Monday, October 24, 2005

Revival at the Football Game!

You know the dreams you have about God moving in power? The ones where the sick are healed, demons are cast out and people are getting saved? I have been having them for years. Ever since I heard prophecies from people like Paul Cain, who prophesied of a stadium church, where thousands are meeting Jesus and getting healed. Or when I read Rick Joyner’s “The Harvest”, where he prophesied a coming move of God that would sweep millions into the Kingdom with an outpouring of signs, wonders and power evangelism. Just hearing those prophecies produced faith to see them (faith comes by hearing) and for years my dreams have been plagued with scenes and snippets of the coming revival. I say plagued because in the dreams and visions I have had, I can “feel” that revival atmosphere. That electric “anything could happen” atmosphere where God is moving with power. That feeling has stayed with me for years and when you get out there and just kind of slog through preaching, praying, believing and hoping for revival without the experience of revival, those dreams and visions can haunt you. But I believe that God gives dreams, visions and supernatural experiences so we can press through the dry or not very anointed times until we see the fullness of what He has promised.

So we press through. We pray, preach, prophesy and heal the sick with a fire of revival burning in our hearts, regardless of what we see on the outside. All with the hope of seeing, experiencing and being in on the next move of God.

This week, hope was manifested. The dreams and visions became reality. We saw, touched, tasted and felt what revival feels like. The weather was changed through a prophetic declaration, the sick were healed, demons were cast out, people were touched by the power of God, there was conviction of sin, there was powerful, heart rending prophecy and at least fifteen people made decisions for the Lord, although over a hundred people heard the gospel of the Kingdom. The preaching inspired religious persecution and civil authority threatened us with punishment. It was like a snapshot of the book of Acts, except in modern times

This is what happened.

We arrived at a local football game right as the game was starting. There were seven of us (David, Jordan, Katie, Rebecca, Linda, Rachael and myself) and we were excited. It was Rachael's first time out with us and we were praying that God would show up. Last week we had seen God move at another high school football game and we were chomping at the bit. It was raining off and on and there didn’t seem to be nearly as many people in attendance as there was last week. We decided to take our time and not rush in. We looked for where the kids would gather and just hang out. After being there only a few minutes, the few people that were there were rained on pretty hard and took shelter under a covered porch. We waited a few minutes and prayed for the rain to stop, but it just rained harder. We decided to pull out the big guns and called Pastor Marc, who has changed the weather through proclamation dozens of times. If you struggle with that, sorry, but it’s true. Jesus changed the weather (Mark 4:39) and He said that if we believed, we could do what he did (John 14:12).

So my brother Jordan picked up a cell phone and asked my Dad to put a stop to the rain that was coming down pretty hard now. Pastor Marc prayed over the phone and commanded the rain to stop. We hung up the phone and looked at the sky expectantly. I checked my watch and noted the time that he prayed. Sure enough, four and a half minutes later, the rain stopped cold. To tell you the truth, we weren’t even surprised. We happily jumped into the fray with a feeling of God’s favor. I mean, He stopped the rain for us, surely God was with us!

We broke off into groups of two and three and jumped in innocently enough, giving some low level prophetic words to a couple kids. But in a few minutes, there was a noticeable stir. Several of the kids that had received prophetic words from David, Linda and Jordan started bringing their friends over asking us to pray for them. Before we knew it, each one of our groups were surrounded by a group of hungry kids, each asking for prophetic words and healing. All over the area where we were, healing started breaking out as shoulders, knees, fingers, feet and backs were healed. Each healing raised the excitement level and more kids gathered. They started to get their friends from around the football stadium and they even started raiding the stands, bringing people away from the game and down to us! They would come over and ask us to “tell us their future”. Over and over, we were able to explain that we weren’t psychics and were simply revealing in part what God knew about them in full. We also preached the Gospel of the Kingdom to crowds of them with great boldness, holding nothing back. We spoke of sin, repentance and turning to God to serve Him whole heartedly and they gobbled it up, because of the demonstration of God’s power through the healing and prophetic.

Many times, I was able to prep them saying that if I asked the Lord to speak to me for them and if they received a word from God, then they would be responsible for what they heard (Luke 12:48). This caused them to receive the prophecies with a healthy dose of the fear of God and it’s also why so many of them got born again. We totaled about 15 who we KNOW gave their lives to the Lord, but it could just as easily be 60-100. Lots of them heard the Gospel and only time will tell how many heard and believed (Acts 2:41).

One angry young man came up to me, obviously critical as to what we were doing. He told me flat out that he thought we were full of crap and that there was no way that God would speak to people like this. I told him that he was free to move along but he stuck around, mocked while other kids were getting touched and eventually asked me to get something from God for him. I told him, “I thought you thought we were full of crap?!” He crossed his arms, told me that he had an open mind and waited. Several of his buddies were there and I asked him if he really wanted his buddies to hear what God would say. He arrogantly said, “It’s fine if they stay”.

So I asked the Lord to show me something for him and instantly had a vision of him eating out of a trash can. While he ate, it was making him sick, but he put on a happy face and just kept eating. I then saw him set up a restaurant around the trash can, complete with chairs and tables and a “we’re open” sign inviting guests to come and eat what he knew to be garbage. I saw him then recommend the garbage as a delicacy to those coming to eat. I told him this vision and he asked what it meant. I told him simply, “I believe that what you are eating spiritually is garbage; you know that it’s garbage, yet because of your hypocrisy and duplicity are recommending as a delicacy what you know to be garbage”. It made quite an impact. He turned red, called me a few names and some of his buddies were chuckling under their breath at him, nodding in agreement. He walked away extremely ticked off!

Meanwhile, I look up and each of one of our group is surrounded by 20-30 people, literally pulling on their clothing asking for healings, prophecies and words of knowledge. Jordan and I were preaching the Gospel of the Kingdom to a spellbound group, Linda and Rachael were prophesying and casting out demons, David was prophesying and Katie and Rebecca were healing the sick and prophesying. To say that the kids were hungry is an understatement. They were ravenous! To say that the harvest is ripe is an understatement. It is falling off the trees!

Our experience reminded me of a fishing trip I took with a buddy of mine up to the Northwest Territory of Canada last year. The deal up there is that the lakes are frozen 9-10 months out of the year and for the 2-3 months that the ice melts, the giant trophy fish have their opportunity to eat. And eat they do. They eat everything in sight! They are wild and will bite anything that falls into the water. They are so hungry in fact that from time to time; they will come out of the water, literally flying to hit your lure! At the football game, it was just like this. The kids were flying out of their seats, out of the stands to eat what we were feeding them. And they loved it. Each time someone got healed or a prophecy was given, the faith level increased. There were tears, there was conviction of sin and people were getting delivered of demons! Several folks got delivered of anger, depression, suicide and unforgiveness. Several of the kids were getting visibly touched by God, shaking under the power. A couple of the kids that got freedom from demons reported feeling drunk and lightheaded. We could have gone on all night…

That is, until the religious demons kicked up.

As I am preaching to another group of hungry kids, I am suddenly aware that we are being eyed suspiciously by several older folks with their arms crossed. I also am aware of about 5-6 Sheriff’s Deputies amassing behind me. A lady who is on staff with the school and the school Administrator walks up and ask if they can speak with me privately. I agree and walk away from the group and the Deputies surround me. The lady starts off with, “So, you really seem to have a lot of kids around you”. I’m like, “Ok…” She continues by asking, “So, what exactly are you doing?” I tell her that we are preaching Jesus to the kids and having a great time. She tells me that they have had a complaint from someone (the religious kid who got the garbage can word) saying that we were touching people inappropriately! I tell her flatly that we have touched no one inappropriately and only have laid hands on shoulders and hands and only with permission. We also have witnesses to each of these facts.

She relents, knowing that the accusations are false and then proceeds to tell us that it is against the law to touch a minor. Ever. Anywhere. One of the Sheriff’s Deputies then gruffly tells me that he is watching me and our team and if we violate this rule, then they will eject us from the stadium. I assure them that we are there to help and not hurt. I remind them that we are simply telling people about Jesus. I go around the concession area and tell David, Jordan, Linda, Rebecca and Katie to not touch anyone, anywhere. They agree and continue to preach. But the plan to intimidate us backfires. The kids see the commotion with the police and they see them talking to me and they come running up to us. The crowd grows, both in numbers and in hunger. We continue preaching, praying and prophesying, all without touching anyone. But now it’s obvious that the kids are no longer interested in the game. There are more kids out of the stands that in the stands on the home team side. Only adults are left in the stands. This is more than they can take.

The principal of the school approaches David and interrogates him, asking what we are doing. He is told that we are preaching Jesus and he responds with, “Listen, I am a Christian, but this is the wrong venue for this”. David replies, “Life is the right venue to preach the Gospel”. His response is a threat, “If you preach or say anything about Jesus, I will have you removed. You are welcome to stay and watch the game, but you can’t say anything to the kids about God, even if they ask you”.

I get the story from the police officers and make a split second judgment call. Should we: Hold our ground, defy the authorities, get ejected and maybe even go to jail for breaking some suspect law? Or: Call it a night and let the godless civil authority win? If you have read any of our stories before, you may be surprised to hear that believe it or not, we chose the latter, choosing to go ahead and bow out while we were ahead. I felt that we were having a great night and had already been working hard for a couple of hours. We had made a HUGE statement to the kids, who at this point are about to revolt if we get ejected from the game and it’s obvious that the reason for the controversy was jealousy from the school faculty. We literally had to tear ourselves away from the kids who were very upset that we had to leave. I go up to the officers, who remind us that we are free to watch the game as long as we don’t say anything about God. I tell them that we have no intention to just “chit-chat” with the kids, but we have an agenda. That agenda is to preach the Gospel. I gather the group, we close our mouths, smile and walk out of the stadium in single file, thrilled at what we have just experienced.

We’ll be back. If we go to jail, we go to jail.

Saturday, October 22, 2005

The Lame Walk, The Lost Return and The Demonized Are Set Free! - Part II

Nothing really dramatic happened on Thursday so fast forward to Friday. Last week, our buds out in California gave us a hot tip on Football games. They had taken an outreach team to a football game and had a wild time. Dozens of healings and several people got born again as they invaded groups of kids with a simple message, “The Kingdom of God is on the earth”. They told us that if we can find a central area where kids are hanging out, we could have a blast.

So, we found a local high school football game, made our plans and invaded. There were six of us and when we arrived, we were excited. This was a homecoming game and there were literally thousands of kids, both in the stands and surrounding the concession stands. It was overwhelming at first and took us about 30-45 minutes to just get acclimated and get our heads in the game. But after finding a giant group of kids just standing around, we broke up into groups of two and jumped in. The response was fantastic. It would take many pages to describe in detail everything that happened, but basically, heaven came down. This is how it went.

For my crew, we would just walk into a group of kids and single one of them out, preferably the leader. See, in these situations, the popular kid has a lot of sway and very few people will approach them because they are “cool”. When we go right up to them and start telling them crazy stuff that the Lord is giving us, it gets the attention of a whole group. Here’s another thing: we may or may not have something from the Lord for them, but in faith tell them that God has something for them and do they want to hear it? If they agree, we tell them first that they must change the way they think (repent) for God’s Kingdom is right in front of them and they don’t recognize it (the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand). Normally at this point, the Lord will have given us something prophetically. It could be something intense, but most of the time it was a very simple prophetic word, a word of knowledge or simple discernment of spirits.

For example, there was a really big guy there; he stood out because he was about a foot taller than everyone. I look at him and ask the Lord for something and I hear two words in my spirit for him, “Leadership” and “Musical Gifting”. I ask the Lord to give me more understanding and I see picture of the guy playing the guitar and singing. So, I approach him, tell him that God has something for him and ask him if he wants to hear it. I then tell him that he has to change the way he thinks because God’s Kingdom is on the earth. He’s looking at me like I’m crazy. Then I tell him that I see leadership ability on him that’s a gift from the Lord and then tell him I believe that he has a musical gift and does he play and sing? He gets all bright eyed and is like, “Oh my God, how did you know that?” I go on to tell him to give his life to Jesus and stop doing the music thing for the girls and he is in rapt attention. He tells me that he is a lead singer for a band and writes his music on the guitar. He asks me how I knew that and tell him that I didn’t know it, but God knew it and wanted to reveal Himself to him. He turns out to be a religious guy, but is rocked to the core as God reads his mail.

In another group of ours, they just went looking for sick people as a way to demonstrate the power of the Gospel. They found a kid with a broken foot. When they asked him what was up, he told them that he was having a fair amount of pain and no mobility in his foot and ankle due to the injury. They asked him if they could pray for him and he agreed. As they prayed, he felt something happening in his foot. After prayer, they asked him to move it and see if there was a difference. He found that there was NO PAIN and 100% MOBILITY! He started to jump up and down on his now healed foot excited that Jesus healed him. Drawn by the commotion, this drew a crowd of about 30 kids all wanting to see what was going on. One of our guys got to stand up and preach the Gospel of the Kingdom of God to the whole group, with the healing being the proof of our message.

We went on for a couple hours, doing this again and again. As we would be prophesying over one kid, all of their friends would gather around and we would have an opportunity to preach the Gospel. The hardcore, repent for the Kingdom of God is at hand Gospel. In my group alone, we had 4 people give their lives to Jesus through tears and true repentance as God revealed the secrets of their hearts. I believe that we had at least ten people get born again that night alone. We will definitely be back at football games!

On Saturday morning, we spread out into a couple of groups, heading off to a couple of different community events. These trips don’t have a strong agenda; just, be there and look for opportunities. Both groups got to pray for several sick people and some folks in wheelchairs. One of our teams went from booth to booth at a business fair prophesying over business owners and speaking destiny and purpose into folks. Like I said, low key, but important nonetheless. I want to be at everything our community does and have them say, “not them again!”

Saturday nights, we go out to invade the youth in parking lots near the mall, but this Saturday night we got skunked. The police were extra vigilant and ran the kids out of every single lot.

On Sunday, we had an extra meeting on Sunday night with a special speaker. While I was walking to the back I was pulled aside by a lady that I vaguely remembered. She said, “Do you remember me?” I said that I did, but help me out with the details. It turns out, we had prayed for her husband almost a year ago. She had a story to tell me and I remembered that we had received a call last year from a lady whose husband was in the Alzheimer’s unit of a local hospital. They had to keep him heavily medicated and under restraints because he had become so violent and uncontrollable. She had asked us to come down there and pray for him and we agreed. Another brother in the church and I went down there, shocked at what we saw. He was totally uncontrollable, locked in a near fetal position and mumbling incoherently. I remember that when you touched him, his skin felt like granite. He was literally hard to the touch with demonic rage. We rebuked the devil and prayed for the fire of God to come on him. I remember that he went from a locked up fetal position to complete peace and his body loosened, falling asleep and snoring loudly as we prayed. While we were there, we prophesied that he would be home for Christmas (which was a few weeks away).

So, on Sunday night this lady walks up to me and says, “I had to stop you and tell you what happened after you prayed for my husband”. She pointed to a handsome gentleman sitting next to her in a suit as she told us that God had healed and delivered her husband after we prayed! Within a few days, they released him from the Alzheimer’s unit and into as assisted living retirement home. Within a couple weeks of that, they released him, healthy and stable as could be to go home. He was home for Christmas! She was so happy to introduce me to her husband, in his right mind and back at home.

All in all, a pretty good week.

Monday, October 17, 2005

The Lame Walk, The Lost Return and The Demonized Are Set Free! - Part I

Wow! What a wild week we just had! We had several reports come in this week that are just awesome. Sometimes in “doing the stuff” (that is, preaching the gospel, healing the sick and casting out demons) you don’t always see an instant result to your prayers. For example, you may pray for someone who is crippled and is in a wheelchair. If you don’t see an instant miracle, you can walk away feeling like nothing happened. This can be discouraging and I believe that this is why most American Christians don’t give themselves to the work of the Gospel. David Hogan told us that we Americans want an instant, microwave Burger King Gospel. You know, “Your Way, Right Away”. But sometimes, healings and miracles may take a little time, as we found out this week.

We had several answered prayers and prophecies this week that are quite spectacular. We also had a wild demonic manifestation, a couple of instant healings and a few people give their life to the Lord… I really don’t know where to begin, so I’ll start on Tuesday.

Tuesday night, we head down to a little public park in Atlanta that the locals call “Big Head” park. It’s a place where lots of homeless, prostitutes and drug addicts gather. Two weeks before, we had been there and a couple guys with our group had prayed for a guy in a wheelchair. He had severe scoliosis and some other problems that had left him without the ability to walk. While praying for him, our guys tried several times to pull him out of his wheelchair and get him to stand, which he could not do. This week, we walk up and one of the first things we see is the guy in the wheelchair as he goes rolling past us. He rolls out to the center of the park and we see him stand up out of his wheelchair and start to walk! We hurry over to get the story and he tells us that the next day after we prayed, he had strength and was able to walk and has been walking perfectly fine ever since! We could hardly believe it. We thought that maybe he was lying when we first prayed for him and so we grilled him, wanting to hear the truth. Sure enough, he swore up and down that he could not walk before they prayed and since they prayed, he has been able to walk. I asked him for his wheelchair since he doesn’t need it anymore and he wouldn’t part with it, saying that it’s much easier to get around on wheels!

I saw a guy with crutches sitting on a little bench, so I walked up to him and asked him why he had the crutches. The first thing I noticed was that he smelled terrible. I mean, “wash your clothes after talking to him” terrible. He had human feces smeared on his leg and I saw a couple flies buzzing around him. He mumbled something incoherently and I could tell that I was dealing with someone who was totally possessed. I ask him again about the crutches and he starts telling me about having arthritis. He also tells me that he is from Africa. I tell him simply that Jesus will heal him and he tells me to @#$% off! So, I look him dead in the eyes tell him, “Jesus is King!” and he starts to mumble something at me. I say to him, “And His Kingdom is here on the earth!” When I say that, he comes unhinged. His eyes flash wildly and he lets loose a stream of profanity.

But then something very weird happens…

All of a sudden a swarm of flies appears out of nowhere! There were a couple, maybe two or three flies buzzing around him before, but the second I told him that the Kingdom of God is here on the earth, there appears at least 200 flies swarming around him! With the flies came an increased stench that suddenly was totally overpowering and some of the foulest language I had ever heard. I call a buddy over and we start calling on the blood of Jesus and rebuking the demon. The guy jumps up, starts cursing and tries to hobble away. I look at him again and say in Spanish, “Fuego De Dios!” (Fire of God) and he starts freaking out saying, “What are you saying to me?” My buddy, who spent a year in the Congo, walks up and says in Lingala, an African dialect, "Moto na NZambe" (Fire of God) and the guy loses is, starts cursing and walks away. We would rather have got the guy delivered, but having demons run away from us is acceptable.

On Wednesday night, our group heads off in a couple different directions to visit believers in neighborhoods where we have already been. We meet a couple folks there, just hanging out on the front porch. One of the guys there is a guy that we had prayed for about two months before. He is kind of like the neighborhood drunk. Everyone loves him, but he’s always sauced. The last time we had seen him, God healed his shoulder instantly, which really got his attention, but he still wasn’t ready to give his life to Jesus. He had something that he really wanted us to pray for, a missing person that he knew. They had found this lady’s car wrecked off the side of a cliff in North Georgia and no one had seen her in several weeks. There was no record of her in any of the local hospitals or police stations either. He knew her personally and was very worried about her well being. He begged us to pray that she would return and be all right. We prayed for her and someone in our group prophesied that she would be back by the same time the next day.

Fast forward to Wednesday. He is sitting on the front porch and the first words out of his mouth are, “she came back, you know”. I was like, “huh?” and he had to remind me what he was talking about. He said, “Remember praying for that lady to come back who had been missing and who had wrecked her car?” I suddenly remembered, “Oh yeah! She came back?” “Sure did. She came back the day after you guys prayed for her”. He continued, “Actually, between my shoulder getting healed and having her come back like you said she would, well, you made a believer out of me!” This was awesome! This guy had given his life to the Lord and gotten born again as the result of a healing and an answered prayer. We had several others stop by as we told testimonies of what the Lord had been doing in the neighborhood. We ended up just having church right there on the front steps for almost an hour!

To be continued…

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

A Milestone in Our Work...

The work of the ministry continues. Our small but faithful team here in Woodstock continues to go into neighborhoods, apartment complexes, hospitals and on the streets preaching the gospel, healing the sick, casting out demons and planting churches! Just last week, we received a report from a young man that we had prayed for in a primarily Hispanic neighborhood, less than 2 miles from the church. He showed up at our Sunday morning meeting and breathlessly told me how his ENTIRE FAMILY had been healed when we had prayed for them a few days before. They had conditions like arthritis, asthma, depression, Fibromyalgia, night terrors, anxiety and panic attacks and more. Within four days of praying for their household and preaching the Gospel, they ALL were healed. Sounds familiar, doesn’t it?

And they said, Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and you shall be saved, and your household. Acts 16:31

When we began this odyssey in outreach, we had a first year goal to have 10 house churches in Woodstock. I am happy to say that we just did a survey and realized that we now have groups of believers (house churches) in 11 neighborhoods! The next goal on the horizon is to have 50 house churches here in Woodstock. We believe that when we are in 50 neighborhoods here in Woodstock, we will have invaded virtually every major location and hotbed of darkness. Not everyone may be authentically saved by then, but most everyone will be confronted with the truth and the strongholds of Religion and Mammon will begin to crumble!

Our strategy is simple: go into the neighborhoods in our community, start with the poor, preach the Gospel of the Kingdom with signs and wonders following, win souls to Jesus and make disciples. The best and most fruitful way that we determined to make disciples is in house churches, or groups of believers that meet from house to house. It’s in these house churches that we preach and teach the milk of the Word, worship Jesus together and equip the saints for the work of ministry.

Early on last year, we decided that the Sunday morning gatherings at our church would not be the best place for new believers to get involved. On Sundays, we don’t preach the lowest common denominator stuff that new believers need. Our Sunday meetings are believers meetings geared towards equipping and encouraging more mature believers to get up, get out of your seat and bring the Kingdom of God wherever you are. So we decided that each neighborhood (or apartment complex, duplex, trailer park, etc.) that we are in, needed to have access to true Kingdom Christianity in the form of a house church.

Sure, lots of folks go to church, but the vast majority of believers have never had exposure to the Kingdom of God, which is not just a pretty sermon, but power to save, heal and deliver. Just imagine everyone in a city not even having to leave their own neighborhood to get saved, to get healed or to get delivered! That’s what we see and that’s what we are pursuing. These little house churches start small but the Gospel light begins to penetrate the darkness of each neighborhood, ushering in the Kingdom of God.

Let me change gears here and relate an experience that I had a couple of months ago. I have been chewing on it for a while now and feel that now is the time to talk about it. A couple months ago, my wife and I had put the kids down for a nap and decided to lie down and take a rest ourselves. While I lay down, I was praying about equipping believers for Kingdom ministry and became aware of an angelic presence in the room. I looked up and standing between my living room and my kitchen was an angel. I was shocked and surprised but remembered something a prophetic friend of mine had told me some time ago. I was telling her how I had seen an angel appear in a meeting. She asked what the angel was there to do and I just looked at her and said, “I never asked him”. “Well, he wasn’t there to decorate the place, that’s for sure!” she said. “Next time, ask them what they are there to do.”

The Bible says that angels are sent to minister to those who will inherit salvation (Hebrews 1:14) so if they show up, they have a job to do! I asked the angel that was standing in my living room what his job was and he told me that he was a “Mobilizing” angel. He told me that all I had to do was extend an invitation and he would gather those that needed to come. Instinctively, I knew that this was about equipping the saints for the work of ministry. You see, several years ago, the Lord spoke to us and told us that we would have a ministry training school that was very different from other Bible schools or seminaries. He told us the school would be more “Show You” than “Tell You”. Most places are “Tell You” and you can walk away from many training schools without any real experience in spiritual things. Sure, you can quote scriptures, but can you heal the sick, cast out devils or raise the dead?

Now, we have done several mini training schools and activated a bunch of believers in their spiritual gifts and ministries. And over the last year or so, several folks have spent time with us just to see what we’re doing. But what’s coming and what this angel was speaking about was a ministry training school where you could come not for theories and concepts, but for a living, breathing example of what the Kingdom of God is all about. You wouldn’t just learn about healing the sick, you would heal the sick. You wouldn’t just learn about winning souls, you would win souls. And more than that, we believe that you shouldn’t have to quit your job and career to function in this kind of ministry. Actually, most everyone on our street team that is doing the ministry has a full time job, family and other obligations.

I am telling you because in the near future, we will be extending the invitation to “Come and See” what the Lord is doing. Kind of like an intern program on steroids and Viagra. We want to train the army of God that is not content any longer to warm a pew or fund a building program but is ready to roll up their sleeves, lay down their life and bear fruit for the King!

Am I Talking About You?

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

Geography Is Irrelevant! - Part II

As we were leaving the group of angry rednecks, we gave them one last opportunity to bow their knee to Jesus and they refused. We excused ourselves and were about to walk away when they challenged us to preach to a notorious gang member they said had killed before. They gave us a description of what he looked like and pointed across the lot to where he was supposed to be. They told us that if we started to preach to this guy that he would pull out the 9mm he had in his belt and blow us away. They told us that we would be absolutely crazy to preach to this guy… Well, that sounded like a challenge to me, so we assured them that we would preach to that very guy.

We excused ourselves and headed across the town square in the direction that they were pointing. We were scanning the crowd, looking for the infamous “sinner” that was sure to blow us away if we preached to him and saw a group of three girls standing by a car. One of the girls had a pair of handcuffs she was holding. That got my attention so I turned to her and asked her what they were for. She gave me some description about it being for some deviant sexual practice and while she was talking, the Lord gave me a word of knowledge for her. The Lord told me that the handcuffs were symbolic of her life; she was in complete and total bondage to several different vices, all at once.

We started talking to her and I just spoke to her what the Lord was showing me, “You are in bondage to many different things all at once. You used to be able to make decisions to do wrong, but your addiction no longer even gives you that option, these demons eating your lunch make all of the decisions for you now, don’t they?” She was kind of fooling around to this point, but instantly sobered up saying, “Oh my God, that is wild! How did you know that?” We promise her that if she wants to be free, God will set her free, TONIGHT. She says she wants to be free.

As I am talking to her, the girl standing next to her jumps back and screams, “What was that!?”. “What?” I said. “That blue light! I just saw a blue light and it freaked me out!” Seeing an opportunity to get her attention, I told her, “Maybe it’s my angel?” She looks at me and looks totally perplaxed, I continue, “Yeah, I have a couple angels that walk with me (Hebrews 1:14) and maybe that’s what you are seeing?” She looks at me like I am crazy and I tell her, “Why don’t you let me pray for you and let’s see if God shows us something for you?” She agrees, I grab her hands just knowing that God is going to blast her. I ask her to close her eyes, which she does hesitantly. No more than 5 seconds after she closes her eyes, I feel a bolt of the power of God flow out of my spirit, down my arms and into her. She jerks back and in a very worried tone says, “Oh my God, what was that?” I tell her that the Holy Spirit just touched her to confirm what we are preaching and ask her if she wants more. “Yes!” she exclaims. I pray for her again and again a jolt of the power of God hits her; she holds on and asks for more. We pray again, God zaps her again and now she looks inebriated. I ask her how she feels and she says, “Drunk!”

I start to explain to all of them that God is real; He loves them and wants a relationship with them. We start to tell them that we aren’t talking about religion or “going to church” but we are talking about a real God, perfectly willing to prove Himself to them wanting to set them free. We tell them that they have to turn to the Lord and make Him Lord and King of their lives. They are spellbound, thanks to the demonstration of God’s power.

We turn to girl #3 and ask her if we can pray for her too. She agrees and we start to pray. I feel a blockage, like she won’t be receiving a touch from God and the Lord starts to show me hurt and pain in her life. I can’t explain other than to say I just knew that she was sexually abused as a young child and blames herself. I start to tell her that it wasn’t her fault and that she was a victim of an attack from the enemy. I start to tell her that the enemy is out to kill her and ruin her life (John 10:10) but Jesus is here to rescue her and will set her free from the bondage of this thing. A girl on our team gets a word that she doesn’t feel safe and even her sleep is hampered with memories of this trauma. The whole time, we don’t mention the word “abuse” but we are connecting, she knows exactly what we are talking about and her friends do too. They are both exclaiming, “That is so wild, how do you guys know this stuff?” We pray for girl #3 and the Lord starts to touch her dramatically, setting her free from a lifetime of guilt, shame and condemnation. The light of His presence shines on her heart and unlocks the chains that were holding her bound to the memory of abuse.

We tell them all that the Lord loves them so much that He would send us all the way from Woodstock, Georgia to set them free and as we are talking, guess who walks up to us? That’s right, the “evil” pistol packing gang member that the angry rednecks described to us. He knows the girls that we are talking to and is coming by to see what’s up. I have a split second decision to either let him come and go, not saying anything due to fear of reprisal or preach the Gospel to him. I choose the latter. I turn around, face him and tell him, “I was told that I should be afraid of you”. He looks confused and says, “Listen, if you don’t hurt me, I won’t hurt you.” I tell him, “Earlier in the night, some guys told me that if I preached to Gospel to you, then you would shoot me, but I figure that you must really need the gospel if people are saying stuff like that. So, I am going to preach the Gospel to you”. He says, “Are you a preacher?” “Yup” I reply. To my amazement, he reaches out his hand to shake and asks for my phone number saying, “Give me your number; I need to sit down and talk with you. Will you talk to me?” “Of course” I tell him. He walks away, saying that he will call me later in the week.

As I am reeling with surprise on how that “confrontation” went, a gentleman on our team gets a word of knowledge for girl #2 and she comes to tears in a minute. We spread out, leading girl #1 to Jesus on the spot and getting girl #3 to agree to go home that night and get right with God. Girl #2 is a puddle as God shows us the secrets of her heart. She assures us that she is a believer and we tell her to get right with God. She agrees that she has been straying and all three of them dedicate themselves to the Lord.

We wrapped up a few minutes later and headed back home to Georgia, exhausted but thrilled with the proof that the Gospel of the Kingdom works WHEREVER it is preached!

Indeed, “Geography Is Irrelevant!”

Monday, October 03, 2005

Geography Is Irrelevant! - Part I

In May 2004, we invited David Hogan with Freedom Ministries to our church. David Hogan is a hero of ours as he has been on the mission field healing the sick, casting out demons and raising the dead in Mexico for over 25 years. They have over 600 churches, a whole mess of powerful believers and their ministry has seen over 300 people raised from the dead! That's some good fruit and we would do well to listen to a man like that! When he was with us, I made sure to ask him what they would do if they were in Woodstock, Georgia, instead of a third world country like Mexico. I guess I was thinking that the strategy for reaching suburban Georgia would differ for reaching the Indians in the mountains of Mexico. When I asked Hogan the question, he pointed his long finger right in my chest and said something that I won’t forget. He said, “Son, geography is irrelevant!” He was telling us that no matter where you are, what people you are working with, the gospel is the same.

Here in Woodstock, this has proved true as we have seen the same power that works in Mexico and other third world countries move here in a middle class, Laodicean-American society. The sick are healed, the lost are saved, demons are cast out and even the dead are raised! But all that is to tell you this…

Several weeks ago, our team was invited to Murphy, North Carolina to work with a group of young people that hangs out in the town square on Saturday nights. It’s a very similar setup to what we see over at Barrett Parkway and sounded interesting. So we made our plans, set a date and went there over this Saturday night. Sure enough, David Hogan was right. It doesn’t matter what the strongman’s name is, it doesn’t matter where you are or what the lost call themselves, the Gospel is the same!

After meeting our hosts and eating a great Barbeque dinner (thanks for the dinner suggestion, Rick!) we headed out to see what God would do on the streets of Murphy, North Carolina. I instructed the team to maybe take it a little easier than we do in Georgia; after all, we were just visiting, right? We broke up into two groups with half our team going one way and the other half going the other way. We were going in there to bless, encourage and uncover with the prophetic gifts but the night quickly jumped into full scale spiritual war! The first group of kids that we approached were hostile to the Gospel and a fight nearly broke up as we proclaimed to them the Kingdom of God.

Do you know what the main point of contention was? We told them that Jesus comes to give abundant life and that it was the enemy who comes to steal, kill and destroy (John 10:10). We told them that in every story, there is a villain and a hero, the Devil was the villain out to destroy and the Lord was the hero, who comes to heal and rescue from darkness. They were ready to start throwing punches when we announced to them that it wasn’t God who kills people with cancer and premature death, but the devil! I mean, how messed up is the church (these were good old Baptist boys) when you almost get beat up for saying that God is good and doesn’t destroy people with cancer? I have nothing against Baptists, but if anyone is preaching and teaching their people that Jesus is the author of sickness, disease and death, I don’t care what denomination you associate with, YOU ARE A DEVIL.

So, we called them devils, rebuked them for being lukewarm and called them to walk with God and be on fire for him. We told them that they would be better off ice cold (Revelation 3:15) and headed to hell than going to church and proclaiming God with their mouths but denying Him with their lives. They didn’t like that much and got pretty hot around the collar. Lots of yelling, cursing, threatening and red, angry faces. One of the guys looks at my shirt which says, “I Raise Dead People”, brandishes a buck knife, points it at me and says, “If you raise dead people, what if I gut you right here and you die? Will you raise yourself from the dead?” I looked at him dead in the eyes and told him, “I certainly hope my team would be able to get me up”. I then took a step towards him and said, “But you know what? I’m a big boy and it might take you awhile, so you better get started and do what you have to do because I am going to preach to you!”

Predictably, he put the knife away, got in his car and took off. That’s one of the characteristics of wicked people; they run away, even when we aren’t chasing them (Proverbs 28:1). Chickens, every one of them. But we kept preaching and the Lord even showed us a couple of things prophetically that got right to the heart of a couple of them.

One of the girls on our team got a word for one of the main talkers in the group that brought him to tears. This kid was quite the “redneck” with a thick southern drawl and he looked like he could hide his own Easter eggs, if you know what I mean. Anyway, one of our girls tells him that he is in fact very intelligent and that he has a brilliant mind that God has given him. She even told him that he hides his intelligence from his friends to fit in. When she was saying this, the kid was denying it profusely and I was thinking to myself, “Well, she might have missed this one”. But she kept persisting and after a minute or two of denying it, his demeanor changes, he speaks without a drawl, sounds very intelligent and tells us in a completely serious tone that he has a 4.3 GPA. Tears welled up in his eyes after his whole fa├žade was revealed with a word of knowledge.

Even after that, he and his friends would not bow to Jesus, so we excused ourselves and went on to another group. This group of girls WOULD respond to the goodness and kindness of God that draws them to repentance.

To Be Continued…