Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Ministry Update: Spring 2017

We recently returned from ministering in the Central Coast area of California:

Unexpected Evangelistic Experience

When we are traveling, we have to stay in the occasional roadside motel. Every now and then divine intervention takes place and it turns into an evangelistic experience:

We happened to come back to an uncleaned room at the ole Motel 6 so Mercedes requested a maid to come and take care of it while we were there in the room. As the maid cleaned things up, I kept having lines from our old friend and mentor Harald Bredesen pop into my head, and sensed it was the Holy Spirit who was stirring me to witness to this woman.

She didn't speak English so I did my best in Spanish for a bit and then Mercedes began to help out. Using Harald’s line, we inquired: “Do you know who said you must be born again?” We were not surprised to find that even though she was Catholic she had never heard Jesus’ central message before.

She was very open and listened with attention to what we said. After taking some more time to explain the Gospel to her she opened her heart and we prayed with her, there in the room, to receive Jesus Christ as her Lord and Savior!! Hallelujah! We also prayed for the Holy Spirit to empower her! We got her info so we could send her stuff on local churches and Scriptures to read.

On the way driving back we passed by another motel where we led a maid to the Lord just about a year ago, and thought of another old friend and mentor of ours, Lonnie Frisbee, who would have surely laughed and said, “I think the Lord is giving you a maid ministry!”

Central Coast Ministry and Beyond

We ministered at both Pearl Chapel in Shell Beach which is right next to Pismo Beach and part of what is called the Five Cities region, famed for clams, sand dunes, and cold weather even in summer. We also ministered at IV Church in Isla Vista which is just north of Santa Barbara.

We were asked to share about our own experiences of being filled with the Holy Spirit which is always a fun story to recount for both of us as both Mercedes and myself both experienced the filling of the Spirit in what would become known as the Vineyard Movement.

We were blessed as we ministered to see many get filled with the Holy Spirit at both places, as well as encouraged, renewed, and empowered, to “do the stuff” as John Wimber used to say.

Ministering at Pearl Chapel in the Central Coast.

As an example of what the Lord did at those churches as we ministered: there was a young man who grew up around Korean churches where he had heard about the Holy Spirit but desired more than just hearing about this, he wanted to be filled and empowered. When we prayed for him, he was immediately filled, overcome and fell down to the ground, and then began to speak in tongues. After some time soaking it all in he came up quite filled with joy; he had finally experienced and received it for himself!

A guy we know named Scott came up at IV (as we began to minister) and spontaneously told how he had been filled with the Spirit of God back in 2010-2011 when we laid hands on him and prayed for him. He shared how when we prayed for him he got filled with God’s power and received tongues and was launched into a six-year journey of encountering God in a new way in his life. He encouraged others who might be a bit timid or who might be unfamiliar with all this to come and receive as well.

It was a blessed time as the Spirit of the Lord filled many and equipped and empowered people at both places!

On our return from the Central Coast we ministered out in the Inland Empire at IEC where the pastor was encouraging the congregation to also be equipped and filled with the Holy Spirit ( an important theme that the Holy Spirit is highlighting lately), and we were again stoked to see so many there being filled and empowered not only during the ministry time but there were also two spontaneous afterglows that took place on the way out, where the Lord brought forth surprising and unexpected moves of power as we ended up praying for more people on the way to the car! Glory!

Appearance in a New Book

Our friend Roger Sachs, one of the founders at Pearl Chapel recently finished the book Not By Might Nor By Power: The Great Commission, the second in a series on one of the main evangelists of the Jesus People Revival, Lonnie Frisbee, for which we were blessed to write an endorsement in the beginning of the book. We are also mentioned later in the book regarding how I (Bryan) got filled with the Holy Spirit in the early days of Calvary Chapel Yorba Linda, which was later to become Anaheim Vineyard.

If you want to relive some of those early days and get the low down on how Lonnie Frisbee was instrumental in the early days of Calvary and Vineyard, as well as how he actually was the one who started Greg Laurie's church Harvest Christian Fellowship out in Riverside, check it out!

Having roots in both Calvary and the Vineyard we see the importance of keeping both the Word and the Holy Spirit at the forefront of things.

Much love and blessings!
Bryan, Mercedes and Patrick Marleaux

Monday, February 6, 2017

Ministry Update: January-February 2017

Preaching and ministering in Colorado.

Preaching and ministering in Sweden.

We recently returned from ministering in Colorado Springs, Colorado. Some friends of ours had been pastoring a church for a couple of years out there and wanted us to come out and minister when we could. We’d kept it in prayer over the last two years and then right as the new year began we discerned the Lord leading us to make arrangements to go out and minister there. 

Everything fell together, so next thing we knew we were driving through deserts, mountains, and some unexpected storms on our way there. We arrived and spent some time catching up with our friends and then as we ministered we experienced a tremendous outpouring of the Holy Spirit. 

They had been teaching on the need to be filled with the Holy Spirit for the past few months and said afterward that we had come in the “perfect timing.” Wow, only the Lord could arrange things that way as we hadn't discussed with them what we would minister on, nor had they told us they had been teaching on that subject; it was all the Holy Spirit’s timing, praise the Lord.

On our return from Colorado, we made it home just in time through some storms to see the Lord continue to move powerfully as we ministered in Orange, California at Centro Cristiano Esperanza. 

We were blessed to see the Holy Spirit also touch lives as we ministered last year in different places: in the cities of Hässleholm, Gothenburg, and Gamleby in Sweden, as well as in Paris and Tours in France, and in London, England. The Spirit of God ministered the grace of Christ as we also preached in Victoria and Vancouver in British Columbia, Canada, as well as in Medford, Oregon and in Northern and Southern California and down in the US/Mexico border region.

Thank you so much for your prayers and support! They are a great help as we extend the Kingdom of Christ and His mercy, grace, and power, to others near and far!

Much love and blessings!

Bryan, Mercedes and Patrick Marleaux

Saturday, December 24, 2016

Merry Christmas: Divine Appointments and Refreshing from Above

But when the kindness of God our Savior and His love for mankind appeared, He saved us not by works of righteousness that we have done but on the basis of His mercy, through the washing of the new birth and the renewing of the Holy Spirit, whom He poured out on us in full measure through Jesus Christ our Savior. And so, since we have been justified by His grace, we become heirs…of eternal life.
Titus 3:4-7

The kindness and love of God appeared in a little manger in Bethlehem as Mary gave birth to the Savior. He further demonstrated kindness and love in works of mercy and healing. Christ then went to the cross so that through faith in Him we could have eternal life. He continues to give us the Holy Spirit to lead, guide, comfort, and empower us. Praise God, He came that we might have life!

We were blessed to be invited by some good friends this season to experience through a dinner play some moments of an early American Christmas.

One of the highlights happened unexpectedly after the play, where a conversation with the main actor led to having us pray for him out by the parking lot. The Spirit of God touched him as we all laid hands on him, he openly wept as the Lord touched his heart. He thanked us profusely stating he needed that refreshing touch. We thanked God for such a powerful and unexpected divine appointment.

A similar scene followed the next evening while at dinner at a restaurant after our annual board meeting. A young Hispanic man we’d shared with at this same restaurant before who had opened his heart to Christ as we ministered to him last year, came up enthusiastically to talk to us. A little more sharing went on this night and next we knew we were the Jesus Freaks out in the parking lot again praying for the guy as people walked by wondering what on earth we were doing! 

The guy had now been attending some fellowships and had even had a vision since the last divine appointment. So this time the prayer was for the filling of the Spirit, which we were blessed to see taking place as we all laid hands on him. I thought, Hey, what could be a better way to end a board meeting than this, out in the street ministering the Full Gospel!

Interestingly enough, we ourselves were deeply refreshed by both experiences. We had suffered lots of stress just trying to the get through the absolutely horrible traffic on the evening to the Christmas play, as well as being hit by serious some spiritual warfare the next day—as our sleep had gotten badly and unexpectedly interrupted the night before the board meeting.

In each situation, though feeling weak ourselves, we yet felt the leading of the Holy Spirit guiding us into stepping out to give to another the blessings of the Kingdom of Christ. We found ourselves getting refreshed and renewed as we took a step to bless another person.

When we receive the blessings of Christ it renews us and when we step out to give away some of what He gave us, it refreshes us. This is a mystery of Christ's Kingdom, when we give, we yet still receive! As we follow the greatest Giver of All, Jesus Christ, born in a stable, and dying on a cross, that we might have life!

We pray you are refreshed and renewed in His amazing love through the Holy Spirit this Christmas!

We always appreciate your giving and prayers for us and we know the Lord will refresh and bless you abundantly!

Much love and many blessings to you and your family 
this Christmas and all God’s best for 2017!

Bryan, Mercedes

and Patrick Marleaux

Sunday, October 30, 2016

Martin Luther and a Prophecy Fulfilled

Martin Luther, pictured with a swan,
which was meant to portray that
Luther had fulfilled the prophecy
made by Jan Hus a century before.

'You are now going to burn a goose, but in a century you will have a swan which you can neither roast nor boil.'

Jan Hus, the Bohemian Reformer whose name means goose in his language, made this prophecy before his death, when he was about to be burned at the stake. He had attempted to bring reform to the Catholic Church and paid the ultimate price.

Martin Luther saw in himself the fulfillment of Hus’s prophecy, especially after being condemned as a heretic and barely escaping death. After surviving the threat of being burned at the stake himself, Luther often had paintings of himself made standing by a swan to point it out. 

The Education of Travel

One of the blessings of traveling to other places, especially those where historical events took place, is getting fresh insights into familiar topics.

These insights and other blessings when ministering overseas outweigh some of the burdens of being on the road such as: sleeping in uncomfortable beds—man that lower back can get sore. That, and having to use public toilets, I'll spare the gory details.

Anyways, it is such a blessing when you run into fresh prophetic insight on a topic you’ve been studying for a long time and the Holy Spirit pours over you with a refreshing wave.

Insights in Unexpected Places

We were able to swing through Germany at the end of our recent three month long Euro-mission trip (will have a full report of the trip shortly.) 

We were in the former GDR—Communist East Germany—in the little town of Eisleben, where Luther was born and died and where the place still has streets called Karl-Marx-Straße.

In one of the little museums about Luther in that town there was a display of pictures towards the end of the exhibition of Luther posing with a swan by his side. The portraits told how Luther saw and believed that he had fulfilled the prophecy of Jan Hus. The Holy Spirit came upon me out of nowhere while taking it in and there was a moment of unexpected refreshing there. I was trying to hold it together while getting blasted in the middle of a museum!

Escaping Death by the Skin of His Teeth

Luther’s old friend and superior from his former Augustinian monastery Johann Staupitz had told Luther, “I don’t know what is in store for you if not being burned at the stake.”

Luther had been called to answer regarding his teaching at the Diet of Worms (an unusual name for a hearing that was like an inquest which would be held in the city of Worms, Germany). However, he knew going to it could probably result in his end and being burned at the stake like so many others who attempted reform of the Catholic Church’s wayward practices.

Many had attempted reforms of Catholicism but were met with severe persecution and even death: a few examples of persecuted reformers were Peter Waldo in France, JohnWycliffe in England, Jan Hus in Bohemia (modern-day Czech Republic), WilliamTyndale of England.

The Diet of Worms

Luther was called before the Holy Roman Emperor—though neither Holy, nor Roman, but facts shouldn't get in the way of a pompous title. At the Diet, Luther was required to answer regarding his teachings, before the illustrious Charles the V hailing from Spain, the land of fanatical enforcers of Catholicism through the horrors of the Inquisition.

Charles the V and other cardinals demanded that Luther simply recant his teaching or face the consequences. Luther however, had been previously told that he would have an opportunity to explain his side and his journey to the truth he found in Scripture. Once he arrived however, he was told he must only recant or else, knowing probable death awaited him.

Luther, however, had come to Worms ready to pay the ultimate price for the truth he’d found in the Bible of God’s grace given through faith in Christ. Having wrestled through years of trying to find peace with God through dead Catholic rituals, he had finally come into the truth of Jesus’ love, mercy, and grace, through the Word of God.

He had come to a breaking point through ongoing confession of sins and endless dead ritualistic prayers and worship of relics (bones of dead saints that were venerated in Catholicism) along with so much constant fasting he ruined his health permanently. But it all served only to make him feel further from God. But then Staupitz, his superior, made a decision which was done only to rid the monastery of this troubled and troubling soul: Luther was sent away to study the Bible, something that was not, and still is not, the staple of the priesthood.

There in the Scriptures, Luther wrestled with Paul’s Letter to the Romans. He says, “Though I was an impeccable monk I was still a sinner with no confidence my effort could assuage a Holy God. Night and day I wrestled with Paul's letter in Romans until I saw the connection.” Dealing with the phrase “the just shall live by faith,” Luther finally saw that on the cross, Jesus “justified” sinners who look to Him in faith. He came to the revelation that Christ paid for sin; we don't have to pay for it ourselves! All we need to do is believe upon Jesus! When Luther finally understood this, the Holy Spirit opened the doors of the Kingdom of God and he was born again! (Luther's conversion)

Having found the truth and being set free, he was of no mind to turn away from it now though it cost him everything, including his very life. Luther and others like him who stood facing death for the faith are truly heroes of the faith though they may have had obvious flaws and made mistakes at times. 

"Here I stand" Martin Luther before the Diet of Worms
(Pic Bryan Marleaux, Wittenberg, Germany) 

Luther said before the journey to appear before the Diet: “I’ll enter Worms though there be as many devils there [awaiting me] as tiles on the roof.” Once he was before them, Luther rose to the occasion and literally took his stand when he declared the now famous words: “What I’ve written is merely based on Scripture…to go against Scripture and conscience is neither right nor safe, I cannot and will not recant! Here I stand so help me God!”

Luther threw his arms up in the air in the gesture of a victorious knight to the hisses of the Spaniards and the cheers of the Germans, and then marched out of the hall.

Escaping Death

There was a delay in moving against Luther. Frederick the Wise, the Elector of Saxony (Luther’s region), wanted to know if Luther had actually done anything wrong and if not why should he be condemned. With insufficient evidence to satisfy him, Frederick withdrew from the panel examining and deciding on his case, along with another individual who did the same, although a rump of the council went ahead and voted for Luther to be condemned as a heretic.

Frederick the Wise, who stepped up to protect Luther.
(Pic Bryan Marleaux, Eisleben, Germany)

However, during the night, the sign of the Bundschuh had been placed on the door of the Hall at the Diet. This stirred great unrest with the Diet as it was the sign of the peasant workers’ shoe—it signified the peasants’ revolt. The German peasants were ready to rise up in a revolt with riots if Luther was taken into custody. The German public was beginning to rally to Luther's side. As a result, the Diet was thrown into a panic and decided to delay their apprehending of Luther, even though he was now condemned as a notorious heretic. Instead, they would let him return to Wittenberg and apprehend him later when things were calmer.

On his return, however, while passing through the forest, a party of riders came upon him with much shouting and cursing and took Luther, kidnapping him and whisking him away. They rode circuitously all through the night, making sure there were no followers, finally reigning up at an ancient, seemingly abandoned, castle.

At the entrance to the Warburg Castle where Martin
Luther was hiding out for almost a year. During that time he
translated the New Testament into the German Language.
(pic Patrick Marleaux outside Eisenach, Germany)

Frederick the Wise had secretly arranged for Luther to be kidnapped and hidden in the ancient Wartburg Castle in the outskirts of Eisenach. Frederick had become convinced that Luther was guilty of nothing more than returning to the Bible and the teachings of the Early Church. Luther, after all, was in line with the earlier church teachings of Augustine, Tertullian, Aquinas, and many others on many points. His teaching lined up as well with the Church's very own Council of Ephesus in 431 (one of the seven key councils of the Early Church) that had condemned Pelagianism: The concept that man could earn salvation by his good works or rituals or that man could be sinless in and of himself (“If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us.” 1 John 1:8.)

Frederick knew Luther would probably never make it home if he didn't intervene. Fanatical, Inquisition-driven, Catholic assassins, would surely be out to get him and and do away with him like they did other reformers!

Thus Frederick, as well as many others, realized that it was the Catholic Church that had departed from its roots in following after errant doctrines, ones it had itself once condemned! Luther was merely returning to the truth of Scripture and early church teaching like in the very first Church Council found in Acts 15:9-11 where Peter and Paul both affirm, “It is through the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ we are saved…”

Luther was holed up in the Wartburg for almost a year. In that time he translated the New Testament into the German language so that all could have access to the Scriptures.

The Catholic Church had forbidden the Bible to even be read or possessed by the common person and forbade it to be in any language other than Latin. If you're going to be condemned as a heretic, you might as well go all the way! Luther went all the way and made a translation of the New Testament from the original Greek that is still used to this very day.

His Bible translation into common German gave access to the Scriptures and changed society in spreading literacy.

Inside the Lutherstube at the Warburg,
the room where Martin Luther translated
the New Testament into German.
(pic Bryan Marleaux outside Eisenach, Germany)

Thank God Frederick showed himself to be truly “wise” by extending a hand to help and protect Luther, and in doing so, he helped to change history! Little did he know in the moment when he stepped up to help a fellow believer, who had stepped out for the truth, that he was actually being used by God to fulfill a prophecy, the very prophecy Jan Hus had made a century ago right befor his death.

Because of Frederick’s intervention, Luther the swan, was never cooked. News of Luther's bravery at the Diet spread and the general German public rallied around to support him while he was hidden in the Wartburg, and the time for being able to apprehend him had passed by the time he returned to Wittenberg almost a year later.

You never know what prophecy you might be fulfilling when you step up to help someone who is serving the Lord, or when you step out to serve God yourself!

To learn more, check out these video playlists on our YouTube channel: