September 10, 2006

Service at Harvest Christian Fellowship in Riverside, California

This week I am on vacation in California visiting my family and finally, I was able to attend service at Harvest Christian Fellowship and listen to Pastor Greg Laurie, LIVE. I often listen to his sermons online or I will download them into my MP3 player. But this was cool, to see him in person and hear him minister the Word of God. My Aunt Lesley had been wanting to go also and my mother had decided to come too. I was really looking forward to this and the message was great.

We arrived to attend the first service of the morning at 7:45. Two more services follow at 9:45 and 11:45, then a Spanish service in the afternoon, then a final service at 6:00 p.m. Pastor Greg preaches at each service with the exception of the Spanish service.

We actually had to get in line to enter the sanctuary too. I'm sure that people were beginning to line up at 7:00 a.m. to enter the building and we arrived at 7:15 a.m. and was able to sit about six rows from the front of the pulpit where Pastor Greg begins each sermon. I was amazed to see a few hundred people who were waiting to enter the sanctuary too!! I've visited a few different churches in the past, but I've never seen people waiting in line to get in to the building!!

The main sanctuary can accomodate approximately 4,000 people and they have an outdoor area with a canopy to provide some shade during the service. In Riverside County, which is part of the inland area of California, it is also considered part of the desert. Just today it was approximately 103 degrees this afternoon, but during the second service that began at 9:45, the temperature was probably close to the mid 70's.

Pastor Greg's message was based on Numbers 6:24-27, which reads, "The LORD bless you and keep you; The LORD make His face shine upon you, And be gracious to you; The LORD lift up His countenance upon you, And give you peace. So they shall put My name on the children of Israel, and I will bless them.”

His message was titled "What God is Like" and he described six characteristics of God through these verses of Scripture and here they are:

  1. God wants to bless you more than you want to be blessed
  2. God will keep you
  3. God smiles because of you, even despite our sin and seeing us on our way to sin. Though it upsets God when we sin, even making Him angry, He will not punish us according to our sin, until every opportunity has been given to repent of our sin and turn our lives back toward Him
  4. God is gracious toward us. His grace is undeserved toward all of us, especially because we have sinned against Him. God is just and will punish those who rebel against Him. Those who reject Him will not receive the inheritance of eternal life. God is merciful where we will ask him not to punish us too severely, though we deserve it because we have sinned against him. God is gracious to give us what we don't deserve. So, justice is getting what we deserve, mercy is getting less than what we deserve and grace is getting what we don't deserve
  5. God smiles upon us. God actually smiles because of each person, very much like a parent looking at a beautiful infant child. They can make any person smile with such joy
  6. Finally, God gives us his peace. Certainly of which can be found in Jesus Christ

I may go to Wednesday night service though I'm not sure yet. I'm going to the beach tomorrow in Oceanside, near Camp Pendleton. I'm looking forward to a nice relaxing day there.

Have a blessed week.

September 2, 2006

Someone who made a difference in my life

The first time I heard Edwin Louis Cole speak was in December 2001 at the Christian Cultural Center in Brooklyn, New York. It was a men's ministry seminar where approximately 2,000 men had come to hear him speak. His message was clear and direct, aimed at helping each man understand that they were to reflect Christ within themselves to others, as God reflected Himself in Jesus Christ.

The anniversary of his departure from life here on earth, into Heaven was four years ago this past Sunday.

I was blessed to have been able to see him preach in person that day, the single message that God called him to tell the world, that Manhood and Christlikeness are synonymous.

There are a number of families that have been changed because of the change in these men as husbands, fathers and single men, how to be Maximized in their Manhood for God. 1, 2, 3 YES!!!!

Reflections on Ed Cole’s Special Day by Joann Cole Webster

“And then he died” is the most oft-repeated phrase in the book of Genesis. Ed Cole, a spiritual father to both you and me, taught us that the first five books of the Bible are the stories of seven men. What was Moses telling us as he wrote and recorded the lives of the great fathers of the faith?

Dad died on August 27, 2002, at 3:15 pm in Grapevine, Texas, surrounded by his family who counted his final breaths with tears, singing and joy. In the months following, each member of the family and our worldwide circle of adopted brothers and sisters dealt with the absence of his presence in our own ways.

My sister Lois was deeply affected and remained so for many months. She would dream most nights of a living, loving mother and father, then awaken each morning to the reality that it was a dream, and they were gone.

One day as she was driving, the song “I Can Only Imagine” came on the radio. In December 2000, when Mom left, Mercy Me had just come out with this song, and we used it as the theme of Mom’s video tribute.

Lois became lost in the beautiful words — “I can only imagine...what my eyes will see when your face is before me...” Suddenly she received an open vision from the Lord. She saw Dad entering Heaven and seeing Jesus for the first time. With tears of joy, Dad fell to his knees and worshipped, saying, “This is wonderful! Oh, how wonderful.” Then, as he had done so often, he said, “Nancy, come over here — did you see?” Then Lois saw Mom walking toward him and gently answering, “Of course, Edwin, I was here first, remember?”

“And then he died” is earth’s prelude to the most wonderful appointment of every life.

Recently, in speaking with the great evangelist Reinhard Bonnke about my father’s life and death, I related Lois’ vision and how it had helped to heal her. He told me of his own father’s absence then grew quiet. After sitting quietly for a few minutes, he said, “It’s an appointment. Death is an appointment.”

Words sprang to my mind — “Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of His saints” [Psalm 116:15]. Scripture after scripture reeled off where the Lord repeated that our days are numbered. Any question that may have lingered about Dad’s sudden departure dissolved.

God had longed for that appointment day with Dad since He placed Dad on the planet and told him to “Go, be fruitful and multiply.” Dad had simply filled his space on this earth so fully — expanding his life through God’s magnificent work of grace which launched the men’s movement and changed the world — that it almost seemed wrong for him to leave. Today there is scarcely a global Christian leader that my family talks with who wasn’t affected by the Lord’s ministry through Dad.

Interrupting my quiet reflection, Evangelist Bonnke’s voice came again. “We’re born, Joann, and then it’s a countdown, isn’t it?”

What a challenge! One day, God will record in His book for each of us, “And then he died.” It is our honor to exercise our power of choice2 with our helper, the Holy Spirit, and write the pages of a life that leads to that final sentence.

Please join the extended Cole family to celebrate the anniversaries of Dad’s divine appointment on August 27, and the day he was birthed on September 10. The ministry continues — 50,000 men in Indonesia — 13,000 in Peru — Latvia — Ukraine — India — Uganda — hundreds of churches in the States. What a wonderful legacy we share and can share with a world of men still in desperate need of the message God entrusted to you and to me — “Manhood and Christlikeness are synonymous.”

1 Find it in Absolute Answers.
2 The best of Dad on the power of choice is in Real Man.

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