Monday, May 30, 2005

Intentional Community

This past weekend was pretty awesome...probably the first memorial day weekend in college that I haven't been stressing about schoolwork. That, my friend, is an excellent feeling.

A bunch us went out to go kyaking out at Mission Bay, and afterwards BBQ'ed it up :). It was good times, with good company.

I thoroughly enjoyed helped flipping folks into the water after kyaking...that made it worthwhile.

But after all was said and done, I started cleaning up (though most of it was done, w00t for servant hearts), I realized that I didn't really get a chance to talk to anyone during the entire trip.

Observations:

Showing up to events, having events, doesn't mean that community is there. Much like having all fellowships show up in one place doesn't mean unity (heh). Showing up to fellowship events and group events doesn't mean that you're growing in community.

For some, this is obvious, but for me...the journey into community is very much a journey away from my chronic-selfishness as it is a journey into community. I can function very well on my own. In fact, left to my own devices and without any pushing from others, I will stay alone. I don't naturally gravitate towards initiating contact with others.

This past year, as God's been confronting me on this, I've been realizing that though I could function on my own...it was not good for me to be alone :). I understand that Genesis quotation is oft-used in the marriage-context, but I believe that that is very much of a larger need to "belong" in the company of like-minded believers.

Again, this is like "duh" for some people, but for me, its like whoa...I must have been missing something.

That being said, I guess I didn't make the connection that now that I have started to be around folks more, I actually have to get to know them. (me != genius) I just kind of assumed stuff like that would happen. (me == kind of slow)

Regretfully, looking back at this weekend, I so readily busied myself with preparations and the things that "needed" to be done at the moment, that I forfeited perhaps the most precious thing about the weekend: people. Friends. Awesome people, some of whom I don't see often, yet...I was content in just cooking, running back and forth, just doing the stuff.

I suspect that this part of what Martha was doing. Things had to get done. Jesus was there! The party hard to go on!

And yet, what did Jesus say? Mary has chosen the better part.

Hum.

I don't like awkwardness, and quite frankly...I'm pretty darn awkward when it comes to getting to know people. I don't do intentional community well. I don't know what questions to ask. I think my fear overrides my desire to be in community.

I know I need it though. And Jesus calls me into it.

And I think part of it is that at the back of my mind, there's the fear of rejection. That if I put myself out there, people won't find me interesting enough to respond in kind. I think these fears are definitely founded, one of the worst feelings in the world is experiencing that kind of rejection. (Makes one wonder how you can leap from establishing friendships --> dating relationships...an interesting thought. This probably goes into the arena of feeling like you're doing all the initiating and people just respond. That's a whole another arena of discussion. )

Anyhow, if you were over this past weekend...I apologize if we didn't really get a chance to chat. I understand I can't be friends with everyone, (What?! I can't!? Aww boo...) but I've realized that I've been created for relationship...not just with an awesome Creator, but with His creation. And with that design that there is a desire relationship, a desire to be known and to know others.

Unfortunately, the introduction of sin into this world has created a whole realm of hurt from the seed of relationships. But we gotta keep on going. Gotta be intentional. Got to get past the selfishness and the pity party and learn how to be less awkward :) Learn how to be transparent without overdisclosure, learn how to be honest without being wierd, learn how to love our imperfect brethren relentlessly in the midst of rejection...because if we can't even love brothers and sisters relentlessly, what do we have to offer this broken world?

Nothing.

---------

From chucky's xangr.

"More and more, the desire grows in me simply to walk around, greet people, enter their homes, sit on their doorsteps, play ball, throw water, and be known as someone who wants to live with them. it is a privilege to have the time to practice this simple ministry of presence. still, it is not as simple as it seems. my own desire to be useful, to do something significant, or to be part of some impressive project is so strong that soon my time is taken up by meetings, conferences, study groups, and workshops that prevent me from walking the streets. it is difficult not to have plans, not to organize people around an urgent cause, and not to feel that you are working directly for social progress. but i wonder more and more if the first thing shouldn't be to know people by name, to eat and drink with them, to listen to their stories and tell your own, and to let them know with words, handshakes, and hugs that you do not simply like them, but truly love them."

-henri nowen

Thursday, May 26, 2005

From Despair to Dawn

This past year has wrought some of the greatest moments of despair in my life, and even now, I think there is a part of me that despairs. But you can't know hope without being familiar with despair...

by Jenny Schroedel, from boundless.org

“The anguish completely paralyzed me,” wrote Henri Nouwen in The Inner Voice of Love. “I could no longer sleep. I cried uncontrollably for hours. I could not be reached by consoling words or arguments ... All had become darkness. Within me there was one long scream coming from a place I didn’t know existed, a place full of demons.”

Anyone who has fallen through this house without floors can relate, at least in part, to what Nouwen is describing. A feeling of meaninglessness descends without warning—making everything feel suddenly exhausting and unbearable. Prayer feels like an excruciating effort, cracking open the Bible akin to parting the Red Sea. We’re left to lug our sorry selves through another Sahara Desert day. No amount of coffee cuts the gloom.

During a recent bout with despair, I developed a bonus aliment—a flu complete with fever and the shakes. I crawled into bed and called my friend Amber, hoping to get a sympathetic chuckle out of her. “I’m on my deathbed,” I said. “I think it may be a step in the right direction.”

Two Kinds of Despair

Despair is the death of hope. Judas experienced this after he betrayed Jesus. In one of the Gospel’s most poignant scenes, he suddenly realizes the horror he’s set into motion. He bolts to the temple leaders, begging them to take the money back and release Jesus.

They don’t want his blood money, however, nor do they intend to let Jesus go. Judas throws the coins at their feet and flees. When he realizes that there is no going back he hangs himself.

Jesus, also, struggled with something like despair when he was languishing on the cross. He cried out to his Father, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”

Jesus felt abandoned in his own way—some of his best friends with their freshly-washed feet, the taste of bread and wine still on their lips, pretended like they never knew him while he was being led away. He then languished between two criminals. Even God seemed to withdraw—offering no solace or comfort, just a shattering, expansive silence.

Biological Despair

Anyone who has given birth without the benefits of painkillers may have some idea of what Jesus was getting at. There is a phenomenon that strikes many laboring women—a moment of despair when a woman feels she can’t go on a single moment longer. The pain has become excruciating, her body limp with exhaustion, and her potential best ally during labor, her mind, shamelessly betrays her.

She may begin believe that the labor will never end, that her ultrasounds were some kind of cruel trick to dupe her into thinking that she was actually going to have a baby, when (surprise) she was actually suffering from an extreme case of appendicitis all along.

This may seem like an exaggeration, but despair (in and out of labor) can be almost entirely out of touch with reality—even delusional. People who have lives that seem almost perfect on the outside can struggle with secret bouts of despair. Holy people who radiate joy can tumble backwards into this pit as well.

Saint Therese of Lisieux, who died of Tuberculosis when she was only 24, was described by her sister nuns as calm and peaceful, even when most ravaged by illness. But behind her serene exterior, she struggled with despair. She loved God with all of her being, but at times, He felt so far away—as if there was a wall from the soil to the stars separating her from Him.

When all hope is lost, when we hit the wall with a horrific thud, sometimes all we can do is weep. Being in labor or in the throes of a ravaging illness (physical or mental) is a little like being on a cross—there is no out—there is only a tearful, trembling way through.

The Saddest Moment

A few weeks back, I was part of a solemn, candlelit procession with a small, empty casket down a busy Chicago street. We sang “Holy God, Holy Mighty, Holy Immortal,” as taxis slowed to a snail’s pace and a fire truck with flashing lights came to an almost total stop to observe us.

We were celebrating Holy Friday, Eastern Orthodox style. Our journey through Lent into Easter (or Pascha—literally translated as “the Dawn”) is a fully-interactive passion play in which the congregation follows Jesus’ path through the cross and tomb to the hope on the other side.

At no time does hope seem further away than on Holy Friday, as we remember the moment when Jesus’ body was taken down from the cross and placed in a tomb. When you contemplate his death, (“Why would anyone kill a good man?” my three-year-old daughter asks) it is almost impossible not to ache with the horror of it.

On Holy Friday, the head priest at my church stood in front of the tiny casket and said, “This is the saddest moment.” He seemed to be struggling for more words. He blinked. He opened his mouth again. Instead of words, tears came. “This,” he said, struggling to compose himself, “Is the saddest moment. But God will never abandon those who love him.”

Hold My Hand

If we’re to keep believing this—that God is near even when he seems far, that hope is close even when it seems to be on strike, we’re going to need other people. I especially need people in my life who are able to be quiet with God, who soak up a few rays of His love and reflect them back at me when I feel most hopeless.

“When you’re struggling with despair, find the places in your life where you sense the hand of God, and grab on with all your might,” said one of my seminary mentors. For me, that place is relationships. When I’m struggling with despair, I call a few friends and I tell them my woeful, meandering tales. Even when they don’t have answers, it helps to know that they are on the other end of the line, holding me in prayer.

“The road to heaven is narrow,” this same mentor told me. “The road to hell, wide. But do you know why so many people can make it to heaven even though the road is so skinny?” I shook my head. “Because the people on the road to heaven never let go of each other,” he said.


Despair’s Secret

Long before I conceived, I used to fantasize about naming my first daughter Zephania. My mom (and husband) nipped this in the bud. My mom said, “Zepha-what?” looking at me with wide, worried eyes. Anytime you have to say back, “But, um, I think it is pretty,” it probably isn’t a keeper. My husband shook his head, slowly, and with purpose. “Sorry, Jen, Zephania was a man.”

The reason I so loved this Old Testament name is because it means “the Lord is my secret.” I imagined that giving this name to a child would be like bestowing upon her a great inheritance, or at least a delicious secret that she could feast on during the rough seasons.

There’s a nourishing secret about despair, too. I’ve experienced this in labor, in prayer, in marriage, motherhood, and in writing. Especially in labor, that moment of despair I wrote about earlier is not random. Most women who experience it hit it at a very specific time—right before they are about to begin pushing, when the labor is about to take a dramatic turn for the better—when that baby is so, so close to birth.

It’s the same way with Holy Friday. After the somber service, we rush home and slip our kids into bed and begin assembling our Easter baskets, baking special breads, ironing our best clothes. We might be a little weary, but everything we do is infused with hope. We are so, so close now, to Pascha.

Despair is the torn fringe at bottom of hope’s robe—it comes just before a breakthrough. To some it is a grave, to others, an oddly shaped door that we can only wriggle through with our arms stretched open wide, our eyes toward hope even as we make our way through shadows toward the life on the other side.

we have yet to see crazy...

this is crazy...Regardless of your opinion of prophecies, "revival," there is an urgent need for the young people to rise up and lives given over to the cause of Christ. It is more than just theological knowledge of justice and of holiness, it is a life lived out. A life laid on the altar, with everything considered loss for the sake of knowing Him and making Him known. The Salvation Army was made up of people college age and younger. C'mon c'mon!

"The COMING YOUTH REVIVAL"
-by Andrew Strom.

Some of the strongest and most persistent prophecies about the
coming Awakening say that it will be a 'YOUTH' Revival as well
as a 'STREET' Revival and a 'GREAT REFORMATION' - all rolled
into one. I totally believe these prophecies. They line up with
everything that God has been saying worldwide for years.

We are talking about a Revival with 'NEW MUSIC' - that invades
the streets with a NEW SOUND glorifying Jesus. We are talking
about an ARMY of youthful worshipping warriors. We are talking
about an invasion of the MEDIA - video, music, film, internet and
all - everywhere that young people are. We are talking about going
to WAR for this generation. The prophecies over Gen X and Y are
too strong to ignore. God has spoken- "I am going to change the
understanding and expression of Christianity in the EARTH in
ONE GENERATION."

This is what the "John the Baptist" Movement is really about. -It
is to be a radical movement of holiness and repentance - aimed
largely at the YOUTH. -And I stress the word "RADICAL".

For years our Christianity in the West has failed to give the youth
a CAUSE worth dying for. -Thus we always end up having to
"ENTERTAIN" them in the doors. No-one wants to die for a
"lukewarm" cause! But this 'Street-Revival' will be very different.

Personally, I had set aside these prophecies in recent years. I had
been right into them before that - with our music and street-
outreaches, etc. But in the last two years I had turned away. -It
seemed like the season was wrong and nothing ever came
together. It just wasn't God's time.

But with all the CHANGE that has occurred already this year,
something was beginning to stir again. And this past weekend in
Minnesota, God strongly led me to preach on 'Youth Revival' and
'Street Revival' - totally out of the blue. I had not preached on this
for years. I began to prophesy 'CHANGE' - and that the season is
NOW. -So many things confirm it. I honestly believe it to be true.
The "TERRAIN HAS CHANGED". -And we are only just beginning
to come to grips with what that really means. A new season is
opening. And those of us who are called into this need to begin
walking through God's open doorway RIGHT NOW.

A number of the prophecies about this coming Revival refer to
the Early Salvation Army (-which was one of the most radical
Street holiness movements in the history of the church). Let us
take a brief look at this movement:

The year 1878 saw the birth of one of the most outrageous,
zealous and anointed Revival movements in history - the early
Salvation Army. For it's first thirty years, it was one of the most
extreme, unusual and effective Christian movements that the
world has ever known. Made up mostly of young zealots and led
by a spiritual dynamo named William Booth, this was God's
answer when extreme measures were called for to combat the
apathy and spiritual torpor of the times.

Originally named simply the 'Christian Mission', Booth's movement
always had a 'Revival' feel about it. But it wasn't until they went
"military" in 1878, with flags, battle songs, war uniforms, etc, that
the whole thing exploded worldwide. This was no longer simply
home-missionary work. It was holy guerrilla warfare against dark-
ness and the devil. Booth's motto was:- "Go for souls and go for
the worst". It was nothing less than all-out war.

Within five years of becoming a military-style 'Army', Booth's fifty
mission stations had become 634 corps (106 of them overseas).
These soldiers were some of the most innovative, daring and war-
like disciples of Jesus that had ever walked the earth. There was
much opposition. In the year 1882 alone in England, 669
Salvationists were physically assaulted, 56 Army buildings were
wholly or partially wrecked, "skeleton armies" of local toughs were
formed to attack the Salvationists, and 86 Salvation Army soldiers
were thrown into prison for causing a disturbance on the streets.
There were literally street-riots almost everywhere they went. And
they were front-page news around the world. But all the while,
thousands were being transformed. The common people, the poor,
the orphans, the drunkards, the brawlers, the thugs - people who
never went near a church - were being converted in their droves.

The Salvationists became well-known for their rather raucous brass
band music (which was the loudest street-music around at the
time) and their anointed Repentance preaching. It was quite common
for them to form brass bands out of instruments held together by
bits of string, and with musicians who could hardly even play! One
eyewitness described the noise as sounding "like a brass band
that has gone out of it's mind." They often used the popular drinking
songs and pub songs of the day, changing the words to make them
into battle hymns or worship songs. As William Booth said, "Why
should the devil have all the best music?" (-A saying also credited
to Martin Luther and John Wesley before him).

The early Salvation Army were truly outrageous by the Victorian
standards of the day - in fact by any standards. But while respect-
able church people were often scandalised, thousands upon
thousands of sinners were converted - usually from the lowest
sectors of society that Jesus Himself had ministered to.

Then as today, the Salvationists waged a war on poverty and
hunger wherever they went. Like the apostles, it was not just
evangelism they were interested in,- it was transformation of the
whole person - spirit, soul and body. The Salvation Army became
known around the world for it's practical help of the poor and needy,
just like the early church.

With their "BLOOD AND FIRE" flags, and their uniforms similar to
the war uniforms of the day, these were God's spiritual assault
commandos - fearless and radical evangelists for Jesus. It was not
uncommon for them to pray all night and preach all day. They were
very much a 'YOUTH MOVEMENT'. (-Even their OFFICERS were
often only in their late teens or twenties).

There is no doubt that tremendous courage and DARING will be
required by those who seek to become part of such a 'Street-Revival'
today. For the modern church has grown "fat" and the devil has
been winning the war for the hearts and minds of our youth for
decades. But I believe that indeed such "daring" ones will be found.
And there will need to be "mothers and fathers" in this movement
also. (-Though they will need to be just as 'radical' as the youth).

We stand on the edge of the most momentous days in the history
of the church, my friends. I believe there is an "explosion" coming.
Are you truly ready for a 'STREET-REVIVAL'?

Wednesday, May 25, 2005

What is Love?



I saw a bunch of couples standing by the blood donation vehicle today. I guess its the romantic thing to do...to give blood...together.

Is it me or does that seem a bit vampire-ish?

Monday, May 23, 2005

We Make God Small

Ran across somewhat randomly...
...everytime we're prideful we make ourselves big and we make God small
when we're addicted, we say that we get our satisfaction somewhere else and that God is not enough for us
when we're all jacked up on pleasure, we're saying it's all about now and God and His eternal glory is lesser
when all we talk about are things, we trade the glory of I AM for trinkets made by people
when we're vengeful, we say i've gotta make it right cuz i don't think God can and we make God small
when we worry, we say i'm gonna control the outcome cuz i don't think God can and we make God small
when we have the savior complex and we're always rushing in to help somebody, we try to elevate ourselves to be the rescuer and we forget that God alone does the rescue
when we strive to be good enough for God by our works, we elevate our effort over His sacrifice
and when we're busy, we just say that our stuff's more important than God's deep, longing desire to have an intimate relationship with us
and the answer to that is glorious death - it's saying no to sin, it's crucifying the flesh, it's stepping away from the temptation and leaning into the bigness of God with abandon

~louie giglio, 7:22

Sunday, May 22, 2005

Kierkegaard insight in regards to Christ:

"Christ's deepest concern is that there are some who wil never hear his invitation. he has no fear that too many will come, because he can receive all who seek his help. But he is anxious that some will be blinded by prejudice against him. He is anxious that some will be too proud to seek his help, imaginging they are strong enough on their own. He is worried that those who convey his invitation will fail to convince people that the help offered free. Above all, he is anxious that people will be so absorbed by the pleasures of this world that they will scoff at his invitation."

About church:

"On Sunday clergymen in the pulpil talk a lot of twaddle about Christianity's glorious and priceless truths, and the sweet consolation which it offers. But it is only too evident that the Jesus Christ to whom they refer is merely an historical figure, not a living reality."

This one made me think...I used to think that a Christian nation was a GOOD thing...but I'm seeing throughout history that Christianity fails to be Christianity when it becomes insitutionalized.

"We are what is called a Christian nation. But this Christianity is not that of the New Testament. The illusion of a Christian nation is due to the power which numbers exact. I am quite sure that most people in the nation are honest enough to say, to themselves at least: 'I do not deny that, I am not a Christian in the New Testament sense. I do not renounce the world. I am not willing to die for Christ. On the contrary earthly pleasure is more important to me than spiritual truth.' Yet these same people will equally assert that they try to lead good lives, earning the respect of the neighbors, and like to have the label Christian applied to them. When millions upon millions are like this, we describe the nation as Christian, and we talk of ourselves living in Christendom. It is a most dangerous confusion."

This one is nuts:

"The established Church tries to satisfy people's spiritual wants before they feel them. It offers spiritual wants before they feel them. It offers spiritual care to people's souls before they desire such care..."

I've been thinking about this in regards to evangelism....I think we as "prophetic" people need to understand when it is time for sowing, reaping. I always thought that "speaking in tongues" was knowing how to speak the language of the heart. Sometimes people need to hear about God's judgment, other's need to know his grace. Its rarely
a one-size-fits-all formula, 4 spiritual laws or romans road.
Remembering again that it is a daily fight to live in joy...
When all around has fallen your castle has been burned
You used to be a king here now no one knows your name
You live your life for honour, defender of the faith
But you've been crushed to pieces and no one knows your pain

Come, come lay your weary head be still my friend
Come, rise I'll place my sword upon your shoulder
Come, rise with me

When tomorrow has been stolen and you can't lift your head
And summer feels like winter your heart is full of stone
Though all your hopes have fallen your skin is now your only armour
Wear your scars like medals defender of the faith

Come, come lay your weary head be still my friend
Come, rise I'll place my sword upon your shoulder
Come, come lay your faithful head, be still my friend
Come rise with me

Friday, May 20, 2005

The Vision is Jesus

I've been reading "God's Generals II: The Roaring Reformers" by Roberts Liardon. This is an amazing book chronicling the lives of John Wycliffe, John Hus, Martin Luther, John Calvin, John Knox, and George Fox.

These guys were radical...they were burned with an understanding of the scripture, and they stood resolute in the face of hypocrisy, deception, and persecution. One thing that I'm learning from this stuff is that I can no longer just be an echo. I read a lot, listen to many speakers talk about a variety of subjects...but I'm finding that if these things that I read and hear do not provoke me to action in my own life, they're useless.

At the end of the day, if the message that we heard about justice, love, or the reality of God doesn't cause me to seek God MYSELF, I'm just letting my ears be tickled. I like hearing this stuff. I like hearing stuff that is challenging. But, I don't particularly enjoy paying the cost of knowing it for myself. Its one thing to listen to a speaker speak on something and me nodding my head, a whole different ball game when that topic begins burning in my heart from my own experience.

There is a grace to move from being an echo to a voice, but is there a generation that is willing to the cost to have that intimacy with Jesus? Dang it, He's so much bigger and more worth it than we could possible begin to understand. He's bigger than our career, He's bigger than our studies, He's better than any pleasure on this earth, He's more beautiful than anything...

I can't be led by my fears, I can't be restricted by own boxes, I can't be chained by these expectations...just gotta run.

If you want it, come and get it, for crying out loud
The love I have for you, is never in doubt

Let go of your heart, let go of your head
And feel it now


Don't you want it?

Thursday, May 19, 2005

More Kierkegaard

More stuff to ponder.

"In truth it is impossible to love one's neighbor more than oneself, because love of others can grow only out of proper self-love. You cannot love your neighbor and hate yourself."

If you don't love yourself, you will be unable to love your neighbor. If you do love yourself, you can still not love your neighbor. Interesting.

"Only when love is a duty is it eternally secure. The sense of duty drives out all doubt and anxiety, because it excludes all possibility of change; whereas love based on emotion and feeling can change, and so is not secure. Emotional love may for a period be so intense that the heart burns with passion; but in that passion there is always anxiety that eventually the fire will burn itself out. This anxiety leads us constantly to test the other's love, to reassure oneself that all is well. But this testing is a sign of lack of confidence. Yet if love is a duty, a binding commitment before God, then there is no need to test. Emotions and feelings may come and go; but dutiful love lasts forever."

"...true love is eternal and unchanging. True love is simple: it makes no calculations, it does not count the cost, it does not doubt. It may seem at times that emotional love is stronger, bcause it is more intense. But we should not confuse intensity with strength."

Mmmm...stuff to chew on. *chomp chomp*

-----

If you can't directly at some one's eyes, what does that mean? Just thinking out loud here.

Tuesday, May 17, 2005

Raised from the Dead

NOTE: A few years ago we published the account of a Nigerian
pastor who had been raised from the dead - after visiting Hell.
Little did I know that our own David Kirkwood had done a thorough
investigation into what occurred. (-He ministers in Nigeria often).
Below is David's compelling report on the incident:
------------------------------------------------------------------------

"The RESURRECTION of DANIEL EKECHUKWU"
-by David Kirkwood.

Soon after it occurred in December of 2001, I heard the report of
Nigerian pastor Daniel Ekechukwu’s resurrection. Reinhard Bonnke
had been preaching at the church where Ekechukwu was resurrected
a short time before it occurred. I also watched the video documentary
of that miracle. I wanted to learn more. Since I was scheduled to
spend the first two weeks of September, 2002 in Nigeria, I told [my
friend] David Aboderin that if it would be possible, I would like to
meet pastor Ekechukwu, and I prayed that the Lord would make it
possible.

We eventually learned that pastor Ekechukwu was temporarily
staying at a hotel just five minutes from where I would be lodging
during my final three days in Nigeria. So in a country of 130 million
people, and in a city of 12 million, the man I wanted to meet was
lodging just five minutes away from me! I was given the favor of
personally meeting with Daniel Ekechukwu twice during those three
days and also talking with several people on his ministry staff who
were very familiar with his story.

The following report has been compiled from several sources: (1) from
pastor Daniel Ekechukwu himself by means of personal discussions
I had with him from September 12-14, 2002, (2) from his personal
written testimony contained in his own self-published booklet which
he gave me, titled Miracle of the 21st Century, (3) from listening to
his public testimony on September 13th at The Chapel of Glory,
Lagos, Nigeria, (4) from the documentary video produced and sold
by the ministry of Christ for all Nations, which includes the testi-
monies of pastor Daniel, the doctor who pronounced him dead,
Daniel’s wife, Daniel’s father, the mortician who embalmed Daniel,
and several pastors who were present at his resurrection, and
(5) from a personal discussion with Ede Samuel, a long-time friend
and personal assistant to Daniel, who also was an eye-witness of
many of the events surrounding Daniel’s death and resurrection.
The events described in the following report are factual to the best
of my knowledge and memory.

I am persuaded that due to complications from an automobile
accident, Nigerian pastor Daniel Ekechukwu physically died in the
late evening of Friday, November 30th, 2001, was dead for at least
42 hours, visited heaven and hell during the time of his physical
death, and was raised from the dead between 3:50pm and 5:15pm
on Sunday, Dec 2, 2001 in the basement of the Grace of God
Mission, located in Onitsha, Nigeria. Pastor Ekechukwu’s resur-
rection is the greatest modern miracle of which I’ve heard.

The Account:
On Thursday, November 29th, 2001, pastor Daniel Ekechukwu
and his wife, Nneka, had a misunderstanding that degenerated into
an argument that ended in her slapping him. He was very offended
by this incident, to the point of not even acknowledging her attempt
to reconcile the next morning. Pastor Daniel admitted that through-
out the day of November 30th, he angrily thought about how he
would put his wife in her place when he returned home. He would
not, however, make it home that Friday.

As he was driving home that evening, the brakes on his 20-year old
Mercedes 230E failed as he was heading down a steep hill, and his
car crashed into a concrete pillar that was built to prevent cars from
going over a steep embankment. He was not wearing a seat belt
(few Nigerians did in 2001, but that changed in 2003, when wearing
a seat-belt become a national law), and his chest hit very forcibly
against the steering wheel and its knob, apparently doing damage
to his internal organs, as he was soon vomiting up blood and having
difficulty breathing (not to mention that he soon lost all signs of life).
Daniel was not able to remove himself from his car, but frantic on-
lookers pulled him out. One bystander volunteered her car while
another offered to drive him to St. Charles Borromeo Hospital, not
far away on the outskirts of Onitsha.

Within minutes of their arrival at the hospital, a doctor began admin-
istering emergency treatment, but Daniel knew his body was not
responding to it. He began praying the prayer of a man who knows
he is going to die, asking God to forgive him of all his sins so that
he would be ready to stand before the Lord. He also sent for his wife,
Nneka, with whom he had refused to speak when he left his home
earlier that day. She fainted upon hearing the news of her husband’s
accident and condition, but when revived was taken by a Christian
neighbor to the hospital. Daniel’s friend, Ede Samuel (whom I
interviewed at length) was with her and essentially witnessed
everything that transpired over the next three days.

When she arrived at St. Charles hospital, Daniel’s wife burst into
tears, begging her husband not to die and leave her. The doctor
admitted that there was nothing he could do to save Daniel’s life
(keep in mind this was a Third World hospital), and so Daniel
requested that he be transferred by ambulance to Umezuruike
Hospital, 80 km away. It was on the way to Umezuruike that Daniel died.

Daniel was lying in the back of the ambulance while his wife was in
the front passenger seat. He began to feel that he was not going to
survive, so he called for his wife to come to him. He began to say
goodbye, give her instructions about certain church and personal
documents, and admonished her to take care of their sons and his
church. She began sobbing greatly and amidst her tears strongly
rebuked him for such negative statements. He was a man of God
and should have faith, and not be speaking of dying!

As she was speaking, Daniel saw two large angels (they were so
large that he later wondered how they fit inside the ambulance - one
was as big as the ambulance) who were completely white (even the
pupils of their eyes). Daniel tried to speak to the angels, but one
held his finger to his lips, motioning for his silence. The angels lifted
him on either side, and Daniel realized that there were now two of
himself. The angels were holding him under each arm of his spirit
man (which was perfectly whole), while his broken body was lying
below. Once they left the ambulance, Daniel became oblivious to
the natural world.

When the ambulance arrived at Umezuruike Hospital with Daniel’s
body, it was now late at night (Friday, November 30th), and Daniel’s
doctor was not there. A member of the medical staff, however,
examined his body and sadly told Nneka that her husband was dead
and there was nothing that could be done. Nneka refused to believe
the bad report.

So they drove to the Federal Medical Center in Owerri, but found no
doctor there either. Finally they drove to the Eunice Clinic, and there
Daniel was confirmed to be dead by Doctor Jossy Anuebunwa. There
was no breathing, no heartbeat or pulse, and Daniel’s pupils were
dilated and fixed. The doctor said that there was nothing he could
do. A death certificate was issued at 11:30 P.M., Nov 30, 2001.

They then drove Daniel’s corpse to his father’s house in a nearby
village, and naturally Daniel’s father and other family members were
heartbroken at the sight of Daniel’s dead body, weeping profusely.
Daniel’s father instructed them to take his body to Ikeduru General
Hospital Mortuary not far away. They arrived there around 1:00 am
on Saturday morning. The resident mortician, Mr. Darlington Manu,
received the corpse and the family members departed.

The primitive Nigerian mortuary where Daniel’s body was taken had
no cold storage facilities, and so the mortician injected embalming
chemicals into Daniel’s fingers and into his feet. He then prepared
to fully embalm Daniel’s body by cutting Daniel’s inner thigh in order
to insert a tube by which he could inject more embalming fluid. As
he did this, he experienced a shock that pushed him away from the
corpse. This did not surprise him, as he had experienced similar
forces before and attributed them to occult powers. (Such things
are widely practiced in Africa and highly respected by all African
pastors whom I know. Africans never understand the skepticism of
Americans regarding the reality of occult power.) After a second
attempt and a second shock that somewhat paralyzed his right
arm, he concluded that Daniel must have been a member of a
powerful secret society. He assumed, however, that after some
occult sacrifices and incantations the powers in the corpse would
subside, and he could then complete his work. (This mortician, of
course, was not a Christian, but converted after Daniel’s resurrection.)
So he instructed an assistant to lay Daniel’s body in the rear of the
mortuary where many other corpses were already laid. (Incidentally,
Daniel said that people could smell the embalming chemicals
coming out of his body for two weeks after his resurrection. They
would hug him and hold their noses.)

Around 2:00 A.M. Saturday morning, the mortician, who lived very
close to the mortuary, was disturbed by songs of worship coming
from inside his mortuary, which stopped as soon as approached
the mortuary doorway. This occurred twice. Upon searching for the
music’s source, he noticed some kind of light emanating from the
face of Daniel’s corpse. This completely unnerved him.

The mortician was so disturbed over what was happing that he
located Daniel’s father on Saturday morning to inform him of what
had been happening and to request that he remove Daniel’s corpse
from his mortuary. Then, on Saturday night, while she was sleeping,
Daniel’s wife experienced a dream in which she saw the face of her
husband, and he was asking her why they had left him in the
mortuary. He stated that he was not dead and that she should take
him to Onitsha where German evangelist Reinhard Bonnke was
preaching. She determined to do so, even though her family thought
she was out of her mind. Daniel had been dead for more than 28
hours. The family finally yielded, but purchased a casket and brought
funeral clothing for the mortician to dress Daniel. Rigor mortis had
fully set in by this time. An ambulance was hired on Sunday morning,
December 2nd, and the casket that contained Daniel’s body was
taken to Grace of God Mission (a large church) in Onitsha, about one
and half hours away, where evangelist Reinhard Bonnke was preach-
ing at an afternoon service. They arrived at the church around 1:00pm.

The church grounds were being protected by swarms of federal, state
and local security guards for the sake of Reinhard Bonnke, who has
received many death threats, and who is hated by Muslims all over
Africa. (Not to mention the fact that the World Trade Center had
been destroyed by Muslim hijackers just weeks before.) For this
reason, the security guards would not allow the casket to be brought
onto church grounds, thinking it might actually contain explosives.
Daniel’s wife loudly pleaded with them, and opened the casket to
show them her dead husband, which resulted in their mocking and
even flogging her because of her persistence to gain entrance. She
caused such a disturbance that the senior pastor was notified, and
his son instructed that Daniel’s wife be permitted to bring his body
to the church without the casket, and that it be placed in the base-
ment. Daniel’s body was laid there on two tables pushed together
in a Sunday School room.

Some believers gathered around Daniel’s body and prayed while
Reinhard Bonnke, who knew nothing of the dead body in the base-
ment, preached and prayed. Eventually, it was noticed that Daniel’s
corpse twitched, and then irregular breathing started. (By this time,
Reinhard Bonnke had left the premises entirely.) The attendant
believers began praying fervently, and because his body was stiff
and cold, they began massaging his neck, arms and legs. When
those in the sanctuary got word that a dead man below was coming
back to life, the basement room was soon jammed with people.
Suddenly Daniel sneezed and arose with a jump. It was somewhere
between 3:50 and 5:15 PM on Sunday afternoon. Daniel had died
Friday night around 10:00 PM. He slowly became fully coherent
over the next few hours.

Do you doubt this account? A report on the web site of Christ for all
Nations declares: Here are some hard facts that won’t go away. For
two days Daniel did not breathe, his heart had stopped beating. It
was in a hot climate, not suspended animation in an ice chamber.
He had been injected with a harsh chemical to keep back mortifi-
cation. As a corpse he was carted around for hours, pulled about,
and lay in an airless narrow coffin for hours. He should have had
severe brain damage, but he is alive now without any ill effects.

This is no unsupported claim of bringing someone to life privately,
as in a house. Here was a public event, an open demonstration of
revival from death. If anyone has to be named, it is Nneka. Her
incurable faith alone prevented Daniel’s burial simply to bring him
where she was convinced God could bring him back to life. She
regarded Reinhard Bonnke as a man of God and that in the atmo-
sphere of faith where he ministered this miracle was possible.
The faith of Nneka dictated the whole event and her faith was
honored. By whom? Who honored her faith? If not God, who else?

I would add to this defense that if the incident was a hoax, I doubt
that pastor Ekechukwu would have invented the story of what
happened to him when he was escorted to hell, which I will relate
next. Pastor Daniel’s message is now one of repentance to the
church, to prepare the church to stand before Jesus, and many have
indeed repented after hearing his testimony. If his story is all a hoax,
the result of this hoax is real holiness. Finally, the ministry of
Reinhard Bonnke certainly needs no promotional hoax, as his
Nigerian crusades are already attended by millions. He in fact
states that he had nothing to do with the miracle, and wasn’t aware
of the dead body in the basement of the church where he was preaching.

As amazing as the story of his death and resurrection is, what
Daniel experienced after his death is even more amazing. To him,
what he experienced between his death and resurrection could have
taken only fifteen minutes, even though he was physically dead for
almost two days. After he was lifted from his body by the two angels
in the ambulance, he soon found himself momentarily alone, but was
soon joined by a different angel. Daniel stated that if he was confused
about something that he saw or experienced, or if he had a question
in his mind, this angel immediately gave him the answer. This angel
first told him that they were going to Paradise. There was no time
expended in getting anywhere the angel took him. As soon as the
angel said they were going to Paradise, they were there.

Daniel stood with the angel and watched a multitude of worshipping
people who were dressed in sparkling white garments. He immed-
iately thought they were angels, but the escorting angel told him
that they were human beings who, “while they lived on earth, served
God and had their faith focused on Christ Jesus and lived righteously.”
None appeared to be young or middle-aged or elderly, and none had
any racial distinctives in their appearance. All were focused on a
very bright light above them, and all worshipped in perfect unison.
They would all lift their hands at once and bow at once.

Daniel did notice one man who looked elderly among the multitude,
and the thought occurred to him that perhaps that man was God,
but the escorting angel immediately corrected him. The man was
father Abraham. (Read Luke 16:19-31 for a story Jesus told that
speaks of Abraham in the afterlife.) Daniel longed to join the worship-
pers, but the angel told him that there were other things Daniel
needed to see. He told Daniel they would next go to see Jesus’
promise to His followers, the mansion He had prepared for those
whom “He would find righteous on the last day.” Immediately they
were there. Daniel said there is no earthly way to describe what he
saw. The mansion had no apparent end to its height or width. It
continually moved, and each room also revolved in some manner.
It was made of something that was transparent like glass, and the
floors appear to be made of light. Daniel didn’t see anybody in the
great mansion, but heard beautiful singing. The angel told Daniel,
“The mansion is ready but the saints of God are not. Jesus is
being delayed because Christians in the church are not ready yet.”

Next, the angel took Daniel to hell, and they stood at the gate.
When the angel lifted his hand and let it fall again, the gate opened,
and Daniel could immediately hear the awful sounds of people
screaming and weeping, but everything in hell was in total blackness.
Then a bright light shone from the angel, and Daniel could see many
groups of people in anguish. He told me of several specific groups
that went through endless cycles of torment, held captive to the
same sins they practiced on earth. One group consisted of people
who would eat their own flesh and then vomit it out onto the ground,
at which time the vomit would fly back onto their bodies and turn
back into flesh that they would eat again. The angel told Daniel these
people were those who had eaten human flesh as an occult practice.
(Such things occur in Africa all the time.) Another group, who had
stolen land from others while on earth, endlessly dug rock-hard
ground with their bare hands.

As I heard Daniel relate this scene, I couldn’t help but thinking of
how many times Scripture declares that God will repay every person
according to his or her deeds, and also promises that everyone will
reap precisely what they have sown. I remembered the story Jesus
told of Lazarus and the rich man. In the afterlife, their roles were
exactly reversed. The rich man longed for a drip of water from
Lazarus just as Lazarus had previously longed for a crumb from the
rich man’s table.

Pastor Daniel also saw the former military dictator of Nigeria. He
saw a Christian who had dabbled in occult practices and fallen away
from the Lord, and a pastor who had embezzled money from his
own church and also lied about it. The former pastor pleaded that
he would return the money if Daniel could help him escape hell.
Although there were different kinds of tortures, all of the people in
hell writhed in agony under an unseen force that would wrench
them repeatedly. All of them were shouting, wailing and gnashing
their teeth. Daniel told me that if every Christian could see what he
saw, there would be no need to preach the gospel, as every
Christian would become the gospel.

The most surprising thing is what happened next. The escorting
angel told pastor Daniel, “If your record is to be called here, you
will in no doubt be thrown into hell.” Pastor Daniel immediately
defended himself saying, “I am a man of God! I serve Him with all
my heart!” But a Bible appeared in the angel’s hand, and it was
opened to Matthew 5 where Jesus warned that if one calls his
brother a fool he is guilty enough to go into the hell of fire. Daniel
knew he was guilty for the angry words he had spoken to his wife.
The angel also reminded him that Jesus promised that God will
not forgive our sins if we do not forgive others (Matt. 6:14-15),
because we will reap what we have sown. Only those who are
merciful will obtain mercy (Matt 5:7). The angel told Daniel that
the prayers he prayed as he was dying in the hospital were of no
effect, because he refused to forgive his wife even when she
attempted to reconcile on the morning of his fatal accident.

Pastor Daniel wept at this revelation, but the angel told him not to
cry, because God was going to send him back to the earth to
grant the rich man’s request (see Luke 16:27-30). A man would
come back from the dead and warn people of hell. The angel said
that Daniel’s resurrection would serve as a sign and be the last
warning for this generation.

Finally, pastor Daniel was led to the top of a mountain, at which
there was a large hole full of darkness. There the escorting angel
handed Daniel to a man standing there whom he did not recognize
at first, but soon realized it was German evangelist Reinhard Bonnke.
The angel told Daniel that man would help him spread the gospel of salvation.

Both Daniel and Rev. Bonnke fell into the hole, and that is when
Daniel jumped up from the table where he lay at the Grace of God
mission. He was back in his body after having been dead for at least
42 hours, almost two full days.

As you may imagine, pastor Daniel greatly emphasizes in his
preaching the need to forgive those who have wronged us, lest any-
one suffer the fate he almost suffered. How important it is that we
obey Jesus’ commandments regarding forgiveness and walking in
love toward each other, as well as all the rest of His commandments.
It is indeed time for the church to repent and “pursue peace with all
men, and the holiness without which no one will see the Lord”
(Heb 12:14). Do not listen to false teachers who say that holiness
is not essential to ultimately gain eternal life. Jesus warned that
only those who do the will of His Father will enter the kingdom of
heaven (Matt. 7:21). Do not listen to teachers who say that if you
are once saved you are guaranteed that you will always be saved.
Jesus warned His closest disciples of the possibility of their not
being ready when He returned and being cast into hell (Matt 24-25).

If we expect God to forgive us, we must forgive others. That is
what Jesus solemnly promised. Are you ready to stand before
Jesus, sincere and blameless?
----------------------------------------------
-By David Kirkwood.
[For more on this incident, see
http://www.shepherdserve.org/special_reports/daniel2.htm ]

Soren Kierkegaard

Seeking God
"Let us compare two people seeking God. The first seeks God objectively, pursuing the idea of God through reason and logic. The second is driven by the infinite passion of his need for God, and feels an infinite concern for his own relationship with God. It is not possible to be both objective and subjective. The first goes to the house of God to pray, but prays in a false spirit. The second may even be worshipping an idol, but prays in a true spirit."

Passionate Response
"Christianity has declared itself to be the eternal, essential truth which has come into being in time. It requires an inwardness of faith which is an offense to the Jews and folly to the Greeks. It requires courage to believe that which is logically absurd. Yet it would surely be very strange if Christianity had come into the world just to offer a logical explanation of htings, as if JEsus himself were merely a philosopher. Christianity came into the world to demand a passionate response from each individual."

Interesting thoughts. Elaborate more later.

Monday, May 16, 2005

When all hope is lost

"When seventy years have been completed for Babylon, I will visit you and fulfill My good word to you, to bring you back to this place. FOr I know the plans that I have for you,' declares the LORD, 'plans for welfare and not for calamity to give you a future and a hope. Then you will upon Me and come and pray to Me, and I will listen to you. You will seek Me and find Me when you search for Me with all your heart. I will be found by you, declares the LORD, ' and I will restore your fortunes and will gather you from all the nations and from all the places where I have driven you,' declare sthe LORD, 'and I will bring you back to the place from where I sent you into exile." -- Jeremiah 29:10-14

Augh. Grace to press in with all my heart. Seek the LORD while He may be found...

Something unoriginal that struck me today: Why do I still seek satisfaction from things that I know are inferior to the pleasures of God? I mean, deep in my heart of hearts, I know that this thing will not satisfy, it will not deliver. Why do I still long and yearn for those things? Is it because I don't truly believe God will satisfy in those dry places? Or is it because lesser desires are often more convenient? Lower barrier of entry?

Tuesday, May 10, 2005

"God has looked down from heaven upon the sons of men to see if there is anyone who understands, who seeks after God." Psalm 53:2

Anyone?

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Been reading through some of my older posts, haha, interesting :).

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He is the answer to the question
He is the cure for the infection
He is all He says He is
He is the ultimate reflection
of holiness and true perfection
He is all He says He is

Monday, May 09, 2005

Will we be voice?

Or merely an echo of voices past?

To be quite honest, sometimes I wonder if I'm just regurgitating what others have taught me. I'm not more than a monkey, mimicking what others have said and done.

There's a knawing feeling that "what I've had, is not enough."

And sometimes I wrestle with the thought, "is there more than this?"

Just thinking out loud.

Sunday, May 08, 2005

Raw again

Just finished reading a couple chapters of "Searching For God Knows What," by Donald Miller. He's the same guy who wrote "Blue Like Jazz." I don't know if I posted after reading that book, but I'm feeling much of the same after reading this one.

I just feel raw. Emotionally bare...like someone just pulled apart all the B.S. the fakeness, all the religion, activities, responsibilities, and just said things for what they are.

I think the best part of this is that I feel like the sense of wonder has been restored again. The wonder of living, that God reached down 2000 years ago and sent His Son to restore a relationship that was so messed. I don't know why I'm posting, I just feel that I have to say something, somehow attempt to put words to something that will never be adequately described by an arrangement of letters.

After reading stuff like this, I think I need to write more. Not necessarily here, but just in general. This quote seems to identify it:

Moonstone Mick: it is important that you can put what u feel in words
Moonstone Mick: truly identify what you're feeling or else it will just turn into frustration

Word.

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I find that I don't post here as often anymore, other than putting down what I'm reading. I don't think readers mind too much...after all, there are much more interesting people to hear from on a variety of topics than myself spouting off. :) But to go off what sanachan articulated much better, I think just need an uninterrupted place to babble on and know that there are people crazy enough to read it.

Saturday, May 07, 2005

Thursday, May 05, 2005

Wednesday, May 04, 2005

Decisions

A good slice I found in my blog perusals. I concur :)

I want to be a whole person. I don't want to make decisions based purely on my heart/emotions. I don't want to make decisions based purely on my intellect. I don't want to make decisions based purely on my gut reaction. I want to make decisions based on all three. I thumb my nose at cognitive dissonance! -- SOURCE

Awaken the Dawn

"My heart is steadfast, O God; I will sing and make music with all my
soul. Awake, harp and lyre! I will awaken the dawn." (Psalm 108:1-2)

------

My heart it burns for you

I hope never I lose the simplicity of "Obsession." We may mature, grow, but my heart's cry...that my heart would burn brighter, ever clearer for Jesus Christ.

God we want to be known as a people who are completely in love with you.

Tuesday, May 03, 2005

Holiness That Burns, Love That Conquers All

Some reflections.

We're so offendeded by the messengers. So much so that we miss the message.

I'm so afraid to speak truth, to confront. And to do so in a manner of grace.

We get caught up in the imperfections of others, we forget that even we, live and do things in the midst of our imperfections.

At the same time, we're so afraid to get in the middle and love others in their imperfections. We don't associate with "sinners" (haha, there's so much irony in that statement).

Christians, time to get in the game.

Its easy to point the finger and say "they" aren't speaking the truth with love. Let me ask, what are you doing? Are you speaking the truth?

It's so easy to point the finger and say "they" are compromising by associating with so-called "sinners." Let me ask again, what are you doing? Do you love others away from their Satan games?

Jesus came with the sword because he was altogether righteous and holy, yet altogether filled with love and compassion.

I have much difficulty reconciling the two sides.

Its amazing how often those two sides offend us. We'd so much rather stay in the middle and not cause trouble either way. We've been burnt so much by the hyper-holiness crew that we forget to love. Or we've been ashamed of the compromise of those who preach cheap grace, love, and acceptance. We must do both.

Jesus, how did you do it?

--------------

They gave up the game of minimum integrity long ago...they live with holiness that hurts the eyes.

And they will love others away from their Satan games.

Starving At The Father's Table

So when they had eaten breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, "Simon, son of Jonah, do you love Me more than these?" He said to Him, "Yes, Lord; You know that I love You." He said to him, "Feed My lambs." --John 21:15

There is today no lack of Bible teachers to set forth correctly the principles of the doctrines of Christ, but too many of these seem satisfied to teach the fundamentals of the faith year after year, strangely unaware that there is in their ministry no manifest Presence, nor anything unusual in their personal lives. They minister constantly to believers who feel within their breasts a longing which their teaching simply does not satisfy.

I trust I speak in charity, but the lack in our pulpits is real. Milton's terrible sentence applies to our day as accurately as it did to his: "The hungry sheep look up, and are not fed." It is a solemn thing, and no small scandal in the Kingdom, to see God's children starving while actually seated at the Father's table. The Pursuit of God, 8.

Monday, May 02, 2005

The Narrow Road

The Narrow Road, SOURCE

As I was speaking this weekend I was challenged again by the fact that we are called to walk a narrow path and we are calling others to a narrow path.

It is the road less travelled - the less desirable road - the road of true, cross carrying discipleship.

This is what Jesus says:

But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it. Mat 7:14

For an evangelist that's a hard message to hear! We all want to see as many people as possible come to faith, but I have had a gutful of trying to motivate people who don't want to be disciples to live like disciples.

Dallas Willard sums it up well when he says:
“The leading assumption in the American church today - and the Australian one I'll add - is that you can be a Christian but not a disciple. That has placed a tremendous burden on a mass of Christians who are not disciples. We tell them to come to church, participate in our programs and give money. But we see a church that knows nothing of commitment. We have settled for the marginal, and so we carry this awful burden of trying to motivate people to do what they don't want to do. We can't think about church the way we have been.”
It seems that Jesus sees disciples as being few and far between - a rare commodity. I am still wondering what this means for how I lead and live my life in this community.

21st Century Reformation: 3rd Thesis

GO! GO again!