*** 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!
Walking in the footsteps of those who have gone before us = powerful. We have been on this journey for 1 year (as of Sept 25) and we were able to sleep on the beach where my father came 45+ years ago in hot pursuit of Jesus! My (Mary's) father was part of the Jesus people movement during the 70s!
What a beautiful story of legacy. What a clear picture of building on a solid foundation. What a testimony of planting seeds for future generations to reap a harvest.
My earthly father laid aside a "normal" life to pick up and carry whatever God would have for him. My dad came to California as a Jesus-loving hippy and followed God back to Minnesota. Back home, God brought him a wife and they raised 3 daughters and a son.
I'm 1 of those daughters. Our little family of 6 have picked up the torch my father was carrying and we are running. We are running hard after God and releasing His LOVE in California and beyond.
My dad laid a foundation of pursuing Jesus. We are the direct result of that pursuit. Thank you, Papa Roy. And, thank you Papa God. You are always faithful and every seed planted will yield a harvest!
Many people have asked the question, how do you know where to go and what to do? Our answer may sound simple, but many times, it's not: We listen to God and do what He says.
Many people also get skeptical when they hear that response. Listen, it's not like we have one of those red phones that goes directly to God's desk... well, that's arguable (Holy Spirit access??). God loves to walk and talk with His people! Because of Jesus, we have direct access to our Father.
If He told me (Josh) exactly everything to do with His audible voice, where would there be room for faith? Are we 100% sure we're suppose to go to Sacramento (we got here 10 minutes ago), or Tennessee or Madagascar, for that matter? No, but that leaves room for faith. We ask, we pray and then we do what the Bible says, which many times is a specific part of scripture God is highlighting for the place we are in.
We can know the whole Bible, but if we don't know when to apply certain parts of the Word, we are much less effective. That's where the Holy Spirit comes in. He is one part of three and He is really important to our journey!
We are headed back to South Dakota in October, not because we planned it months in advance, but because He is calling us there. It's exciting and I want to share a recent story with you that might better explain how He sometimes speaks.
We had a rough day coming out of the Redwoods and the mountains in Northern California. The bus had issues and we lost all 4 of our bikes! That's a story we'll write soon, but the next morning we had more mountains to go through to get to church on Sunday.
As we came over more mountains and around more and more curves, I saw something amazing. The road we took through the mountains had these dug out rectangles all along where they put the yellow and white lane lines. These are so you have a loud thumping noise that reminds you that you are one foot from a cliff or hitting oncoming cars. Down in those rectangles are little yellow reflectors.
Picture this: We come around a corner, and as the rising sun hits those reflectors at the perfect angle, the path we are taking lights up like a glissando on a keyboard in sequential order... the direction we're driving. Then in my heart, I hear, "Follow the yellow brick road."
Now, before you think about doctrine, think about this: God knows you better than you do. He can speak things to you that affect you in a certain way, and maybe not anyone else. In this instance, I immediately felt like the Lord was saying, "You're on the right track, keep walking in it."
It was so comforting! That may affect you the opposite, but then the Holy Spirit probably would be speaking something unique to you. You see, God wants a relationship. He wants to be part of our lives everyday. It was Him encouraging us, much like He did for Joshua when God said, "Be strong and courageous."
I also got the added bonus of getting a smile on my face as I thought of the joyous send off Dorothy gets in the Wizard of Oz. It's probably one of my favorite songs in many musicals that I've seen... and the Holy Spirit knows that.
I'm not sure if that at all helps you understand what we do, but in the end, I guess all that matters is that we follow His leading. When Jesus was talking to Nicodemus, a rabbi, about being born again, he said, "The wind blows wherever it pleases. You hear its sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone born of the Spirit." That doesn't mean we never know where we're going, but the Holy Spirit does like to keep us on our toes!
We make our best effort to be led by the Holy Spirit. As we finish our time praying over California, Sacramento, Salt Lake City and elsewhere, He continually is leading us. We rarely know what the day will bring, but that's part of the adventure of being a disciple of Jesus.
Pray with us for Sacramento and California. This is a special place that God is doing some amazing things. For more information on The Keystone Project, visit https://keystoneproject.org/
Our "40 days in the west" was centered around heading to Bend, OR. Of all the places on the west coast, God had been calling us to Bend for nearly a year. Well, we made it! As I (Josh) write this, we have been in Bend almost a week. It has been an amazing time connecting with people and building new relationships.
Bend is very important for the state of Oregon and, of course, the Kingdom. It is almost in the exact center of the state and is arguably Oregon's fastest growing city.
Sunday was a powerful day for us. God began speaking to me at 6 in the morning and it continued all the way through the prayer meeting and Sunday service. Mary had an amazing time by herself with the Lord and we had several words spoken over our family. Judah even had a dream of us running a race in a church!
One of the things a lady shared with us was that she felt like God wanted to deposit something in us. The Holy Spirit moved mightily in the service and after three pages in my journal, I felt God had spoken about the things that had been on our hearts for a long time. I'm not going to go into all the details right now, but we'll be unwrapping some of it in the future for you all.
One of the main purposes for our trip to Bend, we soon found out after arriving, was to walk through some tough things with one family. God first connected us to this family at AzusaNow in 2016. It was before I was a pastor and they prophesied that God had a new job for me! The Lord had let me know in 2014 that I'd be done with my current job in 2016 and that it would be full-time ministry. I remember them saying it would be good for our family. Four months later I was hired as the Outreach Pastor at our church!
Fast-forward 2.5 years later, and we "randomly" run into them walking to Bethel Church in Redding, CA. We spend the whole day together and now, a year later, we're parked in front of their house. God is so good! He is the great connector!
I know without a doubt, God has something special for this family, and every person reading this. He does immeasurably more that we ask or imagine. Sometimes He's pruning and preparing us for what is ahead. Sometimes He's teaching us things we wouldn't learn any other way. But, everything He does is for our good. He's always awakening us to new truths, higher resolve and relentless perseverance.
Press into God. He ALWAYS comes through. It's a beautiful thing that I don't always understand.
Think about the depths of this truth from Romans 11:36 (NIV):
For from him and through him and for him are all things. To him be the glory forever! Amen.
After I met Mary, we began to get together on a regular basis. It didn’t take long for me to realize that this relationship could grow into the covenant relationship God created called marriage.
As I was still very much seeking the Lord, I remember being convicted by the Holy Spirit to let Mary know my past. I had made many mistakes, and I obviously hadn’t kept myself pure before marriage. I did believe at times that my pornography addiction was over.
I don’t remember this specific conversation, but Mary sure does! I called her on the phone (probably crying) and I told her it was a thing of the past and that I didn’t struggle with it anymore.
Deep down I wanted a good marriage, and I knew I couldn’t hide this thing inside of me. I was many times ruled by a lot of fear of rejection and failure, however.
A note that should be obvious: BE 100% HONEST in everything you do. Half truths don’t help anyone, including yourself.
Maybe I did believe at that time I was finished with the cycle of addiction, but I wasn’t. I probably hadn’t looked at porn for a week. I tried literally hundreds of times to stop on my own with no success.
I would always come back to the lie I believed that said, “This can fulfill your desire for intimacy… It doesn’t harm anyone… it’s not that big of a deal, everyone does it… and so on.”
Surprisingly to me, Mary stuck with our relationship and we continued getting more serious.
HERE IS HER SIDE OF THE STORY
As I think back 17 years ago when I met Josh, I remember being infatuated by this tall, dark and mysterious man. Turns out mysterious isn’t always a good thing. After just a couple months of knowing each other, we both knew things were getting serious. We had “The Talk” and decided to officially be dating even though we lived an hour apart.
One afternoon, he called and said there was something important he needed to tell me; something important from his past. While waiting for that conversation to happen, I remember feeling a sense of dread and determination. This might sound ridiculous, but because he is a man, I knew that his past must be related to masturbation or pornography.
Before we talked about what his “past” issue was, I was determined that if it was masturbation we could work through it. But, if Josh had struggled with pornography, I was out. I didn’t want to, and didn’t think my heart could, handle that news.
I was sitting in the living room in my apartment when Josh called. I’m sure it was a depressing conversation and I’m sure he was crying. He confessed that he had a history of struggling with pornography.
Despite my previous conviction, something unexpected happened in me… against my will it would seem. At the moment Josh confessed his past, this unexplainable peace and love washed over my heart. It is as though God took my heart and wrapped it in bubble wrap in order to allow me to feel His heart for Josh.
I don’t remember the words I said or the words Josh said. Obviously, we chose to keep pursuing each other and to allow God to work in our relationship.
I thought it was behind us. Josh probably thought it was behind us. The truth was, this destructive addiction was just lying silent below the surface…
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!