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Moses, his Fears, and His Staff 

“Now the Lord had said to Moses in Midian, “Go back to Egypt, for all those who wanted to kill you are dead.” 20 So Moses took his wife and sons, put them on a donkey and started back to Egypt. And he took the staff of God in his hand.”  Exodus 4:19-20 

Moses had to go back to the place of his failure.  He had to trust God to protect him.  He had to walk into the environment in which he was almost murdered by the previous Pharaoh, the place from which he fled into the wilderness. 

His staff was a simple piece of wood, a tool he used every day in his daily, menial work of caring for animals.  God directed him to use the tool that was earthly, ready at hand and completely unremarkable.  God turned it into a conduit for revealing his authority, presence and favor. 

What tool is ready at your hand?  A guitar?  A cell phone that you can use to share God-ideas online?  The ability to speak or write or lead or serve?  What skill do you use on almost a daily basis?  Caring for children or adults or needy?  What knowledge do you have from years of experience that God wants to embody and empower to be a tool for revealing his loving encouragement? 

What is the “Egypt” you have to walk back into?  What fears do you face every day as you say a simple ‘yes’ to God’s invitation?   It’s not about your abilities, it’s about “I AM THAT I AM” being with you. 

On a natural level, Moses had plenty of reasons to lack confidence.  He wasn’t an articulate speaker.  He had murdered a man when he was still part of the royal household.  He was a very reluctant leader. 

God called him to do something way beyond his own little world of caring for flocks.  He called him to deliver people out of slavery to a cruel dictator.  It wasn’t about the wow factor of doing miracles.  The miracles were a tool to bring freedom and God’s blessing to an oppressed people.

Ride the Wave  

There have been thousands of “waves” of the Holy Spirit throughout church history.  Here’s one example: in the country of Wales, between 1762 and 1862 there were at least 15 outstanding revivals (see “Revival Comes to Wales” by Eifion Evans). 

I grew up in Southern California, and did some surfing.  I never surfed enough to became a good surfer.  But I did learn some of the fundamentals of the sport.  There are many parallels between catching a wave on a surfboard and catching a wave of the Holy Spirit. 

What do you do when you surf a wave? 

1.  Watch for it.  While we are never without the indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit, it’s good to always be looking for incoming waves.  When you see people being touched and hear stories from near and far about extraordinary things God is doing, you are seeing incoming waves that might reach your own shores.  This raises your faith level, and spurs you on to seek the Lord diligently, to pray and listen and respond to him. 

2.  Get yourself in a position to catch it.  Being in the right place at the right time is supremely important in surfing waves.  You learn it by doing it.  Simply go where there are waves and you pick up the knack for being in the right place.  Things of the Spirit are “more easily caught than taught.”  So hang around people and places that are receiving and giving away the Holy Spirit’s blessings.  Several years ago I was in Hawaii on a ministry trip (poor me, someone has to do it).  I got a couple of brief surfing opportunities with my son, Ben.  While I was paddling to catch a wave, one of the local surfer women shouted out, “go, go, go!”  She could see I needed to pick up the pace to catch the wave.  We need friends around us to cheer us on towards our spiritual goal. 

3.  To catch the wave.  You have to build up speed to catch the wave, which means you have to paddle hard. I relate this to having good spiritual habits.  You learn to pray by praying.  Just as surfers build up strong upper body muscles through lots of paddling, we build up spiritual muscles through frequent practice.  Mother Teresa said, “Prayer is a 2-way conversation.  God speaks, we listen.  We speak, God listens.”  The Holy Spirit is our constant inner teacher.  We tap into what he is saying by maintaining a posture of prayer. It’s not easy to catch a wave in surfing, but the more you do it, the easier it gets.  (I think it’s much easier to receive the Holy Spirit than to catch a beach wave!) 

4.  When you’re on the wave, you move in response to the wave.  You “do what the wave is doing.”  Keep listening.  Abide in him.  Get your instructions from him.  Do what he says.  In Paul’s teaching on discerning spiritual things, he says, “we have the mind of Christ” (1 Cor. 2).  If we have access to the mind of Christ, that means he can potentially be feeding us his thoughts non-stop.  Because we aren’t perfect receptors for his thoughts, we miss a lot of stuff.  Nevertheless, he is always ready to lead and guide. (Every analogy has weaknesses.  In a sense, we are always on a wave of the Holy Spirit because he is connected to our own human spirit.  See 1 Cor. 6:17, 2 Peter 1:4).  In surfing, you “feel” your way along the wave.  Not unlike moving with the Holy Spirit. 

5.  The power comes from the wave, not from us.  If we abide in him, we will bear much fruit by virtue of our connection with his love, wisdom and power.  This is liberating.  We never have to produce the power, and we never take the credit, because he is the source of every blessing.  

Good waves come in sets of 6 or 8, then there’s a lull, then another set rolls in.  Watch and wait for the right times to surf.  If there are no waves, go have a barbeque on the beach!  At all times, love one another, serve the needy, and do the “main and plain” things that every Christian should do. 

6.  Riding a beach wave is unlike any other feeling I’ve had.  It’s definitely a euphoric experience.  I think it’s even more fun than skiing or snowboarding – being smoothly carried along by a very powerful force.  For me, these euphoric feelings in surfing have been few and fleeting.  The Holy Spirit’s presence in us is much more constant and dependable than a beach wave.  He is always with us.  We don’t focus on euphoria, we focus on him, and sometimes he gives us a taste of heaven, and helps us to help others experience the same wonderful freedom. 

7.  Disclaimer.  Maybe the biggest weakness of this analogy between surfing and responding to the Holy Spirit is that surfing is and individual sport and immersion into the Holy Spirit is best done in relationship with others. 

8.  Watch for waves!  Paddle hard!  Trust the wave-Maker.  Be connected to a community of comrade-Holy Spirit-surfers.

“God is Love” Song Story 

I am inspired to write songs for many reasons.  One way I catch a vision for a new song begins with seeing a need.  I sometimes do music for a dinner outreach to needy people.  It’s one expression of Nightshift, near where l live in Surrey ( 

As we play and sing, looking out over the crowd, you see a lot of abused folks who came from broken homes and have struggled to survive on every level – emotionally, socially, physically and spiritually.  Many of them did not have a safe family of origin.  Home wasn’t a place they wanted to be. 

Seeing this group—a mix of the working poor, wandering teenagers, addicts, sex-trade workers and homeless—inspired me to write, “God is Love.” 

God is Love 

Have you been struck down, have you been bruised 

In danger and so afraid? 

Have you been slandered, hurt and abused 

And you barely have the strength to pray? 

There is a home, there is a shelter, 

There is a hiding place 

Jesus is here, his healing is near you today 


God is love, pouring like a waterfall over you 

Taking all your pain, taking all your bitterness away 

God is love, crashing like a breaker over you 

Darkness and death can no longer hold on to you 

Verse 2 

He’s your defender, he’s your protector, 

Run to the shadow of his wings 

Rest like a baby, in his tender mercy, 

There is healing in his wings 

He is your home, he is your shelter, 

He is your hiding place 

Jesus is here, his healing is near you today 


This is the kingdom, this is the life, 

It’s what you’ve been waiting for 

This is the freedom, this is the love, 

It’s what he has made you for

On the Road Again 

Here are a few highlights of worship events from this fall in India, Langley, BC, Penticton, BC and St Louis, Missouri. 

A conference in Dehradun, India at the Vineyard church pastored by Sunny and Vika Gilbert.   This Vineyard was planted 20 years ago and is a fruitful sending church.  Lots of wonderful people and a great time with folks from many different churches in the region. 

Meetings in Delhi, India’s capitol city, hosted by Aradhna Vineyard.  This church is pastored by Emmanuel and Joyce Qureshi, a wonderful couple who were born and raised in India, moved to the U.S. for around 3 decades, and then moved back to Delhi to plant a Vineyard church when they were 60 years old.  It is a fruitful Vineyard with a wonderful 2nd congregation in a low-income neighborhood.  Lots of children from Hindu backgrounds are attending their services and equipping center. 

A worship weekend at Penticton Vineyard in B.C.  This 31-year old Vineyard is full of great people.  Really enjoyed hanging out with their worship teams.  God visited us in a special way in those meetings.  Always great to see Hart and Louise Loewen. 

A worship conference at Hope Vineyard in St. Louis, Missouri.  What fun to be back together with many of the band members from my Anaheim Vineyard days.  John and Audra Wyrosdick, David and Laurie Klein and Leo Song and I had a great time worshiping together and hanging out.  Some people were healed of physical ailments on Friday night.  I enjoyed staying with Robert and Kim Stovall, the pastors. 

In the 2nd half of November I’ll be in Denmark and Sweden for more worship events…Vineyards in Copenhagen and Gothenburg, a worship school in Umeå and a Nordic Vineyard worship leaders retreat.  Looking forward to it!

I Love to Write Songs 

I have been enjoying writing songs for over forty years.  I started when I was seventeen years old, right after I met the Lord.  Never dreamed that I’d write so many songs and sing them in so many places. 
I write songs for many reasons:  for my own “musical journaling,” for congregational worship, to bring encouraging messages through song both to the church and the pre-Christian audience. 
In my upcoming video tutorials, I’ll share a lot of my experience and pass along wisdom from many other songwriters and authors. 
Series 2 (coming out in Spring 2017) will include live video interviews with many other songwriters. 
Series 1 of my Songwriting Workshops includes these topics: 
Seven Reasons to Write Songs 
The Gift of Songwriting 
Ten Inspiration Situations 
The Discipline of Songwriting 
Flee Perfectionism 
Dodging the Fame Game 
The Anatomy of a Song Review 
I hope you can take away some helpful thoughts from this series!

God Takes Notice 

Yesterday evening, my band mates and I had a great time leading worship at the nightly meal at Nightshift Street Ministries in Surrey.  It was cold, but bearable – right around the freezing mark.  First time I can remember playing the guitar with a half-glove on my right hand.   We did a mix of worship music and secular songs with a good message, like “Lean on Me” (Bill Withers), “Peace, Love and Understanding” (Elvis Costello) and “Yahweh” (U2).  I add to the mix some prayers and short words of encouragement between songs.  Basically, we’re doing church for people who are too broken to come to a typical church. 
There were around 50 people having dinner and maybe a dozen volunteers serving food, talking with folks and praying for them. 
At the end, when I was packing up and walking to my car, a fellow followed me to my car.  In that setting—a mix of street folks and working poor, you always wonder what kind of encounter you’re going to have when one of the guests approaches you. 
“Alberta Jim” introduced himself as an artist who was staying in the homeless shelter across the street.  He was a “normie”—not an addict, and not destitute.  He owns a home in northern Alberta, but while staying in Surrey to be treated for Leukemia, he is staying in the homeless shelter. 
Last summer, he heard our band for the first time from across the street.  He said with a glimmer in his eye, “that’s not a stereo…I gotta check this out.”  Anyway, he said our music “changed his life.”  He was very grateful for our playing.  He also attends a weekly art class at Nightshift and says that hanging around Nightshift has taught him to be “more humble.”   There’s nothing quite like it when the Holy Spirit reaches into people’s hearts through the magic of live worship music. 
The Lord is gracious and compassionate…the Lord is good to all that he has made.  The Lord is good to people like Alberta Jim.  To those of who you serve the needy and lead worship in humble situations, never forget that God takes notice when you serve people like “Alberta Jim.”

Worship and Mission: Interdependent and Essential  

A few weeks ago I spent some time at the YWAM base in Lakeside, Montana.  I love the commitment to both Worship and Mission that is so evident in this community.  They love to draw near to God to know him better and better.  And they are fiercely committed to sharing the wealth of God’s goodness with their neighbors and the nations. 
Here are a few things I know about worship and mission: 

As we worship authentically, we see God, and know his love.  We get a taste of how good and beautiful he is and we overflow with gratitude.  We realize that every good thing in our lives comes from him. 

Knowing his love naturally leads to a desire to give away his love.  To put it another way, we worship because we love and we love because we worship.  

We can easily get sidetracked and distracted from the call to give away God’s love.  The biblical model of receiving leads to giving can get muddled by a watered down, self-centered vision of worship. 

This morning, my family sent off Jessica, my 24-year old daughter to go on a 9-month missions trip to Hong Kong and the Philippines.  She has caught the heart of worship and mission!  She is active in worship leading ministry and is now going overseas to help those who have been abused. 
Below are the lyrics to my song, Empowered.  Jesus told his disciples: “I have given you authority…”   It’s important for us to receive prayer for repeated fillings of the Holy Spirit.  But it’s also possible to wait forever for an empowering that we already have.   We’ll never feel 100% ready to “go and make disciples.”  It’s a step of faith!  Jesus has promised that he’s always with us.  If we keep on worshiping and pressing into him, we’ll have the strength to keep on GO-ing and loving people in Jesus’ name. 
My beloved children, I’ve filled you with my Spirit 
You are empowered to go 
I’m strong when you feel weak 
All you’ve got to do is trust me 
You are empowered to go 
The fields are white for harvest but the workers are few, 
So I’m sending you 
To go and bear fruit in all that you do 
For the kingdom of God is with you 
The doors that I open, no one can shut 
The kingdom of God is with you 

I’ve given you authority to bring my liberty 
To heal the sick in my name 
In the name of the Father, the Son and the Spirit 
It’s time to take a step of faith 
The fields are white for harvest but the workers are few, 
So I’m sending you 
Go and make disciples of all of the nations 
Baptizing them in my name 
Teach my commandments and always remember 
I am with you to the end of the age 
I will be with you, I will be with you

Looks Like the Book of Acts 

Just got back from a 17-day trip to St. Stephen’s Society in Hong Kong.  Here is what I saw and absorbed and want to live: 
1.  A Culture of extreme generosity. Everyone is generous to everyone else.  They demonstrate the maxim: Give and it will be given to you. 
2.  Close community.  Sharing life, friendship, laughter, breaking bread together day-by-day. 
3.  Helping the poor...lifting up the downtrodden…freeing the oppressed…welcoming the outcast.  A few hundred people living with them in different properties around Hong Kong—from teenagers to the elderly. 
4.  A steady stream of people coming to Christ. Example:  Their “Go Kids” program welcomed around 1,000 mostly non –Christian parents and toddlers on Good Friday, for worship, a chance to receive Christ and games for the kids. (see picture above with my son and daughter, Jessica and Ben)
5.  Healings and deliverance from demonic oppression. 
6.  A very strong emphasis on worship and the Bible. 
7.  Slow steady growth of this ministry began by Jackie Pullinger 50 years ago, now with affiliate communities in several other nations. 
It really does look like the gospels and the book of Acts. 
How I will try to follow this example: 
1.  1 day at a time 
2.  1 person at a time 
3.  Don't let my life get too busy and cluttered with things that don’t really matter. 

Numb Fingers 

Our fingers were numb before the set started.  The temperature was 5 degrees Celsius (41 Fahrenheit). Last night, our band set up the PA and our instruments outdoors at Nightshift (  We played for an hour while people ate. This is a nightly dinner served for people in need.  The volunteers mingled with the crowd, and prayed for some. 

We’ve been playing at Nightshift a couple times per month since last summer.  In the winter, it’s kind of crazy but it’s always fun.  We bundle up in several layers and my guitar goes way out of tune because it’s so cold.  Why is it fun?  Because we love to play good music together and see people touched by God—mostly people who wouldn’t go inside a regular church.  This is the closest thing to church they have.  Most of them are too broken and wounded to have the courage to walk into a traditional church (even if it’s a church that would welcome them). 

Another reason it’s fun is that we can play whatever we want to, and turn it up.  It’s not the regular “church rules.”  When you play outdoors during a meal, the boundaries of what’s appropriate are much larger.  Outdoors, the sound disperses and you don’t have people complaining that it’s too loud. 

Last night was typical – a handful of guys approached us to express their gratitude for our music, and our willingness to serve.  They always tell us what a huge difference it makes that we’re there.  It creates an entirely different atmosphere to have worship music (along with a few secular/Christian tunes) playing during the meal.  We welcome the Holy Spirit to speak and heal and he does it. 

This is where the action is.  “The meat is in the streets,” as John Wimber used to say.  It’s in giving that we receive.  We started playing at Nightshift because it was an obvious opportunity to bless the poor with our gifts of music and worship. 

God healed my arms in 2014 to show his love for me and to enable me to worship in places like Nightshift.  Freely you’ve received, freely give.