Saturday, February 25, 2012

The Great Commission or a Church Resume?

I was recently asked about healing in ministry. Which is a topic I love to share with anyone who asks. In this case there was a definite tone to the  question which struck me odd. "Have you seen any healing miracles?" It was from another Christian and the question was raised after I mentioned I was in a healing ministry. The question didn't come from a person that doubted miracles either. The question was raised by a person who thought only the church they attended saw true miracles. So any miracle outside of the ones observed in this church were of a lesser calibre miracle or weren't true miracles at all. 

Which was interesting and at the same time to me, a bit sad. I have worked in ministry from people at this church and this wasn't their view at all on healing and miracles. 

I have seen this same spirit before in large churches that heaven, miracles and gifts of the spirit are reserved exclusively for these churches or a denomination for that matter. 

Which adds more confusion as to how I should answer the question for this individual. I didn't realize miracles were for a resume or a pedigree to build up a name for a church. I see miracles inside church with prayer sessions, but many times my Father's healing room is outside the church. And many times my Father sets up his MASH tent in areas many Christians refuse to go during the day or night. 

For example, recently, on Night Strike, our team went down a dark alley in San Francisco to a small homeless camp. The alley wreaked of urine and took some getting used to, if one ever did get used to that wretched smell. A homeless woman was in the alley here, she was down and out and battling addiction. She re-injured her toe earlier during the day was in a lot of pain. Our Night Strike team comprised of high schoolers, moms, and a couple of young adults, and the biggest lackey of all , myself, from different churches in the bay area, stood our ground that night with the promise from the Father that we could heal in Jesus name. 

We all prayed differently, some a bit weirder than others. But we stayed focus on the fact that Jesus heals and within minutes this woman's excruciating pain was taken from her. We stayed longer and the Father gave us words of encouragement, only words Jesus and this woman could have known. And she was brought to tears by the God who loves her. 

It was Jesus that healed her, the Holy Spirit that gave us the words to speak into the woman, and it was the Father's love that set the whole encounter in motion. It had nothing to do with the churches we were from or our pedigrees in healing. It was at that moment -JESUS!

And it can happen anywhere and by anyone. Anywhere you call upon the name mighty name of Jesus and believe in his healing power. 

Director's Cut:
As I thought about my original post, God reminded me of another healing session from that same evening on the streets. This one opened my eyes to the topic in discussion.

On this night a young man, named Jesse, with mild down syndrome, was on our team. Night Strike leaders know Jesse, he has been a team member for the past couple of years. On this evening, we were in the Tenderloin on a street corner. Jesse was talking with a man that was a Vietnam war veteran. The man had no fingers on both of his hands, they were blown off in an explosion during the war. There were only knuckle stubs where the fingers used to be.

Jesse held the man's hands and prayed for the fingers in this man's hands to grow out. I stood there in agreement of the miracle and listened earnestly as the words came up from Jesse's spirit. This is completely God and the body of church praying to heal itself. A young man with physical mental disabilities praying for a Vietnam veteran's hands to be restored and the man made whole. This is Jesus in action. The man's fingers didn't grow out, but I wouldn't have been surprised if they did. Jesse was in full expectation of a miracle. We were in agreement with Jesse for the miracle. That's the body of Christ praying for a healing miracle.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Fallen Angels Attack the Will

Monique, a woman in her mid-fifties, was a Christian for the past two decades. Monique loved Jesus and the walls of her house were filled with needle points she had made containing scripture. Christian magazines were neatly displayed on her coffee table. Monique's bookshelf contained a library of books from her favorite author's, Joyce Meyers, and Joel Osteen to name a few. The house picture perfect and had the appearance of being well kept and in order. Monique also watched her grandkids when they came home from school until her son could come and pick them up when he got off work. Everything looked normal in Monique's life.

By meeting Monique on her church patio and talking with her you wouldn't know she was in severe demonic torment. You wouldn't know that Monique had gone from deliverance minister to deliverance minister seeking help and prayers of liberation. Monique was living a life of solitude and darkness. A darkness not many Christians understand. Not many pastors and Christian counselors understand this solitude either. You see Monique was demonized. A common Christian belief is that we believers can't be demonized. How do they become demonized? We are born into sin. Many doorways opened in their pre-believer part of their lives. Monique is fictional, but her testimony is a collage of what is commonly encountered in deliverance ministry and Roman Catholic exorcism ministry. Demonization can occur from a traumatic event, such as molestation, rape, or witnessing a horrible event. It can also happen subtly by having a spirit isolate a person in their youth and beginning the familiarization of them. Or it can happen by participating in unholy practices, doctrine religions, or blindly giving oathes that open doorways. Not all demonization comes from dabbling in the occult.

Monique is in a demonic obsessive state where false angels of light come and speak to her, either in a vision, or through voices in her head and tell her she is evil and is going to burn in hell for eternity. A deliverance team can spend hours praying with this individual and show them the scripture that proves the messages they are receiving are lies. Then within hours, the evil spirits return and convince the person they are damned. Many times in these cases, the person will read the scripture and a religious spirit will twist the text into lies of self-condemnation. Spirits can block these individuals from praying as well, usually with demonic magic shows. Some individuals even keep meticulous journals with drawings of the visitations and the false prophecies given. This is when the spirits show up and diverts the attention of the individual away from Jesus and on the demonic.

I have many deliverance books in my library, some books out of print, some books now on the rare book list. With the exception of a few books written recently, not a whole lot of books deal with this battle of the will that takes place in demonic obsession. Unfortunately, spiritual warfare is a hot publishing item right now and lot of sub-standard material is being re-hashed to meet market consumption demands. Many conference speakers have books out on spiritual warfare. Even books and prayer guides on how to route demons and over come the demonic. From my experience, these books lack a critical chapter, which volumes in and of itself can be written on, the battle of the will.

Many books devote a chapter or two to the definition of the stronghold. It is so much more than a definition in a book. A stronghold is a battlefield – a very dark battlefield. Not a lot is written about this because it would require notes collected from a deliverance team that actually spends the months with these people as they go through these battles. A conference speaker doesn't have the bandwidth to carry out such an operation – especially of individual focused magnitude.

The stronghold and what it is can only be clearly explained by people in the trenches. A stronghold is a battlefield of the soul. God created us in body, soul and spirit. The soul is a complicated non-corporeal component of creation that is critical for the body to operate. Within the soul are our minds, which is our consciousness, there is our will, our memory and our imagination. When the demonic attacks it goes right for the juggler – the soul, more precisely the will. The demonic attack puts the will in question of it's own salvation that the mind and conscious have accepted. Pause a minute and re-read that. That is a stronghold. When the will is completely compromised the possession can take place.

During such a battle, the consciousness believes it is saved and invokes scripture and prayer to protect itself from attacks. Jesus come save me – comes from the consciousness. Demonic spirits manifest during this attack and appeal to the will, either through manifestation of false angels, demons, shadows, touch and affecting the senses, visions, or voices, and convince the individual they are evil and going to hell. It is not uncommon for these individuals to see visions of themselves burning in hell.

A deliverance minister will use scripture to remind the individual they are saved, to temporarily restore the will. Using scripture like, Isaiah 43:25 to remind the individual, like Monique, of God's promises when we ask for forgiveness and let Jesus in.

"I am the one who wipes out your lawless acts.
I do it because of who I am.
I will not remember your sins anymore.

The truth of scripture will set in and the warfare subsides – temporarily.

A few hours later, the will is under attack again. The spirits bring messages of damnation and not being saved. Visions and reminders of what the person did in either their pre-believer lifestyles, or current repeating sins that open the doorway for further demonization. Attacking the will weakens the person as they blindly listen to the lies of the demonic. The will collapses in the fight, it is the one bracing the door from allowing the demonic to gain entry. The message of the enemy comes in – to go get high, or have sex, you might as well -after all you're damned and going to hell. Unfortunately, individuals listen to this and goes out and commits an act/acts of sin. The devil didn't make them sin. They fell for the lie from the father of lies. This flip flopping in thoughts and battle of the will is demonic obsession. People in demonic obsession are borderline unstable, if not all ready been in and out of mental facilities. Insanity can be a sign of demonization, but not always. It takes discernment to determine if the mind is just physically sick or if there is diabolism. We have encountered cases where the mind was simply sick and physically damaged.

The will has been allowed, by themselves, to be so badly beaten, it no longer wants to urge the consciousness to take responsibility for any aspect of their own lives. The will has been over run and now is letting in a flood of lies. The individual must, on their own strength, have the will get back on it's feet (so to speak), pick up the door that was beat down from the outside and seal the front gate to the inner castle of the soul. These individuals will drive you nuts in the process. Phone calls, txts and e-mails come flooding in and at all hours of the day. It is all apart of the battle strategy of the demonic to demonize the individual by driving off other Christians from them with their repetitive demands. It is a battle strategy to isolate the individual for the further advance towards demonic possession or the spirits drive them to suicidal behaviors. During this conflict we must be careful not to be enablers with flooding these people with prayer. By that I mean pray for them as the Holy Spirit sees fit and directs us. These individuals will call you constantly to dictate to you how to pray for them. Some of these individuals have a prayer chain so big they should have been able to walk on water by now with their prayer requests. This is the demonic trying to take control of the deliverance prayer. The goal of the huge prayer chains is demonic and you'll notice it's set up like a terror cell. Many prayer warriors don't know who each other are or spread out across the country. The tactic here is to exasperate as many prayer warriors as possible. During this conflict it is important to make the individual get back on their feet and align their beaten will with their consciousness for a clash with the forces of darkness and drive them out once and for all.

These cases take lots of time and lots of wisdom from the Holy Spirit. In the end it is all up to the Holy Spirit and the individual. Strongholds are only broken when the individual has their will engaged in the fight. Their own will must stand guard at the front draw bridge of their own inner castle and oppose the raiding parties of the forces of darkness. I will say this again. It is up to the person if they want to be delivered, i.e. set free. Like Kenny Rogers said – you gotta know when to hold them and know when to fold them. It is likely you may have to walk away from ministering. You can't fight for someone who isn't willing to fight for themselves. We have seen healing and we have seen disappointment. God gave us free will. We can stand on our authority and use our free will or we can sit and let the enemy beat our door in.