Let’s Make This Thing Personal.

Blog Talk on the Gospel of Luke: Session 200

My Conclusion on My Blog Talk Through Luke.

Enter one Martin J. Boller.

Martin, or Marty as he’s most often called, is just a fat man from Iowa trying his very best to practice the Kingdom presence of God. This guy and most of his family have lived a lot of years in a remote place on the planet called Iowa. You know. IOWA. The place the 1989 Oscar-nominated movie, Field of Dreams, called heaven.

Is this heaven? No, it’s Iowa.

For those of you who might not have seen the movie or for some who might have forgotten, this captivating film, starring a young Kevin Costner, tells the story of Ray Kinsella, a novice farmer who lives in rural Iowa with his wife, Annie and their young daughter Karin. While walking through his cornfield, Ray hears a mysterious whisper, asking him to do outlandish things like plowing over his corn crop to build a beautiful regulation-sized baseball field next to his farmhouse. Over the course of the movie, this voice asks Ray to take three very important steps of faith.

‘Build it and he will come’ 

‘Ease his pain’

‘Go the distance’

These short but powerful messages will lead Ray and his family on an amazing adventure that will eventually transform many people’s lives, including, most importantly, Ray’s.

Now back to my story.

A long-time baseball fan and lover of the movie, Field of Dreams, this old Shoeless Marty from Iowa was radically touched by the ministry of John Wimber back in the day and eventually became a Vineyard pastor. Having been in church most of my life, and seen the sideshow John Wimber so often talked about in traditional American church, I was not all that interested in joining the circus.

But back in 1998, just like Ray Kinsella in the Field of Dreams movie, I heard the Lord whisper in my ear to start a church in Cedar Rapids, using all the Kingdom principles John Wimber taught in the early days of the Vineyard movement.  Build it and He will come. My wife and I obeyed and now, thirteen years later, a church stands on the very location a bar named Shagnastys once stood. We thought of naming the church Shagnasty’s Vineyard, but fortunately, we didn’t listen to that voice!

I truly believe that over the years, we’ve done all three things the voice told Ray Kinsella in Field of Dreams. ‘Ease his pain’ was the second message and in fact, we’ve seen God show up on countless occasions over the last thirteen years, easing the deep pain of men, women and children; great people who for one reason or another had found themselves separated from God’s loving presence. What an honor and privilege it is to see the pain of broken relationships healed. Indeed we’ve seen both the pain of people’s lives and the resulting heartache of God, Himself, eased as the Holy Spirit begins to reconcile Jesus with His long-lost, wayward friends.

The final message given Ray Kinsella in the Field of Dreams was ‘go the distance’. As a matter of fact a very similar ‘word’ was given to me back in 2007 just prior to the very difficult times our church began to experience in 2008. Without the word ‘keep going’, given to me by some unknown conference attender in Waterloo, Iowa, I’m guessing that my wife and I just might have thrown in the towel sometime over the last three years. Knowing that God had spoken helped us immensely to ‘go the distance’ during these recent times of great pain and rejection.

But today, despite the great Field of Dreams words from God’s voice, this old-fat pastor from Iowa found himself, like Ray Kinsella, trying to keep his failing farm together. I grew tired in the process. Very tired. During my summer sabbatical in 2011, God has shown me how over a period of the last four or five years, this Vineyard pastor named Marty began doing the very thing Jesus warned His disciples not to do. He left home way too often without the Holy Spirit. He began doing more and more out of his own strength and wisdom and less and less out of his experiential relationship with God’s Kingdom. A disaster started to occur. The church built so ‘He would come’, the community built to ‘ease His pain’, the ministry meant to ‘go the distance’, began coming apart at the seams.

And then it happened.

In the midst of a time when it seemed God’s Plan A was about to fail, an angel was sent to this struggling, worn out, burned-out fat pastor in the land of Field of Dreams. The voice had returned! And this time, the message was, once again, pretty simple. Short but clear.

“Open the Book”, the angel proclaimed.

And now, here we are, having done that ‘open the book’ thing for well over a year or more. One of the wonderful by-products of that vision is what you have been reading over the last twelve months.

Gosh, I thought I was done. But now, based on what I’ve just read here from Jesus at the end of Luke’s gospel, maybe I need to go back and review again, Luke’s second volume. Apparently it’s in that book, Luke’s Book of Acts, where I can find the scoop on what Jesus has in mind for all of us as we do our very best to practice the Kingdom presence of God in this life time and the life to come.

My prayer: Jesus, my life has been a journey. In truth, like Ray Kinsella, I’ve heard a number of voices over the years. Some have been most definitely You. Others, I’m just not sure of. But one thing I do know is that I can trust the voice of Jesus found in God’s Holy Word. May I never leave home, or build a church, or live my life without that! For Your name’s sake.

My questions to ponder: What voices over the years have I listened to that have proven to not be God? Which messages have indeed been from God and have proven fruitful in my life? What does ‘build it and He will come’ truly mean in my life today? How can I be faithful to the words of Jesus found here at the end of Luke’s Gospel?

So what is God speaking to you today? Are you practicing the Kingdom presence of God?    

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