Wednesday, November 9, 2016

The Only Way for America To Truly Be Great Again:

"Righteousness exalts a nation, but sin condemns any people." -Proverbs 14:34 NIV
We have been granted a brief reprieve, but we are a deeply divided nation and that division will get deeper and more violent unless we, the church, lead our nation into a revival of repentance and righteousness.

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

A Pre-Election Exhortation to the Church

Do you see the signs of the times?

Do you understand the events of man and the work of God in these days?  
For these days are like unto those of Jeremiah, Daniel, Habakkuk, and Malachi. 
They are like unto John on the island of Patmos.

In these days do not trust in political solutions, says the Lord. Do not trust in the arm of flesh. Do you not remember that the arm of Flesh will fail you, you dare not trust your own?  

Put on the gospel armor, put on each piece with prayer and stand firm uniting your shields in faith. Then take up the sword of the spirit which is the word of God and pray with perseverance in the Spirit for all the saints.

Did I not take Nebuchadnezzar off his throne and make him eat grass like a cow for seven years. Did I not and then restore him to his throne and make him give testimony to the whole world that I am the one who put kings on their thrones and I overrule the affairs of men, and that I can take the proud and crush them into dust.

Did I not give Daniel favor before kings without compromising his faith in me? Did I not close the mouths of lions before Daniel and keep the fire from Shadrach, Meshach & Abednego? Did I not give Ezra favor with Cyrus to rebuild the house of the Lord in Jerusalem and then Nehemiah favor to rebuild the walls?

Can your governments pass any law that I cannot overrule?  Can any dictator challenge my power?  So why do you keep placing your hope and your trust in the arm of flesh in these evil days?

When I call you to step out of the boat and walk on the water with me, will you keep your eyes on me or will you be in fear of the waves rolling around you? Will you walk with me on the waves or continue to trust in a boat made with human hands?

Can I not prepare a table for you in the presence of your enemies? In my arms can anything touch you unless I permit it? Keep your eyes on me and you will face the lions without fear. Keep your eyes on me and you will face the fire and the sword surrounded with my peace which the world cannot give.

Keep your eyes on me and you will walk to me on top of the waves of turmoil that are coming up in the world.

Put your eyes on me, now step out of the boat and walk with me on the waves.


______________________________________


For some time I have been seeking the Lord for wisdom regarding the moral and political direction of the church in our increasingly pagan culture. I have had parts of the exhortation shared above for some time, but a few weeks ago I woke up early Sunday and the words of this exhortation came so clearly into my spirit that I immediately got up and wrote it down. 

The Lord is not leading us to stay out of politics…Daniel was a prophetic and political figure in his times. God is reminding us not to trust in political solutions, to not compromise our faith, and He is exhorting us to trust Him and learn to follow. “Dare to be a Daniel…” (Do you remember the rest of that old SS chorus?) Oh how we need more young and old Daniels today.

Feel free to share as you feel led. Click here for a pdf

Please take time to read:
 "A WORD ABOUT THE ELECTION"  
R. Loren Sandford  - Prophetic Moments #94..

Blessings,
Dave 

Friday, October 14, 2016

Culture and Ministry Post

Yesterday I attended a "withinREACH" pastors luncheon on raising our evangelistic temperature. The feature speaker was Rick Richardson who shared an organic Church Evangelism Initiative which incorporates with the BLESS missional practices (B-Begin with Prayer, L-Listen, E-Eat, S-Serve, S-Story). I feel this could be helpful here in Omaha.

I so appreciated Rick's triangle illustration on maintaining balance in ministry (Upward-Worship, Inward-Fellowship, Outward-Outreach). I hope we don't skip too quickly over the upward and inward evaluations in our enthusiasm to reach those farthest from Jesus...which leads to the purpose of this post.

Like many of you I have condensed my internet reading down to a few selected sites and blogs. One of mine is James Emery White. I read his most recent blog this morning, which was suspiciously timely after our luncheon yesterday, "Three Ways Meck Could Have Been Much Bigger Than It Is... that I don't regret" (see below)

James Emery White is the founding and senior pastor of Mecklenburg Community Church in Charlotte, NC, and the ranked adjunctive professor of theology and culture at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary, where he also served as their fourth president. His latest book is "The Rise of the Nones: Understanding and Reaching the Religiously Unaffiliated."

Blessings, Dave




Vol. 12, No. 81 
Last week marked Meck’s 24th anniversary, a church I had the privilege of planting in October 1992 and where I have served as pastor ever since. We started humbly with 112 people in a tropical storm. Over the years we’ve grown to around 10,000 active attenders, with 40,000 or so in our wider orbit.

In the spirit of our anniversary, my last blog was about the three ways Meck could have been much bigger than it is that I deeply regret. You can read it here.

As I wrote in the earlier blog, bigger isn’t everything, I know. It’s not even always better. But I am from the school of thought that numbers matter because they represent people, and people matter. So how you “get” those numbers matters, too.

So here’s the second installment: Three ways Meck could have been bigger that I do not regret.


1. I could have sacrificed my family.

Without a doubt, Meck would be much larger than it is today if I had sacrificed my family on the altar of ministry.

I didn’t.

And I’m glad.

While my kids were at home, I refused the vast majority of night meetings and events. I set aside weekly “Family Days” to spend with my wife and children. I worked hard and put in my fair share of hours, but not at the expense of my family.

The result?

Maybe a smaller church, but a much stronger family. And a family that loves the church. So many “PKs” do not. All four of my children are in fulltime vocational ministry.

All four.

If you want more details on this, I outlined a bit more about raising “PKs” in my book What They Didn’t Teach You in Seminary (Baker).

2. I could have focused on transfer growth.


At Meck, we aren't attempting to lure believers from other churches by having glitzier services and better programs.

We’re trying to turn atheists into missionaries.

And that’s hard.

We would be so much bigger if we focused on transfer growth. Quite frankly, that’s easy.

Think of it this way:

Imagine that someone wants to fly from Charlotte to Atlanta. When making their flight reservation, they will make a consumer decision based on flight times, costs, customer service, etc.

Getting them to switch from, say, Delta to American is easy. Just offer them a better deal, better experience and better service. Why is it easy?

THEY WANT TO FLY.

Now think about someone who not only does not want to fly from Charlotte to Atlanta; they do not even like airplanes! Or airports! Or flying!

Think about what it would take to get them to book a flight, drive to the airport, park their car, go through security, wait at the gate, and sit down in seat 13C.

Like I said, transfer growth is so much easier than conversion growth. And Meck would be so much bigger if that was our focus.

And I am so glad it’s not.

I’m kind of a Great Commission guy.

I think Jesus was, too.

3. I could have avoided talking about controversial social issues and theology, and made each service a pep rally.


Many believe that the popularity and success of Billy Graham was due, in large part, to keeping his evangelistic voice without falling into a prophetic voice.

In like manner, I’ve often heard pastors, particularly of large churches, say that they do not want to speak out on the issues of the day for the sake of keeping their focus on the gospel and not alienating people on the front end.

But this would be a gross misunderstanding of not only Graham, but evangelism itself.

Graham took stands against racism and many other social ills of his day, often at great personal cost. He was an evangelist, to be sure, but the lesson he learned was not to avoid social issues, but to avoid politics. In fact, his involvement in politics early on in his ministry, particularly with Richard Nixon, proved to be one of his greatest regrets. He also learned to avoid the minor theological arguments that divided Christians – the nonessentials.

He stuck to the “mere Christianity” of C.S. Lewis.

But never at the expense of orthodoxy.

And never at the expense of social issues in general.

Graham took on the biggest issue of his day: segregation.

And he never lost his evangelistic voice along the way. In fact, his was the greatest voice of his generation.

Does this thin out the crowd? Yes, in a very Jesusy way. Do you remember what He said when the crowds got a little big about eating flesh and drinking blood? And the scriptural narrative notes that many then stopped flocking to His side?

You can almost hear the thoughts of Jesus in the background:

“So much the better.”

The goal wasn’t simply numbers.

The goal was disciples.

The goal is not to avoid offending people. It’s to offend them with the scandal of truth, the scandal of the gospel, the scandal of submission, at every appropriate point.

Jesus made it very clear that He did not come to bring peace but a sword, and rumor has it His own life did not end in a crowning but a crucifying.

And at the end, He had very few followers rallying around the foot of the cross.

But I am so glad He went there.

James Emery White


Monday, July 18, 2016

Dave's Blog on Culture and Ministry

I will be creating a separate blog for sharing what we are learning on the Cultural Battle, Helping to prepare for difficult times and Insights from ministry.  For now it needs to be combined with our personal update in Mailchimp.  We will be getting a personal ministry update out soon.  -Dave

There are two items on my heart in this post:
  • Preparing for Difficult Times 
  • An increase in spiritual attacks trying to take out leaders in areas of Relationships, Weariness and Life Threatening Health Issues.  At the end is a brief Scriptural study titled "Do Not Grow Weary."

Preparing for Difficult Times 
Like many of  you I am closely watching and praying into the growing instability, lawlessness, violence and terrorism. The American Lifestyle is now mostly given over to immorality, self-gratification, hedonism and paganism

There is a growing intolerance of lifestyle Biblical Christianity. Our legal system is becoming biased against Biblical values and justice is being perverted (Habakkuk 1:1-5).  And it is happening faster than anyone thought.

I am so saddened that so many churches, ministries and believers are just rolling over and compromising their faith in fear, moral weakness or for expediency. Expediency is defined as "...being convenient and practical despite possibly being improper or immoral."

Do not trust in political solutions..."The Arm of Flesh will Fail You, Put on the Gospel Armor..." Most politicians today speak like Absalom, saying whatever is needed to get elected or re-elected. I am shocked at how many Christians and "Christian Politicians" are compromising for expediency.
Christians should be involved in politics as righteous salty salt to help slow down corruption  in our culture, but only by being the light in this world Jesus talked about will bring any real change. The reality of being Jesus light in this world is that "everyone who does evil hates the light."  -John 3:16-21

The wickedness of our nation has come up before God. Prophetic warnings today like Jeremiah's and Jonah's are being ignored and itis my personal leading that, without a Nineveh like repentance God is sending us into a "A Season In Babylon" to wake up His church...US!

In March of 2015 I wrote: "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."

Like Israel we are going to be tested in our faith as never before...Read I Peter 4:12-19.

It is also important to note that, during his time in captivity, Daniel affected Babylon more than Babylon affected him! And so can we too, if we "Dare to be a Daniel..."

It is time for us followers of Jesus to do more than just quote II Chronicles 7:14.  Here it is in context:
13 “When I shut up the heavens so that there is no rain, or command locusts to devour the land or send a plague among my people, 14 if my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land. 15 Now my eyes will be open and my ears attentive to the prayers offered in this place.
Both after the Orlando and Dallas shootings I received requests from some civic leaders as to what the churches in Omaha were doing in prayer and response. Thankfully there was a good spontaneous response from some...but many more need to be mobilizing at this time... There is an undercurrent of fear in our nation and responsible leaders are searching for real answers...now is the time to demonstrate the power of real Christlike faith. 

The future of our nation is not yet set. I feel that while we urgently call the church to repentance and righteousness in a way that transforms our culture, we also need to prepare for difficult times and increased persecution. I am working with some others on resources to help us prepare...one of which is a book by Carl Gallups, a former policeman turned pastor titled "Be Thou Prepared: Equipping the Church for Persecution and Times of Trouble" ($10.88 on Amazon).


Increase Prayer for Leaders under Increased Attack:
In ministry this year we have noticed a lot of leaders are coming under increased levels of spiritual attack. The attacks are coming in various ways but especially in areas of Relationships, Weariness and Life Threatening Health Issues.


Have you noticed that there has been a significant decrease in healings in the body over the last 20 years?   Sheryl and I are currently leading a prayer team for a close friend who has ALS (Lou Gehrig's disease) and will be sharing more of what we are learning in future posts.

Many in the Body of Christ, especially many ministry leaders, are struggling with weariness right now, Below are some scriptures with insights I am using with leaders on weariness from my own ongoing struggle in this area. You can download it in pdf here


DO NOT GROW WEARY...
Dave Gehrls ~ dave@cfci.org

Rev 2:3
"and you have perseverance and have endured for My name’s sake, and have not grown weary." 
This was written to one of the seven types of churches during the last days who had persevered, endured and had not grown weary...which implies that weariness will be attacking many in the last days.


Matthew 11:28-29
“Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls." 
When we are weary and heavy-laden Jesus encourages us to come unto Him for an exchange. If our yoke is heavy and causing weariness maybe we have taken up a task that He has not authorized or we are trying to accomplish an assignment in our own strength.


Hebrews 12:1-3
Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. For consider Him who has endured such hostility by sinners against Himself, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.  
When we stand with that great cloud of witnesses, with the heroes of faith, those martyred and those who suffered great persecution... how will we stand with confidence unless our commitment and sacrifice is any less than total surrender to our Lord Jesus.


Gal 6:9-10
"Let us not lose heart in doing good, for in due time we will reap if we do not grow weary. So then, while we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, and especially to those who are of the household of the faith." 
Those on your ministry team are your primary household of faith, so team members who first care and look for opportunities to do good to each other help to combat weariness and enables the whole team to better care for others and accomplish your mission.  

Some leaders are so mission focused that they miss some God's deeper leave causalities from their team cast aside in their wake. This is not God's way, and while we all need to be ready to lay down our lives, "No one left behind!" should also be true of every ministry team.

At our human best we all are clay pots with lots of cracks. God involves us in team mission because it is in the "Hothouse" of ministry that character issues surface and therein are  opportunities to becoming more Christ-like.  So in this performance based world,
while we are focused on accomplishing our mission, God is focused on what we become more than what we can do or accomplish...

...Therefore, strengthen the hands that are weak and the knees that are feeble, and make straight paths for your feet, so that the limb which is lame may not be put out of joint, but rather be healed.  -Hebrews 12:12-13 


  

Thursday, June 30, 2016

Sheryl and I are up north again on one of our Ministry/Family/Downtime trips. We will be offline (no Cell or Internet) from Thur afternoon through Sunday afternoon.in a cabin deep in the woods off Lake Superior and not far from the Canadia.  We will be home the evening of the 4th.

We are so thankful that we have not had Homicides for a while, but just in case Pastor Bruce will be coordinating with our lead team of Dave Wininger, Al Harrell, Todd Johnson and Jami Anders.

Last Saturday up here we facilitated our third team ministry time to one of my oldest friends with ALS. We are all believing God's word, seeking and asking for a miracle healing. So far the only leading I feel strongly from the Lord is to "Pray Aggressively and not Dilly-Dally".

Tuesday night Sheryl and I celebrated 47 years together with a worderluf dinner at Norway Ridge way back in the woods north of Brainerd between to lakes.  This was so special for us as last year at this time I was just a few days from bypass. We are so thankful to the Lord for giving us a bit more time on earth together.  I ofthe remind Sheryl that the longer we are here together the shorter we will be appart. 


Tomorrow we head north to check up on some leaders we cared for earlier this spring and for a couple days in a cabin on a lake and then exploring and fishing on lakes we used to camp on with youth...many from Omaha churches and youth ministries in North Omaha...one year I took 10 Sudanese refugee teens into this special wilderness where we have seen many Divine connections. I love tent camping in the Boundary Waters but this trip is Cabin and motorized fishing boat....👬

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

"THINK"




My earliest memories of South Dakota go back to about 1952 in my Grandpa's blacksmith shop in Mt Vernon just west of Mitchell. During trips, I saw the "Think" signs on all the roads around South Dakota. I soon learned that they marked the place where someone died in a accident.

I didn't know any names behind those signs until 1964, when two of my high school classmates were killed at a remote rural intersection.

I still travel those roads several times a year for ministry, pheasant hunting and to visit friends, ministry partners, and lots of cousins. The "Think" signs still draw my attention, causing me to wonder why other states don't use these sobering reminders.



Last week I was driving I-90 just East of Mitchell on a ministry trip...
I knew about where to look and found them between mile markers 347 & 348.


Many of you instantly know the names behind these signs and, like me, your heart stirs in an emotional mix of memories, feelings and still unanswered questions...

When I stopped on the side of the road to take these pictures, I took time to remember Ty & Terri Schenzel and Ryan & Emily Hrubes in prayer. I never did get the name of the man who was driving on the wrong side and hit them head on... 
Instantaneously promoting Ty, Terri and Ryan into the presence of the Lord Jesus.










I don't want to be morbid, but you can still see where the fire burned so hot it baked and cracked the concrete. As I remembered and prayed, I felt like this was now sanctified ground. Sanctified means "set apart to God", much like a church sanctuary is dedicated as a place we set apart for God's purposes.

Could we agree together in prayer that everyone who passes over this little piece of interstate and sees the four "Think" signs would be prompted by God's Spirit to consider their own mortality and eternal destiny?


There are always several Divine purposes at work simultaneously when loved ones are taken like this. After 45 years Sheryl and I still have times when we remember our first daughter, Renee, who was with us 9 months in Sheryl's womb and just 8 hours after birth... no newborn cry, no opportunity to hold her or get a picture.

Whenever we hear of a couple who lost their baby, we can reach out to them in a way only parents who have lost a child can. I remember praying "Lord, our first-born is with you, so I am asking and believing that our other children will be strong and healthy." We had some close calls but are so thankful for healthy kids and nine grandkids. I seldom get upset at a crying child, because when you hear that cry... They are breathing!

I remember standing with Ty at a First Responders PrayerWalk on the site where a Hope Center Kid was murdered, and I could feel the pain in his heart. Thus, I sense there may be a broader message when we see the front and back of the "Think" signs side by side... You can look at these signs in either order and make a connection to part of the vision, purpose and plan from God's heart which was to become the Hope Center.

















First Responders Homicide PrayerWalks, The Hope Center, Christ For The City International, and many other ministries are called to save lives not only in this world but into the next...

Sheryl and I have the privilege to be part of a team that prays at the Hope Center with the staff, collectively and individually, for an hour each month.


Prayer Requests:
Sheryl and I leave tomorrow for another trip to Northern Minnesota. Friday morning, we will be meeting 
near Brainerd with my childhood friend Lanny, his wife Mary and three other couples Lanny invited to join us in prayer. Many of you may remember that he was recently diagnosed with ALS (Lou Gehrig's Disease). Please join us in praying aggressively for this couple, who have been a huge support not only to us over the years, but to many others serving the Lord around the world.

Sunday and Monday we will be checking in with our long term ministry friends up along the North Shore who are coming out of a time of personal and ministry crisis.

Sheryl and I are so grateful to have been able to serve the Lord vocationally for over 45 years, and we are especially thankful to each of you who have faithfully partnered with us through prayer and financial support. You have personally cared for us in too many ways to mention here! 


Over the last several months, several of our financial donors have had to cut back or drop off because of their own financial situations. but continue to partner with us in prayer and encouragement. Please pray with us that the Lord will raise up others to help meet our ongoing needs.

Thank You for praying and caring as the Lord leads. Everyday we feel the Lord is restoring, refueling and equipping us for our part in the challenging days ahead.

Blessings,
Dave & Sheryl

Wednesday, April 6, 2016


To Family & Friends:
Sheryl and I just returned from a special ministry trip up north to care for some leaders and dear friends in crisis. Many of you were praying and God presence was so strong in our times together.

We can share about one visit. Lanny LeDoux is our longest term ministry partner and has faithfully prayed with great wisdom and authority. Lanny was a classmate of Ray Mayhew at Bethany and about a month ago was diagnosed with ALS (Lou Gehrig's Disease). Barring a Divine Healing he may have as little as a year to live.

We are committed to stand with Lanny and Mary as they have stood with us. We joined with several of his close friends to share and pray in this first session and hope to meed again at the end of April.  

Sheryl has been encouraging me to separate our ministry updates from my cultural commentaries and causes. But being classic ADD, I don't easily separate these things. I would rather write about what is affecting our culture and what God is saying and doing during these challenging days than write a support update...even if it means at times writing more about what others are doing.

The Kingdom of God is far bigger than what any one church, ministry or person is doing and when we pray and bless others God doesn't forget our needs. Pray for one another so you may be healed. "The effective prayer of a righteous man can accomplish much." James 5:16

I am convinced God has prepared Sheryl and me for a role in helping prepare believers for the challenging days ahead...and while I am working on a blog to speak into those things, it is a ways off, so for now our ministry update still serves both purposes.

Thank You for your prayers and partnership in serving the Lord Jesus.

This morning I responded to some items in the Omaha news with a letter to the editor of the Omaha World Herald. I don't know if they will use it but am including it below.

Blessings,
Dave & Sheryl
April 5, 2016:

"Car runs red light, hits mail truck, driver suspected of DUI"
"Passenger freed from truck wreck, driver faces DUI charge"
"Awaiting sentencing for motor vehicle homicide, arrested for armed robbery"

These are three overnight headlines from just one TV station this morning in Omaha regarding DUI related crashes.  Am I the only one feeling that DUI related incidents have increased significantly the last few years? When I was younger there was a saying "Nothing good happens after midnight." Now it is mostly after 2:00 AM ever since Omaha gave the bars another hour a few years ago.

I found an interesting 2010 OWH news article: Update: Mayor Supports Extending Bar Closing Time To 2am The reasoning, to quote then Mayor Suttle: "This is an opportunity for our city to stay competitive with other metropolitan areas and puts Omaha on similar footing as cities such as Denver, Colorado, that have a 2am last call,”

The article goes on to say that "All the states that border Nebraska let bars stay open until 2 a.m. Those in favor of a later closing time say we're losing money to our neighbors across the bridge."

In another quote Mayor Suttle said, “This proposed ordinance makes our community more competitive in attracting events that bring people to our city, which grows our local economy. This change is an opportunity for our city that we should not let pass us by.”

Do these arguments sound familiar...just like the current ones with Nebraska legalizing gambling and marijuana?

Here is a link to the current battle over marijuana: 'The diversion of marijuana into my state has been fierce': Nebraska AG testifies in D.C. about effects of Colorado pot legalization

And you can get good info regarding the current battle regarding gambling from my good friend Pat Loontjer with Gambling With The Good LIfe

So has anyone done a study on the increase in DUI related costs in property, income, human life and for families since changing the bar closing times?

So now we not only give drinkers another hour any night of the week to get completely plastered before getting behind the wheel...hoping they get safely home to families harmed by their drinking... we are actually considering letting them do so while legally high and after losing family income at casinos... just so our city and state can get a bigger percentage of the cut...

Musings from a concerned Nebraska Grandpa... Dave Gehrls