Apr 29 2011

There are certain feelings in response to the Spirit’s moving on almost every plane we experience. When I became a Christian as a boy, I sensed the same good joy in my heart every time I testified or prayed in the house of the Lord. Later on, when I was filled with the Holy Spirit, there was that same exhilarating anointing every time I began to praise or worship the Lord….

This response of the Spirit is true also in regard to divine love. As the Spirit witnesses to this love, you experience a deep compassion welling up within you, until your heart yearns over people and it is very difficult to control the tears.

  • John Robert Stevens, "Basic Principles in Applying Divine Love," 1977
    John Robert Stevens, "Basic Principles in Applying Divine Love," 1977
    Excerpt from the School of Prophets manual "Basic Principles in Applying Divine Love" by John Robert Stevens, Copyright © 1977 by John Robert Stevens & The Living Word, a California non profit Corporation. Used by permission.

 

Mar 21 2011

In my last post, I discussed the deeper side of John Robert Stevens’ teaching on worship. This week I wanted to share a humorous quote about the same topic.

A service has missed its point when you wish you could crawl off in a corner someplace by yourself because you are being distracted from the Lord. Have you ever been in a worship service where you felt you would like to get away from it so that you could meet with God?*

The context of this quote is the idea that we can’t make a habit out of our worship. The moment we start singing a song by rote is the moment we’ve lost our focus on the Father. That’s a very simple and important principle that we should all be very aware of about our attitude toward worship, and I love John’s sense of humor about it.

If you feel like you’ve got to leave a church service in order to meet God, something is not quite right! However, correcting this issue is every person’s responsibility in a service, because together we all create the atmosphere to worship our Father.

  • *John Robert Stevens, "Are You Aware of Him?" 1982
    *John Robert Stevens, "Are You Aware of Him?" 1982
    Excerpt from the This Week "Are You Aware of Him?" by John Robert Stevens, Copyright © 1982 by The Living Word, a California non profit Corporation. Used by permission.

 

Mar 17 2011

Leading a Church Service

I have been working on a class for Shiloh University recently called Leading a Church Service. We are using a great deal of material from John Robert Stevens to form the curricula, and it is being such a cool exposure to the depth of understanding that John had regarding how to lead people into the presence of the Lord. Repeatedly, in numerous instances, he emphasizes that the goal of the leader of a church service is to bring the people in the presence of the Lord. The focus should never be on the leader, but on the congregation’s relationship with the Father.

Currently, I am writing on the lesson concerning leading worship. I found this great quote from John in the assigned material:

So much of worship is based upon the Scriptures that give us access to God. Worship is not a struggle into His presence. Worship is a faith that stands in His presence because He has made a living way of access for us to do so (Hebrews 10:19-22). Worship becomes bold, but very reverent.*

When I read this, I couldn’t help but feel so clearly how much struggle we usually put into our worship. We feel like we have to strive to get into the presence of the Father. But this is in direct opposition to the Scripture referenced here:

Therefore, brethren, since we have confidence to enter the holy place by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way . . . and since we have a great priest over the house of God, let us draw near with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith . . . (Hebrews 10:19-22a)

The carefully chosen words here reveal how we should truly feel toward the Father: confident in our relationship with Him, in full assurance of faith in His love and acceptance of us. This is the basis of our worship, according to John Robert Stevens: the knowledge that we have access to the Father. When we approach worship from that perspective, we find a new reality of His presence.

  • *John Robert Stevens, "Are You Aware of Him?" 1982
    *John Robert Stevens, "Are You Aware of Him?" 1982
    Excerpt from the This Week "Are You Aware of Him?" by John Robert Stevens, Copyright © 1982 by The Living Word, a California non profit Corporation. Used by permission.

 

Feb 25 2011

We are overwhelmed when we realize that we must lay down the limitations we have imposed on how much, how long, how far, how deep. We cannot put any limitations on anything. How much shall I love Him? How long shall I love Him? How deep shall I love Him? It is so human for us to put up limitations and say, “I think I could go thus far.” Ah, you can go that far and further—and with His gentle wooing you will go further still, on and on. “Those who follow the Lamb whithersoever He goeth, love not their lives unto death” (Revelation 14:4;12:11). O Lord, let us all be included in that.

  • John Robert Stevens, "Search Me O God.... Psalm 139:23" 1974
    John Robert Stevens, "Search Me O God.... Psalm 139:23" 1974
    Excerpt from the This Week "Search Me O God.... Psalm 139:23" by John Robert Stevens, Copyright © 1974 by John Robert Stevens & The Living Word, a California non profit Corporation. Used by permission.

 

Feb 19 2011

When two people who love each other walk together, hand in hand, everything that has ever been in the past merges at that moment; and everything that is going to be in the future comes with a hope and a faith that is set ablaze with love.

That is the way it is with God: everything that He has ever done and everything that He has ever meant to you focuses on this one moment. He says, “I love you. I love you! Put your hand in Mine and we will walk together.” You can panic; you can be fearful; you can be afraid of changes. You can put up walls; you can back away. But one answer that will wipe out all your problems and help you to really walk with God is just to love Him—just love Him.

  • John Robert Stevens, "God Loves You" 1970
    John Robert Stevens, "God Loves You" 1970
    Excerpt from the book Sparks From the Altar, "God Loves You?" by John Robert Stevens, Copyright © 1998 by The Living Word, a California non profit Corporation. Used by permission.

 

Jan 19 2011

Dissatisfaction

One of the things I see throughout John Robert Stevens’ written word is his constant determination to reach into the next thing God had for him.

The unfortunate side effect of living that kind of lifestyle is a nearly-consistent feeling of dissatisfaction.

I might have broached this topic before, but since it had recently come up for me personally, I thought I might write about it again. This dissatisfaction is something I had been feeling in my relationship with God, but I couldn’t point to anything that was “wrong.” There was no difficult situation that was getting me down. Finally, I realized that I was just hungering after more of God!

In a message called Contented or Discontented? Stevens read out of Philippians, and then wrote:

Press in—press in—press in—is the emphasis. You cannot be happy with what you have attained spiritually; there must be hunger in your heart. You will not attain more spiritually if there is discontentment in your spirit. You will not be fruitful for the Lord if there is discontentment in your spirit.*

What an interesting dichotomy involved with having a relationship with the Lord. The only time we feel content is by doing the will of God. But the only way to get to that fulfillment day-by-day is to be constantly driven toward Him through an uncomfortable hunger.

So if you’ve been feeling a little discontentment recently, don’t blame your circumstances. See if there is something more that God has for you. He is the only thing that can change that deep dissatisfaction.

  • John Robert Stevens, "Contented or Discontented?" 1972
    John Robert Stevens, "Contented or Discontented?" 1972
    Excerpt from the This Week "Contented or Discontented" by John Robert Stevens, Copyright © 1972 by John Robert Stevens & The Living Word, a California non profit Corporation. Used by permission.

 

Jan 11 2011

Partake of the Life of God

One of the things that I love about John Robert Stevens is that he was not religious. I use the term religious to describe the way that many humans relate to God primarily out of rules and regulations. As I quoted earlier:

I was raised in a religious background, and I remember how we were taught that we were supposed to read our Bible for 15 minutes a day, pray for 15 minutes a day and witness to somebody for 15 minutes a day—if we did all that then we would never lose out with God. I was about fourteen or fifteen when I realized: “It doesn’t make any difference how much I read; it’s how much I digest that counts.” That has been the secret of my life. After that revelation to my heart, it didn’t matter to me whether I read half a verse or whether I read a whole book. I read until one thing happened: I began to partake of the life of God.*

I believe that this attitude is the antidote for the common “Christian guilt” that often occurs. We shouldn’t focus on checking boxes on our spiritual to-do list, but instead seek God until we find Him. Of course, this is sometimes a tricky proposition, because you never know how much seeking you will have to do! It’s easier to read the Bible for 15 minutes a day, rather than reading it until you hear the voice of the Lord.

And all of life is like this, really! It’s always easier to make a relationship with God into a list of rules—and I have to admit that the Bible might even seem to encourage this. However, to borrow a phrasing from Christ for my own purposes (which is usually a very unwise thing to do, so please forgive me), “The promises of God were made for man, not man for the promises of God.” (Mark 2:27) This is the difference between religion and relationship. And it’s a big difference.

Bottom line: John Robert Stevens rejected the religious approach to God and was a firm advocate for a daily relationship with Him. I’m nearly positive that I wouldn’t be a believer if it weren’t for this attitude that was imparted to be by John through my father.

  • *John Robert Stevens, "Eat it and Digest it," 1982
    *John Robert Stevens, "Eat it and Digest it," 1982
    Excerpt from the booklet "The Unfolding, Part 1" by John Robert Stevens, Copyright © 1982 by The Living Word, a California non profit Corporation. Used by permission.

 

Jan 7 2011

I, myself, am nothing. At best, I am only a voice. All I want to be is a voice, speaking His Living Word. This is the one thing God gave me that I exalt. I delight to be a channel for the Word. I magnify this office, as Paul did his; but as far as taking anything to myself personally, I do not. I am not a privileged person on the human level. Every day, I take less privilege on the human level, for I believe the Lord’s people will be a humble people by their own choice.

 

Oct 28 2010

A Personal Reflection on John’s Faith

This is the third and final post of my father’s recollections of John Robert Stevens. Here are the first and second posts.

My dad spoke about one of his personal experiences that showed him that John was a man of God.

I read through the Bible when I first came into Haiku Chapel on Maui. I read it cover to cover several times. I would read something that God would make alive by revelation, and more often than not, the next thing I heard from John—whether by tape or teaching manuals—I would see him talking about the exact revelation I had seen from the Scriptures. There was confirmation after confirmation in my own heart toward John and his integrity in the Word.

I know John’s teachings enough to know that this is something he respected in my father, that he had his own relationship with God, and that’s why he was able to recognize the voice of the Lord from John.

My father continued, talking about how John mentored people and saw ministries trained through hands-on experience.

He brought a lot of us young 20-somethings into Christ’s fold. He turned us loose and had a total faith that we could do what God wanted us to do. That was a whole different way of moving than the seminary route. There was faith to produce God’s outcome.

John opened the doors for people’s ministries. It’s not as if we had training or theological backgrounds. What we had was faith, and his covering. He was willing to trust God in sending people out. Jesus sent His disciples two-by-two and instructed them. The disciples hadn’t gone through any training, Jesus just sent them out with faith and authority and covering.

There’s a Scripture about being all things to all men. That is the mark of an apostolic ministry. He was able to minister to people where they were, and trust God to move on it. He trusted God that there would be a resulting response to his faith.

Gary Hargrave has told me personally that there was a time when John Robert Stevens’ ministry was growing very fast. He had more churches than experienced pastors to lead them. So, as my father described, John had to have a faith that God would be the provision and lead the young ministries. My father was one such ministry, pastoring Grace Chapel of South Gate, and Grace Chapel of Honolulu. I’ve had many people come up to me and tell me how much my father blessed them and changed their lives. Some have even said that he saved their lives. If it weren’t for John Stevens and his faith in God, none of that would have happened!

I want to thank my father for sharing his experiences. He is my hero and I love him very much.

 

Oct 19 2010

New Website

I’ve been working with Gary Hargrave, Marilyn Hargrave, and Rick Holbrook extensively over the last few months to create a new website about John Robert Stevens. It just went live today!

It was an absolute honor for me to be a part of the project, and I think it turned out really great.

Check it out:

John Robert Stevens

 

Oct 2 2010

I was raised in a religious background, and I remember how we were taught that we were supposed to read our Bible for 15 minutes a day, pray for 15 minutes a day and witness to somebody for 15 minutes a day—if we did all that then we would never lose out with God. I was about fourteen or fifteen when I realized: “It doesn’t make any difference how much I read; it’s how much I digest that counts.” That has been the secret of my life. After that revelation to my heart, it didn’t matter to me whether I read half a verse or whether I read a whole book. I read until one thing happened: I began to partake of the life of God.

  • John Robert Stevens, “Eat it and Digest It,” 1982
    John Robert Stevens, “Eat it and Digest It,” 1982
    Excerpt from the booklet "The Unfolding, Part 1" by John Robert Stevens, Copyright © 1982 by The Living Word, a California non profit Corporation. Used by permission.

 

Sep 29 2010

The Realm of Spirit

This is the second installment of posts based on an interview I did with my father about John Robert Stevens.

One of the things my father talked about was how John opened the realm of spirit as an important reality for the Christian:

I came from a background of an awareness that there was a lot more to this existence than just the physical expression. And the Christianity that I had known had pretty much ignored that fact. John knew there was a spiritual world. And he was able to function in both worlds—a world of theology and doctrine, as well as another world of gifts and the moving of the Holy Spirit.

This is so important. Just tonight in service at Grace Chapel of Honolulu, I talked about the realm of spirit and how Christ expects His believers to be active in the spirit realm. Christ says that His Kingdom is not of this world, and that we need to seek first the Kingdom (John 18:36; Matthew 6:33). The only way to seek the Kingdom is by doing so in the spirit, simply because it exists in the realm of spirit. We can do this because our spirits have come alive with Christ, we are seated with Christ in the heavenly places. (Romans 8:10; I Peter 3:18; Ephesians 2:6).

Stevens’ stance was that we can’t just know about God. We have to have real experiences with Him. And as it says in the Scriptures, God is a spirit, and anyone who wants to worship Him must worship in the spirit (John 4:24). John was instrumental in opening up these concepts to Grace Chapel of Honolulu, and to the entire Living Word Fellowship. It is because Stevens was willing to say that the Bible is not just a theory, but an absolute reality, that I am able to learn how to function in the realm of spirit. Christ brought our spirits to life for a purpose, and that purpose isn’t to just wait around to go to heaven.

My father continued:

There’s more to Christianity than going to church, sitting in a pew, and singing a hymn. There’s another dimension because God is Spirit, and John was very relatable in opening that up somehow, and making what I knew to be true, and opening up the Scriptures to reveal the truth.

This is the John Robert Stevens who changed my father’s life.

This is the John Robert Stevens who inspires me to seek first the Kingdom.

 

Sep 28 2010

John’s Relationship With God

I recently spent some time in Los Angeles, and had a chance to talk to my father about his recollections of John Robert Stevens. This will be part one of a series of posts about topics from that conversation.

One of the things my father said concerning John is that “he had a relationship with God that was palpable.” I love this turn of phrase. The way my father described it is that when you were around John you could feel the connection he had with God emanating from Him. John spent time with God. He didn’t just talk about God, or study God; he waited on the Lord, prayed, and put everything else on hold in order to cultivate a true relationship with Him. My father continued in this vein:

It was impressive to watch him move in the Spirit, but that’s not all he did. He was personable and relatable and Scripturally sound. It was always evident that John had a love for God and a love for the people. That’s what drove him. He had an anointing and a commission.

The combination of all these facets of John’s personality is what draws me to his teachings. It’s not just the fact that he was so important to my parents, or that he founded the church that I pastor. When I hear him speak in a recorded sermon, I can feel his love for God. It was so simple, but so foundational. And instead of just having a love for God in his heart, he actually did something about it and ministered it to the people around him.

Once again, we hit this bottom-line description that what drove John Robert Stevens was his love for God and his love for the people. So cool.

I will try to write more from this conversation soon.

 

Aug 30 2010

Thoughts on Being Aware of the Lord

Researching John Robert Steven’s life, I’ve discovered so many things that he was interested in; so for him to say that he discarded his hobbies just shows how much he let go of in order to follow the Lord fully (see the previous quote).

He loved photography and film. He loved music and history. He loved to tell jokes and loved to laugh. He set himself to serve the Lord with all his heart, but no one would say that it was to the detriment of his vivacity and personality. And in all of these things that he loved to do, he never let them distract him from an awareness of God. To me, this is a great balance, but it all must start with God.

John said, “I do not think that anything is greater than coming into an awareness of the Lord.” And this is what I want to apply in my life. God is first, and everything else is second—at best! If an awareness of God is our foremost desire, then everything else in our lives will fall into place.

This is why John Stevens is such a great example to me. He never forsook his first love, and everything he did lined up to his relationship to God. However, it never robbed him of his joy for life! This is how we know we’re doing it right: the joy of the Lord and the joy of life must be present, otherwise I would say that our awareness of God is lacking. If we know God, we will have His love in our hearts. As I John 4:8 says,”The one who does not love does not know God, for God is love.”

 

Aug 28 2010

I have never had many hobbies or interests because when I was yet a boy, God met me, and I became aware of Him. The Scriptures became my focus. I loved them, searched through them, thirsting after the Lord, knowing that they would reveal Him. What have I gained? What have I lost? How can I evaluate my life? One thing I know: I live twenty-four hours day with an awareness of the Lord. I never read a Scripture without it living for me. I do not think that anything is greater than coming into an awareness of the Lord.

  • John Robert Stevens, "Tune In," 1975
    John Robert Stevens, "Tune In," 1975
    Excerpt from the This Week "Tune In" by John Robert Stevens, Copyright © 1975 by John Robert Stevens & The Living Word, a California non profit Corporation. Used by permission.