Military Ministry at The Lighthouse

Military Ministry at The Lighthouse
LEGO American Roadshow

Sunday, April 24, 2016

Todd Williams Joins Us Saturday Night for Phase 10!

I'm afraid this weekend was only half a weekend. Saturday night Todd Williams from Lynchburg joined us for our military ministry evening. Todd works as a police officer at Liberty University and is in the Naval Reserves. He does his reserve duty here in Virginia Beach and so we get to see him once a month when he joins us on Saturday night. He's been part of our family now for ten years!

Andrew Raffety and John Ortiz were here too. So we had three sailors this weekend. Yvonne made tacos and taco salads for dinner with Klondike ice cream bars for dessert.

Then we played Todd's favorite game: Phase 10. You've heard the old saying, "beginners luck"? Well John Ortiz has it! He won again last night. He won Yahtzee that he played for the first time when his parents were here a couple of weeks ago.

Unfortunately, Yvonne and I woke up Sunday morning coughing, and hacking and just plain icky sick. Yvonne had a fever so we canceled our activity for Sunday. By the afternoon I had a fever too. But I know God will touch us and heal us! He said He would! But I really hate cancelling our activities with the guys.

Salzburger Nockerl!

Hey hey hey, not a bad selfie! :)

I've had the recipe for a Salzburger Nockerl hanging on my kitchen wall for years! I bought the wall hanging when we were in Sazburg in 2003 because it was colorful. I saw a Salzburg Nockerl once at a restaurant we ate at, and it looked really good! But I've never made it myself.

When Susi and her husband Phillip, a Navy chaplain, visited our church we had them over for dinner. Susi is from Germany; so when she saw the wall hanging she said she makes those all the time. She even volunteered to come over and show me how to make it.

Well, last Thursday was the day! Susi came over and we had a really great morning of fellowship and baking together.

It was delicious! John even thought so!!

We're going to get together regularly to teach each other how to make our favorite meals.

Sunday, April 17, 2016

Andrew Raffety Wins Settlers of Catan

Yvonne fixed cold cut sandwiches and pizza for dinner followed by her now infamous cinnamon rolls.

My left leg has been hurting so after we ate dinner Andrew carried in one of the Lazy Boy recliners from my office for me to sit in! That was so nice of him! When I sat in the chair it was so low I felt like a little kid...acted like one too. Can you tell?

We had a good time tonight with Andrew. He suggested playing Settlers of Catan. That board game is becoming one of our favorites!

And Andrew won! Yea!!

Yvonne giving Andrew the winners trophy of the evening

Then Andrew and Yvonne cleaned up so fast that I almost didn't get the picture of their arms.

Today (Sunday) we had meatloaf, broccoli, and Italian Farro Perlato for dinner. Mint chocolate chip ice cream for dessert. (Sorry, no pictures).

Then we watched two episodes of The Origins Series. "The Origin of the Universe", and "The Earth, A Young Planet?" This is a video series presenting the scientific evidence refuting the theory of evolution. It's the best series on this topic I have ever seen!


Afterwards we shared prayer requests and prayed together. We started talking about hymns and pulled out our hymn books and sang some of the ones we all knew. When Andrew had to leave he suggested doing that again next week. Sounds like a plan to me!

Thursday, April 14, 2016

I Will Break Down Gates of Bronze and Cut Through Bars of Iron

Gates of bronze and bars of iron. Both sound impervious, ominous, and foreboding! So, we have a dream? What is that against so many things that can come along to try to stop it? With every dream and every endeavor come expected roadblocks, obstacles, and barriers. I understand that. So does God! Fortunately our dream is not a dream that was initiated by Yvonne and me. It is a dream, and dare I say, a Divine plan, that originated in the heart of God.

There are two facets to our ministry: in the first, our purpose was and is, to reach young military men and women in the Norfolk-Virginia Beach area for Jesus Christ. To establish a Pentecostal hospitality house military ministry in our home: a prototype, or model. The second facet of our ministry is to help people in other parts of the country do the same thing. To replicate our model. To ultimately establish a network of Pentecostal hospitality house military ministries all over this country.

God spoke to me regarding His divine provision for these impending roadblocks and hindrances through two passages of Scripture: one in Isaiah and one in Revelation. These passages apply to both facets of our ministry; to the hearts of individual servicemen and women being open and not closed, as well as to ministry opportunities in other parts of the country being open and not closed.

The two passages of Scripture I'm referring to are Isaiah 45:1-3 and Revelation 3:7-8.

In Isaiah God said:
This is what the Lord says to His anointed…whose right hand I take hold of…to open doors before him so that gates will not be shut: I will go before you and will level the mountains; I will break down gates of bronze and cut through bars of iron. I will give you the treasures of darkness, riches stored in secret places, so that you may know that I am the Lord…who summons you by name.
 And in  Revelation He said:
These are the words of Him who is holy and true, who holds the key of David. What He opens no one can shut, and what He shuts no one can open…See, I have placed before you an open door that no one can shut.

I believe it’s only through God’s anointing and provision that we are able to minister to military men and women in this area. Some people view God as very impersonal and distant. But to me, He is very personal and loving, intimately involved with those who serve Him and who He calls. When I read the words in Isaiah, "This is what the Lord says to His anointed…whose right hand I take hold of…" I was blessed! I believe as this passage applies to me, God was saying I am His anointed. The concept of being anointed is used throughout the Bible to refer to God's special selection of a man or woman for a particular purpose or task. Reaching young military men and women for Jesus Christ is the particular task for which God has called and anointed us.

In addition to His anointing He also said He was taking hold of our hand. I want God's guidance, I want His direction and leadership in our lives. I don't want to be like the little boy who kicks and struggles and squirms against his father holding his hand because he thinks he can run and do things on his own. Only to find out in the end that he failed and had to run back to his father any way. I want to keep my hand firmly in my Master's hand so that whatever we do will turn out right.

God promised to open doors for us so that gates would not be shut. And that He would break down gates of bronze and cut through bars of iron. When I read these words I thought about Jesus’ conversation with Peter in Matthew 16:13-20, where Peter confessed that Jesus was the Christ, the Son of the living God. To which Jesus replied, 

“…on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it.” 

The devil has taken many eighteen to twenty-five year old military men and women captive. He holds them captive, imprisoned behind gates of bronze and bars of iron: addictions, attitudes, ungodly beliefs, immorality. Many times these gates of bronze and bars of iron are of their own making. So many have hardened their hearts against the message of Jesus' love and forgiveness simply because they have never been told about Him, or because they want to live their lives the way they want to. But the enemy of their souls will not be able to keep them captive. Jesus said He will break down those gates of bronze and cut through those bars of iron! The gates of hell will not be able to overcome our efforts to reach young servicemen and women for Jesus Christ.

In Isaiah 49:24-25 God asks the question:

“Can plunder be taken from warriors, or captives rescued from the fierce? But this is what the Lord says: ‘Yes, captives will be taken from warriors, and plunder retrieved from the fierce; I will contend with those who contend with you, and your children I will save.” 

And in Isaiah 54:13 God continued this thought:

“All your sons will be taught by the Lord, and great will be your children's peace.”

I believe it's God's will for young servicemen and women to be saved. Jesus said that He was not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance. God's promise is to save our children. We call all of the young men and women who come to our house our adopted sons and daughters. And He has promised to teach them and grant them His peace.

And just as He said He would break down gates of bronze and cut through bars of iron in regard to these young men and women, I believe this also applies to others catching the vision of reaching young military men and women through Pentecostal hospitality house military ministries in other parts of the country. God will call others into this work to help set these captives free!

We are believing that God is going to open doors that no man can shut!

Perhaps He's speaking to you right now.

Sunday, April 10, 2016

John and Conny Ortiz Join Us Saturday Night

John Ortiz' parents came from California to visit their son this week. We were blessed to have them join us for our Saturday night activities. Conny is from Germany so I couldn't resist playing German Polka music while we played our game!

For dinner we had Sloppy Joes and a fruit salad. THEN FOR DESSERT! We enjoyed an assortment of cookies sent to us by Tracy Imhoff-Langdon from her new bakery called It's In The Dough

in Longmont, Colorado. She has twin boys who are both in the Navy! If you're ever in the Longmont area stop by her bakery and tell her John and Yvonne sent you!

                                         Our game for the evening was Yahtzee!

Andrew taking a picture of me taking a picture of Andrew! 

Andrew pretty pleased with himself after getting my picture. "Ok, let me see it!"

Then Andrew says, "Can I pot it on FB?" What can I say, I post his pictures! :)

OK Andrew, roll them dice!

So, all of us had played Yahtzee before. All except John Ortiz. So, guess who won the game? Talk about beginner's luck!

Thursday, April 7, 2016

Write the Vision and Make it Plain!

I like George Barna's definition of vision in his book The Power of Vision. He said, “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, and 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 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 us 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 twenty three years now. The parts of the vision that have been fulfilled have encouraged me to go on and believe that the rest will be fulfilled too.
In this section of our blog I want to share that vision with you to the best of my ability. It comes out of my personal relationship with Jesus Christ and the time I spend with Him in the Word and in prayer. The vision is personal. And sharing anything personal comes with a certain amount of apprehension, because there is always the risk of being misunderstood, or having what is shared misinterpreted.

Let me begin by saying I worship the Lord every day; I talk to Him in prayer, and believe He talks to me. Do I hear an audible voice? No. What He says to me comes primarily from the pages of the written Word of God, the Bible. I understand that the Bible has a contextual and historical meaning. I have spent most of my adult life studying it and preaching and teaching it to others. And it is within that understanding that I read and re-read the pages of the Bible. But to me the Bible is more than just a historical document with a specific context and meaning to people who lived thousands of years ago. It is also the living and active Word of God for the world, the Church, and each one of us specifically.

When I read the pages of the Bible, depending on what I am experiencing in my life at any particular moment, passages often ‘stand out’ to me, and I see parallels between the biblical text and my current life situation. Those parallels affect me, both mentally and emotionally. When a scripture passage I read stands out to me, or impresses me in some way, I believe it’s the Holy Spirit taking the words I’ve read and applying them to the current context of my life. The particular application may challenge, convict, encourage, strengthen, and even rebuke me. Or, it may provide the specific guidance I need at that precise moment in my life. I read and re-read those passages, pray about them, and ask God to show me how they apply in my life. Sometimes I struggle with the implications of a passage for days or weeks at a time. I ask the Lord to confirm the application of the verses to me in some way, because I don’t want to apply a passage of scripture to my life just out of ‘wishful thinking’.  Hopefully, from what I’ve just said you can get a sense of how personal and intimate this process is as an expression of my relationship with Jesus Christ. And, I trust my explanation gives you some understanding of what I mean when I say, ‘God spoke to me’.

Some of you may be wondering why I’m sharing this vision and why I would make something so personal, public. The answer is very simply ‘because God told me to’. He spoke to me through the words of Habakkuk 2:2-3 in the King James Version of the Bible that says,
"Write the vision, and make it plain upon tables, that he may run that readeth it. For the vision is yet for an appointed time, but at the end it shall speak, and not lie: though it tarry, wait for it; because it will surely come, it will not tarry."

God said I was to ‘write’ the vision and make it plain so that “the person who reads the vision” might run with it. My reason for sharing the vision is so that those who read it might be inspired to get involved in Pentecostal hospitality house military ministry. In other words, I’m sharing this vision so that those of you who are reading the pages of this book will catch the vision and ‘run with it’.

I envision churches, families, couples, and even individuals involved in Pentecostal hospitality house military ministry all over this country. I see Pentecostal people who are faithfully involved in good strong Pentecostal churches opening their hearts and homes to young, single, military men and women. I see a time when Yvonne and I can say to a sailor, soldier, marine, or airman who has been part of our fellowship and who gets transferred to another base or post in another part of the country: “When you get there call Bill and Nancy, they’re doing the same thing we are.” And, we can pick up the phone and call Bill and Nancy and say: “Hey Bill, one of our sailors is coming your way. She’ll be there next week.” And we’ll know when she gets there, that a family will be waiting to invite her in, love on her, and help her grow in her relationship with Jesus Christ, or help her on her journey toward Jesus Christ.

As far as I know right now (2016), Yvonne and I are the only Pentecostal couple involved in hospitality house military ministry in the United States. I realize this is a pretty bold thing to say, and I don’t mean to sound arrogant or presumptuous when I say it. I’m simply emphasizing the need that exists. I would love to find out I am wrong! Right now, when one of our soldiers, sailors, or marines, gets transferred to a base somewhere else in the United States, we have no other Pentecostal families involved in hospitality house ministry with whom we can connect them for fellowship and ministry. We’re often told by the young men and women who have been through our home that they miss us, and wish there were someone in their new location that did what we do. Right now there are none. But I believe this will change!

I know it will change because God said it would. In Isaiah 51:1-2 He told me, 
“Listen to me, you who pursue righteousness and who seek the Lord; look to the rock from which you were cut and to the quarry from which you were hewn; look to Abraham, your father, and to Sarah, who gave you birth. When I called him he was but one and I blessed him and made him many.”
Through these verses I believe God said He would bless us and make us many. As we cast this vision I believe God is going to speak to the hearts of people around the country, and call those He wants involved in this work. He will call people into Pentecostal hospitality house military ministry. And, as they respond to His call, the specifics of the vision I am about to share with you will apply to them as well; and the vision will move from being just a personal one to a broader, shared vision of the future.

In Habakkuk 2:2-3 God included a word of encouragement when He said the vision is true and that there is a definite time set for its fulfillment. And even though it may take time to fulfill, we are to wait for it, for He said it will surely and certainly be fulfilled. I share this vision without pretense, and as humbly as I know how, but with the confidence and faith that it is the vision God has put in my heart.

This vision originated after a major physical crisis in my life in 1990. I had just come through extensive neurosurgery on my spinal cord, which resulted in my being medically retired from the United States Navy. After my surgery, on our way out of Oak Knoll Naval Hospital, Yvonne and I stopped in the hospital’s gift shop. There, taped to the wall behind the cashier, was a scripture verse: Jeremiah 29:11,
“For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future (NIV).” 
Standing there, the words of that verse made a powerful impression on me. I believe stopping at that gift shop was not a coincidence, but a divine appointment.

After retiring from the Navy Yvonne and I moved to Grand Junction, Colorado to plant a church. My daughters Sarah and Elizabeth suggested we begin by inviting high school friends of theirs to our home one afternoon a week to eat, play games, and have a short Bible study. Yvonne and I liked the idea with only one stipulation: the girls were not to invite friends who were already involved in other churches or youth groups. We did not want to build our church by drawing people or teenagers from other churches. For three years we had as many as twenty-five high school students in our home every Thursday afternoon. When they came to the house, some of them told their parents they were ‘going to church’. Several accepted Jesus Christ as their Savior and were later baptized in water.

As with so many things in life, however, there was a definite time and season for that outreach. Gradually the young people who were coming to the house got involved in other activities, graduated from high school, and went on with their lives. So we found ourselves in a period of transition. I admit we were disappointed and wondered what we should do next. That’s when God again spoke words of encouragement to me. This time it was from Habakkuk 3:17-19,
 “Though the fig tree does not bud and there are no grapes on the vines, though the olive crop fails and the fields produce no food, though there are no sheep in the pen and no cattle in the stalls, yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will be joyful in God my Savior. The Sovereign Lord is my strength; he makes my feet like the feet of a deer, he enables me to go on the heights.”
God knew exactly where we were, and what we were going through. Obviously, the teens in our ministry were not figs or grapes or sheep or cattle, but figuratively the situation was the same. God was telling us to keep our attention focused on Jesus Christ, our Savior, and rejoice in Him in spite of the circumstances we were facing. Because He was our strength, He would enable us to be as surefooted on the road that lay ahead as a mountain goat climbing on rocky mountain heights.

During my daily devotional times I began reading the book of Isaiah and felt as if the Lord were again speaking directly to me through one chapter after another! The majority of our vision for this ministry comes from passages in these chapters. In the rest of this section of our blog I’ll share those passages with you, and explain how they apply. Again, this is a very personal process, but I hope that after reading these articles you will understand the vision; and if God stirs your heart, that you might pray about and consider getting involved in Pentecostal hospitality house military ministry too.

Sunday, April 3, 2016

Our Weekend With the Birthday Boys - John Ortiz and Andrew Raffety!

This weekend was John Ortiz' 21st birthday and Andrew Raffety's 25th birthday.

Saturday was Andrew's birthday so Andrew brought chicken wings for dinner. Yvonne made cinnamon rolls for dessert at Andrew's request. And cookies and cream ice cream. She always asks the guys what their favorite meal and dessert is on their birthday and then makes it for them.

We played the electronic version of Monopoly for our game of the night. That was John's request and everyone seemed up for it.

Yvonne paying for her property!

"Dear God please let me win tonight!"

Yea! I won!!!!!

Andrew reading his birthday card

Today, at John's request we had London broil and mashed potatoes and salad for dinner. John made chocolate chip cookies again for dessert to which we added mint chocolate chip ice cream. 

John's birthday present -chocolate cookbook!