Saturday, May 13, 2017

Days of Elijah by Surprise

Our daughter, Anna, attended a church in Auburn, AL in February where she received what was believed to be a prophetic word from a guest preacher.  In his word to her, he said she and the family could expect this spring to be full of supernatural surprises.

Thursday was full of moments of discouragement.  There was also a moment in conversation with April when I told her I had to commit to believe the Lord's words and promises all over again that day.

There are days when I resign myself to the discouragement and just look for things to distract me from thinking about our circumstances.  Nowadays, perhaps in light of the fact God has not been silent since the first of the year, I've determined it is my responsibility to declare to myself, heaven and earth and my partner in life that God remains faithful and will do in us and through us what God's promised.  Alleluia.

Worked last evening, amidst the cucumbers and the cardboard and markdowns covered by fruit flies, I encountered the discouragement once again.  It was as if a personality all its own came beside me to tell me all was lost.  A flag began waving to worn me of the spiritual intruder confronting my spirit and all I believed to be true. 

I rose up within myself, spoke of what God has promised us, believing as if I picked up a weapon of my choosing, clothed myself with joy (its my strength) and took to the fight.  The melee was short and sweet.  I told myself I was choosing joy and belief.  God was our good Father who had not forgotten us.  We are anointed, commissioned, comforted and at peace.  Alleluia.  The attack was over.

When I got into my car and headed home, I simply turned on the radio looking for something to entertain or inform.  At the top of the hour on The Moody Radio Network, I found the opening sounds of a song I recognized with my heart.  It was a song from the CD, Revival In Belfast, by Robin Mark (1999). 


Back in the 90s, I took my first leave of absence from pastoral ministry.  I was fairly certain I wasn't returning to formal ministry.  After my mother passed away in '97, I knew I had to withdraw from the demands of ministry to mourn completely and to reassess my needs and values in life.  In this process, I joined a prayer group at the church where April was on staff.  We'd meet on Sunday evenings, listen to praise music and then pray together.  It was in this setting I first heard Revival In Belfast.  I've said in several settings to different people this CD had a role in saving my life in those days. 

As I listened afresh to Days of Elijah, I stopped singing along and just listened to the lyrics.  What dawned on me was so many of the images and scriptural references are either part of the original vision for us, allude to encounters we've had with God over the years or echo scriptures brought to us by Holy Spirit since January. 

These are the days of Elijah  . . .
(Right off the bat, these are the days unequalled.)


These are the days of great trials
Of famine and darkness and sword
Still we are the voice in the desert crying
Prepare ye the way of the Lord!

(I was moved weeks ago by Isaiah 40 and Luke 3 where this preparation is described.  God has not been silent.)

Behold He comes, riding on the clouds
Shining like the sun at the trumpet's call

(This sounds so much like imagery from Revelation which April has been studying for weeks.)

Lift your voice, year of Jubilee
Out of Zion's hill, salvation comes


And these are the days of Ezekiel
The dry bones becoming flesh

(Back in Albertville, God came to me in a dream about the book of Ezekiel. I think about this often.)

And these are the days of Your servant, David
Rebuilding a temple of praise

(This captures the vision of our farm - a thin place where heaven meets earth, and God encounters people in worship.)

And these are the days of the harvest
The fields are all white in Your world
And we are the laborers that are in Your vineyard
Declaring the Word of the Lord

(The days of harvest have come.  Its always been our passion to declare the word of the Lord.)

This song came to me as a pleasant surprise, a gift, actually.  Grace is even more accurate.  This and so much of this CD brought healing to me when I needed it. Some of the other songs, Garments of Praise, Shout to the North, Revival, Jesus, All for Jesus, greatly contributed.  It was foundational in raising my passion again for God and his kingdom.  I returned to pastoral ministry in 2001.  The next year or so I had an encounter with God awakening me to a prophetic gifting. 

Spring is suppose to be a time for supernatural surprises for this family.  This was a surprise, a subtle, simple surprise on a night I fought the simple fight of confronting an attack by the enemy and affirming the goodness of our Papa God still at work in our lives. 

These days are rich with potential.  Even now, we see the Lord working our way and our walk as we affirm his promises in us and for us. 

I've been inspired for years to give testimony of what God has said, has done and is doing.  This is a plain depiction of what our God gave to me as an unmistakable token of grace to his son.  These days are unique and not through yet.

Behold He comes, riding on the clouds
Shining like the sun at the trumpet's call
Lift your voice, year of Jubilee
Out of Zion's hill, salvation comes

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

God Engages the Church

Lying in bed, Sunday morning, I signed on to Facebook and watched the opening portion of a video blog post from Frank Schaeffer.  He's the son of Francis Schaeffer, the Calvinist theologian who wrote prolifically about the influence of secular humanism in America and influenced the founders of the Religious Right in America.  Frank parted from his parents' beliefs and ideas years ago and is an outspoken opponent of the same conservative movement his father influenced.

In the post, he referred to his father and some of the people he influenced.  That led me to look for videos of Francis.  I found an interview conducted by Pat Robertson on the 700 Club in 1982 with Dr. Schaeffer.  I remember watching it in real time in '82 and being fascinated.

I watched several minutes of the interview again.  What caught me Sunday morning was what caught me in '82 on a different level.  He said he wanted to get Christians out of their pews to engage the culture

He wrote and spoke in his lifetime about how America's Christian culture has been circumvented by a humanistic worldview that relativized morality and spirituality and left this country without a devotion to God and any divine influence in politics, art, entertainment, education, etc.  He wanted the American church to arise and confront what he understood to be the organized opposition to Christian influences in this country. 

Engage the culture.  What's interesting to me is he spoke and wrote of the need to confront the known opponents (Planned Parenthood, ACLU, Hollywood, colleges & universities, etc.) by first confronting and engaging the church.  He found fertile ground in conservative, Reformed congregations, denominations and televangelistic ministries.  Conservatives, particularly evangelicals, awoke by virtue of Dr. Schaeffer's books and lectures and those of others from their post-Scopes Trial hibernation to vote and lobby for conservative Christian based standards throughout the culture.  Jerry Falwell, Francis Schaeffer and the aforementioned Pat Robertson were their spiritual influences, and Ronald Reagan was their political champion.

Engage the church.  As ordained clergy for over 20 years, I endeavored to engage the church into ministry outside the confines of a sanctuary.  There were some episodes of success, but the insistence on my part and my wife's part (who was also an ordained clergyperson) for the church to reach out was difficult because our biblical standards and worldview were not always shared by many in the church.  Again, there were the occasional successes, but most congregations were much more interested in having pastoral leadership that defended their beloved churches from radical changes to their racial homogeneity and class orientation. 

I'm still oriented to engage the culture by first engaging the church (its my family), but what happened Sunday in worship captures where I am and what I value in my relationship with Christ and his church.  My experience leapfrogs over any engagement I might have with culture or church that has any reformist or political connection. Sunday, we encountered God.

In a small congregation in Anniston, AL, April and I have attended worship on Sundays for three months.  Its our new worship family.  We've grown comfortable with the pastors and the environment of love for God and love for neighbors. 

Sunday's worship environment was relaxed and peaceful from our place in the sanctuary.  As worship in song began, an energy filled the room.  By the time the congregation joined in singing John Mark & Sarah McMillan's, King of My Heart, the energy became a wave of the presence of God (I know what that feels like) that buoyed hearts and spirits in the room.  I interpreted what followed was that the wave of the Lord's presence raised the tide of worship and hope.  What it did in me was prompt me to intercede in prayer for everyone in the room.  The air was pregnant with the compassion of God.  Again, this was familiar to me,  I recognized it.

The musicians, two guitarists and a vocalist, moved into spontaneous playing and vocals.  The praise became more demonstrative and overt.   Heather then moved into words of knowledge.  She said, in this environment, miracles happen.  She pronounced conditions and issues that were being healed and restored.  With the rising tide of worship, there was growing faith.  When the music portion of worship ended, our lead pastor, Royal, said we've witnessed, "heaven kissing earth."  Amen.

We witnessed our heavenly Father engaging the church like a passion-filled encounter with your spouse that leaves you breathless, believing all things in your relationship are now possible.  What could be the results of such encounters for a congregation?  God in Christ through Holy Spirit imparts grace upon grace and peace that passes all understanding.  Our Papa God captures us in his grasp, and we curl up in his lap and know we're safe.  We grow more and more comfortable with whose we are and who we are, our Father's cherished children.  We're assured again he forgives all our sins and heals all our diseases.  We're baptized in God's embrace as he breathes on us his Spirit.  We then discover our gifts from the hand of God which empowers our lives and our witness of what we've discovered from such regular encounters.  God engages the church.

With a refreshed spirit and a rejuvenated relationship with our God who is love and is faithful, we can't help but engage the culture.  This occurs through communicating in word and deed the power of grace and divine mercy in Christ through testimonies of what God has done and is doing.  Deeds of compassion to the hurting, lost and suffering begin to be on display out of the simple reality that we know we're loved, and we know for certain the one before us, stranger or friend,  is also loved in the same way by the same great, eternal God.  We can't help ourselves.  We now engage the culture through love and truth.

Are there political ramifications or the necessity to gather like-minded people together to strategize how to engage the culture to bring about necessary change?  In light of grace-filled, glory-filled encounters with a holy God who loves unquestionably everyone and who loves to display his Fatherly goodness when and where praise is offered freely by his children, the only strategy is to love like Jesus loves, and trust his empowerment given to his church in the power of His name, the power of His blood and the power of Holy Spirit inside and outside the church property.

This power doesn't justify anything the privileged does under the mantle of the church.  This power goes on display through the humble and the lover and the servant.  It is a certainty a single believer or a gathered body of believers will engage the culture through love and truth when this same person or group has regularly surrendered in faith to their loving Father and grown to know him as he is.

In love with his children, our Father engages us when we seek him.  When we find him and encounter his heart, we are urged by his Spirit to engage the culture, share his love and believe the results will change everything.

Saturday, April 29, 2017

The Lord Hasn't Been Silent

Sometimes peace and comfort for my soul only comes to me when I write.  For some, this may be true when they play their musical instrument or draw or paint or exercise or eat a cheese burger.

I was told to write years ago by, who Bob Dylan called in his 60 Minute interview years ago, the Chief Commander.  When I write, I feel his pleasure.  The problem arises when I believe I have little to nothing to share, but something stirs within me to write, regardless.

This is one of the reasons I live and breathe, to give testimony to what God is doing so that many generations now and in the future will join in worshiping the Lord (Psalm 102: 18-22, The Message).   

To this point in writing and posting, I thought I'd be recording significant acts and events attributed only to God.  I thought I'd be documenting miracles and manifestations of glory and power from heaven to earth.  In actuality, I've recorded mostly what I've dreamed or heard in my spirit or what my loved ones have encountered in the Spirit. This isn't disappointing.  Its curious.  

Again, I find myself motivated to write what I saw in a recent dream.  I believe it was the Lord giving me a pearl of wisdom to direct my faith and passion.  

For the last six or so months, I've prayed two verses regularly.

Do not be silent, O God of my praise. - Psalm 109: 1

And

O God, do not keep silence; do not hold your peace or be still, O God! - Psalm 83: 1

Well, the Lord hasn't been silent.  My prayers have evidently linked with what the Spirit wanted to do, to speak.  My prayers have led me to be more attentive to what the Lord has wanted to say, or has been saying already.  Perhaps, I've paid more attention.

In the aforementioned dream, I simply saw a scripture reference, Isaiah 40.  The Old Testament chapter is attached to John the Baptist's ministry.  He proclaimed a baptism of repentance and Luke associated some familiar verses with John's message:

      He went into all the region around the Jordan, proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the    forgiveness of sins, as it is written in the book of the words of the prophet Isaiah,“The voice of one  crying out in the wilderness:‘Prepare the way of the Lord, make his paths straight'". - Luke 3: 3, 4

I've read and meditated on this chapter repeatedly.  I've come to the conclusion this chapter was given to me, to us as a fresh word to focus our attention.  This chapter is a signal that things have changed for us.  I want to share what I believe the Lord is telling me about these days.  Again, I'm giving testimony of what the Lord is doing.  He's speaking, and I'm doing my best to listen.

With the text of Isaiah 40 as the blueprint, I believe I'm told, first, comfort is due us.  Second, we've endured double in our waiting (verse 2). This echoes the double portion promised in Zechariah 9 spoken to April on Christmas morning.

Recently, in a prophetic word, we were told to get ready.  Verse 3 speaks of a voice saying for the hearers to prepare the way of the Lord.  For us, I believe, this says the same thing.  Get ready. Prepare the way.  I simply trust this calls us to believe steadfastly, believe he is about to act decisively for us and through us as he's promised.

Every valley filled and every mountain made low, all made level like a plateau, like Sand Mountain (a true plateau).  Perhaps we now can say the roller coaster times, highs and lows, are ending.  

We're to look for opportunities to be bold to announce his appearing, "Here is the Lord! (verse 9)" Our Lord is coming with might carrying his reward and gathering his loved ones to himself.

In the verses that follow, the prophet asks the hearers to consider what the Lord truly is, what the Lord can do, and do we compare anything or anyone with the Lord?  This caught me because when my faith has waned, I'd ask myself if God could or would do what he's promised.  Really, in moments of shallow faith, did I really know the Lord?

In between these questions, the nations are referred to as nothing, a drop in the bucket (vss. 15-17); idols for the rich and the poor abound (vss. 19-20); princes are nothing but dust (vss. 23-24).

These verses describe for me what is and may yet go on in these days.  The nations seem to be in tumult, but we're reminded they are nothing in these days (not necessarily a target of our focus). The rich can purchase what they want (even idols), but the poor must make do (even with the idols they can afford).  Finally, princes in these days come and go simply because of how the wind blows (Gov. Bentley comes and goes, Presidents come and may go as easily, UM bishops believe they're secure by virtue of their consecration or maybe not).

We've said for years it appears we've been hidden.  As if we've said, “My way is hidden from the Lord,  and my right is disregarded by my God” (verse 27).  The Lord says through the prophet the Lord is everlasting and does not grow weary but gives strength.  Then we who've waited for the Lord shall experience renewed strength.  Like the word I received from a friend years ago, we shall mount up on wings like eagles.  We'll run and not be weary, walk and not faint.

The Lord has not been silent.  This chapter from scripture was given to me, I believe, to direct our faith to what is at hand for us and through us in these days.  I haven't been able to document the miraculous, but I've compiled a record of words and accounts of spiritual encounters both awake and asleep.  


The Lord has not been silent in our lives.  How has the Lord been speaking to you these days?

Saturday, April 15, 2017

Prepare Your Minds for Action

I awoke Friday after dreaming.  I was in a house of happy, playful people in the dream.  The environment itself was sloppy and chaotic.  I had some form of authority there, but I can't recall the degree.  As the dream progressed, I knew I had plans on leaving and going oversees, but I didn't want to tell anyone. I was just about to leave their company, the dream began to fade to black, and I heard a voice say, "You're called to do this."

The epistle lesson in the Daily Office in the Book of Common Prayer on Good Friday was from 1 Peter 1.  Verse 13 struck me.

Therefore prepare your minds for action; discipline yourselves; set all your hope on the grace that Jesus Christ will bring you when he is revealed.

The preparation and discipline for coming action I like a lot.  With a comforting sense of hope today on me, I can easily focus and trust in the grace from Christ coming to us in revelation.  Alleluia.  I am truly encouraged!

Is it merely because of my dream?  Is it by virtue of scripture confidently received and digested into my spirit?  Yes to all the above!  God has spoken to me in language I understand and value.  First, my dream life is an avenue of the Spirit's communication to me I've learned to appreciate. 

Verse 13 comes from an author who followed Jesus and is quoted in the Good Friday morning's gospel lesson conveying self assurance that he'd never leave Jesus, but its Jesus who tells him in the next moment he'd be the one to deny Jesus three times that evening.

Secondly, the language of irony to bring a point to light has always been a means of communication I've valued.  The Lord is speaking to me these days.

April and I are becoming more aware the Lord wants us to grow more comfortable with who we are as a couple and as individuals with callings on our own lives. We're preparing our minds for action.  As I've written recently, I believe the Lord has spoken to us who we are and not to forget. Again, the words of Peter, Therefore prepare your minds for action; discipline yourselves; set all your hope on the grace that Jesus Christ will bring you when he is revealed.

Though traditional, liturgical Christianity calls believers to temper down the celebratory nature of Easter the days before in Holy Week and recall the suffering and abandoned Christ on the cross for the sins of the world, I remember our Christ died on the cross once for all.  I was struck with two videos and a song on Friday that spoke to my spirit and mind.  These artistic expressions I embraced passionately and reminded me who I am and whose I am.  My mind is being prepared for action.

The first was a song that played on my shuffled playlist of 12 hours of music on my iPod.  It played twice in ten minutes.  I'm inclined to believe the repetition of this song was the Spirit's language to me.  God often speaks to me in music.

The song, Jesus, We Love You, from Bethel Music on the album, We Will Not Be Shaken, is a simple contemporary worship song.  It encouraged me to openly praise my savior I love by name, Jesus.  It also came to me that morning as I felt the fresh wind of hope in my life.  For this alone, I was moved. 

I heard it once, then I heard it again.  This time the verses spoke to me.

Things that we thought were dead, are breathing in life again.
You cause your Son to shine on darkest nights.
For all that you’ve done we will pour out our love,
This will be our anthem song.
Jesus we love you,
Oh how we love you,
You are the one our hearts adore.

One could think and believe things are dead, but Jesus breaths life into us and shines despite our darkness.  We pour out our love in song and speech.  Jesus, we love you.  In experiencing his grace first, I respond in love.  This is who the Lord is to me, and this is who I am, a child of God who loves his savior.  This prepares my mind for action. I shared this lyric video on Facebook Friday morning.

I then posted a video from the movie, War Room.  Its a story of a family that learns the spiritual life and power in diligent prayer to our God who hears.  This scene shows the wife defiantly declaring to Satan in her home Jesus is Lord of this home, and he cannot have her husband, marriage, children or her joy.  

Many in Christendom do not believe in the personification of evil, but this belief is not necessary to be a Christian.  I believe Satan and his minions exist.  We've suffered from spiritual attacks and warfare over the last few years like never before in our lives because, we believe, we've said yes to God and his callings on our lives.  This scene spoke to me Friday. It is vigilant and encouraging.  My mind is preparing for action.

Lastly, I posted on Facebook a video from Puddles the Clown singing Pinball Wizard to the tune of Folsom Prison Blues.  It simply made me happy.  The fun and slightly creepy performance entertained me a lot.  It spoke to me.  It told me, again, who I am, what's fun for me, and that's ok.  God still loves me, and this is how God made me. 

Sometimes being prepared and disciplined for what's coming begins with knowing afresh who you are.  Simply stated, I love Jesus who first loved me.  I'm aware of what evil lurks in darkness, and there is necessary combat.  Finally, joy and fun can be found in this world in various, innocent forms.

Am I called to travel overseas in a calling from God?  I can't say for sure, but I'm preparing for action by thinking and knowing you I am and whose I am.  I invite you to join me in preparation.

Monday, April 10, 2017

Return

Several years ago when I was reading, again, Psalm 102 in The Message translation, I was captured surprisingly by the simplest of words. The word was, "Write."

Write this down for the next generation so people not yet born will praise God:
God looked out from his high holy place; from heaven he surveyed the earth.
He listened to the groans of the doomed, he opened the doors of their death cells.”
Write it so the story can be told in Zion, so God’s praise will be sung in Jerusalem’s streets
And wherever people gather together along with their rulers to worship him.
- Psalm 102: 18-22, The Message

I'd been journaling for years and blogging for not quite as long.  I wanted to share what I believed the Lord was telling me, showing me or what I was witnessing and then giving testimony.  This blog was conceived to do this. The single word got me back on track. 

My passion returned to write, share, declare what I believed God was saying and doing in and around us.  To be honest, the voice was often a whisper and the divine actions were subtle and small, but I returned to one of my God given purposes with passion, to record what God had done, and it will ultimately inspire worship all over the world (That was a bold statement!).

I link in this post that single word and related inspiration to another single word that came to me this weekend.

First of all, like I wrote in 2014, I didn't think I'd write again after not recording anything significant for months.  Something's been stirring in my belly for a couple weeks, but I couldn't put words to it.  This weekend gave me a set of ideas and experiences to string together that depicted for me what God wanted us to capture afresh.  I now find myself writing what I believe God has communicated to us.  Write, Jeff!

April and I watched Friday morning the webcast of The Voice of the Prophets, an annual conference of Global Awakening.  Larry Randolph preached on the importance of securing or recapturing your focus in ministry.  It is so often related to a location and always related to adaptability, to be able to change the hows and whens in ministry. 

After the message, April and I debriefed.  She asked me what I thought.  I said we'd forgotten Mary's first word to us.  Mary is a woman who approached us after worship at a church we were attending for the first time in February.  She said, "The Lord is not through with you.  Don't sit down."

The last several weeks, we've looked to sit down at this wonderful, gracious church and the husband and wife that pastor it.  We've nestled ourselves in this congregation because we've experienced the love and acceptance we've looked for these last couple years. 

We went on to agree together Larry's message was for us.  We've ignored the vision and calling to minister on Sand Mountain to stay intimately connected with this church and make strategies to secure our own housing in Anniston.  Such a plan is a short term abandonment of the bigger vision and calling.  Larry said for us to posture ourselves so we don't lose sight of our calling.  We've been on the verge of losing our vision.  God brought this message Friday through Larry for our sakes.

Christmas morning, April believed she heard the Lord give her a scripture verse for us for this year, Zechariah 9: 12:

Return to your stronghold, O prisoners of hope; today I declare that I will restore to you double.

I then told her as The Message translation of Psalm 102 expressed simply to me years ago, "Write," Zechariah 9: 12 says, "Return."  We're supposed to return, focused on  the return to Sand Mountain and our calling.

Saturday afternoon, we drove to Sand Mountain on US Hwy 431.  It had been a year since we visited the mountain, to listen for the Lord's voice to perhaps give us direction or inspiration for our return to establish a base for ministry first on a farm and then in a regional church (Last year, April encountered Jesus in worship where he asked her if she'd pastor a regional church on Sand Mountain, and she said yes).

As we approached, ascended and traversed Sand Mountain on 431, both of us felt the Lord's presence, prayed out loud to hear his voice, cried off and on and worshipped.  Of all the roads we travelled and places we entered and left that afternoon, it was Albertville and Boaz, to our surprise, that felt most like home.  It was driving through the middle of Albertville I heard April say out loud, "I love this town"  Of all the things we said to each other and to God that day, this surprised us most.

Evidently, it will be on this end of the mountain and this section of Alabama we'll find the farm, buy it and steward the portal of God's presence, the thin place, to see the deliverance, healing and salvation of so many in the years to come.  This trip secured this in our spirits and souls. 

We've been refreshed in our faith to believe we're suppose to return to Sand Mountain and engage in ministry.  Our calling is renewed within us to stay focused and postured for our return to where God has called us.

Have you lost your focus or vision for where you're suppose to go and who you really are in Christ to be?  It could be just a single word that'll come to you that will reorient your spirit to what God had originally called you to do or be.  A single word can get you back on track. 

I'll believe with you the Lord will posture you to pursue his will afresh.  Don't worry, nothing's been lost or forsaken.  Just look again and return to the path.

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Refugees

Last Sunday was the fifty-first (LI) Super Bowl.  I couldn't watch it at home because I worked until 10 p.m.  I don't regret that.  I like the hours, but my team lost though the victors' QB is my favorite player to watch.  I don't necessarily root for that team, but I appreciate how he plays.  Anywho . . . .

Last week, I read a blog post from Doug Addison, A New Prophetic Sign of the New Move of God.  If you click the link, you can read it for yourself.  I wanted to highlight some things about it for my post which, I believe, connect with our lives.  The Super Bowl reference earlier is relevant because Doug references a Super Bowl game in his post.  This is the time of year for the Super Bowl and, perhaps, signs of pending displays of God's power and glory for many.  I'm willing to believe that.

Doug was watching Super Bowl XLVII on February 3, 2013.  Earlier that day, he believed he heard God tell him a prophetic sign will be seen around the world.  This was the game in New Orleans when Beyonce performed at halftime, and at the start of the third quarter, the power went out in half the Superdome and suspended the game while my team, the Ravens, had the 49ers on the ropes.

When play resumed, the 49ers got their second wind and nearly eclipsed a 22 point deficit.  Thankfully, that didn't happen.  The Atlanta Falcons, last night, were not as lucky.  Maybe they wish, now, the lights went out in the fourth quarter to slow down the Pats.

For Doug, the power outage was the sign.  You can read his post as he details the coincidental nature of the number 34 to that game and the playoffs this season.  The significance for me was the connection he shares of this event with Ezekiel 34 which the Lord showed him.

Ezekiel 34 is a prophecy about the weak sheep that were wounded and driven away by uncaring shepherds and mean sheep, Doug wrote.

Doug continued, On June 9, 2016 I had an encounter and was caught up in the Spirit. I was shown parts of Ezekiel 34 that are now God’s agenda for those who have been wounded and need God’s love. They are those who have been driven away from churches. This does not mean that all churches and Christians are guilty of this.

2017 is the start of a new movement from God in which He is drawing in those who have been wounded and rejected by Christianity. These are the outcasts or the ones the late prophet Bob Jones (NOT from Bob Jones University) referred to as part of the Billion Soul Revival.

This group includes women who are now being appointed by the Lord and are stepping up into leadership roles, people associated with various liberal political parties that are not accepted by many Christians, those with tattoos and piercings, the ones who are into zombies and vampires, New Age people, LGBT and minorities, to name a few.
 

God is raising up forerunners to go after the wounded sheep and God is releasing a new spirit of reconciliation for this new revival that is coming.

While Doug had his encounter regarding Ezekiel 34 in June of last year, April had a word come to her while we worshiped at a church in August last year.  Will you care for my refugees? was the message April received.  She said yes.

There's a lot of talk about governmental policies regarding immigrants and refugees (they're not the same).  Its curious to me I'd bring this up now, but it relates to what Doug wrote and our experience and subsequent discussions.

I count this as another opportunity we've had over the years to yes to God.  Refugees are relocated, even dislocated, from home due to war, bigotry, natural disaster, etc.  Chances are they've lost their homes.

The outcasts from this prophetic reflection have lost a spiritual home and live with wounds from rejection.  This year begins a season of healing and reconciliation through forerunners pledged to the will of God.

Will we care for the refugees and outcasts?  Doug was shown by the Spirit what was coming to the wounded and mistreated.  We were asked if we'd participate in the heavenly sent reconciliation project for the sake of the same.

This is another simple message to bring encouragement to those wanting to see and participate in a gracious move of God's Spirit.  God has a lot planned for many of us.  Find hope and inspiration in this for you who believe God is yet to display more of his glory in this world.

For you who feel you've been wounded, abandoned or outcast from the church because your past or lifestyle or relationships preclude you from being accepted or loved, God is at work to open doors for your entrance into communities of peace and grace.  Have hope and believe God has not forgotten you.

What will it all look like?  Oh, it will be a beautiful creation, a tapestry of God's loving handiwork.  Amen.

Sunday, February 5, 2017

The World Is Really Changing

I read from Psalm 71 this week.  A set of verses encouraged me to believe afresh in the purpose of this blog.

But I will hope continually, and will praise you yet more and more.  My mouth will tell of your righteous acts, of your deeds of salvation all day long, though their number is past my knowledge.  I will come praising the mighty deeds of the Lord God, I will praise your righteousness, yours alone.
O God, from my youth you have taught me, and I still proclaim your wondrous deeds.  
So even to old age and gray hairs, O God, do not forsake me, until I proclaim your might to all the generations to come. Psalm 71: 14-18

The Lord is one who acts like no one nor anything else can or will.  I've learned that, at least.  We've seen and witnessed some wonderful manifestations of the goodness of God over the last couple years - answers to prayers and displays of grace and mercy through words of faith declared and trusted.  Such signs have raised the tide of our hearts to hope afresh in days when we wondered out loud how God will do what he's promised us, but I'm meant to proclaim your might to all generations to come.

This past Sunday, Anna, our daughter, attended a worship service with friends in Auburn, AL in a church she hasn't visited before.  The guest preacher for the morning was David Wagner, a prophet and preacher from Pensacola, FL.  After his morning sermon, our daughter put her bold boots on and approached David at the front of the sanctuary at the close of worship and after an invitation from David for those needing prayer to come forward.

Anna asked him to pray for her and her family.  "We've been promised land."  That's where she left it.  David agreed to pray and commenced to declare some prophetic things she didn't tell him ahead of time.  A friend of Anna's recorded the word on his phone.  I ended up with the file and compiled a transcript which a portion I'll share here.

Lord, I just thank you, right now, that even as they've been in transition that you would take them from transition to transformation, that you would transform the world around them.

Lord, every place of your work, or frustration, or just feeling like, 'When, Lord, when,' I just heard you saying like you said to Daniel, 'I heard you the first time, and the answer's on the way. I heard you the first time.'

. . . Lord, I thank you for moving and for every hold up to be removed, and whatever the hold up is with the land, Lord, I just ask, right now, that it would be removed.

Just as soon as we started talking I saw a big barn. I saw it filled. I just feel like the Lord is clearing things out; he's making space, but I also felt like its going to be a season that is filled with harvest like never before.

Anna never told him about the vision of stewarding a farm on which we'll have a barn where we'll have worship and the Lord's presence will abound and display glory and power in lives healed, delivered and made whole.

My wife, April, believes the Lord told her years ago while we worshiped, "There are a few today, but in a few days, there'll be thousands."  Here, David sees a full barn.  Alleluia!

And, Lord, I thank you for the faith that they left where they were . . .  on the way they were going.  You're bringing them like Abraham to the place called 'There.'

Lord, there's seed time and harvest, and, Lord, this has been a family that's sown – sown in the Kingdom, sown in the house of God, sown in the nations, sown in other people.

Lord, I just thank you, right now, you're actually teaching them some things in the process.

And, Lord, I thank you for the demand they can put on the Holy Spirit . . . 

I feel like he said he's made covenant with the land.  He's made covenant with you.  And, I feel like the Lord is tearing up some contracts.  There were strings attached to them.  

. . . Delays existed for both protection and provision.  But I feel things are about to shake loose and break through and break loose like never before.

So, Lord, I just thank you for your faithfulness . . . 

Anna, the Lord just spoke to me. You've been going through some things the last couple years. The fruit of his faithfulness is rooted in the pain of the process.

So, Lord, I ask that Anna and her family be able to eat of the fruit of your faithfulness that will cause them actually to forget of the pain of the process.

Would you accelerate, Lord?

Would you be a winter of wonders and a spring of supernatural surprises?

Lord, I thank you, right now, for moving every hindrance, obstacle out of the way and that there's about to be blessing and miracle around every corner, in Jesus' name.

We've known there've been delays fixed intentionally to impede our progress of movement. These delays have not been a weapon or tool of an enemy all the time.  Some of the delays we've witnessed have been gracious acts of a God who knows of the proper time to do anything.

We've also known there have been strings attached to our past that needed to be removed with age or deliberate action.  So be it.

David sensed in the Holy Spirit accurately there has been pain in the process.  There's always pain in labor and birth.  There's always pain in surgery and rehabilitation.  We trust today we'll begin to taste of the sweet fruit of the Lord's faithfulness toward us.

Yes, winter of wonders manifest!  Yes, spring of supernatural surprises come!  As he prayed and we pray today, I believe.  Alleluia!

This word from David to Anna follows what I heard in January from my new friend, Daniel by the banana table. We've believed for the last couple years we've been hidden amidst the delays.  Now, we're looking and hearing and wondering if we're no longer hidden.  The prophets are being told first (Ephesians 3:5) what the Lord is about to do.  Alleluia!

Mulling over whether to write this post or not a couple days ago, I sat in Paneras writing in my journal.  A couple of tables away, a gentleman sat in a wheelchair accompanied by a female companion.  Another gentleman of a different race stood beside him with his back to me.  He spoke in a friendly tone, but I couldn't hear what he was saying.  The man in the wheelchair smiled at him, spoke affirming words in response and thanked the stranger.

The man in the wheelchair then said, "Oh, you mean right now?" and looked to his companion.  He then said, "Ok."  The man standing then began to pray, thanking God for all blessings and evidently prayed for his new friend's health and healing.  It wasn't a long prayer, but afterward, the man standing asked if the wheelchair bound man felt any different.  He said he still felt good.  There was no evident change in his condition or situation.  The three exchanged pleasantries and the praying man took his meal in a bag and left.  I didn't stare to try to determine or overhear what the two at the table might say in the aftermath of that experience.  I simply smiled a silly grin.

I had just texted Anna asking how she was and for some clarity regarding David's prayer last Sunday.  After the prayer for blessing and healing I witnessed nearby, I texted her again giving an account of what I'd witnessed and concluding, "The world is really changing."  She responded, "That's so awesome!!! Add that to your blog :) The world is changing."

I decided then to write this post.  Our world is about to change significantly.  God is sending people with prophetic insight into our lives to speak to us and freshen our hope and beliefs about our future.

The world is changing.  In the past, I would've been the one looking odd, praying for the man in the wheelchair.  That evening, it was somebody else's mission and passion.  The Lord is at work.

As you read this, your world is changing.  I'll trust and believe with you God will send friends and strangers into your life with words of blessing, spiritual insight and encouragement to inspire your faith and awaken dreams and visions deep in you.  Our Lord has things to unveil and return to you in these days to make your life an example of his deeds of salvation and might to the generations to come.  Amen. 

Sunday, January 22, 2017

You're A Good Man

Last week, Buster, a former co-worker, who was escorted from the store prior to Christmas for stealing, came to me while I put out onions on the sales floor.  I heard he'd been hired by another grocery store.  He looked bright and peaceful..  He never quite reflected that when I worked with him.

He said he was doing well.  He ended up telling me about the theft charges.  He took merchandise from the store one night without paying.  He explained to store officials he forgot completely to pay for it and was willing to make good on the items.  All this sounded good to me.

In talking with a couple other co-workers days after he was fired, I made some unwarranted judgments about what I heard about his actions.  In one of those conversations, I proposed he may have been sifted by Satan.  The days that followed felt like I was sifted, as well. I declared things I was not authorized or wise enough to say about Buster, and what God may be doing in his life.  I recognized that, repented and apologized to God and prayed for the well being of my brother.

As he stood before me, he went on to say it was a tough Christmas and a tight January financially.  Before we parted, I was moved with compassion, took him by the hand right there beside the onions on a busy Saturday afternoon and prayed blessing, healing and grace-filled words upon him and his family.

I felt it was a redemptive encounter in our relationship.  The former things are pass.

This is what I'm meant to do.

I read some verses earlier that week that came back to me in light of our meeting.

The former things have come to pass, and new things I now declare; before they spring forth, I will tell you of them. - Isaiah 42: 9

Also, I dreamed days before I stood in a sanctuary during a traditional worship service. It could've been the last denominational church I pastored.  I wore a preaching robe with stole.  I stood beside others also clad in robes and stoles, as well.  We lined the walls around a seated congregation.

A young woman in a white choir robe stood inside the chancel and sang one of the older contemporary worship songs like Shout to the Lord.  As she finished, the robe clad elders had finished assembling in their places in the sanctuary.  At that point, someone began to utter a benediction and the scene faded to black.

I then heard a former colleague tell me about leaving the church office we shared and locking the door at the end of a work day.  He'd just gotten into his van when a guy on a motorcycle just pulled up to the office building.  He came to secure a loan from the church.  My friend was gleeful he didn't have to deal with that request.

I'd dreamed weeks ago of a photo of me leaning against a motorcycle while I was in seminary.  A motorcycle in a dream meant empowered individual ministry.

And no one puts new wine into old wine skins; otherwise, the wine will burst the skins, and the wine is lost, and so are skins. - Mark 2: 22

The last denominational church I pastored has recently merged with another congregation.  Without making any personal inquiry, I believe this strategic action for congregational survival was probably necessary.  That being said, this dream describes a concluding worship gathering with assembled elders in a familiar sanctuary followed by a motorcyclist looking for a loan from the church.  

The previous dream portrayed me as a motorcyclist, empowered ministry.  Taking a stab, I believe this dream describes me as one who took a loan from the church when I was there borrowing place, time and resources to follow a calling to lead a congregation in empowered ministry through Holy Spirit.  A loan may be given, but the borrower is indebted to the lender.  

The former things have come to pass.  The new thing is about to come forth.  The new wine could not survive residing in an old wine skin.  The door is locked, the office is closed, no more loans to any ministry.  That particular church and my relationship with it is gone.

Do not remember the former things, or consider the things of old.  I am about to do a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it?  I will make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert. . . I give water in the wilderness, rivers in the desert, to give drink to my chosen people, the people whom I formed for myself so that they might declare my praise - Isaiah 43: 18-19

About an hour or so after talking with Buster, I was putting some tomatoes and bananas on the sales floor.  A customer I'd spoken with weeks ago and hadn't seen since approached me and asked about strawberries.  I directed him where to find them.

While at the banana table, he approached me again.  Without hesitation, he said, "The Lord wanted me to tell you you're a good man."  I had no indication he was a man of faith or gifting.  He was pleasant enough, but this was a prophetic utterance to get my attention.

For the next minute or two, Daniel declared and prophesied over me.

He told me repeatedly God said I am a good man.

The last four years have been hard, but this year will be different for me and my family.  Its going to be a good year.

In the five fold ministry, I am a prophet.  I was told this years before, but this is a confirmation of what I was told.

He told me other things, as well.  We exchanged names and phone numbers.  Perhaps, he was just meant to speak to me that day or this will bloom into a friendship.  We'll see.

 In former generations this mystery was not made known to humankind, as it has now been revealed to his holy apostles and prophets by the Spirit. - Ephesians 3: 5

These two encounters with Buster and Daniel emphasize to me the fulfillment of the past and the new thing coming to pass.  My relationship in my spirit with Buster is reconciled.  I hold nothing against him, and I see him with eyes of compassion in the present.  Daniel brought a series of words to me to bring my gaze forward and upward with a fresh anticipation of what God is about to reveal and unleash in and around us.

The dream described the end of a congregation and my relationship with it.  All of that has now faded to black.

The Lord is about to do a new thing.  I share these experiences to encourage anyone interested to believe the former is past and the new is about to come.