Aug 8, 2009

Signs and Wonders in Sheffield: A Social Anthropologist's Analysis of Words of Knowledge, Manifestations of the Spirit & Divine Healing

The following article is different than those normally found on my site. The author is an anthropologist who attended a conference on healing, signs and wonders in 1985. He was an uninvited and unannounced participant- observer. This article is his analysis of what he witnessed. It appears as an appendix in John Wimber's book "Power Healing". This is one of two such articles, the other can be viewed here.

(By Dr. David C. PhD, Lewis Religious Experience Research Project, Nottingham University, Alister Hardy Research Centre, Oxford)

"There is a woman here whose name begins with L. . . . She is thirty-two years old, has had a throat condition for eight years, and has taken medicine for it but it hasn't helped her."

"There is a woman with a grumbling appendix, and I don't know if she knows it or not but she is pregnant too!"

"There is a young man here, about thirty-five years old, with a lot of problems in his marriage. He lives in the Midlands. He has been thinking this week about leaving his wife but the Lord wants you to stay and be reconciled with your problems. Do not leave your wife."

The above are just three examples, each spoken by a differ­ent person, among the literally dozens of so-called words of knowledge uttered at a conference on Signs and Wonders and Church Growth held at Sheffield City Hall, October 28-31, 1985. Over twenty-eight hundred participants packed the building each day, most of them Anglicans. Most of the others were from nonconformist denominations, but it is also likely that there were Roman Catholics, as there were at a similar conference in London in 1984.

John Wimber, the principal speaker, stressed the need for breaking down such divisions and each delegate was given on registration a book on healing written by Francis MacNutt. Whatever their denomination, the delegates came to learn through practical training how to develop for themselves healing ministries in their own churches.

As a social anthropologist, I tried to study what was going on at this conference by using the standard anthropological techniques of participant observation and in-depth interviews. Normally anthropologists study a small community over a long period of time, but in this case I had a large crowd to study for only a few days. Between sessions I would talk to those around me about their experiences, under the circumstances a very natural topic of conversation. My informants were there­fore normally without some of the inhibitions that sometimes interfere with "formal" interviews when the informant knows the answers will be recorded; most of my informants were unaware of my purpose in asking such questions until later in the conversation.

Attempting to make sense of such reports and of my own observations of what was going on demands a consideration of theories from anthropology, sociology, psy­chology, and even parapsychology as well as the theological explanations given by the informants themselves. How to fit these different models of explanation together became a far greater task than I had at first anticipated.

Words of Knowledge
The words of knowledge mentioned above pose one of the more difficult problems for rational explanation. There was no way in which most of the medical conditions mentioned could have been ascertained in advance. Delegates to the conference came from all over the country and when registering for it had supplied details only of their names and addresses. About equal proportions of men and women attended and the age spread also seemed representative of the adult population in general.

While there was an overrepresentation of professional clergy, the majority of delegates were lay people who had specially taken time off work to attend the conference. Most were white and middle-class, probably reflecting the compo­sition of the churches interested in the conference. Until the last twenty or thirty years the phenomena seen at this confer­ence were confined largely to black and working-class Pente­costal churches, but through this conference (and similar ones during the previous two weeks in Brighton and London as well as one in London in 1984) some of the mainline denomi­nations had also begun to develop healing ministries using these words of knowledge.

The conferences represent a further development in what has been called the "charismatic renewal" in such denomina­tions. The late Canon David Watson of St. Michael-le-Belfry church in York was one of the Anglican leaders of this renewal movement. It was his friendship with John Wimber that even­tually led to these conferences being held in England. Wimber was the principal speaker at the conference but an Anglican bishop, David Pytches (formerly the bishop of an Anglican diocese in South America and at present minister of St. An­drew's church in Chorleywood, Hertfordshire) led one of the afternoon workshops each day. Both Wimber and Pytches had brought with them teams of assistants who had already gone through training in these ministries. During most sessions the assistants were the ones who prayed with those who asked for healing in response to a word of knowledge, while Wimber remained at the front giving a commentary on what was happening.
The words of knowledge in themselves generated faith and an expectancy of healing on the part of both the "healers" and the "healed." If, as they believe, God has given a word of knowledge about a person's condition, then they can expect God to heal that condition, whatever it might be. Their model is that of Jesus himself, who said, "The Son can do only what he sees his Father doing" (John 5:19); therefore if the Father has given a word of knowledge they see that as evidence of "what the Father is doing."

A further extension of their theology is that Jesus taught his disciples how to heal the sick, cast out demons, and so on; therefore if the church today is the "body of Christ" then Christians today ought to be able to do the same. The question then arises whether these words of knowledge, healings, and other related phenomena can be explained by means of an alternative, nontheistic model. An obvious hy­pothesis is that the words of knowledge come from some form of ESP such as telepathy or clairvoyance. Some of them are reminiscent of messages given at spiritualist meetings in which a medium or clairvoyant says there is someone present with such-and-such an illness, perhaps on occasion indicating the general area of the room in which the person is sitting.

The methods by which the knowledge is said to come are similar too: they include phenomena such as mental pictures, very strong impressions—"one just knows without a shadow of doubt"—and experiencing a pain in one's own body one knows "is not really one's own pain" (but which identified the loca­tion of the other's pain). Relatively rarely one "sees" words (invisible to others) written out over a person's body or in the air. According to Blaine Cook, one of Wimber's assistants, the words can even in his experience involve medical terms like "Osgood-Slatter's disease," a term previously unknown to him, his career having been in the local civil service, not in medicine.

However, there are also several important differ­ences between what I observed at Sheffield and the reports of spiritualist meetings. The first of these differences involves the level of specificity of some of the words of knowledge (as illustrated by the first quotation at the beginning of this article), which seems to exceed the level of specificity of most apparently similar phe­nomena reported from elsewhere.

Sometimes at Sheffield it seemed as if supplementary words of knowledge came if the person did not identify himself or herself right away, as illus­trated by the following series from John Wimber:

"Someone with cracked ribs—fell last winter on snow or ice and the ribs haven't healed properly. The left foot slipped. It hurts right through the left side... [Pause]. It was February this year, on slushy, icy stuff—hit hard on the ground . . . [Longer pause]. Your name is George."

A second area of difference from what has been reported from spiritualist meetings concerns the possibilities of fraud. It is known that many spiritualist healers go around a regular circuit of meetings and so are likely to build up knowledge about the regular congregation in each place. However, the very fact that Wimber and his team had come from the United States and had no control over those who would apply to attend the conferences after reading about them in popular Christian magazines lends a greater credence to the authentic­ity of their claims.

Compared also with the practices of mediums or psychics who are consulted on a one-to-one basis, there is the absence of any use of personal objects like necklaces as so-called in­ductors through which the medium seeks to ascertain knowl­edge about another person. Claims by Wimber and his colleagues that these words of knowledge operate also at an individual level—not only in large meetings—are less easy to check up on because of the very nature of the situation. More­over, the words of knowledge themselves are not predictable in terms of when or how they might come, so it is impossible to provide an experimental situation for testing the one-to-one words of knowledge. (Even in the large meetings their num­bers can vary considerably.)
Being unable to observe such one-to-one encounters for myself, I can only refer to accounts such as one described in Wimber's book Power Evangelism. In it he describes how he saw the word "adultery" on the forehead of a fellow passenger in an airplane, followed by a revelation of the name of the man's mistress. When Wimber asked this stranger if that name meant anything to him and explained that God was the one who had revealed this information, the man rapidly broke down in sobs of remorse which culminated in his conversion.

Statistical Probability
These same facts also make it difficult to attribute these words of knowledge to statistical probability. Certainly if the one-to-one cases can be verified (as they presumably could by independent corroboration from the man in question and those who knew him), then we are dealing with a completely differ­ent level of probability than that which mentions a common ailment among a crowd of almost three thousand people. While there were many such "generalized" words of knowledge ut­tered at Sheffield, particularly by those who were trying out for the first time a word they thought they had received, some of the more specific ones are very difficult to dismiss in terms of probability theories.

The woman whose name began with "L" exemplifies this well. I was able to interview her the next day in person. Her name is Linda. Linda said that as soon as Wimber began to speak—even though he was not too sure of the name—she felt God speaking to her in her heart that it was her. As the other details were given, she became convinced of it and went down from the balcony where she had been sitting to the stage at the front. Hers was also the only case I came across in which the word of knowledge was not one hundred percent accurate, in that she will not be thirty-two until April this year. (Wimber also admitted in public his uncertainty about her name, thinking it was something like "Lorma" or "Lerman" but being certain that it began with "L.")

In Linda's case we can estimate that if there were about 1500 women present at the conference and if there are about 20 common initials of women's names (excluding initials like X, Z, or Q) then about 75 women might have been expected to fit the first two spec­ifications. If most of those present were aged between twenty and sixty—but Wimber did have a discrepancy of one year (or a few months) in this detail—then we could allow 13 age brackets of three years each, allowing for an error of one year on either side. This brings us down to about six possible women.

It is difficult to estimate the total "universe" of pos­sible organs, especially as left and right sides may be specified or details such as "fifth cervical disc" and so on may be included. Doctors or those with medical training might be able to list hundreds of different parts of the body, but for the present purposes let us take a very conservative figure and assume there are only 30 principal organs or parts. Even with a choice of only 30 bodily areas, we are down to 0.2 people who would fit these criteria by chance alone. Then there is the detail of "eight years," which is considerably longer than the average length of time for a throat illness to persist in a woman of this age. If we take an arbitrary figure of one in 50 throat conditions lasting as long as eight years then we find that on the basis of chance alone 0.004 people in this crowd might be expected to have such a combination of traits. In other words, even by using very conservative figures such as a choice of only 30 organs in the body, the crowd would have to have been 250 times larger than it actually was for just one person to have had such a combination of characteristics through chance alone.

The fact that for virtually all the words of knowledge some­one present was willing to be identified as having the illness mentioned shows that the words themselves were regarded as accurate, at least subjectively. There is still a difference between a person who considers himself or herself to have ar­thritis and the person whose arthritic condition is diagnosed as such by a medical doctor, although those whom I inter­viewed about claimed healings were all those who had re­ceived medical diagnoses previously.

One case in which I had prior evidence of a condition in­volved a nurse whom I had interviewed in a different context the previous week. A question about her attitudes toward children had led her to tell me that she had endometriosis (tumors in her uterus), which had prevented conception, a personal detail this couple had confided to only one other person in their church.

Owing to their work, she and her husband had to take turns to go to Sheffield on different days, but the wife was present for an afternoon workshop on phys­ical healing when Blaine Cook had a word of knowledge about endometriosis—using the specialist medical term that the nurse had told me the previous week. When she gasped in amaze­ment at this—and as far as I could tell no one else claimed it—Cook prayed that God would give her the child she was wanting so much. This appeared to be an auxiliary word of knowledge, but in the circumstances a logical inference from her condition could not be ruled out. This mention of endom­etriosis was the twenty-first word of knowledge out of a total of thirty-five during that afternoon's workshop alone.

Four afternoon workshops on different topics were being conducted simultaneously in different halls, reducing the numbers involved in any particular one. This particular work­shop was combined that afternoon with another one, so we might guess that attendance at it would have been around 1500, of whom half might be expected to be women. Out of 750 or so women one having endometriosis in conceivably attributable to a lucky guess through statistics alone. However, this was actually among the less specific cases mentioned that afternoon; examples of some of the other thirty-four given out by Blaine Cook are as follows (in all these cases someone acknowledged having such a condition)

  • An ear condition—infection—with a lot of fluid in the ear so that when you wake up there is fluid even on the pillow [acknowledged by a woman on the right].

  • A woman with a cyst on the left ovary—have real severe pain about six or seven days before you have your menstrual cycle [ac­knowledged by a woman on the left; Cook then asked for a woman nearby to lay a hand on the left side of the woman in question and to pray for her].
  • The left foot—a fungus on the bottom which comes up between the last three toes to the top of the foot [a man on the balcony].
  • Thirty-nine people with heart conditions or high blood pressure [they were asked to stand and raise their hands so that those around them could pray for them].

  • [A little later Cook announced:] Also someone with a prolapsed heart valve who didn't come forward [a man on the right then iden­tified himself].

  • Abscessed tooth, lower jaw, second molar [a woman on the right].

  • Fifth cervical disc damaged in the neck [a woman on the right]. And a gentleman with the same condition [I was unable to see if anyone acknowledged this one as by then so many people were standing up and praying in groups for those who had already iden­tified themselves].
  • Bruised right heel bone. Hit too hard on something and bruised very badly [a man on the left at the back
  • Someone planning to get a root canal seen to on one of teeth in upper right side of mouth—just about to go for tests [a woman on the right].

These examples are among the more specific and detailed ones for which I was able to see people identify themselves as having such conditions. Three other conditions were men­tioned in which Cook suggested the person in question should "tap someone on the shoulder and ask them to pray for you" instead of identifying themselves in public: these were for a fungal condition on the anus, vaginal herpes, and an infection in the right breast causing a discharge out of the right nipple. Cook appeared embarrassed by this last mentioned condition, commenting, "Oh boy, why does he do it to me?!"

Cook, Wimber, and all the others having words of knowl­edge attribute them to divine revelation, but on the surface a more "natural" explanation might be telepathy. Telepathy has a rather dubious status within orthodox science, however, so scientifically controlled tests of telepathy and related phenom­ena (clairvoyance, etc.) are relatively few. When such tests are conducted, they limit the number of possible choices to a known, predetermined set to calculate the statistical probabil­ities of random guesses. Subjects are asked to tell which card has been chosen or to predict which light will flash out of a limited possible set. The results of hundreds of such series are then tabulated and analyzed for statistical significance. If five correct guesses out of a hundred are attributable to chance, then as the proportion of correct answers rises, the probability of the results being due to chance becomes correspondingly less and less.

For most experiments the accuracy level is well below one hundred percent, even if statistically significant, but certain individuals with practice do manage to obtain scores that are very highly significant. It appears that practice does lead to marked improvements in accuracy both in such scientific tests and in what I observed at Sheffield, insofar as the most detailed words of knowledge containing specific facts about a person's age, name, or unusual condition were spoken by those with longer experience of this phenomenon and more generalized statements such as "a dull pain over the right eye between the eye and ear," "gallstones," "irregular heartbeat," or "pain in the left foot" were given by those who had never previously had a word of knowledge but here were encouraged to pray and ask God for one.

Outside of controlled scientific experimental conditions, there are occasional reports of close relatives, spouses, or good friends finding that they are thinking about the same thing at the same time and wondering if it were due to telepathy. It is difficult to assess the scientific status of such experiences be­cause of unanswered questions about whether or not a com­mon stimulus might have channeled thoughts along parallel lines. Even if such reports of telepathy can be verified, how­ever, they still seem to be confined to those with close ongoing relationships. The phenomena observed in Sheffield involved such knowledge being picked up by strangers across a crowded auditorium; the people had no previous contact with each other and the knowledge claimed was about personal details that are not normally discernible even if they had spoken face to face.

The very fact that some of those having the more detailed words of knowledge had recently arrived from the United States means that if some form of telepathy were in­volved, it was of a different nature from what is reported between people with existing close ties.

Our knowledge of telepathy and similar phenomena is still in the rudimentary stages, so even if the Sheffield phenomena are of a different kind than that reported between dose friends or relatives, it does not mean that it is not still explicable in terms of a telepathy hypothesis. It simply means that our knowledge is extended further or that new dimensions to the psi factor need to be considered.

Our conventional model of telepathy tends to see it as a kind of "radio" with a transmitter and one or more receivers, but some of the Sheffield phenom­ena suggest that this model is also inadequate for certain details. These are the cases when a word of knowledge in­cludes details of how many people have a particular illness, such as "three people with dyslexia" or "thirty nine people with heart conditions or high blood pressure."

On the first evening Wimber had a word of knowledge involving the num­bers "four" and "one" in association with the word "barren" but was unsure if they meant "14" or "41." He asked those unable to have children, whether male or female, to come forward and line up in front of the stage. Some bunched up together and merged on the steps with a few others who had come forward in response to other words of knowledge so I was unsure of my own counting, but it was within two of the number "41," which Wimber arrived at from his better van­tage point of the stage. (Although one of those to go forward was the husband of the woman with endometriosis, he slipped away quietly back to his seat without being prayed for or revealing his wife's condition because he decided after going forward that the problem was not his but his wife's. Therefore there could have been no report on the woman's condition to Blaine Cook who had the word of knowledge about endome­triosis three days later.)

The significance of specific numbers mentioned like "three," "39" or "41" is that in a radio analogy one would have to imagine a radio being able to identify how many stations were broadcasting the message on several different bands. It is as if the range of possible wave lengths were rapidly scanned, all those broadcasting the same message were identified, and the number of different transmitters counted. This is a much more sophisticated model than one of a single transmitter and one or more receivers of a single message, so that the radio analogy becomes strained when it comes to the question of multiple "transmitters" and counting each one separately.

When the Spirit Comes
Through words of knowledge various people were identified as the ones God wanted to heal and they were then prayed over by those around them (or, at the beginning of the confer­ence, by the team members who came with Wimber and Pytches). The power to heal is attributed to the Holy Spirit and at the beginning of each so-called clinic session all those present were invited to "wait for" the Holy Spirit to come upon them. Wimber would pray briefly for the Holy Spirit to "come," then stand at the front while everyone waited quietly, usually standing and often in a position in which the hands were upturned and held out in front as if the persons were in the act of receiving. Some even stood with their hands clasped together behind their backs as if unwilling to participate in what was going on around them. Wimber at the front cracked jokes like "Now don't get religious on me" but soon began to cry out "Let it come" as he saw some of the physical manifes­tations of the Holy Spirit's presence.

These ranged from a kind of beatific stillness and quietness settling over a person to the opposite extreme of falling over and lying on the floor. In between there were phenomena such as the shaking of one or both hands, laughing, crying, or a stiffening of the body. Such phenomena have been reported in Christian religious history from at least the time of Wesley onwards, although the biblical reference to the disciples appearing as if drunk on the day of Pentecost might be taken as evidence of similar phenomena in the first-century church.

Most Methodists would be suspicious of such modern phe­nomena occurring in Methodist churches even if such things occurred at the time of Wesley, and modern Quakers no longer manifest the quaking that gave them their name, but it appears that people of many different denominations at Sheffield ex­perienced such phenomena sometimes involuntarily. During the very first clinic session a forty-five-year-old woman found her right hand was shaking while all those around her were sitting without any visible manifestations. She tried to stop her hand from shaking by holding it with her other one until both began to shake so violently that her behavior became obvious to those around her. She had not expected such be­havior and it was not until the third day that Cook explained their interpretation of these physical manifestations. There had been no previous suggestion that such phenomena were to be expected, so this women and others like her tried to suppress such phenomena when they occurred during the first clinic. In subsequent sessions there may have been more expectancy of seeing such behavior, so the element of psychological sugges­tion cannot be ruled out for later meetings even if it is difficult to account for phenomena at the first clinic by such theory.

During the physical healing workshops on the third day Cook explained that they regard these manifestations as being partly due to an "overload" of the nervous system, particu­larly for phenomena like hands shaking. One twenty-nine-year-old man was genuinely surprised to be told half an hour later that during a certain time of prayer his hand had been shaking violently. This incident would indicate that the autonomic nervous system or the motor parts of the brain could be involved without any consciousness of what is happening in the body.

Phenomena such as a stiffening up are attributed to inner conflict between the Holy Spirit and personal sins or other barriers. Some cases of people screaming out are attrib­uted usually to the release of suppressed hurts from the past but may occasionally be attributed to the expulsion of demonic forces. Those who screamed seemed mainly to be women. I interviewed two of them—one of them the wife of an Anglican curate—and they both testified that they would never normally scream like that in public but found themselves doing so as the Holy Spirit brought to the surface various past hurts. It is difficult to explain such "unconventional" behavior by a stan­dard "crowd conformity" model.

The behavior of a few individuals who screamed out or of the man who suddenly began to grunt and growl and needed to be held down by several of those around him (attributed by those there as evidence of a demon manifesting itself) might be regarded as a form of mass hysteria were it not for the fact that relatively few people actually manifest such symptoms. More people have symptoms such as shaking hands, weeping, or stiffening but during any one clinic the numbers of individ­uals actually manifesting such signs are still a minority. Those around them either watch or participate in praying for such people, but I would estimate that rarely would more than one in ten of the audience be the focus of such attention during any one clinic. By the end of the four days most people had experienced something, but there were still some who wanted to experience some special manifestation and had not done so. (A few seemed to attempt to mimic phenomena like hands shaking, but their attempts were obviously artificial and they were told to stop it by the more experienced team members.)

From the outside such behavior might easily be attributable to emotionalism, but it is then surprising to find that when interviewed about their experiences afterward a relatively high number reported a sense of detachment from the proceedings and inner calm or peace. Emotions are obviously involved but not to the degree that the behavior could be labeled "emotion­alism" alone and left at that.

This sense of detachment from one's physical body, almost like being a spectator, even applies to those who manifest quite extreme behavior like screaming. One twenty-four-year-old woman, for example, began to have a vision of Jesus, first of his arms and later of his body but his facial features were still unclear. She tried to dear her mind of any faces she knew well, such as her father's, so as not to project such features on to the vision in her mind's eye. She felt that "Satan was saying to [her] that it was not real." As she struggled to put her arms out to hold onto Jesus, she felt a severe pain right across her stomach as if some forces were trying to prevent her from reaching Jesus. The severity of the pains caused her to scream out, but despite these experiences she nevertheless felt somehow detached from her body, con­scious of what was happening but not seeming to be really "in" it or part of it. During the experience her arms and legs became numb and it took about half an hour for sensation to return to them afterward.

In several cases there appeared to be a progression from "strong" to "mild" manifestations during the conference. Those who near the beginning felt that past hurts were being dealt with or found themselves stiffening up as if an inner conflict were taking place—what Wimber terms a "power encounter" as the Holy Spirit confronts forms of resistance—were by the end of the week exhibiting less dramatic symptoms such as expressions of joy or rapture. Those who at the beginning manifested hand shaking or tingling in the hands were usually those who saw these symptoms as evidence of a call to some kind of a healing ministry and who were often praying over other people by the end of the week. Sometimes the "shaking hand syndrome" occurred again while they were praying over others but sometimes not.

It would appear as if the forms these phenomena take in different people may depend on in­dividual factors as diverse as one's personal needs, personal­ity, and even physiological makeup; the hand that shakes more or begins to shake first is often the hand one writes with, whether right or left.

Occasionally people fall over onto the floor or feel they have to sit down in a chair. Different reasons are given for this but all involve a sense of feeling overwhelmed. (Wimber uses the word "overwhelm"; he says that the Greek word from which we get the word "baptism" means "overwhelmed" more than simply "dipped," and he therefore interprets some of these experiences as evidence of an "overwhelming" ["baptism"] in the Holy Spirit.)

A twenty-three-year-old girl described how first her legs began to shake violently, then calmed down, and then it "came again with my hands shaking as well." Eventu­ally her hands stopped and only her legs shook, but by that time she had become unable to stand and had fallen first to her seat and then flat onto the floor where she "lay for quite a while, feeling totally at peace." When she was afterwards helped back to a sitting position she "felt as if I just wanted to sit there for an hour or so and allow his Spirit to continue to be with me and flow through me, just being at peace." She felt God had been "filling" her with "his love." Others also described similar experiences in terms of "love," "joy," or "peace," although one girl described her experience of what appeared to me like ecstasy as "joy alternating with deep-seated pains and hurts from the past: joy then pain then joy then pain."

It appeared as if some of the more extreme emotional feel­ings were experienced more by women than men, and in par­ticular more by younger women than older ones. However, older people also felt the "overwhelming" so that they fell over, though I know of more female than male cases of this. Some described their experiences in terms of "a great, heavy weight knocking me over" or "a heavy weight or pressure on the chest so that I had to sit down." The mention of "weight" is particularly interesting because it was not a feature men­tioned by Wimber or the other speakers, so the fact that several people mentioned such a "weight" could not be attributed to suggestion. Wimber had mentioned the idea of "waves," say­ing that sometimes the Holy Spirit suddenly comes in an en­gulfing wave but more often comes in "waves" of ever-increasing intensity; first a few people becoming "engaged" by the Spirit, then more and more.

I find such experience particularly interesting because of their similarities with the report of an experience by a Baptist minister who, while praying by himself thirty years ago, ex­perienced "waves" of God's love that eventually became so intense "I had to ask God to stop it" after an unknown period of time, which he guessed might have been up to an hour or more.10 So far his experience has never been repeated but his clearest impressions in retrospect were of "waves" and "weight." The similarities of language and the context of Christian prayer indicate that his experience seems very simi­lar to that reported by some people at Sheffield—but from a sociological perspective it is extremely significant that such experiences can occur also in an individual, private context and apparently without being expected or humanly initiated.

The Healing Process
Words of knowledge were often used at Sheffield to identify people to be prayed for, but sometimes general categories of people were invited to stand for prayer, as on the final evening when there was a special prayer for ministers and church leaders. In the latter case prayer was of a more general na­ture—for God's "blessing," "strength," "courage," or what­ever—whereas prayers for healing tended to involve more specific procedures. First, the person was interviewed about the illness and its relevant details, then a diagnosis was made about it, whether its origin was "natural" or "supernatural," then the appropriate kind of prayer was selected, which was followed by another time of prayer that was punctuated by further questioning and feedback from the person being prayed for. Finally some general counsel might be given after the prayer time.

Each case is different but the following description illustrates some of the common features (words of knowledge, interview, and prayer). It took place during the first afternoon workshop on physical healing, which was lead by one of Wimber's team, John McClure, a pastor from Newport Beach, California. He had arrived in Sheffield from London that morning to discover that he was to lead that workshop the same afternoon. Two days previously he had awakened at 5:00 A.M. in his hotel room in London and found he had a blockage or constriction in his windpipe. It was such a severe constriction that he thought he was dying, but in his subsequent account he re­ported that he "had to rebuke the enemy and it left me." Then "the Lord told me that there would be someone like this to be healed" when he came to Sheffield. Therefore at the first work­shop he said that there was somebody with a recent difficulty in breathing; McClure did not know if it was asthmatic or phlegm, only that the windpipe was narrow.

A woman then came forward and McClure interviewed her, asking how long she had had the condition and what her precise problems with it had been. She said that at the age of six weeks she had had eczema and then since the age of two had had asthma. It had improved subsequently but "in the last six months I had been getting a lot of phlegm in the throat, very tight and constricting." McClure commented that he sensed "the enemy wants to terrify you and even try to kill you through this." He then prayed along the lines of, "May the kingdom of God come upon you. . . I speak to the lungs in Jesus' name, 'Be cleared.' ... I speak to the breathing appa­ratus in Jesus' name, 'Be cleared.' ... Be cleared in Jesus' name."

After this McClure interviewed the woman further, stressing that he wanted her to be truthful about whether or not she could feel any change at all. She replied that she did feel cleared and could no longer hear her own breathing. McClure confirmed that at the beginning he had been able to hear the woman's breathing "but not now." The woman then returned to her seat, her final comment being that she felt she "could run a mile"!

Cases like this in which an instantaneous change of some kind is reported are not the rule by any means. Many others report either gradual change or no change at all. Wimber himself cites figures from studies conducted in the United States in which thirty percent of people report some measure of healing after the first session of prayer, an additional ten percent after the second session, and over seventy percent by the time they have been prayed for ten times. They rationalize such results by pointing out that Jesus himself once prayed twice for a blind man, and even some of Paul's friends seem to have experienced prolonged illnesses. Nevertheless the fact that a considerable proportion of people do claim some mea­sure of healing raises the question of how the healing actually works.

Many of the physical phenomena already described as physiological symptoms of the presence of the Holy Spirit bear remarkable similarities to trancelike states. This is not surpris­ing in view of the kind of concentration involved if one has a vision of Jesus of the kind mentioned earlier, because the physiological condition that is likely to accompany the concen­tration involved in such a vision is most likely one that resem­bles a trance. However, the very fact that these states do resemble hypnotic trances raises the question of whether or not what is actually happening is a form of hypnosis.

Empirically it is very difficult to answer this because the same results might be produced from quite different stimuli, just as a suntan can be produced by the "natural" rays of the sun or by the "artificial" device of an ultraviolet lamp. The problem is compounded by similarities of result, because genuine healings can take place under hypnosis in the same way as are reported as answers to prayer. The very environment of having a group of people around one praying and expressing concern may provide a form of therapy in itself. In a context in which people are open to suggestion and are expecting genuine results as well as have a confidence both in God and in the healing team, the element of suggestion is likely to be strong.

However, this theory does not in itself account for all the range of phenomena actually manifested at Sheffield. It does not account for the accuracy of some of the words of knowl­edge (and those receiving the words of knowledge are not in trancelike states when they receive the information) and nei­ther does it account for behavior such as that recorded in the following account:

Sarah is a twenty-three-year-old woman who deliberately sat sepa­rately from her best friend, Lynne, in order to avoid being influenced by Lynne or her husband within the overall crowd. At first Sarah was rather "put off by seeing so many white, middle-class Chris­tians" at the conference and was a little skeptical on that account because she is particularly concerned for the poor, working-class, and immigrant groups among whom she had been working. During one of the clinics, however, Sarah glanced over to the section where Lynne was being prayed for. Suddenly "in a split second, with no time to even think about Lynne or feel compassion for her I found myself doubled up in a severe emotional—not physical—pain as I felt myself experiencing all the pain and hurt Lynne had been through in her life." Immediately Sarah dashed "like a banshee" out along the cor­ridor and in to where Lynne was, threw herself at her friend's feet and cried out "I'm really hurting for you." Sarah's pain then disap­peared and at the same time the resistance in Lynne which those praying for her had been finding also seemed to melt away. Shortly afterwards one of those praying asked Lynne, "Did your father leave you when you were eleven years old?" an idea which had come to his mind and was then verified as true. They then prayed for emo­tional healing for Lynne and for "healing of her memories."
Behavior such as Sarah's would need to be explained by some other form of psychological mechanism such as an ex­tremely deep and sudden empathy rather than by any refer­ence to trance states. It is interesting that she bore a kind of vicarious pain for her friend and that some of the words of knowledge come as forms of pain that "one knows are not one's own pain." Such experiences seem to be particularly appropriate in a context where everyone believes in Christ's
vicarious suffering on their behalf. Moreover they see themselves as belonging to a group that in the New Testament is compared to a body with many organs in which "if one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honored, every part rejoices with it" (1 Cor. 12:26).

The Effectiveness of Healing
The whole purpose of the conference was to train Christians in healing ministries and the acid test of such healing is whether or not it actually works. However, when I tried to follow up afterwards with those who received prayer for healing, it be­came clear that there were too many problematic questions involved to enable a clear verdict to be made. In the first place, it is extremely difficult to check up on medical reports before and after the conference because such reports are not always available. Even when they are available, there is still a possi­bility of the doctor having made a wrong diagnosis or of having made a tentative diagnosis when the full range of in­formation was unavailable.

For some illnesses it is quite likely that the person would have recovered anyway through "natu­ral" processes of healing even if he or she thinks that such processes were miraculously speeded up in Sheffield. In other cases physical symptoms might have psychosomatic causes and when the psychosomatic roots were dealt with the physical symptoms disappeared. Other cases might involve a tempo­rary alleviation of a condition, but there is then the question of whether or not a later relapse might occur. This is particu­larly pertinent to the case of a woman with multiple sclerosis who walked from her wheelchair supported on either side at first because of her wobbly knees; after prayer specifically for her knees by someone who had also once been a cripple she found herself able the next day to walk around for about forty-five minutes with straight legs.

Another problem in following up reports of healing is that because so many people were being prayed for simultaneously, I could not observe each case in detail and so could not confirm for myself accounts such as that of a man's clubfoot changing its shape towards a more normal one within the space of about fifteen minutes.

Owing to these difficulties in assessing the effectiveness of such prayers, I leave this question open and conclude with two accounts of those who claimed healings during the conference itself.

Linda, the one with the throat problem, went on to the platform where Wimber interviewed her.
The whole audience could hear her croaky voice through the microphone. After a relatively brief time of prayer Wimber asked her how she felt. She said she felt about the same, but even as she spoke her voice sounded clear. Wimber asked her to count and it was when she reached "three" that she herself realized that her voice had cleared. When I interviewed her the next day she said that all the symptoms had gone except that she could feel a small warm patch of heat on her throat where she believed therapy was still continuing.

Ginny is thirty-one years old; ten years ago she had begun to suffer a degeneration in her lower spine. Medical doctors had said she would eventually end up in a wheelchair but as a measure to alleviate the degeneration had inserted two metal pins into one of her verte­brae in January 1985. By September the specialist could confirm that the bone had grown over the pins. Ginny at first had to wear a plaster cast which was later replaced by a metal-reinforced corset to keep her back rigid. She claimed that it was medically impossible for her to bend her back, but after prayer during the conference she found she was able to bend down virtually to touch her toes.

After this she went up onto the stage, bent down several times, and then lifted up the front of her jumper to display the corset while explaining what had happened to her. Apparently it was only when I inter­viewed her the next day that she realized that in order for her to demonstrate her healing the metal reinforcements in the corset must have become temporarily flexible too. She described with evident joy how for the first time in many months she had been able to bend over a washbasin to wash her hair and perform other routine tasks and she herself remained curious about what happened to the metal pins in her back.

Aug 4, 2009

Wheelchairs and Headaches

Wheelchairs.... (sigh) They might be the bane of anyone who operates in the gift of healing. My partner and I dropped off a little old lady at a nursing home. As I made the gurney after the call I noticed a couple of residents nearby. They were sitting in wheelchairs in the sun, holding hands. God showed me the word "HEALING" in my mind and it wouldn't go away. Then he showed me a scene of the man in the wheelchair getting up. After seeing all this, I still had some small doubts. But I knew if God wanted me to pray for him, then he’d be receptive to it and he should be healed.

After trying to dismiss it, I walked over to the man, whose name was Larry, and asked what happened to him that put him in the wheelchair. He said he had dystonia, and explained that he has poor control of his muscles. I told him that God asked me to come over and pray for him, but that I was trying to argue with God about it. Larry said “You shouldn’t argue with God, you might cheat someone out of their blessing.” I said, “Yeah, I know, people keep telling me that”. I asked if I could pray for him and he agreed.

I don’t know why, but I always close my eyes when I pray. Don’t ask me to pray for you when I’m driving. After we prayed, he stood up. I didn’t expect that. No, it wasn’t a miraculous healing (yet). He was able to stand before we prayed, but with difficulty. He wanted to check to see if his condition was any better. He said he was a little better. I’ve never done this next part, but I said “how much better are you?” He said, “I don’t know, but I’m not as bad as I usually am.” So I said, “OK, let’s pray again.” I’ve never asked someone to check their healing status after praying for them either, but I think Larry’s been down this road before. It seemed like he knew what to do.

We prayed again, I think I had more faith the second time. Unfortunately, I couldn’t stick around to see the results; it was time for me to leave. He thanked me for being brave enough to pray with him and I wished him well. One of these days I’m going to stay long enough to know someone I prayed for was completely healed. I can’t wait to write that story. A couple of nights ago, My wife and I watched a video of Todd White doing his thing healing dozens of people. It gave my faith a much-needed boost. When I went to bed I felt like I could go out and pray for anyone and expect them to be healed. I didn’t feel quite as confident when I was faced with a man in a wheelchair today.

A few days ago I was at Safeway. As I stood in the check-out line I closed my eyes and saw an image of the woman in front of me, who worked in the bakery. Then I saw the word “headaches”. I’ve done this enough times now, so I walked over to the bakery. I motioned for her to come over and when she got within a few feet I asked if she wanted to tell me about her headaches. As usual, she was shocked and asked how I knew about them. I said, “God told me, and he doesn’t want you to have them anymore, He wants you to be healed from them.” Tears of joy began flowing down her cheeks as she explained how bad they were and how often she had them. She told me about the conversation she had with God that morning. We prayed and we both cried. I told her I’d come back some time to check up on her.

Yesterday, I was at Walmart. God seemed to tell me I was to pray for a boy, about 8 years old in a wheelchair. He had a tracheostomy and was on a portable ventilator. His name was Sam. I waited for him and his mother to get through the check out line then I approached them. After introducing myself, I asked if I could pray for him. His mom said, “sure.” I prayed for him and spent a few minutes talking with them afterward, then I left. I didn’t see a miracle.

When we are praying and asking for healing, I think it’s easy to be intimidated by equipment. Many people don’t have the faith to expect someone in a wheelchair to get up and walk. Try going to an ICU and praying with boldness for someone in a coma with a lot of IV lines and monitoring equipment attached. John Wimber said that hospitals are possibly the hardest place to pray for healing. His faith seemed to wilt every time he entered one. It’s encouraging when I realize that the hospital is where God asked me to begin. I’m starting in a place others wouldn’t. No doubt, God knows something about my future that I haven’t found out yet. My faith isn’t where it needs to be. I have the task of overcoming 47 years of skepticism and doubt and that doesn’t happen overnight but I’m gradually getting there. It helps watching other people Like Todd White at work. It builds faith. It also helps to be obedient when God speaks – He’ll always do what He says. I think I still need some more work in that part of my life .

Below is a link to a short video of Todd White on the streets of Phoenix, healing a group of young women and demonstrating God's love.

Jul 11, 2009

When God Doesn't Heal

This is a sensitive subject. I’ll try to handle it with care. A blog dedicated to prayer and healing must address the times when people are not healed. There’s so much to learn. This isn’t a comprehensive discussion. The issues are large and my understanding isn’t. Some questions will never be answered. I hope to learn more on the subject and write about it in the future. For now, I’ll share a few things I have learned.

I was talking with a woman I met at a bus stop a few days ago. Like many of us, she was angry at God. She told me of the hardships in her life, the untimely death of her mother, and then the death of her father, a man I sensed she deeply hated. She felt as though her mother deserved to live a long life and her father deserved to either suffer or die young. In her mind this was unfair, and she didn’t like God’s plan, which she thought was wrong.

My brother died a year ago, after his 3rd brain tumor was determined to be inoperable. My dad died of pancreatic cancer 8 years ago. I prayed for both of them to be healed but they weren’t. I prayed for the outcome I wanted. At the time I was in a growing relationship with God and I was able to accept their deaths. I also believed then, that it was impossible to know God’s will. When John and Pat weren’t healed, some of us came to certain conclusions. I think a few believed that God doesn’t heal anyone, because He didn’t heal either of these two wonderful men. In our eyes, they deserved it more than anyone else.

I think this is typical of how a many of us view the subject of healing. It leaves us with some possible views about divine healing. One view is that God is arbitrary in healing. He heals who He wants, without any way of us knowing who gets healed or why. I’m reading a book on healing and the author holds this position. He believes in divine healing and has compiled a mountain of scientific research proving that it happens. (I’ll write about that in a future post) But he believes we can know nothing in advance; that healing cannot be accurately predicted, or duplicated in a lab. A fundamental idea behind this view is that God is largely unknowable; an anonymous force that is beyond our understanding.

This view can be taken one step further. We may claim that if God allows bad things to happen to good people He is unjust. If He is capricious and arbitrary then He is also unfair. This view still maintains that God exists, but that He is in some way evil. If we go one step further in this line of reasoning, we can say that some people simply recover for unexplained reasons and others don’t. Those who recover weren’t healed by supernatural means. This view makes God irrelevant and implies that He doesn’t heal anyone. This belief would lead us to the conclusion that if in fact, He exists He is uncaring and indifferent.

Recently I’ve been learning about a plan and a healer that look very different from these models. If you’re reading this, you probably believe in divine healing, but for the sake of those who don’t, we need to ask the questions, how and why does God heal in the first place? In the answer to these questions, we should find some implied reasons why He doesn’t heal.

How God Heals
When God heals he uses faith to accomplish the work. In healing we receive an act from God that is activated by the faith of someone; it may be the one healed, the one praying or an unknown person. There are dozens of healings recorded in the bible and in many of them it is taught that the faith of someone brought the healing. Personal merit is never a basis for healing. (Matt 9:22, Matt 15:28, Mark 5:34, Mark 10:52, Luke 8:48, Luke 17:19, Luke 18:42, Acts 14:9)

If faith is the agent of healing, a lack of it will prevent healing. Jesus rebuked his disciples (and no one else) for their unbelief in failing to cast out a demon. (Matt. 17:17) He did heal the individual, because He had faith greater than theirs. But we must be cautious here. Although it may be true that healing doesn’t happen because of a lack of faith, we should never accuse or blame someone for it. Building faith is a gradual process. Hearing testimonies of healing and reading about them in scripture can create faith in us for healing. Condemnation will destroy it. I have very little faith for healing right now. I’m trying to build faith by being around those who are successful in healing and reading testimonies. I’m also receiving revelation from God through dreams and visions about it. Faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the Rhema (spoken) word of God. (Rom. 10:17)

Our part in healing is faith. God’s part is extending grace. The apostle Paul wrote, “It is by grace you have been saved, through faith, not of works.” (Eph 2:8) I used this verse because the word “saved” in the Greek is the word sozo. It refers to a changing, healing and redemption of the complete person - body, soul and spirit. The same work of grace in saving us from the penalty of sin also heals us emotionally and physically. We never earn healing. Grace is undeserved favor. The merit of the person praying or being healed doesn’t matter.

This is a stone of stumbling to some. One of the most pointed comments in the gospels is the one Jesus made about the ministries of Elijah and Elisha. He reminded the religious leaders that though the covenant people (the Jews) had many widows and great famine, God chose to send His prophets to two outsiders, Zarephath and Naaman. (Luke 4:26-27) The Pharisees presumed that they had earned God’s favor through their own works. They knew little of grace. We can’t presume to know whom God wants to heal. He is gracious to all. (Psalm 145) When I prayed for my brother and father I was in a wrong mind-set, believing they deserved to be healed, when in fact no one does. We must be willing to receive God’s grace in healing. If we come to God on the basis of merit for healing we may hinder the process.

Why God Heals
I believe one reason God heals is to reveal His character to us. The nation of Israel learned that one of God’s names is Jehovah Rapha; The Lord, who heals. (Exodus 15:26) God reveals his character through His names in the Old Testament and His names tell us how He interacts with us. Divine healing is an act of mercy and God wants us to know He is merciful. The Lord’s healing also reveals Him as God of compassion, love and kindness as well. (See Deuteronomy 13:17) When we see someone miraculously healed of a terrible affliction, we must conclude that God is good, even if our own experiences don’t bear that out.

From this, we should conclude that God heals to reveal His mercy and love. If He doesn’t heal someone perhaps it’s a situation in which that will not be revealed. The disciples of Jesus asked him why a certain man was born blind. (John 9:1) It was a sincere question. Their assumption was that someone’s sin was responsible for it. Jesus told them that the man was born blind so that God would be glorified when he was healed. If God is to receive the credit for healing, we can also conclude that if God is not glorified in healing, it probably won’t happen.

It’s actually God’s character that we are discussing, and unlike ours, His character never changes. (Malachi 3:6) If we believe that God performed healing and miracles in the past, but He doesn’t do it today, we are essentially saying that God has changed His character. In effect we are changing the names of God, because His names describe his character. Scripture teaches that God’s character and His names never change. If God healed people in large numbers during the ministry of Jesus, and He certainly did, then we must conclude He is willing to do it today, even if our own experience doesn’t bear that out. This is one reason why I changed my opinion about healing and miracles. I’m not prepared to say that God doesn’t heal and He’s changed who He is, merely because I haven’t seen healing personally.

Healing Delayed or Lost
When Jesus healed the man at the pool of Bethsaida (John 5) he saw the man later in the temple. Jesus warned him about the effects of sin saying; “you have been made well. Sin no more, lest a worse thing come upon you.” The issue of sin was between the sick man and the Lord. We should leave it that way. The Holy Spirit can reveal any issues to the individual and it’s their responsibility to surrender and submit to God’s will. Healing is a work of grace and good works cannot obtain it. Nevertheless, sin and rebellion open the door to the enemy. Satan and his demons are the source of sickness and injury. Many of the illnesses Jesus healed people of were demonic in origin. We invite trouble when we live in sin.

Paul warned the church in Corinth about judging their brothers in the body of Christ, then taking communion in an unworthy manner. This made them guilty of the blood of the Lord and brought judgment on them. By judging others, we bring judgment on ourselves. The result was that many had become sick and some had died. (1 Cor. 11: 27-31). I suspect we don’t take this admonition seriously enough. It’s likely that the judgmental attitude many of us have has a greater impact on our health than we think.

There are other things that may contribute to lost healing. One is continued attack from the enemy. This should be suspected if a person is healed once, but the problem comes back. We should have a heightened suspicion in the absence of a clear medical diagnosis. At times we may see a resolution of symptoms, but there isn’t a removal of the cause. The fruit is removed, but the root remains. Permanent healing may occur when God reveals the root of the problem. Prayer for divine revelation of demonic activity is often helpful in discovering and removing spiritual sources of sickness. I’ve read testimonies of recurrent episodes of cancer that were permanently healed once a demonic source was removed.

We shouldn’t assume someone hasn’t been healed if we don’t see instantaneous results that are clearly evident. The Sryian General Naaman wasn’t healed immediately, he had to wait a while. First he had to go to the Jordan River. Then he had to dip himself 7 times in the water. Finally he was healed. (2 Kings 5) The blind man Jesus healed in Bethsaida had what is called a progressive healing. Jesus prayed for him once and he was able to see better. He prayed again and full vision was restored. (Mark 8:25) It’s worth noting that Jesus used many different (and strange) methods to heal people. God often has specific instructions that must be obeyed as a condition for healing. If they aren’t, the healing probably won’t happen. Some healing is immediate, some isn’t.

My Experience
The first true miracle of healing I received took 24 hours for me to notice. I had a shoulder injury and a man prayed for my back, not knowing what my injury was. It was the following evening when I realized the pain was gone. I’ve heard testimonies of healing that occurred as many as 6 years after prayer was begun. If we pray for people to be saved and we understand that it may take years for that to happen, we shouldn’t be surprised if healing isn’t always immediate either.

In the last year I’ve had occasion to pray for many patients with terminal diseases. My initial approach was to ask God for healing without hesitation. I know some of us believe that God wants to heal everyone. I guess in a way, He does. It’s not His desire for us to die, for mankind to be under a curse, or for sin to destroy our lives with disease. In the beginning, God’s desire was for us was perfect health and close fellowship with Him. But our actions have limited what He does now.

I’ve come to the sober realization that not everyone is going to be healed. That prompted me to ask God why He won’t heal, when He does at other times. On one occasion I was told the person I wanted to pray for didn’t want to be healed and didn’t believe in divine healing. She was ready to die. Fair enough, He won’t force someone to be healed who doesn’t want it. We can’t blame this on God.

He has also shown me images of dragons, demons, serpents, skeletons, flames and the like when I have asked about other people. On these occasions He told me not to pray for them. He revealed to me that these people are firmly in the camp of the enemy and they aren't coming out. And that He would neither be glorified nor would His character be revealed if these people were healed. Once again, we can’t blame God if he won’t do something that is contrary to His own character.

On several occasions I wanted to pray for healing and God said He wouldn’t heal, but He showed me heavenly visions when I asked why the person would be allowed to die. In these cases, I took solace in the fact that this person’s soul and spirit were soon to be going to a much better existence. I can’t fault God for this either.

God doesn’t need to give me deep theological statements about why some of us are healed and some aren’t. Maybe I’m too easy on Him. One day I’ll probably ask for more information. But I do know this - He is the sovereign King of the universe and He’s a lot wiser than I am. I think much of our misunderstanding about healing (and the absence of it) comes from a poor understanding of the healer himself.

What I have learned is not to presume anything before I pray. I’ve learned to ask Him first, “What do you want to do in this situation?” Many of us are frustrated and give up on prayer because our prayers aren’t answered according to our desires. God never promised He would give us everything we ask for. He did promise to give us everything we ask, when we ask according to His will. (1 John 5:14) I think this is where we often fail in prayer. We must first come to Papa and ask Him what the plan is, then pray accordingly, whether we like the answer or not. When we do this first, we are going to receive what we ask for. Praying without knowing God’s desire in the matter is a bit like throwing darts blindfolded. Why bother? Isn’t it better to see the target?

I don’t think its coincidence that most of the people in history with successful healing ministries were strongly gifted in the prophetic. These folks hear and see what their Father is doing. Success in divine healing requires knowledge of what God wants to do. This is something prophets in general do well, and it’s an ability we must develop if we ever hope to see people healed.

I need to make a few confessions. I have a lot of faith to pray for people. But my belief that they will actually be healed is pretty small. Right now I’m limited by my unbelief. I tend to pray and run. I don’t want to ask anyone if they feel better after I pray for them because I don’t want to risk being disappointed when they say, ‘no’. On the other hand, all Jesus asked me to do is to be a faithful servant. My job is to reveal a situation for healing when a person may not know it, and pray for them. He didn’t ask me to verify every healing with x-rays or keep score. I need to remember that.

In this season I’m running into many people with headaches and I’ve heard some encouraging testimonies. God keeps pointing them out to me and I’ve actually seen some people who said they’ve been healed. When I receive a word of knowledge and pray according to it – I have a lot of faith that the person will be healed. Some day I’ll have the faith that terminal cancer patients will be instantly healed when I pray for them. But it’s a growing and maturing process.

I also get into situations where I’m asked to pray for people and no one has received any revelation from God about it. I must confess I’m not as comfortable praying when I don’t know what God wants to do. I have a lot less faith in these situations, and I don’t expect great things to happen. I think this is a bad thing. I rely heavily on the Rhema words spoken to me by the Holy Spirit and not enough on the Logos (written) word. The bible says God wants to heal, and I need to simply believe it. I think a balance is best.

It's worth mentioning that Jesus said He did not pray for the whole world, but only for those the Father had told him were His. (John 17:9) Jesus prayed only for the specific people and situations given to him by his Father. He operated at an amazing level of hearing and knowledge. I don't always hear that well. Fortunately, my wife prays in tongues more easily than in English. In doing this, she’s always praying according to God’s will, even though we don’t necessarily know what it is. I pray according to revelation and she prays as the Spirit of God leads her and that makes us an effective team.

One thing God keeps telling me is that Jesus did nothing except what his Father revealed to him. (John 5:19) Many of us believe Jesus was successful because of his divine omniscience. But if he retained it, why did he need to ask the father what to do? Jesus never had a prayer that went unanswered because He always checked in with Papa first. It’s a tough assignment, but the rewards are incredible. I think more of us would see miracles and be less frustrated in prayer if we always asked our Father what the game plan was before we uttered a single word in prayer. That’s the direction I’m going in. I’ll let you know how it works out in future messages.

Jul 1, 2009

A Vacation With God The Healer

We were on the plane from Philadelphia to Seattle returning home from vacation as I reflected on the divine appointments God arranged over the last week. My wife has family and friends who are struggling a lot. Some of the relationships we had with them were broken. Most of her friends and family had little interest in God. We were visiting for a week and anxiously hoped God would show up and change the atmosphere. We prayed for softened hearts and open doors for months before the trip. My wife had a couple of dreams the week before the trip that seemed to indicate the doors were open.

I learned something the first day we were there. If you plan to work with God while on vacation, go to a prayer meeting first. We both had shoulder and neck pain we were hoping to get healed. We went to a prayer meeting at a small town fire station our first night in town. I didn’t know the words to most of the songs, so I closed my eyes during worship. God showed me images of the speaker, a man named George. First he was in a school desk that grew bigger and bigger. There were more images of him, then an image of Dutch Sheets, then Bob Jones, then the word ‘Apostolic’. I really wasn’t expecting this. It took a long time for me to get up the courage to get up. I approached George and told him I thought God had a message for him. We led the group in prayer for him as God moved him to a new level of ministry.

Later, I asked George if he would impart to me a spiritual gift. (Romans 1:11) He replied ‘sure.’ He said, “you argue with God.” I tried to convince him I only did what everyone else did. I said, yeah, don’t we all? He said, “You question what God tells you and then dismiss it.” I confessed my guilt. He prayed for me and said, “Let the first impression you receive be the one you accept. It is from the Lord. Do not question it.” I knew this was a problem I had to overcome. Other prophets had told me the same thing. Later George asked if anyone had back pain they wanted prayer for. My wife and I had him pray for us. I wasn’t really having back pain – it was a shoulder injury that had been tormenting me for months. Nothing happened immediately, but 24 hours later the pain was completely gone.

I’ve been having pregnancy dreams for almost a year. I’m usually transporting pregnant women. My daughter and wife have been having a lot of them too. Something has been growing inside all of us. It isn’t babies. God keeps telling me over and over He will heal people if I continue praying for them. I have His promise of a healing ministry. It’s been incubating for about 11 months. I know there’s another part to it and that would be evangelism. God loves people and wants them physically healed. But healing from God involves the soul and spirit, too. Deliverance, repentance, salvation and discipleship are also part of the healing process. The second night of our vacation I had 2 dreams. In the first I watched a baby being born. In the second, I picked up a newborn baby and took it to my ambulance to transport it to a larger hospital. I’ve been waiting for this dream for a long time. I know what it means. It’s the birth of a new ministry. The wait is finally over.

We went to the New Jersey shore on the hottest day of the trip. We spent time relaxing on the beach and walking in the waves. We saw dolphins a little ways off shore. It was nice to be away with my sweetie. We enjoyed out time together. But I couldn’t stop thinking about praying for people. We spent the afternoon cruising up and down the boardwalk. We shopped and ate and talked about our vision for the future. And we prayed for just about everyone we saw with a physical affliction. I saw a woman about 70 years old. She had obvious right side paralysis, probably from a stroke. I asked if I could pray for her, and she was delighted.

We were sitting on a bench when I saw a woman about 30 years old pushing a stroller. She was walking with tremendous difficulty. My heart was breaking for her. As I watched her walk away I leaned forward, closed my eyes and said, “come on Lord, let’s do this!” I saw an image of an album cover from the band “Styx”, then the words “Classic Rock”. I saw the woman park her stroller by the bathrooms and go in. I got up and walked over to the bathroom area and began to wait and pray, and then I saw a man in a wheelchair with a leg immobilizer. I asked him what happened. He told me about a car accident and how his broken arm and leg were held together with metal rods and screws. He was glad to let me pray for him. I turned around when I was done and she was right behind me. I gave her a smile and asked how she was doing. She said fine. I asked if she liked the band Styx and she said yes. I asked if she liked classic rock and she said yeah, how did you know? I said that God told me and He wanted me to pray for her to be healed. She said it wouldn’t be the first time. We prayed. I made some declarations for her financial prosperity and some other things God showed me. I felt His presence grow stronger while we prayed. I went away marveling at His mercy and compassion. We prayed for about a dozen people that day. God gave encouraging words to a few more. Some were surprised, but everyone received it well. I didn’t see any miracles but healing can be progressive. Even if nobody was healed, we got to sow a lot of seeds.

The couple who led my wife's old bible study group hosted a get together for us. The pool party got out of hand quickly. An F-1 tornado touched down a few miles away. Two of the dads and myself got trapped with the kids under the balcony as 60 mph winds, heavy rain and hail pelted us for 15 minutes. Lightning struck all around us. It was kinda crazy. As quickly as it came - it left. The sun came out and we went back to grilling and hanging out with friends. The host, Bill has a torn ligament in his knee. He's going in for surgery soon. Everyone gathered around him to pray for healing at the end of the night.

We were hoping to give prophetic words to my wife's family while we were there. We had an afternoon of explaining prophecy and revealing God’s plan to a few of her relatives. We also gave words of encouragement to others. Ministering to unbelieving family members is very hard. I’d say it’s impossible without God’s direction. We were amazed at how receptive they were. God must have been plowing the ground for some time before we arrived.

We drove to the airport for the flight home and arrived early. The last time I flew out of Philly, I missed my flight because of car accidents on the freeway. It was close to rush hour, but we zipped along without a single slow down. God needed me to be on this flight. I was standing in line at a coffee stand when the Holy Spirit showed up. I felt His presence and knew He wanted to tell me something. I closed my eyes and saw the word “migraines” and saw an image of a slightly overweight woman about 50 with short brownish blonde hair. Then I saw an image of Kathleen, a receptionist I know from a local hospital. I looked around wondering who to pray for and didn’t see anyone like the person in the image. I did see a short woman in front of me and asked her if she had migraines, but she said no.

I went to the gate and waited to board the plane.

I continued looking around and still didn’t see her. On the flight to Seattle, I read the book Power Healing by John Wimber. After about an hour in the air I noticed a woman like the one in the vision standing in line at the bathroom. I got up and asked if she had migraines and she said, yes. I asked her name and she said Kathleen. I told her about the vision at the coffee shop and said I believed God wanted to heal her. She sat in my seat as we prayed for her. She told her husband what had happened. I got a word for him, too. I asked him if he had prostate cancer. He said no. I felt certain it was an accurate word and thought maybe it was for the future. I wrote a note to his wife telling her that if he developed prostate cancer in the future they should pray for healing. I rested the remainder of the trip. God showed me many visions every time I closed my eyes. I love Him so much.

I’m writing about these things to encourage you to look for similar opportunities in the everyday things you do. Everywhere we go God is waiting with mercy and grace, healing and encouragement for many who don’t know it yet. We can all prophesy. (1 Corinthians 14:31) We can all be used to heal others. (Matthew 10:8 ) It does take time to develop compassion for others, to hear what God is saying and to grow in spiritual gifts. But we seem to be in a season where God is bringing acceleration in gifting. Working with God isn’t a chore; it’s really a lot of fun.

If you'd like to read another story about an adventure in praying for people on a plane, read this story:

Jun 23, 2009

Judging Prophecy

At times I will post prophetic words I receive that are relevant to healing. There is a warning in the bible about prophetic words: "Do not despise prophecies. Test all things; hold fast what is good." (1 Thessalonians 5:20I 'll do my best to carefully judge what I post. You should do the same. At times I may post something that disagres with someone. Please leave feedback in this case. Ask yourself if a prophetic word seems loving or not. Does it seem self-serving? What is the attitude of the one who gave the word?
Phophecy is meant to encourage those who hear it. (1 Corinthians 14:3If a prophetic word is not encouraging in some way, we have a right to question it. Prophecy is also intended to reveal the mind of God in a matter. God doesn't speak anything contradictory to his revealed nature. If a word of prophecy doesn't line up with the word of God, it becomes suspect.

Jun 18, 2009

Revival and Reformation - Our Future

This is a discussion that doesn't deal primarily with medicine or healing, but the church. However, divine healing is (in my opinion) to be a normal function of the church. This post has much to say on that issue. Some of this post is prophetic, some I stole from men and women I respect. Much of it is simply my heart's desire for things I'd like to see changed and some is just plain speculation. Read it with discernment.

Raising Up Prophets
We know there’s a growing company of prophetic voices in Olympia and in other areas. The interest in Gateway’s School of the Supernatural and now Revival Town’s school are evidence that God is raising up prophets in our area….why?He needs the prophet to declare his plans for the future; to bear witness to the truth, to turn the hearts of the children to their fathers, to work in miracles, signs and wonders; in short – to change the spiritual landscape. The growing company of prophets is a sign that change is coming. The ground has been plowed, the seeds planted, we are in the season of rain. The workers are being called to bring in the harvest, which is soon approaching.

Revival in Olympia
On September 3 2008, I received a visitation from messenger from God. I’m not sure if it was an angel or Jesus himself. I didn’t see the one who spoke to me. I heard an audible voice that said:
“I will pour out my Spirit says the Lord. I will visit Olympia in 15 months. I, the Lord will raise up Olympia in 15 months.”I woke up and wrote down the words. My digital clock read 3:21As I drifted off, the voice returned. There was only sound, no images. Kim Clement was leading worship with a large congregation. He was playing the song “Sacrifice is Beautiful.” He would chant and the congregation echoed his chant. Yeshua! Yeshua! Messiah! Messiah!These words were spoken by the same voice as the first words: “Do not leave, stay where you are. In 15 months it will come to pass.”

We have less than 6 months before the Holy Spirit is poured out on Olympia. Revival is coming quickly. It’s an odd thing to know that a major work of God is headed your way. People have been praying for it. The church has been waiting for it and my question is what are we doing to prepare for it?

I feel compelled to do a couple of things. One is to get the word out. People need to know what’s going to happen. Another is to enter a season of fasting and prayer. Fasting seems to make the issues of the world and my flesh small, and God’s voice much louder. We need to hear God’s voice clearly in this season. He's been bringing to mind the fact that Jesus first went into the wilderness to fast and to be tried by His enemy. He did no miracles or preaching until this was done. Once He gained victory over the enemy in His personal life - He took it and walking in the power of the Spirit, made it public. My experience lately with prayer is keeping my heart tuned in to God’s voice wherever I go. Fasting has made God's presence a constant reality. I’m too busy most days to hang out in my closet on my knees. I ask Him a lot of questions during the day and think about the answers I get. When I'm sleeping the revelation continues through dreams. That’s how I ‘pray’. God told me the other day there’s nobody in the world more dangerous than someone who walks in the power of the Spirit and commits themselves to prayer and fasting; they’ll move mountains. We need to be this kind of people.

I’ve also decided to get out of the boat. I think the church at large needs to get out of its comfort zone, too. The Lord said He’d meet me if I stepped out of the boat. Not before – but after. God is anointing people for an assignment. He’ll use just about anyone who’s got the right motives. The anointing isn’t for our entertainment – it’s for an assignment. You have to agree to take the assignment, and then you’ll receive the anointing.

Kim Clement prophesied that there would be a people who would enter into fasting, prayer, worship, dance and other forms of warfare that will break the power of darkness in our land. There’s a group of people in our region who will pursue victory and break the stronghold over Olympia this year. I plan to be one of them. We can use more help.

The Baby
On October 1 2008 I received another message from an angel. It was in the form of a dream without images. I heard an audible voice that said: “You are on the right and true path. Stay on course. Keep doing things exactly the way you have been doing them.” On October 15th, I received another angelic message. It came at the end of a series of 3 dreams. The first dream was about a pregnant woman who was about to deliver her baby. She was in the emergency room at St. Joseph’s hospital in Tacoma. She didn’t deliver immediately, so they moved her out of her room. They rolled her bed down the hallway and out of the ER and left her there. I heard an angelic voice at the end of the dream say that the baby’s name is Emanuel. I woke up, wrote down the dream and went back to sleep and immediately had another dream about a pregnant woman. I slept for about an hour and right before I woke up I had a 3rd dream. This was another dream without images. I knew I was with a woman who was pregnant and was about to deliver. I heard an angelic voice speak to the baby. The angel said: “This is God’s desire – for you to be born and to be separated from your mother.”

I’ve spent a lot of time asking God about these dreams. The pregnancy dreams represent the approaching birth of a new work of God. He is preparing new wine to be poured into new wineskins. The baby (or new church) will be delivered in an unexpected location. Not in a delivery suite, as we would expect, but in a hallway – a common location where people travel from one place to another. The angel said the baby’s name would be Emanuel; that Jesus will be the center of this new work. The twist is that the angel said it was God’s desire for the baby to be separated from its mother.

This I believe, represents the split we will see develop in the church as a result of the things that will take place in the coming revival. The mother represents the established church that will give birth. The baby is the new body of believers coming from the revival. The new church will have its development in a different location from its mother (the established church). God wants us to know in advance there’s going to be a problem between them. We know God wants unity in the church. Sometimes prophets speak of what God wants; sometimes they speak of what will happen, in spite of God’s true desire for the situation.

Multiplying and Dividing
Several things will be at the heart of the division that grows in the church. Prophets have said the people who will be reached will be the most unlikely type of people in our eyes. On October 10th 2008, I received an angelic message. It was another dream without any images, just a voice speaking. The messenger said: “You are ministering to desperate people.” Many, but not all of the people God will reach aren’t going to seem very ‘churchy’ to us. These desperate people will be gang members, criminals, alcoholics, drug addicts and the homeless. We’re also going to reach gays, lesbians, pagans, witches, new-agers, and atheists in large numbers. How would most churches deal with a huge influx of these people? Some will have the grace to welcome them warmly – most will not. To be fair, most of these people would be scared to death of coming to church anyways. I believe God has a different plan for them. There will be a different type of church developing, an orphan of sorts that will do it’s own thing in its own place.

The coming revival has been described by prophets in different ways. Matt Sorger called it the ‘Clearwater Revival’. His emphasis was on the character of the people God will use; people of pure hearts who’ve had their character refined in the fire of trial and testing. He emphasized that God is not going to let the flesh contaminate his work any longer. People who are out to build a name for themselves beware, God is tired of it.

Kim Clement has prophesied much about this revival; it will be one of unbelievable and unprecedented miracles, signs and wonders. Bob Jones’ wife Bonnie was taken into heaven and shown a room full of body parts. She was told that they were parts that God will give to people who are missing them. Prophecies about different angels that will be used to usher in this revival are piling up like leaves in October.

I see God pushing us further and further in the direction of the supernatural – and away from the theology and practice of the denominational church. Last fall, after the Lakeland outpouring cooled off, I had a discussion with one of the local Assembly of God pastors about it. He said the reason it went sideways was because of the false doctrine being taught. He specifically mentioned the teaching about female angels, the appearance of gemstones etc; things he couldn’t find in the bible. I think his remarks reveal how many in the church view the supernatural. We’re afraid of it. This mind-set will be a major cause for division in the future. Even those who formerly embraced the working of miracles, signs and wonders will switch camps. Some who rejected them (like myself) will embrace them. Few people will remain neutral.

Greek or Jew?
There are two mind-sets in the family of God. Some seek knowledge; some prefer signs and wonders (1 Corinthians 1:22) Most, but not all Christians are strong on doctrinal knowledge. But what we know of the supernatural isn’t very deep. Some of what we think we know is probably off-base. Contrary to what your pastor will tell you, our greatest need in the church isn’t a sound knowledge of the bible. The church has been led for centuries by two of the five types of leaders in the church - the pastor and teacher. These offices tend to focus on developing theology, reading and writing books and applying those truths in everyday life. From their perspective we need more knowledge. Our understanding and experience of God reflects that intellectual bent. There’s nothing wrong with sound doctrine – but for centuries we’ve been devoid of the prophet and apostle and the power these positions function in.

There’s been a power outage in the church for a couple of thousand years. Our leaders have tried to explain the lack of signs and wonders with the teaching of cessationism. “God just isn’t into healing or miracles anymore, all you need is the bible.” Frankly, a lot of people are comfortable with it until they get really sick. As a church we see occasional flashes of God’s power but it’s rare, and poorly understood…that’s about to change. The greatest lack in the church right now is a better understanding of the powers of the Almighty. In the coming season you won’t have to search 'youtube' to see His power displayed – it’ll be going on in your own back yard.

What happened in Lakeland and what’s presently going on in Redding is a small taste of what will happen in many places in the coming season. We’ll see things that are even more absurd and ridiculous in the future. Kim Clement prophesied about the absurd things God is about to unleash. Check out his prophecies from the last year or so. These things are going to happen – and they are going to make people question their validity and the credibility of those involved. Will we embrace the foolishness of God? And are we up to the task of defending these experiences in a mature manner?

The New Church
Church pollsters know what’s happening – people are losing their desire to be associated with the church, but not with God. The influence of and interest in main-line denominational churches will continue its decline. There are many good shepherds and sheep in these churches. But there are prevailing attitudes that hinder growth. Many have their bags packed and are standing in line waiting for the rapture. It’s hard to be motivated toward kingdom building when you believe the game is over and the enemy has won; their hope is in the millennial kingdom. I believe in the coming kingdom, but I also believe God hasn’t abandoned the ship just yet. (This is a recent change in my thinking)

We in the church have taken a stand against many things – but we don’t make it well known what we are for. Our critical, conservative attitudes have alienated us from society and few people feel loved by us. That’s why they aren’t beating down the church door to get in. Our judgmental appearance has done much harm, and it’s probably too late to be repaired. The coming revival will add some new faces to the main-line churches but most of the harvest will come from fields outside their reach.
The established main-line church will also have a hard time with the miracles, signs and wonders being manifested. Here’s what they’ll say: “An adulterous generation seeks signs and wonders and in the last days false prophets will rise up working false signs and wonders. We aren’t going to fall for it.” They won’t be able to find some things in the bible so they’ll dismiss it as heresy or as works of the devil. Even some charismatic leaders will speak out against it. God is drawing a line in the sand. What we see in the days to come will force everyone to take a stand. Most of the established church will reject it. On August 21st of 2008, I had another dream without any images. I received a message in which angel said, “Those who will follow the Lord will follow, those who won’t will be left behind. It’s time to decide.” When I heard the message, I looked at my clock. The time was 11:59.

The external appearance of the church is changing. It isn’t a new roof or a nicer stained-glass window. We’ve tried to keep God inside the stained-glass box long enough. He isn’t a genie we can summon at our convenience. He’s going out into all the world and there’s little we can do to stop Him. In the coming days there will be a greater presence of alternative church settings. We’ll see the glory of God in house churches, we’ll see the Spirit moving in coffee shops, malls, shelters, pubs, city parks and anywhere people hang out. The church of the future will be found almost anywhere and be open to anyone. The church of the past brought people into a building to meet God. In the future we’ll show that God is at work where we live, work and play. The heaven of heavens cannot contain Him, how much less a building made with hands?

We will become Jesus to our community. In the past we’ve made church into a sub-culture and removed people from their natural relationships and spaces. In the future we’ll see ministry develop through the every day relationships we already have. In the past we’ve built mega- churches to entertain, programs to keep people busy and super-ministries to glorify individuals. Some will hold on to this model – but their long-term growth is limited. The future is in a different kind of church. That’s the message of the baby that was delivered in the hallway. The new church is very much about location.

The apostolic and prophetic offices will be another cause for division. God is going to re-establish the authority and influence these offices had centuries ago. But the majority of the church doesn’t accept them now. Catholicism recognizes the hierarchy of Rome. Most protestant denominations recognize a similar hierarchy using different names; senior pastor, assistant pastor, worship pastor, youth pastor, missions pastor etc. The other leadership model is one of deacons, elders and bishops. In both models there’s still a hierarchy. God actually intended the church to have a leadership structure without vertical positions. One in which the leaders functioned in equal authority but in different different gifts. This is a different concept than the idea of vertical positions. Referring to structures of govenment, Jesus told his disciples that the Gentiles lord themselves over one another, but it was not to be so in the church. (Matthew 20:25) We haven't taken His direction seriously. In the new church the five-fold model of Ephesians 4:11 will become the norm.

A stronger apostolic and prophetic presence will create more animosity among those who don’t believe in their validity. That’s the large majority of the church. As much as these offices are needed to help steer the church in the right direction, most of the church will resist. We can expect a huge outcry against the increasing presence of these offices, and that will bring turmoil. It’s going to get very ugly. Debates will rage for years, life-long friendships will end, people who held leadership positions will be asked to leave or quit voluntarily. Some will find the new wine suits them just fine, others will bitterly complain.

The charismatic church has the greatest potential to carry the coming revival to the nations of the world. But it has a well-deserved reputation for immaturity. We are known for seeking shows of power and exhilarating experiences while remaining biblically ignorant. We are famous for indulging ourselves in holy laughter while the world remains in the pain and bondage of sin. There’s nothing wrong with God’s fireworks, and God is looking for enthusiastic people who are young in spirit. But He desires us to develop mature character. We’ve sought God’s power for its entertainment value, or to manipulate innocent people and we’ve embraced weird doctrines that make the cults look like bible scholars. The Charismatic church needs to grow up. There’s too much at stake. A balance of sound teaching and working in the gifts of the Spirit would please God greatly. This should be our goal.

What’s coming is going to change the face of the church forever. It’s going to challenge us all in what we believe. What we face is nothing short of a second reformation. There’s a tidal wave of change headed our way. The last storm in the church was about doctrine; the next one will be about power. It’s a time for action and more importantly a time for understanding. Those who’ll lead the revival will be those who’ll accept God on His own terms, regardless of their preconceptions. Change requires flexibility. I'm praying for a double portion of the Gumby anointing.

Jun 11, 2009

Apostles, Prophets and Quadriplegics

We got the dispatch information and drove toward his home. It would be a while before we got there so I closed my eyes and asked God to show me something about the patient we were going to pick up. I was excited wondering, did God want to heal him? The first thing I saw was the clear, unmistakable face of James Goll, with a big smile on his face. The image remained for a while and I asked God what it meant – then the image faded and I saw a pair of glasses on a white background. I thought perhaps this man had a call to be a seer prophet or an apostle. (See 1 Samuel 9:9) An image of Bob Jones appeared and he was also smiling. Then it faded and I briefly saw Stacy Campbell. The images turned into beautifully colored sunsets and sunrises and visions of the northern lights. Then I saw theses 2 words revealed. They were beautifully written in the handwriting of heaven: “Apostolic” and “Prophetic”. (See Ephesians 4:11)

I had wondered what I would do, and how would I know if God placed me alongside someone He had called to such a position. Today I found out. We drove to his home. He lives in a nice house on the water; I assume it might be his parent’s home. He’s been a quadriplegic for many years and doesn’t have a job. We put him on our gurney and loaded him for the long ride to the hospital. I was glad we were taking his ventilator. Many of my patients don’t like mine. Frank (not his real name) is dependant on a ventilator to breathe for him. He can be off it for a short period of time, but doesn’t have enough use of his respiratory muscles to breathe on his own for more than a half hour.

We settled in for the trip. I told Frank I that God showed me some things about him and asked if he wanted to know what they were. He said, “yeah”. I told him about the visions of James Goll and Bob Jones and explained who these men were and what their spiritual gifts and calling were about. I told him I saw the words ‘apostolic’ and ‘prophetic’ and that I believed God was calling him to these two positions in the church. I told him it was a high calling and a great honor and that God want to use him to shape and influence the culture around him for the kingdom of heaven. He took the news with amazement. He asked what church I went to. I told him about my church and what I liked about it.

We talked for a while and he told me about a near-death experience he had almost 24 years ago. It happened after he became a quadriplegic. He was in a hospital and during treatment he developed a collapsed lung and died. He went into heaven. I asked if he saw angels. He said, “Yes, I did. They told me God wasn’t through with me yet, and I had more things I needed to do first. Then I came back into my body”. He said he always wondered what it was he was supposed to be doing, but never really knew for sure. I told him I believed it was revealed to him today what his destiny was.

We left him in the hands of the folks at the hospital and I said goodbye to him. He thanked me for taking care of him. I can’t help but wonder what will come of it. I really like this guy. Even though he has a big disability, he has a great attitude and he’s a pleasure to be with. I don’t know if he’ll ever walk in the gifting God has called him to. Saul had a similar calling and threw it away. (See 1 Samuel 15:23) David had the same calling and made the most of it. (See 1 Chronicles 29:28) Only time will tell what Frank will choose to do. I leaned a great lesson; if I had not been curious enough to inquire from God about this man – would he ever have known what his calling was? God is calling many people in this hour to come up to a higher level. It’s people like you and me who can be the messenger to those who don’t know it yet. You might meet them in the most unlikely place. Are you curious about what God is up to? Spend time asking and He will amaze you with His plans for the people around you. The video below speaks to the matter of discovering who God says we are. Think about the meaning of the word apostle which means "one who is sent" as you listen to the song in the video.

Jun 2, 2009

Taking It To The Streets

I'm getting prepared. I'm not sure where I'm going yet, but I'm making plans for a trip. Summer is upon us rather suddenly this year. I like that and so does my wife. It seems like a few weeks ago we had snow in the driveway and now it's close to 90 every day. Things change suddenly.

I've been noticing a lot of people with health problems lately. I can't seem to get away from them. Every trip to the grocery store, gas station or Home Depot puts me next to someone with paralysis from a stroke, Parkinson's disease, multiple sclerosis or something similar. I feel a tug on my heart that's growing more intense. I just want to walk up to everyone I see who has some sickness and asking if I can pray for them. Sometimes I chicken out, other times I approach them and ask if they want prayer.

At work I've been plagued with thoughts of going through one nursing home after another and praying for each resident to be healed. I visualize myself going from room to room praying with each person - sometimes thinking I don't care if it takes all day for this person to get healed - I'm staying here until it happens. Yeah, I know - its a big dream. But God makes dreams come true. He places his desire in us to motivate us to do the things He wants to accomplish. No, I haven't seen any miraculous healings in person yet. But it's coming. One day I'm going to pray for someone and they will be healed - suddenly.

God likes to do things suddenly. I believe He does it to catch the enemy off guard. It takes a while for the enemy to adjust to new things, just like it takes us time to sort out and get comfortable with something new. God can use this to His (and our) advantage. But we must go along with the changes and flow in the direction the Spirit wants to take us.

This Saturday I'm getting together with some folks who share a common vision. We all have a desire to see God's light penetrate the darkest recesses of our culture. We want to see his love poured out on the unsuspecting ones He is drawing to Himself. Personally, I hope to see hearts, minds and bodies healed. There are a lot of people God wants to reach with His love. Many of these people have no interest in what we call 'church'. They won't come to us, so God is sending us to them. For several years this group has set up a canopy of shade at community events and offered prophetic 'words of encouragement', prayer and dream interpretation to those who show up. I'm going on a spiritual adventure this summer; going where ever the Spirit leads me.

I believe God is going to do something suddenly this summer as we take to the streets. About a week ago I had a dream in the early morning, just before waking. I was driving my car in Olympia and suddenly something came down from the sky toward me. It was like a large bird swooped down and came to rest, hovering right above me. This was what I 'saw' going on in the natural realm, with my eyes. But there was something else going on. I can only describe it as happening in the spiritual dimension. When the bird descended, I became aware that I had received an invitation to attend the meeting for the prophetic street ministry. It was like a spiritual e-mail. When I opened it, I felt an incredible revival break out in my soul. I developed a much deeper passion for God and a wave of joy overpowered me. In the dream, I forwarded the e-mail to other people I knew.

The interpretation of the dream is simple. Vehicles represent ministry; that's the subject of the dream. God plans to change something about my ministry. It shows a similarity to the baptism of Jesus in the Jordan river when the Holy Spirit descended on Him, in the form of a dove. (see Matthew 3:16) This was the beginning of the public ministry of Jesus. Immediately afterward he went into the wilderness to fast and endure temptation, then came out of the wilderness in the power of the Spirit, teaching and working miracles.

Most of what I do as 'ministry' is confined to my ambulance. It isn't really public. I believe the dream foretells a visitation from the Holy Spirit for me and others who will be taking our gifts and going public with them. I believe God will anoint those who desire to carry the glory and power of God in a greater measure this coming season. I believe it's an invitation to step out in faith with a little more boldness and 'go public' with what God has called us to do. If we do this, I believe God will back us up.

I have a feeling that this summer is going to be a hot one, literally and spiritually. I believe we're going to see the fires of a true, large - scale revival spread. This fall and winter we should see a great harvest. But revival starts inside each of us, and the message from my dream is that I have to get involved and commit myself to the work of God, then He will send fire down from heaven to make me burn with a passion for it.

I watched some videos this morning that encouraged me a lot. There is a 5 minute video below of Todd White praying with people for healing on a boardwalk. There is a second video interview of Todd describing the way to walk in kingdom power. If the short videos interest you, there is a longer video that's an interview with Todd about his life. (The link to the Extreme Prophetic video is posted below) He describes his transformation from a drug addicted criminal to a passionate, loving, street-healer. He tells about his early days of praying for people and seeing no fruit. Months and months of praying and not one miracle. Then suddenly, someone was instantly healed. He's been seeing miracles of healing just about every day since then. The video shows him at work on the streets. You and I can walk in that same power if we're willing to commit ourselves to trusting in the promises of God.

Todd White Interview (Extreme Prophetic):

This is a video of Todd on the boardwalk praying for a group of strangers:

This is a video interview of Todd discussing the secrets of walking in the power of the kingdom:

Apr 17, 2009

Command Me

God's been doing something unexpected. Last week I had 2 occasions to pray for people to be healed on the same day. One was a co-worker, one was a patient. As I felt God's presence show up, I began a dialogue with Him about what He wanted to do. "I want to heal", came His first words. I thought, "cool, let's do it." I asked God what he wanted me to do. He said "Command me."

Uhhh...did you say "command me"? I pretended like I didn't understand what God was saying, but I knew exactly what He meant. I was entering into a new phase of prayer, and I didn't like where it was going. I balked at His suggestion and we had a long discussion about it. The problem was my perception of our relationsip. I thought, "you're God, and I'm not. It's your job to be the boss. My job is to follow your lead and ask for healing. I don't command God to do anything, you are the one who commands me." So went my line of reasoning. The discussion lasted for several hours. God explained to me an important thing I was missing. When His presence (glory) shows up, He wants to do something. I can't assume I know what it is bacause I've been wrong before. It's up to Him to tell me what He wants to do and how it gets done. After He tells me what He wants to do, I ask, "what do you want me to do?" Usually He says "pray with them" or something like it. But God can tell me what ever He wants, He doesn't always heal in the same way. Jesus healed people in many different ways. God dosen't care much for our formulas.

Here was what God told me: "If I tell you I want to heal, trust me, I will do it. If I want you to command healing - just do it. Walk over and put your hand on the injured place and command the injury to be healed. Moses commanded me. Elijah commanded me. I want you to command me." As I heard Him speak, I knew what He was referring to. Moses called down one plague after another upon Egypt until pharaoh had seen enough. But Moses had prior information about what God's will was in freeing the Israelites. He knew what God wanted him to do. So he commanded the Lord with confidence. (See Exodus 7) Elijah had a similar experience. In his showdown at Mt. Carmel against the false prophets of Baal, he called down fire from heaven. He commanded God, because he knew what God wanted to do. (See 1 Kings 18:38)

When God said, "command me." He was simply trying to change my perception of our relationship. I tend to see our relationship as servant and master, and in a sense it is. But its more than that. In John 15:15, Jesus said, "I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master's business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you." In the last year, God has asked me to come closer to him. To spend more and more time meditating on Him and His plans. He's encouraged me to ask the kind of questions I'd always been afraid to ask. He always answers my questions straight forwardly. He wants me (and you) to know the details of His plans for our lives. The key is being close enough to God to "know His business."

Make no mistake, our personal issues must be dealt with first. Moses spent 40 years as God dealt with his attitude. God is working out of me a lot of my issues, too. But as we grow in obedience to God, (as the servant) He treats us not as servants but friends. Let's go one step further. The bible actually describes our relationship with God in terms many of us don't feel worthy of. We are seated in the heavenly kingdom with Jesus and joint-heirs with him of that kingdom. (Romans 8:17 and Ephesians 2:6)

God has called us to rule both in this present age and in the ages to come. How are we to do this? My idea of ruling and enforcing God's will in my sphere is often a lot of whining, whimpering and begging God to do something. Its my Calvinist world-view coming to the surface. When I'm feeling down and defeated and it seems as though I've made a hopeless mess of things, its comforting to reflect on God's sovereignty. When I'm confused about why something happened, I lean of the fact that God does what he wants for his own reasons. The determinism of Calvinism can be comforting. But it leaves us powerless.

God wants us to interact with him as we rule with Him. That's the idea of being a co-heir with Christ. We need to seek the mind of the Lord, find out what He wants to do in a situation and declare what His will is. I'm learning that making declarations that are consistent with God's will is a powerful way to pray. I had a shocking example of this a few days ago.

My daughter asked me to proof read an essay she wrote for school. She's 16 and a decent writer, but she doesn't write at the level of an adult. As I read her essay I was stunned. I couldn't believe she had written the essay she handed me. It seemed like it had been written by someone working on their Master's degree. She strung together one complex idea after another in a very compelling argument. She cited many resources and used terms I'd never even heard of. What happened?

Declarations happened. I've been praying for God to give her wisdom, knowledge, and favor in her studies. Every night at her bedside I make declarations over her. Yes, I do ask for some things, but just as often, I make declarations of what I know God wants to do for her. God has been doing all the things I had asked for and declared - and I wasn't even aware of it until I read her paper. Funny thing - How many of us take these things seriously before God? I think He wants to do a lot more than we realize.

I knew about God's desire for me to command healing before He told me to do it. Kim Clement prophesied about us commanding God in this season. I wondered when the time would come for God to ask me to do it. In October of last year, Kim gave this prophetic word:

"Take this next week and I want you to begin to command Me. You say, how can we command the Lord? God says command Me. Do not pray, do not weep, do not beseech, do not repent. I want you to command. For this storm that you are in must be steered in the right direction. Therefore, I say command Me. And I will blind your enemies, I will blind your adversary, I will bring blindness to your problems. I will bring blindness to your adversary who is approaching you to take you and to shake you. God says, I will enlighten the eyes of this nation, I will bring light. In a twinkling of an eye there shall be a change. As I speak it and this is My word tonight says the Lord."
October 26, 2008 - Humble, TX

I believe its time for us to step up to a higher level. God is calling us to command healing and to declare his will. He has given us authority to represent Him. He is weary of our powerless life. (Aren't we?) If God tells you or I to pray or command healing - He's going to make sure it happens. We need to put fear and unbelief behind us.

I'm learning to deal with my fear and unbelief. I'm leaving a life of skepticism and starting to believe in divine healing. I'm starting over and I don't have that much faith. A few days ago I began reading the thickest book I've ever seen. It's about the life of John G. Lake. Almost 1,000 pages of sermons, testimonies of healing, and his personal diary. He had what was arguably the greatest healing ministry since Jesus. He walked in a closeness with God I can only hope to emulate. He has become my modern day role model. I study the way in which Jesus did ministry, so did Lake. I'm going to try to follow The Lord in the way Lake did. Reading about the miracles others have performed gives my small faith a big boost. I hope one day soon I'll be writing stories of God's love being displayed through healing on a daily basis.

I'm asking you to join me in this pursuit. It's my conviction that any of us can command healing, work in miracles, prophesy, or function in any of the spiritual gifts listed in 1 Cor. 12: 8-11. It's the Holy Spirit who is operating through us, as He wills to do it. If He wants you to prophesy one day, heal the next, and give a word of knowledge next week, why would you want to stand in the way? Cooperating with God allows Him to bless others through us.