Say what??? Yep, that’s right. Truth Spring has a BIG announcement. Join us for Donor Celebration Day to find out the BIG news! It will be Friday, May 18th from 10:30-11:30.
RSVP to: firstname.lastname@example.org
I would like to start by acknowledging that the Lord is doing something new in our midst at Truth Spring and Highland Community Church. He is stirring our affections corporately into a season of prayer, asking that He would move in all power. Let us continue to approach his throne with boldness. Let us hunger and thirst for righteousness. As the Word of God continues to become more precious to us than even the bread we eat, let us remain attuned to the leading of the Holy Spirit, together.
Here is the direction regarding our corporate prayer:
Let’s also move in obedience regarding the challenge for us to fast. When the disciples asked Jesus why they were unable to cast out the demon in Matthew 17, His response to them was 1) “because of your little faith” and 2) “But this kind does not come out except by prayer and fasting.” Highland and Truth Spring family, the world needs to see the power of God working in His people and through the Church. The world needs to see Christians and churches who live by the verse, “not by might, not by power, but by My spirit, says the Lord!”. By engaging corporately in a season of prayer and fasting we are asking that the Lord use Highland Community Church and Truth Spring as a way to display His power and glory as He fulfills His promise to both cleanse us and rebuild us (Ezekiel 36:33-36). Here are the motivations for our fast:
Supporters of Highland Community Church and Truth Spring, let us seek first the Kingdom of God. I ask each one of you to fast and pray along with us every Wednesday afternoon beginning this week. Every Wednesday from 8am until 5pm we will allow our hunger and thirst for righteousness to overcome our hunger for food. We will not relent in our pursuit of the Lord until we see Him “perform with His hand what He has spoken with His mouth” (2 Chronicles 6:15).
“This is what the Lord says, ‘On the day that I cleanse you from your sins, I will cause the cities to be inhabited, and waste places will be rebuilt. The desolate land will be cultivated instead of being a desolation in the sight of everyone who passes by. They will say, ‘This desolate land has become like the garden of Eden; and the waste, desolate, ruined places are now fortified and inhabited.’ Then those around you will know that I, the Lord, have rebuilt the ruined places and planted that which was desolate; I, the Lord, have spoken and will do it.” – Ezekiel 36:33-36
“I am the Vine, you are the branches; he who abides in Me and I in him, he bears much fruit…If anyone does not abide in Me, he is thrown away as a branch and is withered; gathered, cast into the fire, and is burned.” – John 15:5-6
Dear Truth Spring supporters,
I am not sure how often I will write each of you throughout this year, but every time I sense the Lord revealing something new I want to share it with you so that you can join us on this journey into a Season of Harvest…
Twelve years ago when the Lord gave us the promise found in Ezekiel 36 we had no idea how he planned to bring it to fulfillment. This past year as the Lord has led us to believe that the season of harvest is upon us and that He is in the midst of fulfilling the words found in Ezekiel, I have been surprised at what the start of that process has looked like. All along I assumed this promise was in reference to what He was going to do in the North Highland community, but what He has begun showing me is that this promise is actually for me and my family. As we have earnestly been praying, both privately and corporately, for the Lord to cleanse us, the Lord has been responding. What He has shown us is that North Highland is actually not the only waste, desolate, and ruined place; rather, as His Holy Sprit has searched us we have come to see that we are also the waste, desolate, ruined place. As our family has continued to humble ourselves in the presence of the Lord allowing Him the freedom to search us we have seen that there are areas in our life that our desolate and withered. For years, often unknowingly, we have tried to restore these desolate and withered places in our own strength. But lately, the Lord has been telling us that we need to allow Him to put those areas in our life to death. God is showing us that there are times when areas of our lives become so polluted and messy that “fixing” is not what’s needed, death is actually needed. So this year, we have allowed the Lord the freedom to take the desolate and withered parts of our life and put them in the grave. This process has required a significant level of vulnerability on our part, but that vulnerability has led to great relief. Trying to tend to, fix, manage, and restore withered and desolate areas is exhausting and often leaves you feeling as if your wheels are spinning but you aren’t actually getting anywhere. Because we were so desperate for relief, the “putting it in the grave” part was easy. However, figuring out what to do after that has not been so easy.
This morning as I was reading in Luke 23-24 the Lord revealed something to me. After the crucifixion, Christ was taken down from the cross and put into the grave. It says that the women who were mourning at the cross went and prepared spices and perfumes for his burial and then watched as the soldiers placed HIs body in the grave. The following day was the Sabbath so instead of going back to the grave to prepare Christ’s body for burial, “they rested according to the commandment”. After the Sabbath the women returned to the grave where they were greeted by angels who asked them, “Why do you seek for the living among the dead? He is not here. He is risen.” As I read that, I sensed the Holy Spirit revealing to me that I am like those women. He has told me to lay certain parts of my life in the grave and I have obeyed. However, instead of putting it in the grave, and then “resting”, I keep going back to the grave hoping to find something living amongst what is dead. This morning the Holy Sprit asked me the same question that the angels asked the women that day at the tomb, “Carrie, why are you looking for the living, among the dead? Allow ME to put the withered and desolate parts of your life in the grave. Stop coming back to the grave. Leave it. In My time and in My power I will bring life from what is dead.”
Desolate and withered. Those are words that describe parts of our life at the moment. But as Scripture says, “we do not mourn as those without hope”(1 Thessalonians 4:13). Here is the beautiful part, and the part our family is clinging to right now, the promise found in Ezekiel and in John 15 is that in time He will replant what has become desolate and He will allow us to once again bear fruit, much fruit, and fruit that remains as we learn to continue abiding (resting) in Him. Not striving to fix or mend; not going back to the grave, but resting in His presence.
The interesting thing about desolate lands and withered branches is that both have only one remedy…fire. A withered branch must be destroyed in the fire and a desolate area must go through a process called prescribed burning in order to bring forth fruit. Prescribed burns are used among farmers for one reason – to improve the health of the entire field. In order for a prescribed burn to be effective, conditions must be just right. In fact, there may only be a few hours out of the whole year when conditions are right for a burn. But when the conditions are right and when a prescribed burn occurs, the field is then made ready for new growth. Where there was no growth or growth that has been overtaken by weeds and debris, a burning comes in order to produce new growth.
What a beautiful description of what Christ does in the life of the believer that allows Him complete access! As we allow Him access to our withered branches and desolate places, He brings His purifying fire. You and I often see fire and death as something to be avoided, but Christ sees it as the opportunity to bring forth new life; life that is healthy and vigorously producing fruit. The burn destroys all that has polluted the field and lays it bare so that the new growth can be rich, and pure. In light of that my prayer has become, “Search me and try me Lord; and see if there is any hurtful way in me. Bring to light all that is not of You and give me the ability to put the withered, desolate parts of my life in the grave. Help me learn to rest and abide in You, not returning to the grave, but instead giving you the freedom you need to burn away all the dross so that you can begin replanting that which is desolate – making my life a garden of Eden.”
My encouragement to each of you is to take this journey with us. Pray, as we have been, that the Lord would cleanse you. Give him access to the withered, desolate parts of your life so that, in time, He might also rebuild and replant that which is desolate in you so that your life can become a garden of Eden – bearing fruit, much fruit, and fruit that remains.
Part 1: A Time of Cleansing – “On the day I cleanse you from your sins, I will cause the waste places to be rebuilt” (Ezekiel 36:33).
Truth Spring supporters what a blessing you are to us! You have been such an encouragement to our family as we have seen the body of Christ wrap their arms around us to strengthen and support us. Throughout the year of 2018, we will be sending you regular letters in order to keep you informed on how to best pray so that we can begin asking God, in unity, to fulfill HIs promise to rebuild the North Highland community as He ushers us into a season of harvest.
At the start of the new year, Highland Community Church and the leaders of Truth Spring held a church service where we reminded ourselves of the promise God gave our family 12 years ago from Ezekiel 36:33-36. The difference this year, as opposed to years past when we have looked at this verse, is that we believe the fulfillment of this promise is now upon us. In this passage, the Lord says that He is going to bring about a cleansing among the people, and then, after the cleansing, He will begin rebuilding all that is desolate and broken.
We believe the cleansing the Lord is referring to will look like a time of revival within our church and the North Highland community. We began our church service with a time of personal prayer and reflection because we realize that before God can bring about a cleansing within the community He must first start with His church. We asked God to reveal anything within us that was not of Him and that as a church we would desire truth in our innermost being. We got on our knees before the Lord and begged Him for forgiveness of our sins and asked that He might return to us and show us His mercy and bring healing to our community.
After our time spent asking God to cleanse us as individuals we then moved into a time of reflecting upon John 15. I (Carrie) explained to the church that I started last January going through a study on John 15. What I thought was simply going to be a month long study on that portion of scripture ended up lasting throughout the entire year. Every time I would think that I was ready to move to another part of Scripture, God’s spirit would pull me back to John 15 letting me know that He was not yet finished teaching me and awakening me to the truth and the power of those words. So for an entire year, I read and reread John 15. What God did in me throughout last year is something that cannot easily be explained in words. All I can really say is that God awakened in me an overwhelming desire for my life to be a fulfillment of the words spoken in John 15. A desire for my life to bring forth fruit, much fruit, and fruit that remains. A desire to be the embodiment of John 15:16, which states, “I chose you, and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit, and that your fruit should remain; that whatsoever you ask of the Father in My name, He may give it to you.” For several months I earnestly prayed that scripture over my life, my family’s life, and the life of our church. As I continued to pray, the Lord began to reveal to me what was hindering us from producing “more fruit and fruit that remains” in the North Highland community. The answer was found in Mark 9.
Mark 9 tells the story of a father who has a child possessed by an unclean spirit. Jesus inquires about the situation and the father replies that he has a son who has a mute spirit and that the spirit causes his son to try and destroy himself. The father asked Jesus’ disciples to cast it out, but they could not, to which Jesus replies, “You unbelieving generation…bring the boy to Me”. Out of desperation, the father cries out to Jesus, “If you can do anything, take pity on us and help us!” Jesus responds by saying, “‘If You can?’ All things are possible to him who believes.” Jesus then rebukes the unclean spirit and says, “You deaf and mute spirit, I command you, come out of him and do not enter him again.” At the end of the story the disciples come to Jesus in private and ask Him why they were unable to cast out the unclean spirit. Jesus’ response to His disciples was, “This kind cannot come out by anything but prayer.”
As I read this passage I sensed the Holy Spirit leading me to understand that the same unclean spirit that possessed that boy is the same unclean spirit that hovers over the North Highland community. In the story the father told Jesus that the boy had a mute spirit that caused him to try and destroy himself, but notice what Jesus said when He rebuked the unclean spirit. Jesus said, “You deaf and mute spirit, I command you, come out of him…”. I cannot tell you the countless conversations Rob and I have had with people living in our community who with all sincerity tell us that they no longer want to let alcohol consume them, and no longer want to abuse drugs, and no longer want to be part of unhealthy relationships. But day, after day, after day, they are doing that which they do not want to do. I also cannot tell you how many times Rob and I have literally begged and asked our neighbors, “Do you know the Lord? He is your only hope!” More times than I can count the conversation ends with Rob or I praying on their behalf, only to see them the next day doing exactly what they said they no longer wanted to do. When I read Mark 9 it was like the Holy Spirit turned the light on and I could finally see what was really happening. The reason our family and Highland Community Church have not been able to bring forth the “much fruit and fruit that remains” Jesus refers to in John 15 is because the North Highland community has a deaf and mute spirit that hovers over it whose influence also brings about a desire to destroy oneself. What does God’s word say about faith and salvation? It says, “faith comes by hearing and hearing by the Word of God” (Romans 10:17). Many times in Scripture, you will hear God describe a group of people as “having ears, but cannot hear; having eyes, but cannot see; mouths, but cannot speak”. You also see in Scripture that the Lord is searching among His people for someone who will INTERCEDE on their behalf (Ezekiel 22:30).
This past Sunday morning as our family and our church got on our knees before the Lord, my hope is that as God was searching His people, that He looked upon Highland Community Church and was well pleased. Because this past Sunday our church took the authority we have in the name of Jesus through the promise found in John 15:16 and we began to intercede on behalf of the North Highland community; we began to ask God for greater things. We began to ask God to bind the deaf and mute spirit that hovers over our community and to bind the spirit of destruction. We began to beg that in return He would loose the Holy Spirit to invade our community and convict our streets of sin, righteousness, and judgement and that he would lead us into TRUTH. We began to ask, with one heart and mind, for a harvest of righteousness!
Supporters of Truth Spring, I know that this is somewhat of an unusual blog. However, I am convinced that the words written here are the key to us having spiritual victory here in the North Highland community. I am also convinced that our victory will be directly connected to our prayer life. I beg you to please pray. May we find much encouragement and boldness from Jesus’ words found in John 15, “Ask anything in My name and it will be given to you. My Father is glorified by this that you bear much fruit.” This is it! This is the season of harvest! May the Lord fulfill all His promises to the North Highland community as His people, through much prayer, ask for His Spirit to be loosed among us.
How to pray for North Highland in 2018:
1). Ask for God to start cleansing our community, starting with Highland Community Church and the leaders of Truth Spring.
2). Ask God to bind the deaf and mute spirit that hovers over our community whose influence brings about a desire to destroy one’s life.
3). Ask God to loose His Holy Spirit in our community and that the Holy Spirit would convict us of sin and lead us into truth.
“This kind cannot come out by anything but prayer.” Mark 9:29
In the last blog I wrote, I referenced a verse from Matthew 10:27 that states, “What I tell you in the dark, speak in the daylight; what is whispered in your ear, proclaim from the rooftops.” Throughout our time living in North Highland God has given us very specific promises concerning His plans for this community. Until recently, it has seemed that God wanted us to pray and ponder on those promises rather than reveal them. However, for the last several months there has been a compelling in my Spirit to begin proclaiming from the rooftops the truths God has declared to us. The following words are a result of that compelling and also my best effort to communicate to you how our past has prepared us for what is soon to come.
By now most of you have heard our family’s story and the story of Highland Community Church and Truth Spring. You know that for the last 12 years we have sought to be obedient to the call of Christ in every area of our life and ministry. Throughout those 12 years there have been a variety of seasons that we have experienced. The first 8 years served as a season of personal refinement as we learned how to fulfill the command in Psalm 37 to “dwell in the land and cultivate faithfulness.” The meaning of the word faithful is “long-continued and steadfast commitment to whatever one is bound to by a pledge.” In the first 8 years we learned that our pledge was not to developing a neighborhood, but rather to daily living out the two commandments Christ laid out in Scripture: “love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength; and love your neighbor as yourself.” It was a season of struggle and loneliness, while at the same time, a season of finding complete joy and satisfaction in Christ. There is no real way to make sense of that, other than to say, in the first 8 years Christ truly became our all in all.
The last 4 years have been a season filled with great excitement as we have watched the Lord do the impossible. From what started in 2005 as a .77 cent offering each week at Highland Community Church, we watched the Lord multiply into providing enough funds to start Truth Spring Inc., open a school, and start a housing program. In case you missed that, I said .77 cents! The only way to describe that is, a miracle! We have literally watched the Lord fulfill the promise found in Matthew 6:33, “Seek FIRST the Kingdom of God and ALL these things will be added to you.” As we have sought nothing more than His Kingdom and His glory, He has seen fit to do the adding. And here’s the really exciting part, it’s only just begun. Which leads me to proclaiming from the rooftop what I believe our next season is going to look like.
I believe we are about to enter into a season of harvest! A season of bearing fruit, much fruit, and fruit that remains (John 15). If I were to summarize the last 12 years of what God has personally been doing in me and in our family than it would be Romans 4:19. It states, “Without becoming weak in faith…and with respect to the promise of God, he did not waver in unbelief but grew strong in faith, giving glory to God.” God has been developing a steadfast and unwavering faith in us. A faith that determines our feelings, not feelings that determine our faith. A faith that sees beyond the physical and into the spiritual. A faith that with confidence declares what is to come, before any evidence has yet to be seen. Truth Spring supporters, I am convinced through much prayer and time spent in God’s word, that we are about to experience a season of harvest in the North Highland community. All the labor and toil over the last 12 years is getting ready to produce a harvest of righteousness. As I said earlier, over the years the Lord has given our family many promises regarding the work He is going to do in North Highland, but the very first promise He ever gave us was one you have heard me quote many times from Ezekiel 36:33-36. A portion of it states, “On the day that I cleanse you from your sins, I will rebuild the waste places.” In the last year alone there has been more discussion and more plans made for rebuilding the North Highland neighborhood than all 11 previous years combined! The physical rebuilding of our community is nearing it’s appointed time which is so exciting. However, what excites me even more is the order of the promise made in Ezekiel. According to the promise, before the rebuilding there must first come a cleansing. I believe this will be a cleansing so powerful that it won’t just change the landscape of the community, but it will actually change the hearts of the people – and heart change is the only change that has the power to produce genuine, lasting community revitalization. Why am I telling you this? Because when it happens I want you to remember this: God is real; God answers prayer; and God is trustworthy. What He says, He will do.
May we all with great faith and expectant prayer, await the coming glory of the Lord and the start of a new season – a season of harvest.