Seven Incredible Stories – Following Jesus is Like Wiring a House With the Current on

Notes from The 2010 Gathering on Lake Ouachita

                                                                                                    April 23-25, 2010

Following Jesus is like wiring a house with the current on.  It is exciting, and you never know when you are going to get a shot of juice.

We are used to taking in information and making decisions.  A life of faith is different.

It is not natural for grown men to get up before a large group of men and bare their souls, confessing their sins to each other and to God.  But that’s what happened.  It is supernatural, and reflects the convicting presence of the sovereign, living God.  What is natural is for men to get together, talk about women and cars, and lie about how many fish they caught.

Incredible Story #1 – Jesus as a Peacekeeper

In 1991, South Africa was on the verge of violent civil war.  Henry Kissinger from the U.S. and a top diplomat from Great Britain came to South Africa and tried to negotiate a peace.  They were unsuccessful and left. Then a pastor from Dublin called a prayer breakfast in a soccer stadium, and invited the leaders of the Zulus, Nelson Mandela, and the head of the South African government to attend. 

As they were sitting at the front table and people were singing, the head of the Zulus wrote on a piece of paper a simple plan for elections.  He passed it to Mandela and to the South African leader, and asked if this would work.  They said yes, and it was all settled.  Away from their assistants and attorneys, these leaders resolved a dangerous national crisis that would have led to enormous loss of life, while they were sitting at the head table of a Jesus rally!  God truly moves in strange and wondrous ways.

Sin leads us to cover up, to hide, and to blame each other.  That’s the way it was in the Garden of Eden. Adam and Eve covered up with leaves, they hid in the bushes, and they blamed each other. 

And that is the way it still is today.  God wants us to take the cover off, come out from in the bushes, and take responsibility.  The work of the Lord is that we believe Him and His mercy and love.  Soak yourselves in the Gospels.

Incredible Story #2 – the Peace of the Lord Which Passes All Human      Understanding

In Rwanda, a country of 10 million people with 100% of its land arable, two thousand people were killed every day for 200 days – 800,000 people were killed.  (Comparatively speaking, it would be like 60,000 people in the U.S. being killed every day for 200 days).  The speaker of their parliament, a woman who would be the equivalent of Nancy Pelosi, was in a vehicle with our speaker and a few other leaders, and they were traveling through the countryside.  They were all singing, with great joy.  She showed where her family had been killed.  She now has a new family.  She is a Tsuti, she married a Hutu, and they adopted two Tsuti children and two Hutu children.  This kind of joy is not natural; it is supernatural.

“Jesus didn’t come to eliminate suffering; He came to fill it with His presence.”                                                                      C.S. Lewis

Incredible Story #3 – If My people who are called by My name…

When Ronald Reagan took the oath of office to become the 40th president of the United States, he opened his Bible and put his hand on this verse:  “If My people who are called by My name will humble themselves, and pray and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land.”     

II Chronicles 7:14

How did Jesus spend His time?  How did He talk?  How did He think?  Who did He spend time with?  Jesus trained his guys to Be, Think, and Do.  Do the things Jesus would have us do.

Community – communion – Jesus reproduced what was in His heart with people in all kinds of ways.  When Jesus encountered the rich young ruler, He spoke to his heart. 

Jesus always talked in stories, He never bored anyone, and He always loved them.

Incredible Story #4 – The Cross as a Sign of Encouragement

Dr. Martin Luther King was wounded by a man with a knife who tried to kill him.  This left a scar the shape of a cross near his heart.  Dr. King stated:  “Every morning I am encouraged – I see this cross near my heart.”

We are human beings, not human doings.  We need to be who we are in Christ, not just always be doing things.

A ship is safe in the harbor, but a harbor is not what a ship is built for.

What is Going on in Washington, D.C.

You have been lied to.  Washington, D.C. is worse than you can possibly imagine.   There are 500,000 people in D.C. who are trying to keep fights and battles going.  We are going to put 535 people in D.C. in one building whose primary motivation is greed, and expect anything good to happen?  The natural state is toward chaos.  The second law of thermodynamics:  the natural state of things is to move toward chaos.  The gap between the people who give you the laws and you is like the Grand Canyon times ten.  They are cynical, critical people, and their pride always comes through.  But the power of God is greater than you can imagine. 

          (Our speaker was involved in the political scene in Washington)

We have the ball, and they can’t beat us.

Incredible Story #5 – Servant Leadership

When Colin Powell met with the aging Norman Vincent Peale, he noticed that his shoe laces were untied.  He knelt down and tied them.  A guard standing nearby said to his buddy: “Now you know why we are willing to follow that guy into battle.”

Be absolutely sure you are involved with a small group of guys who will hold you accountable.  Al Gore said every leader who does not have a small group of people to whom he is accountable is an accident waiting to happen.

Friendship is one means through which God reveals Himself.

Incredible Story #6 – God Makes Things Happen

When we hold a national prayer breakfast, we cast a wide net and invite a lot of people.  We invited some leaders from the United Arab Republic.  UAR is almost completely Moslem and is one of the wealthiest nations in the world, with 1 out of 5 people being millionaires.  Three guys came, and after the breakfast, they took out their checkbooks, and asked how much money we wanted.  We told them that we didn’t want their money, but encouraged them to hold a Jesus discussion group when they got back to UAR. 

When they got back, they learned that George Bush Sr. was coming, so they called us and said, “why don’t we invite him to come to our Jesus discussion group?”  We asked when he was coming, and they said “tomorrow morning”.  This led to frantic calls, including calling Barbara Bush in the middle of the night.  They finally reached George Bush Sr., who was only going to be in UAR for four hours!  So these guys started their Jesus discussion group, when there was a knock on the door.  It was George Bush, Sr., who said he only had 5 minutes.  He told them four things:  “This is the most important thing going on in the United Arab Republic.  Keep it up!  This is probably the most important thing going on in the Middle East!  Good by.”  Now what are the chances a former U.S. president could drop in on the first Jesus discussion group in the United Arab Republic?  God truly moves in wondrous ways.

God brings people into our lives who will speak truth to us.

Incredible Story #7 – Discussing the Life of Jesus

A U.S. insurance executive was living in Bangladesh when the floods came.  Bangladesh is a large flood plain, so when the rain water comes down from the mountains, it floods huge areas.  Because his house was on stilts two feet higher than the houses around him, when the floods came, it flooded all of his neighbors’ houses.  He and his wife invited eight neighbor families to come and stay with them while the water was up.  Wednesday came around, and he told them they always have a Bible study on Wednesday evenings.  So he asked them if they would like to join him and his wife.  They would spend half of the time reading the Koran and half of the time reading the Bible.  They said yes, that would be fine. 

This went on for some time, and then the Moslem families said, it’s OK with us if we don’t read the Koran – yours is a little more interesting.  This went on for some time, and then the host said: “Why don’t we try an experiment, by going out to villages, and starting Jesus discussion groups with the people in the villages, just as an experiment.  They said sure.  So they took the Jesus discussion groups out to villages.  Someone asked the insurance executive how many people they had reached so far.  With tears in his eyes, he said “over a million people.  But don’t tell anyone!  This is under the radar, and if the radical Moslems find out about it, there will be big trouble.” 

As soon as Jesus puts something on our hearts, act on it. 

Walking with the Lord is a great adventure.  Pray to be available to carry out His will.

Thanks so much to The Gathering team that put this retreat together, to our guest speaker from Minneapolis, to everyone who came, and to our Lord, for revealing Himself through this experience, this fellowship, and His Spirit.

To God be the glory

Mark Peterson