Letting God Love You – Brent Rue

  download mp3

More talks on God’s love and grace  --  home

This talk was given by the late Brent Rue at a conference in Adelaide, Australia (probably in the early 90s). The first half of the transcript was originally found at www.vinenbranches.com, but that website doesn’t seem to be around anymore.

We are going to be doing a teaching tonight where we’re going to depart from the normal format a little bit. I want to do a teaching that is, I feel, very significant in this whole realm of ministry. But we won’t be talking directly about the healing of the sick. I venture to say this is the most important teaching I’ve ever done. I feel very strongly about this – the Lord asked me several years ago to teach this wherever I went in the world. So I want to share it with you.

As we look at healing, it is a difficult endeavour as we consider it. There are going to be times of disappointment, discouragement and so on. And I look at the apostles in the early church, I look at the disciples who followed Jesus, and they seemed to stay with it. They followed Jesus and they continued to walk with him. They had their ups and downs – they left him at the cross – but before he went to heaven he had them all back and they stayed on. And they continued on the rest of their natural lives with this ministry of signs and wonders, and of risking their lives and their reputations on a daily basis.

And as I thought about that more and more I thought how did they do it and why aren’t there many doing it in the church today? Because much of the church today still feels inhibited and sporadic in their attempts to follow God and their ministry opportunities and all. The Lord began to speak to me as I embarked upon all of this stuff many years ago, and he showed me the key with those early disciples – and that is that he had won them through his love, and that they were totally caught up in that love, so much so that they continued to serve him in practical ways the rest of their lives.

Now, you understand that. We all do. We know it’s the love of God that has drawn us and all. But I don’t think that we truly understand that love, and that’s what I want to talk to you about tonight. And I feel like this is the most life changing thing I’ve ever said. And it’s really the story of what God’s done in my life, so I hope it ministers to you, or at least sows some seeds.

Turn with me to Luke the twenty fourth chapter. Actually, you don’t need to turn with me if you don’t want to because I’m reading out of a translation most of you probably don’t have, so it might be a little bit confusing to you. But here is the story of the two men, two of Jesus’ disciples. And this was the time, this was the day that Jesus rose from the dead. But they didn’t know it and they had given up and they were on their way home to the village of Emmaus. We pick it up in the thirteenth verse:

That same day, Sunday, two of Jesus’ followers were walking to the village of Emmaus, seven miles out of Jerusalem. As they walked along they were talking of Jesus’ death, when suddenly Jesus himself came alongside and joined them, and began walking beside them. But they didn’t recognize him.

“You seem to be in a deep discussion about something,” he said. “What are you so concerned about?”

They stopped short, sadness written across their faces. Then one of them, Cleopas, replied, “You must be the only person in Jerusalem who hasn’t heard the terrible things that happened there last week.”

“What things?” Jesus asked.

“The things that happened to Jesus, the man from Nazareth,” they said. “He was a prophet who did incredible miracles, and was a mighty teacher highly regarded by both God and man. But the chief priests and our religious leaders arrested him and handed him over to the Roman government to be condemned to death, and they crucified him. We had thought that he was the glorious Messiah and that he had come to rescue Israel.

“And now, besides all this which happened three days ago, some women from our group of followers were at the tomb early this morning and came back with an amazing report that his body was missing, and that they had seen some angels there who told them that Jesus is alive. Some of our men ran out to see, and sure enough Jesus’ body was gone, just as the woman had said.”

Then Jesus said to them, “You are such foolish, foolish people. Do you find it so hard to believe all that the prophets wrote in the Scriptures? Wasn’t it clearly predicted by the prophets that the Messiah would have to suffer all these things before entering his time of glory?”

Then Jesus quoted them passage after passage from the writings of the prophets, beginning with the book of Genesis and going right on through the Scriptures, explaining what the passages meant and what they said about himself.

By this time they were nearing Emmaus and the end of their journey. Jesus would have gone on, but they begged him to stay the night with them as it was getting late. So he went home with them.

As they sat down to eat he asked God’s blessing on the food and then took a small loaf of bread and broke it, and was passing it over to them, when suddenly it was as though their eyes were opened and they recognized him. At that moment he disappeared.

They began telling each other how their hearts had felt strangely warmed as he talked with them and explained the Scriptures during the walk down the road. Within the hour they were on their way back to Jerusalem.

Now, I believe that these two men represent the church today. They symbolise us in many respects. They were dedicated men, they were men who followed Jesus who had given their life to be part of his band. They had left home and family and all and were doing their best to live with Jesus and do what he wanted. But they did not understand him, they didn’t understand his ways. It certainly wasn’t from lack of trying, they just didn’t get it.

And so here it was, it was the day that Jesus had risen from the dead, and they had given up and they were on their way home. They were shattered beyond description. I mean, what would you do if you had put all of your hopes in this one man? He was the anointed of God. He was going to redeem Israel. He was going to take back the land for the people and so on, and they killed him. They killed him. So they just gave up. It was a washout, it was through. They were going home.

And yet who should they meet on the road but Jesus Himself? And it says that they didn’t recognize him, and we seem to attribute it that God didn’t allow them to recognize him, but I don’t buy that one bit. Because the original text doesn’t say that. It just says that they didn’t recognize him. Do you know why they didn’t recognize him? Because he was the last man they ever expected to see on that road. Granted, I don’t think he looked the same – but they never expected to meet Jesus. It was their own lack of faith that blinded them from seeing him.

So Jesus comes up to them and says, “What’s happening fellas? What are you talking about?” And he says, “Are you the only one that doesn’t know about these things?” Jesus says, “What things? What are you talking about?” “Jesus the Nazarene, mighty prophet, mighty man of God in word and deed. In fact, we all thought he was the Messiah ... and they killed him. That was three days ago. And they said his body is gone, and we found his body is gone but we haven’t found him.” And the Bible says that they stood there looking sad.

Now, that’s a lot like us, people. You see, for those guys, this should have been the greatest day in their lives. The Messiah had just risen. He had come to do THIS! Heaven had just opened. It was the beginning of the Kingdom of God that would be displayed through men, not just Jesus. And their work was today really beginning and they thought it was over. They were going this way and Jesus said, “Why aren’t you going that way? You ought to be going into Jerusalem!” But they didn’t get it. And so they rebuked God. “Don’t you know Jesus died?” They rebuked God. But he was patient. He didn’t smite them with fire. He was gentle with them. And he said “Oh foolish men, slow to hear all the prophets had said. Didn’t you know that these things were going to happen? Weren’t you told so many times?” Yeah, they were.

But see, those two guys are like us. As you sit here tonight many of you have troubles. You’ve got problems. You brought them in this room here tonight. And sometimes we would think, “If only, only Jesus would come to my house. If once I could sit down and counsel with Jesus. If I could just see him once, if I could just hear his voice once, I’d be transformed.” No you wouldn’t. You’d be just like these two men on the road to Emmaus. You wouldn’t get it. The presence of Jesus would not change your life. Believe me? It’s true.

Because Jesus, his presence, is here right now. His presence is inside your bodies right now. It hasn’t changed you. Oh, you’re going to heaven, but it hasn’t changed you. We came into this room tonight with problems. Jesus is right here. Jesus might have said to you tonight “How are you doing?” “Are you the only one in Adelaide who doesn’t know the trouble I’ve got? I haven’t paid all my bills! The kids are sick! My husband’s been angry with me for the last two weeks! Don’t you know!?! I’m upset!”

And Jesus says, “Oh foolish, foolish people. Didn’t you know this stuff was going to happen? Didn’t I tell you?”

Jesus Christ is right here next to you tonight. He’s right here with you. The king of the universe, and he knows you by name. He knows everything about you, he has rescued you, he has written your name in his book. He is counting the days until he gets to take you home face to face. He loves you so much. Do you realise how precious you are to him? You don’t realise that or you wouldn’t be so upset about the problems in your life.

You don’t know what a glory you are to him. You might think, “Well, I don’t do anything. I’m not very useful to the Lord. I’m not very powerful. I’m not, you know, a real disciple like that.”

Do you know how much he loves you? You see, what you were created for has already happened. It’s already done. You see, when you became a Christian you fulfilled the Lord’s will for your life. He didn’t die so that you might be discipled. He died so that you might go to heaven. Right? He opened the way for heaven. When you said, “Jesus come into my life,” that day, whenever it was, IT WAS FINISHED. And the only reason you’re still here now isn’t to grow closer to the Lord, to be more obedient to the Lord, to become more of a disciple ... no! The reason you’re here right now, today, is that the joy and the love and the fullness of God would spill out of you and flow all over others, because you are now the Jesuses in this world. You have the good news of God beating in your breast. He just wants to show you off!

You’re not supposed to work your way. It’s already done. You’re going to heaven.

You don’t see it like all of creation sees it. That shekinah glory of God that blinded Paul on the Damascus road and knocked him flat on his back, that knocked Daniel down a couple of times and Ezekiel and John and so on. That same shekinah glory of God dwells in your breast. And every spiritual being throughout eternity can see it. All of the hosts of heaven, the saints and the angels and all of the demonic realm, even Satan himself, they all see that – and it scares the demons no end. They know you from a non-Christian. You blind them with the glory of God. It’s not just a little angel that hangs around you to try to protect you. It’s the Spirit of the living God who makes your body his home. Every time your heart beats you’re giving glory to God. Do you know why? Because God’s saying, “That one is mine.” Every time you hear that heart beat. “That one is mine. They have said yes to me. They’re going to be in heaven with me.”

Do you know how much God loves you? He’s showing your picture around heaven right now. “This one’s mine, see? Isn’t she sweet? This one’s mine. She loves me.”

When you’re parents, do you get a little baby, your first baby, and say, “Oh baby, when you get to be eighteen and prove yourself I’m going to love you. Once you show me you’re going to be good and that you can earn money, I’m going to love you.” No, before that baby has done anything you’d die to defend that baby.

I remember when Jenny just crowned in the womb and I realised that that wasn’t just a watermelon in Happy’s stomach. I saw that little bit of scalp and that little bit of head coming through the vagina and I almost fell over. I was so taken aback. That was our little baby. Our little baby! I couldn’t handle that. Tears came to my eyes. That was our baby! And that little one became so precious to me, and I got a little bit of an indication of how God feels when one of us is born again. “This one’s mine and I’m not going to let her or him go for anything. This one’s mine. This one has chosen me!”

Every time you take a breath, every time your heart beats you are glorifying the living God. I don’t care if you don’t witness to anybody tonight. I don’t care if you don’t pray for the sick tonight. Every time you breathe, God is blessed and glorified because you speak for him. The devil hates that. Every time you breathe, every time your heart pumps, every time you pass a day here on earth, because you are testimony for the victory of God in this life. That’s who you are. And when your time is done here, then God is going to exalt you and bring you to heaven and reward you. That’s who you are. And yet many of us are sitting here tonight sad – SAD – because of the things of this world that have gotten us down. And yet we are victorious in Jesus. We are eternal beings and someday none of this stuff is going to mean anything. We’re just like those two guys, and the presence of God has not changed us.

But Jesus was undaunted. He wanted to change these guys just like he wants to change you, and he will change you if you’ll let him. And so he said, “You guys didn’t understand the Scriptures so I’m gonna teach you’. So on the road now, home, he gives them one of the hottest Bible studies ever given. I hope that’s on the video tape in heaven. I’d love to hear that as Jesus went through and said, “Here I am here, Moses talked about me. Here I am here, David talked about me. Here I am here, Daniel talked about me.” And he went right on through the Scriptures and it was just blowing their minds. Didn’t they say later, remember after Jesus left, “Weren’t our hearts burning within us when he was speaking to us on the road about the Scriptures?’ Of course, they were getting chills, goose bumps, the whole works.

But it didn’t change their life. Do you realise that? Jesus’ presence didn’t change their life. This book didn’t change their life. We think, “If I just read more Scripture I’ll be changed.” No you won’t. This book is valuable, this book is necessary to walk the Christian life, but it doesn’t necessarily change us. It doesn’t make us freer necessarily. It didn’t them. They still didn’t see Jesus when Jesus got done with his Bible study.

Many of us go week in, week out to church. We read our Bibles and sometimes we’re emotionally moved, but it doesn’t change us.

What did change them? When did they see Jesus? I’ll tell you when. When they got to the house.

Revelation says, “If any man hear my voice and invite me in, I will come and I will have fellowship” – or I will have supper – “with him. I stand at the door and knock, and if anyone hear my voice and invite me in, I’ll come.” And that’s what Jesus was doing.

He was a master at this. He wanted an invitation. He didn’t just say, “Hey, I’m coming to your house,” he wanted an invitation. They were walking down the road and Jesus said, “Well, you guys are going to turn in there, huh? It sure is late. The sun’s setting. I’m going that way. Is that food I smell? Oh, you want me to come to your house for dinner? Really? Alright, I’ll come.”

You know why he did that? Because he wants an invitation. You had to invite him to get saved. You had to invite his presence into your life, but he wasn’t going to force it. Because what is coming is the most significant thing about Jesus in this story.

When did they see him? They saw him when he broke the bread and gave it to them. Now unless you know their culture you wouldn’t understand what that means. Breaking bread was the most intimate thing one man could do with another man. There was nothing more intimate that two men could do. Nothing. Because this one little loaf of bread went into my body and your body. It became both of our bodies, and that was sacred. They saw Jesus when they did the most intimate thing they could with him, and that’s the point. To have intimacy with Jesus Christ you must invite him in.

And when you are intimate with Jesus Christ, off go the scales; you see him and you’re changed. What was their response? Within the hour they were on their way back to Jerusalem, never to leave the ministry again. You want to stay in the ministry? You want to be fulfilled? You want to walk with God? Stop doing all the other things you’re doing and pursue intimacy with Jesus Christ.

That is something that is not being taught in the church today. It really isn’t. We’re taught to love God with all of our heart, soul, mind, strength. We’re taught to love God. Well I don’t believe that. I don’t spend much time loving God. Now that might sound like heresy to you, but I don’t give it much time. It is not my highest priority to love the Lord my God with all my heart, soul, mind and strength. I give little time to that. Do you know what I give most all of my time to? Being loved by God. That’s where I spend my time. Not loving him, letting him love me. Do you know why? Because the Bible says to do it that way. We love because he first loved us. Right?

Think of that. The only reason you could ever, ever get to heaven is because he first loved you and you said yes to his love. The Bible says there is nothing, no nothing good inside of here, Isaiah calls it filthy rags what we do for God. None of our works make us acceptable, our love is no good. It’s only his love. Anything that’s good starts from heaven, comes through us and goes back to him.

Think of it: what do you do when you try to love God? I’ll tell you what you do. You do a bunch of works. You read your Bible more, you do good deeds more, you pray more. You try to do all kinds of things so that you will be accepted by God, and you’re wasting your time. When are we going to get past the elementary stages? We are accepted by God. It’s already happened. You cannot change his love for you. You’re not that powerful, you’d never be able to pull that one off. Impossible. He loves you, is committed to you and he will not change. He will not change for you. He accepts you people right where you are tonight.

Think of the teaching that we get in the church again and again and again. “Love the Lord.” What does that mean? That means witness for him, that means read your Bible, that means pray, that means get involved in ministries. Love him! Where do we get teaching on how to be loved by God? Where have you gotten some of that? It’s just not much in the church today.

But I am concerned with that, because I believe that that is the essence of Christianity. Everything revolves around that. Jesus said, “I don’t do anything unless I first see the Father doing it,” right? He said, “I don’t initiate a thing on my own. My meat is to do the will of him who sent me.” So he was always looking to the Father, “Alright Dad,” and he’d go and do that. Where we’re trying to create a lot from inside. We’re trying to do it from ourselves, rather than getting it from God.

The number one problem, and I’ve watched this for I can’t tell you how many years in the body of Christ, is that our identity is wrapped up in what we do and it’s not in who we are. You stop and think about it and see if that isn’t your problem tonight. The reason that you’re so often defeated is that your focus, your identity comes from what you do. And most of you feel worthless because you don’t feel like you’re doing enough.

But since a new Christian – and I don’t know why, but somehow God got through to me. Maybe it was because of prior religious training that had so turned me off. From almost day one the Lord said, “I love you because you’re mine, and never change that.” That’s when, I might have mentioned the other day that I quit church when I got saved, and I’ll never again do anything because somebody tells me to. I’ve got a love affair with Jesus and I’m going to keep that the rest of my life. And I have.

And so I have focused on who I am, not what I do. And I really meant it when I said to the Lord years ago, “I don’t care if I drive a truck, if I am a janitor. I don’t care. I’ll do any of that stuff. Just don’t let me miss what you have for me. I want to enjoy you the rest of my life. The job’s not important to me.” And he took me at my word. Years down the road I ended up in the ministry, but it wasn’t something I aspired to. It’s just that I was having so much fun that I think God wanted others to hear about the fun that I was having. Really! I really believe that. I’ve had so much fun ... and I struggle with it like all of us do, but I think I’ve been victorious. I keep remembering who I am. I’m God’s kid! God loves me! I’m going to make my mistakes and all of that, but I just want to stay where you are God. I want to do what you’re doing. And sometimes I do things right and other times I don’t do them right. But you know what? All the time I just want to keep doing it with Jesus.

It’s his presence that keeps me going. It isn’t the experiences, the highlights, on to the next conference, on to the bigger things. No!

When I went out and took that church in Lancaster it wasn’t to start a big international ministry. You don’t have usual big international ministries starting in the Mojave Desert. I went out there because God said, “This is where I want you.” And I said, “Well, let’s do it then.” And I was willing to stay out there the rest of my life and teach people and jack rabbits about Jesus Christ, because there’s about equal amounts out there. I had no idea that he’d be sending me around the world ministering in difference places. And I’m still in Lancaster. I don’t know if I’ll ever leave. I like it there. And the Lord has just let me know that I am precious to him whether or not I ever teach another Bible study.

And I live there, people. Ask my wife, she’ll tell you. Ask the people who know me well. They’ll tell you. I live there. In the Vineyard I’m known as the Pastor of Fun amongst the guys in the leadership, because I’m always out to enjoy the Lord. I’m not going to be pulled down by all of this stuff ... and I occasionally do, but I am determined that God is going to demonstrate his joy in my life. He said that his joy was going to be in me and that my joy would be full. That’s what he said, so I’m just with him. I’m just for it.

And I try to share with people this most important message I know in Christianity: God has commanded you to receive his love. It got you to heaven. It will also give you heaven on earth. But if you keep trying to prove yourself to God, it’s going to get drier and drier and drier. It doesn’t work that way.

You see David said, “When I consider, Lord, all that you’ve done for me – who am I that you should do that? But when I consider that, what can I say?” Do you know what he said? The next line he says, “I will take the cup of salvation and call on the name of the Lord.” What should I do for all that you’ve done for me? I’ll take some more. That’s what David said. That’s what God wants.

He did it so we’d get it, people. He died that we’d receive. And so many of us are so busy saying, “Oh God, I don’t deserve. Oh God, I don’t deserve.” There’s going to be heel marks all the way from earth to heaven. Heel marks! He had to drag us in. We said yes to salvation and the rest of it he pulled us. And we’ll get to heaven and think, “What did I do? You mean I could have lived like the apostle Paul?” And the Lord will say, “Yes, you could have. I kept telling you that and you kept saying that you couldn’t. But now you know you can.”

Do you realise that people? Why do you think Paul was able to say, “I ran the race, I fought the fight, and now I’m ready to go home to collect my prize.” Because he believed it during his live and lived like he was a saint. He said, “I was worse than all the rest of you. I killed, I persecuted Christians. But now there’s nobody better than me, because I love Jesus.”

You see, he kept saying, “I boast in God. I’m a crummy guy, but I’m equal to anybody now because of what God thinks of me, and so I’m not letting any of that past hold me back. I’m running for the mark. I’m leaving everything else behind. I’m going for it on a daily basis.” And we can’t do that. “Oh, I’m unworthy. I don’t know how to love God,” and all these things that we say. Hey – God has done it all. He’s proud of you. He loves you. Relax. Rest.

I remember back many years ago I was driving down the road and I was speaking to the Lord, and I was telling the Lord about all these people we were going to save in this valley. You know, we’re going to do all this stuff – and the Lord interrupted me. You know, us pastors sometimes talk that way. The Lord interrupted me and he said, “Yeah, we’ll do that later.” I said “Later?” And he said, “Yeah, first we have to convert your people.” “My people? What do you mean convert my people? They’re saved.” And the Lord said, “Well, they’re going to heaven, but they’re not converted. Because those people don’t know me. They don’t know me.”

And then he began to talk to me about that. He reminded me that the number one area of counselling, and you Pastors will have to agree with me that are here. The number one area for counselling for any Pastor is, “How do I know the will of God?” It takes many shapes and sizes and forms. “I’m not sure if I should take this job or not. You got any ideas, Pastor? I’m not sure if I’m supposed to move. Is this the right woman in my life? What do I do with my children?” On and on and on. What’s the will of God?

Do you know why they ask? Because they haven’t a clue as how to find out from God, so they hope that we might know and they come to us. God’s people don’t know him. We don’t know what he’s going to do from one day to the next. It’s a surprise to us. We haven’t the slightest idea how God moves. Many of us haven’t even seen him move. We don’t know that he even still does this healing stuff, a lot of us. In the church today a lot of us don’t even know that God still heals. “My people don’t know me,” he said. “They just don’t know me.” And I really found that out to be true.

And the way that we know him is that we start letting him have intimacy in our life. How much intimacy do you have with God? I’m not talking about how much you read the Bible or pray or witness, but how much romance is there with you and God? Do you remember when you were first saved? How much of that is going on now? When he was real. When he was alive. When he could provoke you to joy. How much of that is happening now? You see, that’s intimacy.

And I tell you what, I’ve got lots of it going on in my life. And I’m not saying that to brag. I’m saying that to tell you it can be done, people. God is just waiting, he’s trying, he’s knocking, he’s asking. When are we going to open up? We keep the door shut and say, “The house isn’t clean. Not yet.”

The way that I came to grips with this is kind of crazy, and I have to share this with you. But it’ll help you to understand how I came to some of these understandings. God had already been stirring things in my life towards intimacy and all, but when I got into the ministry basically, I didn’t pray. I didn’t have devotions. I prayed in tongues some, but I didn’t really have a devotional life. It seems pretty sad, but I didn’t.

Anyway, I was an assistant Pastor for two and a half years and I was having a great time. But I was fairly new in the Lord, I was only a couple of years old in the Lord, and I would never do that to anybody now. But at any rate, I was asked to join the ministry and after waiting on the Lord for almost a couple of months I was convinced I should do it, and I did it with great fear and trembling. We had a little Bible study. I was over my head! I didn’t have time to pray.

I lived with the Pastor, and I remember he got on this early rising kick. His name was Ken and we lived in the same house. Both of us were broke and somebody donated the house for us to live in at that time. But it was in Beverly Hills – the house wasn’t all that great, but it was in a ritzy area. And that’s where the ministry started.

And so he got on this early rising kick, but he was a great boss and he didn’t make me do it. He’d just get up in the middle of the night and rattle around the house and make noise, but I was determined: I was staying in bed. That wasn’t going to get me up. I had too busy a day. I was studying, I had teaching to do. I didn’t have time to pray. That’s how much I knew in those days. So he was doing it. Anyways, I would do some praying but not a whole lot.

I was having a great time for a couple of years and finally we went out and started our own church. No sooner had we gotten to Lancaster, where I am today, and the Lord spoke to me one day and said, “Brent, if you don’t pray, I won’t move.” And I said, “God, is that you? I’ve never heard you talk like that before.” And he said “Yeah, it’s me. When Ken was your boss, he prayed. You were alright. But now, the buck stops with you. And if you don’t pray, I won’t move.” That scared me people. I figured he meant it. So I figured out that I was going to pray. But I didn’t know how to pray. I really didn’t.

So I got those books. Have you ever read books on how to pray? Don’t. They messed me up, man. I read all the stuff ... and then I read the testimonies. That life could kill me. I read about those guys who were spending four, five, six hours a day before breakfast? Have you read those books? I was never so condemned in all my life! You know, Wesley talked about how he usually spent three hours a day in prayer unless he was going to have an extra busy day and then he’d spend four hours a day in prayer. I didn’t even want to know that guy. And so I read all those books, felt thoroughly condemned and decided to do it.

So I embarked upon my spiritual pilgrimage of learning how to pray. The first thing I did was get up early, because you’ve got to get up early; I read that. You know, to pray. So I got up really early in the morning, and Lancaster gets very, very cold in the winter time. The wind blows, and we didn’t have any insulation in our house. We had this little tiny two story home with a heater downstairs, and all the heat went upstairs. You were sweating upstairs and you needed a coat downstairs. It was that bad. Then I’m quite the handyman, and I tried to fix something and flooded the whole house. So we had to tear the carpet up, and we just had concrete floors like this and, I’m not kidding you, I think I probably could have ice skated on that floor, it was so cold in there.

So I’m trying to pray and I’m saying, “Lord, this is not going to work. I’m into prayer but I’m no masochist. I’m not into self-mutilation. I can’t do this. I just can’t do it.”

And right then the Lord opened up a little office for us. We got our first office, and I went there to pray. And after reading the books, I figured that this is the way to pray – I made prayer lists. Have you ever done those? Where you pray for Harold and that his grandmother would be saved, and for Mary to get the job that she’s been asking for, and Johnny to get his tooth pulled – all the little things that people ask you to pray for and that you feel obliged to pray for as a pastor.

Honestly, I hated that. I’m reading these lists before the Lord and I just couldn’t take it. Finally, I said, “God, I can’t do it. This is boring me to tears.” And God said, “Me too. Will you quit?”

And so right then and there God and I made a pact and said we’d never do that one again. And both of us agreed that it was great to get rid of it. So I did. And the problem was, I didn’t know what to do to replace it. I really didn’t. So I’d get up real early in the morning and I would go to the office and I’d sit in this comfortable chair behind my desk and I would sleep. So I figured out after a couple of days that that probably wasn’t prayer either, and I needed to do something, so I started drinking coffee. I’d get up and I’d go by the coffee shop and I’d get me a couple of tall cups of coffee and I’d drink that and get wired, and then I’d go and sit in my chair and I’d just sit there. I didn’t know what to do with myself if I didn’t have a prayer list.

What I ended up doing was to go and get my stereo system and bring it to the office. There were no other houses around the office, just businesses, and so I’d put on my favorite Christian music and just crank it up real loud. I’d leave the lights off in the room, just the street lights would be shining in, and I’d put my feet up on the desk and I would drink coffee.

Do you know what? I started having a wonderful time. I wasn’t praying, at least not in a devotional sense. I don’t know what I was doing, but I was praying in tongues quite a bit, because I just felt like doing it. I was so moved by that music. These musicians, these music ministers, were absolutely pulling me into the throne room of God. They were ministering to God, and I was getting so touched. In those days in our Vineyard we had about fifteen or twenty of the top Christian musicians in the country, in our first little one when I was assistant Pastor. It was incredible. I had known those people and I had gotten a lot of their albums and stuff.

And oh, I was so ministered to. And I would just sometimes pray in tongues. I didn’t want to sing – I didn’t want to mess up what they were doing. But sometimes I would just pray in tongues and a really powerful song would come on, and I’d slip out of my chair and I would just fall prostrate on the floor. And when that song was over and the next one wasn’t so good, I get up and sit back in my chair and have some more coffee. Then another song would come on and really minister to me, and I’d slip out of my chair and get down on my knees. Then after about sixty seconds my knees would start to hurt, so I’d get back in my chair, put my feet up and relax. I’d do that for an hour and a half, two hours every morning.

And I tell you what, I loved it. Now, I really didn’t think I was having prayer and devotions for a little while. I really didn’t think I was doing that. But all of a sudden our church began to explode. I couldn’t get over it. I still can’t get over it. People being saved and healed, and things were just going crazy! It was as if somebody was praying.

I’m not kidding. It was downright embarrassing. I was just like, “God, I didn’t know you were going to do that. I would have prayed for that if I’d have thought you were going to do that.” I was feeling guilty like I should have been doing something. All I was doing was having fun every morning. I mean, I was having fun every morning. Drinking coffee, listening to records and getting touched. It was changing my life.

And then, one day God visited me and spoke to me. It was one of the clearest times I’ve ever heard God in my life. It wasn’t audible but it was about as close as you can get, and he said, “Brent, if you will continue to do this, I will withhold no good thing from you.”

What was I doing? Drinking coffee, listening to records? Not really. Because by the time God said that to me, I was already on to what was happening. I had invited him for dinner. Just like those two guys on the Emmaus road, I had invited God to my little world every morning, and God was so pleased that he lifted the veil and he blew the doors off our church. He transformed everything. And he said, “Keep it up. You’re on to something here. Just keep it up. Just keep inviting me over to breakfast every morning like this, and you haven’t seen nothin’ yet.”

You know what, people? I’m still at that place. I haven’t seen nothin’ yet. We use double negatives in Lancaster.

God showed up at my office. And I thought I was supposed to minister to him, but I was getting so much out of him ministering to me. And he said, “You got it. Now, you’ve got it. You have been receiving my love. You have been letting me touch you. You have been letting me minister to you. I have become your delight. You keep that up and you’re going to enjoy this life.”

People, that has become a way of life for me now. A way of life. I don’t get up early so much any more and drink coffee and listen to records. I do that sometimes. But now I mostly take walks in the desert, me and Buckwheat my dog. We take walks in the early mornings, or at sunrises or sunsets or whatever, and we enjoy the presence of God. He touches my life in so many ways. I have made a lifestyle of intimacy.

And I’m here to tell you today it’s the greatest thing in the world. I mean, this is wonderful. It’s so incredible for me to be able to be with you guys and see God do things here – I can’t tell you. But you know what? It still doesn’t hold a candle to me and Jesus just hanging out together. I don’t have to look forward to twelve or fifteen months from now when I get to come back here, if we get to come back here, and then mark the days on my calendar and say, “Boy, I can’t wait.” I don’t have to wait for that, because tomorrow morning Jesus and I will spend some time. This morning I got up and took a walk with Jesus.

And it’s wonderful, people. He’s still the highlight of my life. He’s still the greatest fulfiller of my dreams. It’s not travel, it’s not ministry, it’s not power. It’s Jesus. You see the church isn’t in touch with that too much today.

I remember one time I was speaking to the Lord, and I said, “God, I don’t love you. I’m being real honest with you God, I don’t love you. Now I want to love you, but I just don’t know how! I know how to love my wife; we have romantic love, and I can hear her voice and I can touch her, and I can experience her. But I don’t know you that way.” I was just being honest with him.

“I know how to love children, and I know how to love other people – and there are different kinds of love. But I tell you, I don’t have a love for you. I don’t have a category. People say that we’re supposed to love you, and I want to do that, and I say that all the time, but honestly I don’t. Because I don’t feel anything for you. I’ve never seen your face. I know you died for me, and I appreciate that, but I’ve never talked to you before. I’ve never heard your voice, I’ve never seen your appearance. It’s like you’re a belief, but I have a hard time loving a belief. So God, teach me how to love you.”

And he spoke right back to me and he said, “Son, you do love me, you just don’t know how you do. I’m going to teach you how you do.” He told me, “You’ve always been grateful.” And I have – I don’t know how he got me that way, but right away he did. My favorite Scripture since a brand new Christian was 1 Thessalonians 5:18, “In everything give thanks, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” Today it’s still the only Scripture I’ve ever put in our bulletin. It’s the one Scripture I live by. If you ever have me find something, I’ll always find that Scripture. It’s just part of my life.

And the Lord told me, “You’ve been grateful, and therein is the key to loving me. You’ve stumbled on it, but you don’t even know it. And I’m going to teach you more about it every day. And all I want you to do is to look for me during the day, and when you see me, let me know that you’ve seen me. When you see a sunset that touches you, just let me know that you recognise that I did that for you. When you see a little child at the supermarket that looks so cute, just let me know that you appreciate that I made that little baby that you would be able to see.” And on and on.

And so I’ve gotten pretty good at that over the years. All I do is look for what dad has done for me and say, “Gee, thanks dad.” There is love. He did it and gave it to me, and I’m just telling him about it. All I can ever do is return the love, and it comes through thanksgiving.

Isn’t that one of the most beautiful attributes of this life? One of the worst thing that can happen with your kids is when they are ungrateful. They’re so ungrateful and they don’t pay attention to anything you’ve done. And one of the most rewarding things is when people notice what you do for them. Boy, that just makes the day.

God has done so much for you today! He put that beautiful sky up there and those clouds that came over, and a little bit of refreshing rain. And the animals that are in your land – the incredible birds that are here, and the wildlife and all. I am just impressed with what God has done in Australia, and maybe most of you don’t even notice. We went yesterday and held those little koala bears, and looked at the wombats and the Tasmanian devils and all that stuff. And the wonder of looking at the kangaroos and the little babies jumping in and out of the pouches ... that stuff is so amazing to me. Isn’t it to you? God did that only for you. Walk out tonight and look up at the stars. They’re all hanging up there for you. So I just learned to tell dad that I recognise it.

On so many of my walks when I go out, I don’t even talk to him very much, except once in a while I just tell him what I see. We put a lot of importance on talking, and I don’t know if we ought to be doing that stuff, because I don’t know if it promotes intimacy.

Our prayer life many times is filled with talking. Think back, those of you who used to date but don’t anymore because you’re married. One of the most threatening things when taking out girl or going out with that guy in those early stages was silence. Oh, God help us if there’s more than twenty seconds of straight silence.

That’s why people go to movies or to some function where there’s always noise in the air. They’ll go out to dinner where it’s crowded and there’s people talking, or they’ll go to a party or some sort of function because there’s always words in the air that it makes it all safe. But to just take a walk out in the countryside and to sit down and look at each other is life-threatening. “What am I going to say?”

Some people bring lists, and they open their purse and they’ve got five subjects written down in case there’s a lull in the action. Silence is so threatening because we aren’t used to each other’s presence. It’s horrible! But after you’re married for a few years, an hour of silence is golden. I don’t mean that in a bad way. I mean that we have learned over the years to just appreciate each other’s presence.

Sometimes Happy and I can be driving down the road for a half hour or forty five minutes, and not say a word to each other. You see, in my business I talk a lot, and sometimes it’s so nice just to be quiet. We might not say a word to each other as we’re driving down the road, and she might just reach over and squeeze my hand. And that says a thousand words.

We’ve become comfortable in each other’s presence. It’s just so nice to be together and not have to fill the air with words. We do a lot of talking, but at times we don’t feel like we have to. That’s exactly what I’m talking about. Where is your relationship with the Lord: are you comfortable, or are you dating?

If you look at your own devotions, what do you do – do you read the Bible, and then feel like you’ve done enough work. You’ve read two or three chapters, and then feel, “Ah, now I feel better about myself. I’ve read the Scriptures.” And then we pray. And whether we have lists or praise or whatever we do, we talk, talk, talk, we fill the air with words, and then we say “Amen” to it all and we get out of there. Don’t we? And God’s going, “But ... but ... but ...” We say all that we’ve got to say and then we hang up, and we get out of there.

Have you ever tried waiting on the Lord? Oh, I used to try that. It was horrible. I did it for at least twenty or thirty seconds once. I didn’t know what to do! I got silent, he didn’t talk, so I left. I tried waiting on the Lord. It didn’t work.

But this was a back door God taught me of the years – that he and I are in love. He and I are best friends. He’s my Savior and my Redeemer, and he said in John 15 that I’m his best friend. So are you.

So when I go on my walks and listen to records I don’t do much talking to him. Sometimes I do, but I don’t feel like I have to, because he and I are just out together. We’re just enjoying a walk. Once in a while I’ll see a rabbit or a cloud formation or something and I’ll say, “Thanks Lord. Thanks, I appreciate that.”

And I know that touches his heart. Sometimes I take a long drive, and I’ll be there seemingly alone and I’ll reach across with my hand just like he’s there, and I’ll squeeze it just like his hand is in mine and just leave it there – just like he’s there. Do you think he isn’t? You know he is.

But how much of our time during our day do we give to him? We go all through the day, and we don’t even talk to him unless we get in trouble. I’ve taken surveys. Christians don’t usually talk to God unless they’re in trouble, or they feel like they owe him – then they’ll talk to him.

But how it breaks his heart. He calls himself “Father”. He says, “You can call me Father”. Do you understand how intimate a term that is? He didn’t say, “I am chief God, I am supreme being. I am Creator and Savior”. He said “You can call me Father”.

What does that mean? I know what it means. I’m a father. I have children, and I know the love and joy a father has for his children. My little kids – boy, they’re not little anymore. Good heavens, they’re growing like crazy. But to watch them grow up ... Jenny used to talk so crazily, with those cute little words. We had to tape it just so we could keep those words forever after she got grown up.

And I remember Jonathan when he was three years old. He’d be buzzing through the house at a hundred miles an hour. And I’ve got this little tiny study off to the side. All it’s got are a few books and my stereo in there, and an easy chair. He’d skid around the corner and see me, and he’d stop and run and throw himself on my lap and put his arms around me, hug me and say, “Daddy, I love you!” Then he’d kiss me and then rowrrr ... there he’d go right on out again, as fast as he could go.

That was one of the greatest things he could ever do for me. Because what he was saying was, “Daddy, I’m so happy, I’m so secure. I’m responding to your love. Thanks.” That’s in essence what he was saying.

Jesus said we had to come as children or we wouldn’t get in didn’t he? We had to be as children. But we aren’t as children.

Do you know what kids are into? Do you know what kids exist for? Fun and food. They do! I taught them for two years, plus I’ve had some of my own. They live for fun and food.

When I was a second grade teacher and I taught seven year olds, I could not smile ever in the classroom. I loved to play with those kids, and I played with them during the recess and the lunch, and I loved it – it was fun. But I couldn’t smile in the classroom, because as soon as I smiled it meant, “Oh, Brent wants to party! Come on!” And they’d start leaping over the desks – if I just smiled at them.

Just scratch the surface, you don’t have to go deep, and you’ll find fun in a kid. You don’t have to go deep. The kid’s not worried about, “Dad, do you think we’re going to have enough money to eat tomorrow?” They’re not concerned about that. They just want to know, “Where’s the food now, and can I have it now?” They live for the moment. They want to eat and they want to play.

And God says we are to be as children. We’ve missed it somewhere. We’re so “burdened” – that’s a Christian word, you know. We are so given to God and his work. We are so stinking self-centred. We take ourselves too seriously, people. Much too seriously. We actually think that we’re necessary to the whole kingdom of God. But at the same time we feel like we’re worthless, and so we’re caught in this whole thing.

I’ve learned to just relax. This is God’s business, this is his work. I’ve struggled with this whole thing about healing people. I don’t know how to do that, and I’m travelling the world teaching people how to do it. So I’ve had to say to the Lord again and again, “God, I don’t know what I’m doing. These people are going to think I actually do. But you know me, and I’m just going to go there – you’re the one who wants these people to get healed, you’re the one who wants them to move in these gifts, so you’re on. When I walk up front, you’re on man. I’m just going to show up. Do what you do, and I’m determined to hang along for the ride.”

That’s what I do. I don’t know this stuff – I’m just along for the ride. I’m God’s little boy. And I’ve learned to enjoy his overtures of love towards me.

Every year in Lancaster we plant flowers, because it’s too cold in the winter and all that – so we don’t plant seeds, we plant flowers. It’s kind of a special time when we get color again. And my kids have wanted to help me ever since they were very little. Actually, Jenny doesn’t – she tried it the first year, and girls don’t like dirt very well, so she gave up and she doesn’t help us do that. But Jonathan loves it; dirt’s never bothered him.

And so when he was three years old, he started helping daddy plant flowers. So we would go around the driveway, and we would dig a hole and put in plant with the nutrient and so on.

I’d get out there with all my stuff and all the plants, and he’d say, “Daddy, can I help?” And I’d say, “Oh, yeah!”

So he’d take his little shovel – and I’d only want to dig about this deep, and he digs THIS deep. He’d dig and throw it and throw it, and we get this big old hole. Dirt’s all over the driveway ...

And then he’d get the flower. And while he’s doing that, I’m trying to scrape dirt from wherever I can to get the hole back to the right size. Then we put the nutrient in, and we stick the plant in. And sometimes he broke the stem on them, and somehow we’d recover ... and we did it!

And then he’d say, “Can I do the next one, daddy?” And I’d say, “Well, sure, Jonathan.” And we’d go on to the next one.

He caused me three times as much work. I was always fixing his holes, cleaning up after him, being careful he wasn’t breaking all the stems, going through all of that ... it took me so much longer.

And then when we got done, he’d run in the house, grab mamma and Jenny, pull them outside and say, “Look! Look what I did! And daddy helped.”

But for all the trouble that he was, I would never change a thing about that. Not a thing! My little boy wanted to help me. My little boy was excited to work with his daddy. I don’t care how many holes he dug wrong or how many stems he broke – it was so fun watching that little tow head busy busy for daddy.

One day the Lord spoke to me again. He said, “Brent, you are Jonathan. I’ve got work to do, and you keep showing up. ‘Can I help daddy?’ ‘Yeah, sure!’ You dig the holes three times too deep, you throw dirt all over everybody, you break the stems, you make a mess of everything – you make it three times as much trouble for me, and then you run and get everybody and say, ‘Look! Look what I did, and God helped.’”

And he said to me, “But you know, Brent? I wouldn’t change a thing. I love the fact that you want to work with me. Don’t ever change.”

You know what? I never have. I’m still digging holes too deep, I’m still doing things wrong. But me and my daddy are still working.

So many Christians have walked away from their daddy. “I can’t do it right. I broke another flower.” And you break his heart when you walk away.

You see people – this is all the truth. I see myself as a little child. God told me I’m supposed to be a child, and I’m going to stay that way.

I dedicate myself to hopping up on my daddy’s lap and holding on, man. That’s where I live. But on occasion, God sets me off his lap, and he calls me warrior. He hands me a sword and he hands me armor, and I go on out and I kill dragons. But I only do that once in a while. Then I come back in and I take off that stuff, and I hop up on his lap like a little boy. That’s where I live – I know who I am.

We take ourselves too seriously, people. We feel like we’ve got to “fight the fight for God” and do all these great things, and we’re missing the intimacy of the love relationship. What do you think drove Paul on? Because he was such a great warrior? No, the love of God consumed him, controlled him. He gave his whole life to God because of the love that God had loved him with. See that in the Scriptures; begin to read them in that light.

What I’ve shared with you tonight I believe is the heart of God. Are you going to let him love you this entire life? And you keep putting him away, keep shutting the door, keep telling him you’re not ready, you’re not worthy. He knows all that stuff – he knows you’ll never be ready, you’ll never be worthy. He just says, “Now is the time. Today is the day. Don’t miss it like your forefathers did, when they wouldn’t enter into my rest. So I hated those people because they never let me get through to them.” That’s what God said basically in Hebrews. Will you let him get through to you?

Why don’t you let him get through to you beginning with tonight. Then tomorrow morning, maybe take a little walk. You’ve got such a beautiful country. Wherever I go in the world I get outside and I walk, because wherever I see flowers and trees or scenery it just stirs me up. “God did that for me!” I love to take those walks. When you hear music ...

Have you ever taken God to coffee? He’d like to go. I take him golfing all the time. I know he loves golfing. He and I have a wonderful time. He’s my best friend – wherever I go, we go together. Do you take him places? I hope you do. Because he longs for that. You see, he doesn’t want to wait for heaven. He wants it now.

You see, the only thing you’ve got to give away to a lost world is your relationship with Jesus Christ. They don’t want all your truth, they don’t want all your stuff. They want to see if you’ve been changed. And most of us act like those two guys on the road to Emmaus – the weight of the world on our shoulders. And Jesus is with us saying, “I have risen!” And they didn’t get it. He’s still shouting it today, and so many of us don’t get it.

I feel like tonight the Lord would really like to minister to us together, here in this room. Tonight let’s do it together, maybe for the first time for some of you, where with no strings attached, let God minister to you. We’re just going to invite his presence and thank him for who he is, individually in your own heart.

Don’t repent, don’t make promises – don’t do any of the stuff that you normally do. Just take from the Lord right now. He’s here to give. Put away all that other stuff, just drop it in your hands right now, and take from the Lord.

Holy Spirit, I just invite you to come. We do invite you to come right now. And God, I invite you in my life. Come and minister to me right now. I receive your love.

Don’t let worthiness be an issue. You’re not worthy – but then you are worthy, because Jesus said you are. Now let him come. He wants to just descend upon you and touch every fibre of your being and refresh you tonight. This is for you – for you.

Lord, we pray tonight that from now on, our love and our worship would simply be a reflection. That we would give back to you what you have done to us. Free us, Lord, of all the religiousness in our lives that has been like chains around our feet, and let us fly Lord. Oh God, let us taste your intimacy. Let your church be free. And Lord, let it begin in this room – let it begin in these hearts, God. And we pray that it would sweep this country, that there would be revival amongst first the Christians, Lord – that they would know their maker. And then Lord, we know it will happen to many of the other ones. Because we will be a force to be reckoned with when we know our God.

More talks on God’s love and grace  --  home