Saturday, October 10, 2009

Word from the Journey 2.3

Dear Friends,

Updates are hard for me to continue, though I imagine that I will and it's because there's so much for me to give myself to in life and sitting at a computer typing an email doesn't seem like a great way to spend my time. However, when I connect it in my mind with communication to those dear to me, it's a little easier to justify.
It's also difficult to do because I am in a confusing season right now where not a whole lot is really clear to me. I'm seeing this as a spiritual trend right now in the lives of many around me. It's interesting what God is letting His Church go through internally right now. Perhaps this is not the best place to write from, but here I am.

I. Recent Happenings
II. The First and Second Commandment
III. Our Corporate Covenant and Fellowship
IV. Other Lessons and News

Some recent happenings:

Our trip to China was canceled due to the H1N1 virus. Every case in China came from an American, so China won't let us in. This did not really disappoint me, since I was beginning to expect this in June. The final word served as closure to me and also opened an opportunity for God to do a financial miracle for somebody else. Here's the story in short:

A kid from the youth group at my church fellowship, Church of the Savior, headed on a mission trip with the youth group to Puerto Rico about 2 weeks ago. One week before the trip, he was $700 short of his needed amount. As he talked with me at church, his mom was talking to another lady whom I don't even know and this lady saw me and said, "That guy is going to help you! Go talk to him right now!". She clearly had received a word of knowledge from God. So his mom came over and mentioned it to me and I had no idea what she was talking about until the next day, when I counted up the money from China and realized it was almost the exact amount the kid needed! Everyone who had donated to me had told me to keep the money for future ministry! And a week earlier, the Lord had told Derek, the leader of our fellowship that he would do financial miracles like that with us. Clearly, the Lord wanted me to send this kid to Puerto Rico and what an awesome opportunity to be a part of that.

Another thing I'm noticing in life right now, is the continuing passion the Lord gives me for the homeless I spent so much time with last year. God has repeatedly shown me through the Scripture the following principle, based out of Matthew 25: to serve and minister to the least of these is like serving me (this is Jesus speaking). Out of this God has shown me that to love and serve the poor (and anyone for that matter) is another facet of encountering God and having relationship with God. The second commandment of loving your neighbor as you do yourself is grounded in and unto the first commandment of loving the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength. To those in the house of prayer movement that I may be speaking to (and I can relate to because I have been involved in this movement), I've always had a problem with the ALMOST, but not TOTAL, exclusive focus on limiting the practice of the first commandment to sitting in the prayer room. The world in the context of the prayer room, not just a safe building full of other believers. We need to be the prayer room and do the practice of the house of prayer in the darkest of places and among the most corrupt of people. We need to keep the first commandment in first place by embracing the fullness of it which includes the second commandment and includes going out from the building and being the house of prayer everywhere. Yet, in no way to I neglect the position of the prayer movement right now and the necessity for lots of time in the house of prayer as well!
God has promised me that if I go out to these people, not to "do ministry", but just expecting to encounter Him, and love Him by loving these people, that He will meet me there. Anywhere that I can meet God, that's where I will go!

My greatest area of commitment right now is my covenant with the two others, Derek and Anna, that I repeatedly mention in these letters. We have sought to be very focused and intentional in our pursuits corporately, since the Lord has been kind to entrust us with much, we seek to be responsible stewards. Right now, we are just learning how to truly BE a corporate body in the fullest sense. I think that we've discovered a unity which is sadly lacking in much of the Church. We have had our rough spots and potholes in recent times and some of the development has been difficult, but so worth it because it's real, it's true and it's God's will. We meet several times a week, with an emphasis on mostly prayer in some focused areas, but also a great deal of teaching, mostly from International House of Prayer and also some others. I see some areas that are fast becoming areas of corporate emphasis as well. We all have a passion for godly education and they have been privileged to teach in a classical Christian upstart in Wilmore and to mentor several teenagers. I have a similar passion as well as what I believe to be a call from God to intercede for this new school. The Lord has opened up a small degree to us out of the book of Daniel as to an appropriate paradigm for education and this has been an exciting journey, but we're just in the beginning of it, so what more I can share is quite limited. I think that I see mentoring and spiritual fathering playing a big role in our future as well. We seek to fan the flames of revival especially in America and we see a need to call the Church at large to corporate repentence. There are so many other things that we want to adopt and grow in as well, but these are the LORD'S areas of emphasis for us right now. That's a mouthful for this summary at this time anyway.

I continue to work the furniture outlet I've been at and I'm enjoying it SO much. For as long as the LORD, Yahweh, our Father and God through Jesus will allow me to have this job I'll be thankful. And I'll be thankful when He brings about something else too. I am content in this season, but hungry also for the future that He longs for me to grab ahold of and walk in as well.

May the LORD cause His face to shine upon each of you to the degree that you will receive what He reveals of Himself to you. May none of us be found hardened, but rather tender toward God, as He is tender and zealous toward each of us.

Nathan Rickard

Word from the Journey 2.2

Dear friends,

I have been having the time of my life the past several months as I've continued in journeying with God and the lessons have been innumerable. I am at a stage where my long-term goals are clear and the clear direction of the rest of my life is set and I know the immediate next steps in terms of the rest of my life, but a lot of the in-between stuff is cloudy, that is everything from September 2009, on. What am I doing up until Sept. 2009? Thanks for asking! I covet your prayers for the upcoming summer, as I will be journeying to Harbin, China with my covenant fellowship here in Wilmore. The three of us are going there to pray as we have a calling to the nations of the world and the global Church. We will be tagging along with 7 others from Asbury College and the "official" reason we're going is to teach English for 3 months to students over there. This is a very exciting opportunity since I have greatly missed China since I was there in 2005 and my friends also feel a call there. I should clarify, we feel called there for this time, but frankly, our calling in life is to the nations of the world and not just China.

This is an exciting step for our fellowship as we seek to walk together in the things that God has spoken to us for about 2 years now. As we are there, we want to gain a heart for the Church in China, and we want to build them up through prayer and whatever other avenues God will provide to us. In some ways, I even think that this opportunity is more for us as a fellowship than it is for China, because God is still building foundations in us corporately before He will allow us to set foundations which is a major part of our ministry.

I know that we certainly need any prayers that you can offer for us, for the logistics, financial provision and the actual teaching. Because we are teaching for the university, they are paying for our airplane tickets, room and board, so most expenses are pretty much covered. For me, the only expenses that remain are the expenses for the visa, some spending money while there and a $300 deposit to the university which will be returned. My greatest need is just wisdom in teaching conversational English to these students. We'll each have our own classrooms and I have never formally taught or had formal training in it either. This is quite a faith endeavor for me and in many ways, I do not even know where to start in preparing for the teaching aspect. I do know that God led me to this, and so He will enable me as I walk in faith and seek out every means of help I can in doing well in this facet. As a fellowship, Derek, Anna, and I will be meeting regularly up until we leave to pray for strategy in China and to prepare for teaching as well.

On to some other things:

God has kindly opened up temporary work for me that pays well at a local furniture outlet. The owners go to one of my church fellowships and that's how I was able to be hooked up with that. I was desperately needing something and God opened that up after the firewood job ran out. I am so thankful. I am continuing in the word God spoke to me near the end of my time on the streets to stick with temporary work for the time being and that was before I had any idea about going to China. I now see why God told me to stick with temporary work-because He knew I'd be going to China for three months out of the summer. Someone tell me that God is not totally sovereign and all-knowing. Every full-time regular job I've tried to get has fallen through, so with temporary jobs I will stick for now.

I have enjoyed many ministry and prayer opportunities over the past few months. The presence of God has been so near and His guidance has always come just in time. I have seen God reveal so much in fellowship with Him, I certainly have a lot of fuel for future teaching opportunities and other things that God will open up.

I know that in the long-term I will be co-laboring with the rest of the Church to bring a long-needed reform to the way we conceive of and do "church." A neat document I came across recently is sort of a good articulation of what the Church is moving towards. You can google it or something if you want on the internet-it's called Wolfgang Simson's 15 Theses. Another author who just died a couple years ago has influenced us more than anyone we've ever read. We are working through a book of his called Apostolic Foundations. His name is Arthur Katz, and he's a messianic jew who was originally an atheist. He was teaching high school in California in the mid-1900s and he took a sabbatical to hitchhike through Europe and search out life. His search climaxed in Israel where a group of messianic jews labored in prayer with him for three days at the end of which he entrusted himself to Jesus and became a Christian. His is one of the most stimulating stories I've ever read and you can find it in his memoirs/journal of the sabbatical months. It's called Ben-Israel.

God is very much alive and at work in the world today and I'm getting to see it first hand!