Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Remembering the Shekinah Glory Story

This fall marks five years since Carly's story was published. But Finding Glory in the Thorns is really more than Carly's story. It was one of the ways Larry and I felt prompted to put God's power and presence on display — in our own hearts and lives as well as the hearts and lives of others God allowed us to intersect with during a remarkable experience of community.  Those tumultuous early years of Carly's life with Angelman Syndrome were an incubator for us to soak up encouragement, prayers and practical help while learning profound things about how the loving presence of Jesus is expressed around us today by the power of the Holy Spirit in His people.  

When we see the word "glory" appear in the Bible, sometimes it is referring to the fame or renown of God.  Other times, the original Hebrew word is Shekinah and refers to the actual manifest presence of God. For example, the Divine presence dwelled among the people within the cloud by day and pillar of fire by night as the Israelites were led by God out of Egypt (Exodus 13:21). God met with the priests in the Tabernacle by manifesting His Divine presence when He hovered over the ark of the covenant beneath the wings of the cherubim (Exodus 25:22).  There are many more examples (look them up some time for a richly encouraging reflection on some ways God has revealed Himself to His people over the years).  Best of all, after Jesus' resurrection, we were given the gift of the Holy Spirit (Hebrews 1:3) and with that came the opportunity to experience God's eternal indwelling presence (1 Corinthians 3:16, Ephesians 2:19-22).  Have no doubt, my friends, about the reality of God's power and nearness!  

Over the years, Glory Stories have been a centerpiece of Walk Right In Ministries.  Glory Stories are one awesome way God reassures each of us that we are never alone, how He shows us His Kingdom purposes and how He spurs us on when life gets bumpy.  We are privileged to see that the original Finding Glory in the Thorns (also an eBook now) continues to inspire people to encounter the glory of God in their own challenges.  Participants using the Finding Glory small group curriculum have been spurring one another on towards adventure with Christ throughout the US and in Canada.  The Walking Partners model promotes the sharing of Glory Stories as part of a lifestyle that helps us point one another to Christ.  And Wednesdays have become a day on our blog for featuring Glory Stories from folks around the world just like you and me — people recognizing that there is a beautiful power released from God when His activity within us and around us is spotlighted and declared. 

God is alive!  He cares about you. He is near to you.  And His power will never be subdued.  We have the authority, comfort and guidance of the Holy Spirit and our adventures can be fully embraced when we allow Him to join us in them!

Please consider sharing a Glory Story with us.  And be encouraged to make talking about the power and presence of God your lifestyle!

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Pastor Jon's Birthday Glory Story

The worship pastor at my church is regularly used by God to teach and inspire me.  Beyond his gifted and anointed leadership in music and prayer, Pastor Jon Russel’s passion burns to help us encounter Jesus and experience the intimacy of His presence.  As a member of the worship and prayer teams, I also get to read his occasional personal notes of reflection to all of us serving in those areas.  When Pastor Jon posted last week, I felt affirmed and stretched in some areas where I’ve been struggling lately. I also felt strongly prompted to share His insightful and encouraging note with our blog readers.  So with his permission, I share Pastor Jon’s Glory Story below.  I would love to hear from you about how God used this man’s experience of the power and presence of God to inspire you also.
I turned 50 a week ago! I didn’t think it would hit me quite like it did, but I can say that I have more hope and more anticipation for the future than I thought I would at this point in my life. 
One of my favorite parts of the Bible is in the book of Acts. The Holy Spirit came like a mighty rushing wind.  There was lot’s of cool Holy Spirit stuff and Peter stands up and reminds the crowd of Joel’s prophecy… 
"'In the last days, God says, I will pour out my Spirit on all people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy, your young men will see visions, your old men will dream dreams.” Acts 2:17 
We’re in  “the last days” and as I read that verse, I realize that I now fit into every one of those categories! I’m a son, so I prophesy. I’m still a young man, so I see visions. But now that I can apply for an AARP card, I dream dreams!!! That’s what I want to talk briefly to you about. 
Today in the evangelical church, I don’t believe that we have enough white-haired (or no-haired) men that understand their Kingdom relevance of being dreamers. For some reason, it seems, they’ve become more obligated to the function of the church as an organization than to their fascination with God. Don’t get me wrong, the former is good, but the latter is ultimate. When we begin losing our fascination with the presence of God, we start living our lives looking back. Any time your memories are more powerful than your dreams, you sabotage your future and, look out, the next generation’s future. When fear creeps in and says, “you’re too old and irrelevant” we can become people who will do or say anything to protect what we have or what we’ve had. The “new” becomes a threat as opposed to an adventure to be enjoyed with sons and daughters. 
In the late 1800’s there was a fiery Methodist preacher named Milton Wright. On one particular Sunday, Bishop Wright stood in the pulpit and proclaimed, “If God had intended man to fly, He’d have given him wings.” Sitting in one of the pews that Sunday were two of Milton Wright’s sons — Orville and Wilbur. What one generation was proposing as restrictions, regulations, rules and limitations, another generation was hearing as possibilities. Now, to be fair to Bishop Wright, he did become one of Orville and Wilbur’s biggest supporters and encouragers. At age 81, Milton went for a ride with Orville in a Wright Model B and thought Orville was flying a bit too conservatively. He could be heard shouting over the noise of the engine, “higher, Orville, higher!!” 
I’m a dreamer – always have been. And I never want to get in the way of, or stifle the next generation of dreamers. Nor do I want to be a bystander. In fact, they’re going to have to run fast to catch me ‘cause I’m about to catch my second wind and outrun them all! I hope you get my drift. But I do have a heart to put the next generation on my shoulders and exclaim, "Higher! Go higher!"
Hopefully you’ll see that this note isn’t just for the “old men.” It’s time for all the dreamers to come alive.  It’s time to rise up out of the conformity and be the ones dreaming dreams of the possibilities of God for the future generations!
Thank you, Pastor Jon Russel of Plymouth Covenant Church for sharing.  HAPPY BIRTHDAY, young man!

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