Milistary Ministry at the Wagner's

Milistary Ministry at the Wagner's
Thanksgiving Day 2016

Thursday, March 31, 2016

The Present House to be Greater Than the Former House!


In June of 2000 the Lord brought Yvonne and me to Virginia Beach to reach young, single, servicemen and women between the ages of eighteen and twenty-five for Jesus Christ. We originally thought we would pattern our ministry after the Port O’ Call, a servicemen's center in California where I got saved; with a building, hosts and hostesses, and ministry on a large scale to reach the thousands of servicemen and women stationed in Virginia Beach. But one day, while I was praying about where we should look for a building, God spoke to my heart and said:

“I don’t want you to look for a building; I want you to minister in your home.” 

I was surprised and asked, “Why Lord? We could get so many more people into a different building. We can only fit, at most, about twenty people in our home!” 

He said: “I know, but the young people in the military today are different than you were thirty years ago. When you were eighteen you came from an intact family, you had a church background, and you believed in God and the Bible. Most of the young people in the military today that you will be ministering to, will come from broken or dysfunctional families, little if any church background, and little or no belief in God or the Bible. Servicemen and women today need a loving family environment where they can see Christ’s love lived out in front of them. They need to be loved into the kingdom.”

I knew at that moment that God wanted us to open our home and invite them in.

I was praying and reading my Bible at another time and came to Haggai chapter one and verses five and seven. The words “Give careful thought to your ways”, repeated twice, really stood out to me. Then in chapter two and verses four and five I read, “Yet now be strong…be strong…and work. For I am with you declares the Lord Almighty. This is what I covenanted with you when you came out of Egypt. And my Spirit remains among you. Do not fear.”

His direction was clear: we were to carefully think through what we were doing in our ministry. We were to be strong. And, we were to work. We were to do all of this because God Himself was with us, and His Spirit was among us. He covenanted all of these things with us when we came out, not of Egypt, but out of Grand Junction, Colorado. And He said again, that we were not to be afraid!

I’m always thrilled when the Lord says things to me that reflect just how intimately He knows me. When I read Haggai 2:7 & 9 God said, “…I will fill this house with glory,' says the Lord Almighty….The glory of the present house will be greater than the glory of the former house, says the Lord Almighty. And in this place I will grant peace, declares the Lord Almighty."

God knew what we had done in Grand Junction, ministering to over 200 high school students in our home. And He was telling us that what we would be doing in our home in Virginia with young military men and women would be even greater. He would grant peace to those who came into our home in Virginia Beach just as He had done in our home in Grand Junction. At the time of this writing we've had more than 545 young servicemen and women and their families in our home in Virginia, more than double the number of young people we had in our home in Colorado! 

Through Isaiah 43:8 the Lord said we were to: “Lead out those who have eyes but are blind, who have ears but are deaf.” Having spent most of my life in the military, I understand the spiritual condition of young men and women serving in the military. While all have physical eyes and ears, most are spiritually blind and deaf. 

In Isaiah 43:10 God said we were His witnesses and His servants whom He had chosen. And in verse twelve He again said we were His witnesses; witnesses that He is God. So many young military men and women have no idea who God is, have no faith or belief in Him, and actually could not care less about Him. God was sending us to them to give them the opportunity to know Him.
In Isaiah 43:18-21 the Lord repeated some of the things He said to me in Isaiah chapters forty-one and forty-two. He said,

Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the desert and streams in the wasteland. The wild animals honor me, the jackals and the owls, because I provide water in the desert and streams in the wasteland, to give drink to my people, my chosen, the people I formed for myself that they may proclaim my praise.

The Lord was telling me a second time that He is doing a new thing. But this time He added that it was springing up, and that I was to forget the former things and not dwell on the past. He was focusing my eyes on the future, on what lay ahead, rather than on the past and what was behind.

He said, as He did in Isaiah 41:17-20, that He was making a way in the spiritual desert and creating streams in the spiritual wasteland. This is a fitting description of the spiritual climate in the military. Figuratively He said the wild animals, jackals, and owls honor Him because He is providing this spiritual nourishment for them. And in Isaiah 43:25 He said, “I, even I, am He who blots out your transgressions, for my own sake, and remembers your sins no more.” He longs to receive and forgive, and draw these young people to Himself. He longs to make them His people.

So He provides spiritual nourishment for them, for those who are His people, His chosen, the people He formed for Himself, so they could declare His praise. All of this is about salvation. God raised up this ministry to provide spiritual nourishment for young men and women in the military, to draw those who are unbelievers to himself, that they might believe in Jesus Christ and have a personal relationship with Him.

We had eight teens and one parent receive Jesus Christ as their Savior in Grand junction. We have had over thirty young military men and women, and some of their parents, receive Christ here in Virginia Beach so far! Almost four times as many as in Grand Junction!

God is keeping His word to us. What He has promised He is fulfilling!

Sunday, March 27, 2016

Easter Sunday At John and Yvonne's

"Jesus is risen!"

"He is risen indeed!"

And once again it is Easter Sunday! John Ortiz, Andrew Raffety, Sarah and Brian and Jacob Lentz all joined us for Easter dinner.

For appetizers we had John's chocolate chip cookies from last night! On the menu? Leg of lamb, green peas, potato pancakes, and home made rolls. And for dessert we had Passover Spice Cake and Resurrection Rolls!



Then after dinner, and while we ate dessert, we went into the living room and watched the movie "The Road To Redemption" with Pat Hingle and Julie Condra. This is a seriously funny movie!



Just in case you're curious, Yvonne was up at 4:30 cooking for today....what a trooper! 
Ya gotta love 'er!



Saturday Night With John Ortiz and Andrew Raffety

John Ortiz came over Saturday evening prepared to bake chocolate chip cookies! Yea! So he arrived early and he and Yvonne began baking. John did all the work!








Then guess who the taste tester was? Yup! You guessed it...me!



Yvonne made tacos and taco salad for dessert...What can I say? We ate cookies and then had dinner! You know the old saying..."Life is uncertain, eat dessert first!"

After we ate it was on to world domination. We played RISK!




The Thinkers!

Sunday, March 20, 2016

This Weekend With John Ortiz

This weekend Andrew Raffety had the flu so could not join us for our weekend activities. But John Ortiz did join us!

Saturday night Yvonne had hamburgers and chips and chocolate eclairs for dessert. I turned the television on and we watched the cartoon movie "It's A Bug's Life" while we ate. Sound exciting? Well, maybe not exciting, but it was fun.

After dinner we were going to play our normal board game when John saw the next move that was coming on was "The Jungle Book". He said he hadn't seen it in years but used to watch it with his grandparents when he was younger. He asked if we could watch it instead of playing the game - so we did!

Sunday afternoon John came over again and we had our annual St. Patrick's Day meal: Corned Beef and Cabbage and Potatoes and Carrots, and Irish Soda Bread. For dessert - home made (from scratch) vanilla pudding! That is WAY better than the boxed stuff!

Corned Beef!

 


Irish Soda Bread

This year we even played Celtic music on Pandora while we ate to add to the ambiance! :)

After dinner we watched "Facing The Giants!" That movie really touches me no matter how many times I see it!



And thus ends another weekend with a very nice young sailor that we are just getting to know.

Saturday, March 19, 2016

A Rose By Any Other Name Would Smell As Sweet!



Last week I wrote about where the servicemen and women that have been involved in our ministry came from geographically. I am so blessed that we have had young men and women from all over the United States and several countries around the world in our home.

Part of the vision God gave us for this ministry in 1993 involved what these young men and women called themselves. In Isaiah 44:1-5 the Lord said:
But now listen, O Jacob, my servant, Israel, whom I have chosen. This is what the Lord says — he who made you, who formed you in the womb, and who will help you: Do not be afraid, O Jacob, my servant, Jeshurun, whom I have chosen. For I will pour water on the thirsty land, and streams on the dry ground; I will pour out my Spirit on your offspring, and my blessing on your descendants. They will spring up like grass in a meadow, like poplar trees by flowing streams. One will say, 'I belong to the Lord'; another will call himself by the name of Jacob; still another will write on his hand, 'The Lord's,' and will take the name Israel. (NIV)
In the application of this passage for our ministry I believe God was telling me to listen. He was reaffirming that I was His servant, and that He had chosen me.

Four things stood out to me in this passage. The first was that God made me, He formed me in my mother’s womb, and chose me.

I had a lot of health issues following my birth. I was a twin, and both my twin sister and I had a life threatening stomach disorder. I was the sickest one and was constantly being rushed to the hospital. I wasn’t expected to live. But God was gracious to me. My twin sister, however, was not as fortunate. By the time they discovered the severity of the problem with her it was too late to save her. So I know God’s hand was on my life from the beginning.

From this passage the Lord promised to help me, and told me not to be afraid; promising to pour water on the thirsty land and streams on the dry ground. Pouring water on the dry ground always implies salvation to me. Our ministry was about young servicemen and women coming to know Jesus Christ as their Savior.

The second thing that stood out to me referred to the Pentecostal nature of our ministry. God said He would pour out His Spirit on our offspring, and His blessing on our descendants. I believe the offspring and descendants He was referring to were the spiritual “sons” and “daughters” He promised to bring us.

The promise of pouring out His Spirit on these spiritual children meant that following their conversion to Jesus Christ, He would baptize them with the Holy Spirit. The initial evidence of that happening to the new convert is their speaking in other tongues as the Spirit gives them the utterance.

The purpose of this baptism with the Holy Spirit is for the reception of divine power to be a witness for Jesus Christ in an increasingly hostile world. In Isaiah 44:8 says, “Do not tremble, do not be afraid. Did I not proclaim this and foretell it long ago? You are my witnesses. Is there any God besides me? No, there is no other Rock; I know not one.”

According to Acts 1:8 Jesus said when the Holy Spirit comes upon a person they would receive ‘power’ to be His witnesses. Both Yvonne and I have been baptized with the Holy Spirit, and believe that in this passage Jesus is reaffirming our being His witnesses, and that He has given us the divine power we need to be His witnesses in our city, state, and country, and even to the ends of the earth.

In John 12:32 Jesus said, “But I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all men to myself.” In ministering to young military men and women we are committed to lifting up Jesus Christ so that He can draw them to Himself. Jesus Christ is the Rock! As far as we are concerned there is no other!

The third thing that stood out to me in this passage was God’s promise that those who come to Christ and who are baptized in the Holy Spirit would be as numerous as grass in a meadow, and as poplar trees by flowing streams.

This isn't going to happen just through Yvonne and me. But as others respond to the call of God to participate in Pentecostal hospitality house military ministry, young military men and women all over this country will be saved, rooted and grounded in the Word of God, and be divinely empowered by the Holy Spirit as witnesses for Jesus Christ in their military units, among members of other nations’ militaries when they are in combined military exercises, and among the residents of other nations where they are sent.

Finally, the fourth thing that stood out to me was that these young men and women would call themselves by different names. They would come from many different groups and denominations. Currently we've had young men and women from 43 different denominations, and many from no denomination at all, come through our home!

It isn't our purpose to make these young men and women part of our denomination. As the line from Shakespeare's play Romeo and Juliet implies, it is not what denomination a person belongs to that matters, it isn't about what label a person wears. It is about knowing Jesus Christ personally as Savior and Lord. And, it is about receiving the divine power through the baptism with the Holy Spirit, to be a witness for Jesus Christ in a lost and dying world!

Sunday, March 13, 2016

Missionary in Venezuela Ministers to the Military!

We received a really encouraging message on Facebook today from a missionary we hosted from Venezuela during our annual missions conference. Cruz Paniagua wrote:
"Your work have inspired us to ministry to the militaries more intentionally. Every week we have differents places were we share with them..."
Cruz included three pictures. Praise God!



They Come From The North South East And West!


In his book The Power of Vision George Barna wrote: “Vision is a picture held in your mind’s eye of the way things could or should be in the days ahead.” In 1993 Yvonne and I were pastoring in Grand Junction, Colorado and going through a period of transition in our ministry, trying to determine God’s direction for our lives. During my Bible reading and prayer times God spoke to my heart and gave me a vision. The vision was huge! So huge in fact, that I was overwhelmed! I knew that if it would ever be fulfilled it would have to be God that made it happen. I knew I could never accomplish it in my own strength. Initially I thought the vision applied to our ministry in Colorado, and at first it did, but it wasn’t until seven years later, after God brought Yvonne and me to Virginia to minister to the military, that I understood where the vision really applied. Even then, the fulfillment of the vision unfolded gradually as we stepped out and obediently followed God’s direction. I’ve carried this vision in my heart for over twenty years now.


One of the Scripture passages the Lord gave me was Isaiah 43:5-7. In it the Lord said,

Do not be afraid, for I am with you; I will bring your children from the east and gather you from the west. I will say to the north, 'Give them up!' and to the south, 'Do not hold them back.' Bring my sons from afar and my daughters from the ends of the earth – everyone who is called by my name, whom I created for my glory, whom I formed and made.

In these three short verses God laid out the future direction of our entire ministry to the military. In saying He would bring us children the Lord was saying our ministry would be relational and family oriented. In saying He would bring our children from the north, south, east, and west, and even from the ends of the earth God was saying He would bring our children from every direction of the compass; that our ministry would have both a national and an international dimension. And finally, speaking of both sons and daughters the Lord said He would bring both young military men and women to us.

Later I read another passage of Scripture that stood out to me in Micah 7:11-12. In that passage the Lord repeated the promises in Isaiah. He said, “The day for building your walls will come, the day for extending your boundaries. In that day people will come to you...from sea to sea and from mountain to mountain.” That was in 1993. We moved to Virginia Beach, Virginia in the summer of 2000, seven years later.

Since then we've had 545 sailors, soldiers, and marines come through our home! The men and women who have been in our home have come from 45 American states: from Virginia in the east to Hawaii in the west, and from Maine in the north to Florida in the south. Internationally, they have come from seven different countries: from Canada in the north, from the Philippines in the west, from Puerto Rico in the south, and from Kenya in the east. But the blessings didn’t stop there! God also allowed us to minister to 13 young men who were from the militaries of three other nations including 8 Brazilian sailors, a Navy chaplain from Latvia, and a fighter pilot from Poland.

God keeps His Word! The parts of our vision that have been fulfilled have encouraged Yvonne and me to go on and believe that the rest will be fulfilled as well.

Our Weekend with Austin, Todd, and Andrew!

Great weekend (well Saturday night anyway)! It's not very often we have they guy's schedules all coincide so several of us can be together at the same time. Tomorrow all three of them will be working. This week Andrew Raffety, Todd Williams, and Austin Fortner came over Saturday night. Yvonne made her awesome chili and cornbread for dinner...followed by Mint Klondike bars for dessert.

Last week we had mint ice cream cake for Austin's birthday, this week we gave him his birthday card and present (candy bars!). Hey, we're stretching it out for a while!


Austin reading his birthday card
After dinner we played one of our favorite games - again! Settler's of Catan. Except this time, since we had five people here we used the extended version. That means the board is much bigger!

The little statue is the trophy that gets presented to the winner each week
Yvonne took the picture of "the guys!"
It was a fun night.


Sunday, March 6, 2016

March 5-6, 2016 Our Weekend With Austin Fortner

This weekend Austin Fortner came over. Saturday night Yvonne made hamburgers. We had chips and then Klondike bars for desert. Then we played Settlers of Catan. Austin has just recently learned how to play the game and wins!

Austin receiving his trophy for winnin

Austin came over again for Sunday dinner. Since we were celebrating his birthday Yvonne made his favorite meal and dessert. She made his mother's recipe for chicken spaghetti. And for dessert she made Oreo mint ice cream cake.

Austin was going to eat it all and not share!
Austin finally relented and shared his cake with Yvonne and me. Then it was time for a rematch and we played Settlers of Catan again. Austin likes the game a lot and says he plays it on his phone too! Can you guess who won this game????