Saturday, July 29, 2006

On We Go In Jesus!

The work continues as the lost are saved, the sick are healed, those with demons are set free, the poor have the Gospel preached to them and new believers are being discipled and grown up into the things of God. Just a couple weeks ago, a young man with a couple of broken ribs was instantly healed. All the pain left his body and he was able to breathe and bend normally! He was very grateful of the goodness of God on his behalf. A couple of neighbors in one of the worst places we are in are both schizophrenic and suffer greatly with anxiety and fear. We looked them both in the eye and told them that they have demons. They begged us to pray for them and when we did, both of them went from a nervous wreck to completely at peace. One of the ladies couldn’t even look me in the eye; the demonic presence was so strong in her. After prayer for deliverance she sat there and talked to me almost normally, looking me right in the eye.

It’s not always pretty and it’s definitely not polished or slick. There aren’t any programs and there isn’t a training school that can prepare you for the worst the devil can do with people. Every day in the trailer parks and low rent apartments is like an episode of Jerry Springer. Fighting, cursing, drugs, sex, sin and sickness plague the poor. It’s our job to bring in the light of God and transform once dark places into lighthouses for the gospel. It’s our job to invade the kingdom of darkness at work in the hearts, bodies, lives and homes of these poor souls. Sometimes it’s instant and a sunburst of God breaks through the darkness and depression. Other times it takes a minute. And by a minute, I mean a week, a month or a year.

We’re undoing generational garbage that has destroyed these folks for years. We’re shining light on habits and patterns of sinful behavior that has destroyed family after family. We don’t win every fight. Some people go back to their darkness. Some have the mercy and grace of God revealed to them only to turn away from the Lord. Some gain their healing, go back to their sinful lifestyle and come out the other side worse than before we met them. It’s our hope and our prayer that every one would serve Jesus with all of their heart, but that’s just not the way it is. It’s our job to love the unlovable, preach hope to the hopeless and faith to the unbelieving. Everyone loves the testimonies of when God breaks through, but few are able to hang in there when things don’t go our way. It takes perseverance and patience. It takes longsuffering and unquenchable faith. It takes a full measure of the Holy Spirit and Jesus!

We’re going through another growth spurt right now as several more believers in our church are getting stable. That is, stable enough to make a weekly commitment to the lost, hurting and dying. That commitment means that a neighborhood will be touched with the Gospel. Imagine that, one believer’s commitment to one night a week means that they can impact two neighborhoods a month! But many, many believers can’t even do that. Their lives are in turmoil and their priorities are way out of whack. They want to be a help, but they can’t. The truth is, stable, mature believers = growth and a spreading of the Gospel. Until you are stable, the lost can’t count on you. Until you are stable, you’ll just be an irregular blip on the radar of the unsaved. But when you get stable and when you get a little commitment working on your life, all of a sudden, they can count on you. When you simply do what you say you are going to do, you stand out form the crowd as one who has integrity.

So now we are in about 25 different neighborhoods now and just keep trucking along, doing what we’re doing. Our core team is being strengthened and expanding, which is good news for the kingdom of God and bad news for the kingdom of darkness. During our weekday outreaches, it’s now common to be sending out 4 or 5 teams to different neighborhoods. Each of them comes back with stories of miracles, healings, prophetic evangelism and salvation experiences. It’s so hard to catalog and keep up with all the testimonies! I have to get them to send me emails detailing what happened each night just to keep a pulse on what’s going on. I am never disappointed.

One of the things I particularly love is hearing the reports of our folks getting words of knowledge and discernment of spirits for people, revealing their hearts and leading them to Jesus. The Lord is so extravagant with prophetic revelation; even more so when we make a determination to use the gift for evangelism. Just about everyone walking out the door now is walking in some measure of the prophetic, which is awesome. Just a few years ago, we would have deified these folks and have them traveling as an itinerant minister when they demonstrated such gifts. It’s not uncommon for the Lord to reveal very specific details about a person, their physical condition, their family situation, etc. What is predictable is their response! When the secrets of a person’s heart are revealed, all they can do is bow down and surrender their lives to Jesus!

The lists of new believers continues to grow. Many of them have been baptized in bathtubs. We had a coworker of one of the new believers take issue with that. He was offended that he wasn’t baptized into a church or inside a church baptismal, as if the water is holier there or something. Believe it or not, this was a Baptist! You would think that a good old southern Baptist boy would just be happy that the lost are converted and being baptized, but religious spirits rarely see the good.

One other interesting thing is the Lord has been sending us people literally from all over the world. We have had several folks in from the UK and this week a gentleman from Australia came all the way out to spend a week with us on the streets, seeing God move. We just know that each of them will get impacted and ignited in the things of God, taking the fire back to their cities, towns and nations. Even here in the states, there have been several folks from across the country coming to visit, to partake and to witness what the Lord is doing here. We are encouraged as others, even in our own city are making quality decisions to take up their sword and engage in this fight!

What are we going for? For starters, we want to see one American city truly and honestly fall to the Gospel of the Kingdom.

We’re going to see it.

PS – It’s my birthday! For a fleeting moment, it’s all about me! Happy Birthday to me!

Saturday, July 01, 2006

“The Good Guys Don’t Hide”

That’s a line I heard from a movie some time ago that stuck with me. I actually think that it’s Biblical and we try to practice it in every situation. When we’re witnessing out in the parking lots and the police sweep in to arrest folks that are breaking the law and loitering, etc., at first we wanted to run with all of the other kids. Then it hit me, “Hey, we’re doing nothing wrong! We have no reason to hide!” I mean, after all, we’re out there witnessing to people about Jesus, leading people to the Lord and healing the sick Why should we (the good guys) run like chickens from the police? Sure, there are laws that tell people to not loiter, but we’re not loitering, we’re working for the Gospel! So I made it a policy, “Don’t run from the police”.

It’s actually come in handy a few times. It makes us stand out from the crowd. We’ll be standing there talking to people and preaching when the police will fly into the parking lot, sometimes 3-4 cop cars strong. They are there to break up groups of people, check for drugs and arrest bad people doing bad things. So when they roll in, everyone runs for their cars and tries to get the heck out of there. When we just stand there, unaffected by the police, it makes a statement. A couple of times the police have come to us (seeing that we are the only people left) to ask us what was just going down and who the bad guys are. Because we didn’t run, they assumed we were ok and not doing anything wrong. And we are!

Last weekend we saw this principle demonstrated and it made quite an impact on a group of kids who thought they were hot stuff. Friday we went down to be with a group of believers in Newnan, GA. It was a good time as we were able to preach, teach and minister Friday night and then on Saturday morning, about 30 people descended on the streets of Newnan to preach the Gospel, heal the sick and cast out devils. There were several healings as ankles, arms, backs and necks were healed instantly, on the street, in Wal-Mart and at Home Depot.

One of the places that we went was the projects. One minute in the neighborhood and you could discern that there are some rough people here doing some rough stuff. I always like to scan the area, looking for the biggest and most intimidating sinners we can find. We go to them FIRST. It’s like William Booth, the founder of the Salvation Army said, “Go for sinners and go for the Worst!” So there was a group of about 6-7 kids, dressed like gang bangers. When we drove through their cul-de-sac, they gave us the “evil eye”. They stepped off the curb, walked towards us and made motions like they were reaching for something in there belt as if to say “get out of here!”

Well to some, that would be a put off, but to me it’s an invitation! All we were doing was looking for a place to park but they were looking to rumble and intimidate. Bring it on! We park the car down the street from them and walk up the long sidewalk headed their way. You could tell right off the bat that they were surprised, as if no one looking like we did (four preppy white boys) would dare approach such mean “gangsters” like them! Whatever. I have learned something ministering on the streets and it's this, “the bigger they are, the harder they fall… to the Gospel!” So we walked right up to them and immediately started with, “Listen, we’re here to tell you that the Kingdom of God is on the earth and Jesus is King!”

They weren’t impressed.

They told us, one by one, how they believe in God and how they pray at night. So I pressed it, “Even the demons believe in God!” (James 2:19) I said. “So that won’t do. My question to you is this, Is Jesus your King and Lord? Is He your boss? Do you go where He says go and do you do what He says do? Do you live your entire life for Him?” They got the picture. We weren’t playing and this wasn’t about “come to church”. We were confronting their spiritual condition and they were getting uncomfortable. After a few minutes they stopped playing and they stopped pretending. They got honest real quick and admitted that they weren’t living right and they were doing some messed up stuff.

We implored them to repent TODAY as there is no guarantee of tomorrow and the Bible says that TODAY is the day of salvation. A couple of the guys even told us that they have been thinking of getting straightened out, but they weren’t quite ready yet, they wanted to live their own lives their way for a little while longer. What a deception! I pulled no punches and went into graphic detail of what a life like theirs can lead to. Sudden, instant death due to foolish behavior is common with these thugs. We even mentioned getting busted by the police and flushing their lives away with jail time. Totally unimpressed by the words we had to say and the message that we had to preach, we pushed in for a supernatural demonstration.

I had to press in to the Lord to get anything prophetically, but after a few minutes of standing there with little to say, it started to flow. The Lord began to show us stuff about how they were into drugs and women. We prophesied over a couple of the guys, revealing giftings and callings in them. I called one guy out as a leader and told him that I saw some young ones watching his every move. He freaked a little and obviously had some younger siblings that he was conscious of. Another guy we called out as a trail blazer and a “doer”. I told him I saw that when other guys were talking about doing something, he would just go and do it! The other guys in the group started telling us that we were right on and that we must know him or something!

We asked the usual stuff, were they or anyone in their family in need of a miracle or a healing? This usually starts a crack in the tough exterior, even with the skeptics. When they see that we are willing to demonstrate our message of the kingdom with a power demonstration (healings and miracles) they open up and give us a shot. Not so with these guys. They just wouldn’t budge, no matter how hard I preached to them on getting right TODAY, they all still held to the deception that some other day they would get right.

So, when they:

  1. Didn’t listen to the Gospel of the Kingdom
  2. Didn’t give us an opportunity to minister healing to them or their family
  3. Didn’t receive accurate prophetic words that revealed their destiny
The last thing I had in my arsenal was a proclamation. I just looked the lead guy in the eye and told him emphatically, “Since we can’t get your attention, then the Lord will have to. In the name of Jesus we're just going to pray that God do WHATEVER it takes to get your attention and help you see that we’re telling the truth.” So after that, we lingered a couple more minutes, but didn’t really have anything more to say.

Then God started to talk.


About 3-5 minutes later, three police cruisers came barreling into the cul-de-sac where we were standing! Cops jump out of the cars and scramble towards the guys we are talking to. And guess who went running? The gentle Christians? Nope. The rough, “I’ll kill you for your shoes” thugs who minutes ago were totally unimpressed with the power of God went running like the chickens and sissies that they truly are! Beneath all of the posturing and pretending were a bunch of scared little boys. It was awesome. So they were running and we just stood there. They apparently had a warrant for one of the guys we were prophesying to just minutes before. They get him to the ground, frisk him and throw him up against the house, slapping cuffs on him. A couple of the other guys disappear to their homes while a few others regroup on a nearby front porch. We go up and talk to them. They’re freaked out but I don’t stop, I’m relentless: “Where did you guys go? What are you guys afraid of? Let me ask you, is that enough of a sign for you? Does God have your attention now?”

They are paying attention. One of the guys says, “Yeah, I need to get right. I have a girlfriend that’s been trying to get me straightened out. She was right, I should get right”. I tell a couple of the other guys hiding on the porch that “The good guys don’t hide”. I told them that if they walked in righteousness like us, then they wouldn’t have to run. All of a sudden, they are all ears. We find another one of the guys literally hiding inside of his house, looking out a screen window to see what’s going on. I walk up to the house and start really PREACHING through the window.

I read him the scripture in Romans 13:3-4, “For rulers are not a terror to the good work, but to the evil. And wouldest thou have no fear of the power? do that which is good, and thou shalt have praise from the same: for he is a minister of God to thee for good. But if thou do that which is evil, be afraid; for he beareth not the sword in vain: for he is a minister of God, an avenger for wrath to him that doeth evil.”

We tell him once again that TODAY is the day of salvation, not tomorrow. I look closer through the screen and realize that I have been preaching to a whole family gathered on the sofa. Grandma was motioning me to go on and saying "Amen!".

Well, when the day was done, none of them got down on their knees and repented.
But one thing I know is this; they were confronted with the truth and will never be the same.