Such a short word. Yet, He is infinite.
He's so much bigger than we can understand, but He still wants to be near to us.
His Word tells us that He is near to the brokenhearted. Psalms also promises that He is near to all who call upon Him. The book of James says to draw near to God and He will draw near to you. Hebrews, Isaiah, Acts, Jeremiah and so many more books tell of the nearness of God.
It's so important for us to remember and proclaim these promises, especially when we are feeling far from God. Many times I've let my feelings get in the way of the truth of God's word. But, when we fill ourselves with His truth, the enemy's lies have no ground to stand.
We can trust our Father to be near always, even during the hard times.
We've been in Nashville for three months, but we've only been "on the ground" for a few weeks. We've been laying a foundation of prayer around the city for longer that I had planned.... but not longer than God had planned.
I want to give you some interesting facts about Nashville:
-13-15 mosques (depending where you draw the metro lines)
-Holds the largest Hindu Temple in Tennessee, along with 3 or 4 other temples
-9+ Buddhist temples
-A full scale replica of the Parthenon from ancient Athens, Greece with a 40+ ft statue covered in gold of Athena, Goddess of wisdom/war etc.
-14 metaphysical stores, also known as occult/pagan/witchcraft stores (to give you an idea, Houston metro has 7 million people and 9 metaphysical stores, Nashville has 1.7 million people and 14 stores) In fact, we ran into a witch casting spells at the capitol building during one of our prayer walks.
-Greek mythology is celebrated clearly through one of the city's nicknames, "The Athens of the South", to the football team, the Titans, and everywhere in between.
-The "heroes" of this town and state are men who brought slaves to build the first forts. They also wiped out the Native Americans that had lived here for centuries. The Trail of Tears you can actually walk on by the Cumberland river. Over 6000 died on that torturous trail. There's not even one reservation in Tennessee. The American Indians were all forced to go to Oklahoma.
-Slaves, hired by the government, built the capitol building, modeled after a Greek Ionic temple.
Lynchings were early in the state's history as well as Indian massacres.
-Besides Athena, the city literally raises up idols in the form of musicians.
I could seriously go on and on... But, I want to share another two nicknames of Nashville, "The Buckle of the Bible Belt," and "The Protestant Vatican."
Let that sink in for a little bit...
Are there Christians here? Absolutely. Are there Pharisees? Absolutely. Is there dead religion? Yes. Is there every form of evil? Yes. Is Nashville a very dark city? Undeniably, yes!
Is there a God who is bigger than all of it?? Praise the Lord, YES!!
Romans 5:20 says this, "But then Law came in, [only] to expand and increase the trespass [making it more apparent and exciting opposition]. But where sin increased and abounded, grace (God’s unmerited favor) has surpassed it and increased the more and superabounded,"
You see, where darkness seemingly reigns, God's grace has surpassed it!
Matthew 4:16, in referring to Isaiah 9, says, "“The people who were sitting in darkness saw a great Light,
And those who were sitting in the land and shadow of death, Upon them a Light dawned.”
And, in John 1:5, "The Light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it."
Jesus is the Light. In Romans 13:14, Paul says to "Put on Christ!" We must clothe ourselves with Jesus if we want to break through the darkness. We must abide in Him. We must rely on Him. For the sake of the many lost who don't know Him and don't understand Him.
I talked with one man here in Nashville whose daughters go to a local school in southern Nashville. There are people from 90 different countries in their school, speaking 100+ languages. NINETY! That is close to half of the nations in the world!
Then you have the Kurdish people. We are talking about a city with 600+ churches and a plethora of christian nonprofits, and yet, there are only two women missionally working full-time with Kurds. Two. Are you kidding me?? This is the largest population of Kurdish people in the U.S. They are the largest unreached people group in the world. There are more than 20k+ Kurdish living in the buckle of the bible belt with hundreds of churches surrounding them... and yet, the workers truly are few.
PLEASE... pray with us as the Lord commanded, Matthew 9:38, "therefore pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest.”
He truly is near to us. If you would like more information about our work in Nashville, please contact us. We are praying for more workers, for protection from the enemy and so much more.
Blessings to you all!
We have been in Nashville for roughly 60 days. Well, we haven't actually been in Nashville. We are parked just north of Nashville on a beautiful property and ministry called, The Nest. We stayed for a few weeks at a place called "Eagles Landing" and now we have been invited to spend the month of May at The Nest. It totally sounds like we're on some sort of prophetic journey! How awesome is that?!
Now we're here and it's incredibly peaceful and beautiful. However, the main word I keep feeling is "WELCOMED." We are truly welcomed here into this community of Jesus lovers. We haven't actually met much of the community, just the pastors and their daughter and 1 other family that lives here. But, there is such a sense of rest and peace.
I just want to share some pictures with y'all because it is soooooo beautiful!
There are trails to walk and woods to explore and a keyboard to play and swings to swing on and an oven to bake bread in and they are even putting in a washer and dryer! Hallelujah!!!
It has been such a sweet reprieve to enter into a place and not feel the pressure to fit into whatever shindig is going on. The pastors are genuinely supportive of the call of God on our family to go and make disciples amongst the Kurdish population in South Nashville.
We have committed to a one month trial to see how we all mesh. I am beyond excited to spend more time with them and worship and seek the heart of God with them. Who knows how our perfect Father will work all things out? We believe that this partnership is ordained by God.
Please pray with us that we would keep our focus on God and his plan for our family. Join us in praying for the Kurdish people and for this ministry, The Nest.
Be blessed with the blessings of HEAVEN!!
This the first blog post for Esther since she joined our team! We're so excited for her perspective, gifts and talents. May you be blessed! -------------------------------------------------------------------------
There are a million things God is doing right now. One thing He is doing in me is drawing out what is in my heart.
Someone mentioned that this time of seclusion that we are in is like Jesus‘s time in the wilderness. (Lk 4) For forty days he prayed and fasted and then was tempted by the devil. I had felt the similarities in that it has been a time of prayer and fasting for us. But now I am also beginning to feel the similarities in the temptation.
It has definitely been a time of testing for me, and he is drawing out what is in my heart by the testing. He brings me through the wilderness to try me, to humble me, to know what’s in my heart. To see if I will do what he commands. (Duet 8:2)
He refines me as silver is refined. (Ps 66:10) He prunes me that I might bear fruit. (Jn 15:2) He is so gracious not to leave us where we are, but to transform us! Not to leave those things in our hearts that are opposed to him, but to draw them out and make them bare.
When I see how beautiful his work is, I realize that I am not even worthy to be pruned! It is in his grace that he prunes us. Yes, it is a loving hand that turns up the heat.
So, if you are also being tried and tested during this time and you begin to see ugly things come out of your heart, do not be discouraged. He uses fire and water to bring us out to rich fulfillment. (Ps 66:12) He is using this time to make us READY! May we, like Jesus, come out of the wilderness in the power of the Holy Spirit! (Lk 4:14)
It's time for a revolution. Love demands it.
Jesus is a radical. He baffled the religious leaders of His day... and HE'S STILL DOING IT! Jesus hung out with prostitutes and tax collectors, people who were at the bottom of the moral social ladder in their day.
Jesus sent out His followers when they hardly knew what they were doing. They didn't go to bible college, they didn't spend years, studying His word... in fact, they didn't even have the New Testament!
Jesus started a revolution. He didn't say, "Be nice people that everyone likes and respects." He said things like, "Take up your cross and follow me, whoever wants to save their life will lose it, love your enemies, become a servant, blessed are the persecuted..." and so many things that were unheard of in their day, and still are today.
This revolution was, and still is, the pure embodiment of love. Many have twisted what love is, but Jesus' life defines it perfectly -- see also 1 Corinthians 13.
So, let's go back to our first love, Jesus. Let us live like Christ. Let's wake up from the slumber that is brought on by the world and all its' cares.
Let's join the revolution He started.
Today (April 19, 2020) is the 245th anniversary of the Revolutionary War. God is using the current state of the world to awaken His bride, the Church. People all across the world are coming back to their first love, Jesus, and are joining Him as He runs into the darkness.
"Do this [LOVE], knowing the time, that it is already the hour for you to awaken from sleep" (Rom 13:11). The darkness of our world is getting more and more pronounced. As followers of Jesus, we are called to go into the darkest places and bring freedom and LIGHT. Jesus said that we are the light of the world.
It's time for a revolution.
Love demands it.
Josh & Mary
*** This is Part 5 of 5 of our story about why we're going to Nashville. It is a supernatural story and we're so excited to be a part of God's work in Nashville! Since writing this post a few days ago, Nashville has had a devastating Tornado rip through the city. Besides the things we mention in this post, we are going to absolutely help with the recovery effort going on in the city. God's love should flow through the hands of those who follow Him. With that said, here is part 5. Please read the first 4 blogs leading up to this for specific context!***
We came out of Bend, Oregon like a slingshot! But not before one more supernatural experience happened. It was Sunday and we had parked our skoolie in a church parking lot for the previous four days.
That morning I (Josh) woke up early, at about six. As soon as I opened my bible, it was like I was being directed by the Holy Spirit. I believe I was reading Joshua. God has shown us over and over again that we are not only to bring the Kingdom of God to people in various ways, but we are also to take back land.
Joshua was the one who learned under Moses and brought the people into the promised land. We believe this is a huge part of what God has called us to do. We are to bring people into the promised land--a relationship with the Father, through Jesus, by the power of the Holy Spirit.
I had been thinking about surrounding a city in prayer and worship for months. I had been thinking on and off about what a modern day Joshua taking Jericho would look like. I remember thinking about RVs, buses, cars, etc. circling a city in prayer and worship. I also felt like the term “occupy the city” applied to this idea. I thought it was my idea... until that morning.
As I was reading and praying, I distinctly heard, “Deuteronomy 20,” in my heart. I flipped there in my Bible and quickly saw there was only 20 verses. This alone was significant because the Lord had spoken to us months before that the vision He had for us would be clear by 2020: 2020 vision!
However, it was 2019 still, so instead of starting at the beginning of the chapter, I started in verse 19. It starts like this, “When you besiege a city for a long time, making war against it in order to take it…”
I’m not sure I initially even was able to read past, “When you besiege a city,” before the tears began to roll down my face. The Holy Spirit testified in my spirit that this was confirmation that the term “occupy the city” was not my idea. It has been His plan all along.
We love the story of Jehoshaphat in 2 Chronicles 20. The people of Judah are outnumbered and scared. The king proclaims a fast and they seek the Lord. His words at the end of the prayer say it all, “We do not know what to do, but our eyes are on You.”
The Spirit of the Lord comes upon a man and he prophesies over the people. The man concludes by saying, “The battle is not yours, but God’s.” There are so many great lessons to learn from this, but without going into too much detail… God wants to fight our battles. He just wants us to know Him and trust Him. When our eyes are on Him, He will fight for us!
We have always desired to see God move like He did in the early church and the Old Testament. He is the same God He was then! He can do it!
Now, we didn’t know what city this game plan was for, but we now know it’s Nashville. He may have us do the same thing in another city at a later time, but we don’t know that for sure. He always wants relationship, and we do too. He wants us to stay connected to His heart so that we know what He is doing in a particular situation or place. It’s a beautiful thing!
There’s more to Deuteronomy 20 that I won’t go into in this post. I’ve read it probably 25 times since October. However, I’m going to finish up with the story of that morning in Bend, OR.
So, I end up taking all the kids into the pre-service prayer while Mary got ready for church and had some prayer/worship time. Mary loves to just worship and be in God’s presence. She is truly like Mary of Bethany. Many times her intercession is just dancing/singing/crying/praying/ministering to the Lord. It’s part of her calling and I know it does things in the heavenly realm that we can’t even begin to understand. She had a wonderful time with the Lord while the kids and I were in His presence with a few others from the church.
God continued speaking throughout the church service, and needless to say, we were filled to overflowing with the Spirit. Not only that, but we were excited and confident of what God was going to do in the future. We are partnering with the Lord in what He wants to do. It’s not our agenda, it’s ALL HIM. Why do we try to do it in our own power? I tried for many years, It stinks! His ideas are so much better!
Ok, so Nashville. Are we going to besiege the city to make war against it? Absolutely! I was so excited to hear that over 700 churches mostly in the Nashville area were fasting and praying for their city and the state of Tennessee in January and February of this year. God is doing something there that is so much bigger than us. We are just doing our part.
Now, obviously we’re not going to destroy everything in the city, but we are going to tear down strongholds in the city. There’s been books written on this subject, but look at 2 Corinthians 10:4, “for the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh, but divinely powerful for the destruction of fortresses.”
It sounds like a physical war, but it’s not. It is, and has always been, a spiritual war. Jesus came to defeat the enemy in the heavenly places. He made a way for us to step into His victory and see the enemy defeated everywhere we go. Our weapons to tear down spiritual fortresses begin with the Word of God, our sword. Intercession, fasting, acts of justice, redeeming the land, worship etc. are all part of God’s plan for bringing a city back to Him.
Nashville isn’t Ninevah, but God did save that whole city as they humbled themselves in repentance. We don’t yet know the extent of why we are going to Nashville; the Kurdish people coming to salvation in Jesus and tearing down the spiritual strongholds are the pieces God has given to us.
I know I have said this is blog 5 of 5 on Nashville, but we will continue to write about what God is speaking and doing there in the future.
Thank you for joining with us in prayer for the Kurdish people and city of Nashville. There’s a new song coming out of Nashville. It is far superior than any song a person could write. It’s the song of the redeemed!
Part 4 of our Nashville Story. We would love for you to read the blogs leading up to this one: just click on the 'Nashville' Category below!
Back in September 2019, we were so excited to finally make it to Bend, Oregon. We knew the previous summer we'd be heading to the northwestern part of the United States, and Bend was #1 on our list.
As with most of the cities we visited in our first year, we had never been to Bend, but had several confirmations that we should go there. I won't go into all those, but we were very expectant of what God was going to do.
A family we have known for over 15 years had recently moved to Bend, and another family we've had supernatural encounters with multiple times also lives there (You can read about one of those here ). We arrived in Bend, OR in the beginning of September, 2019 and spent a significant amount of time with Matthew and Tiffany Libby and their 4 kiddos.
One morning while in Bend, Mary went out for a coffee date with Tiffany (from above family) and that is where the prophetic word began to stir. Tiffany asked if there was anything significant with the month of April for us. Mary immediately thought of the miscarriages and her journey with cancer. Two of the four miscarriages happened in April and her journey with cancer began in the month of April, 2013. After hearing this, Tiffany said that she believed God was going to do something new in April to redeem all of the things the enemy had stolen from us!
Towards the end of our time in Bend, we had a night of prayer and worship with our friends, the Libbys. We took time to pray for our families and shared some prophetic words. Tiffany asked if we wrote music. Anyone that knows us well, knows we were both in bands, wrote music and led worship for many years.
I said, "Yes, although not for some time," and Tiffany continued. She talked about the song in Bambi called Little April Showers. She felt like there was a new song coming for us in April. This is how the chorus ends:
Drip, drip, drop
Little April shower
What can compare
To your beautiful sound
The prophetic word really resonated with me because I had been feeling like I would start writing music again. However, it was over 6 months until April, so I tucked it away not thinking too much about it... until October hit!
***Please read the previous two blogs for what happened last October*** So, God calls us to Nashville, also known as Music City U.S.A. Now, before you think, this guy thinks he's going to get famous!... No, I actually don't. You see, God started putting these words in my heart after Bend.
There's a new song rising, it's the song of the redeemed.
There's a new song rising, one that sets us free
There's a new song rising up in me
I love music and I believe it's very possible that music is the language of Heaven. The devil has twisted and perverted it for far too long. I know that God has written a song that is better than any song we could create. It's the song in the hearts of people that have been redeemed. He's going to make the song louder and louder in Nashville by multiplying those who worship Him in spirit and in truth.
We shared the prophetic word with our friend Esther, who is joining us in Nashville. She watched the scene from the movie and pointed out that the shower starts with a drop and then becomes a torrential rain. Join with us in praying that this is coming to Nashville. A song of redeemed hearts that continues to grow louder and louder!
We have such joy, peace, and love because He has redeemed us. It's a song about Him and given by Him. In short, the new song coming to Nashville is all about HIM! No one can take credit for it, because only He could do it! Not by might, nor by power but by My Spirit, says the Lord!!
Psalm 107:1-3 (NIV)
Oh give thanks to the Lord, for He is good,
For His lovingkindness is everlasting.
Let the redeemed of the Lord say so, (emphasis mine)
Whom He has redeemed from the hand of the adversary
And gathered from the lands,
From the east and from the west,
From the north and from the south.
...and in Revelation 5:9-10 (NKJV) it talks about the new song coming:
"And they sang a new song, saying:
'You are worthy to take the scroll,
And to open its seals;
For You were slain,
And have redeemed us to God by Your blood
Out of every tribe and tongue and people and nation, (emphasis mine)
And have made us kings and priests to our God;
And we shall reign on the earth.'"
The Kurdish people, we believe, are a key for Nashville. Someday, every tribe, tongue and nation will be worshiping God... The Kurds included. This is our heart, our mission, our purpose for the next season, however long it lasts.
I know I said we'd be sharing what we'll be doing in Nashville. I'm sure you can imagine most of the things, but I want to go in depth on the strategic plan in the next blog. We're in a war and God is doing strategic things in strategic places.
So, until next time....!
***This is Part 3 of this story... To read the beginning, scroll down or click on the Nashville tag***
We believed God was speaking, but we weren't sure. Don't you love how God confirms things? It's so beautiful!
The next day, I told my coach about east Nashville almost flippantly and he responded with, "you know there's an unreached people group in Nashville, right?"
Uh, no!! Why would I? I've been there literally about 80 hours in my entire life! Although I knew there are a few unreached people groups in America, I had no idea Nashville was on that short list of places. So, I go on the joshuaproject.org and sure enough, Nashville has a red dot (unreached people group)! -- THE KURDISH PEOPLE!
1. We had no idea
2. We've known for quite awhile that someday we'll work with primarily Muslims
4. God put a love for the Kurdish people in me (Josh) several years ago when they were helping fight ISIS. News stories of the fierce Peshmerga fighters got raised to prominence in those days, along with a group of primarily Muslim people who even have women fighters?!
6. No joke... I dressed up as a Peshmerga fighter for Halloween (I feel a little embarassed about this one!)
Ok, I'm a little dramatic... or says my wife! Nashville is a beautiful city and we are so excited to head there in March! We just never had Nashville on our radar of places we may be for an extended time.
Now let's get to the confirmations. I'm not sure how we would operate without hearing from God. He still speaks today and He is a prophetic God. Our calling to GO (on the road back in April 2018) started with Mary feeling like we were in transition. Then came two prophetic words, one of which was scripture (Acts 13:2). Next, God speaking to me (Josh) probably the most directly He ever has. Finally, when I told my pastor, he already knew! That was just the beginning. We had many confirmations in the 4 months before we left North Dakota for the first time in 2018, and many more over the past 2 years.
So, back to Nashville. I love Jeremiah 33:3, "Call to me and I will answer you and tell you great and unsearchable things you do not know." I believe that is a promise for all believers. So, we do that, and we wait on Him.
Confirmation #1: The Sunday after I told my coach about East Nashville, we went to hear some friends who work overseas at a church conference in Rapid City, SD. They live on the other side of the world and they "happened" to be 20 miles from where we were for one day while we stayed in Keystone, SD for the month of DMM training. I think that alone was not by chance, and before we ever talked with them, I knew we were suppose to meet.
We heard them speak, and shared stories. When we were about to leave, we asked to pray with them. We prayed for them and their work, and then they prayed for us. As they prayed, Mary and I felt the presence of the Holy Spirit. We were both crying as our friend prayed prophetically over God calling us to a "specific Muslim group." She prayed a little longer and said, "The Kurdish people."
We were stunned! Did she just say that? We hadn't told her anything about Nashville or the Kurdish people up to that point, but here was God, using a willing vessel of His goodness. He was confirming his whisper in a profound way. They spoke some other encouraging words over us that confirmed previous prophetic words, and we left seriously in awe.
Confirmation #2: I have been reading the prophets over and over in the Word of God lately. There's so much in the books of Isaiah, Jeremiah, Daniel, Zechariah, etc. During this time, I was reading about Daniel. Was he great or what? Serving an idolatrous regime and society... with excellence? Whoever heard of such a thing?
Anyways, in my research of the Kurds (which I had started very curiously), I found that many people believe the Kurds are descendants of the Medes in the Bible. Of course, Daniel served several rulers, one being Darius the Mede. What are the chances I'm reading about the Medes, while learning our call to the Kurds of Nashville? Not high considering most of the Bible doesn't deal with them. As it turns out, Mary was also reading the book of Daniel during this same time frame.
Confirmation #3: I love dreams. Among Muslim peoples, dreams are very important. It's one of the few ways many of them believe God speaks. Sunday night we met our friends and Monday night came the dream.
I was in a small classroom and somehow I knew all 10 or so people in the room were Kurdish people. I was slowly walking around the table putting my hand on peoples' heads and saying, "Fire, fire, fire..." As I did this, a few fell over and then I woke up!
Even writing this stuff down now excites me for the future of what God is going to do. God spoke to us near the beginning of this journey about Jeremiah 30:2 - This is what the LORD, the God of Israel, says: Write in a book all the words I have spoken to you. I would like to write everything down from even before we left North Dakota until now, but so far we've only done bits and pieces. Writing down God's words for your life helps you remember what He has said and promised. He will not lead you astray or leave you alone.
Confirmation #4: The news! I use to hate the news. Mostly because I hated politics. I feel like politics is the opposite of the ways of Jesus. I know God calls people to work in this area of society, but it's definitely not me!!
If you do a quick search online for the first or second week of October 2019 you will find the Kurds at the top of the headlines. This people group had faded from the headlines after the defeat of ISIS several years prior, but all of the sudden, there they are. One headline read, "US pulls out of Northern Syria, exposing Kurds to potential attack." Another one said, "US ending support for Kurds in Syria will lead to genocide..." Aside from all of the politics of these events, we believe that the timing corresponded with what God was speaking to our family!
I have to say, I don't hate the news anymore. I pray that God would speak to our family all the time, and that we'd be listening... all the time. All of these confirmations came in the span of one week. It was so intense, that we almost went to Nashville at the end of October. As we prayed and listened, we new March would be the right time to head that way. So, what will we do in Nashville? Is there more to Nashville than the Kurdish people? I will answer those questions thoroughly next time!
Suprisingly, we have basically no physical history in Nashville. Besides being stranded there for 3 days, while our bus got new pulleys after they fell out of the engine, we have spent no time in Nashville. Scratch that... There was one time, 15 years ago, that Mary's parents and us took a 36 hour straight, grueling road trip to Orlando. We stopped in Nashville in the middle of the night, went to music row, and I ran down the street yelling. That is probably another story altogether, but suffice to say, I was in a band and loved music... and was probably a little delirious from the long haul by that point.
We've literally traveled over 25,000 miles on the road in our skoolie (and previously rented RV) in the last year and a half. We've almost matched that mileage in the air, in places like Turkey and Spain, but Nashville, although beautiful in many ways, did not strike a lasting impression that we would be spending a lot of time there in the future. We did believe we'd be back, but not like what we're planning now!
God is amazing! Never, when He called us out of traditional pastoral ministry, did I think we'd end up all over the U.S. and on both sides of the Mediterranean. As I write this, I can see the "Great Sea" that was the avenue of many of Paul's journeys. It's like we jumped into Biblical history, physically and prophetically.
Back to Nashville. I didn't know that breaking down on a hot stretch of I-24 could be a good thing, but it was the beginning of God paving the way. We got taken in by a couple originally from Iowa that use to host bands and set up drums for Cornerstone Music Festival 'back in the day'. They let us stay with them for 3 days while our bus got fixed and even let us drive their pretty new Prius around.
When the $2812 bill came, it was a hard pill to swallow, but well into a year long prophetic journey with the Lord I immediately looked to the bright side of things. As I did that, I heard in my heart Deuteronomy. So, I looked up Deuteronomy 28:12 (NASB)-- not even knowing if the verse existed. Here's the gem I found:
"The Lord will open for you His good storehouse, the heavens, to give rain to your land in its season and to bless all the work of your hand; and you shall lend to many nations, but you shall not borrow."
I was pretty dumbfounded. Did you know that much of what looks terrible in the world's eyes is a blessing in the Kingdom of God? I could write a whole slew of blogs on this thought, but God is good and as His word says in Romans, we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them.
Now, I will be clear... I did not think this verse had anything to do with Nashville itself, only the ministry that God has called us to. However, I now believe it was one of multiple prophetic signs that God had/has a much bigger plan for Nashville.
Finally! I'll get to October. A very large turning point came for us in October 2019. After marking the 70th anniversary of the Billy Graham Crusade in LA in September of 1949 (to the spot where the tent sat... another story I'll have to tell :-), we drove to Keystone, SD for what would be the most advanced classroom training we've ever received as followers of Christ.
Nashville was nowhere on Mary's or my radar at this point. We knew God was bringing us to this little tourist town in the shadow of Mount Rushmore for something that was going to change everything. The keystone is stone that's in the top of a roman arch. It holds the whole arch together, and if removed, the whole structure crumbles.
God spoke to us in early September that this is what our keystone training would be. The last piece, so to speak, of the arch... but the most important piece, which we later found out was disciple making movements. We have talked about this already a bit, but we're going to be writing and vlogging much more on the subject.
So, the first week, the Keystone Project people asked us to pray about an unreached people group to reach. Now, we know the importance of unreached peoples. There are many countries that you will get killed for sharing the gospel. But, up until this point, God had called us to America, and so we weren't thinking much about unreached peoples.
As we were talking and praying about it over a couple days, I heard in my heart, "East Nashville." What was weird to me was that it was EAST Nashville, and of course, why was that coming into my head in the first place? Well, God speaks quietly sometimes and we began to wait and pray. It didn't take long!
The story continues soon!!
Only a few months ago I sat in our converted school bus watching the live broadcast of a funeral. As you might suspect, it wasn’t a normal funeral. It was a celebration of one of my heroes--Reinhardt Bonnke. He’d most surely argue anyone telling him he’s a hero. In fact, he said in Even Greater, "there are no great men working in God’s Kingdom. Rather, there is a great God at work in human beings who have childlike faith.”
Why is he my hero? He has a very large auto biography I could never add to, and won’t try. A short synopsis of his life would never do, but most people say something like, “The Billy Graham of Africa”, “79 documented conversions to Christianity”, etc. But, I don’t think anything you could say in a sentence could really define a life… any life, really.
One of the many reasons I look up to him is that he had vision, and it drove him relentlessly. This simple vision he said many times. It was a slogan he repeated again and again. A sort of force that drove him. A vision he would not let go. “Africa shall be saved!”
You see, he took the great commission seriously. He devoted his whole life to it. Look him up on YouTube or CFAN (Christ For All Nations) website. You will see videos of endless hundreds of thousands of people like a sea in all directions. God used this man mightily.
As I watched person after person say kind, honoring words about this man, I realized, like he did, that he was just a man. A man who took the word of God seriously. A man who followed and obeyed. A man who persevered through many trials. A man who was wholly devoted to God. That’s why I loved him and I never met him.
What does all this have to do with Nashville? Well, I know it’s been awhile since we have blogged. This is part 1 of our blogging return! OK, it might not be that exciting, but this will lead into where we are headed in March, and why.
Back to the funeral. As I watched this tribute to a man, everyone kept saying: Africa shall be saved! America shall be saved! The world shall be saved! And I shouted out, NASHVILLE shall be saved!!
Why? Well, that story starts back in October 2019, and that is where we’ll pick up next time ;-)
God is so big! The Zulu word for God is Unkulunkulu which literally means Big, Big.
Looking back on over a year on the road, God has done so many amazing things through us and in us. We would not trade the last year for anything. The people we've met, the way our family has grown in our faith, and so many other things are just indescribable.
It's so much bigger than us. God's plan is one tremendous love story, but so many times we get it all focused on us. But truly, it's ALL ABOUT HIM! He is the beginning and the end. He is outside of time and space, in fact, He created time and space! He is perfect in every way and His ways are so much higher than ours.
We are so blessed to be walking (and driving) the way He has made for us. We are overwhelmed with joy to be part of His plan... but the key, is it's His plan, not ours. I (Josh) have tried so many times to make my own plans that I even think honor Him, but it wasn't FROM Him. Things done in our own power and not at His word, are just works of the flesh.
But... when we take time to get to know Him, the Creator of ALL things... the one who started billions of galaxies from nothing, we find that it's really not about us. His purpose and plan is perfect. If we will lay aside EVERYTHING to follow Him, to wait on Him, to walk in the Spirit, we will be filled with abundant life and the gift of God, the Holy Spirit.
As the Holy Spirit directs us in the next year and beyond, please pray with us that we walk with Him always... not trying to things out of our own strength, but His. There is no God, but Him. He is not just big, He's bigger than big. He is beyond what we think or imagine. He is what we need. All things are from Him, through Him and for Him! Amen!
Hi! We're the Hoeckles.
We're a family of six living full-time in a skoolie (aka a school bus converted into an RV). We are inviting you to join us as we live life to its fullest and empower others to do the same. Welcome to the family!