Saturday, March 22, 2014

18

While it has become my responsibility to write this down for the next generation so people not yet born will praise God and write it so the story can be told in Zion, so God’s praise will be sung . . . (Psalm 102: 18, 21 in The Message), I don’t believe the record should ignore the struggles nor neglect telling the bizarre, godly transmissions that appear to be too overblown to be believed.  All of this is the testimony of budding & growing revival. 

I read this morning from Mark 4 in the NRSV, “For there is nothing hidden, except to be disclosed; nor is anything secret, except to come to light” (4:22).  The NIV has a slightly different spin.  “For whatever is hidden is meant to be disclosed, and whatever is concealed is meant to be brought out into the open.”  It’s meant to come out.  Everything?  Hmmmm.

Earlier this week, I posted on Facebook a prayer request to friends and acquaintances.  I asked for a serious devotion to petition for us in the moments to come in love and faith.  April said she never felt prayers for her before but believed she felt them that night.  The next day, in a midst of some budding optimism, a close friend of ours messaged me on Facebook.  She said our family was on her heart strongly that day along with the number 18.  She had also dreamed that night that 18 people worshiped in our house.  She didn’t know what it meant, but she was praying for us. 

Its remarkable to me how many dreams and what can be construed as visions have either come to us or have been told to us that seem to address our circumstances.  You can easily see this reflected in Peter quoting Joel on the Day of Pentecost, prophesying dreams and visions.  These are the days we live in, and I’m blessed by our new reality. 

April did the research.  She found Christian sources interpreted consistently 18 in scripture, prophecies and dreams meant bondage.  That struck me negatively, at first, but April reminded me that once something is disclosed to a believer in the Spirit, they ought to believe they have authority over it.  That’s what Jesus did.  He discerned/diagnosed and cast it out.  With new found confidence, we agreed that we’ve been in bondage for too long. 

For too long we’ve felt under some form of bondage in ministry. We’ve experienced more of the power of God that has set people free in the last few years than ever before; however, we both saw short term successes in disciplining believers, and the successes proved to be short-lived or Satan came and took away the word that was sown (Mark 4).  Something always seemed to impede manifestations of the Kingdom though the word was planted. When we both had good salaries, we had money shortages. The bondage seemed to be related to years of disappointment and failures.  The woman in Luke 13 who suffered for 18 years was set free by Jesus.  We renounced and rebuked the spirit of bondage and cast it down and out.  In subsequent hours, things began to feel and appear different.

When Anna heard of Ellen’s message and the number 18, she reminded us of hearing “Romans 8:18” in worship a couple weeks ago, “I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us.”  I thought, “That’s accurate and a promise.”

Later that evening, Anna and I went out to find a resolution to her phone dilemma.  She couldn’t charge it.  Our recent experiences regarding such issues have not turned easily or positively for us.  I was prepared for just coping with the outcome.  Turns out, the phone was still under warranty and, to the surprise of our salesperson, the company was to send us a new phone via Fed Ex Next Day Air.  Coincidence?  Maybe. 

Got home, we prayed for our son after he disclosed over the phone about his battle with depression.  A few minutes later, he called April and told her the presence of the Lord with joy came over him, and he was feeling remarkably better.  He thanked us for praying amidst his giggles. 

We still feel like we’re invisible and God’s manifested purposes through our calling still feel hidden to us.  But, whatever is hidden is meant to be disclosed, and whatever is concealed is meant to be brought out into the open.  I’m all for disclosure.  We were told recently through a prophetic word that people will see us and appreciate what we carried.  Amen.

As we consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us, I trust that bondage has been broken, and we will begin to experience in and through us God’s desires for this region.

Two mornings ago as I walked for exercise, I headed home and the scripture from Matthew 16 came out of the blue and into my mind: Whatever you bind on earth is bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth is loosed in heaven” (16:18).  I then bound with my heart and words the powers that held us bound these many years, and I loosed our inheritance in Christ for his glory into our hands afresh. 


These are the days of budding revival and the faithful being encouraged to stand strong.  So, I will write, and I will trust.  Alleluia!

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Something Wrong?

April and I started asking God and each other and ourselves months ago, “Are we doing something wrong?” 

This question relates to our mutual calling of ministering in a framework of revival outside the institutional church.  The question has been asked over the past year particularly because of how difficult it has proven to be.  For me, the question has now become a statement directed to God:  if we’re doing the wrong thing, you need to stop and correct us! 

We attended recently a time of worship and teaching led by a good friend of ours.  He has spoken into our lives often and with accuracy.  We love him.  As we worshiped, he came to us, placed his hands on April and me and said, “People will see you. People will see you.”  He then said that we will be recognized for what we carry and the wisdom we have.  We've said out loud often and believed even longer we’re invisible.  To my recollection, if I said we’re invisible to him, it’s been a long time ago.  It blessed me.  I believe it was from God.  If we’re doing something wrong, I think we’d stay invisible, and we’d have little to no wisdom to share.

One Sunday morning recently, I read John 5 from the Daily Office readings for the day.  Verse 20 struck me. “’The Father loves the Son and shows him all that he himself is doing; and he (the Father) will show him (the Son) greater works than these, so that you will be astonished.”  This is the same wording found in my fav verse in John; the verse that messed me up in Scottsboro – 1:50 – “Do you believe because I told you that I saw you under the fig tree?  You will see greater things than these.’”  April reminded me that morning also of 14:12 – “’The one who believes in me will also do the works that I do and, in fact, will do greater works than these, because I am going to the Father.’”  I shared these verses with the folks that attended Safe Harbor that morning.  I told them that greater things to come is the Father’s heart and the essence of the Kingdom.  Are we doing something wrong by communicating greater things are coming?  I heard it in my spirit years ago.  Is something wrong with me?

Last week I dreamed I was riding in a flat bed trailer that was used at a construction sight.  As we rode through a city, I took a hand full of sand at a time and poured it into the street as we went.  The construction sight implied a building of something and sand is believed to mean that which is immeasurable.  The vehicle that pulled me stopped.  An orange transit bus pulled along side and stopped (I dreamed a few nights before of a new bus in a commercial or training video with an Asian driver). A bus means large ministry and orange means perseverance.  I then saw a group of junior high kids (new disciples)along side the bus and two chaperones talking to each other over the heads of the kids.  I was then in a new restaurant that April and I were making ready to open.  The kids were there, and a gift was delivered to us before I arrived.  I found the box lid.  It had a gift tag that said it was from Drew F. who I know to be a sports radio talk show host in Baltimore.  I found the actual gifts in two wrapped bundles.  The one with April’s name I took to her. It was a bundle of books.  Books are symbolic of knowledge and wisdom.  Something being built, a large ministry coming along, something immeasurable in my grasp, perseverance is called for, new believers, gifts of knowledge and wisdom coming to us, etc.  Is it wrong to attempt to interpret dreams, especially if the outcome is overly optimistic in light of current circumstances?  Am I in denial of something being wrong?

Sunday morning, in our house before worship in Safe Harbor, one of the women who attends and has been wonderfully healed and graciously blessed in the last few months told us that she’ll begin attending worship with her son at a nearby church.  April told me later that she felt rejected.  Lucy (an alias) is just the most recent to come and get significantly blessed and leave.  She recalled God told her a year ago, “I’m not calling them to you; I’m calling them to me.”  Is something wrong with folks coming and going in a ministry?  Is something wrong with what we’re doing that they don’t remain?

Our personal finances are a shambles.  We’re living, not merely under attack, but in a culture of financial difficulty.  We’ve been here for years to one degree or another.  Right now, we’re at a place we’ve never been before.  At writing this, we’ve just gotten back from the grocery store.  I’m not sure when we’ll return to buy anything unless things dramatically shift.

I stood in our worship area last night.  I spoke to God in the dark.  I told God April and I have done & declared & believe & taught & praised all we know.  I told him that he knows our hearts. 

“If we’re wrong, in the wrong direction, doing the wrong thing, then you need to tell us in a language we understand, and you need to tell us now!”  I then said, “You don’t have the luxury of waiting or acting slowly.  You can’t wait any longer.  You don’t have the luxury of taking your time.”  With that, I left the room.  Is something wrong with this?  Is something wrong with us?

I dreamed last night.  I believe what I remember is significant.  In the dream, I went from images and activities in dad’s house in Parkville to a space ship in orbit.  I remember going downstairs in the basement and playing records and going upstairs to prepare & pack to leave.  I can’t say for sure if the house was the ship, but I believe it was.  The ship’s exterior was damaged.  I went out to assist an astronaut putting a big piece of something back in place.  We were preparing to return to earth.  Time was of the essence.  It was as if we had no control of when we were leaving like the ship was in a deteriorating orbit.  There was certainly anxiety in the house along with excitement. 

The dream then shifted to live news coverage outside of an airport.  Larry King was heading the coverage and was very excited.  Some plane or ship was due to land there soon, and a huge crowd full of excitement had assembled and stood behind Larry.  Was the plane or ship us?  I guess.  An airport is symbolic of a significant transition in a person’s life.  At the end of the dream, I stood from the camera’s perspective.  I held a very beauty model airplane.  It was silver, blue and trimmed in orange (wealth, revelation & perseverance).  The plane is symbolic of world-wide ministry or influence.  The wing had come off, and I put it back and hoped it would stay.  Is something wrong with me?

There is a significant transition occurring in the Spirit these days.  Nothing’s wrong with that.  Our circumstances, particularly financial, are changing significantly day by day.  This is a sign that something’s wrong, but whatever happens may need to happen.  Regardless of who’s leaving and what we’re dreaming and wherever we find our inspiration, God wants us to trust him, particularly now. 


My business is to write what a revival looks like, in whatever season it is, and how it impacts the children of God.  Is something wrong with that?  Absolutely not.

Thursday, March 13, 2014

An Accounting of Days



In these days of seeking the Kingdom and His righteousness, it’s appropriate and honest to share the recent events and encounters that are part of these days.  If I gave only the glowing accounts of the victories and unprecedented encounters with God, I would be dishonest.  Here are some recent accounts of my experiences in an environment of budding revival.

CONFUSION
Earlier this year, I came into the den and told April I needed some understanding and comfort.  We talked together about how hard this has all become.  It had begun to feel like we were orphans.  God seemed very distant.  We believed we’d heard from the Spirit of God recently, but worship had become mundane and predictable. 

When our faith was vibrant was when worship was exciting and fun.  We’d both spent a lot of our years in ministry leadership when worship was mundane and ritual based.  God bless the faithfulness, but most of the worship environments we’d been in were not spiritual and truthful.  We longed for spaces and times of praise that were Spirit-based and open for God to meet us as we were and affect us however God chose. Our current worship setting was free and Spirit-based, but my heart was drifting regularly.  A lot of this feeling didn’t come from an accurate depiction of our worship environment.  It more accurately described my heart.

While my heart was going through ebbs and flows, April was witnessing some signs that made you wonder.  One such sign was oil that would materialize in the palms of her hands unexplainably.  It would occur during worship or sometime during the day we had or were about to worship.  She was growing encouraged, and I was slowly growing skeptical.

RANT
One day earlier this month, I went into a rant that stemmed from an account of a mission trip I’d read about that produced lives changed and overwhelmed by the goodness of God.  It was evidently wonderful, but I was painfully envious.  After several choice words and expressions of anger and frustration, I told April I quit.  If it could happen through regular church folks in a foreign set of circumstances, it could happen here, but it wasn’t happening here with any regularity (at least, regularity that didn’t suit me). 

One of the roots to these feelings was that I felt I wasn’t doing things right, faithfully, lovingly.  I was mad at myself.  I was also mad at God.  Folks went from their comfort zone into a mission circumstance and God showed up mightily.  While I ranted about how unfair this was, I let God have it, too.  I’ve been angry at God before.  I was familiar with this territory, and my heavenly Father was evidently familiar with this coming from me, as well. 

I went for a short walk.  I’ve done this before to get this out of my system.  When I arrived back home I was thinking April had every reason to be angry with me because I helped nothing by displaying my vulgar vocabulary and throwing my breakfast dish to the carpet (good thing it was carpeted).  She met me at the door.  I apologized to her.  I embarrassed myself with my rant.  She asked me how I was, told me it was alright, and that she loved me.  I leaned against the wall and cried.  She came to me and hugged me.  I knew these feelings were linked to past failures and frustrations in ministry and life, in general.  I have a bad habit of digging up old feelings related to defeats and failures.  I have an enemy that hooks me in those same spots when I’m vulnerable. 

She later asked me after some good, frank conversation, “Are these feelings of anger toward past hurts (fiery darts) a reflection of Christ in you?”  I said, “No, they’re not.”  Then I knew where they came from.  She kept telling me these feelings were not coming from me.  They weren’t part of my nature.  I began to believe that and knew I had to begin to pay attention to when these feelings would arise, recognize what was not from the nature of Christ in me, and command it to leave because it didn’t originate from me.

I hate ranting.  It used to make me feel alive.  Now, well, it’s not good for me or the people around me because it’s not grounded in love and truth and the Spirit.  Forgive me, Lord.  I repent. Have mercy on me in the name of Jesus.

DREAMS & MOMENTUM
Not long ago, April dreamed of a sickly white demon.  She stood on a porch.  The demon (she knew it was a demon) came and stood in front of her.  The two began to wrestle.  It was muscular with long arms.  She thought she couldn’t win, but she repeatedly cast it to the ground.  She also repeatedly said to it, “I adjure you!”  This meant to renounce, reject.  She thought in the dream that it was odd to use such a word, but this was a sign to her that this was a dream from God. 

In the morning, she looked up adjure to make sure she understood the meaning.  She also researched the meaning of the color white in a negative connotation.  One of the meanings of white negatively in a dream was a religious spirit.  She and I have dreamed a lot about churches, church people, church activities recently.  This dream falls in line with the others.  To no one else but ourselves, we renounce repeatedly our covenantal association with the denomination we’ve been called out from (our new calling was confirmed months ago by my brother-in-law having a vision about us).  That might be the repeated casting down of the demon and rebuking, adjuring.  Why do we continue to dream these dreams in lesser or greater degrees?  We’re not sure.

I dreamed recently April and I were on a beach that was familiar to me.  We were there with many other people. There was activity, but the big thing was the size of the waves down the shoreline from us.  The waves were growing bigger and bigger.  I was unsettled because I didn’t know what would happen to us if they came our way.  Then I heard an air raid/tornado siren.  I wondered if that had anything to do with the size of the waves.  In the wave break closest to us there were no waves, just clouds of dust as if there were a series of explosions as if at a demolition site.  I then found myself in a department store that doubled as an apartment building full of activity and church people, some I recognized but most I didn’t. 

In the past week I’ve felt a growing sense of momentum, that something was growing, and it was good.  I have a growing sense of optimism and hope that I cannot explain.  I know it’s from God, but I can’t explain it.  Anna had come home from an extended choir trip to Florida earlier this week.  I told her I felt I had some good news to tell her, but I couldn’t express it.  It was just good news.  She accepted it. 

Good news, like the waves growing in size at the seashore (a world-wide revival to come was described recently as a tsunami wave in a prophetic word declared publicly in Toronto), is coming to all of us.  What about the confusion and rants and feelings of past disappointments?  The good news of God’s growing momentum to express love to the entire world exceeds any fleshly rant or fiery dart.  Don’t focus on what is not an expression founded in our new nature in Christ.  The good that’s coming far exceeds the pitiful lies and deception of a fallen foe.  Alleluia!