The Riven Flow

June 27th - Spiritual Warfare 

What a trip Riven just took!  We always ask the Lord to go before us and anoint us each time we go out to minister.  This past week we had safety coming and going! However, during the trip we had quite an interesting time.  The motel booked for Saturday night turned out to be a flea bag motel.  The rooms were dirty, trash on the floor, dirt in unexpected places.  It took over an hour to iron out a refund and so we got on the phone and got another motel for the evening.

 Then, after a good night's rest, we went to Hardee's to get something for breakfast.  Our order was a large one so the person on the other end of the speaker (we went through the drive-thru because the restaurant was closed for indoor dining) repeated back the large order to us.  When we arrived back at the motel and began passing out the food...part of it was missing.

At the church, just before service, we turned on the sound equipment and iPad to get ready for ministry.  The iPad was locked and we were not able to access the soundtracks we needed to be able to minister.  I began to pray after hearing the problem.  I sensed that this was a spiritual matter and more than just the fact the iPad was not cooperating.  Gary Brannaman and Randy Prior went to work to try and access the internet in order to restore the settings on the iPad so we could access the program that held our soundtracks.  In the meantime, the pastor was reading from Ephesians 6 about the whole armor of God and about our spiritual enemy in heavenly places.  

Gary and Randy were able to use the hotspot on Randy's iPhone to access the web and the Lord caused Gary to remember his password (that he hadn't done anything with for some time because it hadn't been a previous problem) and we were back in to the iPad and the software that was needed.  We met for a brief prayer just before going on the platform and thanked the Lord that He was in charge and how He was going to bless us in the service.  WHAT A GREAT TIME WE HAD!

Later that day the Lord blessed us with a GREAT meal at Las Palmas Mexican restaurant.  We then toured Dixon, Illinois and the boyhood home of President Ronald Reagan before getting on the road to Fulton, Illinois.

It was a warm evening but less so than the previous June of 2020 when we sang at Spring Valley Reformed Church in Fulton.  The new pastor, G.I. Joe (he was an army specialist) was a gracious host and we had some great fellowship before the concert began.  Our host for the evening, Randy, was there to meet us when we set up and the people filled the grounds in their vehicles and lawn chairs!  The honking, in place of applause, is so much fun!! We really enjoyed ourselves once again this year as we testified and sang.

After the concert we made a beeline for PAXTON'S CORNER COOP in Annawan, Illinois to cap the day with some incredibly delicious ice cream and baked goods!! We've made it a tradition to stop on the way home and get some ice cold treats before making the long journey back to St. Louis.  We made it 15 minutes to closing and got something good to eat!

The Lord is SO good to us as we travel and sing.  He blesses us just, as much as, we hope to be a blessing to those with whom we share our music and ministry.  It is truly our heart's desire to travel and share the talents with which the Lord has gifted us!

OCCUPY and Trust in the Lord and His goodness! 

Maybe you have been wondering what is going to happen to us, the United States of America, the Church, and WE believers...because of the changes this faux administration is making...HOLD ON! It is time for the Church to STAND UP!  It seems the church in America has been asleep.  We have taken the mindset of ESCAPISM.  It has been the teaching of the Church for the longest time that the Lord is coming back and our time is short.  Now, I know the Bible says the Lord will come back to catch away His bride.  Yes, it will all happen. I know that Him coming again to rescue His Saints before His will is completed isn't the plan the Lord has for His Church.

However, the Scriptures also say that we are to OCCUPY until He comes (Luke 19:13).  Any military force doesn't sit around and wait for someone else to bring about a victory.  That force keeps moving forward and keeps taking ground and beating back the enemy.  WE as the body of Christ should be the light in the world (Isaiah 60:1-2) and not sitting in the bunker waiting to be rescued.  Jesus said that ALL authority is given to Him and we therefore can GO into all the world and preach the Gospel reaching the lost with Him going with us in His power (Matthew 28:18-20).

We ALSO need to be Salt and Light in the world (Matthew 5:13-16).  I believe that so much of what is taking place in our world is because the Church has been silent.  The Lord has gifted so many in the Church to be in leadership in politics, education, medicine, law, and so many other areas of business.  BUT WE HAVE BELIEVED THE LIE of Separation of Church and State.  The Heavenly Father wants His people to be an integral part of our world so that we influence it with Righteousness and godliness. (We are the salt in this world that adds flavor into this bland existence because of the Lord who lives in us!)

COME ON Church!  Wake up and let's take our place in this world! We Need To Occupy Until He Comes.  He isn't coming right now because His Church is NOT ready yet.  As the body of Christ we are not like-minded or the Church that is ready for the Marriage Supper.  Scripture tells us that All men will know, that we are the body of Christ, because WE HAVE LOVE ONE FOR ANOTHER (John 13:35).

We have work to do Saints!  Let's draw nearer to the Lord, learn His heart, hear His voice, and begin to be THE BODY of CHRIST that reaches the world with the Good News of Jesus Christ!

And, BTW, our Heavenly Father has plans that we don't fully know just yet.  But, HAVE FAITH, because the Lord of Heaven and Earth is going to invade this earth with His goodness and glory (Habakkuk 2:14).  REVIVAL is coming Saints! Let's get ready to be part of what the Lord is about to do.  We have a Harvest in front of us and so many souls that need hear the message of the Cross.

See...God is NOT willing that ANY should perish but that ALL come to repentance! (2 Peter 3:9)  We are, All of US, children from God.  He gave us life...knit us together in our mother's womb (Psalm 139:13-14).  He wants us to come back to Him!  It was for the joy set before Him that Jesus went to the cross (Hebrews 12:2).  That JOY...Is Jesus being able to present us back to the Father when we enter into Heaven.  

Let's get prepared to become part of God's glorious plan on earth! IT'S GOING TO BE EPIC!!

We Have a Refuge 

It's so easy in a world of negativity to get caught up in the wave of desperation and fear that is being overly reported and shared.  We live in a world of uncertainty.  Things happen that seem to come from out of nowhere. And you might think that there is little hope.... But, that is the condition of a godless world that has only itself to rely upon.

You and I, Believer, do not live in a hopeless, dark or uncertain world.  WE HAVE A REFUGE! Our Heavenly Father has made a way for us to be guarded, protected, supplied, and hopeful.  Psalm 91 begins with, "He who dwells in the secret place of the Most High Shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty." That pronoun "he" is you and me. In Ephesians 2:6 says we are seated with Christ in heavenly places.  Through the cross of Jesus, and His finished work, we are in the secret place of the Most High in Christ.

The psalm continues with verse 2 telling us, "I will say of the Lord, 'He is my refuge and my fortress; My God, in Him I will trust'". Say it out loud people of God, The Lord is my refuge and fortress, My God and I trust in Him! Let the powers of darkness know where your trust lies. Romans 8:31 says, "If God is for us, who can be against us?"

You see, the world may be going through turmoil, distress, uncertainty and lack. For the believer God's word gives us promise after promise for all the negativity and gives us hope and something we can hold onto every day. Read Psalm 91 for yourself and see just what we have through Christ. Read Romans 8 and see that NOTHING can separate us from the Love of God in Christ Jesus. Then go forth as a victorious Child of God whose Heavenly Father will take care of everything of which we will ever have a need!! (Matthew 6:33, 1 Peter 5:7)

See what God is doing 

On the nightly news we see all the bad that is happening in our world. I could take time to describe it...but you already are aware. What I want to tell you is open your spiritual eyes and see what God is doing. 

The devil always works in the open. He is loud and calls attention to what he is doing. (1 Peter 5:8) It's in the news and it seems as if the world is going badly wrong.  So, how can you see what the Lord is doing instead? Just see what the devil is up to and reverse it. (Matthew 2:1-17) 

God always sends His promises, goodness, and love to us from heaven. (James 1:17) He releases His blessings before the devil even knows what is going on. So, the devil reacts to this and you see the physical manifestation of it in the world.  

I'm telling you God is good and He has already released healing for the pandemic, peace for the unrest, righteousness to quench the wickedness, salvation and hope. Look to Jesus and receive His gifts paid for at the cross!! (Romans 8:32; 2 Peter 1:3)

Be the Light 

The world, in which we currently reside, is filled with uncertainty and chaos.  I'm specifically talking about the U.S. and what has been happening in our country.  While I was meditating on God's Word and thinking about the situation in our country I had a thought drop into my heart.  I've seen so many posts on Facebook and the news online and am troubled by the many who are wrapped up in the politics of the situation.

As the people of God I think we need to be  reminded of our position in Christ. In the words of Jesus, he says, "I have given them Your word [the message You gave Me]; and the world has hated them because they are not of the world and do not belong to the world, just as I am not of the world and do not belong to it. I do not ask that you take them out of the world, but that You keep them and protect them from the evil one. They are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. Sanctify them in the truth [set them apart for Your purposes, make them holy]; Your word is truth." (John 17:14-17 AMP)  John records that we are in the world, but not of the world. Paul tells us that our citizenship is in heaven (Philippians 3:20). This lets us know that we are in the world and may live and move in the world just as our neighbors do, but we are more...in that we are citizens of another place, heaven. What then should be our purpose in this life?

Paul tells the Corinthians in his second epistle to them, "Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come. All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to Himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation; that is, in Christ, God was reconciling the world to Himself, not counting their sins against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation. Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, God making His appeal through us." (2 Corinthians 5:17-20 ESV)

You see, it is NOT our job as Christians to make the world see the light. It is our job as Christians to BE the light that the world sees. We are the light so let us shine like the stars in the sky (Philippians 2:15 NIV) in a warped and crooked generation. The world needs the Believer to be a light. "let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven. (Matthew 5:16 ESV) It isn't in what we say but how we love and do good that the world will see the light.

Isaiah talks about the glory of the Lord on His people and how the nations will be drawn to them (Isaiah 60:1-3). In these dark times the world doesn't need the Church to take a political side, as much as, they need to see the light of the Gospel of Grace as we help to bring them into a relationship with Jesus.

So...Let Your Light Shine!

What's in a NAME? 

You may be wondering...what IS RIVEN Quartet?? John 19:34, "But when they came to Jesus and saw that He was already dead, they did not break His legs. Instead, one of the soldiers pierced Jesus' side with a spear, bringing a sudden flow of blood and water."

There is also a beloved hymn which describes this event at the cross and uses the word "riven". "Rock of Ages, cleft for me, Let me hide myself in Thee; Let the water and the blood, from Thy riven side which flowed, Be of sin the double cure, Save me from it's guilt and power." This was written by Augustus Montaugue Toplady (1740-1778)

Plus, there is a Southern Gospel Quartet song that uses that same word (riven). In 1948, Marvin P. Dalton, penned the words to the song (made popular by The Cathedral Quartet) Oh, What a Savior. The lyrics say, "O what a Savior, O Hallelujah! His heart was broken on Calvary, His hands were nail scarred, His side was riven, He gave His life-blood for even me."

When we were searching for a name, to call this newly formed singing group, we were siting around the dinner table at Gary Voelker's home. We had just finished one of our first rehearsals and started to discuss a name. Scot Womble had a small book he had written many names. Gary Brannaman mentioned one name that he had researched.  There was a quartet that had a name close to what he had thought about.  He added one word to try and make a unique name for us.  He used the word "driven"...but Scot heard the word "riven" from what Gary had said.  The hymn, Rock of Ages, immediately came to mind and it was decided.

Riven Quartet was born and we are commissioned to sing about the cross of Jesus Christ, His shed blood, His resurrection, and His coming...which is SOON!

Fulton IL - June 28 

Hey everyone! It was a great night to sing outside in Fulton.  The sunny day, warm temperatures and friendly faces made for a fun night of singing and testimonies.  If you have been to a concert at Spring Valley Reformed Church you know what fun it can be.  Those sitting in their cars honk their horns when the song is done and they have enjoyed the singing.  And those sitting in their chairs (hopefully in a shady spot) clap along and sing.  It was so enjoyable having the first concert of the new Riven Quartet with these great folks!  We definitely look forward to singing there again next time! 

And, of course, there was the great fellowship us guys had driving to the concert that day. We listened to some good music, talked about our dreams for the group, and had some great Mexican food in the childhood home, Kewanee, IL,  of our lead singer, Gary Brannaman.  After service we took time to stop at Paxton's Corner Coop in Awana, IL for some hand-dipped ice cream and baked goods. If you haven't been you have to stop by and try some of the delectable treats they serve.  Just walking in and smelling the sweet aroma inside the shop was enough to put sugar plum dreams in your head.  And then, there are the great lawn animals, art, and decor around the coop!  We are making plans, already, for another visit!!

Well, stay tuned for another blurb here in The Riven Flow....