Saturday, January 19, 2013

Bless My Neighbors

When we moved into our neighborhood we were one of only white families on our street. The realtor who showed us the house was nicely trying to tell us it was a "mixed" neighborhood, I guess she thought we wouldn't like being minorities. What was more important to us was whether or not any of them were Christians. In the 4 1/2 yrs since we've moved in many neighbors have moved and new ones have come. Out of the 15 houses on our street 5 are IHOP and 3 more are Christians that go to various churches in the area. That means we are now in the majority. :) Color and nationality means nothing.
Recently one of our long time neighbors approached us with the idea of getting together and praying for each other and the entire neighborhood. Over the years we have gathered for picnics, Christmas tea, garage sales, and lots of chatting at the mailbox. This was different, it means stepping it up a notch. Another neighbor who has been a life-long missionary shared how they've seen transformations in other countries of neighborhoods after praying together. They use this acrostic:

B - Body- For health, safety, and physical needs.
L - Labors- For the success and prospering of they work and studies.
E - Emotions- For peace and joy to replace fear and anxiety.
S - Social Life- For families to function well together and in their community.
S - Salvation- For each to understand salvation in Jesus Christ and grow in their spiritual lives.
So this is our plan, we meet a couple of times a month to pray for neighbors by name, we pray for the land to be fruitful, we're praying for the city, etc.  Each time we meet there's a feeling that this is something the Lord is well pleased with and we add more to our time together. Who knows where it will lead or what will happen but we all agree it's how neighbors should be. We're sharing our needs, we're rejoicing together over answered prayers, we worship together, we're looking out for each other. We're coming together from many different backgrounds, nationalities, ethnic groups, ages, and sharing one commonality. It's doing church outside of the walls.

I really like my neighbors.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Is it Christmas Already?

Every year it comes at the same time, and every year we have 4 kid's birthdays within the same month. Every year it seems to creep up on me and I'm unprepared. Yikes! No Christmas cookies made yet, the christmas cards are almost finished, no family photo, no ink in the printer....and the biggie, NO SNOW! Our Minnesota raised kids would love some white stuff to play in for Christmas. What's weighing in on our hearts the most this year? Joy. Here's an excerpt from the christmas newsletter John wrote:

One of my favorite carols is ‘Joy to the World’.  Sure, I like the slow, contemplative ones as well, but something wells up in me when that familiar descending melody starts.  (FYI – I love Steve Green’s version…and yes, I know that dates me.)  The Bible connects joy with the announcement of Jesus’ birth to the shepherds in Luke chapter 2 – “Then the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid, for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy which will be to all people. For there is born to you this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.”
So why did the angel bring joy and not happiness?  Happiness is dependent on outward circumstances. Joy, on the other hand, is internal and constant. We have an unlimited source of joy through Jesus Christ. We shouldn't be as concerned about happiness which is dependent on outward circumstances. We should have joy in the Lord based on an internal constant - our relationship with Him.
We continue to serve at the International House of Prayer in Kansas City.  I (John) teach music theory/piano at the ministry’s music school and private lessons at home; Cheryl does Sozo ministry, is webmaster for the girls’ dance studio and keeps the house organized and running happily; Zach plays guitar on an IHOPKC worship team and works at Best Buy; Rachel is out of the nest, living on the Plaza in KC and pursuing an education in art history and restoration; Sarah graduated high school earlier this year and will get her BA in Liberal Arts/Psychology and graduate from the dance program at Dramatic Truth School of the Arts within the next few months (whew!); Hannah dances at Dramatic Truth and turns 16 next week!!  Josiah’s interests are history, Minecraft and theatre (that’s new), Chloe leads worship at school and both her and Sophie are really talented singers and pianists.
One final note about ‘Joy to the World’…even tho’ it’s considered a Christmas carol, the words were based on Psalm 98 and speak of Jesus returning at the end of the age. 
May you have a truly joyous Christmas!

Now let it SNOW, let it snow, let it snow!

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

And Then There Were Five

It was a sad night in the Nielsen home last night. Our usual routine is to go out at dusk and close the gate leading into the chicken coop. By that time the chickens have all entered the coop and have jumped up on the roost where they settle in for the night. Last night one of them was just lying on the coop floor panting. She let me pick her up and bring her into the house where we could examine her. Nothing appeared to be wrong. We put a grape in front of her which normally would have been gone in a nano second. We tried forcing her to drink. She just laid her head down. Minutes later she was gone.
The strange thing is I think we collected 7 eggs yesterday. Chickens only lay 1 egg a day. Dolly must have given us one more gift in her last day. (We think it's Dolly. It's been hard to tell them apart since they were little chicks.)

Friday, August 17, 2012

Sozo, What is It?

For the last year I have been trained and ministering in Sozo. What is Sozo you ask? It's a prayer ministry that seeks to restore individuals to a more intimate relationship with God. The term "sozo" is a Greek word meaning salvation, healing, and deliverance. The Sozo model is a compilation of tools and techniques from many sources used to guide the sozoee to a place of freedom and inner healing.
In the past I've ministered in different environments with different training styles and I feel like Sozo pulls them all together. It's very non-threatening, very spirit lead, and very effective. Sozo training provides a road map or toolbelt that helps guide the session.
What does a sozo session look like? It's not a counseling session. In the room are the sozoee and 2-3 sozo ministers. One will facilitate the session. The one will write the lies and the other will write the truths or revelations the Lord brings to the sozoee. This way the sozoee can read through and remember what was revealed during the session. The main goal of the session is to help them connect better with God. Connecting with God sounds simple, but many times things happen in life, we get wounded, and then we have trouble hearing from God. Usually the enemy has come in and caused us to believe a lie and then backed it up with circumstances. Sozo brings these lies and patterns of ungodly belief out into the light. Then they are replaced with the truth.
That's it in a nutshell. The training goes way deeper. In the next few months I have the opportunity to teach the training and raise up more Sozo ministers. I highly recommend it. If there is a Sozo ministry in your area make an appointment for yourself. You won't regret it.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Silly Things Chickens Do

I'm going to start posting videos of the silly things our chickens do. It nature's entertainment. This activity is commonly known as the dust bath. We may have to put a fence around these gardens in the spring.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011