Saturday, September 11, 2010

Remembering 9/11—My Sheep Hear My Voice…Even In The Midst of Chaos

Newspaper interview in the south of Sweden after 9/11/01
about a crusade we did there and the fact that we were
some of the few Americans traveling at that time

Nine years ago, I awoke to my brother, a pilot for a major airline, yelling on the phone: "Wake up….! Listen man, two jets were just hijacked and slammed into the World Trade Center and another just hit the Pentagon! They've grounded me and my crew in the middle of nowhere, along with all the other pilots; we’re stuck. You’re flying to Paris in 2 days but everything is shut feels like the world is exploding…!!!"

That we actually made it to Paris later in the week through the worst clogged airport and most awful flight experience ever is nothing short of a demonstration of God's grace to us in the midst of such chaos.

After turning on the TV and radio that morning it was all too real: the images of the burning World Trade Center - the very building we had visited just one year before, where we had stood taking a picture right in front of it and prophesying that one day it would be leveled in the balance of God's economy (I thought 100 years in the future when Armageddon takes place, not just one year later.) Glued to the TV, we now watched it falling to the ground on top of itself as people ran frantically down the street trying to escape the furious dust storm created in the wake of its collapse.

All mayhem seemed to ensue for a short while, and it seemed like we definitely were going to be stuck, not flying anywhere anytime soon. We began to pray as to what God's will might be in this situation, since we were scheduled to minister in Lyon, France later that week and everything was pretty much set. The biggest monkey wrench one could ever imagine had just been thrown into our plans. "Lord what do we do?" Every natural thought and every friend and family member said, "Cancel," and yet that still small voice said something I really didn't want to hear: "Persevere and go on to what I've called you to do."

With that still small voice confirmed, we slugged forward, days on the phone re-arranging tickets, resetting travel itineraries, all against the advice and remonstrations of concerned friends and family. Finally, later in the week we had everything arranged, so we thought, and showed up at the chaotic airport to realize we'd only just begun the battle.

We struggled to get through the miles of people strewn around all over the airport, many just camping out, seemingly dazed and confused. After hours of traipsing through the chaos, we finally checked in and were close to boarding, when a certain check-in clerk began to manifest on us. This guy called us over and just began to go off, attacking us on things that had nothing to do with us and complaining about the word mission in the name on our ticket, upset that “how could we be going on a mission at this time when people are being killed and stranded?” (we had ministry-discounted tickets). Ranting and raving, probably from the stress of the last few days, he freaked out and demanded that we pay him an additional $500 dollars for really nothing. It was totally unjustified and uncalled for, and not right, but he held all the cards and said he wasn't letting us on the plane unless we paid. I had to bite my tongue very hard and step aside and pray for a few moments to know what to do. That enemy was coming against us with all guns blazing was clear, and it was making me pretty upset, but the Holy Spirit impressed me with "just pay it and it will be dealt with later."

I reluctantly paid the extortion fee to the mission-hating dude and got on the plane—fit to be tied—and went on to have a terrible flight with lots of turbulence and nightmares of being flown into a building by a terrorist every time I closed my eyes to get some rest, that phone call from my brother reverberating in my memory for some time. The airports were a mess all over the world and we had to slug it out through Charles de Gaulle on the other side of the Atlantic, which held the same chaos for our landing, and then struggling on through all of it all the way to Lyon.

When we finally got to Lyon it was like walking on to a calm shore after being caught at sea in a long, drawn out storm. God just moved so powerfully the whole time we preached and ministered, which gave us great confirmation that we had done the right thing. After France, we went on to awesome ministry in many other places like Spain and Sweden and actually had many things work in our favor due to the low amount of tourists and travelers due to the recent events. We walked right into museums that normally would have long lines and actually got some of the best uncrowded waves, in between ministering, at some of the best spots on the continent since all the contests were cancelled.

Remarkably, we actually ended up being interviewed and having our picture run in a decent-sized newspaper in the south of Sweden about a crusade we were doing there, since they were so intrigued that Americans like us would be traveling at that time. God actually worked it all for good at the end of the day and we even got our $500 dollars back from the airlines at the end of it all as well.

It is so important to listen to what the Lord is saying to us rather than what the world is trying to tell us to do. Jesus said: "My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me." (John 10:27) As His followers it is so vitally important to learn to listen to that still small voice if we want to be found fulfilling His will in our lives.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Follow the Wind

John 3:8: The wind blows wherever it pleases. You hear its sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone born of the Spirit.

We just returned from the Santa Barbara area once again, where we experienced another wild outpouring of the Spirit, much like the one we experienced just a little bit ago!

If you had a chance to read one of our recent previous blogs here you may remember that we had gone there a few months ago through a last-minute phone call of a friend which turned into a major divine appointment (read below). This particular time however, we went up right after attending a wedding in the area feeling the Spirit was leading us to just go by there with no real plans set up for anything other than just stopping by. And we ended up experiencing another outpouring of God's power much like we did a couple months back.

We showed up to one of their meetings this last weekend and gave a spontaneous word right at the very end of one of their services, this was after spending the majority of that meeting out in the street in the middle of a divine appointment that took place right when we showed up, where we were leading a guy to Christ out in the front of their place while the service went on, and then just coming in at the last moment for the remainder of the meeting and giving a word that God put on my heart all of a sudden, which led to the Spirit being poured out at the end of their meeting in a very powerful way.

That move of the Spirit continued on throughout that evening as we prayed with others, in fact we had quite the move of holy laughter late that same night as God moved powerfully on a guy who was new to all this and got radically touched by God in a major way as he got filled and broke out in the joy of the Lord. That infectious joy of the Spirit spread to many others including myself, and we were deeply refreshed, and then the next day the Holy Spirit was poured out throughout the whole day as well.

In fact, the next morning, after staying the night, we woke up to a group of guys who had forgotten their Bible there at the house church where we were staying. As they came in and we started talking with them, one of them had a word that he felt he needed to pray over us. We got blasted first thing in the morning; what a cool way to wake up, and then the blasting continued as others began to spontaneously show up at the house. We then began to pray for them and had another all-day outpouring of the Spirit that went on from morning until way late in the day.

The Holy Spirit was moving so deeply and powerfully over so many lives in such a significant way. It was truly amazing to experience and see God move, touch, and fill one person after another after another, the presence of God spreading like wildfire the whole time to where we just felt like we were living in the glory.

In the middle of it all we had to suddenly rush back for a funeral of a friend who just passed away, and so it was back to the reality of the freeway once we got going, but along the way we stopped by an out-of-the-way surf spot I felt led to check out and even though the onshore winds were howling and every place was trashed and blown out to where it was looking like "victory at sea," this one particular spot was completely glassy, clean, and surprisingly unaffected by the wind, but even more amazing was the fact that we surfed it completely by ourselves. It felt like a surreal scene out of the 1950's, not the overcrowded, overpopulated lineups of the 21st century. Praise God! Such blessings flow when we follow the wind of his Spirit.

As we finished our surf I thought of how the weekend had begun while eating dinner with some friends right before we left to go up north. We were saying a quick prayer in the parking lot as we were leaving, asking God to give us divine appointments that weekend as we headed our separate ways. As the words came out of my mouth, the Holy Spirit spoke: "One is right in front of you." I waited a moment and then I looked over at a young guy walking across the parking lot. The Holy Spirit was pulling at me to go talk to him but I asked for some kind of confirmation. I then noticed he was wearing a shirt with a big picture of Christ on it, that's when the Lord spoke in my heart, "Is that enough confirmation?" I ran over after that and asked him if he had a relationship with Christ whom he wore on his shirt, he said he didn't, but as we talked with him he confessed that many had been witnessing to him and in his own words, "God was chasing after him." The chase was over as we led him to Christ right there in the parking lot as we prayed with him. I knew God had a wild weekend in store when things started like that but the blessings go beyond our expectations when we follow the wind of the Spirit!!!