited, Cherry Arizona. “I don’t get it. This is ridiculous,” I said to Kristina. “This internet is supposed to be worldwide and I can’t get any further than Bud and Betty’s ministry in Cherry.”

I really didn’t get it then, but the next time I saw the Millers, their web site, Bible.com, was fully operational. They told me the Lord had led them to secure the Bible.com domain name when the internet was first established. Their web site was soon getting 1,000,000 visitors a month. People from all over the world were ordering the teaching materials they produced from their house in Cherry.

Over the years, Bud and Betty have overcome many spiritual battles and financial challenges. Today, Bible.com has 2,000,000 visitors a month who download the Bible and their teachings. Many of them live in countries closed to evangelism. I’m glad there are people who listen, obey, and prepare when God speaks to them. Those who do can experience the reality that Christ is indeed unlimited.