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Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Creation Calls -- are you listening?

The heavens are telling the glory of God; and their expanse is declaring the work of His hands. Day to day pours forth speech, And night to night reveals knowledge.
~ Psalm 19: 1-2

For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men who suppress the truth in unrighteousness, because that which is known about God is evident within them; for God has made it plain to them.
~ Romans 1:18-19

Monday, July 19, 2010

Scripture Reference Guide

I have a book recommendation. It's the Calvary Chapel Scripture Reference Guide from Calvary Chapel Ft. Lauderdale. It is 259 pages of scriptures (New King James Version) by topic such as: Anxiety, Bitterness, Conscience, Insecurity, Witnessing and many more. It goes for around $9.99 at the Calvary Chapel Ft. Lauderdale Bookstore.

For More Information:

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Praise Report - Calvary Chapel O'Hare Equipping for Evangelism and Block Party Outreach (June 18,19, 2010)

Then I heard every creature in heaven and on earth and under the earth and on the sea, and all that is in them, singing: "To him who sits on the throne and to the Lamb be praise and honor and glory and power, for ever and ever!"
~ Revelation 5:1

As a result of your ministry, they will give glory to God
~ 2 Corinthians 9:13

I shall give thanks to You, for you have answered me….This is the Lord’s doing; It is marvelous in our eyes. This is the day which the Lord has made; Let us rejoice and be glad in it
~ Psalm 118:21, 23-4
Dear Brothers and Sisters of Calvary Chapel O’Hare, and to the Body of Christ, partners in sharing the Good News of Jesus Christ,

We (Liz, Scott, Leo, and Todd, of Calvary Chapel O'Hare, in Chicago) want to share with you some of the observations we had about events several weeks ago, in which we clearly saw God’s hand and Spirit working and moving among us. We saw this, in ways that were astonishing to us; especially in answer to the prayers which we had been praying with you–even above and beyond what we asked-- to see God’s vision for this event unfold. We hope you’ll forgive us for our delay in sharing this with you. Our purpose is to give all the glory to God for the great things He’s done.

Below are the points of the Vision Statement the Lord led us to create at the outset of our planning, and what we witnessed.

Your fellow bondservants in Christ,
~ Liz, Leo, Scott, and Todd

P.S. Go here to see a slide show of the event:
A. Gospel will be preached and our body will hunger to reach the lost:
The Gospel was preached to young and old, English and Spanish speakers, even to the firefighters who we did not expect to come. Witnessing teams and others also shared the Gospel on the street with our neighbors. One brother who had never done street witnessing shared the Gospel, and another who had never witnessed in Spanish saw the Lord allowing him to clearly preach the Good News to a group of neighbors, all in Spanish.

We clearly saw our body hunger to reach the lost, not just through the street witnessing that occurred, but at the “Equipping for Evangelism” event. Despite the heavy storms causing blackouts, and the traffic jams (of more than an hour) about thirty church members came to this event on a Friday night—about a third the attendance of our Sunday service. One member said before the meeting, “I’ve got to get there. I know it’s going to be hard, but I have to get there. The Lord has just been speaking to my heart. It’s time to get radical for Jesus!”

Dennis Zech (whom we hosted, of Ministry through Mystery) shared a message had two themes: “Go with what you’ve got,” and “Get out of your comfort zone.” He shared a story of a young woman who was preaching the gospel, relying mostly on John 3:16. A man questioned her about dinosaurs, evolution, and the existence of God. The woman replied, “I don’t know about all that, but I do know this,” quoting to him John 3:16, again. The man returned the following day, telling the woman that he could not sleep the night before because of what he had heard, and because of that gave his life to the Lord.

As we reflected later, we also saw that the Lord had used the blackout to teach us, through our lives and through Dennis’s message. With no electricity (no lights, no air conditioning) we held the meeting in the Fellowship Room, lit by candles, and some car headlights. The worship team played acoustically, and we sang together without projected lyrics. Jeff held a flashlight so that Dennis, the hosted ministry leader, could read from the Word. As we sat—the men sweating, the women perspiring--jammed together like sardines, we were learning to “Go with what we had,” and “Get out of our comfort zone.”

The sense of fellowship and encouragement was felt by everyone. One guest remarked, “It was all great. Nothing negative. All positive. Now how we do this? How do we go out and preach the gospel?” This is a question a man hungry to reach the lost would ask.

B. Those who hear will be saved and bear fruit:
A young couple who was invited to the block party while they were sitting sitting at a nearby park gave their lives to the Lord and got saved with repentant and understanding hearts. One of the Spanish-speaking women who heard the Good News came to faith. About six boys, 12-17 years old, heard the news of salvation through Christ, and professed him as Savior and Lord. After several of them had heard the gospel, and were given their New Believers’ Handbooks and New Testaments, they excitedly approached Leo (who had witnessed to them) with more of their friends and said, “My friends haven’t heard the lecture. Can you give them the lecture?” Except for the Spirit of working God in them, what teenage boy tells an adult that he wants to hear a “lecture!” or to have his friend hear one? We cannot know at this time whether those who confessed Christ have borne fruit, but there was some evidence of this initially. All of the boys were interested in us contacting them further so that they could attend future youth meetings. One boy asked Todd, “Will they teach us what the Bible means?”

C. We will rely on God through prayer, faith, Word, and spirit, all with repentive hearts:
We prayed corporately twice a week, at our planning meetings on Monday, and at the prayer meeting on Wednesday, at which others joined us. The Body prayed through our weekly e-prayer updates. As we did, we saw the Lord guiding us in every aspect of our planning. There was amazing unity, even about issues we had differences of opinion about. We relied on Him through prayer to give us the answers, or when needed, we just waited on Him. We also saw that every detail did matter to the Lord--how to allocate the limited budget, where to hold the event, and whether or not to have a band—because, after all, this was His event. As we were guided and led by His Spirit, we simply followed and lent our hands to what He was unfolding.

A strong spirit of repentance came over us during several of the prayer meetings, and we confessed many things before Him and to each other.

At times, when things did not seem to be coming together, we felt heavy and burdened. We also experienced what we felt was the attack of the enemy. At these times, we relied on God’s Word to renew our minds and guide us in prayer and praise to Him. Through this, we were always restored to joy with hopeful expectation about the great work our God would do.

D. God will do a great work and get all of the Glory:
Initially, we planned to hold the magic show event in the park near the church, so that we could draw more people, and because we expected that unsaved people would not want to come into a church. As we prayed about this, the elders shared with us that they felt we should have it on our block, as there were already plans for a block party for sometime this summer. We saw His hand, in many ways, leading us to a more intimate event than we had planned initially, so as we prayed, we saw that this was much better to accomplish the vision He had given us.

On Friday evening, as the storm came and the electricity went out, one of us told the Lord, “Oh, Father…I know this is of You. I don’t know what you’ve got planned, but it’s exciting. And you’re doing it all for us! Thank you, Lord!” And as we saw, it was of Him, to accomplish His plans and purposes, and to glorify Himself.

We saw God orchestrating many things through the storm and blackout at the block party as well: because there was no electricity, we really had to “go with what we had” and trust Him to do the rest. Also, for our neighbors it was cooler to be outside and in the breeze than inside their homes. The church members and neighbors were mostly strangers to one another, so had there been electricity, it might have been easy for people to stay inside their respective “comfort zones” (church and homes), yet God used this to bring us together, to His glory.

Amazingly, about 45 minutes before the show was scheduled to be held outside, the power was restored to the church. Dennis Zech, the ministry leader we were hosting, asked about holding it inside the church, where it was now much cooler than the parking lot. We asked some neighbors if they would come inside to see the show. They said, “Yes! It’s too hot out here!” Amazingly everyone came inside the church, no one stayed outside. Everyone saw the show and heard the gospel preached! Considering that we had never expected people to come inside the church, we saw that this was clearly God’s Spirit at work, making the impossible, possible.

It was also amazing for us to see how much the Lord provided for His event—almost like the loaves and fishes that fed five thousand. Our budget was limited, yet many, many donations came in—of food, equipment, supplies, large and small games; He even led us to find things we didn’t know we had in our future sanctuary area!

E. That the truth of the Father and the Son be declared:
This happened by Dennis sharing the gospel at the magic show, with the firefighters, and through the street witnessing teams. This was especially evident among the neighbors and guests with Catholic backgrounds, who knew of the Father and Son, but did not have understanding of why the Father had sent His son, and His gift of saving grace through faith in Christ alone. These truths were declared to them, and many believed. One brother witnessed to the man who came to pick up the dunk tank and moonwalk after the block party was over. He shared these truths, which the man said he knew, but had not understood, even though He had accepted Christ as his Lord and Savior. Through this, the man grew in understanding and saw the assurance of his salvation and the hope of eternal life.

F. Body of Christ will be built up:
We felt that the Body really demonstrated that, through Him, we could love our neighbors as ourselves, because we did so many things for them with such care, including prayer, sharing God’s truth, entertaining, feeding, connecting with and getting to know them, and inviting them into God’s house.

Also, we (and others) saw the amazing unity that the Body had towards these things, especially on the day of the event. Dennis remarked about this—about the unity He saw among the Body.

We observed that the Body was very encouraged to plan an event that was centered around and focused on sharing the Gospel; we believe that the boldness of our witness, corporately, has also increased.

We were encouraged, ourselves; to see some among us, who had not taken leadership before, demonstrate it. We grew in our own leadership ability, and saw others grow as well. We were particularly encouraged to see youth in the body take leadership—of the games ministry, video and photo shooting.

We saw many serving, even those had not signed up to—with genuine joy—and their willingness to serve and labor with diligence, even zeal. For example, those who helped set up worked with joy, speed, and excellence—to the exact specifications of our layout, even improving upon it. They worked diligently even though it was very hard to see in the church when getting and finding materials. At the end of the event, when we saw how much food, supplies, equipment had to be put away, trash to be thrown out, and that the church needing to be reset-up and cleaned, we expected the clean-up ministry to be there until very late that night, but in a few hours it was done, everything put back, vacuumed and cleaned.

We saw the Lord developing, maturing, and fulfilling the proper functions of the Body and the spiritual gifts He has given us, in accordance with Ephesians 4: 7-8; 10-12; 15-16:

But to each one of us grace has been given as Christ apportioned it. This is why it  says: “When he ascended on high, he led captives in his train and gave gifts to men.” It was he who gave some to be apostles, some to be prophets, some to be evangelists, and some to be pastors and teachers, to prepare God’s people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up we will in all things grow up into him who is the Head, that is, Christ. From him the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work.

The initial idea for the event was Pastor Jeff’s, and in his role of teaching and equipping the body for works of service, many of his messages from Romans were directly applicable to the purpose of this event. The elders, as overseers, appointed someone to administrate, who then delegated functions for others to lead. The elders continued to oversee and pray, fulfilling their proper functions. The gifts He has given the Body then worked together—evangelists equipped others to use their gift to share the gospel; those with the gift of service, served; those with the gift of giving gave; those with the gifts of leadership, led—all things growing up together into Him. Together, we were able to show God’s love--among ourselves and to our neighbors--and share His message.

G. Spiritual strong holds in the community will be torn down; H. Waste places will be rebuilt:
This happened, as mentioned in point E above, because we witnessed to many Catholics, and among them, many were youth who not only responded to the message of the Gospel, but who also showed a hunger for God’s Word. We also know that many seeds were planted for this to continue, because we went door-to-door to a total of eight neighboring blocks to invite others to the event. This opens to the door for future works of the Lord to tear down spiritual strongholds in the community.

Any time someone gets saved they are pulled out of the mire and seated with the heavenly hosts. So in praise and thanks to God, lives will be transformed, with the hope that the waste places (sin) that people are struggling with will be rebuilt as temples of the Holy Spirit. We know that they can have deliverance from it. We know that the Gospel went out to many, and it particularly strikes us that so many youth responded, who can now live to seek out and serve the Lord, with or without their parents help, and who God may also use to bring their parents to salvation.

I. Mission of the church will be executed:
Our mission is “Following Jesus. Building His Kingdom.” And we felt that this is exactly what the church did. We followed Jesus by accepting His call to love our neighbors and to preach the gospel. In the end we built His kingdom by presenting the truth of the gospel—both through our actions and through the Word of Truth. Many who heard accepted by faith and were transferred to the Kingdom of Heaven.

J. That we will get to know our neighbors, serve them and have an opportunity to share the power of our testimonies:
We really saw that we served our neighbors from the food, to the games, and from the children to the way to the adults. With the kids we gave them a fun and safe place to play with the Moonwalk, dunk tank, and games; and for the adults with the food, volleyball and fellowship. Also through the service we were given the opportunity to share our faith. We had been praying consistently that God would go before us and prepares the hearts of the people that would come to the block party, and we saw just that!

One example was a couple who, the night before, came together to pray in their home, something they had not done in a very long time. The next day while they were playing at the park with their young daughter and a member of the church happened to drive by and see them. He got out and invited them to the block party! They were ready and willing to hear the whole gospel truth with repentance. They wanted to come to know the Lord and that day were saved! That is all God!

K. We desire to lead others to Christ that they may be filled with the Holy Spirit and grow in the word of God:
Ephesians 1:13 says: “And you also were included in Christ when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation. Having believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit,” so those who believed were filled by the Holy Spirit.

We gave out New Testament Bibles to each of the new believers, though we don’t know if they have grown in the Word. We were all impressed by the hunger of the young people who accepted Christ and their eagerness to know His Word.
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