A sermon from the book of Galatians. What does it mean to be a free son and heir?
When Bekah was about a year and a half old we were flying up to New Hampshire to visit family. Beth and I were separated by an aisle, and she was holding Bekah. I could tell that Bekah was being disobedient and trying to get out of the seat. Beth was having no luck calming her down, so I locked eyes with Bekah and quietly but firmly mouthed, “Bekah, stop!” She opened her eyes wide, pointed her finger at my face and began to scream, “NO! NOOOO! NOO!!!!”
I never forgave her. Six years later if she asks me for something, I tell her, “No” and make sure she remembers what she did to me on that airplane.
Joking, but listen to this sermon.
We have been in
a season of watching God be God. It’s exciting, and it’s changing us all. We believe you’ll be encouraged as you read these testimonies of the greatness of God.
It’s been six years since God told us to move to the Upper Valley and three years since we drove North. What do we have to show for it? I could tell you that we have a son, our smiles are a little bigger and we don’t want to leave. I could say that we have an impressive team of perseverers, but that’s not a real word. I could say, “The BLIND RECEIVE SIGHT, the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, and the deaf hear, the dead are raised up, the POOR HAVE THE GOSPEL PREACHED TO THEM.” That one might get me in trouble but it wouldn’t be too far from the truth. I think the best answer I could give you is that we’ve learned to be children of God. We trust Him like the child whose daddy is tossing him up and catching him. We’ve learned to laugh when it feels like we are falling.
In March of 2016 a group of students from Discipleship Training School (DTS) in Texas joined us for a few days. We met in the basement of the Piermont Congregational Church for a time of worship with just our YWAM team and the DTS team from Texas. God showed up in power like at Pentecost. Students and staff alike began to pray for each other and prophesy what the Lord was saying. The following morning students told us they had fully surrendered their hearts to Jesus. A young woman was physically healed. One young man reported that he had been having demonic nightmares and that they had stopped. One woman shared that she had stopped having suicidal and wicked self-defeating thoughts. One young lady said that she felt beautiful for the first time ever as God expressed his love for her. Others reported stepping into their spiritual giftings for the first time.
One of the students shared a story with us. She said that when their team was still in Texas they had a prayer time for this outreach. The Lord showed her a little white church. Inside the church people were worshipping and the Spirit of the Lord descended on them. She looked up and saw the steeple was on fire, but it wasn’t burning.
She looked down and saw light shooting out of the windows and into the community.
It was revival. Here’s the fascinating part: when the DTS team first drove in to meet our YWAM Upper Valley team we met at the Piermont Church. She said this little church was the very church she had been shown in a vision!
This night in the basement of the church the vision was fulfilled. God started what can only be described as the beginning of true revival. God is on the move in New England. He wants the hearts of the people of the Upper Valley, and He’s coming for them. We’re excited to be here and to be a small part of it.
This Spring we ran our first YWAM Upper Valley school. The Lord gave members of our team, Mike and Missie Anscomb, a passion to see the Holy Spirit welcomed into our corner of the United States.
We had three people officially join for class full time and then several individuals from the community came to smaller portions of the training. After the month of class, they hit the road for a worship and intercession outreach in all of the New England states. The team left our parking lot with almost no money and absolutely no place to stay and headed to Connecticut. God met their crazy faith with provision for housing and so many new friendships. They shared the love of Jesus in coffee shops, churches, on the street and even in bars during “Open Mic Nights”. By the end of their short stays in each location strangers became forever friends and asked for us to send more outreaches. These are the people we get to work with and call our team. People of faith. I’ll put a link to their newsletter on our website www.sewellstory.com.
As mentioned above we host outreach teams from other locations in America. These are short bursts of intensive ministry. It requires a lot of energy and planning. When we are not doing this we are meeting for worship and to plan for future schools that we will run at our base here.
Micah gets to do quite a bit of preaching. Click HERE to listen to some of his sermons.
Beth and I do a lot of work in private, much of which is counseling that can’t be debriefed in newsletters. God has been putting His finger on our hearts and has said over and over again, “I’m enough.” He has strategically placed us behind the scenes in many arenas in such a way that we couldn’t say, “YWAM Upper Valley did this.” We’re involved but we’re partnering. It’s the Body of Christ mutually blessing and being blessed. The only person who can take credit is the Holy Spirit. Pride can’t get in the way because it can’t even find a seat! It’s so good for us. One great example of this is what we consider to be our most effective ministry in the Upper Valley. From the beginning of our time in New England we’ve come alongside a group of intercessors. We encourage and lift each other up as we meet weekly and take ground for the Kingdom of God in prayer and worship. Our team gleans from their wisdom and experience while they are blessed by our freshness and hope.
“And my message and my preaching were not in persuasive words of wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power.” – 1 Corinthians 2:4
YWAM Upper Valley’s next aim is to run a Discipleship Training School (DTS). If you’ve never heard of this email me. In short, it’s a five month school for adults to get to know God. It’s the entry level program that every YWAM staff has attended. It includes a two month outreach.
What we have:
What we need:
Please pray with us. God will answer this need.
As missionaries with YWAM we do not receive a paycheck. Ministry is able to happen to the extent that we are funded. When we first moved here I worked a part time job along with ministry. It was beyond tiring, but it was how God provided for us to remain here increasing the Kingdom. This past Spring God told me to give up this job and watch Him provide. He has. It’s been fun, but to continue on we need to raise at least $800 a month.
Would you pray about partnering with us financially? No amount is too small.
Luke 14:25-33 Now large crowds were going along with Him; and He turned and said to them, 26 “If anyone comes to Me, and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be My disciple. 27 Whoever does not carry his own cross and come after Me cannot be My disciple. 28 For which one of you, when he wants to build a tower, does not first sit down and calculate the cost to see if he has enough to complete it? 29 Otherwise, when he has laid a foundation and is not able to finish, all who observe it begin to ridicule him, 30 saying, ‘This man began to build and was not able to finish.’ 31 Or what king, when he sets out to meet another king in battle, will not first sit down and consider whether he is strong enough with ten thousand men to encounter the one coming against him with twenty thousand? 32 Or else, while the other is still far away, he sends a delegation and asks for terms of peace. 33 So then, none of you can be My disciple who does not give up all his own possessions.
Here’s some inspirational political art by me, Beth and a friend named Kat. These images are to help you better express yourself during this special season. I crowd sourced the quotes to make sure to cover a broad spectrum of feelings. Click on the images to get full size. Right click to “save image as”.
Then signaling to the children to stand as close around it as they possibly could, so that their faces were actually tickled by its whiskers, it added in a low whisper —
“They say Aslan is on the move – perhaps has already landed.”
And now a very curious thing happened. None of the children knew who Aslan was anymore than you do; but the moment the Beaver had spoken these words everyone felt quite different. Perhaps it has sometimes happened to you in a dream that someone says something which you don’t understand but in the dream it feels as if it had some enormous meaning — either a terrifying one or else a lovely meaning too lovely to put into words, which makes the dream so beautiful that you remember it all your life and are always wishing you could get into that dream again. It was like that now. At the name of Aslan each one of the children felt something jump in his inside. Edmund felt a sensation of mysterious horror. Peter felt suddenly brave and adventurous. Susan felt as if some delicious smell or some delightful strain of music had just floated by her. And Lucy got the feeling you have when you wake up in the morning and realize that it is the beginning of the holidays or the beginning of summer.
The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe, Ch. VII
Last week I was on my way to deliver this message to my church in Piermont, New Hampshire, when I hit a patch of slushy snow. I slid about 150 feet and into a ditch. Now, that probably sounds scary or exciting, but it wasn’t. If you’ve ever hit ice or super slush like this, then you probably know what I mean when I say it happens in slow motion. It’s not because it triggers a metaphysical, introspective anomaly in which time is perceived differently. It’s literally slow. You lose control, and you have plenty of time to process how lame it’s going to be once you end up in that ditch as you inch towards it. So anyway, instead of preaching I sat in a ditch at 45° and had an incredible time. As I waited for my friend, Mark, to show up with a big truck I talked to over twenty people who stopped to see if they could help me. Not one of them was able to help me in any tangible way, but they showed me Jesus and gave me hope.
Now Narnia had been cursed by the White Witch to always be winter and never Christmas. It was into this setting that Mr. Beaver spoke a chilling message of hope. “Aslan is on the move.” I was trying to figure out why God put this cool moment from Narnia into my head and realized that C.S. Lewis was once again borrowing from the Bible. Jesus coming “at the fullness of time” did not mean He came during a wonderful time. Jesus arrived into a world ruled by a pagan idol of a man named Caesar. Israel was not truly autonomous and were not in a time of closeness with the Father. Babies were being killed. Sin and empty religion reigned together. In short, Hope stepped down into hopelessness.
It was the same with the prophesies about Jesus. Micah 5:2 “But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, though you are small among the clans[a] of Judah, out of you will come for me one who will be ruler over Israel, whose origins are from of old, from ancient times.” was given at the same time as Mic 1:2-7 “Hear, O peoples, all of you; Listen, O earth and all it contains, And let the Lord GOD be a witness against you, The Lord from His holy temple. (3) For behold, the LORD is coming forth from His place. He will come down and tread on the high places of the earth. (4) The mountains will melt under Him And the valleys will be split, Like wax before the fire, Like water poured down a steep place. (5) All this is for the rebellion of Jacob And for the sins of the house of Israel. What is the rebellion of Jacob? Is it not Samaria? What is the high place of Judah? Is it not Jerusalem? (6) For I will make Samaria a heap of ruins in the open country, Planting places for a vineyard. I will pour her stones down into the valley And will lay bare her foundations. (7) All of her idols will be smashed, All of her earnings will be burned with fire And all of her images I will make desolate, For she collected them from a harlot’s earnings, And to the earnings of a harlot they will return.
Isaiah 7:14 “Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign: The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel.” and Isaiah 9:7 “There will be no end to the increase of His government or of peace, On the throne of David and over his kingdom, To establish it and to uphold it with justice and righteousness From then on and forevermore. The zeal of the LORD of hosts will accomplish this.” were given to the same situation as Isaiah 1:2-4 “Listen, O heavens, and hear, O earth; For the LORD speaks, “Sons I have reared and brought up, But they have revolted against Me. (3) “An ox knows its owner, And a donkey its master’s manger, But Israel does not know, My people do not understand.” (4) Alas, sinful nation, People weighed down with iniquity, Offspring of evildoers, Sons who act corruptly! They have abandoned the LORD, They have despised the Holy One of Israel, They have turned away from Him.”
The Messiah is coming. Yahweh is on the move! The message of hope was given during one of the darkest times in history – during the fall of Israel and Judah.
The original prophecy and message of the Gospel was Genesis 3:15 “And I will put enmity Between you and the woman, And between your seed and her seed; He shall bruise you on the head, And you shall bruise him on the heel.” There was no worse time than this. In Genesis 3, 100% of the people on earth had just sided with Satan and sinned.
In these contexts of despair, wickedness, rebellion, God proclaimed the coming of the Messiah. From the Garden to Abraham to Moses to David to the Prophets to The Fullness of Time things were awful, but people had something to hope in. Jesus would come. One day, it’ll all be made right.
When there WAS no hope, God said, “Hope!”
“Three things will last forever–faith, hope, and love–and the greatest of these is love.” – 1 Corinthians 13:13
Do we pursue faith and love but forget hope? Yeah.
We trust God. We choose to love because He loves us. But hope? What is our outlook on life? How do we view the future?
When there IS no hope. God says, “HOPE!”
“Didn’t I tell you,” answered Mr Beaver, “that she’d made it always winter and never Christmas? Didn’t I tell you? Well, just come and see!”
And then they were all at the top and did see.
It was a sledge, and it was reindeer with bells on their harness. But they were far bigger than the Witch’s reindeer, and they were not white but brown. And on the sledge sat a person whom everyone knew the moment they set eyes on him. He was a huge man. in a bright red robe (bright as hollyberries) with a hood that had fur inside it and a great white beard, that fell like a foamy waterfall over his chest.
Everyone knew him because, though you see people of his sort only in Narnia, you see pictures of them and hear them talked about even in our world – the world on this side of the wardrobe door. But when you really see them in Narnia it is rather different. Some of the pictures of Father Christmas in our world make him look only funny and jolly. But now that the children actually stood looking at him they didn’t find it quite like that. He was so big, and so glad, and so real, that they all became quite still. They felt very glad, but also solemn.
“I’ve come at last,” said he. “She has kept me out for a long time, but I have got in at last. Aslan is on the move. The Witch’s magic is weakening.”
And Lucy felt running through her that deep shiver of gladness which you only get if you are being solemn and still.
“And now,” said Father Christmas, “for your presents…
Notice that in both of these Narnia passages how the characters respond. The setting is bleak, but when the truth of hope is simply spoken things change. A message of hope shakes off our blinders. It brings chills and laughs and tears. It’s sobering and relaxing and energizing, and I hope you feel it right now. We’ve spent the last two and a half years in New Hampshire, a cold place. Where it is literally always winter and never spring for six months. Where it is figuratively always winter and never Christmas spiritually. Except this is not true. Satan wants people to be weak and hopeless, to always struggle, to always sow and never reap, but this is changing. His grip is failing. Revival is beginning in our valley. It’s just glimpses right now. It’s just light breaking through the clouds. It’s ice melting and cracking in the river. It’s the smiles returning. It’s the friendships rekindling. People are waking up, and I’m encouraged. We have so much hope. Christmas is here. Let this Christmas be just like the return of Father Christmas in Narnia. A fullness of time. A return of hope.
God is on the move! Of the increase of His government or of peace there will be no end!
Romans 15:13 “May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.”
Merry Christmas from Micah, Beth, Bekah, Lil and our new little guy coming May 2017! We love you and pray you meet with the Living God today.
Why did God choose Peter? In this sermon I walk through some key moments in the life of Peter suggesting why I believe Peter was chosen to lead and to experience so many special moments.
Matthew 14:29 And He said, “Come!” And Peter got out of the boat, and walked on the water and came toward Jesus.