September 21, 2018
“….Yet, You (Yehovah) have said, ‘I know you by name and you have also found grace in My sight.’ Now therefore, I pray You, if I have found grace in Your sight, show me now Your way that I may know You, that I may find grace in Your sight….and He said, ‘My presence shall go with you and I will give you rest.’” Exodus 33:12-14
Hidden within Moses recount of his conversation with God is an amazing revelation. When I recognize that Yehovah knows my name and I have found grace in His sight if I ask Him to show me His way so that I might know Him (as opposed to wanting information so I’ll know what to do and where to go), I will find continued grace in His sight and His Presence will go with me. In His Presence is rest because its there we find that He is the All Sufficient One and we have no need that He does not fill. This past year has been a very different one for us as we’ve endeavored to follow the “Cloud and the Pillar of Fire.” We have not formally planned any “ministry,” nor have we planned “not to minister.” As we have sought more than ever to “KNOW the One True God and Jesus Christ Whom He sent,” He has drawn us closer to Himself and woven life-giving encounters with Pastors and their families all along the path. We are experiencing ever more consciously that the Holy Spirit brings us into the lives of people, so He can move through us to draw them, as well as us, to Himself. In the past several weeks He led us into the path of several Pastors we know who are experiencing a vast range of life circumstances: a marriage, loss of a spouse, struggles in marriage, growing and learning to thrive in their relationship with Jesus and their spouse, as well as some just simply living life. The variety alone revealed that without the Source of Life moving in every situation we have absolutely nothing to offer. But when we seek to KNOW Him in the encounter, He is there to meet every need. Most amazingly, our God longed to meet each one specific not only to their situation but to their personality, gifts, talents and purpose. And the outcome was that each one of us came to KNOW Jesus and others more deeply. Also, Ron had opportunity to preach the Word to two congregations. And, we “just happened to be in Phoenix” during the 30th Anniversary celebration of Living Water of the Valley, pastored by Bishop Bob Bartlett, where our denomination Superintendent and spiritual covering, Apostle Jack Richey, brought the Word. What a rich and timely word it was.
August 7, 2018
“..asking God to fill you with the knowledge of His will in all the wisdom and understanding which the Spirit gives; so that you may live lives worthy of the Lord and entirely pleasing to Him, being fruitful in every good work and multiplying in the full knowledge of God. We pray that you will be continually strengthened with all the power that comes from His glorious might; so that you will be able to persevere and be patient in any situation, joyfully giving thanks to the Father for having made you fit to share in the inheritance of His people in the light.” Colossians 1:9-12 CJB
After reading a portion of Scripture like the one above it’s so simple to think, “yes, Lord! I want that. Do that work in me.” Life goes on and you don’t think much more about it.
We spent the past month in Phoenix, Arizona where the temperature highs were 105-115 and the lows were 87-90….Ugh! But, it was well worth it to spend time with family while also helping in practical ways. We know the Father told us to spend this year with family and taking care of some serious maintenance issues at both the house in California and the one in Phoenix. We wondered what that meant for Raven Ministries, but we’ve experienced that our Father is always bringing us into the lives of Pastors and them into our lives at the right moment. He is the expert at “working all things together for good.” While in Phoenix we met with two Ministry Couples for a time of encouragement, Ron was invited to attend a Pastor group meeting and He preached in a church; and we still managed to scrape, sand and repaint the back of the house. An added blessing was our house in California being used two separate times while we were gone to give a Pastor Couple and then a Pastor’s wife a time of refreshment (Raven’s Rest).
That all sounds quite stress-free. In reality it was anything but. Throughout the month, we individually and together struggled with the purpose of it all. Between the extreme heat and the dusty, sticky and labor-intensive work we ran low on strength and good humor less than half way through. To put it mildly, we struggled through the month praying to make it to the end without strangling each other or someone else….only joking :-) Then the night before we planned to return to California a monsoon hit, typical for Phoenix this time of year, tearing several shingles from our roof and shed. Which resulted in delaying our departure for several hours and turning a one-day trip into two. Oh, we forgot to mention, we were trying to train our nearly 9-year-old dog who suffers from separation anxiety to stay at home alone. Did we mention this past month was not stress-free? We were doing what is best for him. Keeping him in a cool, familiar environment when we had to be gone. But he was having none of it. We left him in the fenced in back yard. He sweat through his paws and drooled and by the end of the week broke two slats out of the gate in the back yard and escaped. Then, we borrowed a kennel from our nephew. He didn’t damage anything but continued to sweat, drool and let us know in every way he could that he wasn’t being treated fairly.
As we reflected on the month, we realized that our dog Rocky is a good picture of us. God knows exactly what we need and where we need to be….but sometimes we sweat through our paws and let Him know just how distressed we are by His plans. Ouch!
July 5, 2018
So let us seize and hold fast and retain without wavering the hope we cherish and confess our acknowledgement of it, for he Who promised is reliable (sure) and faithful to His word. And let us consider and give attentive, continuous care to watching over one another, studying how we may stir up (stimulate and incite) to love and helpful deeds and nobles activities,” Hebrews 10:23-24 (AMP)
The calling of Raven Ministries is to encourage, support and bear the burdens of Stewards of Jesus’ Bride. Whether in the United States or abroad, we strive to bring a Word in Season coupled with acts of love to individual as well as groups of Pastors, Pastors’ Spouses, Pastor Couples and Pastors’ Children. The Holy Spirit, as the joining Force in our marriage, uses our threefold relationship to draw us deeper into relationship with Jesus as He heals, teaches and matures. As He disciples us, He is teaching by experience to disciple others. While Abba uses us differently in different seasons, it seems He always uses our experience with Him in our marriage to testify of His goodness, sovereignty, holiness, faithfulness and love. During June we spent time with several Pastor Couples, individually, each in a different season of life: from preparing for an upcoming wedding……to being in the early years of marriage balancing small children with work and ministry…...to sharing 40 plus years of life together and now spiritually supporting their children as they raise children. We are so blessed to have a front row seat to testify of Jesus faithfulness to us and share our experiences with Him to bring encouragement, hope and shared praises to our King.
June 12, 2018
“I know both how to be abased, and I know how to abound: every where and in all things I am instructed both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need. I can do all things through Christ Who strengthens me.” Philippians 4:12-13
We praise YHVH for His Presence and all the He allowed us to do, see and experience in El Salvador. The one word that describes this time is FULL. He FILLED us to the point of bursting with a Word: for Ron “How Big is your God?” and for Luan “Marriage – the Mystery of Christ and the Bride”. Then He emptied us with an 11-hour overnight flight and a touch of food poisoning during the trip; we landed totally drained physically and began a rigorous 9-day speaking schedule with associated meetings only 6 hours after we landed. We were right in the place the Father wanted us: totally aware that we needed to draw our physical, mental, emotional and spiritual strength from Him. He in turn gave us nine days FULL of encounters with individual couples, groups and congregations. FULL of mutually encouraging exchanges with friends and co-laborers. FULL of hope, as the Father time and again reminded the weary that He is Faithful to keep His promises. And, although completely spent, we left feeling FULL (not lacking or omitting anything; complete) emotionally, mentally and spiritually….Only Jesus can fill you and empty you in the same encounter!
This was one of those trips where we saw fruit from previous visits as well as sowed and watered for future harvest. We met with six couples individually, recognizing that at least for two it was the Father’s perfect timing to give them a word of faith and hope. In addition, Luan encouraged ladies at an annual retreat and two groups of Pastors Wives to discover the mystery of Intimacy with our Bridegroom. Ron exhorted one group of Pastors, three groups of Pastor Couples and four Congregations to challenge their personal concept of God. If we really believe He is the One who breathed stars like UY Scuti from His mouth, how can we doubt that He will be Faithful to deliver us, protect us, provide for us…..? Ron also encouraged four groups of Pastors in their role as husband. Even though we spoke through a translator (although, Ron incorporated a LOT of Spanish while preaching) in nearly every service or meeting, we could see individuals connecting with the Word. And, several took the time to tell us personally that they’d been touched by Jesus.
March 29, 2018
“Come unto Me, all you laboring and burdened ones, and I will give you rest, take up My yoke upon you, and learn of me, because I am meek and humble in heart, and you shall find rest to your souls, for My yoke is easy and my burden is light.” Matthew 11:28 (YLT)
As this new season begins to unfold we’re in awe of how God is moving and teaching us. Though the past few months in Phoenix was a time of rest, we’ve felt the constant leading of the Lord to “be” and not “do”; to cease from our own labor and let Him teach us and use us as He chooses. Reflecting, we see that:
- Jesus reminded us that He chooses to use family to reveal God the Father and Himself to the world. (A few examples are: Adam and Eve were created to fill the earth and take dominion, Abraham was called to bless all the families of the world through his seed and Jesus’ selfless act of redemption gave us the right to be called sons and daughters of the Most-High.) The time spent with Luan’s parents, our children and grandchildren, brother and sister-in-law, nieces, and nephews increased our belief that He has a plan to reach the world through our family……and yours. He is a God of families and tribes.
- Jesus has given us opportunity to disciple young couples in ministry with respect to their marriage relationship. God is doing amazing things in their lives, as well as ours, as we transparently share our experiences and how the Lord has revealed Himself through it all, and apply His Word.
- Jesus is willing to use every resource we are willing to give. We spent considerable time last year and in the past couple months working on the house in Phoenix to repair, restore and improve its condition. At times, we’ve questioned whether this was distracting us and our resources from “ministry.” This past month we had the privilege of a Pastor Couple using the house to "get away"....we have a new Cherith House. It fills us with joy to know that everything is useful to Jesus, with Him nothing is “wasted".
- Jesus “brought ministry” to us. While in Phoenix, we had the opportunity to meet three new Pastors and spend time with four Pastor Couples (2 from Phoenix, 1 from California and 1 from Canada) and 1 Missionary Couple (from Senegal) for mutual encouragement in the Lord.