Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Exuding Jesus – Part II

After hitting up the health department, Josh and I headed over to the McDonald’s next door to Grady hospital to have a bite to eat and wait on a buddy of mine. Josh and I sat down at a booth and were just sitting there eating delicious McDonald’s nuggets when a lady came up to the table next to us on a walker, walking terribly slow, obviously in pain.


As we were finishing up lunch I got up and asked her why she was on a walker. She went on to tell me that her back was injured 7 years before and has been in constant, chronic pain since. Her doctor told her that she should be using a wheelchair and she declined it, knowing that “once she got in one, she would never get out.” I agreed and congratulated her for refusing the chair and opting for the walker. She told me that she was in constant pain and came into the hospital for weekly pain treatments where she would get an injection. She was at McDonald’s getting a quick bite before heading into her appointment.

I told her that the reason I asked how she was feeling was because her walker got my attention. I told her that the walker got my attention because we have a wall at the church covered in crutches, canes, casts and braces. I told her how we’ve seen God do many miracles and deliver folks from every kind of sickness and disease and asked her if I could pray for her. I had her rate her pain, which was only around a 4, but steady for the last 7 years. I also had her move around and show me her range of motion, which was almost mummy like. This poor lady could hardly move!

I prayed and released the Kingdom of God on her body while my new friend Josh stood at a distance and watched. I told him to watch her face because I knew what was going to happen. When I rebuked and commanded a spirit of infirmity to leave her body and told pain to go, it happened! The presence of God hit us both and we reeled back. She took a deep breath and I asked her, “Where did your pain go?”

Her eyes got huge and tears welled up in them as she said, “It’s… going!” She was literally feeling the pain leave her body. She said it was probably at a 2 at that moment. I prayed again, commanding the spirit of infirmity to loose its grip on her and life to enter her body and we were hot with another tangible wave of God’s presence and power. It felt good! She was beaming and I just knew the pain was gone. I asked Josh, “Are you watching this??” and he nodded, looking a little bewildered. She checked and all the pain was gone for the first time in seven years! I had her moving, bending and doing things she couldn’t do moments before. Her mobility was normal! She was still a little fearful about the pain and took it slowly, but her countenance and body language was totally different from 5 minutes before! She walked halfway out of the restaurant without her walker and told me that she still wanted to hold on to it.

I asked her why she was in such a rush and told me that she was late for her pain management appointment. I asked her what she was going to tell her doctor and she told me she was going to show him that there was no longer any pain and she could do things she hadn’t done in 7 years!


So now my buddy shows up and the three of us start pacing the sidewalks looking for folks to pray for. We ended up in a nearby park and I see a group of homeless guys standing around, listening to music. One of the guys was sitting by a wheel chair loaded down with stuff, he was a big dude with nappy dreads and obviously homeless. I walked up to him and asked him whose wheelchair it was and why weren’t they in it? He was nice enough at first, telling me that they just used it like a cart and weren’t actually disabled. I was just chatting politely with him when he asked what I was doing there. I looked him dead in the eye and made the statement I always make saying, “Jesus is King and His Kingdom is on the earth!”

The guy went absolutely insane!

All sense of civility immediately went out the door and the guy transformed in front of me. He started cursing me, calling me names and threatening to hurt me. He stood up, got a few inches from my face and was totally berating me. He said again and again how he was going to cut me and kick my *&% all over the street, etc. etc. etc. He was absolutely FOUL. I was a little surprised, the only thing I had said was that Jesus is King and then he went off. I understood that he was totally demon possessed and I really wasn’t talking with a guy any more, this was a spirit talking to me.

He was intent on my leaving and getting out of “his” area. I told the guys with me afterwards that I have this problem. When demons address me and threaten me with violence and start ordering me around, I have a VERY difficult time doing what they tell me to do. I feel that if I do what a demon is telling me to do, it wins. So I just stood there, taking the threats, taking the abuse, but not budging an inch. Actually, my heart was beating fast, but all I could do was smile. I assured him that I would leave, but not yet. This drove him crazy! He was adamant that I leave, RIGHT THEN, but I refused flatly. I don’t know how long he kept up the tirade and how long I just stood there smiling, but I was determined to not let the demon tell me what to do. After a while, he sat down and calmed down a bit, getting out of my face. I waited a minute or two and then slowly backed away.


We ended up talking to another homeless guy for awhile, praying for several physical problems and hearing an amazing testimony how God had delivered our new buddy from drugs several years before. The ENTIRE time we were talking to our new friend, the angry dude was cussing, cursing and literally spewing out threats from about 20 feet away.

“To the one we are the smell of death; to the other, the fragrance of life.” II Corinthians 2:16

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Exuding Jesus – Part I

I had a couple of wild experiences the other day that illustrated to me a familiar passage of scripture:

“But thanks be to God, who always leads us in triumphal procession in Christ and through us spreads everywhere the fragrance of the knowledge of him. For we are to God the aroma of Christ among those who are being saved and those who are perishing. To the one we are the smell of death; to the other, the fragrance of life. And who is equal to such a task? Unlike so many, we do not peddle the word of God for profit. On the contrary, in Christ we speak before God with sincerity, like men sent from God.” II Corinthians 2:14-17

I saw very clearly that to those hungry for God or searching for good, I am a fragrance, odor or aroma of life. To those under the influence and committed to the devil, I am the fragrance of death.

Let me explain:


Earlier in the week I had committed to a young man to take him down to one of my favorite places, Grady Hospital in downtown Atlanta. He needed to get a certified copy of his birth certificate from the hospital to enroll in a GED course. We went into the Department of Health office across the street from Grady, filled out the necessary paperwork and sat down, patiently awaiting our turn in the crowded waiting room. A lady in the waiting room started staring at me and the young man I was with, doing so several times and making me just a bit uncomfortable. I looked at her, wondering what was up and she asked me, “Are you a recruiter?” I said, “Recruiter?” She said, “Yeah, like an Army Recruiter or something?” I told her, “No, not really an army recruiter, but I do a bit of recruiting.” She looked at me and the young man standing next to me totally bewildered. I explained that I’m just a believer that’s trying to help some folks out.

She began quizzing me about working with young people and then began to tell me about her grandson, who apparently has been doing a bit of hell-raising. Not 2 minutes into the conversation she asked me for my phone number declaring, “My grandson needs to spend time with you, it would be good for him.” I told her she was absolutely right, it WOULD be good for him to spend time with me. She got mom on the phone and everything, setting up a time for me and the apparent hellion to have a little Jesus chat.

The young lady with her (still don’t know the connection) had two kids with her. Watching Grandma’s interaction she held out her one year old and said, “Take him, he needs it!” I was like, “You want me to take your son?!” She said, “Not permanently, but I need help, you can help!” I assured her that I could help, but that she needed to raise her own kids. She went on telling me about her 6 year old daughter, who was sitting there making evil faces at me. This little girl she assured me was “full of the devil”. Mom went on to tell me about how her little precious angel of 6 years would cuss adults out, gets kicked out of school and basically is ruining her life. I was encouraging Mom with Proverbs 22:6 and Ephesians 6:4, telling her that she needed to TRAIN them, not suggest, to DISCIPLINE, not reject them. The little girl over there was shooting me some serious stink eye and basically just manifesting the devil.

Without even asking, I put my hand on her head and spoke the word, “Peace”. She settled down instantly and I continued to pray, rebuking anger and rebellion and commanding peace and joy. She then grabbed on to my arm, TIGHTLY. I sat down next to her as she hugged on my arm and kept talking with Mom. I am not kidding, within about 1 minute, she was fast asleep! She had a death grip on my arm, but her body went completely limp and she just passed out, rhythmic breathing and all! Mom was seriously weirded out and started telling the uncle, “Look at her, she won’t let this man go and now she’s gone to sleep on him!” She started pulling her little away and I told her, “It’s ok, this is good for her!’ Mom looked at me like I had 3 heads and I continued, “Your daughter has been tormented by devils, we prayed and God set her free. Now, she’s feeling the presence of God flowing out of me and it’s bringing her peace, so let’s just let her hang out here.” Mom agreed and we kept talking.

About 15-20 minutes later, she stirred and it was time for mom to go. She gave me a big hug and walked out without a word.

To be continued…

Friday, March 12, 2010

Revival at the Prison

I’ve wanted to get into the prisons for years. It’s just so thoroughly biblical:

“Then the King shall say to those on His right hand, Come, blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. For I was hungry, and you gave me food; I was thirsty, and you gave Me drink; I was a stranger, and you took Me in; I was naked, and you clothed Me; I was sick, and you visited Me; I was in prison, and you came to Me.” Matthew 25-34-36

Looking into it, the only way I could see to get into them was to go with an established group. I got several packets of information and spoke to several different prison ministry leaders, many of which required us to sign a waiver committing to NOT praying in tongues and focusing on other “questionable” practices like praying for the sick, etc.

Needless to say, going in with them would not be an option.

Several months ago, Linda Ruby, a wonderful gospel preaching Grandma and part of our team came to me expressing a strong desire to get into the jails. We prayed and agreed that must get in there on our own and not through some restrictive program that we couldn’t agree with. We asked God for favor and to open the door. As we would learn, the chaplain in a prison is like a pastor and the prisoners in the jail are his parishioners. To come in and minister at his prison, you had to get permission from the chaplain (pastor) to share his pulpit. So after exhaustively testing every possible venue, God opened one door, with one prison chaplain.

That’s all we would need.


We scheduled the certification, got our nametags and put our first service on the schedule. Now, I’ve visited prisoners in county lockups, but had never been inside a legit prison facility. Barbed wire, guard towers and automatic weapons greeted us as we went in to check out another ministry doing services inside the prison. We wanted to see exactly what the prisoners and chaplain considered a “successful” service. We met some of the prisoners, listened to our new friend preach a fairly lackluster message and eagerly awaited our chance to preach to the men.

A couple weeks later, we went in. We were supposed to have an hour and a half, but things were running late that night, so we really only had about 45 minutes. 45 minutes to introduce ourselves, make an impression, preach the Gospel, lead people to Jesus and heal the sick. More than enough time.

I preached a very simple message of the Kingdom and its King, Jesus. The prisoners sat in rapt attention as I made a distinction between the “gospel” of salvation and the Gospel of the Kingdom and the difference between Jesus as Savior and Jesus as Lord and King of their lives. I told several stories of miracles that we had seen. I promised them that the Kingdom was here, it was now and it would work inside of their prison. I told them that geography is irrelevant to the Kingdom of God and that God was no respecter of persons, what he had done for others, he would do to them.

It was time for an altar call. I thought back to when we visited the other ministry’s service in the jail. At the end of the message, the preacher gave the standard, “Every head bowed, every eye closed.” It didn’t work too well, I’m not sure anyone came up and got saved. So I did something I like to do. I challenged the men saying, “Tonight, with every head held high and every eye wide open, I want to come down here and stand before God and tell everyone that you are making Jesus the King and Lord of your life. That you are repenting of doing life ‘your way’ and you are repenting of your sin and backslidden heart. Why? Because if you can’t come and do that, then you won’t make it anyway!”

They all but ran towards the altar. A rush of men ready to do some business with God crowded the altar. The sick came as well. We prayed a simple prayer together and committed ourselves to God lock, stock and barrel. The presence of God was overwhelming. Many swooned under the power of God and we our team began to pray for them to be filled with the Holy Ghost and healed. One of the men, a guy with permanent impairment to his vision was completely healed, as God dissolved the cloud in his eye as we prayed.

The testimony from one of the men that night was, "I have been in prison for 18 years and in this prison for 8 years and I have NEVER seen a response like the one we saw tonight. Never!"


The next morning, I wanted to call the chaplain and see if he was ok with what went on. Would the momentum started by our first service be carried on or quenched? I have seen many a move of the Holy Spirit crushed by insecure leaders, unsure of God’s power.

Here’s the message that greeted my inbox first thing that morning:


Pastor Lawson,

I thank God for your coming to the prison. We have been praying for a real Revival to take place within our prison population. I am convinced that your ministry along with some others are helping us reach our goal. I heard about the 25 men that gave their life to Christ last night. My prayers have been answered so continue to pray for our strength in the Lord and the great work here at the prison. This is the first time that we have had such a response during our time working here. I believe that Jesus is doing something special at this prison.

Thank you for being a willing vessel for the master.

God Bless You and Your Ministry.

Chaplain *Name Withheld*


That’ll do. Come on Jesus!