Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Omaha Ministry from Dave:

2014 Ended and 2015 Entered with a BANG…a bang of violence in Omaha. 

Between Dec. 21st and Jan 24th we had 12 homicides and a lot of shootings. 

While overall violence is significantly down, there have occasionally been times when violence spiked like this. The police, civic leaders, and community groups are doing everything they can...The Church now needs to move into a higher level in doing its part…especially addressing the spiritual components in Omaha’s top felt need…PEACE...Stopping the violence.

There was a lot of confusion and misinformation in the media regarding the disturbance after our PrayerWalk at 36th & Parker on Jan 25th. It was a time when well over a hundred people stood with three grieving families in a very emotional, but peaceful, PrayerWalk where three people had been murdered and five wounded just a few hours earlier.                               

Many of the people there, young and old alike, raised their hands to God and before thefamilies in a pledge to do something good to help overcome the evil from these deaths and to give meaning to the families in these senseless murders. Romans 12:21- “Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good."


We had just finished the First Responders PrayerWalk and were informally talking and ministering, when suddenly people started yelling and running. The gang unit was there, and controlled the situation quickly and professionally...I felt God had sent them as guardian angels. Click here for a news report video and the "Rest Of The Story” where what Satan meant for harm, God turned for Good.

We have now coordinated over 300 First Responder PrayerWalks and Community Stop the Violence Rally-PrayerWalks in Omaha. When families of victims started coming, and when people in the neighborhood started coming out of their homes to join us, we felt led to shift our focus from intercession and warfare prayer to ministry prayer. Currently over half of our PrayerWalks are what I call "Community Pastoring". At times it feels more like an altar ministry, but the Church is still not fully walking into the opportunities for the Gospel that God is giving us. God often gives us a beachhead, and then we walk away and abandon it. 

On the other hand, there are times when we would like to take a team to pray into some warfare in the heavenlies – without the media and public present! As a result, I am praying about the next steps for First Responders PrayerWalks in Omaha. Click here if you would like to read more on where I feel God is taking First Responders in 2015. I always appreciate hearing what God may be saying to you.

The “Challenge to the Church” I sent out earlier this month is a word I feel the Lord gave me on the battle in our culture.I got some negative responses, but mostly strong confirmations. There was a lot more He laid on my heart but it was already too long…so expect some more installments which I feel led to separate from our Personal Ministry Update into its own blog and email in the future.

Omaha Base and Urban Plunge Update from Sheryl:

Are we still making prayer shawls? Yes we are!! To date, we have given out nearly 350 Prayer Shawls to those who are grieving or experiencing a significant life challenge. Last year we gave nearly 200 preemie caps to a local ICU unit, as well as about 2 dozen scarves and stocking caps to a ministry that touches the streets. We’re always accepting donations of yarn, or any shawls that you feel led to create at home. Feel free to join our monthly meeting on the 2nd Monday of the month here at our home.

Change seems to be the "stuff of life", and Urban Plunge is no exception. Michael Ross, the Founder and Director of Urban Plunge, resigned from Christ for the City International as of December 31, leaving a huge gap behind him. Randy Fontaine was appointed to give oversight to the Urban Plunge program in 6 cities, and soon learned that there was a great deal to be done to shore up and develop this program. 


In the wake of a number of changes, Sheryl was asked to serve in a new position as the National Director of Training for Urban Plunge facilitators in all the cities where we operate. She is now responsible to set up a basic training curriculum (both written and online) that will bring all Facilitators into alignment with the same basic goals, philosophy of ministry, and methodology wherever we have established an Urban Plunge program. 

While the specifics are currently quite demanding, this position offers the opportunity to build many relationships with young leaders who are eager and excited to serve the Kingdom....and who have more energy to implement ideas and grow programs than we do at this season of life! The most rewarding part is to be able to speak into younger lives as they prepare themselves and grow in their areas of gifting and calling. Along with the logistics of Urban Plunge, we also incorporate modules on creating your personal introduction, time management, decision-making, character development, and conversation skills...all those leadership things we wish we had known at age 20!

We have approximately 30 groups on the calendar for Omaha this year, and approximately 60 altogether in the other cities of operation. While this is fewer than we normally have for Omaha, we anticipate that the development in other cities will soon outweigh the smaller numbers here. Overall, we're excited about the growth we're seeing, as these groups of students come and participate in serving the urban ministries. You can find out more specifically about Urban Plunge at our website www.urbanplunge.com.

One little side note is that I've been able to hire our oldest grandson, Caleb, to work as an Urban Plunge Facilitator. He's wonderful at handling groups, is getting lots of really good leadership experience, and is one of my best at managing those Jr. High kids! That could be because he has three younger siblings and knows how to take charge!

Prayer Requests:

  • Sheryl continues to heal rather slowly from a major foot surgery last August. She is has finished physical therapy and is occasionally working out in a friend’s pool. Outside of a supernatural healing, we expect at least a year for full recovery and for the bones, tendons and ligaments to accept their new alignment. Sunday afternoon we walked about a mile around Standing Bear Lake and are talking about getting the old bikes we haven’t used in years out of the shed… 
  • Dave is dealing with Meniere’s disease in addition to other physical issues. The Meniere’s is a buildup of fluid in the inner ear which causes vertigo, humming and more hearing loss. In noisy environments, it’s almost impossible to hear, so we have been receiving prayer for healing and a visit to a hearing specialist is planned. Since hearing is vital to Dave’s ministry, and Satan likes to target our human weakness we believe this is clearly spiritual warfare on top of natural ailments.
  • The day after I sent out the “Challenge to the Church” earlier this month, we learned that our support last month was down nearly 2/3 from the norm. While the Lord has led us to not mention personal needs when I send out a message like that, we did mobilize our prayer team of intercessors! The Lord wonderfully spoke to some of His kids to help us get to the end of this month…but our deeper need is for additional regular monthly support. Over the last few years we have lost the financial partnership of a number of our support team who have gone to be with the Lord, have lost income as they retired, or felt led to change their stewardship, and it has become very challenging in these days to replace it. 
  • We never take for granted the privilege we have of serving the Lord vocationally. He has taught us again and again that He is our source, but we are somewhat dependent upon His people to hear clearly how He leads them to give. 
  • We are so thankful for the gifts of time that you share with us through your prayers and financial partnership. Please pray with us for God’s supply with some new monthly partners so we continue to serve Him vocationally full-time.   

Click on the "Partner With Us" tab at the top of the page for more info on being part of our team. 
Contact info is in the column to the right.

Blessings, 
Dave & Sheryl

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

A Challenge To The Church

Do you remember that verse quoted
over the years about being Hot, Cold or Lukewarm?
Well…it is ringing loud and clear right now in our culture!


“I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were either one or the other! So, because you are lukewarm—neither hot nor cold—I am about to spit you out of my mouth.” –Rev. 3:15,16 NIV




Do you remember those stories about Daniel in the Lion’s Den; and Shadrach, Meshach & Abednego in the fiery furnace?



Well…they are not just children’s Bible stories…they are for us today!
America is transforming before our eyes into a spiritual Babylon like in the days of Daniel.


Yesterday, March 2nd, was an eventful and fateful day in Nebraska:
  • Our local news revealed that NE legislators have made it legal for homosexuals to be foster parents...Sexual orientation is no longer a factor.
  • LB586, which prohibits Employment Discrimination Based on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity has been voted out of the Judiciary Committee but has not been scheduled for debate on the floor yet. Now is the time. Your state senator needs to hear from YOU.
  • In the afternoon, it was announced that one man, Federal District Judge Joseph Bataillon, has overturned DOMA (Nebraska’s Defense of Marriage Act) and made same-sex marriage legal in Nebraska.  
I was part of the working committee that initiated (Defense of Marriage Act), which was voted into the Nebraska State Constitution in November 2000 by over 70% of the voters. In the last six months, federal judges have overturned 18 State-constitutionally-enacted definitions of marriage. The Nebraska Family Alliance (where I currently serve as a board member) has an outstanding analysis of Judge Bataillon’s ruling on their website at nebraskafamilyalliance.org This is an excellent resource for more info on related upcoming legislations. 


The LGBT alliances are very confident this year, and they are not done with their agenda to fundamentally change our laws. While a lot of prayer is going up from faithful Believers, many Christians seem to be resigned to the changes…even asking what is so bad about allowing gays to marry or adopt. How does that hurt our beliefs?




It concerns me deeply that many “Christians” are so na├»ve about Biblical marriage and the threat that same-sex marriages represent to the family, to the church, and to our individual religious freedoms. 

Among Christians, a wedding has always been a deeply religious event; it is one of the holy sacraments. 

The sacrament of marriage between a man and a woman spiritually represents the relationship of the Lord Jesus and His bride, the Church.







In states where same-sex marriages have been legalized, the lawsuit judgments are now revealing the deeper and not-so-subtle agendas attacking our religious freedoms. 

It is not enough for same-sex marriage to be allowed; it is not enough for it be accepted; it is not enough for gay marriage to be legal. 

There is a deeper agenda to make all convictional opposition criminal.




In the state of Washington, Barronelle Stutzman, owner of Arlene's Flowers is in danger of losing not only her business, but her home and all her assets. 

She is literally being destroyed by the state because she refused to do flower arrangements for a “Gay” wedding. 

She willingly offered to sell flowers for the wedding but believed that creating “wedding arrangements” for a “Gay” wedding would have constituted a demonstration of approval for the gay wedding itself and a violation of her faith.



Here are two revealing statements from the Judge’s ruling against this Christian grandmother:

  • In a sixty-page opinion, the judge maintained that “religious motivation does not excuse compliance with the law…In trade and commerce, and more particularly when seeking to prevent discrimination in public accommodations, the courts have confirmed the power of the legislative branch to prohibit conduct it deems discriminatory, even where the motivation for that conduct is grounded in religious beliefs.”
  • More specifically, the judge maintained that while religious beliefs are protected, religious actions are not. When the state of Washington approved gay marriage, a Christian refusing to serve gay weddings became illegal.
If this trend continues unabated, we will soon see more policies oppressive to Christians who are committed to living out their faith. For example, in Nebraska it could now be interpreted, and could soon become policy, that anyone who has faith-based objections to same-sex marriage will be deemed as unfit to be foster parents.

Things we once thought would never happen in America are now the law.



Are you getting the picture?
Are you seeing the deeper agenda?
Do you think these are justun-intended consequences?
Maybe this picture from  The Dennison Forum on Truth & Culture will help…



So are some of you still hoping to avoid these issues? …trying to stay below the radar?
Are you Lukewarm? Are you a spiritual POW?
Are you spiritually ready to face a lion’s den, a fiery furnace, or legal prosecution for your faith? 
I’m not really the One who is asking…
“A judge has ruled that a “relationship with Jesus” doesn’t justify acts of conscience. The only problem is that a relationship with Jesus demands just that."
This quote is from James Emery White in his “Church and Culture” March 2nd blog: Flowers for Gay Weddings. I highly encourage you to read this outstanding blog on the issue of same-sex marriage


What can we do? How do we prepare?
How can we wisely and redemptively respond?

When the Lord called me to get involved in this issue He told me not to trust the “Arm of Flesh,” not to trust in a political solution apart from a spiritual solution. However, I realized we needed to be involved in the political efforts to better understand and wisely help prepare the Body of Christ.

We are Salt and Light. Salt as a preservative helps slows down corruption...But only Light will push back darkness.  Political efforts are important salt to help slow down moral corruption, but only a revival of repentance and righteousness in the church that rebuilds our moral walls will impact our culture and push back the darkness.


Here are some questions to stimulate your thinking and to talk with your Heavenly Father about:

  • Do you know who your God is…His attributes and how they work? Is your God Sovereign? Do you know how that works out in your life?
  • Do you know what you believe and why you believe it? Do you personally know “Who” you believe in and are you secure in your relationship to Him?
  • Do you really know His love for you and trust He does know best?
  • There are two more questions the Lord has put on my heart that give insight to some integrity tests facing us in our culture right now: Who do you Serve? Who is your Source? No one can serve two masters…

PRAY:
  • Pray for your elected officials…especially lift up those standing for Godly values, as they will be under significant political pressure and spiritual attack personally and in their families.
  • Pray for spiritual leaders who are feeling pressure to compromise in order to avoid public conflict or loss of resources.
  • Pray for those of us trying to give wise leadership in these issues. We need to hear clearly from God and need to know we are not out there alone in this spiritual battle.
  • Pray that Believers rise up as Salt & Light…for a revival of repentance and righteousness in the church that rebuilds our moral walls and transforms our culture. 
  • "Trust and obey, For there’s no other way To be happy in Jesus, But to trust and obey."

___________________________________________


"Darkness must always submit to light.
You cannot turn on darkness - you can only turn off the light.


“You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven. -Matthew 5:14-16

"For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Live as children of light (for the fruit of the light consists in all goodness, righteousness and truth) and find out what pleases the Lord. Have nothing to do with the fruitless deeds of darkness, but rather expose them. It is shameful even to mention what the disobedient do in secret. But everything exposed by the light becomes visible—and everything that is illuminated becomes a light. This is why it is said:
“Wake up, sleeper,
rise from the dead,
and Christ will shine on you.”

Be very careful, then, how you live—not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the Lord’s will is. Do not get drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery. Instead, be filled with the Spirit,"
-Ephesians 5:8-18 NIV

June 28, 1969
Blessings,
Dave & Sheryl

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Update on Spike in Violence in Omaha

While overall violence has been down, in the past we have seen times when violence spikes for a few days, a week or more. We are in one of those spikes now... We have had 12 homicides and many shootings since Dec. 21st. The police, civic leaders, and groups like Impact One are doing everything they can...The Church needs to do its part and address the spiritual components.

There was a lot of confusion and miss-information regarding the incident at last Sunday's PrayerWalk with three grieving families and well over 100 attending. 

We had just finished the First Responders PrayerWalk and were informally talking and ministering to people when people started yelling and running. The gang unit was at the PrayerWalk, and controlled the situation quickly and professionally...I was very impressed and thankful. I felt like God had sent them as guardian angels ...but here is some of the "Rest Of The Story."

Many of the people there including a lot of kids had just made a pledge to the families and to God to do something good to help overcome evil and to give meaning from these deaths to the family.
Romans 12:21 ~ "Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good."

After we finished ministering and praying as a group, one of the ladies on our team spotted a young woman agitating a local gang member regarding a rival gang member who was in the crowd. She went and confronted the young woman. Then a few minutes later the two rival gang members got in each others face and started posturing. That's when people started moving and the commotion started. Some ran away, some grabbed young kids and some moved in...

In the few seconds before the Gang Unit got to the guys a bunch of people grabbed each guy and separated them. There was no violence, no guns, not even a fist thrown. The majority of this group was committed to peace and caring for the grieving families. They were not going to allow violence that day. 

What Satan meant for harm, God turned for Good.  
  • The neighborhood stepped up and self-regulated in a area claimed by the Hilltop Crips.
  • A Stakeholders group is coming together with the local neighborhood alliance, Freedom Church and Compassion In Action who are part of this neighborhood. They will be meeting this Saturday to organize and start taking back these streets.
  • This incident woke up a bunch of people that are committing to action.

This was the first incident of any kind in over 300 PrayerWalks and Violence Rallies. This incident was a spiritual backlash and evidence that our efforts are seen as a threat to those whose business is violence and the demonic forces behind them.

The civic authorities and police are doing their part, but we the church of Jesus Christ must do our part in meeting the top felt need in Omaha...violence. We have great favor in partnering with our city leaders.

This is spiritual warfare and I expect more manifestations and opposition as we continue. But greater is He who is in us that he who is in the world. The only safe place is where God tells you to be. When you follow our Lord nothing can touch you unless He permits it. We intend to wisely step it up and meet the spirit of violence in the authority given to us by our Almighty God.

In these PrayerWalks God is establishing spiritual beachheads that we need to fortify and expand. There are opportunities to connect needs with ministries and churches which we intend to develop more in the future.

Below is a news report on our Omaha 360 meeting Wednesday following the violence of this last weekend. Please click on link below to see report and video.

Omaha 360 meeting counters violence with community


Pastor Dave

Saturday, January 24, 2015

Urgent Call To Prayer regarding Spike in Omaha Violence

2:00 PM Saturday, January 24th:


We are asking churches to call their people to prayer regarding the recent "spike" in violence in Omaha. 

While overall violence has been down, in the past we have seen times when violence spikes for a few days, a week or more. We are in one of those spikes now... The police, civic leaders, and groups like Impact One are doing everything they can...The Church needs to do its part and address the spiritual components. 


Early this Saturday morning 10 people were shot in two incidents with two women in their 20's killed,one a mother. You can see details in the media, and there is a news conference this Saturday afternoon at 4:00 PM.

We have had 8 Homicides so far in 2015 compared to just one last year at this time. But this spike actually began just before Christmas where three were murdered so it is actually 11 in the last 5 weeks.

While some of these have been gang related in some way, most are unconnected other than by a pattern of anger and rage that may have been amplified by alcohol and/or drugs.  It is city-wide, North, South, & West.



Please call your church to prayer tomorrow and begin to pray yourself right now.
Studies like Omaha 2050 confirm that the number one felt need in Omaha is for peace and safety. One of God's mandates to His Church is to pray for and seek the welfare of the city in which we live:

Jeremiah 29:7 (ERV) says,  
"Also, do good things for the city I sent you to. Pray to the Lord for the city you are living in, because if there is peace in that city, you will have peace also.”  

Another translation says "...and pray to ADONAI on its behalf; for your welfare is bound up in its welfare."  
 ADONAI is one of the Names of GOD, with the emphasis that He is our Lord & Master who has ALL AUTHORITY in heaven and on earth 


The Bible also says in Habakkuk that human bloodshed is violence to the land and all its inhabitants. When one person's blood is shed in our city we all suffer violence. That violence must be confronted civically and spiritually. The church needs to rise up and pray peace back onto our land and people. 


PRAY For Peace and more peacemakers on the streets and in homes.

PRAY against the Spirit of Anger and Rage that Satan is using to destroy the souls and families of victims and perpetrators.

PRAY That people give police the information they need to arrest those using violence and murder.

Cry out to God for Justice...Pray against Retaliation and that people trust the police as agents of God's Justice.

Ask God for Revelation in how to pray and for Wisdom to know when and what He wants you to do.

We are planning a First Responders/Omaha 360 Rally/PrayerWalk for Sunday afternoon. I hope to be getting out a announcement on that later this afternoon after we get more details. 

FYI: We thank the Lord a very strong sense of His presence at the PrayerWalk last night at 24th & P.  A group of local and Hispanic pastors joined our team in ministering to a large group of mostly young people. You could see the Lord touching so many of them as we shared, cared and prayed. Afterwords, individual ministry continued for some time...it had the feel of a large alter call response at church. 


Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Merry Christmas 


"Did you get your Christmas shopping done?" 
"People are driving like maniacs and the checkout lines are too long..."
"Next year I am shopping more online!"
"How do I get a good gift exchange for under $5.00?"
"I can never figure out what to get ______, they are so hard to shop for."

This year as I was rushing around this thought came to me:
"I need to intentionally take a 'Time Out' for Jesus. Is that the way it should be?"

Then in the midst of "Getting ready for Christmas" violence erupted last Sunday as four men were shot and two killed. Why Now? Violence has been down this year...its been over a month since since someone was murdered... Why Now? How am I going to get everything done?  

Then as I stood in the cold rain Monday night before Christmas with a Mom that would gladly give anything to just have her son back for Christmas something in my spirit changed... as it probably did for those wonderful people who came with me to pray into violence and care for a grieving family.

Then something wonderful happened...When we went to the second PrayerWalk, the mom who had just lost her son came to pray for another mom who had just lost her son. 

Then even more...a third mom who had lost two children to violence a few years ago who came to both PrayerWalks and prayed with a power that I seldom see...and after everyone was gone she was standing on the site of the three shootings Sunday evening ministering to the first mom. 
Go to prayerwalking.gehrls.net for more and news videos on this amazing night.

Please take a few moments to view the Christmas Album Sheryl put together below.

Sunday, November 2, 2014

"I Stand Sunday" 
National Online Broadcast tonight, November 2, 2014

Join Christians across America for I Stand Sunday on November 2, 2014. Hosted by Family Research Council and other partners, speakers from across the nation will gather at Grace Community Church in Houston, Texas to focus on the freedom to live out our faith free of government intrusion or monitoring. We will stand with pastors and churches in Houston, Texas who have been unduly intimidated by the city's Mayor in demanding they hand over private church communication.


Live Webcast at 7PM ET - 6PM CT - 5PM MT - 4PM PT


Rebroadcast at 9:10PM ET - 8:10PM CT - 7:10PM MT - 6:10PM PT


Link for info and to watch online: 

Tuesday, October 28, 2014


B.L.E.S.S. Your Way to
A Pray-Care-Share Lifestyle


One church in the Twin Cities has put together the BLESS program to encourage its attenders to live out a pray-care-share lifestyle. Based on a sermon series from Westwood Community Church, Excelsior, MN, BLESS is a great way to reach out to those around you.  

The acrostic BLESS stands for:

B – Begin with prayer
L – Listen and be aware of the needs of those around you
E – Eat with your neighbors, co-workers and friends
S – Serve, look for ways to be a servant to others
S – Tell your story, share your faith...after you have prayed, listened, had a meal, and served.

Download the easy-to-follow pdf with ideas for how to BLESS the people around you.

BLESS is one of the best initiatives I have seen, it brings together prayer, friendship and serving to effectively share our faith in today's culture.  I would encourage every believer to read the pdf and pray about trying this. I also encourage church leaders to consider adapting this for use in their churches. Please contact Westwood regarding permission for your church to personalize the pdf for local use.