“When we show love, we demonstrate the reality and nature of God to people stumbling around in terrible darkness.”
Our reality is clear, if we would only see it. We are embroiled in a fight to the death that has already been won; surrounded by an inconceivably good God who passionately loves us; within touching distance of a Kingdom of incredible power; charged with the awesome task of demonstrating who God is to the world. Perhaps all we need to ask ourselves is this: is Jesus who he says he is? And if so, does that truth determine how I live? For me at least, it’s time for a reality check.
“If you want to be good at something, find someone who is a true master in that area, and follow their lead.”
But God won’t settle. That’s the thing. And I’m beginning to see why. My problem is that I’m unable to see the big picture. I’m incapable of fully understanding the work that Jesus is doing in me. I can’t see the end point, the finished person that He is in the middle of creating, so the urgency of this continual, uncomfortable process of refinement doesn’t make sense. I’m imagining a slightly better version of me, and hoping we get there soon so that I can have some breathing space. But that isn’t actually the deal I made when I first gave my life over to Jesus. The vision He has is of someone incredible. A piece of heaven on earth. A Sarah-shaped version of Himself. I don’t understand who I am to become.
“Paul the apostle says we can appear as a mirror image of Jesus so that we come to our world in His likeness, bearing the same fruit and walking in the same power He possessed.”
With those words Pastor Steve Orsillo embarks on an examination of what it means to be “in His likeness”. What holds us back, what preconceptions and wrong thinking keep us from a real understanding of how Jesus intended us to live?
As with Pastor Orsillo’s other books, Living and Loving Jesus and Follow Me, prepare to be challenged. Through scripture and example the case is laid before us — will we hear the teachings of Jesus and respond, so that we may present our lives to the world as living sacrifices, coming to the world in His likeness?
I can only speak for one city in Northern California, but as far as we are concerned, the revival in Toronto crossed into US borders and has spread to this small city, bringing hope and healing to an area filled with drug infestation and poverty. This is the story of a river of spiritual refreshing that has changed a community.
When I was 18, I was already well down the path that leads to destruction and anger. Then I met Jesus. At a Christian concert God took hold of me. Twenty seconds and one prayer later, I knew God was real. My whole world was different.
During the 70’s and early 80’s, I became a youth pastor, married and started a family, living and loving God. By the late 80’s, though, I began to struggle to find the presence of God. The flow of God’s living water was scarce. Others were feeling the same way.
When the 90’s arrived, it became depressing. “Where is God?” we would ask. While God was still there, His presence was becoming difficult to find. I was so dry that I began to burn out on ministry and wanted to quit. I had always worked as a carpenter in addition to being a youth pastor. With a wife and four kids, I would work as much as it took to pay the bills and try to fit ministry in between.
In the mid 80’s, I got my contractor’s license from the state of California and began to see my business flourish. I continued to seek the Lord, telling Him that if possible, I would love to never go back into ministry. I had done it for so many years, and now I had a wonderful family that needed my time and a business that was doing really well. I was enjoying my life, but one thing was missing, the love of the Father.
Then God asked me to move to Oroville. Within twenty four hours, I packed up my family. Once in Oroville I met a pastor that asked me to help build his church. I helped out by leading worship, running the finances and doing everything that was needed behind the scenes, all while becoming drier spiritually.
He was there. I found what I had been looking for.
About the same time, I started seeing programs on TV where people in churches were shaking and experiencing other outward manifestations. “O great,” I would think, “this is just what the church needs, to look foolish again.” I became very judgmental.
Then, one day I found myself sitting at a picnic table at a kid’s camp. A friend of mine, a very skeptical pastor, started sharing about his time at Toronto and the outpouring of the Holy Spirit. The fact that he testified to the authenticity of the Toronto Blessing piqued my interest. He told of change in his life; how it brought him and his wife both physical and spiritual healing. Then he used the term, “watering hole,” and I knew I had to go there.
So in the fall of 1995, I made a trip to Toronto Airport Christian Fellowship (TACF). The first class I attended was on the subject of worship and the teacher was Jeremy Sinnott. Although the teaching was good, I just sat there and closed my eyes asking God, “Where are You? Are You here?”
I felt the slightest wisp of God’s breath on me. I sucked in my breath and gasped, “There You are!” It was a tiny, brief wisp, but I knew He was there. I found what I had been looking for. That class ended, and I decided to come back for the evening service.
Then what seemed like all craziness broke out! There were people “manifesting” all over the place; walking like chickens, flopping on the ground, wailing like sirens. It was the most raucous, annoying thing I had ever seen at a church. I was so offended. Everything they did appalled and disgusted me. Finally, I said to the Lord, “I came 300 miles to find you, but all I’ve found is a basket full of ‘fruits and nuts!’ ”
But then I heard the Lord answer, “If it’s Me do you want it?”
“Yes, Lord if it is You I want it. I feel like I have been living in a dry parched land, and I don’t know how to find You.”
Right at the moment, Mark Dupont stopped his sermon and said, “I have a message from the Lord for someone here. The message is, “You’ve been living in a dry and parched land, and the Lord has rivers of living water for you. If that is you, please come forward.”
That was the very phrase I had just said to the Lord. It was amazing! I was running for it, hurdling and leaping over people. I found myself up front yelling, “It’s me, it’s me!” I was so excited. Then as I looked behind me, I saw hundreds of people coming up front.
I don’t know what is going on but I’m so dang happy!
I thought, “I know it’s for me." Someone on the prayer team prayed for me, and immediately, I fell down. I was surprised and jumped back up on my feet. I didn’t want to fall down so quickly. Not much more happened that night; I just watched the people around me.
When I got back to my hotel, I called my wife, Vicki. I was glad I had not called her two hours earlier, or I would have told her, “This is crazy and I’m coming home!” But because I had felt that tiny wisp of God’s presence and had fallen down in response to receiving prayer, I told her that I didn’t know what was happening. “I feel like there is something here, but it is really crazy! I don’t know if I can get beyond my offense, but I am going to stay.”
The next day, having missed the shuttle for the morning meeting, I began to walk back to TACF. As I walked, my mind wandered. Suddenly, I stopped and said to myself, “I don’t know what is going on, but I am so dang happy!”
The minute I said, “Dang happy,” the Holy Spirit “hit me” right there as I stood on the grass median on Attwell Drive. I fell down, laughing hysterically, literally screaming with laughter. Cars were screeching to a stop to see if I was okay. The drivers were thinking that I was having a heart attack. I looked up at them and laughed all the more. People drove off thinking I was a nut!
This went on for forty minutes; I laughed myself to healing. I got up and started walking, but ended up skipping to the church. Of course, I had missed the meeting, but I went back to services the rest of the week and kept laughing, standing in lines and getting prayer.
When I flew back to Oroville, I went to church and picked up my guitar to lead worship. I found that I could play music I could never play before; my hands worked better with the guitar, and my singing improved. I loved to be up front whereas before it had become a job. People began to fall down on the ground during worship. The Holy Spirit would come like a wave over the church, bringing many marvelous miracles.
God was revealing to me that this was a new beginning. I began to cherish the idea of being in ministry.
Next, God showed me a vision of The Father’s House Church (TFHC).
“This is what I have for you, Steve.” He said, “This is why you are in Oroville.” I began to see the vision of TFHC becoming a reality; this was 6 years after moving to Oroville and about 5 months after going to Toronto. “Today TFHC is more than I could ever have dreamed.”
Since my visit to Toronto, God has moved into South Oroville. Life changes are the norm for people around TFHC. These are only a few testimonies of how the river of revival is changing the community of South Oroville.
Katie Bruhn says, “Before, I was slamming dope, homeless, a bully, thief, and was thrown into prison. I was angry and did not care about anything or anyone. I lost my kids and had no hope. Now I understand that God forgave me and helped me forgive myself. I am loved by God and people. I am seeing my kids again and being restored to my family. When John Arnott was at TFHC, he prayed for me. I felt God for the first time in my life. It was the best high I’ve ever had. I want to continue to follow God and be His ambassador to others.”
Mike and Winnifred Drymond are another example of the impact of revival. Mike says, “I started taking heroin at the age of 13. I used every drug until I was 41 years old. I spent half of that time in prison. I was a drug addict, a liar and a thief.” Michael and Winnifred were married in jail. He wore an orange jump suit and she wore a red one.
“During our time in jail, we both met Jesus and truly began walking with Him in a personal relationship,” states Winnifred. For Mike, the most amazing thing is that he has been completely drug free for the last 7 years. Drugs aren’t even an option for him. God has restored Mike’s relationship with six of his seven children. He even has custody of his younger children.
Mike and Winnifred recently purchased a home – something Mike thought only happened to “other” people. They are constantly leading people to Christ. Their home is a magnet for those who are recovering addicts. Evangelizing and discipling others is a way of life for them.
Their excitement and passion for Jesus is contagious.
Laura Hammon’s life has also changed because of revival. She says, “I was a very angry person and did not love myself or others. I was addicted to drugs and lived a sexually immoral lifestyle. I had been homeless and was sleeping on a park bench. My kids were taken from me and I had lost hope. TFHC showed me how to live a life that is filled with mercy and grace. They provided a home for me so I could be reunified with my kids. Now my children are back home. Since being saved, my life has been absolutely amazing. I am peaceful, compassionate and loving. I want to spread the love of Christ.”
The river of God has also changed Terry Hawkins and his family. Terry shares, “This church (TFHC) has shown me love. I have learned to trust God. God is causing me to work on my relationship with my wife and family. I now look for ways to honor Him in the workplace.”
By BARBARA ARRIGONI-Staff Writer
POSTED: 12/21/2013 12:10:37 AM PST
Click photo to enlarge
The Fathers House church bustles with volunteers and families for the Gift of Hope handout event...
OROVILLE -- A long line of parents, grandparents and guardians wound around The Father's House church Friday night with their children, waiting to pick up hundreds of gifts for Christmas.
They were there for the annual Gift of Hope handout, where volunteers from the church helped disperse thousands of presents donated by people in the community.
This year, 1,100 children received gifts, with each getting at least three presents.
As people waited outside for the handout to start, dozens of volunteers waited at tables to greet the families and find their gifts.
The door opened at 6 p.m. When people arrived inside, they checked in and went to a designated table with an assigned number. Volunteers then went out into the sea of brightly colored presents and gathered all the packages with that same number.
One woman's face glowed with a wide smile as a box heaped with presents stood on a cart to be taken to her car.
Sommer Parrish waited outside with her four children for their turn.
"I feel it's a very amazing thing they do for the community," she said. "It's an amazing church as well."
Parrish said this is the first time she has registered for the Gift of Hope.
"We just needed a little help," she said. "With the bills, there's not enough to Christmas shop. It's a blessing."
Gift of Hope was started in 2004. Last year, 616 children received gifts.
Director Nicole Wallace spearheaded the program this year, and made sure the handout went smoothly.
Wallace couldn't say enough about the community's help this year, whether it came from individuals, businesses or groups, and she wanted to express her thanks.
"We're just so grateful for the community support," she said. "We could not do it without them."
More than 50 people worked as volunteers during the handout.
Wallace said a new thing this year is getting parents who previously received gifts for the kids to volunteer to help out. It's a way to give back, she said.
She wasn't sure whether she'll aim as high as she did this year, which was to donate to 1,000 children.
"My goal is always to provide more for people," she said.
OROVILLE -- At a church in Southside Oroville, dozens of volunteers spent the week wrapping, sorting, matching and stacking hundreds of presents for the annual Gift of Hope program.
Nearly every inch of The Father's House church was packed with colorful Christmas-themed wrappers and bags, ready for families to pick up tonight.
The gifts will be handed out to registered children from 6-9 p.m. at the church, located at 2833 Fort Wayne St.
Luke Pollock and Ryan Kelly both attend the church and were helping out Thursday afternoon.
This year, the church set a goal of registering 1,000 children to give to, he said. In the past, the program has provided gifts for more than 600 youngsters.
However, with a lot of promotional efforts, people from outside Oroville asked to be included, which brought the total to 1,100.
"We didn't want to turn them away," Pollock said.
A few weeks ago, organizers voiced concern because many of the tags on Gift of Hope trees hadn't been taken, and the deadline approached.
Since then, the community stepped up and met the need, either by picking up tags or sending donations, said Nicole Wallace, Gift of Hope director.
"It has just been an outpouring of love from the community," she said. "It's absolutely incredible."
She and a team of seven volunteers did final shopping Thursday for 80 children with a goal of buying at least four items for each child.
While that team shopped, more volunteers worked across the street from the church wrapping extra gifts for children who only received one or two presents.
Pollock said the number of gifts given to the children depends on the donor. Each child is assigned a tag with his or her name, age, size and a list of the items they want.
Some donors buy one item, and others buy everything listed, he said.
All week, about 30 volunteers helped set up the packages and new bicycles inside the church. Others spent from morning to around 11 p.m. wrapping more than 300 gifts. The rest of the presents arrived already wrapped by the donors.
Church volunteer Ryan Kelly helped straighten up some of the rows of presents on Thursday and made sure tags were in place and gifts were properly placed.
"I love it," he said. "It's one of my favorite outreaches."
But while he likes seeing the children's smiles, he observed that all the work is over quickly.
"Three or four months of work and it's over in three hours. But that's Christmas," Kelly said.
Across the street, Aimee Rivera and Marisa Woodard were covering dolls and other toys with bright paper. Rivera had been there until late Wednesday and was back at it again.
"It's awesome, all the kids that are going to be blessed tomorrow," she said Thursday. "It's amazing."
Woodard was excited that four children in one family who each wanted a new bike will get one. Rivera remarked about how exciting it is when children arrive with their parents or guardians and see all the gifts they're getting.
"It's amazing to be part of it," Rivera said. "Their whole face lights up. Once you see that, you want to keep doing it."
The Lord’s Gym, a non-profit gym, located on 2120 Bird St. in Oroville, will celebrate their Grand Opening on Saturday July 13th from 10am-3pm. Local celebrity Anderson Davis, OHS ’98 Graduate, will be in attendance for the event signing autographs and showing his support for the non-profit gym.
Also performing at the event will be Oakland A’s chaplain, nationally recognized speaker, and youth motivator; Donnie Moore. Hw will be accompanied by his “power team,” who will be performing feats ofstrength on stage such as: bending steel bars, breaking bricks and giving away Oakland A’s fan gear.
The Grand Opening is a free event and fun for the whole family.
Here it is then: the key to demonstrating the reality of God, both for yourself and in the sight of others — listen to Jesus, believe He knows what He is talking about, and act on what He has said.