Friday, April 28, 2006

A Baptism Of Fire – Part II

Next thing I know, I am standing between the two groups, telling them to back down and not fight. I don’t know what happened, my feet just walked me over there before my brain knew what was really going on. So I find myself standing between the two sides of guys ready to rumble and I am telling the ringleaders to back down, that there will be no fighting tonight. One of the guys, through his obscene threats and cursing stops to tell me to, “Get the @#$% out of here!” I tell him that he doesn’t need to fight, but instead needs to get born again. This spawns a classic line that I will not soon forget. He said to me, “Listen @#$%^&, everyone here is born again, but if you don’t #$%^ move, then I’m going to kill you!”


This sends me into Gospel preaching overdrive. I start preaching to either side of the group, rebuking them for their anger and violence. I start telling them that Jesus is King and His Kingdom is a Kingdom of righteousness, peace and joy, all things that they are sorely lacking. For whatever reason, a couple more guys come up to me and threaten to hurt me. One of them has a pit bull on a leash and lets it at me a bit, telling me what he’s going to command it to do to my private parts (hint: it wasn’t very nice). So two sides are screaming and cursing and I’m preaching and getting threatened with violence! (Sigh) I love this parking lot… Well, the two sides eventually disperse and back down without a punch being thrown. We win! Right?

Well, not really.

Just a few minutes later there is a motorcycle accident. Some guy was ripping through the parking lot when a kid steps out in front of him. The guy on the bike swerves to avoid the pedestrian and the bike hits a truck and spins out on the ground, messing up the truck and the bike’s paintjob. The owner of the bike (the brother of the guy that we were prophesying to) wasn't the one riding the bike and runs down the parking lot to see what happened. When he gets there, the kid who stepped out and caused the accident is very repentant, saying he’s sorry, etc. Just when you think it will resolve without a mess, the same loudmouth from the “almost” fight a few minutes before (the guy who gave me the classic line) starts talking…and talking…and talking. He’s talking smack, defending his friend who stepped out in front of the bike. Next thing you know there are raised voices and the bike owner and his brother (that we were prophesying to minutes before) are getting into it with loudmouth.

Loudmouth starts to walk away, which is too little, too late and big bad brother jumps him, sending him to the ground with a couple punches from behind. He then proceeds to stomp his face (this is where it gets bad) and his neck! I see the foot come down on loudmouth’s neck, followed by a loud “CRACK!”. Loudmouth goes catatonic and is unconscious. Big bad brother who did the whooping’ runs like crazy when he sees that he has really hurt the guy. Loudmouth starts going into a seizure, his eyes roll back into his head and he starts violently convulsing. A couple guys out in the parking lot are EMT’s and volunteer firefighters so they come running over and are working on loudmouth. It’s not good. He’s basically unconscious and unresponsive, choking on his tongue while he’s having a seizure. I run right over to him and start praying…LOUDLY. People are getting on their phones calling 911 and the EMT guys are working on him. I command him to come back and use the opportunity to preach to several people close by, telling them that they never know what could happen, that they need to serve Jesus and stop being crazy!

His eyes roll back and he is able to talk. The EMT’s are asking him to squeeze their hands, which he cannot do. Several folks from our teams gather around the guy and they start praying. The police arrive, send everyone on their way and the paramedics arrive soon thereafter. Our group quickly gathers, gets into the vehicles we arrived in and head back to the church. When we get to the church, I tell everyone what happened and we pray for the kid who got stomped. We still don’t know what happened to him, but we believe that he was healed and will walk again. We'll find out soon enough...

But don’t forget, many people in our group are with us for their first outreach of any kind, much less a bloodbath in a parking lot. A couple of folks were physically ill with fear and intimidation, but quickly overcame to preach, pray and prophesy over the lost. Way to go! All in all, I think it was more exciting to be out there than it was to stay home and watch a rerun of Law & Order… Right?

On Sunday after church we gathered to head out for our last outreach of the weekend. Eight teams descended on nearby Woodstock neighborhoods to preach the Gospel and heal the sick. They came back with report after report of healings, miracles and salvations. A group of Hispanic men gave their lives to the Lord as one of the guys on the team persisted with prophetic words, even after they told him he was off. The encounter culminated with a group of them giving their lives to Jesus, so I think that he was right on! We received another report of a lady with a heart condition that had received prayer a few weeks earlier. She greeted the team with a great hug, telling them how God had healed her heart and how she no longer needed the pacemaker the doctors had given her.

After all the teams had returned, we shared stories of things that God had done that weekend and encouraged each other to make this “Kingdom” stuff part of our daily lifestyle.

Jesus is King!

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

A Baptism Of Fire – Part I

What do twelve year olds, grandmas in their 60’s and working fathers all have in common? Well, for one thing, they all can heal the sick, perform miracles and lead people to Jesus! At least 17 people met the Lord, dozens of healings and miracles occurred on the streets and the Gospel went forth with power this weekend as we hosted our first “Boot Camp” style conference where participants not only heard the Word, but did the Word! There were some bugs and it was a bit complicated mobilizing 40+ people in teams to hit the streets, but all in all, the fruit was good. It was awesome to see so many Christians mobilized to get out there and “do the stuff”.

We had a very eclectic group including folks from our church, folks coming from several states and even one from overseas. You could tell from the first minute that everyone was hungry and teachable. Most had either been drawn in by the stories and the miracles they heard were happening here so they didn’t need convincing that there was more to their Christian walk than simply attending a weekly meeting. We preached to them, we ministered freedom from fear and a qualifying spirit and then sent them out to obey Matthew 10:7-8 on Saturday morning.

Four teams went out to four different places. All four teams saw tremendous displays of God’s power. One of the teams went to a local mall where casts, canes, crutches and wheelchairs were all invitations to “engage” the work of the enemy. Well, engage they did. There were a BUNCH of miracles that took place in the mall as people with chronic pain from injuries and diseases in just about every area of the body were healed instantly. Necks, arms, legs, hips and backs were healed, just to name a few. All in all, it was a great “baptism” of sorts for the folks new to getting out there and seeing God move in the marketplace.

Another team went to Grady Hospital, our local pool of Bethesda. Going to Grady gives you an almost 100% chance to see God save souls and heal the sick. It happens every time. This time they weren’t disappointed as God healed many people of sicknesses, chronic pain and disease, people met the Lord and were filled with the Holy Ghost. One guy, after receiving healing for asthma immediately wanted to minister healing himself! So the team took him with them and he ministered alongside, “doing the stuff”. A perfect manifestation of when Jesus said, “Freely you have received, now freely give.” (Mat.10:8)


After preaching and ministering Kingdom stuff Saturday night, we gave folks the option of coming with us to a very HOT spot for ministering to teenagers, or take it easy and minister to their waitress at a local restaurant. To my surprise, the vast majority of people decided to come out with us to the parking lot. We hadn’t been there for a couple months, mainly because the heat from the police had been so strong, ruining each outreach. But this week, we decided to go. Ten minutes after arriving, I was asking myself, “Now, why did you come here?”

It was INTENSE. There were a couple hundred kids out and they weren’t exactly in a good mood. There was drinking going on, cars and motorcycles peeling out up and down the parking lot and lots of anger in the air. There were over 35 of us, broken up into groups of three and four. We split up and headed into the fray. Several groups were treated with hostility and sent away, other groups got some breakthrough. One of the groups got some words of knowledge for this girl that really opened her up to the Gospel. She was told that she needed to repent and make Jesus King and Lord of her life and she readily agreed. Now here’s a sight I love to see. In the parking lot, in front of all her friends, she gets down on her knees and gives her life to Jesus! Our rule is to not make it easy and make sure they are serious before committing their lives to the Lord.

The group I was with had a word of knowledge for a guy that was too old to be out with all the kids. He was drinking and just chilling out when we came up to him with destiny words about his gifts, callings and life. He listened, but didn’t really receive… Little did we know that before the night was out, he would be involved in a crime. While we were talking to him, I suddenly became aware of a “situation” brewing just a few feet away. Two different groups of guys were facing each other, both with a loud mouthed “spokesman” threatening each other. Not sure what it was all about but all I knew was that things were about to boil over any minute.

To Be Continued…

Sunday, April 16, 2006

Response to “An Open Letter to My Enemies”

We’re gearing up here for our first “Boot Camp” style conference later this week, where half of the scheduled meetings will in fact be outreaches into the community. We have a very interesting and eclectic group pre-registered, ranging from people who attend our church to a guy from England and some folks literally from all over the nation. I think that the people who will be coming are hungry for MORE in their Christian walk. I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that they won’t be disappointed. It seems that every time we even think of reaching out to the lost and dying, the Lord comes rushing in with awesome displays of His power and glory. Bottom line, I’m excited that more will be equipped, trained and released into the harvest fields.

Look out devil, here we come.

I did want to make a follow up response to the “Open Letter to My Enemies” post I made a couple of weeks ago. Immediately after sending that letter out I received a flood of emails from people who were surprised, shocked, flabbergasted, but generally supportive. The responses ranged from, “Really! People have said those things to you?” to, “What can I do? I feel so sorry for you!” I really appreciate the responses as they were very encouraging and only a few people took themselves off the list after I sent that. But the letter was so, how shall I say it, “aggressive” that I feel a response is warranted.

Many folks questioned if I have really heard those things spoken to me about myself and my family and the answer is: Absolutely. I have heard every one of those things said to my face and all by professing “Christians”. This blog is not a work of fiction, but real life stories of what we are seeing and experiencing on a daily basis as we attempt to get out there and advance the Kingdom of God. I purposefully attempt to understate and conservatively estimate all figures, reactions and responses for the sake of integrity.

Also, many asked me what event provoked me to write such a letter and the answer is simple. There really was no single event that “pushed me over the edge” but rather the daily pursuit of the Kingdom and the almost daily reports of gossip, slander and backbiting that result. In fact, I had for weeks been sitting on the contents of that letter and a good fight over my daughter’s health brought it out of the closet. But honestly, I am immune to “white witchcraft” and “Christian curses” at this point. It’s with pity that I look on people whose only joy in life is to tear others down, not with fear.

There were quite a few folks that were really stirred by what I said and when emailing me simply said, “What can I do?” Here is what I would say to that question:

Get in the game and get in the fight. Pick up your sword and start hacking away at the kingdom of darkness. Don’t make excuses for a lack of power and glory, just press in to God. Don’t argue or perfect your theology, prove and demonstrate your theology. Stop complaining about the church and be the church. Simplify your life. Cut out the excess and the things that have no eternal value. Get about God’s business and lay down your agendas. Get off your seats and get into the streets. It’s not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. There are multitudes of lost and dying ones who need what you have! Lay your hands on the sick and believe for their healing. Kill cancer and wipe out Aids. Stop tolerating devils and cast them out! Take responsibility for your neighborhood, friends and family. Stop waiting on a Sovereign move of God and go start one! Lead people to Jesus and get over your fear. Talk to strangers; tell them your testimony and what God has done for you. Bring light to where it’s needed and don’t keep it under a cover. Be the salt and be the light. Get out there and “do the stuff!”


Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Murder, Interrupted

This week, we enjoyed watching God orchestrate a miraculous intervention that totally transformed the lives of two people. Two people, rushing headlong into hell were sideswiped by the Holy Spirit and we got to be a part of it. It was absolutely mind-blowing to watch the Lord flex His “Sovereign” muscle. And again, to drive home a point that I make here quite regularly, it wasn’t an accident and it didn’t happen by chance. We were in the right place at the right time and we were there on purpose. It’s like God is waiting on us to position ourselves to be used by Him. So many Christians have this idea that we’re waiting on God, but I’m telling you, He’s the one twiddling His thumbs waiting for us to get into position. Once we are in that right place at that Kairos moment, God intervenes and gives us a show that they couldn’t even dream up in the movies.

It started with a team going to a place near downtown Atlanta that is famous for being a crack and prostitution capital. Every other person on the street is either a crackhead, crackhoe or crack dealer. It’s fast becoming one of my favorite places in the world to be. Anyway, a couple in our church works down that way and they have been going down once a month to grill some food and bless the homeless and poor. The food is like a mousetrap that draws them in and once they’re in, we get to give them the Gospel, both barrels. Last time we were there a BUNCH of healings and salvations took place, so we were very excited to get out there again.

Almost as soon as we got out there it was obvious that this time would not be like other times. For one thing, the crowds were much smaller with only a straggler here and there instead of being bum rushed by a mob. Also, the other times, the main focus is the food with the Gospel being secondary. Not so this time. Some people walked up, received prayer, gave their life to the Lord and walked away without food! How weird. There was a peculiar anointing to lead people to Jesus and an unusual spirit of conviction too. Several times that day, in the first two minutes of conversation I had people confessing their sins to me, only to give their lives to Jesus and be filled with the Holy Spirit immediately after. They weren’t just ripe; they were falling off the tree, right into our lap!

As we’re sitting there, waiting for folks to show, a middle aged guy in work clothes walks up asking for food. We get talking with him and I simply tell him that Jesus is King and His Kingdom is on the earth. I then ask him if Jesus is the King and Lord of his life. He tells me honestly that the answer is no. He relates to us how he just got out of jail about 2 months ago and has been in there since he was sixteen! Just released from prison after being in there over 24 years! Anyway, his mother died and that’s why he was in Atlanta. After his mother died, he has been contemplating eternity and spoke with a pastor at a Christian bookstore about his eternal destiny. To the pastor’s credit, he had answered many of this guy’s questions, but had failed to get the guy to bow the knee and “give it up” to Jesus.

We were STRONGLY encouraging him to give his life to Jesus and he told us that he would get saved “tomorrow”. I asked him, “Why tomorrow?” and he told us that he had something to “Take care of” before he gave his life to the Lord. After digging a little more, he broke it down for us. He and another guy were on a job together and the other guy had stolen a bunch of paint from the boss, only to point the finger at our guy. Needless to say, our guy was ticked and that thing he had to “take care of” was the guy who lied to his boss about him. To “take care of” meant a little more than a simple conversation too. I mean, someone who has been in jail 24 years since they were sixteen is not messing around.

Some others on the team took our guy aside and were encouraging him to give his life to Jesus. As they were talking to him, I saw another guy come walking up to the food line. As he walked up, I saw a vision for him, so I walked right up to him and shared the vision I had for him. He instantly broke down and started confessing that he was addicted to crack and asked for prayer. I gave him the gospel and he quickly accepted the message, repenting of his sin and asking forgiveness from Jesus. It was quick, but it was a meaningful and powerful salvation experience. The presence of God overshadowed the guy and he was feeling the power of God rip through his body. Way cool.

What I didn’t know is that as I was talking with the now ex-crack head guy, our buddy who wanted to get saved “tomorrow” started to tremble with rage. When the guys ministering to him asked him what was going on, he told them, “remember the guy that I was going to “take care of” today?... That’s him!” pointing at the crackhead guy. As it turns out, the crackhead was the person that the “tomorrow” guy had been looking all over for so he could mess him up. Our guys pretty much had to restrain him from doing anything and just kept talking to him about the mercy of God.

The now ex-crackhead got a plate of chicken and sat down just a few feet away from the guy who wanted to get saved “tomorrow”. Tomorrow man waked over to me and was telling me the whole story of how it’s a miracle that he hadn’t done anything to the other guy already. I told him the story that Jesus told about the man who owed the King $100,000 and was forgiven the debt. Then, the man whose $100,000 debt was forgiven went out and strangled a man who owed him $10, throwing him in jail until he paid every penny. When the King heard about this, he had the man whom he had shown mercy brought before him and questioned him as to why he hadn’t shown mercy to his fellow man. As I told “tomorrow” man this, he got the story right away. Who was he to not forgive his fellow man of a minor offense when the Lord was willing to forgive him of his major offenses? He broke and decided to give his life to Jesus right then and there.

After a few minutes, he finished his plate of food, had a drink and said that he was ready. We led him to the Lord and he repented of his sins. He asked God to forgive Him and received the blood of Jesus. We prayed for the Holy Ghost to fill him and he got seriously touched by God. But that’s not even the best part. As we’re getting ready to leave, he pulled me aside and told me, “You know, when I said that I was going to mess the crackhead guy up, I meant a little more than just beat him up”. “What do you mean?” I asked. He then told me with an icy look, “I was going to kill him. Today. That man was going to die today and it was a miracle that you guys were here. If you guys weren’t here, he would have died and I would be going to jail for the rest of my life.”