I have performed six Christmas concerts so far this December. Todays concerts were especially interesting. At the Rehab facility there was a young man named Vang (I believe he was Hmong) who seemed very interested in my Gospel presentation. When I prayed with the group he may very well have prayed with me to receive Christ and was eager to recieve a Gospel of John. He started reading it right away. I also felt led to give him a copy of my CD and he said he was glad to meet me. I am very glad because I think we have a new member added to the family of God!
At my last concert this evening I felt impressed to share about a movie I had seen called Joyeux Noël about a three day treaty that happened on several of the frontlines of World War 1 in 1914.
Here is the trailer for this movie:
It all started with the singing of Christmas carols among the soldiers.
A man spoke up at my concert, “Yes, it’s true. My dad was there and witnessed this event.”
Please be praying for me that as I continue sharing the Gospel that many will respond and also that I continue to be led by the Holy Spirit as I was today.
The next morning at Grace House I woke up, ate a brownie, read my Bible, had some fellowship and prayer with a brother there, and set out on the road. The day was absolutely perfect. It was such a beautiful morning! Sunny skies, the perfect temperature for a walk, and that fresh morning smell in the air. It was indescribable!
As I was walking south on Highway 49, a girl named Charity picked me up. She told me that years ago her mother had picked up her father while he was hitchhiking. Ladies, don’t pick up hitchhikers! I can vouch that they are known to be unstable and shady characters. Charity, as her name implies, was really nice. She tried to buy me lunch but I couldn’t eat. (In fact I had eaten very little over the past two days and this continued throughout the entire trip. I do remember, however, drinking several Cokes along the way and ended up with stomach ulcers.)
Charity even trusted me in her truck with her keys while she stopped to run some errands and I trusted her with some of my lame poetry about God. Finally she dropped me off at a truck stop on the way to Baton Rouge.
Here is an example of one of the poems I left with Charity:
Flying into the Glory
Flying along in a spacious canopy of air
At four thousand feet not a worry to spare
All I could think of was God’s gracious presence
His warmth and intimacy and his great transcendence
As I gazed out the window I heard him say so clear,
“I love you my child, you to me are so dear”
“Thank you my father” was all I could say
As his joy filled my heart in such a marvelous way
“I love you sweet Jesus” was my hearts cry
You gave me so much when you suffered and died
A streak of light out the window then caught my eye
“The engines aflame, we’re all gonna die!”
The intercom blared, “stay calm, don’t panic.”
But hysteria mounted with all passengers frantic
“Jesus”, I prayed, “Your will be done”
“Welcome home”, he replied, “my beloved son”
A brilliant flash, billows of flame
For a moment I felt intense searing pain
Then instantly riding in a chariot of fire
It was awesome to gaze upon my true desire
Permeated with the most intense brilliant light
As the word of God echoed, “there shall be no more night”
Angels flew by my side with joyous glint in their eyes
Celebration for me? It was such a surprise
The death of his saints so precious in his sight
My moment had come, it was time to delight
Hovering over a great sea of glass
I strode up to his throne, finally at long last
I knelt down and bowed low, submissive to HIM
He stooped down in love and lifted my chin
He gazed into my eyes and then I realized
His love is so real, a truth most people despised
Forever will I, praise him and glorify
The most worthy, most holy, Jesus Christ
A poem by Daniel Lovett – August of 1996
Near the truck stop a man was stopped on the side of the freeway on ramp cleaning out his car. I just assumed that he had stopped for me, which wasn’t the case, but he was nice enough to give me a ride all the way to New Orleans after a quick stop by his home in Baton Rouge. He told me he had been debating about whether to go to New Orleans at a friends invitation anyway.
The drive along the elevated highway through the alligator and snake infested swampland was interesting to say the least. As we drove he told me about how New Orleans was below sea level and how they buried 90% of people above ground.
When we arrived in New Orleans I stopped to pick up a map for $2.95 so I could locate the YWAM house. When the cashier handed me back a nickel after I handed him 3 dollars, it reminded me of what the man said to me the night before about my faith being worth less than a nickel. How valuable is our faith to God? Priceless.
On the third day of hitchhiking I arrived at the YWAM base in New Orleans. While I was at the YWAM base in Lindale, Texas they had called ahead to the YWAM base in New Orleans so they could expect my arrival. It seemed that the Lord had planned for everything.
It was so surreal to finally be there in New Orleans. I met a man at the YWAM base who greeted me right away and prayed for me thanking God for sending me. He told me his story about how he had been a drunk. One day while intoxicated he tried to jump onto a moving train for the fun of it and slipped and fell. The train took off his arm. Now, though missing his left arm, he loves Jesus with all his heart. (I later learned that he was inspired by my journey and took a “Spirit-led” trip of his own to Seattle.)
I met another man who was a seasoned evangelist. I wish that at the time I had been more teachable and more mature. I would have listened more and tried to learn from his experience. He had a practice of handing out Gospels of John. This is a practice that I picked up and still continue to do in my ministry in the nursing homes.
I had also learned that Carman, a famous Christian singer, was putting on a concert and also that Benny Hinn was in town doing a healing crusade that same night I arrived. That first night I took a walk down along the levee along the Mississippi river and prayed. I walked down to a bar and stood outside it. An older man came out to me and said, “What do you see boy?” Without thinking I said, “I see Jesus Christ.” The man stumbled back when I said that – visibly shaken.
Another man came out of the bar and stood next to me. I learned that he was a Native American from the Pacific Northwest where I had grown up and we got to talking. I told him of my hitchhiking adventure and that I had come to share the good news of Jesus with people. I don’t remember how it came up but I remember telling him that lust was a shameful sin. He tried to justify it saying that if women were willing to do it then what’s the harm. He finally admitted to me that it was wrong and I was able to pray with him.
MARDI GRAS (FAT TUESDAY)
New Orleans is crazy wicked during Mardi Gras. I saw pimps with prostitutes parading down the street and all sorts of vulgarity on display. I mostly stayed on the street closest to the river. I couldn’t even go to Bourbon Street (the fourth street in from the river and where most of the activity was) because it was just so spiritually oppressive.
I spent most of the time just praying and talking with people about Jesus. I approached people and prayed with whoever I felt the Holy Spirit lead me to. I soon got separated from the two guys I was ministering with because I spent too much time talking with one older guy.
I once found myself standing next to this younger guy about my age who exposed himself to a group of girls on a balcony for some beads. As he was zipping up his pants he looked down and read a Christian tract lying face up on the ground. The cover read, “How will we escape the fires of Hell?” This guy said, “Well, I’m just glad that God is a forgiving God.” This guy was like me. We were the same. We are all the same. Every one of us is in need of a forgiving God. We are all very screwed if God isn’t forgiving.
One time on the ferry I approached a young man to share Christ with him and he said to me, “Get the f*#! away from me or I’ll kill you.” I walked away. On that same ferry there was a ministry evangelism team doing a skit/song & dance and sharing about Jesus.
I wasn’t afraid because I had the philosophy that what you project into the world has a way of coming back to you. People respond to love and kindness. I wasn’t going around preaching a “turn or burn” message but simply sharing God’s love and praying with people. Scripture says that while we were at our worst Christ died for us and where sin abounds, grace much more abounds. It’s called “good news” for a reason. It’s good news for even the worst of us sinners.
My favorite experience happened on the day after Mardi Gras. For the first time in my life I set foot in a Catholic Church. I went with Charamie, a girl I had met there at YWAM, because she invited me. I was struck by how similar the message was compared with all the various other Christian churches I grew up in. I was also impressed that I didn’t feel judged even though I looked just like any other guy who had partied hard the night before. I had a hair wrap with the colors of Mardi Gras in my hair – Purple, Gold, and Green.
I was told by one of my new friends the following Christian representation of the colors: The purple represented the royalty of Jesus – the gold, the splendor and glory of his kingdom – and the green the new life he brings. The priest put the wafer on my tongue, “the body of Christ” he said and marked my forehead with the ashes in the form of a cross.
Charamie and I then spent the day with a homeless street musician named David who played the harmonica. He had a box full of harmonicas and would play the most amazing tunes. He would say to a passerby, “Spare change for a white piece of trash?” The joke was on them, he would say, because he was just exposing what they were thinking anyway. He showed us around and introduced us as locals. We had lunch together on Bourban Street and I had my first Po-Boy shrimp hoagie sandwich and for no apparent reason got a bloody nose in the restaurant. I had Charamie carry my money for me. I told her that if people asked me for my money I would just give it all away.
That reminds me of the previous day when I had approached a man to share Jesus with him and he thought I was asking for some money. He had that look of feeling sorry for me and I could also tell he didn’t want to give me money but dug in his pockets for some change. Before I knew what was happening he was handing me some change and I didn’t know what to do except thank him. A woman nearby said, “You don’t need that! Give it back to him!” So I did. I did wonder if God was intervening at that moment perhaps saying through the incident, “No child of mine will ever have to beg on the street.”
The following day I was walking down Bourbon Street again with Charamie. As I walked past a restaurant I felt inclined to go in and pray for a woman. I walked in and went to the back where she was. I talked with her and when she told me that she was blind I wasn’t sure what to do. Did God want to heal her? I had no idea. I tried to pray for her but she became hostile, told us not to touch her and yelled at me to go away. The staff at the restaurant was giving me a bewildered and shocked look and so I left not knowing what in the world had just happened. What was that all about?
What does it mean to be led by the Spirit? Are we just ordered around blindly and compelled to do what He says? What if we don’t obey? Does he leave you like he did king Saul and move on to someone who will listen? Once, after I had got home, I was sitting on the couch praying and I heard the Lord say, “Stand up.” So I stood up. He said, “Go to the door.” So I went to the door. “Go back to the couch.” So I did. “Sit down.” So I sat back down. And then He asked me, “Is this what you want?”
I knew in that moment that a life of faith was far more than just blind obedience to some supernatural guiding voice. God has in mind for us something far more intimate. He wants a partnership. He wants a friendship. It would take many more years for me to learn this lesson… and I’m still learning.
What thoughts do you have in regards to the relationship God would want to have with you? What difficulties do we face in realizing this relationship? What can we do to foster it? Leave a comment!
I chose to write a blog on baptism because I wanted to force myself to learn more and research this further. When I first started my research, I began to realize just how ignorant I was and, though I felt I was onto something with the few insights that I did have on the subject, I had to admit I did have some mistaken ideas. I also began to realize that this subject is a “can of worms” for many people. Churches and denominations have their lines drawn in the sand regarding baptism. Sometimes their beliefs land in agreement with Jesus and the apostles, but other times… not so much. I think also that there are some unfounded fears and superstitions regarding baptism. (see comments)
I found that the internet and Wikipedia are definitely not the place to go to research baptism if you want sound teaching (this probably goes for any important spiritual subject). The top two sites that came up in a search for baptism teaching, though well researched and presented, I believe, came to wrong conclusions.
The most important thing regarding spiritual matters, is to find out what Jesus and the apostles have to say on the subject and somehow manage to not misinterpret them. This is a huge task that I am not going to pull off (nor attempt to) in a single blog. Instead, I will share my experiences and a few thoughts and leave it at that. I am not the end all be all of spiritual truth – we have the word of God and the Holy Spirit for that.
My Experience With Baptism
I was maybe seven years old I was first “baptized” at Riverview family Bible camp. My mom asked me if I wanted to be baptized and I said yes. The pastor tried to explain baptism to me but I don’t think I understood a word of it. I probably had quite a puzzled look on my face as he explained baptism, but he baptized me anyway. I remember standing down by the river wearing the white robe with the other people about to get baptized and wishing I could go play on the water slide.
Many years later, when I was 18, my best friend Jacob was getting baptized through our church Calvary Chapel. He asked me if I would join him and I told him I’d be happy to. I had just come back to the Lord that year and I was excited about God. I was so excited about God that, as often as I could, I would go to every church service and college group that I could possibly find around Spokane Washington where I lived. I loved hearing God’s word and being around God’s people. I regularly went to Calvary Chapel and a church called Life Center, both excellent and wonderful fellowships where I sensed God was doing amazing things.
My friend Jacob and I went through a class about baptism at Calvary Chapel and then the day came for us to be baptized. The experience itself was unremarkable. A dove did not descend. I can’t say the experience changed anything for me.
I also remember something that happened at a church called Life Center about that same time. They had a big baptism service there every so often and they would encourage those who brought a person to faith in Christ to be the one to baptize them. They had pastoral staff there to guide the whole process. I had a friend named Claire who wanted me to baptize her. She wanted her sins to be washed away. So there I was, having just come back to God and to my faith, wearing a ying and yang t-shirt baptizing my friend.
A Few Thoughts on Baptism
Baptism is one of the few words in the Bible that has never been translated from the Greek into English. Baptism is from the Greek noun Βάπτισμα – baptisma. It means “to immerse”. So, I thought, why was this word transliterated instead of being translated? Why not use the word “immersed” instead of simply Englishifying this Greek word?
Up until last week I thought it was a conspiracy. I believed that the translators of Scripture didn’t translate the word just to accommodate already well established church practices. If the Greek word means “to immerse”, can you guess why the translators would hesitate to render its true meaning? Church practice for centuries was to sprinkle the foreheads, or pour water over the head, but not to fully immerse them. I am under the impression that there is a great deal of superstition around baptism as well. I believe some churches practice infant baptism thinking it best to do this as early as possible so as to save them from an eternity in hell… so they think.
Peter writes that baptism is not a matter of the removal of filth from the body (the physical act of washing) but about the spiritual reality that baptism represents. Just like the Jewish practice of circumcision represented a spiritual cleansing of the filth of the flesh – the removal of sin, so now baptism represents the death and burial of our old life and the resurrection to a new life by the Spirit of God. It truly is the spiritual reality that means something, and the physical act is pointless without this. So what significance does the physical act play?
Think about how differently certain commands of Jesus would read if this word had been translated:
“Go therefore into all the world and make followers of Christ, immersing them in the name of the Father Son and Holy Spirit. Teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you.”
Immersing them in the name. Not immersing them in water per say, but in a name. What would this signify?
However, I could not ignore the fact that most of the instances that baptism is talked about or commanded, it is referring to the Christian rite of baptism. It seemed then to make sense then why the translators would not translate the word. If the word does in fact most often refer to the “rite” of baptism, then it may just add confusion to the subject to say immerse… unless that’s what God and the apostles actually meant to say. What do you think?
I came to see that I was not at liberty to spiritualize “baptism” into solely a mystical experience of being immersed in God. But, that the physical act also matters to God and is commanded by God. I have a lot more to learn but I’d love to hear back from you. Is there something you think I should know or am overlooking in this brief look at baptism? Leave me a comment!
My new found friend Neal wanted to hear my story. He was interested in a particular story from my past about a hitchhiking adventure to New Orleans during Mardi Gras to share Jesus with people on the street. Neal and I had just met one week before at church and became instant friends. We were out for lunch with some other friends one Sunday and my journey to New Orleans had come up in conversation. A few details of the story intrigued Neal. First, that I had worked at Gospel for Asia, and the other was that one of the places I had stopped along my journey just so happened to be the same place where Neal had found the Lord, found freedom from drugs, and found his wife.
Before meeting Neal for coffee, I was nervous about talking about this particular story. It had been awhile since I had even thought about it and I feared that this particular story would give this much younger brother in the Lord a false impression of how faith is fundamentally expressed. (God’s Word tells us that faith expresses itself through love.) And so, after a bit of soul-searching and thoughtful prayer, we met for coffee and I shared the following story:
It was 1998 and I was 21 years old. I had been serving full time on staff at Gospel for Asia’s home office in Carrollton Texas for the past nine months. I ran errands, worked in the mail room, and answered phones. Gospel for Asia is an organization that connects sponsors to native missionaries in India and the surrounding countries.
I was involved with a few other ministries as well. I played bass on the worship team at my church (Calvary Chapel of Dallas), and I had also just started playing bass with a band that played at nursing homes and prisons.
It all started on February 15th, 1998. I was at the end of my rope and feeling the burn around my neck. I felt like there was no one who I could talk to or relate to. I was an outsider, disconnected. It seemed like everyone else knew how to be a Christian but me, and honestly, being a Christian seemed pretty lame.
I was growing desperate, and struggling with my identity as a Christian. I had no one to confide in – and certainly no one to help me through the issues every young man faces. What was the worst, however, was that I felt so disconnected from this God I was trying so hard to serve and to please.
Well, that February night I was heading home after playing a concert at a nursing home and feeling so desperate that I knew I couldn’t go home. So I drove to my church and parked in the empty lot. As I sat there all the anguish and frustration boiled to the surface and I screamed and hit and shook the steering wheel in frustration, “God, please help me!”
Though the lot was empty I decided to walk to the church anyway. I needed to talk to someone. I knocked loudly and waited – not expecting anyone to come, but then someone did come. A man I had met before was staying at the church. I had remembered him from a Bible study and I felt I could trust him.
He invited me in and we talked. I told him about all the stuff I was feeling and struggling with and about how desperate and depressed I felt. He encouraged me with a Scripture in John 3 about how those who come to the light love the truth, while those who hate the truth avoid the light. He said, “Daniel, you are coming to the light. This is good.” And then, he prayed for me.
Honestly, I didn’t feel any better at the time. I left still feeling depressed.
Later that night I was in bed and began praying. I prayed for a neighbor girl and a few others and then something amazing and miraculous started happening. The Lord’s presence come into the room. I can’t express to you how tangibly real this was. God was in my room! All my burdens lifted in a moment and I started praying in a different language. The praying grew more and more intense and it got so loud that I thought for sure I would wake my mom and brothers.
I then felt what I believe now to be the Lord’s presence (Holy Spirit) course through my body starting at the top of my head and moving to my toes and back again. It was in that moment that Jesus then commissioned me and gave me my calling, namely, “to proclaim his name.” With the commission came the understanding of what he meant. This was Jesus calling from Psalm 22:22 “I will proclaim your name to my brothers and sisters – I will praise you among your assembled people.”
This is all about glory – representing God in all his glory. Carrying His aura if you will. Living it. Moving in it. Breathing it in and out to the world. His glory.
It’s hard to explain if you haven’t experienced it. I just knew that His name was His presence and that is what my calling is. To share His name – His presence with others.
As I lay there he also told me that the next day I would be going to a certain building to make a delivery. He gave me a vision, a picture in my head, of a man standing outside the building smoking a cigarette. I was to give this man a simple message: “Tell him that I love him”.
Then the sad normal state of my self-conscious crashed back upon me like the Red sea on Pharaohs army and I went to sleep. I wished I could have stayed in His presence, it was so amazing.
The next day I didn’t remember what He had told me about the man and the message I was to deliver until I arrived at the building. I had never been there before but I recognized it from my vision. My heart began to race as it all came back to me. ‘Will he be there?’ I thought. “If he is here, I will do it”, I told myself. I parked the truck and approached the building excited and nervous.
Sure enough, there he stood smoking a cigarette just as the Lord showed me he would be. His name was Jacob and I said to him, “You will probably think I’m crazy, but I am a Christian and last night the Lord told me to tell you that He loves you.” Jacob seemed to take it seriously and I truly do hope it made a difference in his life. I then walked inside feeling a bit silly but also knowing that something quite amazing was happening here.
Later that same day my good friends Rob and Katie McCall invited me to join them for a road trip to New Orleans to share Jesus with people at Mardi Gras. “Wow!” I thought. “Of course I will go!” I was really excited and at worship practice that night I shared the news of my upcoming adventure with an older brother Rich that I served with on the worship team.
(How I started on the worship team: My brother was a talented keyboard player and since he didn’t have his driver’s license yet, I would drive him to worship practices. After a few times of just sitting out in the audience while they practiced, the worship leader finally says to me, “Why don’t you come up here and play bass for us?” So I came up, they hooked up the bass and handed it to me. I just stood there wondering what to do with the thing. I had just started playing guitar a few months before and didn’t know the first thing about bass.)
The next day Rob approached me and informed me that the plans had fallen through for the trip to New Orleans. Just after he told me this I heard the Lord whisper to me, “But I have called you to go.”
I was so excited! I didn’t know how I was getting there but I knew that in a week or so I would be in New Orleans. So help me God.
During that week I had some really wonderful times with the Lord. The day before I was to leave I was back at worship practice again. By this time I had decided that I was going to be hitchhiking. Without explanation I told Sandy, the worship leader, that I wouldn’t be playing that Sunday. Rich, still assuming I would be traveling with my friends to share Jesus took me aside and prayed for me and for God’s anointing on my journey.
And so, instead of participating in the worship practice, I got alone with God. I read the book of Acts and talked with God. It was then that the Lord told me to leave the next morning at 4:00. I told him, “Lord, if you get me up at four in the morning I will go.” I didn’t set an alarm that night.
My mom woke me up the next morning – sun shining through the window. She told me she was going to a bible study at church. Church was across town and would be a much better place to start hitchhiking from so I told her of my plan and that I still felt the Lord wanted me to go and asked for a ride to church. She told me, “No, God has closed that door. You can just pray from here if you feel that strongly about it.”
That took the wind out of my sails. I sat there in my room not knowing what to do next. I looked over at my alarm clock and it was blinking 3:45. Apparently sometime in the night the power had gone out and the clock started over. Oh my goodness, 15 minutes to go.
I looked in the mirror after brushing my teeth and knew I just couldn’t face myself in the mirror again if I did not join the Lord in this adventure. So I picked up my New King James New Testament and flipped through it looking for some encouragement. I finally stumbled on a verse that simply said, “You are Christ’s.” – 1 Corinthians 3:23
That was all I needed. If I belong to Christ – then he has the right to do whatever he pleases with what is his. Even if it means to send them on dangerous missions to dangerous places… all alone. But I wouldn’t be alone would I? Christ was with me! The clock was now blinking 3:55.
I wrote a hurried note to my mom that read, “Where God closes a door, he opens a window.” I then took my bible, a map, an apple, and all my money (all 11 dollars) and to avoid questions from my brothers who were in the living room, I left out the window.
(to be continued…)
If you have enjoyed this story (or the kittens), please share it!
Read next post for Part 2! Be sure to subscribe, and leave a comment below!
Before leading worship last Sunday, God put this on my heart to share:
There is allot that is competing for our hearts and many voices competing for our attention… God’s “still & small voice” among them. His voice is perhaps the quietest voice of all. He is jealous for us, Scriptures say, but he will not force anything on us. He will not manipulate and cajole you into his perfect pleasing (not to mention fun) will for you. Because that’s not what love does. Love is not coercive.
He has something precious to share with you today. He won’t hold all the yesterdays (when we ignored him) against us. Because that’s not what love does. Love holds no record of wrongs. (1 Cor. 15)
He is speaking and it’s up to us to listen. In fact, on one of the very few occasions that the Father has spoken from heaven to people on earth, he had this to say concerning Jesus, “This is my beloved Son. Listen to him.”
I was praying this morning that I would hear all that Jesus had to say to me this day. To enlarge my heart to receive it. To give me the courage to follow and obey. I would pray the same for you.