Thursday, March 22, 2012

Just Another Feather in the Cap

I never have been fond of handing out tracks. It's not in my gifting to do it properly. I have a homeless friend who is on our Night Strike team and this guy can hand out tracks. It's almost like an anointing on him to pass these out and speak to people about Jesus. When I try it, I usually get pelted by an old woman wielding her purse as a weapon. Tracks just aren't my means of evangelism. I have also seen tracks misused more often than being used effectively.

We have had many teams spin off their own street ministry after attending Night Strike. Which is very cool because it means they get what we're doing. It's simple to do street ministry and we equip those people to launch their own efforts. One night I was on the streets and I saw a ministry team that was spun off from a Night Strike event. I was excited and spoke with the man leading his team. We need more people on the streets ministering period! This is a horrible economy and there are more homeless showing up in the streets and doorways.

This gentleman told me how excited he was that his team was doing great. Which is great news! Then he told me he had four people in one sidewalk camp receive Jesus. He pointed over to the camp and I recognized it. It was a camp where everyone was ALREADY saved. The people in this particular camp had grown up in church. One was a beautiful choir member. The people in the camp were just being polite to the youngsters passing out tracks. Now was the will of the Father brought to the camp on this evening? I know this minister didn't like the fact I was not out to have every person we encountered accept Christ through Night Strike ministry. So he decided to do it on his team. If you're objective on the streets is to save the already saved, what did you miss at the encounter? What did the Father send you to accomplish in the first place? What was the divine encounter that was missed? Having to feel you need to convert everyone you meet is a “feather in the cap” mentality. It doesn't work. And I know over time this minister will figure this out by talking to the homeless. The people at this camp, and many homeless are already saved. Don't mistake their spirituality for their earthly disposition.

Having someone recite the salvation prayer with you doesn't tear down their strongholds. Remember, God gave Adam and Eve free will to rebel against God. Having someone come by and witness to Adam and Eve and having them recite the salvation prayer wouldn't have changed their condition any. They already knew God, and just because Adam and Eve now found themselves homeless after being banished from the garden, they weren't any less loved in God's eyes. They were just dealing with the consequences of their actions. Many scenarios could have been played out with Adam and Eve. They had free will. They could have chosen to stay and not rebel. What if Adam had chosen to just leave the garden and be homeless on his own accord? Just as many homeless choose to be homeless in their own lifestyle. That would certainly have been a plausible scenario. It makes no sense to us. But Adam could have known God and chose to be homeless - and yet, still love God. Similarly, many of our homeless friends know and love Jesus. They allow us into their lives when we come to pray. We would love to see them made whole and leave the street life forever, but they're still working things out inside themselves and fighting strongholds of addiction, among other things.

When we stop by to see our friends on the streets, we step into their lives and their pain and pray with them and love them. Our pre-saved friends may not want us to pray for them. However, they would like us to sit down and listen to what is going on in their lives. The Father like's listening to their problems and letting them know He is listening. That's the mission our Father sends us out on these nights, to love all His children, whether saved or pre-saved.

Using tracks with pre-believers can also put up a wall. If you don't know how to work without tracks and an agenda what will you use? Witches, atheist, buddhists, and satanists? How would you talk to them? What is the Fathers will for them? Stand in front of them and explain your track and see how long that conversation lasts. The door will be instantly closed.

We as believers must have the maturity to know that the heavenly Father can handle his own encounters. He sets them up. We do have end of the evening testimonies at Night Strike of people who came to Christ by a powerful encounter set up by the Father that loves them. Many times it was just by being on hand and providing a simple need for them. Then an encounter just happens. It was the heavenly Father who set up the encounter and orchestrated it.We don't count the encounter as McDonald's counts the number of burgers served. It's all about the person God placed in front of you at the time of ministry and what the Father wants to say to them at their place in life at that moment.

My Father in heaven is extremely patient. I have no agenda when I go on the streets to be an ambassador for my Father in heaven. God invented time and He lives outside of it. He knows how to chase a son or a daughter. When the time comes for pre-believer to make the change to being a justified spirit we're their or someone else is. The goal isn't for us to add another feather to our cap for souls saved. Our mission is to be available when any situation arises so the Father may use us in an encounter with His children. We have seen some incredible eternal changes in people. Many of these encounters took years. And many saved souls went on unnoticed by us, because we were a part of the change, and the conviction of the Holy Spirit led them to their knees before Jesus in a dark alley some where.

When a heart is changed by the conviction of the Holy Spirit it is powerful. It may require just one encounter or hundreds of encounters by sons and daughters to get a person to this place of repentance. And the change is powerful and permanent. When a person is spoon fed salvation, rarely are the results long lasting. Mainly, because it was brought about by man's will and agenda and void of God's. Although, the intention was good, and an earthly feather was put in your cap, the vine did not grow.

Friday, March 16, 2012

Proof of the Power that the Spirit Gives

In first couple of chapters of 1 Corinthians, the Apostle Paul talks about the wisdom of God. In verse 2:4,

“My teaching and preaching were not with words of human wisdom that persuade people but with proof of the power that the (Holy) Spirit gives.”

In this context the Apostle Paul was speaking about the power of the works on the cross and the resurrection of Christ to defeat sin. Many times we find in street ministry that the proof of the power the Spirit gives is dispensed in any form God chooses. We had a ministry team from Vanguard University out on the streets of the Haight, this last Thursday night (03/15/12).

During one of our ministry stops, as we walked the streets, to disperse food, on this night, we encountered a woman named Sandy. Nearly everyone we encounter on the streets is an addict. Sandy had obviously been using prior to our arrival. She was very coherent, but nonetheless, was high.

I remember meeting Sandy as she introduced herself to me as a worshiper of Lucifer. She knew we were Christians. I looked down at Sandy's hands and all her fingers had band-aids on them from her cutting herself. Her left palm had a nasty gash with a bandage over it from something she had done to herself.

I talked with Sandy a bit and cracked some jokes and made her laugh. She tried to be a tough as nails satanist but I wasn't buying in to it. There was some spiritual stuff going on with Sandy as well as the apparent addiction. She tried to be tough again and offered to pray over me with a voodoo prayer from New Orleans. I told her she could as long as I could give her a Holy Ghost hug in return. Sandy returned a puzzled look and mumbled some prayer. When she was finished I let her know it was my turn to give her the Holy Ghost hug. I opened my arms wide open and let her in. I guess she figured -fair is fair. So she had to let me return the favor -MAGNIFIED! That's how Jesus rolls.

Sandy came into my arms and I held her tight as the Father in heaven held His precious daughter. Sandy had never felt a loving embrace and she started to cry. She wanted to be released from the hug because it was a release of emotions for her. I let her go and she took several steps away from me and wiped her eyes. Pointing back at me, “You made me cry. First you made me laugh and now you made me cry!” I told her that was the Holy Ghost hug. She wiped her eyes and mentioned that she never felt anything like that before in her life.

I asked Sandy if I could pray over her hands, she said, “No!”. She was afraid I was going to put something into her hand through prayer. She was used to witchcraft prayers.

Sandy mingled around our team and walked over to two of the girls on my team this evening. Two young girls who looked like they wouldn't stir up anything like I did.

Sandy talked with the girls and told them she knew Jesus and that Lucifer and some other spirits talking to her told her that the Holy Spirit was evil. The young ladies ministered with Sandy and had some breakthrough in revealing who the father of lies was. They led her in a prayer to hear Jesus over Lucifer and suddenly Sandy started shaking and squirming. At this time I came in behind Sandy to catch her, I thought she was going to fall to the ground or get slain in the spirit. Now, together with the girls, we prayed to bind the spirits that were lying to Sandy. She shook some more and we caught her as she went to down to the sidewalk. My team started binding the spirits of cutting and witchcraft and commanded them off her. Sandy shouted out and said her back was burning and one of the spirits was shoving their finger in her back. At this time we prayed in the Holy Spirit as thick as he wanted to come into the condition on the street. Sandy was more amazed at the power of the Holy Spirit she felt right there than with the battle going on against the evil spirits.

Some of the by standers were amazed at the change in the countenance of Sandy's face as some of the spirits were expelled. We didn't expel all the spirits, we only worked as far as Sandy was willing to work with us. When we were through she wanted to know how to experience the Holy Spirit again. That was what she remembered through the whole experience. Not the warfare.

I always enjoy street ministry like this where the Holy Spirit reveals Himself in such a powerful manifestation. He comes in and pours himself over a person he is calling home, like Sandy. And He is revealing the empowerment of His Spirit to young ministers, such as the young ladies from Vanguard University. After the encounter I got to entertain a great conversation and answer questions to these students about the invisible spirit realm. Their eyes were wide opened to what they had witnessed first hand and participated in expelling. The most exciting part of the conversation was that these students were able to describe back to me in their own words the empowerment of the Holy Spirit they felt during the battle and could still feel radiating in them minutes afterwards.

Many times people e-mail me to teach them about spiritual warfare. I tell them to go out to a Night Strike. And the usual reply is, No. Call me and take me out on an appointment and teach me. Well, I can't make spirits appear at the snap of finger. Which is why I tell people to come out and do street ministry with me. You wanna learn spiritual warfare? You're gonna have to endure the stench of human bi-products, and the breath laced with alcohol and hug people who have a small eco-system living on them. That there is spiritual warfare! And I know Jesus is proud of the all the students who have been going out with us this week and seeking the Father deeper. Deep calls to deep!

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Empowerment of the Holy Spirit

Recently I had the honor to minister with two friends, Rev. Catalina and Cisco. Rev. Catalina and Cisco are the sozo prayer team for their church. Rev. Catalina and I have both been coming across some strange darker torments in Christians during our individual deliverance ministries. I rode shotgun with Rev. Catalina and Cisco on this ministry call. We met at the house of the individual experiencing the torment, whom we'll call Tom.

When the three of us arrived, Tom explained to us the situation he was experiencing. Spirits would constantly appear to him and tell him they would harm him. When our prayer team was on the scene, the spirits were threatening to hurt Tom if he tells us anything. What the spirits feared in Rev. Catalina, Cisco, and myself was our empowerment in the Holy Spirit. The spirits wanted Tom to get rid of us.

Frequently, during the prayer session, the spirits would interfere and be disruptive. One spirit kept trying to freeze the room and make it cold. It was a strange sensation like someone with ice hold hands trying to freeze parts of your body. This tactic wasn't working well for the spirits. When I would feel a cold pocket I would put my hand in it and quietly pray in tongues and it would move away from my hand.

In the middle of the prayer session, Rev. Catalina prayed and called down heaven. The disruptive spirits didn't like the presence of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit in the room, so they temporarily departed. At this time we had break through with Tom and he was able, for the first time in months, to hear the voice of his Father in heaven speak to him.

This testimony paints an example of a prayer team that, one, knows their individual identities in Christ, two, stands in their authority in Christ, and three, walks in their empowerment of the Holy Spirit. In the latter, I am not just referring to me praying in tongues, I am also talking about the prayer team standing in agreement that the power of heaven was coming into Tom's living room. The Father in heaven was coming to speak to His son, Tom. The empowerment of the Holy Spirit is moving and praying in the supernatural and expecting results.

Recently, while giving a talk on the empowerment of the Holy Spirit, I was re-acquainted to an age old argument in the church. If I am saved by Jesus, don't I have the Holy Spirit? If I am saved by Jesus can't I heal and prophecy without the baptism of the Holy Spirit? These questions in church can be equally as hot a topic as abortion. Just ask the pastors who brought it up in their own church. Some churches the Holy Spirit flows freely and in some churches, the amount of Spirit released comes in dosages. Churches have literally split over this weighted question.

On the flip side, church members have used the empowerment of the Holy Spirit to look down on other churches that don't move in the Spirit. It's hard for one end of the church moving in the Spirit to understand that at the other end of the church spectrum there are fears of moving in the Spirit. How do I know it really is the Spirit and not an evil spirit tricking me with healings. Aren't the so called Spirit filled churches like Bethel Redding succumbing to sin because they're only chasing miracles? Aren't the people operating in the empowerment of the Holy Spirit just using it as a vice to prove they're more holy-er than thou? The church is wildly and inexplicably at both sides of the fence on this.

Then there are church body members, like myself, and my prayer warrior patriots, who are living radically in the middle. Prior to 2007 I didn't believe in healing miracles at all or the power of the Holy Spirit. I was about 38 years old in my life and had been attending church all my life. The Holy Spirit was always this nebulous thing or it. There was the Father in heaven, the Son Jesus, who I always believed was in heaven, like some Greek god looking down on us from Olympus. And then there was this Holy Spirit, thing, it, or whatever it was that was just the third piece of the trinity. In my belief the Holy Spirit never broke through to our physical universe but was also something else I would better understand when I went on to my glory in heaven. I accepted Jesus and I knew the Holy Spirit was a part of me from the package deal in Romans 8.

My pace at understanding the mysteries of the Bible was slower than God's timeline for me to come up to speed. So during this time he put his boot in my seat and punted me into coming up to speed. It was in the last months of 2007 that God drafted me into the spiritual war. I no longer had the luxury of spending decades of getting around to diving into the Bible. I was put on the spiritual autobahn crash course to come up to speed fast. God even put me on my first spiritual warfare assignment to train me as I go. Little did I know it was this Holy Spirit, nebulous, it, thing I didn't understand, that had lifted me to my feet and had become my gunny sergeant to train me in this really weird war with an invisible enemy that could manipulate objects in our physical realm.

During my first month of training, God had sent some friends my way to be my first mentors. Both of them spoke to me about this baptism of the Holy Spirit thing. Which I wasn't really interested in because I was already water baptized. During this time of my life I was, and still am, an avid weight lifter, I was getting up at 4:30 AM to prepare for a fitness competition. I would spend the early AM on the spin cycle praying. One particular morning I was on the spin cycle praying to God about what is this baptism of the Holy Spirit? I petitioned question after question about the baptism of the Holy Spirit. Then in a moment, I remember feeling loosing control of my body and slowly falling to the floor of my garage. And shaking or something going on and I was weeping uncontrollably. It wasn't sadness, it was something enveloping me. It was the Holy Spirit. This thing I didn't believe crossed over from heaven yet now was all over me and covering me. I could feel the presence of the Holy Spirit. And it wasn't an it! The Holy Spirit was this powerful, loving presence. This wasn't a psychosomatic slash wishful thinking experience. Something was going on and it was definitely the Holy Spirit.

After the experience subsided, I figured, wow! That was the baptism of the Holy Spirit. Why not try out the gift of tongues that accompanies this? So I tried it. But no gift of tongues. Instead, these clicking noises came out like I was one of the bush men in the movie, “The God's Must be Crazy”. Oh, come on! Where was the supernatural tongues that was supposed to manifest? I soon found out my clicking noises were my baby tongues and over time, a couple of months it came in full as I used it. Later, I started to walk in prophecy and healing.

As my wife, friends, and I minister, we can feel the empowerment of the Holy Spirit with us on the dark streets and back alley ways. With the baptism you learn to feel the presence of the one Jesus told us to wait for and seek. Yes, we have the Holy Spirit in us, when we ask Jesus into our lives, and yes we can heal and cast out spirits. Jesus wanted each of us to go deeper in him, the Father, and the Holy Spirit. The baptism of the Holy Spirit is an invitation to seek God deeper. It's a personal choice that God leaves up to each one of us to make. The Holy Spirit is like that He is gentle and wants to be invited. If you choose to move into the gifts of the Holy Spirit seek the baptism and receive the empowerment!

But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth.

Acts 1:8