Sunday, July 10, 2011

A Statewide Call to Pray! Day Twenty-Three!

I don't like doing this but I felt compelled by the Lord to re-post a blog from June 2010.  My wife Kay and I were on a vacation/business trip to Arizona.  I believe one of the greatest battles we'll fight, like Jesus did, in the wilderness are "distractions."

"But I am afraid that, as the serpent deceived Eve by his craftiness, your minds will be led astray from the simplicity and purity of devotion to Christ" (2 Corinthians 11:3).

Ever since this trip began I knew that I was to make a certain stop.  It was one of those "compelling" things.  I was anticipating with excitement our trip to the Grand Canyon, our visit to Ruidoso and our stay with the McIntyre's in Arizona.  I am still looking forward to seeing our second grandson Nate on Sunday.

But one visit we had to make could only be described as a divine appointment. We had to visit the church which my parents planted as a mission congregation in Scottsdale, Arizona.  It was their second assignment and my first. They had first pastored a congregation in Moville, Iowa near Sioux City (where I was born).  I was hardly six months old when we arrived in Arizona.  My personal memories of Scottsdale are the ones formed by photographs (slides) and memories told by my parents and brothers.

I knew that I had to go to that location and stand on that land.  There was something there that I needed to see.  There was a revelation that the Lord wanted to make known to me.  It was serious.  A similar experience had happened on my previous visit to the Phoenix area in 2008.  During that visit the Lord "supernaturally" imparted to me to the desire and the anointing that my dad first carried on him to minister to Native America. My relationships with the First Nations (especially the Comanche and Cheyenne) went to new depths after that visit.  This feeling was similar.

We headed out by car for Scottsdale.  I knew the general location of the church on Indian School Road but I had last seen the building 23 years earlier.  We discovered the building but only after we had already passed it.  The car was filled with distractions.  Beverly McIntyre (who was driving) had three grandchildren in the car besides Kay and me.  We missed it on the first attempt because Beverly had received a phone call, one of the grandchildren started getting sick, the road had been widened and newer hotels and such had been built around the old church structure.  I had to call my dad and brother in Texas to verify its location.

When we arrived at the building it was obviously no longer a church. Ascension Lutheran had moved many years earlier to another location in the city (into a building designed by Frank Lloyd Wright).  Even when Kay and I saw this building 23 years ago it was occupied by an arts supply business.  Now the City of Scottsdale had taken possession of it.  It was being used for offices.  In the front reception area there were a few black and white photos of the dedication in 1952.  Besides those photos and the lights hanging from ceiling there were no signs that it used to be a church.  It was filled with beautiful artwork on the walls and cubicles across the floor. The outside had been landscaped with wrought iron fences, decorative stones and new plants.  Two large palm trees that my grandpa had planted and I watered (proof is in the slides) had been removed only months ago. The receptionist and worker who visited with us were extremely kind and excited to hear that I was the son of the original pastor. 

We took pictures and headed off to eat.  But before we did I prayed.  I felt a strong sense of something.  It was not nostalgia or old memories.  It was a strong feeling of a spirit of distraction.  I decreed in my prayer that those distractions would cease and that the Lord would restore to us a simple and pure devotion to Him.

Last night we attended the conference entitled PrayerQuake in Mesa.  Francis Frangipane from Iowa was the speaker. I personally had a hard time engaging with the Lord.  The worship was awesome but the room was filled with distractions - strobes, lights, etc.  The message of the evening was all about dying to ourselves and reclaiming a simple devotion to the Lord.  All I could see in my mind's eye was the old church building surrounded by fences, artwork and cubicles.  I closed my eyes and waited on the Lord.  I could feel His presence but the feeling was heavy.  All the right words were being spoken but there were too many distractions - especially in my own heart.

Why did the Lord want me to revisit the old church?  Why was it so important and compelling that I go there?  The answer I have this morning (but I know He is not done) is this: His church - the ekklesia - has been redesigned by man.  Though He built it to transform the world into the image of His kingdom - it has itself been transformed or conformed to the image of the world (Romans 12:1-2). He wants our simple devotion.  He does not want us deceived or distracted by the trappings and designs of the world.  We are to be instruments of change in a world that is filled with confusion, deception, distraction, fear and hopelessness.

That old church building represented a simpler day but this is not about an old building.  Its about us.  In the midst of oil spills, immigration issues, financial losses, wars and the such - the Lord calls us to Himself.  He wants more than our attention - He wants us.  He desires that our lives would be so transformed by His presence in us that we would transform the world around us. Do not be deceived by the deceptions, distractions or trappings around you - seek the Lord!


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