May 27, 2013

Spiritual Refugees

Aidlingen III, May 19th, 2013

The two brothers didn't look like they shared German heritage, but came up to the front of the stage after the event with their German youth group anyway.  They spoke pretty good English, and challenged me to guess where they were from!  When I guessed a more safe and general answer based on their accents, (the middle-east) they then shared where they were from:  Syria.

It was obvious they had thoroughly enjoyed the evening, and they shared as much.  Reconciliation they said was a foreign word in the world they started in - a world where retribution, vengeance, violence, and an "eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth" rule and reign without hesitation.  The result is over 70,000 dead Syrians and countless more refugees in the latest brutal civil war.

They made it pretty clear that they would never have had a chance to hear such a message in their homeland.  But here in Germany, they had danced and sung with the music, and were surprised that more Germans didn't want to "dance with joy to the exciting music of salvation and reconciliation". 

It made me wonder once again how much I totally take for granted.  Obviously these two brothers don't take anything for granted any more, save the faithfulness of God.  They were so struck and yet grateful that God loves them, has rescued them, and has given them an opportunity that they must now not squander.  

Do we live our lives, careers, vacations, etc. with the same sense of awe and conviction?  I can't answer for you who are reading this, but I certainly can answer for myself.  We were all once aliens, strangers, hostile and virulent - a people without God and without hope in the world - but now - we have been brought near, made a new creation with a new purpose, given a new mandate in Christ (Ephesians 2:10-22).  

Lord, help me to live my life with the same sense of gratitude that these brothers from Syria do - grateful for your rescue, grateful for your salvation, and very intentional about wanting to bring peace and reconciliation to those who are still abiding under the sword of vengeance and hatred.  Lord have mercy.

May 23, 2013

The Dance of a Lifetime

Aidlingen II - May 19th, 2013

Judith made her way to the big stage, not knowing if she would get the chance, but driven anyway by a desire she could no longer contain.  Certainly the dancer (who had lit up the stage as the Bill Drake Band brought Star of the Morning, had delicately and intimately flown on the wings of Psalm 91, and offered her life and talent on the altar during Totally Abandoned), would return to reclaim her ballet slippers.  So she picked them up where they had been offered, and waited.

Amy (our dancer on this tour) found Judith on the edge of the stage, gripping Amy's dancing slippers and with tears streaming down her face.  Could this be possible - to use one's talent totally for God, for His worship, for His purposes in the world, and to do it, not as a hobby, but for real, in all its glory?  

Yes, it is.

Judith found a dance partner that day, a partner in life and talent who maybe was just a few more miles down the road that the Director of Dancelink, Linda Wells, started to pave many years ago, dreaming that God might use her in the dance of a lifetime for His Kingdom's sake when she was still cleaning toilets for OM USA.  Linda had poured into Amy during an outreach in Italy a few summers ago, that involved dancing in a variety of different ministry situations, including spiritual warfare around a statue dedicated to Satan in the middle of the city of Turin.

Amy since has joined OM Lifehope, and has been given huge freedom and blessing there by her Field Leader to develop dance ministry for those interested and skilled, in extending God's Kingdom through the dance.  Amy is also the Arts Champion for OM Arts there at Lifehope.  Having invited her to tour with me in Germany, I discovered a gold-mine - Amy is so gifted in many ways, and God is using her to ignite things in the dance that others may not have though possible.  And Linda's vision is being accomplished, not just for the Judiths of the world who need validation and encouragement as a Dancer for the Lord, but for the many throughout the OM World that are now dancing for an audience of One, and demonstrating through their gifting and their bodies that He is worthy of offering it all… 

May 22, 2013

Time to Make a Decision

Aidlingen I - May 19th, 2013

Approximately 10,000 young Germans converged on a tiny village outside Stuttgart, Germany for an annual Christian youth conference over the Pentecost weekend.  The Conference is hosted by the Sisters at the Diakonissen Mutterhaus (Deaconess Motherhouse), godly women who have committed themselves to vows similar to many other Christian religious orders.  The Sisters bring in a variety of compelling ministers, talent, and speakers, and their goal is to help Christian young people grow closer in their relationship to God, and to be encouraged in totally investing their lives in changing the world.

We had been invited to do the Sunday Evening event - bringing the "Broken & Complete" concert, based on the tragedies and failings I endured in my life and the way Christ met me in my brokenness with His, and through relationship with Him is bringing "completeness" to my broken life.  This involved "going first" with my step-father who abused me for over 11 years, by asking him to forgive me for all the hatred, bitterness, and even retaliatory violence I was involved in during the abusive episodes he unloaded on me.

As the concert came to completion, our acoustic player, Ty Stewart led the 10,000 youth in the song, "From the Inside Out", and we invited them to then go to the Bonfire, an area where a large fire had been lit a bit away from the massive tent that held the plenary sessions, and gave them an opportunity to "take action" on any decisions they were making in response to what they had just heard - to not be victims and take their identity from the enemy, their brokenness, or even their peer-group, but rather, to take off their grave clothes and take their identity from a loving God and what His thoughts are toward us.  And to allow Him to lead us on journey out of victimhood and spiritual bondage, to spiritual freedom and the ability to be "more than a conquerer" over circumstances, heritage, childhood, and tragedy.

And in that regard, it is our responsibility to "own" whatever part of our brokenness we contributed to - either a poor response, or maybe even coming into agreement with the lies of the enemy - and to "go first" by doing all we can to make it right - before God and with man.  That night in Aidlingen, hundreds of young people responded, and we'll put up a few more awesome stories of transformation over the next few days… 

May 21, 2013

Smoldering, Sparks, and Gas

Unterensignen - May 17th, 2013

It has always amazed me how the Holy Spirit steps up - sometimes when we least expect it, and so often when we need it the most.  The concert in Unterensingen was no exception.

We arrived in Unterensingen in a drizzle, and it was cold.  We pulled up to an old Lutheran Church building, and I struggled - only because I was pretty sure it would be "cave-cold" inside, and crowded-small for a full-band.  Truth be told, I had also been starting to come down with something, and I was fighting it off with prayer, warfare, and loads of Vitamins and Zinc!  

The first cup of gas on my smoldering spirits was Stephan - he came bounding out of his car, and gave us a hearty welcome.  He was the local organizer, and could not be more excited to see us.  This helped.

But then we got into the church, and it was what I thought.  And "heat" was not in season - maybe next month… it wasn't working properly, even though the warden did come to have a look.  My spirits began to dive again…

But in came the second cup of gas - Anna.  She walked into the church with some friends, just to see if we needed anything beyond the sandwiches, coffee, juice, Appel Strudel, chocolate (German that is), along with an assortment of cheesecake, pie, German Breads, and other assorted cold-cuts… you get the idea.

Yeah.  Death-by-hospitality…. and she danced and jumped up and down, waving her arms in the air, and actually began to worship as we slowly made our way into a sound-check that seemed to run like molasses.  Watching her respond to worship like that took me up to another level - thank God.  Attitude check… time to worship and pray in the middle of the sound-check - rebuke the seeping discouragement and debilitating weakness of striving in one's own strength… yeah, we were being attacked… 

But then we needed to have a planning meeting about the next few days - it was no one's fault - we had to do it, but, did it ever drain me.  We sat in the back pews after the sound-check in this meeting, and I had to ask the Holy Spirit to smack me like a Bouncer on my attitude.

You ever had one of those moments where you KNOW that you are having attitude, and you KNOW everything you need to do to get out of the rut of listening to lies… but none-the-less… continue to… struggle…

15 minutes to go.  We were gathered back stage, and I admit, I was feeling pretty run-over by a truck.  Sara, our sound-girl was now feeling feverish, and we gathered around her to pray, when into the back room came Stephan, Ulli, my translator, and a third cup of gas in the form of a man named Pastor Reinhard.  He warmly looked at us, and motioned for us to continue praying for Sara, and for the evening.  When we were done, we were introduced, and it was obvious this was a caring, loving, godly, man.  One hand-shake from him, and the revival hit me like a flame-thrower.  


The lift I got from that was nothing short of amazing - I was immediately ready to go out and do the concert, and that weakness and dread left in a heart-beat. The concert went extremely well, and when it was over, and Pastor Reinhard took the microphone to wrap things up, he led into the most incredible time of recommitment to Christ, and intentional decision making.  It was obvious that he was moved, and was passing it right along to his congregation, and all the others who had gathered for the concert - and invited them into it full-throttle.

Afterwards he simply said that God had brought us there to throw more gas on the fire that He was starting to stoke up there in that congregation.  He thanked us again and again for coming and for helping them move strongly in that direction - that our coming had broken some things that needed torn down, and that we had brought a fresh wind of spirit-filed worship and enthusiasm to them.  He enthusiastically looked forward to seeing how things would go forward now.  Wow.  They actually more did that for us… 

But isn't that how God works - He so skillfully and supernaturally uses us to bless and minister to one-another, helping to meet each other's needs, even when we don't even realize it.  Stefan, Anna, and Reinhard couldn't have known in the moment how their presence and countenance ministered to me, and of course we were totally humbled and blesses that God would choose to use us to further spark them!  How awesome is the Body of Christ when it is functioning as it should!

May 19, 2013

Relevance Meets Transcendence

Siegen - May 11th, 2013

Our tour manager Heinz stood at the Resource table a few minutes before the concert let out, ready to attend to any early-departing congregants who wanted a Bill Drake CD.  Much to his surprise, the first one out was Anita, the local Newspaper Reporter.

Anita had been assigned the concert as one of her stories of the day, and had shown up early, hoping to get a few snapshots of the stage, and maybe some comments from me.  As I had been deeply engrossed in the set-up, I had only met her briefly, but encouraged her to take some notes during the concert, especially as I shared my testimony.  I was unaware that she had informed Heinz that she was only planning to stay about 10 minutes.

As the concert unfolded, I noticed Anita taking a number of photos, before finally settling in on the front row down to my right, attentively taking notes on her pad, and continuing to take a photo now and again, as the set changed, the worship dancer came and went, or the visuals on the screen presented an entirely different view.  She sat on the edge of her seat, seemingly to take in every word, and when things drew near to a close, I never noticed when she left.

Heinz asked Anita if she enjoyed the concert.  She gushed.  She had never expected what she ended up hearing, "I couldn't believe a Christian event would be so relevant to today, to people's everyday lives, and how they can be rather set free from their baggage!"  Heinz pressed further, and discovered that Anita did not go to church, as she had thought Christianity out of date, and out of touch. But this was different - and actually had application even to her own lilfe.  She had not only been surprised by this, but now admitted she needed to "walk away and really process through some things."

That gave Heinz the opportunity to introduce her to the person of Jesus Christ. The local newspaper reporter came that night for a few minutes to capture a quick story on a local happening, and got captured by a riveting story rooted in the timeless message of the Best of News, and it's transformative power for the entire world.

Please pray for her, and the countless hundreds who at this point have heard the Gospel, and the invitation to be part of God's reconciling the world to Himself through His Son, Jesus Christ.  (2 Corinthians 5:17-21)

Taking off the Grave Clothes

Ewersbach - May 15th, 2013
(Actual names have been changed)

What an amazing concert in such an amazing place!  Ewersbach (pronounced 'aversbok' is a beautiful little German town with a 1,000 year old church.  I couldn't help myself, but go up into the bell tower where the chimes called the faithful to pray at 11:00am every workday, and on Sundays to call people to church.

Rebecca came with a heavy heart, but a huge hope - having been encouraged by her friend Tina, who had heard us a few days before in Halle (pronounced "ha la", the birthplace of George Frederich Handel, who famously wrote "Handel's Messiah"!).  Tina heard the message of Broken & Complete, and called Rebecca up straight away, and told her she MUST come to the concert in Ewersbach, as she would be hearing her own personal story told back to her in the person of 'Bill Drake'.

As the last song ended, I moved from the stage to the back of the church, with the audience still singing the refrain, "I'll Stand, with arms high and heart abandoned…"  As people started to move down the aisle, and down, I realized that I had positioned myself as the Pastor would on a Sunday morning - that special "place" where you get to shake everyone's hand as they file out!  And no one tried to squeak by - they all wanted to shake my hand!!!  I shook every hand  but one:  Rebecca.

Ulli, my translator motioned for me to come over toward her, where she stood with a woman who looked like she might be afraid of her own shadow.  As it turned out, she hadn't wanted to come, as she didn't like driving home in the dark, but she braved it anyway, feeling in her heart that the Holy Spirit wanted her there.

Ulli told me why Rebecca had come, and as Rebecca began to unfold her horrific story, my heart began to melt for this tortured woman.  Abused and molested by a "Christain" father, it was a miracle that Rebecca had trusted Jesus, even though she admitted that she could not forgive her dad.  I told her how sorry I was that this had happened to her, and that I knew a bit of the kind of pain that she was going through, and that Jesus not only does not want us to carry that, but will meet us in it, and conform us to His image.

I then shared with her that she would need to forgive her father in order to find freedom from the torment she admitted she was in.  She answered that my saying that caused her to get all tense inside, and she was not comfortable.

I cried out to God in my heart - what could I say to help her?  God led me to say that I was not going to ask her to do anything that she did not feel comfortable doing, but, rather in her own time with God, she would need to ask God to forgive her for not forgiving her own father - regardless of what he had done to her.  Why?  Because Jesus makes it clear that if we do not forgive, we set ourselves up for torment.  (Matthew 6:15)  To forgive is to release, and to abide in bitterness is to drink poison hoping that someone else will die.

Then I suggested that she take that before God, and ask Him to help her come out of agreement with anything that she may have been in agreement with that would hold her in bondage - like feeling worthless, unworthy of love, taking on the countenance of a victim, and harboring any resentment, etc.  Not that anyone could blame her.  But God demands a higher standard, but then again, He died to provide us that standard that we could not provide for ourselves.  Christ meets us in our brokeness, substitutes His perfect brokeness, and then makes us complete by swapping His righteousness for our unrighteousness.  

And therein is the supreme evil of abuse - whilst one is being abused, one most likely sins or comes into agreement with the enemy by having a natural reaction in one's heart that is contrary to the law of Christ - love your enemies, bless those who persecute you, call no one a fool, and forgive all things done to you.

Rebecca looked me straight in the eye with tears in hers, and let me know that she would take this before God, and ask for His help.

Friends, taking off the grave-clothes of "victimhood" by releasing your identity in relationship to the person who has hurt you, is possible by embracing one's identity in Christ.  He has overcome, made you victorious over sin and abuse in Himself, and has put a new garment on you, and given you a new identity that is wrapped up in Him and His love, not someone else's warped view of you.  

You see, we cannot fully embrace our identity in Christ if we do not forgive.  As long as we do not forgive, we cling to the grave-clothes, and the perspective and identity that we are to be victims.  But Christ does not see us that way when we are "in Him".  If we hold on to our identity as victims, we are not in agreement with Christ, but rather with the cage the enemy has fashioned for us.

But Christ has fashioned a new identity for us, one we were designed and destined to embrace.  This is the new man, the new creation, the bride of Christ, those abiding in the truth, those defined not by the base things of this world, but rather by the love, grace, forgiveness, and freedom of Christ.  "And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall set you free"  (John 8:32)

May 18, 2013

Joy Comes in the Morning

Mosbach I - May 10th, 2013

The pleasant middle-aged woman approached me respectfully, asking if I had a moment.  Having just heard my story of "Broken and Complete", she was hoping to share her story with me...

A number of years ago, she had lost her son, and then husband to a drowning accident in the North Sea, one trying to save the other, and in the panic, both died.  She stood on a beleaguered beach as the helicopter pulled her men out of the water.  

At the funeral, amidst the despondent weeping and palpable hopelessness, she heard the voice of God.  "Even in the midst of this, I am still good."  She knew at once that it was not her inner voice - she would never say such a thing in such a time as this.  And it was not the voice of the enemy - he had already been spitting negativity and whispering depression towards her and her faith.

Her crying stopped, and her worship began.  She tapped deeply into the words of the prophets, "He will bring beauty from the ashes, and turn sorrow into dancing."  She has since been patiently waiting for the Lord to release her into a deeper ministry of healing to the broken-hearted.

She thanked me again and again for vulnerably sharing my story of wreckage and salvation, bitterness and redemption, forgiveness and reconciliation, as it once again validated what she knew to be true in her heart - the God of Job, Jeremiah, and Mary, is a God who will redeem all things to His glory, if we will only allow Him the room, the opportunity, and the time.  She would like to attend our school of the arts, Incarnate, in February 2014, and learn how to use her classical musical talents to build a platform to share these truths and bring help to the hurting.

He is a God who counts time through His redemptive history, and measures things with an eternal standard.  He is a God who keeps track of every tear we have cried, and has recorded every prayer - nothing is beyond His reach, and no-one is beyond His grasp.  His mercy is without end, His faithfulness is unchanging, and the peace that comes from knowing Him and basking in His presence goes beyond where our ability to understand stops.

May 17, 2013

Releasing the Toxic Waste

Halle - May 12th, 2013

Klaus came up to me after the concert, thanking us for bringing a message of spiritual freedom.  His father left the family when he was seven, leaving a wake of bitterness and unforgiveness in his mother, and a parent-sized hole in his heart.

As he listened to the music, the message, and the videos, he realized that he had been influenced, admittedly no one would blame him, by his mother's hurt and pain.  Surely he needed to decide for himself how he felt about his father's departure, and how he would eventually process what had gone on and how that left him as a young man.  

But he did know one thing for sure - he decided that he would reach out to his dad, and try to build a relationship.  The feelings in his heart, no matter how conflicted, needed to be tempered by the truth he heart this night - that he doesn't have the right to judge, nor condemn the man who was his father, and neither did he want to hold the toxic waste of bitterness in his heart any longer.

Klaus left the concert with a determination to make things right, as much as it was up to him.  Yes, he could not control his father's responses to him, but he could control his own.  He thanked us again, and headed out into a new paradigm for his father and his family.

May 16, 2013

There is no such thing as Coincidence!

Mosbach III - May 14th, 2013

The guys made their way from the Stuttgart airport to the OM Germany base in Mosbach no problem, Joe being upgraded from the little Ford Focus to a larger, more spacious Mercedes Station Wagon, that could accommodate their guitars and pedal boards.  

We arrived from Hofen in time for lunch, and had a great reunion - the size of our touring team just went up by a third!  We walked into Mosbach to have some team time, and Ty, Katja and myself found ourselves in a very cool space - a church that in the times of the Reformation literally split the sanctuary, putting the Reformers in the entrance half, and the Catholics in the Altar half!

Remembering a similar looking space in Hungary, I asked the female warden at the door, if it was OK if the three of us sang a worship song in the church.  She lit up, and in German said, "Please!"  So up we went, and you can see the result here:  <>

Later that afternoon, we took the opportunity to rehearse, and upon plugging in his pedal board, Tim remembered too late that he forgot to flip the switch inside his pedal board power supply from the US 110 volts, to the European 240volts. the result was a second of power, and then a nicely toasted fuse!

I asked Tim to hand it to me, and I went out the door to the OM Germany garage, where I knew Walter would be at work.  He took one look at it, and then the clock, and headed straight up the driveway, yelling behind that he hoped the electrical shop down the street would be open, since Werner, the man who did electrics at OM was gone for the day.

Right as Walter hit the top of the driveway of his garage, who should come by on his bicycle, but Werner!  Walter flagged him down, showed him the fuse, Werner took the fuse, and motioned for me to follow him!  This led me back to OM Germany, and to Werner's workshop, where he summarily pulled out the EXACT fuse that Tim needed to be his Bass working again!  No, we don't believe in coincidence around here - this was a "God Thing" no doubt!!!