Sunday, December 14, 2008

Get Out of Your Box and let go of Low-Life

I went into this journey with Jesus a little skeptical, but I have embarked on the greatest adventure of life that has taken me everywhere, from China, to Brazil, to homelessness on the streets. I have not seen it all, but I have seen a lot. Only God could orchestrate such a symphony of highs and lows, joys, tears, and pain. No symphony is complete without the suffering.

Only Jesus could convince me to graduate from college with a degree and yet not set out a single resume', but instead give everything away and live among homeless people as one of them for almost five months. Only Jesus could orchestrate taking me with no job or or regular income over the past year to pray in San Diego and in Washington D.C. on two different occasions. Only Jesus could lead me to where I'm living now and miraculously provide for all my needs. Only Jesus fulfilled the prophecies, only Jesus heals bodies, only Jesus brings the dead to life, literally and physically even!

Only Jesus freed me from depression and the fear of what people think. Only Jesus has made me confident in myself. Only Jesus has justified me with a God that demands and creates perfection in His children. Jesus is the only way to God. This is not my opinion, but a fact. Being a fact, it's not arrogant for me to state it as such. Jesus actually raised from the dead. No other religion can make such a claim.

My life has surpassed my wildness dreams so far. Jesus did more with me than I thought I'd ever give him permission to do. Do you want to be blown away? Do you want to have your life rocked?

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Response to You Tube Comments and the like regarding Abortion

1. I/We (naterick23 and the lady, the one also broadcasting on my channel) do not hate anyone . Do not accuse us of hate because we have expressed a concern about morality. Calling abortion morally wrong is not hate speech. It's just a truth statement. Writing comments that include profanity and put-downs is more in the line of hate.

2. Please do not label us self-righteous or hypocritical. Those terms are way over-used by people who are angry at Christians and they're used without much thought. Why do I say this? Because nobody is self-righteous except God himself! Even Jesus said that! All of us whether Christian or not are born evil and selfish. Nobody is claiming to be better than anybody. Only in Jesus can anybody be righteous. We're all on equal ground, friends. I establish this so that you understand that we're not talking down to you because we have no right to. We're wicked people who are only learning to become righteous through Jesus and God's mercy through Him. And by the way, you can too!

1. We're only proclaiming God's agenda, and not our own. We don't want control and power! We want people to be truly liberated and free and God gave us the principles in his Scripture on how to do that. God's agenda is the key to our pleasure and happiness! God has more of an appetite for real pleasure than any of us! He's the creator of pleasure. We settle for so much less!

See abortion in light of the above: God's not inhibiting us by forbidding the murder of people. He makes laws for our good! He loves us so much! He wants us to happy. He likes to be around us!

I want to reply to an individual that agreed with the idea that abortion is terrible, but thought that each person should still have a choice. I agree! And no person, no matter who they are or how much power they have can take our choice away because God created us with it. Unfortunately, we've distorted the fundamental meaning and purpose of law in the process. Law does not give humans rights! It restrains evil! Law shows people the difference between what is right and wrong at the most fundamental level. It cannot ever save us from our problems and it's not meant to. What I'm saying, in effect then, is that certainly we have a choice, but the type of choice you're asking for is a choice without the negative consequences but that is not how law and authority works. Every decision has consequences. Law establishes right from wrong and when law takes something that is wicked and calls it "good," it ceases to be law and causes "lawlessness" which results in chaos. Abortion is just such an issue where law has taken something wicked and called it good. That is the problem.

God is NOT Democrat or Republican. If he was, he wouldn't have let Obama win, would he? So in other words, God has a purpose for putting Obama in office. Does that mean that God approves of all of Obama's views? Of course not! So does that mean that God endorses McCain's views? Of course not! God is not on anyone's side! God is not a lobbyist for a certain agenda! God is on his own side. For goodness sakes, he's God! That's why none of us can claim our own self-righteousness which suggests that God is on our side! He's only on his own side. My friend and I are not calling for anyone to conform to us. God is calling all of us, including my friend and I to conform to him.

Well, that's a good response for now to the big comments on abortion. I'll try and hit up some of your individual comments too. Ask me any questions if you have any.

Peace and love ya'll,
Nate


Thursday, October 30, 2008

Words from the Journey 2.1

Beloved in Jesus,

I am beginning a new series of updates because of an ever-developing chapter that has begun. Welcome to Word on the Journey Volume 2, Number 1.

I am no longer living on the streets, but living in a transition phase which has been happening over the past month or so. While I enjoyed the fruit of the experience on the streets and certainly see the purpose of it, I'm so relieved that the Lord has led me on. Living homeless is not fun. It was necessary for the time being for me to live by faith and release myself to God in life. You could almost call it a rite of passage from childhood and a life of reliance upon my parents, to adulthood and a life led by faith and not sight, by the words of God and not my own rationale. I have set the course for the rest of my life and thinking by taking this first step. No matter what the circumstances look like and no matter what any person thinks, I live according to what faith tells me and not according to anything else. That's humanism and it's the way this world thinks (and unfortunately, many Christians who may mean well live according to it).

I certainly learned a lot about how the homeless and other social outcasts think, I learned much about myself and much about reaching broken people. I hope to see how this time will affect me in the future, especially when I make reaching out a regular thing again. I no that reaching out and serving others needs to be a permanent fixture in our lives, but I also am seeing the wisdom in the current phase of laying solid foundations for that to happen, that foundation being the fellowship I'm praying with in Wilmore. They are such a strategic part for God's plan in my life and the future ministry God is leading us into. I'm excited to be giving myself currently to working odd jobs and part-time work for financial provision and giving myself to this fellowship and to seeking God. I am still living with the my friend in Lexington whom I'm serving by doing some handyman work. It's been a good situation and mutually beneficial in the way of encouragement and lot's of good fellowship in the Lord, and in prayer. Anne has such a heart for God and so much ministry experience so talking with her has been so valuable.

One of the most recent interesting pieces of news lately has been that about two weeks ago I took a youth pastor out to the streets for 2 days. He lived as a homeless man and I returned to homelessness at the last weekend of October. It wasn't fun and I only did it for him, but I'm not complaining; it was good. And it was really good for him. It's so funny; his wife was about 9 months pregnant when he went out and the night before we went out, Anne and I prayed she'd go into labor so that I wouldn't have to return to the streets! But, it didn't happen and so back to the streets I went. My friend was just ripped up about the situation down there in Lexington and his eyes were definitely opened. We had a fun time. I must say that I think I have had a falling out with one of my friends down there, Kevin. Pray for him. He's in a lot of deception and needs the truth of Christ to shine in and take him over. Pray that amends and reconciliation would be made between us where necessary.

I have had a couple speaking engagements that have been loads of fun and I'm doing temporary work. I'm looking to apply for some substitute teaching and some other options too. I have asked the Lord about full-time permanent work and He has not released me to do that yet. It seems that He wants to keep my schedule pretty free for the time being.

I about 2 weeks, I head to San Diego for 2 days with Derek and Anna as well as one of Anna's friends. We're going there to the Call, to pray and fast for the state of California. That will be fun times. I'm also praying about some opportunities for next summer with Derek and Anna overseas. Nothing official, we'll see.

Pray for me as I seek to become financially stable again. This is becoming a very important issue right now, not to be anxious or afraid about, but just to address and be serious about. I know God will always provide.

I also ask for prayers for my continuing fellowship with Derek and Anna. God is drawing us closer to one another and Him. He's calling us into true wholeheartedness and holiness. We believe that He has called us to walk in these things on a new level. God has made us some pretty incredible and tangible promises that are impossible for us to produce. Partner with me in prayer for God to release these things in our midst. We want to receive all of His promises by faith.

Pray for God's continued work downtown. I have friends down there who have seemed to pick up where I've left off and been very successful about it. I won't say names because this friend wouldn't want me to mention him, but pray for him and praise God for God's work in his heart. He's doing a very good job and really going even farther than I did when I was among these people. Thanks my friend (you know who you are) and blessings!

Thanks for your continued support and love,

Nathan

The New Holocaust

Check out the following link:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RyG4uOxCyGQ

Abortion is blatantly evil. It is murder. It is fueled by a culture of convenience, self-gratification and death. It is perpetuated by the religion of Humanism. Do not be blinded by so-called progress, change and intellectualism. Do not be tricked by rhetoric and charisma. Murder has always been murder and it's never been right, no matter how it is argued, to take a human life.

I cannot force anyone to vote any certain way, but I can inform the conscience and I call people to terms. Do not vote for Obama's extremism, especially pertaining to the murder of babies. He will hurt our country and take away everything about America that is distinctive. He will discard our roots, for the Humanism of the world. He will introduce economic policies which look dangerously socialistic. And we cannot handle the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan like someone seasoned in such matters like John McCain.

Vote carefully. We will all be held accountable one day.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Word on the Journey 2.1

Beloved in Jesus,

I am beginning a new series of updates because of an ever-developing chapter that has begun. Welcome to Word on the Journey Volume 2, Number 1.

I am no longer living on the streets, but living in a transition phase which has been happening over the past month or so. While I enjoyed the fruit of the experience on the streets and certainly see the purpose of it, I'm so relieved that the Lord has led me on. Living homeless is not fun. It was necessary for the time being for me to live by faith and release myself to God in life. You could almost call it a rite of passage from childhood and a life of reliance upon my parents, to adulthood and a life led by faith and not sight, by the words of God and not my own rationale. I have set the course for the rest of my life and thinking by taking this first step. No matter what the circumstances look like and no matter what any person thinks, I live according to what faith tells me and not according to anything else. That's humanism and it's the way this world thinks (and unfortunately, many Christians who may mean well live according to it).

I certainly learned a lot about how the homeless and other social outcasts think, I learned much about myself and much about reaching broken people. I hope to see how this time will affect me in the future, especially when I make reaching out a regular thing again. I no that reaching out and serving others needs to be a permanent fixture in our lives, but I also am seeing the wisdom in the current phase of laying solid foundations for that to happen, that foundation being the fellowship I'm praying with in Wilmore. They are such a strategic part for God's plan in my life and the future ministry God is leading us into. I'm excited to be giving myself currently to working odd jobs and part-time work for financial provision and giving myself to this fellowship and to seeking God. I am still living with the my friend in Lexington whom I'm serving by doing some handyman work. It's been a good situation and mutually beneficial in the way of encouragement and lot's of good fellowship in the Lord, and in prayer. Anne has such a heart for God and so much ministry experience so talking with her has been so valuable.

One of the most recent interesting pieces of news lately has been that about two weeks ago I took a youth pastor out to the streets for 2 days. He lived as a homeless man and I returned to homelessness at the last weekend of October. It wasn't fun and I only did it for him, but I'm not complaining; it was good. And it was really good for him. It's so funny; his wife was about 9 months pregnant when he went out and the night before we went out, Anne and I prayed she'd go into labor so that I wouldn't have to return to the streets! But, it didn't happen and so back to the streets I went. My friend was just ripped up about the situation down there in Lexington and his eyes were definitely opened. We had a fun time. I must say that I think I have had a falling out with one of my friends down there, Kevin. Pray for him. He's in a lot of deception and needs the truth of Christ to shine in and take him over. Pray that amends and reconciliation would be made between us where necessary.

I have had a couple speaking engagements that have been loads of fun and I'm doing temporary work. I'm looking to apply for some substitute teaching and some other options too. I have asked the Lord about full-time permanent work and He has not released me to do that yet. It seems that He wants to keep my schedule pretty free for the time being.

I about 2 weeks, I head to San Diego for 2 days with Derek and Anna as well as one of Anna's friends. We're going there to the Call, to pray and fast for the state of California. That will be fun times. I'm also praying about some opportunities for next summer with Derek and Anna overseas. Nothing official, we'll see.

Pray for me as I seek to become financially stable again. This is becoming a very important issue right now, not to be anxious or afraid about, but just to address and be serious about. I know God will always provide.

I also ask for prayers for my continuing fellowship with Derek and Anna. God is drawing us closer to one another and Him. He's calling us into true wholeheartedness and holiness. We believe that He has called us to walk in these things on a new level. God has made us some pretty incredible and tangible promises that are impossible for us to produce. Partner with me in prayer for God to release these things in our midst. We want to receive all of His promises by faith.

Pray for God's continued work downtown. I have friends down there who have seemed to pick up where I've left off and been very successful about it. I won't say names because this friend wouldn't want me to mention him, but pray for him and praise God for God's work in his heart. He's doing a very good job and really going even farther than I did when I was among these people. Thanks my friend (you know who you are) and blessings!

Thanks for your continued support and love,

Nathan

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

There must be more than this...

There must be more than this. If all there is to Christianity is getting "saved" and then everything is great, you go to church, you witness a little bit, you go to prayer meetings and experience the "fire of God", you keep sinning "only occasionally", but it's okay because it's less than before, you get baptized in the Holy Spirit and prophesy and speak in tongues and you get excited about theology; if we are content with how things currently are, then Christianity is false and no person should have the audacity to say that Christianity is unique among the religions of the world or that it's a relationship with God. If all of the above is it, a few events that happen in our lives, then Jesus is dead and Christianity is a hoax.

WE MUST HAVE MORE! We are talking about the resurrection power of God, actually and literally raising people from the dead. We are talking literally about ETERNITY and about a literally ALL-POWERFUL God. How can we continue walking as we walk?

God, give us grace for we are so limited in our capacity and weak in our desire for more. John tells us that all who continue in sin are children of the devil. Is our God strong enough to cleanse us totally from sin? If not, then our God is dead. Is our God strong enough to save us totally from the condemnation that is our destiny if we are not in Jesus? If not, then our God is dead. If Christianity is just another religion, then Christianity is a hoax an it's dead. God, you are giving us a season to learn how to always abide in Christ, thus making absolutely NO provision for the flesh. He who is in Jesus cannot be charged with any sin, nor can he commit any sin.

Now, let's come down to earth for a moment of encouragement since I made bold statements. They are true and they don't need qualification, but I want to be encouraging for a moment. If any of us are in sin at this moment, we can repent and come into Jesus. The ideal I expressed above is real, but it takes time and God's timing is different from ours. The moment that God has given to us to enter into this truth is the moment of our lives on earth. So be encouraged and press in, for Jesus Himself is our Advocate. The above must become true of His Church. The Church needs to be able to say with Jesus, "If you've seen me, you've seen the Father." This is a truly mature and apostolic church. Do not fear, but fear God and believe God to produce this in our midst.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Word on the Street #15

I'm sorry that this email is so long overdue, or maybe it's just right on time, so forget the apology. Everything finds it's time in our Lord and nothing is late in the economy of God. I'm sure you've all been wondering some of the latest with me. A lot of changes and transition happening. As of late, I've not been living as a homeless person, but the transition from that season to the next is still in process and may continue to be for a long time yet. I'm not rushing the transition or assuming anything, but walking it by faith as Yahweh reveals His will to me. I'm far from being called away from the homeless and ministry among them, but God is shifting my focus to His work in our midst in Wilmore which I believe will be the future major platform of His ministry to and through me. A lot of service among the homeless will continue to happen, but I'm not living as one of them anymore. Currently, I'm living with a friend in Lexington, the director of Sonshine Mission who I've been helping over the past few weeks. I'm not in any formal sort of work yet, but my plan for now is to work temporary jobs and odd jobs because this is what God has revealed to me. I'm basically just getting by financially in this line of work. My only real bills are my student loans, my health insurance, and miscellaneous expenses along the way. It's not much right now which is fortunate. I know God will continue to provide for me as I'm faithful to the occupation He's laid before me. That occupation in a nutshell is to do temp work for financial provision, spending time in His presence, and walking out my life and ministry according to what I do receive in the place of encountering God. This is panning out in many ways through relationship with people, serving people like Anne at Sonshine Mission, intercession for people, open-air preaching and evangelistic prayer, building the prayer base and vision base which God's given in Wilmore and the resulting work from it, and several speaking engagements (something I'm still adjusting to, but learning a lot as I go). It's exciting and it's all unto the only real thing I care about in life: encountering the persons of God in intimate relationship, and bringing other people into that encounter. It produces the most incredible quality of life (John 10:10, "I come that they may have life and have it more abundant...") and liberation in the spirit of people ("He whom the Son sets free is free indeed"). Resulting from the overflow of this life in the spirit of people is lifestyle: righteousness and justice, the proclamation of God's gospel, covenantal community, the working of our eternal vocations for God's glory here on earth, and a host of other manifestations of God's kingdom in our lifestyles. That last paragraph is in some ways a really quick summary of the document that God is having my prayer and fellowship base in Wilmore piece together. Please pray for me as I speak at a Christian school tomorrow to a small group of middle-schoolers. I've spoken to this group once before and hope to more in the future too. The one real thing that God's put on my heart is to see hearts of these teens ignited as it says in Jeremiah: His word is like a fire in my bones and I am weary of holding it in. I want this to be a literal reality for these students and for the maturing Church. We all must seek these realities as we encounter God everyday. I need it more. Pray for my presence there, that it will be a conduit of God's presence. It's not about the words I say, but about God's working in that place through a simple vessel like me. Pray for my discernment, and eyes to see and ears to hear what the Spirit of God is saying. I've been learning very literally lately how much my entire existence suffers when I do not consume the Word of God and let it consume me. Jesus told us to eat His body and drink His blood to be saved and this is an able physical metaphor for what we must do in our spirits. We must consume Jesus so that His person and mind is developed inside of our spirits by the power of His Holy Spirit. We consume Jesus by encountering the Person of Jesus in prayer and the Scripture. If our times with God include nothing more that reading the Bible and simply saying a prayer we miss so much, because the point is to come into living fellowship with God, the literal Persons: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit! Andrew Murray's commentary on Hebrews, The Holiest of All, articulates this well; I'd encourage you to read it. I got busy for two weeks and didn't spend much time with God and that beat me up. Serving is one of my spiritual gifts and I love it, but I never want to starve myself from the Spirit of God again. When I opened the Word again, it was like the most refreshing water poured on my spirit and soul and body and I realized how much I need it to be the fabric of my life and existence, literally. I share this to edify you, the body. This newsletter isn't about the events I go to and the exciting programs that are happening. It's about our corporate edification for God has called His people into a community governed by covenant with Him and others. It's a sacred trust that we will be eternally blessed to walk in. Keep upcoming speaking engagements and times of relationship with people in your prayers. Keep our nation and our presidential election in your prayers. Intercede before God for repentance to fall like rain upon us. These are crucial and strategic issues for Christians to engage with the Lord about. Keep praying for the names I've given you in the past even though you don't know them. These people are of infinite importance to God and I do well to remember that. God doesn't play favorites or show preference. He's not willing for any to perish. Pray that I wouldn't show partiality, but that I would fully love for God's sake.

Link to radio interview...

www.cleardigitalsolutions.com/sonshine/NathanRickard08.mp3

I don't know how much longer this link will work, so check it out soon.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Another Praise!

A buddy of mine with a terrible toothache a couple weeks ago was concerned that he'd have to go the dentist which he couldn't afford, so I prayed for him and he was healed. Praise God for an outbreak of physical healings!

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

A Radio Interview Miracle!

Beloved in Jesus,

Today, I was interviewed by Anne Stephens for her radio show, "Sonshine Today" which will air this Saturday at 10 am on 99.1 (sorry for those of you not in Lexington). I did not just write this to advertise about this radio interview. I write to testify to a miracle of God which happened today as a result of this.

Anne uses Adobe Audition 1 to record these radio interviews and has been for several years. We did the 30 minute interview and it was awesome. She actually told me that it was one of the best interviews she'd done. God was all over it. And then, we recorded another five minute story which we wanted to edit into this as well. The tragedy came when Anne, as she was talking to me, accidently saved this 5 minute segment by the same name as the original 32 minute segment, and before our eyes, the original interview was overwritten and lost, just like that. She tried to undo and searched her whole computer for the original and it was nowhere to be found. We called computer techs who told us that we couldn't do anything about it. They gave a few suggestions, but none of them worked. We prayed for recovery of the file and didn't see any hope of that happening.

Over the next few hours, new files started popping up and we were lost as to what they were. She checked a couple and they were just the same 5 minute section which overwrote the original interview. They were all under my name, but sequentially with numbers 1-5. Then, on top of all this confusion, the computer shut down without any warning on her and she had to reboot it. This all happened while I was at church tonight. I came back from church and we prepared to sit down and redo the interview. She deleted "Nathan 5.wav" and I suggested she check numbers 1-4 just to make sure of what they were. Each one was the 5 minute section...except for number 4. "Nathan 4.wav" was the original interview! Numbers 2-5 were spontaneous files based off of Nathan 1.wav which was the 5 minute segment which had overwritten the original interview, and yet number 4 had the original interview on it! There's no possible way this could have happened!

If you're in Lexington area, tune in on Saturday at 99.1 FM for the miracle interview!


Praise be to God!
Nathan

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Word on the Street #14

As of late, I've not been living as a homeless person, but the transition from that season to the next is still in process and may continue to be for a long time yet. I'm not rushing the transition or assuming anything, but walking it by faith as Yahweh reveals His will to me. I'm far from being called away from the homeless and ministry among them, but God is shifting my focus to His work in our midst in Wilmore which I believe will be the future major platform of His ministry to and through me. A lot of service among the homeless will continue to happen, but I'm not living as one of them anymore. Currently, I'm living with a friend in Lexington, the director of Sonshine Mission who I've been helping over the past few weeks. I'm not in any formal sort of work yet, but my plan for now is to work temporary jobs and odd jobs because this is what God has revealed to me. I'm basically just getting by financially in this line of work. My only real bills are my student loans, my health insurance, and miscellaneous expenses along the way. It's not much right now which is fortunate. I know God will continue to provide for me as I'm faithful to the occupation He's laid before me. That occupation in a nutshell is to do temp work for financial provision, spending time in His presence, and walking out my life and ministry according to what I do receive in the place of encountering God. This is panning out in many ways through relationship with people, serving people like Anne at Sonshine Mission, intercession for people, open-air preaching and evangelistic prayer, building the prayer base and vision base which God's given in Wilmore and the resulting work from it, and several speaking engagements (something I'm still adjusting to, but learning a lot as I go). It's exciting and it's all unto the only real thing I care about in life: encountering the persons of God in intimate relationship, and bringing other people into that encounter. It produces the most incredible quality of life (John 10:10, "I come that they may have life and have it more abundant...") and liberation in the spirit of people ("He whom the Son sets free is free indeed"). Resulting from the overflow of this life in the spirit of people is lifestyle: righteousness and justice, the proclamation of God's gospel, covenantal community, the working of our eternal vocations for God's glory here on earth, and a host of other manifestations of God's kingdom in our lifestyles. That last paragraph is in some ways a really quick summary of the document that God is having my prayer and fellowship base in Wilmore piece together. Please pray for me as I speak at a Christian school tomorrow to a small group of middle-schoolers. I've spoken to this group once before and hope to more in the future too. The one real thing that God's put on my heart is to see hearts of these teens ignited as it says in Jeremiah: His word is like a fire in my bones and I am weary of holding it in. I want this to be a literal reality for these students and for the maturing Church. We all must seek these realities as we encounter God everyday. I need it more. Pray for my presence there, that it will be a conduit of God's presence. It's not about the words I say, but about God's working in that place through a simple vessel like me. Pray for my discernment, and eyes to see and ears to hear what the Spirit of God is saying. I've been learning very literally lately how much my entire existence suffers when I do not consume the Word of God and let it consume me. Jesus told us to eat His body and drink His blood to be saved and this is an able physical metaphor for what we must do in our spirits. We must consume Jesus so that His person and mind is developed inside of our spirits by the power of His Holy Spirit. We consume Jesus by encountering the Person of Jesus in prayer and the Scripture. If our times with God include nothing more that reading the Bible and simply saying a prayer we miss so much, because the point is to come into living fellowship with God, the literal Persons: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit! Andrew Murray's commentary on Hebrews, The Holiest of All, articulates this well; I'd encourage you to read it. I got busy for two weeks and didn't spend much time with God and that beat me up. Serving is one of my spiritual gifts and I love it, but I never want to starve myself from the Spirit of God again. When I opened the Word again, it was like the most refreshing water poured on my spirit and soul and body and I realized how much I need it to be the fabric of my life and existence, literally. I share this to edify you, the body. This newsletter isn't about the events I go to and the exciting programs that are happening. It's about our corporate edification for God has called His people into a community governed by covenant with Him and others. It's a sacred trust that we will be eternally blessed to walk in. Keep upcoming speaking engagements and times of relationship with people in your prayers. Keep our nation and our presidential election in your prayers. Intercede before God for repentance to fall like rain upon us. These are crucial and strategic issues for Christians to engage with the Lord about.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Word on the Street #13

Some new things are brewing. I see some things on the horizon in my spirit and I'm excited. I don't even exactly know what they are. I don't know if it means that I'm coming off the streets, although it certainly seems like it will. After almost 5 months out here, God's revelation and presence still seems fresh and His mercies and blessings are new every morning. Amen! I'm seeing in such a clear and awesome way God's leading by faith in my life and it's so simple! It's so very simple. Anything that was so difficult before was because of my overly analytical mind and my Thnatural human fears. The Christian life is so very simple (but not always easy). Tat's it! At this point, faith is all I have to lean on, because I have 0% of my future planned, absolutely zero. Do I have plans and thoughts and expectations? Absolutely! Do I know for sure what's going to happen? Nope! And that's ideal. I'm so excited. For 1.5 years, I've been praying every Sunday night with 2 of my closest friends with no end in sight. Some Sundays are incredibly boring and others are lit up by the fire of the Spirit of God. God is always present, but sometimes He shrouds Himself to test us and teach us that it has nothing to do with emotion and feelings and everything to do with the fact that He is present where He's being worshipped in spirit and in truth. That's what the Word says. Even though we have very little insight into where these weekly prayer meetings are going, we have the assurance that God has planted a seed, just as He did in Sarah in her old age through Abraham, and He's going to birth an Isaac in our midst for we are children not of flesh, but children of the promise. God has promised us something and we feel it deep in our spirits, and we know He'll deliver. Amen! Do we have any idea what the promise is? A little bit that God has used to encourage us and keep us going, but He's kept most of it veiled and He'll unleash it at just the right time. We know that God wants to launch us in ministry/church together, but we just don't know all that it will look like. I'm so committed to this Sunday night prayer meeting, that I daresay that all else in my life right now is preparing me for that and feeding into that! This church body on Sunday nights is more primary to me in some ways than all the other regular fellowships with the Church that I have, although the various other bodies are so instrumental in there own right too. We are so very stoked to see what God has in mind.

Pray that nothing, including no desires of my flesh, will take me off the streets of Lexington. The only thing that can lead me from the streets is faith, for I follow faith alone. God is doing some new things and leading in new directions, but He hasn't told me to leave the streets yet. Praise Him though, he continues to provide places for me to stay quite regularly, an ongoing supply of finances, and some amazing Christians who constantly uplift me. I hope that I minister to them as much as they minister to me! Pray as God has been teaching me about spending myself on His Church and giving myself to others. It's not a mindset I'm used to, because I'm actually quite selfish, even in my spiritual life. Pray as I'll be in West Virginia this weekend helping with a building project, in Wilmore this next week to hammer out a document with Derek regarding direction and vision for a church/ministry which God is starting, and in Washington DC next weekend for a day of prayer and fasting for the nation. I have an active couple of weeks coming up. I wish I could include everything which is happening. You all are priceless to me and I love and appreciate you all very much.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Word on the Street #12

A lot changed last week when a handicapped guy came rolling through the doors of Lighthouse to get a free meal. I had just finished washing dishes after the normal lunch served to the homeless and I walked out in the main room to find one of the program guys feeding this guy. I took over because this program guy needed to do something else and we launched into a long talk. What a difficult situation! This man was and is facing homelessness and I immediately wanted to do something about it. I didn't realize how close our contact would be for at least the next few days. He needs help with about everything. I saw him again the next day where he discovered my life on the streets and invited me to stay at the motel where he was staying for a night. I graciously accepted and went back to Wilmore for the Sunday like usual.

On Tuesday, he faced the prospect of homelessness and I cared for him much of the day. At supper, God deposited the thought into my head of 2 ladies I knew and I immediately decided to see if they'd take him in for a few days. It certainly was divine appointment! Because one lady had similar handicaps to my friend, they were able to relate to him and provide for him. One even gave up her bed for him. They've proven to be an excellent temporary solution.

In the course of our time, we had an interesting discussion about God and how He desires to heal us. My friend at this point announced that he didn't want to be healed because he believes God made him special and the way he is for a reason. It seems like he fights with feeling valuable or something and instead of being content with where God has him and also believing that God can heal and restore him, he instead embraces his condition to the other extreme, taking pride in it. Unfortunately, what I wanted to communicate to him in a loving way didn't come out right and he thought that I called his condition "sin" thereby making him a sinner simply for being born with a handicap.

Here's some of the dynamics which I saw: I think we both have different definitions of sin. I'm talking about the force of evil released on earth through the Curse and I think he's thinking of individual actions against God's law. I also think he was making an emotional argument while I was making an objective one. I spoke truth, but I probably didn't speak it wisely. If my friend is offended by truth, fine, but I don't want to cause unnecessary offense based on my faulty articulation of truth. I guess the best way to understand is this: God loves my friend as he is, just as He embraces all sinners when we put our faith in Christ. He does use my friend's condition to humble all of us. If my friend loves God, God uses his condition for good. He should be content in God even in the midst of his condition. Here's the other side. None of the above is possible with his current attitude. He thinks his condition is a good thing. No, God's using it for good, but in and of itself, it's a bad thing. God desires to restore and completely heal too. It was an interesting conversation.

Please pray for my friend, his thinking, his physical healing, and most of all his salvation through Jesus Christ. It's hard to tell if he truly has the life of God's Spirit pulsating in him. I think he's similar to many that I've met: they have aligned their mind with an idea and agreed with it, but they have not had the indwelling living reality of God coming in and foundating their entire existence. Pray also that we can see around my friend's double-talk (he's not been completely honest with us) and get him the help he needs.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Embracing God's Suffering?

In following God, I did not take my cross and was not whole-hearted, because subconciously I received Jesus, but did not receive the suffering which comes with that name. Now, the Father poses the question to me, "Will you drink the cup of suffering that comes with bearing Jesus' name?" He did not ask me to make life hard on myself or to strive to do religious things driven by fear, but to receive the suffering which comes with following Jesus. Instead of opposing it, will I receive it? Will I embrace all that the fasted lifestyle entails and receive the suffering which my flesh endures so that it might find it's greatest fulfillment in Jesus? I've half-heartedly embraced it, but not to the fullest degree yet and I might as well leave it behind and say "No, thanks" to the Lord if I'm not totally going to embrace it. This is a part of the heart of God; that I embrace the suffering which reminds me of my dependence on Him.

We must know that when we say "Yes" to God, we're saying "Yes" to the suffering which inevitably will run along side the pilgrimmage of faith in Jesus. This is part of counting the cost and something God wants us to consider before we say, "Yes." Pray for me, that my answer will be "Yes." to the suffering of Christ in me.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Tolerance?

I'll admit that the Lord has been teaching me about his kindness and mercy, his patience and how important faith is even before works, and yet how works are such an important aspect of faith. I've also learned in the past years of my life (or shall I use the word "indoctrinated") to be tolerant and patient toward those of other beliefs. I have bought into this belief mainly for one reason and it's not due to what I've seen in Scripture. I've bought into this belief because I know some people in this world that are sincerely seeking truth that do not believe the same as I do. Of course, that's only an assumption. Some people in this world are probably seeking truth more zealously than I am and I'm probably seeking truth more zealously than some others. Now this brings me to a problem.

Those may sound like good intentions, but Scripture proclaims with authority that Jesus alone is the truth. Faith should inevitably result in increasing one's authority in matters that they are putting their faith in, because biblically speaking, faith is not blind, but it is indeed sight and evidence of things hoped for, the very SUBSTANCE of the unseen. Here's what I'm getting at: I looked up some stuff on Westboro Baptist Church today, and also read the biography of St. Antony, by Athanasius. Now St. Antony did not proclaim truth in the same spirit as Westboro Baptist Church does, but here's the fact about both of these entities that I like, even if I do not agree totally with the spirit of Westboro Baptist Church: these two entities proclaimed truth with authority. I believe that Westboro Baptist doesn't need to proclaim the truth in such a hateful fashion, but at least they are proclaiming truth about God's judgment. I see the same in the biography of St. Antony: he vehemently stood with authority on issues of orthodoxy and did not share fellowship with heretics. This type of determined stance seems impossible in today's world and I like getting along with people. I could certainly have this stance, but I would be hated, even by some Christians. Let me change my wording: I do have this type of unmoving stance; I've just been afraid to proclaim it. But the fact is that Jesus IS the only way, those who are not in Him WILL go to Hell, the message of repentance from sin, and the message of God's judgment are absolute TRUTH for all people whether they "believe" in God and the Bible or not. I refuse to move an inch on that! I don't want to be a jerk unnecessarily, but I won't budge on even the hard truths!

Thursday, July 10, 2008

"If you do not believe, you surely will not last..."

Yahweh has shown me how much I've bought into the lie of fear and furthering my own ego, especially recently in my approach to Scripture. I have been used by God to facilitate a weekly Bible study for guys in the program at the Lighthouse and lately I've been distracted by the temptation to put together good intellectual Bible studies that reflect my abilities in order to prove myself to them and God. God is certainly putting me through some purging right now to purge that very desire from me. What I'm seeing is that the rhetoric of faith is not just rhetoric. I have believed the lie (not whole-heartedly, but subconsciously) for much of my life that the Scripture was just good philosophical rhetoric without truly practical application and that to live life, it was really just up to me to produce. God has been using this time in me to expose that lie in the strongest terms.

The rhetoric of Scripture is actually absolute truth with practical application! I say this not from a dogmatic, agenda-driven perspective, but because I have truly experienced the actual reliability of faith! Hebrews 11:6 lays it out: "And without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is and that He is a rewarder of those who seek Him." If I'm going to truly let go of my ego, my abilities driven by fear, and my desire to please and impress people so I can land a good job, then I have to truly believe that God exists and rewards those who follow His rhetoric laid out in Scripture. We all claim to "believe in" God. God will bring all who claim to believe in Him and who actually think they do to an ultimatum; a test to see if that claim is really true. "If you really believe in Me, you will lay down every aspect of your life: ego, pride, abilities, control, etc." If God does not exist, then it's stupid to do that, but if He does, then we are resting on the surest foundation, the foundation of all foundations: the unchanging faithfulness of God.

In my attempts to put together a lesson in the Scripture, the Lord would not allow me to because of my motives, laced with pride. All I did was get stressed out and I couldn't think straight. I have to keep taking the leap of faith and saying that "I walk by faith, not by sight." My ability at working a job will not take me from the streets. My ability to teach the Scripture well will not land me a job at a church or as a missionary. My efforts at controlling my life will not get me anywhere. Faith will take me from the streets, faith will lead me to the next assignment. Faith ALONE will write the next Bible study for the next meeting. Faith ALONE will bring wisdom and understanding from the Scriptures to people.

I'm not in place to display my cleverness in interpreting Scripture to people. My role as a facilitator of a Bible study is to be a vessel through which the Holy Spirit can fan the flame and water the seeds of faith in other people. The Holy Spirit will teach the Scripture to these guys' hearts. I'm just a vessel to fan the flame of that inside these guys through prayer, fellowship, teaching, and imparting wisdom which I've gained through years of prayer and study.

Faith must be the foundation for all, even the smallest things in our lives. It's the only foundation on which to build EVERYTHING. Surely we'll fail without it. Surely we'll fail without prophetic vision. Surely we won't receive faith will an ego. Surely the only posture to be in to receive faith is one of spiritual poverty before an all-powerful, loving God who is strongest in my weakness. Total reliance overcomes my total depravity. Faith is the vehicle of a successful life.
Glory to Almighty God who has rained down MERCY on me.

Monday, July 7, 2008

Word on the Street #11

Beloved, I have had a hiatus recently as I returned to Michigan for almost 2 weeks. What a good time. It was great to see old friends and be with family, but I also realized how much I belong in Lexington, KY. I was so ready to return after those 2 weeks. As much as I love and miss Michigan, I could not be happy there unless God called me back there, even though some of my favorite people are there. I enjoyed the beach, and sitting on rooftops watching fireworks, speaking at my dad's church, and spending 2 a day in Cincinnati seeing the Creation Museum. That museum was my graduation gift from my parents and it was awesome. It's quite a facility they've built, dedicated to perpetuating a biblical worldview. It greatly informed my thinking and provided me with some great resources. Now, it's time to be back on the streets. So far, I do not know how much longer I'll do this, but I'm giving my time to building my faith and the faith of others, studying, and helping in every area that God brings me to. I know that in the short-term, I'm dedicated to this, and also to whatever the fruits of the Sunday night prayer meetings which I've been attending for a year and a half are. It's amazing to me how much God has protected those Sunday night prayer meetings in Wilmore. Several times I was on the verge of quitting them to stay on the streets in Lexington on Sunday, but God just hasn't let that happen. I'm so committed to praying every Sunday night with Derek and Anna-it's my first priority on Sunday night and it's rarely replaced with anything else. God must have something awesome planned with that. I do not know what it will be exactly, but I'll tell ya'll, this is how I feel: I feel like I'm sitting in a room that's pitch-black, or I'm blindfolded, but it's filled with treasure chests full of gold and riches. These prayer meetings I feel the same way like I'm sowing into something big and great that God has planned, but He hasn't unveiled my eyes or Derek's or Anna's eyes to any of it yet. I have my ideas of what it will look like, but God's plans are so much bigger and exciting. He never ceases to turn my world upside-down again. I've never found anything more exciting than knowing God and journeying with God. I hurt because so much of the world and so many of my friends are missing out! God's been answering a prayer of mine that I prayed several months back about feeling His pain for the homeless and knowing their suffering. I've been feeling it for months, but shying away from it our of fear. God showed me last Sunday as I drove past Phoenix Park in our church van that I should embrace the pain I feel every time I see the homeless in that park because I'm completing the suffering of Jesus as He was on the cross and it should drive me to prayer. God is showing me HIS love, HIS compassion, HIS pain and suffering regarding the poor and downtrodden, the enslaved and oppressed. Faith is the basis for all success in life. He who does not stand in faith will not stand at all (Isaiah 7:9). Firm foundations of faith, built on Jesus Christ will stand the greatest tests, but they take time to build. Sow into and cultivate that firm foundation so that your faith will endure to the end when God takes you from the earth. This is the season I'm in-24/7 building-up my faith so I'll have a firm foundation to stand on in this evil world. I invite all who have a heart for the great risk and adventure of knowing God to join me on this journey of faith. You will never make the journey successfully without being armed with faith. "I AM" will turn your world upside-down,Nathan Rickard

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Word on the Street #10

Beloved in Jesus, How I enjoy sending these updates. They help me to remember a lot of what's been happening, and I always receive so much encouragement from ya'll who take the time to reply! I really appreciate that too because I'm bad about taking time to reply to emails because I don't want to take the time and I'm honored to have some of you which take the time to encourage me in the Lord every time I send one! I want to be more like that! I've had a hard couple of weeks, but rewarding as well. Along side of my struggles with complacency and laziness, Jesus is also launching me into some new territory. Lessons and revelation keep pouring in! There's so much prophetic activity happening that it's hard to sort it all out, but it's so exciting as well. First off, one of my main struggles has been with my own introverted personality. I don't think it's bad to be introverted; I like being introverted, but every personality trait is replete with it's weaknesses and mine is to withdraw too much. When I get to days when I don't want to do this anymore, it makes it really tempting and easy to withdraw and read books or surf the internet all day, or even to just go to a park and talk with Jesus all day! That sounds so good and yet it's laden with false motives because though the Lord values alone time with me, I sense his heart among the people. To withdraw and just pray or meditate, I'm missing an entire part of His heart and presence! I still need alone time with God and the Church, but I cannot avoid the demographic of people which God has called me to! This year, God launched me into some foundational lessons about engaging the enemy in spiritual warfare, something I've always shied away from due to fear and no confidence. During January and February and March, the Lord gave me foundational theological principles in the Scripture during my time with Him and in the last two weeks, He's put me in situations where I've had to apply them and act on them. It hasn't been easy, but the Lord has given me anointing to do so. The foundation of spiritual warfare is faith. The biggest thing that we engage the enemy over is the promises of God in the Scripture. God wants to give them to us, but the enemy wants to steal them from us. The Scripture is clear that all of those promises in the Scripture are for those who are in Christ. If we are in Christ they are our birthright! The saints of old laid hold of these promises through faith and patience (Heb. 6-11-12). There's so much more to this, most of it is posted under "Biblical Insights" at http://nate.rick.googlepages.com . I need to update that section more often-just haven't had time. The Lord has also shown me the importance of holding the reality of not only who I am in Christ but who I am APART from Christ right next to each other. The reality apart from Christ is that I'm wretched and totally depraved. The reality in Christ is that He accepts me like that with none of my own effort to improve myself. The former keeps me humble and in a position to receive. If I lose the "sinner" reality (what I am apart from Christ), I will not receive his power and I'll try to perfect myself by the flesh. If I lose the "saint" reality (who I am in Christ), then I'll just get discouraged and give up. Those two must be held in tension. Embracing that "sinner" reality is what Jesus meant in Matthew 5 about the poor in spirit, or what I've come to call embracing "spiritual poverty", "voluntary weakness" and "voluntary brokeness." When we embrace these realities as Jesus wants us to, there's no room for self-righteousness or the striving of the flesh. We just accept the truth that we're wretched and will always be wretched apart from Christ. We can add nothing to Christ's work in our lives. We just have to accept the truth and allow Christ's Spirit to overcome in all of us. Brokeness and a faith in God's promises stemming from that brokeness which drives us to Christ is not only the foundation of spiritual warfare, but of living the whole Christian life. Granted, I'm using "spiritual warfare" in a very broad sense and not the narrow sense of "binding and loosing" demons. A separate lesson, but one which stems from this is that I've found when I engage in spiritual warfare the way Jesus wants me to, my intimacy with Jesus increases! He's closer to me in my weakness and brokenness than He is when I feel good about myself! I never got that before! I realized the other day when I was trying to pray, but I couldn't focus because I was half-asleep, that Jesus was closer then than He is when I pray in my own strength. My body was asleep but my soul was awake and looking at Jesus and He spoke to me even as I lay there half-asleep. It's so beautiful the way God does things. Lately, God has been laying another form of ministry on my heart apart from just building relationships and doing practical, programmatic things. He's laid on my heart intercession and signs and wonders, especially for a certain mentally ill individual whom I know. God has told me to contend for her healing from a distance in prayer until He tells me what to do next. I'm believing for immediate healings apart from the efforts of even psychiatrists and counselors. Don't get me wrong-I believe in the use of social sciences, and my doctrine does not forbid that. In fact, my first inclination was to get these people hooked up with professionals, but God has specifically laid on my heart to pray for supernatural healings and deliverances. He's given me the faith to do that. He's also been laying Phoenix Park on my heart. I'm surprised I didn't see this before, but there are some real spiritual powers over that park and God has laid on my heart to pray against those. Last summer in Brazil, a girl prophesied over me that when I dance before God it's a form of intercession and so lately God has laid on my heart to worship him in Phoenix Park through dancing (and everywhere else I go too). I must confess that I felt fear to do that before, but today I stepped out on a limb and just went to the lawn and worshipped. People may think I'm mentally retarded, but I must say, with all the broken people down there who do have mental problems I thought maybe they'd understand me better if I wasn't afraid to look foolish before other people. Pray for me that I'll just obey God, not adding or taking anything away from His words, but just plain obedience. He uses the foolish things of the world to confound the wise, and He even uses dancing in His presence to tear down strongholds. Pray for an increase of faith and courage and submission and surrender, because in all honesty, I often have argued with God for YEARS over some of these things which I've been afraid to do and I have to stop and just surrender. His patience has been abounding, but I want to be one who is quick to obey instead of being paralyzed by fear. Lastly, God has spoken to me about a certain individual I've been ministering to and how to help this person. I'm pretty certain it was God and I'm willing to obey even now, but it is a somewhat major shift from what I'm doing right now, so I want wisdom and timing to mark my obedience to this. I just want to do it the right way and get some counsel from others too. Blessed be the Lord! May Your Word go forth and may the gospel of God go forth which is God's power unto salvation for those who believe!

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Word on the Street #9

Some of you are probably wondering how long I plan on doing what I'm doing right now. In fact, many of you do because I've been asked many times. What was going to be a 2 month deal (possibly) has turned out to be longer than that. I think that this will be a summer affair at least. As I've prayed and discerned I've found myself concerned with becoming chronically homeless of apathetic. However, thanks to the encouragement of many and my own relationship with God, I know that this will not happen. I know for sure that I was led into this season by faith and I'll be led out of it by the same. God has always made big life decisions crystal-clear to me and this will be no different. As Psalm 119 states, God's word is a lamp to my FEET and a light to my path. So I know that when I'm in the dark about where I'm going, my feet are being led every step of the way. I can still feel the texture of the straight and narrow path under my feet, even though my lamp only shows me what is immediately in front of me day-by-day and I cannot see a week or month ahead. My life verse which was given to me by the Lord the first time I remember Him ever speaking to me is Isaiah 30:21. "Your ears will hear a word behind you, "This is the way, walk in it," whenever you turn to the right or to the left." I know that God has promised me clear guidance throughout my whole life, even when I mess up and turn off to the right or to the left! This is His ministry and I do not need to fear my own weakness, brokenness, or the thoughts of well-meaning people, or even my perceptions of what people might think! I AM being led of God, hallelujah! A recent example of my feet kind of falling in place was an opportunity offered me at The Lighthouse Ministry. I was offered a weekly Bible study for the guys in the program there since the current facilitator is leaving for 2 months. I sat on this offer for 2 weeks, really trying to get God's will and over-analyzing it! Come to find out, God had put this right in front of me clearly and I allowed fear to keep me from taking the step. And so I am now excited to be leading this weekly Bible study for some guys that have become really good friends. I get to teach them what the Lord's been showing me over the past 5 years and they constantly teach me by their sensitive and zealous hearts to know and please God! What a great deal! I've also had the opportunity to begin driving the church van for guys at the Hope Center, another enjoyable way to serve the homeless and hopefully use that as a way to inform others in my home congregation about their needs. In addition, a couple of days ago during my prayer time, I sense that God deposited some serious ideas in the near future that I want to pray into. Pray for me as I wait on God for these things. One possibility may be a serious discipleship group for the homeless on the streets and I believe the Lord may want me to connect that with getting other people in the body of Christ involved with the homeless. I know that I have to take this in stride because I DO NOT have specifics on this yet nor have I consulted with the appropriate leadership about the logistics, but these are just some burdens that God has laid on my heart. I want to help the body of Christ be in contact with and educated about the needs of those on the streets. I believe God is beginning to show me ways to do that as I continue to get educated. A really neat meeting happened this past Thursday at the Crowne Plaza in Lexington by the Lexington Leadership Foundation. It presented a strategy for the Church in Lexington to reach the city for Christ through covering individual lives in prayer, caring for their practical needs, and sharing the gospel of God with them. A simple, straightforward, and biblical approach. In the coming months I look forward to meeting regularly with other members of the body which I met there who are also burdened for the homeless, poor, broken and vulnerable as we pray and seek to articulate the revelation of God's plan to reach these people. A lot of neat opportunities surfacing, but of first and foremost importance, are the days where I sit and just talk with people. They don't happen enough because I get so wrapped up in all the things I just shared, but this is the greatest need and the thing that I want to mobilize the body in-actually loving and spending ourselves on people that need that kind of compassion. We all need it and Jesus provided it. Freely we have received, freely we MUST give! We must give the same to people that Jesus has given to us! This is the joy of the God-life we've been promised. To walk in anything less is to walk as beggars and not as sons and daughters of the living God. God ADOPTED us through His Son. So must we ADOPT the needy (physically and spiritually) in this world. Let's plead with God for a vision to look outward rather than inward. We have been trained to be egocentric but this is not God's vision. Let's cooperate with God and be His hands and feet on the streets. Programs are good, but let's spend more time actually being on the streets among them. The incarnation was not a program. It was a message of love, rooted in identifying with the brokenness of people. As Paul charges us, bear one another's burdens and share in one another's joys. May we all truly take this message to heart and repent so that we might walk in it.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Crossing Language Barriers

Believe it or not, the homeless and street culture actually speak a different language, with a different worldview, different way of thinking, and different way of viewing reality and circumstances. I did not realize how hard it is to cross worldviews. It's very hard. It's even hard to engage in small talk sometimes, but I'm slowly learning how to do this and I've also finally found the point of relationship between me and them (there really is no "me" and "them", but that's how I perceive it). I haven't met a lot of people with a biblical way of thinking in the street culture. What's the point of contact? Our carnality is where our paths cross. I seem to quickly note all of the weaknesses of those I want to serve and help and forget that I have those same weaknesses. I can relate to carnality because I am carnal. Addictions is something I have in common with the homeless because I have addictions too. I too must cast myself on the mercy of God. This is where we speak the same language.

I'd say I'm also learning about discernment and the development of fine prophetic sensitivity in me too. If I can be sensitive to the spirit and environment of a place and to the spirit of a person, I will be able to read them in a sense and present the Lord to them with that in mind. They'll begin to see that God really KNOWS them and speaks through me (and through them to me as well).

Side note, the speaking engagement to the junior-high kids I spoke to went well, although I still need more practice. I am learning as I go however, and I look forward to growing more comfortable in front of groups of people. I was told that they'd ask me to speak again next school year, so I hope that works out. I also am now leading a Bible study for guys in the drug rehab program at Lighthouse on Monday mornings. I'm excited about that too.

Monday, May 19, 2008

Word on the Street #8

Lot's of experiences the past 2 weeks. It's been pretty busy and pretty painful too. I'm not complaining, as much as I'm just seeking to be honest. It came to the place where I wasn't feeling like being out on the streets anymore. I just wanted to stop and didn't see how I could continue doing what I'm doing any longer. I've been coming to terms constantly though with the need for me to go through those feelings and know them. This is how I come to terms with the lifestyle. And this is also how I die off, which needs to happen. The Lord has drilled it into me that this experience is largely one of taking the cross and dying off so that He might be glorified. I'm finding with my time that even as I'm out here, my clear foundation needs to be in the place of prayer. As such, the Lord has asked me to dedicate a half day each week to fasting from everything, but Him. My strength and stamina will be rooted in such times.

I have had numerous opportunities in the past couple weeks. I visited Cane Ridge-a major site near Paris, KY for the Second Great Awakening-with a friend and was able to pray there. I enjoyed some time of fellowship with good church friends which also provided me with some necessary rest. We had meals, watched movies, talked-it was all good times. I also had some interesting ministry opportunities-specifically one which baffled me. I ran into a couple guys one night a couple weeks back, outside the public library when it was raining and I didn't really have anywhere to go. One of them was very different-probably the most emotional and dramatic guy I've ever met. I really didn't know what to do with him. He seemed in one sense to have a great faith, but on the other hand he seemed to suffer from unbelief and a number of other issues, possibly demonic, perhaps mental due to alcoholism. He seemed to be so desperate for God that he was literally crying out-but it didn't seem totally pure. There was a war going on inside of him. After seeming to pray with so much desperation and passion, he grew angery and decided that he didn't even know if anything I was saying was true. I think that after praying he grew disappointed that God hadn't made him feel any different. He was striving in his flesh to fight these battles and thus grew discouraged. He lit up a joint and that's the last I've seen of him. In the process he found out about who I am and that seemed to be a stumbling block to him-he couldn't understand it, thinking I'd succumbed to the devil. I also think I jumped the gun with him in my praying by getting sucked into his emotional drama. Ministry is a fine line to tread and the Lord is teaching me that great care has to be taken because of the intricate nature of the soul's interaction with the spirit. Emotions, truth from the Word, false beliefs, and so on must be sorted through. Root issues must be exposed. Motives must be laid bare. Truth must come to the surface and shine a light to expose all that does not align.

Other than that, I have met with a number of ministry leaders in Lexington and continued serving at the Lighthouse as well as getting refreshed there. I do not have a timeline for my time on the streets, but I think it will be a summer affair now. The Lord is slowly giving me insight on some other short-term goals I have. One is in cooperation with some good friends. We have a prayer-meeting every Sunday night and have been meeting for a year. We believe that the Lord wants us to fully encompass all that the Church is and I think that my time on the streets is informing our understanding of doing church and being the Church. I'm excited about some of the prospects and I'm also excited to be really hammering out a true ecclesiology (the study of the church). I've also taken a respite from the vision document I was working on because it was occupying too much time and I was needing to refocus on actually practicing the reasons for which I'm out here. I will seek to pick it up and finish it soon. I am speaking at a chapel service to junior highers as a local Christian school on Wednesday, the 21st of May. I will be speaking about the adventure of the Christian life and the necessary times of pain and suffering within that life. Please pray for this opportunity and all of those teens I'll minister too. I'm also attending a City-Wide Outreach Strategic Summit on Thursday. I have also begun to drive the Church of the Savior van to pick up guys from the Hope Center. This is a financial request. Each week, we take them out to Subway for lunch following the church service and since there's no budget for this, it comes out of my pocket. Any who could donate, even on a regular basis, would be much appreciated. It doesn't take much more than $30 to feed them each week. If you can donate, just contact me or give me the money. Keep praying for Kevin, the guy with the bad leg. I've had more contact with him than with anyone else in recent weeks. All the other prayer requests go to. Jeremy, my alcoholic friend is still very much on my heart. I also have the opportunity to disciple a guy named Rodney and and another recent convert named Brian. Pray that these opportunities will work out according to the will of God. See my site: http://nate.rick.googlepages.com

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Struggling and Suffering

"1Therefore, since Christ has suffered in the flesh, arm yourselves also with the same purpose, because he who has suffered in the flesh has ceased from sin,
2so as to live the rest of the time in the flesh no longer for the lusts of men, but for the will of God." 1 Peter 4:1-2

I am coming to terms with this. I have suffered on psychological, emotional, and physical levels as I've continued to pursue what I'm certain to be the will of God and it's hard. It's hard because I keep thinking that I have to build some really good professional ministry or program that reflects all the academic education I've had (Everything is meaningless, a chasing after the wind). I want to do everything that this world and country defines as success. I want to do everything, but suffer and identify and build relationships with broken people who show me my own broken human state. And I fear. I am afraid that I'm not capable of building earthly success like other people are and so I keep trying to prove myself and my professional ability, when actually I'm not confident at all in my ability to organize and mobilize and initiate good programs. I know this is not true because when God births vision in me, things get done as I go after them. But, I keep getting distracted from the vision that God has birthed in me to simply be homeless and suffer and know what homeless people face.

Thank God for the word I received from Jeff, a man who's involved with Lexington Leadership Foundation. I met with three of those guys today to talk and found great encouragement from all of them. And Jeff helped me see the beauty and necessity in my time of suffering from the psycological effects and emotional effects of displacement (homelessness). I have to come to terms with this again and again. Every week is the same struggle, but I praise God for how it is exercising my faith.

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Word on the Street #7 (Weeks 7-8)

Brothers and Sisters,

I've had a a busy couple of weeks! This is why I did not send an update last week. Besides that, I felt the need to not be so religious with updates, lest I lose focus on my purpose for being out here on the streets. And by the way, I appreciate all accountability in what I'm doing from ya'll.

After spending a good 5-6 weeks feeling aimless and unsure of myself, I've had a very busy 2 week period involving a lot of different divine appointments and opportunities. I've been making an intentional effort to connect with more people who are already doing ministry out here in Lexington. I'm convinced that I need mentors to help me learn some of what street ministry looks like. I've also been helping lead a Bible study every Friday morning at The Lighthouse, I've started getting involved in the 12 step program there (which intersects a lot with the street culture), I've been going through my journal and reviewing what God's been teaching me and trying to organize it and piece it together in the interests of using it to help others after me, whether through a Bible study curriculum, book or whatever. A lot of that organizing is reflected in the Bible Insights section of my site, http://nate.rick.googlepages.com , and also in my blog and journal. Lastly, I've been working on a document which I'll soon post a link to on my site which seeks to accurately articulate the origins of God's word to me to come out here, my specific goals as articulated by God, what I've learned so far, and strategic insights. It will not be complete and will probably need to be added to in the future, but it will reflect where I'm at so far. This also reflects a lot of my journaling in a more organized fashion than it's laid out in my journal.

This weekend, I finally graduate from Asbury! I'm so excited, especially for the extra time to relax and be with my parents. It will be a great weekend.

I wish I could begin to tell all the stories from the past two weeks-there's too many! A book couldn't contain all the great works that God is doing in many lives including my own. I will try and get more journal entries including some of those stories posted though. Look for them and keep checking the site for updates!

Monday, May 5, 2008

Matthew 19:16-30

Wow! I saw Matthew 19:16-30 (The Rich Young Ruler) in a whole new light today! Actually I saw it in the way people have always explained it to me, but I never could see it the way that they were trying to explain. I realize now why. God never let me see it the way I'm about to explain because He wanted me to take it literally first. So, I sold my possessions, well actually gave most of them. Some remain up in Michigan. Finally, I've seen this passage as it's meant to be seen. Really, this passage is not about the possessions, though it was in this particular man's case as well as in my case. It's about Jesus painting an impossible ethic so that we must trust God for salvation and the ability to do this ethic. This man was too in love with his possessions and if he'd trusted Jesus, he would have been justified before God and He would have been enabled then to believe and obey his commands such as giving up all his possessions. God can do anything! God can even do this for me! It's not always about the possessions. It's not meant to be a legalistic requirement, but rather a test to see if one will leave all to follow Jesus. If one hears preaching about idols in their life and something comes to mind, God may be speaking about that. Anything which keeps us from following Jesus is a possession which has to go. If it's one's material possessions, God may call that one to give up all material possessions.

Some more journal entries, lessons, and insights

8 April 2008

I'm going to do some things way out of my comfort zone today. I'm going to fast and I'm going to sit all day instead of being busy going from place-to-place. I'm going to practice listening. I ask You to stir up my prophetic anointing. Stir up the Spirit of God in me and my ears to hear. I've heard You interpret the Scripture to me; open my ears to hear You that I might wqalk according to the words I've received and speak Your words into different lives.
Later...
Today's been good. I decided not to work the system today, but to sit, rest, wait and watch. I hadn't even been doing that long before a brother bought me coffee and another brother came by to give me some rice to eat. A. J., the one who gave rice is a prodigy who speaks 6 languages fluently and won the Lexington Chess Championship a few years back. It's so cool to be a subject of love and God's provision, not working the programs which are impersonal and more focused no results than love. Sit back and watch the wonders which God can do.

Monday, April 28, 2008

Word on the Street #5

Beloved in Christ, You cannot imagine what I went through on Monday night when I came out to Lexington again and had reason to believe that my sleeping spot had been discovered and then I started getting nauseous and began shivering uncontrollably, even with a sweatshirt and wool shirt on. I thought that I was in for a long night of who knew what. I ended up over at a prayer tent on the University of Kentucky campus which was hosting 24-7 prayer for the entire week. I figured I'd pray there as late as I could until I went to sleep and hope that know one would kick me out of there. Praise God, He had better ideas. A friend whom I met one time before at Church of the Savior happened to come into the prayer tent that night and lo and behold, when finding out my issue, invited me to the apartment he's been staying at. For the next day and 2 nights, he took care of me, giving me food, letting me sleep and relax the whole time. Talk about a good samaritan (except he's not samaritan). I caught up on some much-needed rest and I think the flu bout was just God's sign to me that I've been going to hard without enough rest. Many thanks to Kurt! I also owe thanks to friends from Cornerstone International House of Prayer who came out to visit me on Wednesday evening and blessed me first and foremost with their presence and fellowship, but also were kind enough to buy me a meal. I have had good time to recharge this week through these various means and it's appropriate to have a little more easy going week since I'm about halfway through my time. Well, let me clarify. At the end of 2 months (May 17) I think I'm going to take some time off of the streets to re-evaluate and see if I need to move on to some new things or if I need to keep going on the streets for longer. So, I'm halfway through my initial length of time. I've tried to piece together some future goals, but I think that I'm trying to think too far ahead, because I've found it impossible to piece many concrete steps together based on the little bit of information God's given me. It just isn't much. I'm convinced that what many of you have told me is correct. I need to focus mostly on here and now and just immerse myself in this time. Keep praying for the names I've given in previous emails, and especially for one I've mentioned, Kevin, who has an issue in his leg (I can't remember if it's in the right or left). Pray for it's healing and also as I seek ways that we could get the problem corrected. He needs an x-ray first to pinpoint what it is and so I'm looking for possibilities that are offered free to those without insurance, and if that falls through I'll probably fundraise. Blessings in Jesus' name, Nathan Rickardhttp://nate.rick.googlepages.com

Word on the Street #4

Brothers, Sisters, family, and friends, I'm currently in my 4th week out on these streets and I'm in a stage of monotony. Life seems to be getting monotonous. Imagine how people who've been out here for a couple years feel. I'd imagine they're pretty numb to it now. Either this will make me stronger or really mess me up. I choose the former. I haven't slept in the Hope Center at all this week; I've been outside every night, and last night I was flat out exhausted. I slept without waking once, even on the hard cement and even after I woke up at 6:00 am (my natural alarm clock), I was still quite exhausted. I laid down again on a church porch that smelled like alcohol for another half-hour (I hope I didn't pick up any alcohol scent along the way). Wow, what a week. I've still been enjoying the week though. I have received encouragement from several people and God's provision too. I did an experiment on Tuesday this week and instead of rushing around everywhere I just sat in the park for most of the day. Over the course of the day I had several good conversations, a kid brought me a container of rice to eat, 2 people bought me coffee, and I bought a meal for several friends. It was interesting to watch all of those dynamics. I have been under spiritual attack too, in about everyway I could be, so prayer has been a hallmark this week. I've had times of incredibly strong faith, and times where I have just felt like giving up. I understand the danger missionaries face with burn-out. Not always having a place to go is a big-part of that. Frankly, I do not have a lot of news. Many of the same prayer requests remain. I always love visitors too. I did update my site and blog the past couple days with some insight God gave me into Matthew 25 and also with several journal entries. Forgive the lack of time I didn't put into this email. I'm writing as I'm very tired. I will look forward to seeing many of you this Sunday. Much love,Nathan

Word on the Street #3

Intercessors, friends, and family, I love you all very much. I've had amazing support from so many of you that I'm quite undeserving of. It's always been hard for me to just receive God's grace without paying back, but I'm learning too. I do pray, however, that I can one day aid many of you as you've aided me, not to pay you back, but just to do what Jesus would do. This week has seen things pretty bright, still hard sometimes (late last week), but lot's of blessings and so much to be thankful for. Provision has abounded for me-I love how God works. Lessons have also abounded. See my blog (manofyahweh.blogspot.com) for some of those and some of my questions. I still struggle with the idea of becoming complacent-something I just hands-down do not want to do. I've had to be pretty patient as I seek to learn what God would have me learn and do what God would have me do. Am I here to zealously evangelize or build deep relationships. Some would say that those two do not need to be mutually exclusive. Am I supposed to stand up on a bench in Phoenix Park when there's a lot of people down there and start preaching the kingdom of God? You can see I've been wrestling and thinking about a lot. Pretty much, I'm open to anything as long as it comes from God and I know it's Him talking and not anybody else. So far, I've sought to just have a humble, teachable spirit and take it easy out here. I'm just living and learning until I know what else to do. Don't get me wrong-I haven't been completely bored out here. I've volunteered at the Lighthouse quite often, I've had some great times of prayer and even ministry, I've heard a few stories from different people about their lives and how they ended up where they are now, I've journaled a lot and I've run into a lot of great Christian programs and fellowships that have been food to my soul (and provided good food for my stomach. I have had a couple of friends come out to visit and encourage me to (Thanks Cris and Joel). Talking with these guys has helped my thoughts to sort out too. Material needs have been provided too. All in all, I'd say it's been a rich experience, even if it's not my preferred way of life. Pray for me as I work on a life vision statement-I have a preliminary one posted, but I need to tweak it some. I also need prayer for receptivity to God and ears to hear that I might gain prophetic vision regarding daily steps and future steps. I truly want wisdom about future decisions, especially that I wouldn't grow complacent in this lifestyle, but would stay hot and on fire, that every step I take would be divinely determined and unto God's plans. Pray for these guys: Art: a friend from the Hope Center who we had to take to the emergency room on Sunday after church and he hasn't been released yet. Pray for his healing and my friendship with him, that I could reach out to him and that God would bring him to faith in Jesus. Pray for my friendships with these people and all of their salvations Mark and Jennifer: healing for Jennifer from asthmaSteve: back healingTomTexasRickMarkDerekAlphonsoClaudeThe various ministries in Lexington: Lighthouse Ministry, Lex. Rescue Mission, etc. for provision, money, the guidance of the Holy SpiritHunter: an atheist friend of mine I'm going to close this out lest it get too long, but see my blog (above) for some of my journal entries and lessons I've been learning. Giving myself to the Gospel,Nathan

Word on the Street #1

To the body of Christ, Well these past few days on the streets have been hard-mostly emotionally and mentally as I adjust to a whole different perspective-worlds different from my own perspective previously. I spent the first night under an overhang in a parking garage and the past 2 nights in the Hope Center (the only shelter in Lexington for men). They have drug and alcohol rehab there and then they have a service called "General Population" for guys like me that just need a place to sleep. General Population needs to be out during the day and returns at night for supper. It costs like $1 each night, but my first 5 days are free. I've met a lot of people and it can almost be a little overwhelming. It's been an uncomfortable adjustment. Even yesterday, it rained and poured like crazy and I was cooped up in the Hope Center most of the day-it felt like prison from the food to the type of people I was around. It's so different being out here as a homeless man from being out here as a middle-class consumer. God even convicted me as He kindly reminded me that I regard the middle-class lifestyle of comfort as my home, when in reality that is not true. It's not my home anymore than the streets are my home. My home is in Heaven and in the presence of my God. My comfort and pleasure is in Him. And truly, the Lord has been my source of hope the past few days. I haven't been able to have the kind of times with God as I have in the prayer room or when I'm alone with some privacy. I have read the Word a lot and prayed a lot though when it seems like I have nothing else to do. Alone time with the Lord is sort of a commodity now. I'm so thankful though for the refuge that I have had in the Lord because He's certainly present whether I'm alone or with others. That relationship has been such a lifeline. Praise God, I have had the opportunity to minister some to some guys and even to pray for a gentleman with some back problems. There's a couple of guys in wheelchairs at the Hope Center too that I look forward to praying for. A trend I've noticed among a lot of these guys is that they seem to have a mental understanding of doctrine and a feeling of love for God, but they don't know Him in the biblical sense. A couple of the guys I've talked to are pretty negative to-feeling as though they're entitled to something and they're just down on their luck. This is proof to me that they haven't experienced the grace of God for it would make them very grateful for what He has given them and it would convict them of their sin too. In addition, about everybody in there smokes (I'm probably inhaling so much second-hand smoke, lol). I still feel pretty unsure of myself until God assures me that He's guiding my steps and I am not responsible to produce any ministry, but only to trust Him and let His Spirit flow in me. I have some prayer requests. Steve-a guy I met with major alcohol problems, the injured back, and in need of the hope of Jesus in his life. Andrew-a former biology teacher with major alcohol problems Kevin-a guy I know from a local McDonald's who has a bad knee and needs healing That God would bring His manifest presence to these and many other guys that they would be changed from the inside-out beyond just their mental assent to Jesus, that grace would pour out on them for them to see their sin and repent to know full salvation. My mentality, that I won't be affected negatively psychologically by the lifestyle I've adopted (becoming lazy or aimless), but will keep grounded in the Lord, unafraid and focused on Him and the mission He's put before me; that I wouldn't miss opportunities. Also that the Lord would show me how to minister best. I feel very unsure of myself right now, but I know the Lord has placed me. Also that God would assure me of His presence. I've had many tell me that God's with me and I know He is, but I've struggled some with doubt. Opportunities to love and to minister and insight into future steps. Blessings ya'll,Know that I'm safe and doing well,Nathan P.S. I will have the weekend to recharge over Easter as I'll be back in Wilmore with friends and in church too. I'm definitely looking forward to it.

Saturday, April 26, 2008

All of Me

As I continue in my journey out here on the streets, I'm beginning to learn about real dedication and the faith it requires. I'm alive to enjoy and know God and next to fulfill His purposes for my life. What I'm doing really is a full time job where I have to stay totally focused on the mission God has given me and to deviate from it always convicts me. Mine is a life that must have focus to it or it will be wasted on petty pleasures that don't really mean anything. Everything I do must be about knowing and enjoying God first and then loving and serving all who I encounter on the streets. It's not always easy, but I'm finding as I move in faith that God is actually putting His love for people in me. It's quite amazing and I never expected it to work out this way. Radical love awakens spiritual zombies. The biggest way in which I do this is by taking time to know people and give them the time of day. I certainly share tangible stuff too when I can, but it's all unto relationship, love, and inner liberation from sin and selfishness that these people can really know what it is to really live and know God.

Word on the Street #6

Beloved Friends, Brothers, and Sisters, What a week! I've hardly had time to stop and reflect on it all or write in my journal as much as I've wanted to! It's been a week of a lot of affirmation and blessing from the hand of God. It's begun to illustrate to me the divine placement God has for me for such a time as this. This time has begun to feel like a full time job, which is good, because I've been seeing so many doors of opportunity open and it's kept me moving. My time has been split during this week between time among my prayer base (the body of Christ) and time among the people God's called me to love. On Tuesday, I spent the majority of the day with my friend Kevin. We talked a lot, he took me to see a movie called "The Bucket List" and we talked a lot. He says that the Bible is truth and yet his practical outlook on life is darwinian "survival-of-the-fittest." This kind of philosophy yields a depressing outlook on life where competition is so central. It's easy to see the kind of toll that this lifestyle has taken on Kevin's outlook. Deep down, I know that he longs for purpose and something to show for his life, and he hasn't found that. I know he's looking for hope or else he wouldn't come to me to keep talking about it. He doesn't understand the liberation of being a slave of Christ and submitting your mind and thinking to the Word of God. Keep praying for him and the healing of his leg, which I'm seeking a solution to. We also talked today and he has some beliefs that are really off regarding relationship with God. It's pretty elaborate and I don't want to go into detail, but pray that he would hear the call of God and soften himself. He's choosing to buy into a lot of deception. In addition, all of his stuff other than the clothes on his back was stolen which has made him angry. Thanks to Kathy and Stacy and all at Cornerstone who are helping me to provide him with a backpack of new clothes and other needs. On Wednesday, I was blessed to meet with my mentor for lunch who always manages to shed light and clarity on my mind by the grace of God as well as with Kathy and Stacy from Cornerstone. What good times of fellowship and recharging! On Wednesday I spoke more with my buddy Rick whom I've been building a friendship with. We got into a bit of debate and the Lord gave me a word for him which wasn't exactly easy to deliver, but he took it well when I prefaced it with, "Rick, you've got to know I love you." Pray for Rick to see the self-deception that he's bought into without even knowing it. He's trapped in this cycle of self-justification and needs an encounter with the conviction of God which shows him that he's not ever good enough and needs to come under the mercy of God in Christ. On Thursday, I enjoyed breakfast with a brother who is passionate about the Lord. I was able to be encouraged by his testimony and also to encourage him with my testimony as we shared the passions the Lord had put in our hearts. He also introduced me to Sonshine Ministries and Ann Stephens, from Church of the Savior, who runs this ministry. What an answer to prayer this place was on Thursday! I had been looking for a place to spend time alone with Jesus which I had not been able to do in a few days except in public places and she was glad to oblige. Thursday was a great day of rest and prayer in the Lord's presence as well as ministry. Ms. Stephens put me to work with some clients who became new Christians that day and so I was able to council and pray for one guy and also to help another recommit his life to the Lord. I was also informed about a revival taking place in Lakeland, FL as we speak and am praying about an opportunity to go down there for a few days next week. Thursday night was a blessing also as the Lord allowed me into Ghatti-town for a free pizza buffet and time of sharing testimonies with prayer warriors from the University of Kentucky. What a full day of blessing. Thursday night at the last minute, God provided an apartment for me to stay at with 3 guys. They took good care of me, even though the alcohol was flowing a little too much. They offered me their only bed and insisted on feeding me even though I'd just filled up at the Ghatti-town pizza buffet. One of the guys cooks some pretty mean food and he fed me an amazing burger before I slept that night. The next morning he served me fried biscuit bread with gravy and eggs. It was so cool that these guys were intent on serving me and opening their small place to me. I believe that it was a ministry just to receive their hospitality and enjoy their company. According to Matthew 10, I pronounced peace and blessing over their apartment and prayed for them. I know they want to change their ways and the Lord convicted them even as I was there; they have their struggles; don't we all? Finally, not only have I prayed for guys, but I've been able to meet a lot of practical needs, especially food. About every day, God provides food for me to give out and so everyone's getting used to that-God even provided a literal truck load of Krispy Kreme donuts which I was able to pass out a bunch of and enjoy. It was cool. Just yesterday, a friend, Albert Kalim gave me about 4 platters of about 30 burgers to hand out. Lot's of miraculous provision like that. The Lighthouse has sent me out with supplies and food more than once to hand out. It's good to be the legs on some of these operations. I've always had plenty for myself and plenty to share. I'd like to give public thanks to you all for your support and those who've visited me and helped me practically. You all will be recognized by the Lord for that which you've chosen to do in secret for me and haven't told anyone else about. Bless you all for helping to make possible what I could never do without the body. I hope I haven't left anyone to thank out. A few weeks ago, the Leet family served me in a number of ways. Derek and Anna continue to house me on the weekends as they've done this whole year. I've received good council from leadership at Church of the Savior and Cornerstone International. I have received wisdom from leadership in Communality, a house network I've been involved with some here in Lexington (Thanks Billy, Daniel, Mark, Scott, Leo, Julius, Monty) and many of you have emailed me encouragement (Thanks to David Hull from AHOP and thanks to individuals from West Golden). In short, way too much has been done for me to ever repay, but I hope I'm beginning to bring blessing to people out here the same way that you all have to me. Pray that God would continually humble me and increase my faith (as I've fallen into some sin in the past couple days), pray for Rick and Kevin, and pray for the 3 guys which housed me. One of them, Jeremy, I've spent time with before and he needs continual prayer for the breaking of alcohol addiction. This has been long enough-may God bless you all.

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

A Look Inside My Journal

1 April 2008



"I can see the fingerprints of God when I look at you." This is the song which played in my head as I stood outside the Catholic Action Center. I was looking at all the different kinds of people out there; problem was, I didn't act or treat these people as if they had the fingerprints of God all over them. Jesus said in Matthew 25 that whatever one's done for the least of these, he's done to Jesus. I did not see Jesus in these people, but I want to. A friend sent me an email much to the same effect-see Jesus in these people. Often, I don't even have anything to say. I'm trying to think about so many things at once-my relationship with God, quenching my flesh, ministering, serving, loving and seeing all people for what they are: people created in God's image. I've been reminded over and over of the need to stay humble and build relationships. I don't feel very confident. I need to stay prayed up.



2 April 2008



Well, a good friend came down to visit me today and we hung out for about 4 hours. I don't know if he actually wanted to hang out down here that long or not, but it meant a lot to me. We talked about a lot which clarified my thinking, so it was good to talk and get some of those ideas out. One thing which seemed to click in my spirit was the idea of imparting higher vision. It sounds like a good thought (taking into account the aimlessness I've seen among those on the streets), but I don't want to just start another program. I want some real breakthrough which is why praying and fasting are so necessary and I haven't done enough of them. However, get my thinking right, Lord. It's really about loving You and not just doing stuff.



Another friend recommended researching the homeless population in Lex in a journey to help meet some of their practical needs which is a great practical suggestion and yet I'm not sure if it's the route I want to take. I want to act out on vision which You give and not just other men. Would it help me in my journey to accomplish Your goals in Your way? We're all called to meet specific and practical needs of people, and yet how far am I called to go with that? What's my niche of influence in this time?



I was encouraged by a lay preacher at the Rescue Mission yesterday who told me to stay prayed up. It struck a chord as have the words of many others who've told me to be sure and listen to God. If I'm to be Your friend and be entrusted with Your gospel, I'm to show myself trustworthy by setting myself totally apart for the gospel. I heard something really good today at the Lighthouse too. People talk a lot about how hard it is to do the right thing, but it's only hard when we're not submitted to the Holy Spirit. If we'd submit first instead of trying to do things on our own, the devil would flee when we resist him. If we'd submit and do just the next right thing, it wouldn't seem overwhelming. God's law is not a burden! It's our old habits which conflict with it that makes it seem overwhelming.



3 April 2008



Well, thank you Jesus for providing the couch, shower, supper, garbage bag for my stuff, good coffee and a traveling tumbler last night. Those guys were very kind.



So, I was thinking about the guys I've met and why they're in the situations they're in. A few of the factors I've seen include especially drugs/alcohol, attitude/authority issues, mental issues, and probably some others too. But, I need to see Jesus in all the people I meet; they're not test subjects.



4 April 2008



Last night, a buddy and I talked until about 10:30. Thought I think he was sincere it was surprising, because as he talked about the problems of the world he began to cry. He wanted me to look in his eyes so I'd know he was serious and he was trying to justify himself to me too. I think he's under some conviction. We had some prayer time where I think some truth came out. I hope he got it.



I was able to help with a Bible study today at the Lighthouse-it was a good group of people and I really enjoyed going through 1 Samuel with everyone.



5 April 2008



This is a battle-guerilla warfare. I don't want this, but if my God is for me, who can be against me? I know how to have self-control and win this battle. Before, I was being lazy, but I can make it and become strong if I'll apply myself. Scripture calls me to love the Lord with all my heart, soul, mind, and strength. No wonder God was not meeting me before-I wasn't seeking Him with my whole heart, but only half-heartedly. The joy of the Lord over me is my strength. We must fight for each other because our victory is sure. In the context of abundant life, it's ours if we'll wholeheartedly chase after God according to His word. We need to stay violent against our flesh, even when it's hard. We need the fear of Yahweh-worship, awe, understanding and knowledge of who He is. We must submit ourselves totally to Him; instead of looking at our sin, we must passionately pursue God's will and obey.



All of these may have been hard words at one time, but they're not anymore. Victory is at hand for all who believe. When hope, love, and delight in Yahweh and His word come to the helm, the promises don't seem so intimidating.



Today, a youth group from South Carolina led the worship at Lighthouse Ministries and served the food. It was awesome-You certainly dealt with me and humbled me all over again And over the course of the pastor's sermon I had a sort of vision and message come to me. I saw myself preaching a sermon entitled "I'm the One." After the sermon I went and sat among the crowd and proclaimed, "I've not judged you today. The Word of God has preached and judged between us and our motives. Don't point to your neighbor. Is your neighbor responsible for crucifying Jesus? No! I'm the one! My addictions to sex, food, and caffeine have exposed me. So who's going to follow me to the altar?" Good stuff.



You're good, oh God. I love watching Your "fireworks" (See previous blog entry from 26 February 2008, "Firework-watching!") with You as that Newsboys' song, "Wonder" plays through my head. You are showing me to just watch for little displays of Your wonders-places, people, creation-all the cosmos displays Your handiwork. Laws, revelations and yes, wonders will come to light as I wait for You. As my journey continues, I see You continually redefining ME. I give You my life and You give supreme liberation back. You're marrying the fireworks-watching activity with seeing Your handiwork and Jesus in people. One of Your "fireworks"/wonders is Reggie. Your wonders and handiwork abound in the people on the streets.