Incredible Beginning

Updated: Apr 6, 2019

One of the characteristics of following Jesus that was true for the disciples is that Jesus always blew their expectations away.  Religion, unfortunately, does the reverse.  It often comes so under the bar that we stop having expectations altogether.  The first week of Catalyst accomplished more that I had hoped.  I had high hopes too!  


Here are some things I found myself profoundly grateful to the LORD for:  The presence of God was with us just because members of multiple Vineyard congregations had gathered together.  I immediately had the sense that God was pleased with us.  The expectations were high for an encounter with God right off the bat.  That sense was confirmed as we crossed the room to meet someone new to share a bit of our lives and pray.  I love how our faith in Jesus connects us instantly to other people.  Meeting other disciples always makes me feel wonder in that I wonder what God would do next.  Is this the beginning of a holy conspiracy that God is forming to bring down the strongholds of the enemy? 

 

The power of worship to make a people one is something that I delight in continually.  Joshua Miller and the team from the Desert Vineyard blessed us by traveling far and staying late to lead us in lifting up praise.  I was so grateful how they jumped in and flowed with everything that was happening in the room.  One of the reasons why I believe worship is so important to forming community is that there is no division in the heart of Jesus.  Worship is the place where we can experience the Father's answer to Jesus' prayer, "Make them one as we are one."  It's the place where we glorify God, but we also share in the glory of God.  The worship on Tuesday was generously glorious!  Thank you Father God!


There is so much to say about our speaker, Cheryl Allen, and the message that she brought to us.  Her insight into the home life of Jesus and how the call to be born again is an invitation to be adopted into a perfect, loving, holy home and family was brilliant!  Jesus has the family we were formed for.  His presence is where our family hurts from earth find healing.  Prayer is saying "yes" to God's invitation to host God's presence.  My wife, Carolyn, and I felt as if we sat at the banquet table of the Kingdom eating the choicest of foods.  It was the spiritually nourishing food our spirits were longing for.  We are so grateful to Cheryl!


Since breaking for the evening I have been on two activations.  Six people from the Catalyst night went on the street to pray for strangers who are so loved by God.  I often think how much of Jesus' ministry was done just this way.  There are many stories already to tell.   On Wednesday morning we saw backs, knees, and arthritis healed and two people gave their lives to Jesus.  I was especially touched when Joe, from VOH, and my mother teamed up to talk, pray, and share Jesus.  I haven't gotten the full report from last night.  But on Thursday, several of us hit the streets in Pomona and La Verne.  We shared Jesus using a simple diagram called the 3 circles.  I personally was surprised as total strangers opened their arms to give me hugs simply for taking the time to pray and share.


Our heavenly Father is doing so much. However, I believe there is a sovereign work of God happening in our hearts.  God is restoring the hope of the Gospel to many in the church.  Jesus is the good news of God to a hurting world.  He is getting us ready to be ready to risk and be confident in what we have to share.


Blessings, strength and peace are yours in Him,  

Alan Stretch

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