Follow The Yellow Brick Road
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/
Bend Your Ear
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…
The Third Wave
If you follow any modern day prophets, you've probably heard that many believe there's a third great awakening coming to America that will surpass all other revivals in scope and reach.
Whether you believe that or not, let me tell you some things we've seen and experienced. Let me start with a story. Many people remember the Folgers commercial jingles (that never leave your head) singing, "The best part of waking up is Folgers in your cup." Or, Juan Valdez confidently stating that his coffee is "Good to the last drop".
These companies and many more brought coffee to the masses in airtight, pre-ground cans of coffee roasted in huge facilities. In the coffee industry, this is commonly referred to the "first wave" of coffee.
If there's a first, there has to be a second, right?! The "second wave" consisted of artisan coffee and roasts being brought to every street corner in America. Although not all encompassing, Starbucks is the best picture of the second wave of coffee. There is much more to this history, but I'm quickly describing it all for a parallel, an illustration if you will, of what's happening in America now.
Next, came the "third wave" of coffee. The third wave was far more encompassing then either of the previous waves. People got extremely 'nerdy' about coffee, all the way down to the chemical reactions that take place. They decided, coffee in its purest form was best. They created different ways of making coffee to give a person the best experience possible. Independent coffee shops popped up everywhere breaking all the rules of what had been known before. They didn't do the status quo. They changed it!
These creative unknowns turned the world upside down to the point that my 4 yr old girl asks for coffee on a regular basis. If this doesn't resonate with you, bear with me!
Some believe the third great awakening in America has already happened... including Wikipedia. I won't go all into that, but FINALLY, let me tell you the illustration if you haven't caught it yet.
God is telling some regular people some crazy things; people that aren't full-time ministers, pastors or evangelists. They aren't on their church board but they are listening to what the Holy Spirit is doing in America. They are having dreams about things that sound, well, crazy.
I have met several of these people, and after this last one, I have to write about it! We know one pilot organizing other pilots to intercede over whole cities regularly on their routes. We just met one businessman who is building RV spots on 30 acres next to his house because our Lord has given him dreams about it, and we've met multiple people with the same experience!
I could tell you many stories from individuals all over the U.S. that God has spoken to in all kinds of amazing ways. It's kind of like Noah building a giant boat for a flood when it had never rained! Lots of times, things God speaks don't make sense to our human minds.
God is also pouring out favor on traveling ministry. He's building a vast network with regular people (fisherman if you will).
Imagine a map of the U.S.: In every state there are these "hubs" where people will come to for a time for community, healing, worship, fellowship, prayer and to prepare for battle. They will then take what they've cultivated in those places (and most importantly the secret place), and they will go out to bring the gospel to the ends of the earth. If you picture hubs like larger areas on a map, and then draw routes of travel between them, what you have is something that looks strikingly similar to a GIANT NET!
If there is a third great awakening that surpasses all other revivals, God is going to sustain it. People will be brought into families, into Acts 2 model churches.
God is using the "everyday, average" person. These people don't look special to most, like David didn't even to his own father. But, our Heavenly Father sees past what man sees. Ezekiel 34 tells us how God seeks out His sheep. People who are actively listening and truly know God will all be part of this great move. You don't even need to be creative! The Holy Spirit has all the good ideas anyway!
The third wave of coffee broke down many barriers. It went back to the basics of what coffee is. It tried to show people that coffee in its purest, simplest form is the best. Independent shops created their own individual expression of what coffee could be, but they were still tied together in the simplest ways.
Likewise, God is doing something in our day that is going break many boxes of what we think church is, what ministry looks like, what trust looks like. He's taking us back to the basics, the fundamentals. He's getting rid of all the things that don't matter. He's purifying the church!! At the same time, he's releasing creative ideas in every realm of life!
We're so excited about what God is doing and we will continue to walk (and drive) the path He's given us. Get out of the business of life and spend some time with TRUE LIFE today The Living Water that never runs out. May you be blessed in all He has for you.
I had pretty much given up on meeting my future wife. I had heard so many stories, including how my parents met, and how people found their significant others in college. I unknowingly grew up believing I would meet my wife in college.
Well, college came and went and no wife… not even a girlfriend. However, God was calling me, and I was trying to answer. I threw myself into serving the Lord at my local church. It was 2001, and although I had been raised going to church, I had no idea what serving at a local church meant. I made $14,400/year and I was happy!
I loved college and worship ministry. My dream was to get paid to lead worship. In fact, if any church would have paid me to lead worship, I would have jumped at the chance (an interesting side note is that over 10 years later a church did offer and I turned it down… I had learned the gospel is never about money, among other things. That’s a story for another time!).
In the fall of 2002, everything changed. The first week in October, I took a dozen or so students to a college ministry retreat. It’s funny, well… not at the time, how God show’s up when you’ve given up. I had really given up on meeting a woman to share my life with. I didn’t think about it that much anymore and I didn’t date.
On October 4, 2002, I walked in a room filled with college students. I saw Mary for the first time from across the room and literally said, “Wow!”, out loud. I was awestruck. She was beautiful… and I was too shy to even approach her.
I remember that first night. She was worshiping the Lord with passion, and I it was all over for me!
Let me tell you all something really important. You want to be "ready" when you meet your future spouse. I don't mean you have to be perfect, but if you have a glaring sin issue like pornography or masturbation in your life, get help. You never know when it'll happen, and looking back, I wish I had been more ready.
There are significant things that need to be worked through when you are newlyweds or even engaged. Pornography shouldn't be one of them. It was in my life, and now I was dragging someone else into it.
We have entered Wyoming!
We spent a few unexpected days in Pierre, SD. As we pulled into the capital of South Dakota, our power steering completely shut down. No joke.
Turns out 2 hoses were leaking fluid and, without that particular fluid, it is impossible to turn the steering wheel of a large bus. So, there we sat for the weekend.
As we have learned, we are rarely stuck; we are just where God wants us to be.
We spent 4 nights in Pierre meeting new friends and connecting with AMAZING believers. God is definitely on the move in that region!
As the 2nd smallest capital city in population, we believe that God is speaking significance over them. God is declaring that the region of Pierre, SD is vitally significant for the outpouring of the glory of God in the coming harvest!
With that understanding, we entered the city and toured the capital building. Then, we gathered on the steps outside the entrance and prayed for God's goodness to be released and for revival to hit this land!
This journey of ours brings us into places where we are in constant reliance of God. We never know what we are going to do or who we are going to meet. We simply move forward in continual communion with God and He faithfully directs our path. We are amazed how He always puts is right where we need to be…
ps: the power steering is completely fixed and the bus is running smoothly once again...
August 15th, 2019
We are ON THE ROAD AGAIN!! As I type, Josh is driving the bus South, with cornfields on one side of the road and a herd of cattle on the other. The skies up here in the Dakotas are massive and filled with clouds all varying shades of blue. There is so much beauty in nature 😍
We left Ottertail, MN yesterday afternoon. We had spent the past 2 months in MN and North Dakota, visiting friends and family and working on some major projects on our bus. Here is a quick rundown of projects we got done:
We had so many beautiful moments with our friends and family. So many dinners and late nights and worship times and prayer times and fun parties and quality conversations. God has really connected our hearts with AMAZING people in this region of the world.
Now, new things are in store for our family! We have felt that God is bringing us into the next level of our journey of traveling with Jesus. This summer we have had numerous encouraging words from people we trust that have spoken to this very thing. As we walk in obedience with God, we will be walking into new and greater things.
So, now as we walk (or drive 😏) off into the sunset, we feel ready. All of us feel that the timing of our departure is just perfect. We arrived at our first Walmart to shop and sleep last night. When we were walking around by the milk and eggs and day old bread stand, Judah exclaimed, "oh! I remember this!" We feel as though we have finally returned to our normal.
It's funny, but it's true. This nomadic life we live with Holy Spirit leading us is our normal. This traveling life is when we feel at home. Home has become a feeling in our spirits and not actually a physical place. Home is when we are walking in step with our Father God. In fact, home is, simply put, being with Him.
"From Peter, an apostle of Jesus the Anointed One, to the chosen ones who have been scattered abroad like “seed” into the nations living as refugees,... You are not forgotten , for you have been chosen and destined by Father God. The Holy Spirit has set you apart to be God’s holy ones, obedient followers of Jesus Christ who have been gloriously sprinkled with his blood. May God’s delightful grace and peace cascade over you many times over! Celebrate with praises the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has shown us his extravagant mercy. For his fountain of mercy has given us a new life—we are reborn to experience a living, energetic hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead."
1 Peter 1:1-3 TPT
My junior and senior years of college were a time of God’s grace in many ways. I began leading worship on a regular basis, I led small groups and I mostly stayed away from any kind of physical intimacy with women.
God was teaching me and growing me despite my repeated failures with addiction to pornography. That addiction hadn’t become the ‘web’ of lies it would grow into, primarily because no one asked me about purity--and I wasn’t volunteering any information.
I had Christian community and friends, but like many communities and churches, there was not a lot of depth. No one really talked about their struggles in life until they had already successfully dealt with them. I won’t get on my soapbox about the importance of an Acts 2 type community of believers, but I will say it’s one of the most important pillars of the Christian faith. If you read any of our past blogs, you will see it again and again. It is one of the primary reasons we are in a bus living the gospel of Jesus.
There was one relationship, during the latter half of college, where the devil really got a foothold in my life. This “root” would have an affect on me for years to come. We never really dated, but I was good friends with a Godly woman for nearly two years. When I finally got enough courage to tell her about my struggles with pornography, she graciously prayed for me. However, within a month, she called it quits on any friendship or relationship. I honestly don’t blame her one bit! She was right to get out and knew that the healing I needed would not come through her.
I felt like I had lost my best friend. God showed me many years later that this was where the real root of fear began in connection with pornography. It was this fear of rejection that would keep me from sharing things with my wife in the future.
Fear of failure and fear of rejection can be some of the strongest forces in our lives… if we let them. Although this event was a root for the devil to get into my life and my heart, Jesus is always greater! Always. I fed that root again and again through my actions and decisions, and it continued to grow. I believed lies and fears more than I believed God. I chose to stay bound up by living a lie. My pride and my fears ruled me and yet, God’s grace abounded in my life.
As I finished my last semester, I was hired by a local church to run their college ministry. I also was the assistant youth director and served on the worship team. I knew my calling was to serve the Lord and serve others, but I had a hidden secret and I would let no one into it. I was a captive in a web of my own making. I created my own prison
One year later I met my wife at a college ministry retreat. And there starts the REAL story!
When I gave away my virginity, it seemed like God and all of heaven were screaming, “NOOOO!!” I had found a girlfriend who was a christian, so in my mind, that’s all that was needed. If christianity ever becomes a status only in your life, please seek help.
God’s word says, “If you love me, keep my commands.” (John 14:15 NIV) Not only was I not loving God, but I was being a destructive force in a young woman’s life. All this sadly happened, while being very active in a church.
Looking back on my life during that time, it’s hard to even believe where I was at spiritually. I had started to lead worship and play bass guitar on Sunday mornings, but I shrugged off any truth from the Bible about sex.
Sexual sin is so destructive. The wages of sin is death, it’s a progressive road… or maybe regressive is the correct term. What starts as lust in our hearts, leads to so many unforeseen sins: Lies, cheating, concealing, anger, jealousy, not trusting, insecurity,... I could go on and on.
In Acts 15, there is a sharp dispute in the early church over the requirement for all the Gentiles to be circumcised. After James refers to the book of Amos, showing that the Gentiles were meant to be part of the family of God, they decide to only encourage the new believers to do four things. One of them is abstain from fornication or sexual immorality.
Why is this so important? First and foremost, it’s contrary to God’s will. He knows what’s best, always.
“Flee immorality. Every other sin that a man commits is outside the body, but the immoral man sins against his own body.” 1 Corinthians 6:18 (NASB)
I remember reading this verse in college and thinking, “What do they mean against his own body?” Well, one possible explanation is that it actually physically damages your body. We don’t know even close to everything about the human body, but we do know the effects of pornography on the brain. The brain is actually damaged the more you are seduced by the screen!
When looking at pornography, the brain releases chemicals 4 times more potent than morphine. It’s no wonder people become addicted to it. Your conscience is also destroyed. It may not happen after 1 or 2 times, but like any sin, the more you do it, the less your conscience says, “This is wrong.”
I would say the only reason I continued to know that pornography was wrong all those years was because I consistently heard the word of God. I spent time reading my Bible. I worshiped. I heard many sermons. Truth consistently confronted the way I was living. You might say, well, truth must not be very convincing then. There is no diminishing the power of truth! God is eternal and He is truth. However, I think my experience shows how strong of a hold sin can have in someone’s life.
I am so thankful that young lady had a close personal friend that advised her that sex before marriage was wrong. Deep down, I knew it too, but I had chosen to ignore it. That relationship ended as quick as it started, because it’s foundation was lust.
The Lord kept me from going down a destructive path any further. I didn’t have a true girlfriend again until I met my wife, but there were still a lot of mistakes in my future.
Kingdom Looks Like Family
I love how God speaks to us and how He gives us dreams and visions for the future. It is an amazing concept that the God who created the universe, and who created us, has chosen to partner with us. I believe His plan is to work with us to display His glory to the world. This concept consistently blows my mind.
What I've begun to notice is how we, as humans, can respond to what God speaks to us. He tells us secrets from Heaven of how we are meant to carry out our part of His plan. Then, we tend to operate out of a mindset that our part is the ONLY part, or the most significant part.
This mindset proves to be extremely damaging when other people enter the story. The temptation is to view people for what they can do for our part of the plan, instead of who they were created to be. One of the main areas this affects is the intrinsic need all people have to be accepted.
This is harmful is many ways, one of which is that we may not be allowing people to become all that God created them to be. If our focus is on how people can help us fulfill God's calling on our lives, we run the risk of diminishing the calling God has put on their lives.
I've been learning more about how the Kingdom of God functions, and there are vast differences from how the kingdoms of this world function. “Outside Christ, people perform to create an identity so they might be accepted. The longing of everyone's heart is to belong. It is vital. But, in Christ, things are different. We start out accepted by God. From that place of acceptance, our identity is formed. And it is out of our identity that we perform” (Raising Giant Killers, Bill and Beni Johnson).
I believe this has happened way too often within the body of Christ, the Church. People come into a group of believers and sense a role that is expected to be filled. Therefore, they pick up that role as their identity in order to belong.
That is a major bummer because we miss out on all of the wonderful and unique giftings of people. God, in His radical goodness, has declared that we all belong to the family of God. He has adopted us first and then invites into a journey of discovering who He created us to be.
First, we are accepted and loved. Second, we begin discovering our true identity as a child of God. Third, we choose to perform out of a place of love and boldness.
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!