Articles reflecting current events, musings, thoughts, and spiritual insights.

Fire Keeping

We like camping. There is nothing like the great outdoors. We enjoy the Mohican Forest and River area. We like listening to the river in the quiet of the evening. I have seen geese flying up the river in formation and I have seen bald eagles with their regal wing span and grace. It is a time of unwinding and soul keeping.

One of the pleasures of camping is the campfire. Starting a campfire is a challenge sometimes if you do not have the proper equipment or the wood is damp or wet. You can start it with the council fire set up or the teepee set up, but the kindling in the initial phase is crucial to getting the logs burning. I mostly take a short cut with some modern aides like starter logs and starter fluid. (I have on occasion used gasoline with a starter trail poured in the grass to a safe distance. Not recommended) Once the fire is started we enjoy the flames dancing, the various colors of the flames, and the warmth provided to take the chill off the evening. It is a great place for conversation and stories, or just quiet contemplation.

But, after a while, you must tend the fire, move the logs for better air or closer to one another to aid the fire strength. Then comes the point when you have to add more logs to keep the fire going. It is now ready for marshmallows or s’mores. If you let the fire burn down to hot coals, you can cook over the fire and then bring it back to a blaze.

Jesus said that he would baptize us in the Holy Spirit and Fire. There has been ample thoughts and explanations as to what the baptism in fire is. I am not sure if we will totally understand that part. However, fire keeping is an important part of our Christian walk. What can I do to keep the fire going? We talk about people being on fire for God. That means that they are excited and active in their expression of love and commitment to the Lord. We also say that the flame has gone out when we see someone dropping out, not communicating, questioning their faith, doubting God.

We like to see people on fire for God. They are contagious; we are warmed by their enthusiasm, we are challenged by it, we catch fire too sometimes.

Fire keeping means we do something to keep our love alive for God. We tend it so we do not lapse into mediocrity and die. We tend the fire of God so that we are not found lukewarm and become disgusting to our Lord.

Tending the fire is extremely important. You keep the fire alive in your walk with God through several avenues. One of those avenues is investing in others. As long as you are sharing your walk with someone, you are strengthened and the fire is tended. Attending church, a conference, a rally, some large event of Christians like a concert will stir the flames. Personal study, reflection, and prayer fans the flames as well. Corporate worship, actively entering in through song and voice, will allow the Spirit within to burn up in you. Reaching out to serve those in need, caring for the lonely, the shut in, the elderly, the babies, the children will touch the heart of God and add the logs of continued fire into your being.

-Pastor BillIMG_2549

Metrics: The Way We Measure

Metrics: The way things are measured, evaluated.

There are sciences that are fairly standard and measuring is standardized across the board. An inch is an inch and there is a standard, an official inch that is in the Bureau of Weights and Measures. When you pump gas, you will notice the sticker that it has been checked to be correct so a gallon of gas is really a gallon of gas. It is there to make sure you are not cheated. The Bible even talks about cheating measures and weights. So, in math you are sure that two plus two works every time. We learn math tables and they work in any country. The standardization of facts and measures is what makes science so logical and trustworthy most of the time.

However when it comes to measuring human performance, measuring becomes difficult. Metrics can change or be defined differently. Metrics can be established by consensus, by committee, by social pressures. For instance, we have a nation that has become formed by pressures of tolerance and relativism. Politically correct has become a force that chips away at everything, judges everything, perverts everything. This metric is making life difficult for everyone. Sensitivities are made extreme and everyone says they are offended when the least slight is expressed, many times unintentionally. In human circles, people in the same room can be working with entirely different sets of metrics.

The church world has the same problem. There are several different measures that are applied. Measures of numbers, finances, growth, properties, etc. are applied to churches. By what or by whom are we measured?

During this time of reflection and reaching for the reset button, I came to realize that the metrics, the measures that I had been reaching for were not the ones I had started with. Somewhere in the years, a subtle, persistent change had taken place. The joy of salvation was eroded and robbed. The idealism of ministry was replaced by the competitiveness of church life. Even the church members had lapsed into pettiness, bickering, territorialism, and missed the essentials.

I realized that I needed to return to the core values, the core metrics of the Bible, the words of Jesus, His mandate. He could have had crowds larger than he did. He could have stayed in Capernaum and had the largest church in the middle east. They wanted him to stay, to build a miracle tabernacle. He said he had to be about Father’s business. Obviously, Father’s business was not the way the world worked. Father’s business was building the Kingdom of God, the Kingdom of Heaven. This kingdom reached everyone, particularly, the “deplorables.” To return to Bible metrics means returning to the love of God, the love of people. It means souls first, always first. It means reaching out to care and serve. Care and serve, not as a program, but as one who cares for the person.

-Pastor Bill

The Passion and Victory

THE PASSION AND VICTORY

This is Easter, Resurrection Day, 2016. It is a day to celebrate the most significant event in the history of mankind. It surpasses any great human event in history. No army has marched, a president lead, a victory won, a discovery made, or an invention introduced that has so changed the course of humanity for eternity.

While many hope that there is nothing more than this short journey across the face of the earth, the human soul knows differently. It is not a taught or learned response, it is set in the soul of man by the creator. Education and philosophy may try to rob the soul of its spiritual DNA, but it still is there. That first breath of God that made man a living soul has been in the heart of man ever since. It is not a discovery that the soul makes, but it is the response of that which lies within, seeking its creator and the touch of the divine once again.

The resurrection of Jesus from the dead confirms what lies within us, that craving for eternity, life forevermore. His victory over death and the grave resonates in our heart. It touches something very deep in each of us. The resonance is hope, confirmation, and a direction home.

This week is called Passion Week. It is the high season for Christianity. No matter what the denomination, Passion Week forms the backbone of our faith. You cannot depart from these significant events and be a Christian.

I was born again on Good Friday 1956. Each time I walk through this season I am touched deeply. Watching the Passion as presented by Tyler Perry in New Orleans and in a very modern setting, I could not hold back the tears. Something very deep inside responds to the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus. As I watched with Cathy, the folks in the crowd had tears rolling down their cheeks. Even the singer/actor who played the part of Jesus was moved to tears in his portrayal of the Christ. I watched Mel Gibson’s movie The Passion of the Christ once. I do not believe I could watch it again, my heart hurt too much to watch it again. Even though it was a moving portrayal of the events, the Passion (suffering) was too hard on my emotions and heart.

The Passion however changed the world and now death, where is your sting and grave, where is your victory. When Jesus arose from the grave, He overcame sin and death and brought us the victory and He lives to reign forevermore!

In High Hope,

Pastor Bill

FASTING – Bill Lewis, Lead Pastor

Here is a topic that causes us pause. We do this every day actually, that is why the first meal of the day is call Break-Fast. We go without food for about 8-12 hours a day, but it is mitigated by sleep.

However, the real fasting we are talking about is the “I am awake and hungry..” kind. It means depriving ourselves of things that we normally do, eat, and enjoy. We go without food and listen to our stomach complain for a day or two. We cut out the sweets that we are addicted to. Sugar has a hold of most people. Or some choose to fast their connection or addiction to activities, like surfing the web, watching marathon TV, or FaceBook, or some form of social media. We probably are shocked by the amount of time we suddenly have available to us. We may even look around and wonder, “What am I going to do?”

Well, fasting is supposed to do that to you. It suddenly takes all the routine out of your life. It causes reflection, meditation, questioning. The body is going through a detox and so is your mind and soul. We are pretty well corrupted by daily living. We are not intentionally bad, but lifestyle does creep in from the affairs of daily life that corrupt our body and soul. Fasting is a real good wake up call.

We have entered a 21 day fast as a church. We have great expectations. There has even been an anticipation leading up to the fast. Today, as I write, is day 1. Day one through three are usually the toughest to get through. Your body usually screams, “What are you doing to me?” But the spirit begins to say, “Thank you, I have been needing this time.”

I am so pleased, we have had nearly 100% participation committed by our church. The kids have even committed to fasting. Proud of them. The kinds of fasts range from total fasts for a day or two at a time to Daniel fasts to one meal a day to media fasts. Everyone is participating and there is a joy in the church.

I want to encourage everyone that this is something pleasing to God and we are not alone in this time. There are churches all over the world that I know of that are doing the same at this moment. There is a God move afoot.

Social Media – Bill Lewis, Lead Pastor

Social Media

Mankind likes to communicate. We like to talk, be in the know, express our emotions. Mankind has painted on cave walls, sent smoke signals, hand written books, used quills, charcoal, pens, stylus, and every conceivable way to communicate. With Gutenberg’s printing press, life changed and the ability to mass produce books became available. Many historians consider the printing press as the most significant invention of the millennium.

Now, just in the past few years, short decades, we have moved to a digital age where communication is instant. I talked once with a man who helped develop the first fax machine. He related how amazing it was to send a document over a phone line and have it print out in another location. He said it took a long time, 10-15 minutes for the first machine, but it was huge in technological advancement.

We have moved so fast that fax machines are hardly ever used. Documents are passed through email, iCloud, airdrop, and other cloud mechanisms. There is the world wide web that now allows people from all over the world to communicate. Documents, artwork, videos, and FaceTime can happen in moments globally. Letters used to take weeks to cross the ocean and reach their destination. Now, oceans are covered in nanoseconds.

For all the wonderful things we have today, there is always an abuse of the miracles of invention.

For instance, the social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and a number of other less known sites offer individuals the opportunity to communicate. I love to see some of the photos of my grandchildren, great grand children, and family members. I like the posts of significant events in people’s lives. However, Facebook has become and probably will remain a place for people to rant, to put out their feelings against someone or something without having the responsibility to answer for their anger or attacks. Expressing an opinion is one thing, but when social media is used for cowardly attacks or passive aggressive sniping, then it becomes harmful. The cyber bullying that takes place is horrifying, but it happens.

Likewise, we have become less social because we are engaged to our phones rather than the company around us. I have observed couples and families who are sitting together, but everyone is in their phone world. Watching two people supposedly in love, dating, and there they are engrossed in their phones rather than the person in front of them. In business, being tied to your phone will lose a client, lose a job, forfeit a contract. The disengaging that is happening is frightening culturally.

As a pastor, I watch people, particularly younger folks, engrossed in their phones, texting during worship, texting and surfing during the message. It has become so mesmerizing that when you speak to them, you eventually have to tap them or repeat louder their name. And the excuse they were looking at their Bible on the phone is lame.

I was speaking to an executive who said he had taken a message in a meeting and the speaker made a comment back to the CEO that he wondered if he was engaged in the seminar or his phone. Since that comment, he has left his phone in the car for meetings, he has turned the phone off during business dinners.

Actually, in any meeting, social gathering, dinner engagement, it is rude to be engaged in your phone and have it take priority over the person present. I have begun to let things ring, let things wait, just to be engaged in the moment. A text can wait a few minutes, a call back is simple, but being in the moment makes the person you are with important.

Advancements are great, but must be used wisely. We cannot lose the powerful communication of looking someone in the eyes and giving them your full attention.

P. Bill

The Kindness of God -Bill Lewis, Lead Pastor

The kindness of God is given to us on a daily basis. He provides all the necessary components of life. You breathe, there is oxygen in the proper blend. Your heart beats, there is the piezo electric start for every pump of the heart. You eat, food is digested and turned into energy and nutrients for the sustaining of life. You see, the eyes are taking light and by the miracle of God, the light is inverted and registered as an image. All around us are the daily miracles of life. If only one breaks down, life is unsustainable.

The Kindness of God is given to us in spiritual matters as well. We, the complex beings that he has created, are fallen by nature. Fallen, meaning we are broken beyond repair when it comes to the ability to live eternally in the presence and with a pure, holy, perfect God. Our brokenness is so familiar to us that most humans believe they are all right and that eternity is a matter of playing a weights and measures game. If we can tip the balance in the favor of good works, then we are supposedly owed a heavenly pass. Yet, even if we were able to tip the scales in the right direction, it still does not make one perfect, pure, holy. His kindness is that he will bring us to himself by his kindness as we acknowledge the impure, unholy, imperfect beings that we are.

His kindness has some requisites. HIs kindness leads us to understanding. It leads us to the self revelation of our poverty and inability to earn anything from Him. The best action of my heart is to give up. Quit trying. Admit defeat. I cannot do it. When that revelation comes, then we are in a position to repent, throw ourselves on his mercy, acknowledge the wonderful gift of Jesus and then live like we just found the most wonderful gift ever received. We did!

What wonderful kindness that is extended. Rather than the constant wrathful God, we really have a God who is very kind, longsuffering, forbearing, patient. He wants us to come to him in full surrender and enjoy his kindness forever.

P. Bill Lewis

Get Life… Give Life – Pastor Bill Lewis

It has been some time since I have written an article. Since we discontinued the newsletter due to cost effectiveness, I have not had the impetus to write. Since the last article the world has continued its change in dramatic and disconcerting ways. We have been assailed by the proliferation of the sexual revolution, the continued and intensifying war on terrorism (or maybe the lack of all out effort), and the continued racial divides.

Really, these are age old issues that continue to plague mankind. Racial and ethnic wars play out on every continent. Africa has had the tribal wars for centuries and that has contributed to our current struggle because of tribe selling tribe into slavery. Slavery continues to this day in the form of human trafficking. Globally this is a plague against millions of boys, girls, and women. Terrorism has been a tool of low grade war. It is difficult to fight because of the random nature of it. Brainwashing youth to terminate themselves in some kind of misguided passion and display has always been the mode of older ideologues who burn the lives of others to promote their agendas.

Yet, these are issues that each generation faces in some form or other. The Nazis enslaved people, tortured them, and exterminated them. Stalin’s Communist regime murdered more than the Nazis. Today these same issues continue in many nations. Africa is rife with rapes, murder, wars and disease; numerous Asian nations continue to use their people as nothing more than expendable pawns. The first century world was just as corrupt and dangerous as the present one. Humans can be cruel to one another. It is a result of the sin that corrupts and darkens every heart that has not had encounter with God.

The shock that we feel is real. The progress made through Christian principles is being eroded daily. But the shock is not meant to paralyze with hopelessness or defeat. The power of God through Jesus is still at work. He has not left His throne, or has he lost any power. He is still determinately moving toward His goals, purposes, and will. This is a time to speak, act, live. Live. because there is a God who has saved us from this corrupt world. Live, because one day He will rule in righteousness and justice and we with Him.

This is a time to Get Life…Give Life!

The Heart of the Fathers – Pastor Bill Lewis

Overwhelmed by gender wars. Our culture has an agenda that has been destroying families and demeaning men. Advertising on TV usually makes the husband the brunt of the jokes since he is cast as a bumbling idiot who knows nothing. The wife or the children are cast as intelligent and just barely tolerating the father or husband. Sitcoms make the men stupid, out of touch, and inept. Children are cast as mouthy, disrespectful, and establishing their own culture and life apart from family.

On the other hand, we have movies that are violent and cast men as heartless murderers, drug dealers, gang members, tough guys. The question becomes, “where is the man that is revealed in the Bible? Where is the father who protects, provides, nurtures his children and loves his wife?” We have images of the stupid and we have images of the macho who considers women as sex objects.

Godly role models are hard to find in the depiction of men given in the TV media and the Hollywood film industry. Now those industries have added deeply to the confusion by the portrayal and promotion by gender confusion.

Our world needs a revival of men who care for their families. We need men who are interested in loving their wives and leading their children. We need men who are strong, intelligent, caring, and protective of their families. Men are going to have to overcome the images that are promoted and take their rightful, God-given duties.

The Bible calls for fathers to train, lead, care, empower their children. It calls them not to provoke their children to wrath. It calls men to love their wives and honor their place in God’s plan. It charges children to obey their parents. It calls them to honor their mother and father. God’s plan is for men to be life long mentors of their children, not just the conceivers of babies.

This month when we celebrate Fathers’ Day, it would be important for every man to re-visit his duty and love of his family.

Leadership/Follower-ship – Pastor Bill Lewis

If you are in leadership, you always face the problem of follower-ship. Leading has the idea of taking someone or something forward, toward a goal, a destination. These destinations can be personal growth, spiritual growth, financial growth, corporate growth. They can also be stability, long term health, healing of mind or body, education, or character development.
Being a leader in the church is not easy. It is really a long term project. Most business models expect company leaders to grow the bottom line. Aggressive companies look to grow the company by 20% annually. It is difficult to sustain that kind of margin for many years. So, usually there are periods of great expansion and then years of plateau and then some years of decline or loss of market share. The church is a complex organism. It brings together people who have all the frailties of humanity gathered together to worship God. There is a huge humanitarian element involved in church. There is an expectation of the members to be fed from the Bible, to speak the truth, but not too harshly. The church is meant to offer hope, grace, and love. The leaders are expected to be gracious, truth speakers without being too judgmental; yet not so soft that there is compromise of truth and morals.
The church leaders have people coming who have formed their opinions about most everything and expect a certain validation of those opinions. The church then becomes a mix of varied theological opinions, some of which have been derived, not from the Bible, but from books written that favor a certain view without consideration of opposing views. Often, there are those who feel they have arrived rather than being pilgrims in the pursuit of God. Leaders are constantly dealing with the balance of word and spirit, written truth and personal revelation, law and grace, end times and daily victory.
As in any human organization, the leaders are honored, respected or accused, second guessed, or openly criticized. Such is the nature of leadership. The church is a human organization that is divinely ordained and supported by the Holy Spirit. When it becomes solely human, the Holy Spirit makes corrections or moves on. Always those who leave their current church like to vilify their previous church as having been abandoned by the Lord. Yet, the previous church seems to move on and prosper without those individuals. The plan of God is much bigger than our opinions or preciously held doctrines. The primary job of leadership is to be faithful to the word of God and the Holy Spirit. How this is accomplished is the question to which we are constantly seeking the answer. One thing I have learned is that to attempt to please everyone is a prescription for disaster. Leadership must lead. Following the principles for church in the Scriptures provides guidelines, but execution can take various forms which may be necessary for the context.
When leaders lead there is an immediate response from the followers. Some are glad that there is finally a direction and embrace it and flow with the leadership. Others find the direction unappealing for reasons which are usually personal. These tend to move on to other places still looking for the place where their vision resides. Others will continue to move from place to place never finding what they are looking for.
As in any organization, when there is new leadership, it brings about tension and change. In the corporate world, procedures change, emphases change, new approaches are instituted. There is complaint, there is aggravation, then there is compliance since your job is on the line, and when success comes, everyone takes credit.
We are a church that has direction, goals, purpose, and vitality. Not everyone will like us, but a lot of people will. Not everyone will buy into our vision, but many people will. We are on the move. It is good and we need not look back, but look joyfully toward the future. Keep our eyes on the goal. We are not survivalists, we are overcomers!

Supernatural Living – Pastor Bill Lewis

Welcome to 2015. What will it hold for you? These are all questions we have and the answers are held in the future. Circumstances can change rapidly and the best laid plans can be changed in a moment. Goals may be fulfilled or delayed. But we need to plan, to set goals, to expect good things.
So it is, that I face and we face the potentials of 2015. Goals, yes we have some. Plans, yes we have good ones and more to come. During our elders meeting this week, we were all of one mind for the future. The heart of each man is for the will of God to be done and for the Holy Spirit to have room and influence.
Even as a result of last Sunday’s message and prayer time, I was able to identify some of what God wants us to do in this coming year. We are a New Testament church and as such, we are responsible to be a people of the Word and the Spirit. We are going to focus on the things of the Spirit in ways that will re-kindle the fire of God in you and your gifts. We will be encouraging people to come into the Baptism of the Holy Spirit and learn what their gifting may be and help release the exercise of those gifts in daily life.
Starting with the seminar with Ralph Howe, Supernatural Living, we will begin this journey and once again be a resource for those who are seeking the presence of God and His abiding anointing. The Seminar is this month of the 23rd and 24th. We will begin registrations next Sunday. The cost is a minimal $15 to cover materials and the luncheon on Saturday.
Following the seminar, the elders have been lead to continue the Supernatural Living with monthly meetings to primarily focus on worship, testimony, laying on of hands for various anointings, the prophetic, and word teaching emphasizing the supernatural nature of our God and how to participate in His nature.
Our particular call and anointing has been to bring folks from all around into the things of the Spirit. Churches in our area are blessed because of people who were trained here, filled with the Spirit here, found their gifting here, and began their ministry here. We believe we are poised to serve the Lord in that capacity once again, spread our wings and soar again.
With that in mind, we must bury the negative and press for the high calling we have been given. It is time to speak life, speak positive, live life, and live supernaturally.