Ted Olbrich preaches and Holy Spirit baptism

Having leaders from Asia in Bangkok for the Beth Barone conference gave us a wonderful treat this Sunday. Ted Olbrich, Foursquare missionary to Cambodia, gave the sermon at Our Home Chapel on Sunday morning. I was excited as I grew up with him as my pastor during my teenage years, prior to Life Bible College www.lifepacific.edu Ted never comes short on stories, so let me briefly give the long intro story to his powerful message. This goes for a while, but it is all good…

Every year they bring a medical mission team to Cambodia and take them to remote parts of the country to give care to the poorest and most untouched by medicine. As the ministry has grown over the ten years that the Olbrich’s have been in Cambodia (read more here http://www.missionreports.com/cambodia/) , the number of people touched continues to grow. Cambodia now has more than 3,000 foursquare churches compared to two in 1998. Matching the essence of compassion for the least and the lost, orphans, widows, poor and sick with an outpouring of the Holy Spirit has seen an explosive growth of churches and revival in Cambodia.

Two years ago near the Thailand border; they set up a medical mission team. They had to basically set up a village to house and sanitize the thousands of sick Cambodians that would be treated that week, roughly 15,000. They usually pulled together 250 pastors, church members and volunteers willing to stage the mission for six weeks prior to the team coming and through the time the team were serving. During all this one of the pastors from the Southeast of Cambodia thought how wonderful it would be to have the same thing in his community one day. However, he never told the missionary or national leader of his desire.

When Ted and the national leader prayed about where to hold the outreach last year, they felt God prompt them to hold it in that pastor’s community (he is the district supervisor in that area). Ted went on to tell the story of this pastor, let’s call him Doug.

Doug had been a longtime member of the Khmer Rouge holding out in the last region to surrender in 1998. He was a rich and brutal general under the devastating regime. Meanwhile in Phnom Pen, another guy from that same Southeast Region made his way to the capitol to see about this church that cared for the orphans. After finding Jesus, he was commissioned as an evangelist back to his home.

This year, 1999, brought a drought to the SE region where Doug had his 40 cattle (a sign of great wealth), big house, cable TV and other luxuries. Doug decided he should move the cattle to a place with food, so he had his son take them north. While the son was feeding the cattle, the evangelist from Phnom Pen went walking through that area. The son intersected him and gave his heart to Jesus. After only a few hours with the man, the son was left to continue caring for the animals, now a Christian with only the knowledge that Jesus had forgiven his sins by dying on the cross.

A little while later, the son was lying down to nap when he heard a voice. He jumped up, looked around, and when he saw nothing decided to try to sleep again. A second time he heard the noise, jumped up saying I heard you this time…show yourself. Again he saw nothing, so he tried to get some sleep. A third time he heard the voice, and this time heard Jesus say, I am Jesus Christ, will you follow me. At this he hired a local guy to watch the cattle, and went from village to village preaching Jesus and proclaiming the great peace that he now possessed in Christ Jesus.

When Doug heard about this, he was livid. He grabbed his machete to kill his son, saying I spent a lifetime trying to destroy this God. After searching the villages to no avail, he returned to find his house in shambles, the furniture destroyed, property burning and his wife and children chased off into the forest. He was ruined. He decided that the joy he saw in the faces of the new Christians that were hiding his son was better than the emptiness and loss he felt. He grabbed a servant, and told him to find his son…he wanted to know about the God that brought all that joy to the people. Now Doug, a district supervisor of pastors, and his eight sons are all ministers in Cambodia. And the medical outreach was coming to his region. He said he wanted to host the outreach to bring healing to a place where he had brought such suffering.

Now, Ted had 40 doctors and medical personal from the west and 200-250 Cambodian workers ready to go with the outreach. The national leader wanted a church service to kick off the event, and he convinced Ted to preach with all the foreigners there. This was the text he used…Jeremiah 22:1-5. He prefaced this with the fact this is his least favorite book in the Bible. His summary, God is mad, I am mad, you are bad. But this passage is what God wanted him to speak on.

1 This is what the LORD says: “Go down to the palace of the king of Judah and proclaim this message there: 2 ‘Hear the word of the LORD, O king of Judah, you who sit on David’s throne—you, your officials and your people who come through these gates. 3 This is what the LORD says: Do what is just and right.
Rescue from the hand of his oppressor the one who has been robbed. Do no wrong or violence to the alien, the fatherless or the widow, and do not shed innocent blood in this place. 4 For if you are careful to carry out these commands, and then kings who sit on David’s throne will come through the gates of this palace, riding in chariots and on horses, accompanied by their officials and their people. 5 But if you do not obey these commands, declares the LORD, I swear by myself that this palace will become a ruin.’ ”

Basically, you will get the government you deserve. Secondly, Execute judgment and righteousness. Judgment now has been taken care of on the cross, but what is this do righteousness about? We often see righteousness about not doing things, but he defined it as doing the right things God has called us to. Then he went into a summary of Jesus’ life.

Jesus being the son of God was born to Mary. He was raised by Joseph and Mary, still God’s son. He grew up learning carpentry from his father even as he was the son of God. The Bible tells about a time when he went with his family to Jerusalem and wandered over to have a conversation with the teachers of the law (God’s law). His razzle dazzled them with his great knowledge for a few days before Mary and Joseph finally found him. The Bible goes on to say he grew in wisdom (imagine how much wisdom he had at 29 if that is what he had at 12), stature, and favor with God and man. Jesus, the son of God, was well liked by the community and God at 29. Isn’t that what we would all want? But that changed.

At around 30-years-old, he went to find John the Baptist (who said, behold the Lamb of God, whose sandals I am unfit to carry). Jesus wanted to be baptized. John tried to detour him, saying I should be baptized by you. But what did Jesus say…

Matthew 3:15Jesus replied, “Let it be so now; it is proper for us to do this to fulfill all righteousness.”

Righteousness…doing the things that are right in God’s eyes. Then what happened. The Holy Spirit descended on Jesus. He was empowered by God’s spirit, and he went in to the desert for 40 days of fasting. At the end of which, the devil came to tempt him. A side note: The devil will come when you are the weakest, not when you are strong and ready. But what happened next? Jesus went to his home church (synagogue) and opened the scroll of Isaiah, saying he was the anointed one.

Luke 4:18 “The Spirit of the Lord is on me,
because he has anointed me
to preach good news to the poor.
He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners
and recovery of sight for the blind,
to release the oppressed,
19to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.”

On hearing this, the town wanted to throw Jesus off a cliff. Why did this change? Jesus went from being the well-liked son of a carpenter to hated. The empowering of the Holy Spirit can do this to us. Jesus wasn’t dangerous to the devil until he was filled with the Holy Spirit. That is why Satan tried so hard to knock him off. Ted went on to say we can stay comfortable in our carpentry shop, or we can let God pour his Spirit into us. Jesus told us, that we being evil (basically of this world) know how to give good gifts, how much more will our father in heaven give to us generously (the Holy spirit) if we ask.

Jesus also said you will have living waters flowing out of your bellies (John 7:37-39), speaking of the Holy Spirit. We often let God pour into us, but put a lid on it keeping the goodness for our self. But Jesus intended for us to have his Spirit to flow out of us as a blessing to others. At this Ted getting animated, pulled the cap off of his water bottle, saying God wants us to get people wet with the Spirit, and demonstrated what he meant by throwing the water over all of us sitting there. God wants to give us his Spirit to empower us to do what Jesus did. If we want to see the signs and wonders of the Bible, we need his spirit to se the dead raised, the blind see, the lame walk and so on.

He went on to invite any who wanted to be filled with the Holy Spirit to come forward. He taught a little more about what this meant beginning in Acts 2. Yes it made people think the disciples were crazy or drunk. He said, you don’t have to speak in tongues, but you get to. Maybe the Sunday service is not the best place for that, but speak in tongues in worship times, prayer times and for personal edification. He also encouraged the m to pray in tongues when you don’t know what to say, or when you want to keep the devil from hearing (it is a devil-proof code).

He taught from Ephesians 19, where Paul found a group of disciples in Ephesus who hadn’t even heard of the Holy Spirit. But when the spirit came on them, they began to change the city with power and miracles. We have the choice to stay comfortable or have the power of God in us (which might unsettle people around us and especially the powers of darkness). The response was incredible as a number of the people in the service came forward to prayed for, baptized in the Spirit (when we are born again, we are born of the spirit, but when we are filled with the spirit we are empowered with the Holy Spirit). This has been long enough, but I wanted to share the good things God is doing in Our Home Chapel.

More thoughts from the Beth Barone Conference…connecting with friends, Paul and Lori Vernon

Catching up with friends and meeting new mission-minded people might be my favorite benefit of this seminar and most conferences. Even though we live in the same country, we don’t get to see Paul and Lori (and their 18-month-old daughter Abby) Vernon enough.

The Vernon’s http://loriandpaul.hopedenver.com/index.php are great people serving the Akha people in the far north of Thailand. The Akha comprise roughly 2.5 million tribal people living in the hills of Burma, Thailand, Southern China, Laos and Vietnam. The Vernon’s are one of only a handful of people who speak the language, and they are totally immersed in the culture to help support the people.

Paul and Lori work as Foursquare  Missionaries serving an Akha foundation based in Chiang Rai, Thailand. Their stories are incredible, and their experiences will blow you away. The Akha live in the hills and work the land or make crafts, trying to live a self-sufficient life. They have no concept of the global financial crisis as they see it reported on the news. The Akha are a communal society with a totally different culture than our modern western lifestyle could fathom in a little note here.

Stay connected with the Vernon’s, and you will be enriched.

Beth Barone and the bus illustration

In the session on answering questions, Beth Barone talked to us about being ready for the questions people have. I Peter 3:15 tells us to be ready to give an answer, and in gentleness and respect (that is a key). Often we know this as having an answer to why we believe in Christ or a foundational, Theological point. We also need to see this in answering questions of service and community.

This tool helps you respect people and answer the questions people have even if they don’t ask them, like the natural questions we have. We don’t want people to feel awkward for not asking the question. An example of the natural questions we have is when we come over for dinner tonight, do what time do you want us to go home. When we are working in ministry with people, they have about the team, vision and leader.

Beth went to Starbucks to ask people what are the questions you would have if you went to my church. She found they often fall into seven categories. If you want people to get on the bus, and you don’t answer the questions they have, they won’t go with you. Here are the questions people have when they are thinking about getting on the bus.
1. Can the bus driver drive the bus, or what qualifies the leader to lead? Jesus knows what questions people had and answered them sensitively. What makes a pastor qualified, God’s calling and design. This does not mean we need ceo’s to be the pastor. There can be a shepherd or teacher, and this is too much to get into here.
2. Where is the bus going? This question is what most splits are over. We are on a bus to Arizona, but some people want to go to Disneyland.
3. How much will it cost for me to come with? She told a story of a guy in the questioning experiment. The older, surly man said he hadn’t been in a church service for thirty years. Why…because no one told him about this tithe thing. Beth told him, you don’t have to give; tithe comes from your heart. The man replied, what do they want, my soul? This question of cost reminded me of a question in my Bible College class on Spiritual Disciplines. We were discussing the cost of being a disciple of Jesus. They asked why do we tell them how easy it is to be part of the church and become a Christian, and then tell them it costs everything to be a disciple. The student went on asking, isn’t that like a bait and switch.
People want to know what it costs to follow Jesus as well as what it costs to be part of the ministry team in whatever ministry we are a part of. We need to be prepared to explain what we are requiring or asking, and not soft sell them…be honest.
4. How long will it take to get there? Are we there yet, are we there yet? Jesus said no one knows the time. Jesus used a different clock then we use. He often said, the time is come, or the time is at hand. I find it interesting that even Jesus as part of the trinity didn’t know the time. We will know the time has come if we keep are eyes open and our spirit ready.
5. What route are using to get there? She told a personal story with her husband about how people often think different. She began to think of what route she would take to get to a place, and every time her husband would go another way than she predicted. Noticing that she was unhappy with the route, her husband asked what was wrong. She asked why are you going this way? He said this is the most direct route to which she responded, but if we go this other way we could wave at Stella who sits on the porch everyday (bound by a wheelchair). We often want to know how are we getting to the goal? Jesus said, enter through the narrow gate, and I am the way, the truth and the life. Jesus is the way to get to the goal of any ministry. We need to be explaining the how to people.
6. Where is my seat? Why am I noting an elder? Jesus said the greatest will be a servant. We often have a hard time being corrected, because we attach our value to the correction. We need to give people value in God before we give them responsibility. I remember Daniel Brown talking about their church letting people sit and become part of the community before giving them a task.
7. What do we do when we get there? Jesus said come take your inheritance and enter the kingdom of God. We need to know what we want of people when we accomplish the goal. Does it mean we stay here and hang out in this ministry, or do we get on another bus to go somewhere else?
As a leader, are we prepared to give answers to people wanting to get on the bus? One point that came out of this session was that when we are prepared, the Holy Spirit will lead people to leaders with answers.

Beth Barone, the doing and being balance

One of the seminar sessions with Beth Barone’s teaching on FIT (Friends in Training) talked about the four crosses. The crosses were that of Jesus and us. Wait, what…us… That’s Right Jesus told us to deny ourselves and pick up our cross in Matthew 10. But why four crosses?

The question she posed regarding Jesus and the cross was when did Jesus lay down his life for the cross, in the garden or on the cross? The answer was both. He had to wrestle with the Father to place himself under his will during that time in the garden. However, he still had to fulfill that by doing the sacrifice, going through the beating (by his stripes we are healed) and being put on the cross.

Beth talked about being a Christian is living a balanced life. We have to walk the balance of being and doing. Beth defined ‘being’ as being in the will of God, and “doing’ as doing the will of God. I loved this talk of balance. I often hear the one side talk about we are not human doings, we are human beings. I also know our culture loves doing and doing to perform. The balance is necessary.

The four crosses is us taking the same attitude as that of Jesus, Phil 2:5-11. As Jesus surrendered and sacrificed, being and doing God’s will, we too have to surrender and sacrifice, doing and being in God’s will. If we want to gain Jesus and what God has for us we need to lose ourselves. There is a two part process, denying ourselves and second killing the world (what good is it to gain the whole world and lose your life). We have to be first and do out of the being.

I am curious on her take with the spiritual disciplines. We do things like fast, pray, worship, serve and so on in order to work on our character and shaping by God, our ‘being’.

The essence of her session came in this statement. The evidence of a balanced life is humbly serving. In Philippians 2, Jesus humbled himself taking the form of a servant.

Beth Barone and the definition of born again

The conference is on part Education and one part discussion. In the first session, I learned something fantastic in our discussion. One of the questions was how do you define born again in your own words? Beth had talked earlier on living in God’s world is so different than living in the world we know and understand separate from God. She shared about the change of life one of her adopted sons had from being an orphan in Bulgaria for seven years. He basically lived in a cage. He had never seen stairs for the first seven years of his life. He didn’t know how to walk up and down stairs. We see reality in what we have experienced. We only know what we have learned, and God wants to show us soooo much more.

In our small group discussion, Mike Field, a missionary from Australia to Papua New Guinea, shared an incredible illustration. He said his family was boat people. Generations ago, they were loaded on a boat in England and shipped to Australia, as place to put criminals. He was born in another land not on anything he had done, but because of the consequences of his family. He wasn’t a citizen of England but now a citizen of Australia. He is stuck with the consequences of his forefathers.

In the same way, we are not citizens of heaven no matter how good we are. Our citizenship was lost, and we need Jesus to get it back. We need to be born again into a spiritual kingdom. Our first birth is natural, and the second birth is spiritual.

How would you define born again to help shift the stereotype back into the authentic understanding of being born again.

Beth Barone and Pure Love

Beth Barone gives a great perspective from her life story (which comes most dramatically at the end of this post, so keep reading) and journey with God on emotional health and relational health. She has served with her husband Al in Foursquare as a missionary to Italy and pastor in the states. Now she travels and works with churches on how to give people God’s love in a healthy way. We are blessed right now to have her in Bangkok facilitating a seminar for leaders around Asia. This is the first conference for the new building known as a WorldBase for Foursquare Missions.

I wanted to give thoughts through the week on the conference and some of the things that stick out. I’ll start with the evening session titled Pure Love.

The premise goes back to the intentions God had for us in the garden. In Genesis 1:26-28 said, let us create man in our image. ‘Our’ includes the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. God is a relationship. Jesus said in remarking on the greatest commandment in Mark 12:31, Hear O’ Israel, the Lord your God, he is one.
He created man in body, soul and spirit. He gave man woman. As we show relationship in the perfect intention of God we reflect his image.
When man ate the fruit, the soul malfunctioned. Without relationship our soul dies, and with a broken relationship with God, our soul was messed up.
She gave a great word picture on why we have messed up relationships today. If you give a fish the choice between polluted water or no water, the fish will always choose polluted water. If we have to choose between polluted relationships or no relationship, we will always choose polluted relationships. Satan knows this and drives us to be in relationships that keep us from the healthy intentioned relationship God gave us. Here are some things that we do to strive for relationship or to have people accept us.
1. Fame
2. Good looks
3. Money
4. Power
5. Skills
6. Live through some one else
7. And the worst is admitting that we are no good to anyone…that leads to a really broken soul.

Beth talked about her story of being in a mental hospital as a teenager for multiple personality and schizophrenia. She heard voices and the people looked real to her, even though they weren’t there. Her mom tried telling her they are not real, but Beth told her mom, they say you are not real. She was put in the hospital and basically had the key thrown away. They thought she was beyond repair. But a church of 50 people decided they were going to reach her for God through love. They went down and sang songs to her and loved on her in such a way that opened her up to God.

She eventually was healed physically of her problems, but she had a long journey to walk with God to emotional healing.

God gave her a word picture to show her that he was there to love her and redeem her life. She saw a wall that was designed like a color by numbers. She was asked to paint the wall. She painted her best and gave it all she had. When she finished, God came to her and said you did real well; the paint is all in the right spots and colored clear inside the lines. However, the colors are all wrong, gray was blue, and brown was green. The picture looked all distorted. It didn’t look wrong to Beth, but she didn’t know better. God asked her who taught you these colors. He said, if you won’t blame the person who did this to you, I can teach you the right colors. He began to work her into truth.

He also said when you get into church don’t adopt some of the ‘lists’ they have.
1. Performance, we have to do the right things to earn people’s approval.
2. Shame, we have to hide the secret sins that shame us to keep from losing people’s acceptance, rejection.
3. Judgment, we use the first two lists to measure up how we perform or hide our secret sins with how others do.

When we can eliminate putting people on these lists or doing what it takes to be on this list, we begin to walk healthy. We do not need to perform for God’s approval. We have intrinsic value as a created being from the perfect maker. We don’t have to hide our sins, because all of us sin. We don’t have to put on a façade to keep peoples approval, and especially not God’s. He knows what we have done and loves us anyway. And when we confess and put it in the light we can overcome and move beyond our secret sins. Note: we need to be careful who we open up to and confess our secret sins. And when we live in freedom from having to perform for others or hide our sin, we no longer feel the urge to judge one another.

We need to humbly serve rather than judge, be vulnerable rather than private, and honest rather than putting on a performance.

Beth concluded this point with a powerful story. While she was in the mental institution, the doctor and some nurses would tie her up and sexually abuse her. She couldn’t do anything about this, because she was tied up. One time, she threatened to tell her mom, so the doctor burned her stomach with a cigarette telling her that if she told, she would have her eyes burned out. She never told.

Eventually, she was healed and released. She worked to put that nightmare and emotional damage of abuse and social rejection behind her and walk into a life of wholeness. Many years later, she was called as a witness in a trial. She didn’t get into the details of the trial, but it related to the hospital or a former worker at the hospital. She was not the victim. The defense tried to discredit her testimony by saying she was insane and locked up in a mental hospital. In order to verify that she was now sane, she had to be examined again.

After many years of being in the hospital, now she needed to be examined by a doctor again. The doctor happened to be the same one that violated her. The doctor was in a bind, because he had to say that she was credible (thus giving her legitimacy if she wanted to point the finger at him). When she finished her testimony, the judge looked at her and asked how her time of treatment was?

She looked at the doctor, much older, now fidgeting in his chair. She wanted desperately to bring him down, but she heard God speak to her. God wanted her to let him go, cut him loose as God had cut her loose and given her freedom. She fought with God internally, but succumbed, saying to the judge she was okay. The doctor let out a sigh of relief.

After she left the court room, the doctor caught up with her outside. He asked why didn’t you say something against me. She told him, that God had healed her and given her freedom. And he would one day face another judge who did know everything he had done. The long story short, the man gave his heart to God, radically changing his life one year before he died. Beth learned the lesson that God loved him as much as he loved her. That is pure love. The more we understand pure love and healthy love; we will help people get to the clean water and the clean relationships, living out God’s design for humanity.

Ravi Zacharias speaks with Hamas leader

I am still stuck on a story Ravi Zacharias told last weekend about an encounter he had with one of the leaders of Hamas. Sheikh Talal Sider, one of the four founders of Hamas, held an audience with Ravi and some other Christian leaders as they tried to help in the peace process between Palestine and Israel. The Arch Bishop of Canterbury, Canon Andrew White, brought a few Christian leaders to the Middle East to talk with leaders in the conflict. The Sheikh allowed each to ask one question.

Ravi put this story in many of his messages on what makes God, Jesus or even prayer unique as he did while giving the keynote address for the National Day of Prayer last year. http://www.rzim.org/USA/USFV/tabid/436/ArticleID/10018/CBModuleId/881/Default.aspx

But the last day, I saw one of the leaders of Hamas, one of the four founders. I went there for one reason; I had one question for him. He gave us a great meal, told us of eighteen years he’d served in prison, some of his children had been lost in suicide bombings, and this and that. And I had a question. I said, “Sheik, I may never see you again and forgive me if I’m asking you the wrong question. Please tell me, what do you think of suicide bombing and sending your children out like that?” I didn’t like his answer. I couldn’t say much. The room was full of smoke.

After he finished his answer, I said, “Sheik, you and I may never see each other again, so I want you to hear me. A little distance from here is a mountain upon which Abraham went 5,000 years ago to offer his son. You may say the son was one; I may say it’s another. Let’s not argue about that. He took his son up there. And as the axe was about to fall, God said, ‘Stop.’” I said, “Do you know what God said after that?” He shook his head. I said, “God said, ‘I myself will provide.’” He nodded his head. I said, “Very close to where you and I are sitting, Sheik, is a hill. Two thousand years ago, God kept that promise and brought his own Son and the axe did not stop this time. He sacrificed his own Son.”

I said, “Sheik, I just want you to hear this. Until you and I receive the Son God has provided, we’ll be offering our own sons and daughters on the battlefields of this world for many of the wrong reasons.”

It was quiet. We walked out and the Archbishop just put his arm around me. As I was about to get into the SUV, the Sheik came over and he just patted me on my face. He kissed me on both sides. He was a strong man; he pulled me to him. He said, “You’re a good man. I hope I will see you again someday.” That’s all he said.

I just say wow. In our meeting he went on to say, that until we accept God’s son, we’ll be sacrificing our sons for land, money, power or fame. Aside from the profound meaning of what he said, I can’t imagine the courage one would have to have to speak straight to the sheikh.