Sunday, September 16, 2012

I Want My Mouth Guard Back

In the evening, as I sat on the bed to read before going to sleep, I saw Linda's mouth guard on the sheet at the foot of the bed between our two duvets. That would not be very exciting were it not for the events that led up to it.

On Tuesday evening, the 1st day of BSSM, Linda said her mouth guard was missing, and that was not good news. It helps her sleep, and it measurably increases her blood oxygenation. It is a custom-fitted appliance, and cost more than $2000 to study, design, build and fit. The story of the mouth guard is interesting in itself, but I'm going to stay on track.

We looked for it around the bed, in the duvets, and on the floor. I had washed clothes early the day of it's disappearance, and Linda wondered if she had put it in a pillowcase, as is her custom for keeping it safe when she takes it out. I even stopped by the apartment complex office to ask if it had been turned in from the laundry area.

We had heard the story from Bethel about the man who lost his knife (video below), and said to the Lord, "I want my knife back.". The knife mysteriously reappeared. Since then, others have prayed similarly and some have seen miraculous the man whose missing watch was on his thumb the next morning when he awoke!

Well, we prayed that, too. "Lord, we want that mouth guard back!" It is no stretch for the God who loves us to take care of the things that concern us, so we asked in faith for this small thing. $2000+ maybe it's more of a "medium thing". :)

And there it was....right in plain sight at the end of the day.

Some might scoff and say that it was tangled up in the bedding and it was just a coincidence that it appeared in that way. Maybe, but I have observed that we have more of these "coincidences" when we pray. From my perspective, it was a miracle.

So....we give praise to the God who loves us, and watches over our lives!

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Should One be Nice or Dangerous?

Does it suffice as a Christian to be nice, or should one also be dangerous?  Three sentences in Bill Johnson's "When Heaven Invades Earth" say much:
Johnson wrote, "I’m not impressed with anyone’s life unless they have integrity. But I’m not happy with their life until they are dangerous.  As much as I have the ability to do so, I’ll not let those around me get away with just being nice people!"
I think in retrospect that I have tried most of my life to be nice.  There's kind of pleasant warm, fuzzy Christian-ness about being nice.   If nice means being a man of integrity, faithful, friendly, polite and genuine, I want to be those things in increasing measure.  And I want to be those things most of the time.

But Jesus was not always nice.  When I think about the chaotic scene in the temple with tables being turned over, coins hitting the stone floor, panicked cattle lowing, men yelling, and a passionate young man wielding a whip made of cords, "nice" would not be the adjective that would spring immediately to mind.  "Dangerous", yes; but not, "nice."

Jesus told the disciples,  preach this message: ‘The kingdom of heaven is near.’ Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse those who have leprosy, drive out demons.   In other words, preach the kingdom, heal the sick, raise the dead,  and destroy the work of the devil.  That's our mission, too.

"Nice" is one component of preaching the kingdom of heaven, and for healing the sick and raising the dead, but as for destroying the works of the devil: that is where "dangerous" enters.

Dangerous builds an orphanage by faith in Tanzania to care for kids and teach them that as Christ followers, they are royalty in the Kingdom of Heaven.  Dangerous publishes and distributes Gospel literature in India, South America, and Russia.  Dangerous comes alongside a warring husband and wife and helps them find reconciliation in Christ.  Dangerous builds a ministry training city and local leaders.  Dangerous builds a business employing people and serving the city.  Dangerous brings uncompromising Godly principles and selfless love into the workplace.

Yes - I want to be nice.  But what I really want to be is really, really dangerous.

Friday, September 07, 2012

Revival Groups

There are many students at the Bethel School of Supernatural Ministry (BSSM) -- about 1,200 in the first year class of 2013.  That's a larger group than nearly all US churches.  The problem in any regular gathering of Christians this size is pastoral care.  BSSM has a novel solution to this: revival groups.

Linda and I attended our first revival group gathering yesterday at a Redding yogurt shop.  I'm sure the shop owners were delighted with our "flash mob" -- there must have been 30 of us.  The excitement of young people from all over America and as far away as England and Switzerland meeting for the first time was palpable!

Revival groups at BSSM consist of around sixty students, a pastor and a third-year student intern.  Surprise: one of our interns is Mariah, the daughter of former Anchorage City Churchers Steve and Kelly!   (Ask me privately if you want to know the family name).  Our group pastor is Abi, another focused young woman..

Our next meeting will the lake.  Sometimes the best thing we can do is develop relationships with other believers.  Thanks, Abi.

I like the name: revival groups.  It gives an instant and important focus to these groups.

I love small groups and understand at a personal level the significance of them in the lives of individual Christ followers and churches of which they are a part.  There are also small groups at BSSM and the local church here at Bethel/Redding.  I'll cover this more in the days and weeks ahead.  But perhaps something like revival groups could play a role in larger churches.  I'm going to give that more thought.

Thursday, September 06, 2012


My friend Steve DuBois and I roomed together through much of our college days.  We also partnered on various projects as wildlife students, both in college, and later as Alaska Department of Fish and Game biologists.  We learned many things together, and one that I remember was this:  I tend to estimate projects will take much less than the time they eventually wind up taking and Steve overestimates....a much better approach to project management.  Underestimating has stayed with me.

So it is with the organization of the necessities of life in our culture -- things like a bed, chairs, food preparation.  I am still underestimating.  All I can say is that I am glad we are here a good week before school starts!

Our new apartment in Redding on 9/1...empty, empty, empty.
But Linda is here, so it is home!
We have a nice two bedroom apartment, but it was empty, empty, empty.  We haven't had to furnish an empty apartment in a LONG time....decades, actually.  To make it more interesting, we don't really want to go out and buy the furnishings retail because we expect to be here less than a year, and because selling new items at second hand prices will return only dimes on the dollar.  And then there is the difficulty of moving furniture in a sedan.

Looking back on it, I can see that once again I vastly underestimated the time it would take to get set up in a new place.  Happily, my lady thrives on finding just the right item for our home, wherever it is.  If she had full use of her legs, I suspect we would be much further along.  As it is, she has found a very comfortable bed for us, a nice used kitchen table and chairs, and most of the components we need to prepare food.  More will come in the days and weeks ahead.

We are in a good location, just minutes by car from the church and the school.  Shopping is nearby.  The apartment complex is pleasant, with a fitness center and a pool. It overlooks the Sacramento River, although our apartment looks out into a wooded greenbelt, which is great!  Our first morning here, I watched four mule deer daintily walk by less than 100 feet (30 meters) away from my breakfast spot on the back deck.  I have never seen so many hummingbirds.

Mornings are pleasant with temperatures now in the upper 50's or low 60's before dawn.  Daytime temperatures have risen each afternoon into the mid 90s.  We found pretty quickly that early morning is the best time of day to do things that require being outside.  Except swimming.

Since our arrival on Saturday, we have been to Bethel Church once, for the Sunday evening service.  One does not arrive a few minutes early and find either a good parking place or a place in the main auditorium.  One arrives 45 minutes early or more to find those things.  We sat in the overflow room and participated in the service via one very large screen and a couple of large flatscreens.  School starts next Tuesday.  Registration is Monday.

Our "revival group" gathers later today for an informal meetup.  The Bethel School of Supernatural Ministry is large....about 1,200 this year.  The school is divided into perhaps 20 revival groups of about 60 with a pastor caring for each group.

So, today, more work on the necessities.

Sunday, September 02, 2012

Enroute to Redding - September 1, 2012

Long time friends Jan & Frank outside their Gold Beach home 
We had a great visit with our friends Jan & Frank at their Gold Beach home.  Another great friend named ├ůsa, once remarked about friends that they fill up our emotional tank.  That was the case here.

We left Gold Beach early so we could arrive in Redding in time to sign the lease for our apartment, and receive the keys.  It would be a long three-day weekend without those keys!

The drive along the California coast began to reveal taller trees until we were rolling through groves of immense trees.  The Redwood Highway was built to conserve as many trees on the right of way as possible.  In some places, trees grew within a foot of the asphalt road surface.  Fog rolled off the Pacific and wisped through the verdant branches of trees far older than the American republic.

Our wheels had mostly been pointing southward near the west edge of the continent for the past few days.  At Arcata, we turned them east and entered the Klamath Mountains.  The scenery was impressive but Highway 299 is a windy road, and not very fast, just as Frank warned.

The temperature climbed as we headed east.  When we left the coast it was 59F (15C), by the time we were most of the way through the mountains, it was around 86F (30C)

We pulled into Redding about 3:30 PM and went straight to our apartment manager office where staff gave us the lease paperwork to sign and then the keys.  The pool outside the office was inviting!

In the 9 days before classes start we will be finding the pieces we need to tailor our apartment to us....starting with a bed.  It's empty now except for what we brought along and the boxes that Katie mailed to us.

We're here!

Enroute to Redding - August 18 & 19, 2012
Enroute to Redding - August 20 & 21, 2012
Enroute to Redding - August 22, 2012
Enroute to Redding - August 23 & 24, 2012
Enroute to Redding - August 25, 26 and 27, 2012
Enroute to Redding - August 28, 29, 30 & 31, 2012
Enroute to Redding - September 1, 2012

All pictures
Enroute to Redding