Healing and Deliverance begins with the revelation depicted in this very special story:
Healing and Deliverance begins with the revelation depicted in this very special story:
This afternoon a prophet-friend of mine emailed me with a time-stamp on his email of “2:22.” With deeply saddening news he informed me that yet another prophet, Bob Jones, had gone to be with the Lord today.
Bob spoke-into my life profoundly so, on several occasions, over many years. The most significant encounter with him incidentally involved Revelation 22:2 as a springboard upon which I would later experience truly life-changing ministry in Israel. The story is simply too lengthy to include here. It will simply suffice to say that all that Bob prophesied over my life has come to pass with mind-boggling accuracy, and has systematically unfolded over many years. The Holy Spirit, in His sweetness, prompted my friend to send the note today at “2:22,” to jog my memory of the priceless things Bob spoke-into me, which evolved around the number “222.”
There was a time, perhaps over 25 years ago or so, when I was enthralled by high levels of the revelatory gifts in-action, within the work of the ministry. For it was during that period that the revelatory gifts began to move with fluidity through me, often times involuntarily so. It was all new and exciting to me, and I simply marveled at those who had transitioned to moving in high levels therein. As time wore-on however, I was less and less impressed with the gifts–especially when they were not also married with the Fruit of the Spirit (Gal. 5:22-24).
It is this divine marriage therefore; the marriage between the Gifts of the Spirit and the Fruit of the Spirit (9 of each), that rather began to leave a more lasting impact upon me. And as I look-back upon my encounters with “Uncle Bob,” I will never forget how contagious was his passionate love for the Lover of his soul–Jesus. This is what so moved me during my Bob-encounters, far more so than his personal revelation otherwise. For it was his revelation of the love of God which more so touched the lives of those about him, than anything else.
It was just a few weeks ago that I had the honor of speaking at a memorial service for yet another dear prophet-friend of mine, Dale Clarke Cathey. And to be met with the loss of both of these dear prophets within a matter of weeks, is very difficult.
I pray that the mantles left by these dear saints will not be left behind to collect dust.
I encourage you to take a quick read of the news coverage of Bob’s passing, via Charisma News, below:
This video below is that of Bob and Bonnie Jones as they are interviewed at the MorningStar campus in 2012, below:
This additional video below is that of Bob’s memorial service held at the MorningStar campus, February 21st:
Tribute to Dale Clarke Cathey
January 31, 2014
It was in 2007 that my friend Tom Dooley invited me to co-labor with he, Dale, and Don Stewart at a mini-conference called The Gift of Prophecy, to be held within the Amish community of Libby Montana; attended also by an Amish community in Bonners Ferry Idaho (immediate family from both communities reside roughly 1 hour from each other, across state lines).
As I first met Dale, he approached me with wide-open arms and an ear-to-ear grin. He then gave me a bear-hug of an embrace and buried his head on my shoulder. As is typical with most males, we tend to honor a subconscious 3-second rule (“man-code”) with hugs extended to other males, by stepping back at the 3-second mark, and by also tapping our hugger 3 times on the back, signifying the following subliminal message: “I’m…not…gay.”
At the 3-second mark however, and as I sought to disengage the hug, Dale continued his bear-hug, and just sighed. Perhaps 20 seconds later, he stepped back and said, “I love you.” As he stated such, I realized he was being used in a profound way to express the Father’s Heart to me. And for the 3 days which followed, Dale would continue to express the Father’s Heart to me in this way.
As the ministry sessions began unfolding during this conference, I noticed another unique element within Dale–he rarely felt compelled to speak before the church. In fact, I only recall him doing so once, and that very briefly. Much rather, he was focused upon speaking-into people one-on-one, in between the scheduled sessions. Dale was completely free of the all-too-common compulsion to be seen and heard in the eyes of the masses. To the radical contrary, he was content to remain in the shadows, and to equally remain wholly submitted only to that which he felt the Holy Spirit had prodded him to do. Dale’s obedience to every subtle nuance of the Holy Spirit’s nudging was remarkable. It quickly become clear to me that Dale had cultivated very keen sensitivity to what the Spirit was up to from one moment to the next.
I watched God’s grace equally being woven into our dear Amish friends through Tom and Don.
It would be perhaps a year or more later that I would have the opportunity to co-labor again with Dale, as Tom had invited me to minister at yet another mini-conference; this one in the Chicago area. I would also have the privilege of meeting and co-laboring with Brian Francis Hume during this conference. Just prior to our first session in Chicago, I recall seeing Dale in the distance, as we neared each other in a hallway. And, just like he did in Montana; his arms were open wide, and with an ear-to-ear grin on his face he embraced me with a bear-hug, while he also buried his head in my shoulder. He sighed deeply, and said, “I love you.” Three seconds later I sought to honor the “man-code” by disengaging, and doing the “I’m…not…gay” tap (3 times); and he yet held-onto me with his bear-hug, whereas I then let myself go and buried my head into his shoulder. Perhaps 20 seconds later, he looked me in the face and said, “I just love you so much.”
Once again Dale was conveying the Father’s Heart to me. He was keenly aware, once again, that this is precisely what God wished to convey to me at that moment–and he didn’t care how awkward it may have seemed to me, or anyone else for that matter. That was Dale.
As the Chicago-area conference further unfolded I watched the Holy Spirit grace the entire team with a precious word-in-season. In the same posture that I had observed Dale minister in Montana roughly 1 year prior; he again felt very comfortable ministering in the shadows, one-on-one, and to the ministry team individually. I recall leaving the conference and feeling doubly-blessed to experience the whole team co-laboring in unison as it did. And, I had once again experienced a unique touch from the Father’s Heart–through Dale.
The prophetic and apostolic anointing upon Dale was very strong, and he had the grace and anointing to speak to large audiences at any given point in time. He could have easily spoken-into the entirely assembly, but he rather chose most often to remain in the shadows, to be used to channel deeply personal words to those about him, one-on-one. I began to understand and appreciate the self-less-ness in Dale. The furthest thing from his mind was that of making a name for himself in the eyes of men.
It would be perhaps 2 years following the conference in Chicago, that I would again see Dale just north of the Birmingham area, as he, Tom Dooley and another brother from Canada would venture up to my proximity in Bessemer, as I worked a FEMA contract in response to the devastating tornado damage throughout the state. It was a tremendous treat to share dinner with Dale, Tom and our Canadian friend. They collectively spoke a great deal of life into me (I was working 7 days a week at the time, and pushing roughly 100 hours per week, managing tornado clean-up in Lawrence and Limestone counties, with a crew of 250 men). In typical fashion, Dale rendered multiple bear-hugs, and reminded me of how much he loved me. And with each gesture, it was the Father’s Heart permeating mine once again, through His love flowing through Dale.
It would then be 2 years following this meeting in Bessemer, that I would have the opportunity to co-labor with Dale and Miles Albright, in Clarksdale Mississippi — “The Crossroads.”
Several others had gone before us, including Tom Dooley and Dale and Miles themselves, laying the groundwork in intercession and prophetic proclamation; collectively discerning a forthcoming groundswell of powerful visitation to visit Mississippi, to then ignite the nation in due season.
During this mission to Mississippi, I was to stay the night at Dale’s warehouse in Birmingham on either side of 3 days spent in Clarksdale, MS, wherein we would rendezvous with Miles. As my plane touched-down in Birmingham I experienced the most violent touch-down of my life. An intense lightening storm hit the area just as the plane landed. In fact, I thought for a moment that we had blown a tire upon impact, as a loud explosion could be heard. I learned moments later that it had been a lightning strike very near the plane.
As I exited the airport and saw Dale in the distance, in his pickup, I recognized his ear-to-ear grin. As he exited his truck he threw his arms around me. This time, I didn’t respond to the instinctive 3-second-man-code; I rather just rested my head on his shoulder and prepared myself for a long bear-hug. However, just 3 seconds later he retracted, did the 3-tap-man-code on my back (“I’m…not…gay”), grabbed my suitcase and stuffed it into his truck. I stood there in shock, feeling thieved of my Dale-bear-hug. He then yelled from the truck, “Hey man! Git in here! There’s lightnin’ pop’n ever’ which a way!” We then drove to his warehouse, marveling over the massive black clouds hanging eerily low, and the wind rocking the truck and the lightening popping everywhere.
Once inside the warehouse, Dale stood there completely soaked, after insisting upon dragging my heavy luggage inside. He then looked at me, opened his arms wide, and said, “gimmie a hug.” Dale then proceeded to hug me for a good 20 seconds, and stepped back long enough to say, “I love you so much, man.” He was once again exuding the Father’s Heart to me. And it melted my heart–just like it was supposed to.
Several friends met-up with us that night at the warehouse, including Tom, Miles, Joseph Beckham and Rosemarie Russo. We prayed for one another that night, and had a fruitful time. As evening wore-on and Dale and I were alone, he suggested I turn-in as I looked exhausted. I replied, “No, I think I need to tarry a while, that you can tell me what’s on your heart.” He laughed, as he did in fact have much on his heart, that he wanted to vent. We went deep, and enjoyed some meaningful dialogue deep into the night.
The following morning Dale and I stumbled out of our beds, looking like troll dolls with hair standing straight up, and wandered like zombies into this kitchen to have some coal-black coffee and doughnuts. As we sat opposing one another in total silence, seeking new life in and through our coffee I-V’s, I noticed the Taylor acoustic guitar that Miles had left for me the night before, for use during our expedition. I pulled the Taylor out of its case, tuned it up and began to sing my favorite worship song of all time: “I Love Your Presence.”
As I lost myself in worship while playing this song, I completely forgot about Dale. At one point I glanced up and saw a most precious sight. Dale had put his coffee mug down, had closed his eyes, lifted his hands and his head skyward, and was weeping with joy as he had thoroughly lost himself in worship. At that moment the name “Enoch” came to me. I recall hearing at that moment, “Enoch walked with God, and was not.” God had plucked Enoch from the earth, out of simple desire to fellowship with him in heaven–He wanted to be with him that much. God was at this moment giving me a glimpse of the core of Dale’s heart–a heart wholly yielded to Him. I thereafter continued to play the song for some time, and we both felt the Holy Spirit sprinkle the warehouse with His sweet presence.
Throughout our intense mission to Mississippi thereafter, and following our return to the warehouse 3 days later, Dale would insist that I play “I Love Your Presence.” He could not get enough of that one song. He truly loved the Lord’s presence, and was content with His presence alone.
During our long drives to and from Mississippi, as well as our 2 over-nighters at the warehouse, Dale and I enjoyed some very rich heart-to-heart dialogue, prayer and worship together. Not long following the mission to Mississippi, Dale would go on to organize a substantial financial gift, through many of his friends far and wide, for my dear friends Amir and Hanna in Israel–yet another vital mission. What Dale did not know as he forwarded this gift to me, for Amir and Hanna, as well as a beautifully handcrafted banner made by Joanne Meeks; is that I had orchestrated 2 previous financial gifts for Amir and Hanna in the months preceding–financial gifts which were precisely the same amount as that which he had given me.
In our final conversations in recent months, Dale spoke of his desire to accompany me on my next trip to Israel. Equally so, we spoke of me accompanying Dale on his next trip to Wales. These trips together will not come to fruition in this lifetime. However we will have the joy of singing and dancing on the streets that are golden, around the Throne Room of Grace, soon and very soon.
I remain in shock, and in a state of deep sadness and loss over Dale’s departure. I had been looking forward to co-laboring with him again, this time in Israel and Wales.
As I close this reflection of my time with Dale over a 7-year period, I am grateful for Tom Dooley for introducing me to him–for clearing a path that we might co-labor together. I am equally grateful for Miles Albright, Don Stewart, and Brian Francis Hume, for contributing to these truly life-changing encounters with the Holy Spirit–which would have been incomplete without Dale in our midst.
Following our Clarksdale Mississippi mission, I mentioned to Dale that I had purposed to write an article about our expedition, that others might join the ranks of intercession in anticipation of what is now springing-forth from not only the Crossroads of Clarksdale, but Mississippi as a whole. I told him I had planned only to copy my closer friends, versus that of distributing it broadly. Dale iterated that his preference was that to keep the mission “close to our chests.” I understood at the time that Dale was very adamant about avoiding any semblance of self-promotion. All of the ministry in which he engaged was sacred, and he was so committed to avoiding the pitfalls of self-promotion and fanfare that he often discouraged others from saying or doing anything that would draw undue attention to themselves. This posture of Dale’s spoke strongly of his deeply-seated devotion to Jesus–and to Him alone.
I honored Dale’s wish thereafter, by keeping my narrative of the Crossroads mission very casual, in the form of a personal journal-entry. I thereafter only copied a handful of friends. Since Dale’s graduation into Glory however, I feel compelled to circulate the account of the mission–to honor him, and his noble act of intercession at the Crossroads of Clarksdale Mississippi. I equally honor my dear brother Miles Albright who spear-headed the mission. And lastly, I honor Tom Dooley who acted as a catalyst in spawning the 3-man “Delta Force” team.
What follows below therefore, is that written in personal-journal flavor; as I casually reflected upon the profound implications of what occurred in Clarksdale Mississippi, versus that of writing to a larger audience.
Proverbs 8:34 reads, “Blessed is the man who waits at My gates, and at the posts of My doors.” Dale spent much of his adult life at the threshold of God’s glory, in and through a life of sacrifice and obedience. He was a noble watchman. The wall is not the same without him.
July 26, 2013
On this, my birthday, I take delight in recounting a recent mission which was indeed a gift.
The Crossroads—the intersection of Highway’s 61 & 49 in Clarksdale Mississippi—the arguable “birthplace of Delta Blues”—by way of one Robert Johnson, among others; is said to be the place at which Robert Johnson “sold his soul to the devil” in exchange for the ability to play the blues. This very intersection served as the spiritual epicenter of our mission objective.
My musings herein are but a small representation of a much larger experience. Several prophetic and apostolic men and women have been tilling the spiritual soil of Mississippi for some time prior to this mission, to include Dale and his friends from Wales, as well Miles and Tom.
It was as I received a call from Miles to extend his joint-invitation from he and Dale to co-labor with them in Clarksdale Mississippi, that I began to revisit a deeply-seated and secretive vision—one which is now beginning to rebirth and blossom, after decades of hibernation.
For most of my adult life, and as a Believer in Jesus, I have harbored a secretive vision to see the Blues, and more specifically Delta Blues, redeemed and “morphed” into worshipping the Lamb—Christ Jesus. Through a 33-year span of serving the Lord in many capacities in ministry, to include leading worship, I had yet to hear from the lips of another Believer, the same desire to see the Blues redeemed and used to glorify God and draw people to Him—until I received a recent phone call from Miles.
I grew up in the 60’s and 70’s, in the Los Angeles basin (born in 1960). As a child I listened a great deal (daily) to the Motown greats, thanks to my mother. I was then exposed to the professional music-scene while yet very young, and intermingled with professional rock musicians heavily so between the age of 13 and 18. It was during this period that I engaged a practice well known by my peers, wherein we would yearly compare shoeboxes filled with concert ticket stubs, to see who was in the lead. At one stage I recall having hundreds of ticket stubs—concerts which represented all of the major 70’s rock bands. It was also during this period that I was strongly influenced by guitar guru’s such as Robin Trower, Frank Marino, Rory Gallagher, Johnny Winter, Jeff “The Skunk” Baxter, David Gilmore, and later Stevie Ray Vaughan (*note: this was long before Stevie Ray Vaughan [“SRV”] became commercially known—I began listening to his bootleg recordings in 1977). I was privileged to see most of these great guitarists in concert, to include Stevie Ray just 2 months prior to his death.
As I would later yield my heart to Jesus in the Summer of 1981, I began worshipping Him in public meetings on acoustic guitar, singing most of the commonly known worship tunes. I continue to do so presently. Over many years I bought and ultimately sold 6 electric guitars, 5 of which were Fender Stratocaster’s. Each time I would acquire a new “Strat”, I would for a short time enjoy messing around with pieces of secular tunes. As I would do so I would experience a “dirty” feeling—a feeling as if I were stirring-up demonic dust which I should not. The truth of the matter is that I was in fact stirring-up demonic dust—because of the lyrics associated with such. It was my failure to accurately discern this distinction that propelled me to “throw the baby out with the bathwater” by repeatedly selling my Strat’s—in essence running from them.
Many excerpts of scripture, combined, suggest that Satan was “on point” (leading) the heavenly host in worshipping the Lamb of God (e.g., Ez. 28:13-14, Is. 14:11-14, Job 38:7, etc, just to name a few). In his fallen and rebellious state thereafter, he perverted his gifting and anointing, to include his influence within the birth of the Delta Blues, Blues in general, Blues-Rock and Rock in general. However, in its elemental form; music is a gift from God. In tandem with this reality, God (among many of His omnipotent dynamics) is not only the God of Restoration, but in and through Christ Jesus is also the God of Redemption. With the aforementioned in view, and considering the analogous parallel of the rudder which steers or guides the ship; so it is that song lyrics, as well as the spirit (heart-motivation) behind the singing of songs; either glorifies God—or grieves Him.
The scriptural references to the power of the spoken word to evoke evil or good, life or death are myriad. I will allude to just a few in passing:
Ephesians 4:29: “Let no unwholesome word proceed from your mouth…”
Proverbs 18:21: “Death and life are in the power of the tongue…”
And, King David’s convicting meditation of Psalm 19:14: “Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in Your sight, O Lord, my strength and my Redeemer.”
Blues lyrics have historically woven a destructive web about the lives of those singing them—a web of self-actuated and self-perpetuated ingredients such as poverty, depression, drug addiction, sexual promiscuity, alcoholism, confusion, sadness, suicide and premature death in general.
With the sobering reality of the scriptural truths and warnings in view, I personally believe it was the violation of these very scriptural dynamics that has led to the untimely death of thousands of Blues, Blues-Rock, Southern Rock, Classic Rock/Hard Rock, etc, singers and musicians for nearly a century at this stage. Our feet follow our words. Every word we speak and/or sing, has the power to lay our steps before us—steps which can lead to self-destruction; sowing destruction in the lives of others; or rather that which leads to our freedom and wellness.
My musings on the power of the spoken word aside; it was long after I had sold my last Strat (I sold it sometime around 2008) that the aforementioned revelation began to settle upon my heart. It was then that my vision (still held in secret at the time) of Blues music being used as a potent tool to draw a sea of people (namely music lovers) to the Lord, began to meet with greater definition. It was then that I realized the potency (read: potential Kingdom-impact) behind the concept of composing a Blues song, wherein the song initially conveys for example one’s once-wretched state, to perhaps include the squalor of one’s personal sin (i.e., one’s “blues”); to then transition to one’s testimony of God setting them free—a song of triumph and freedom—not unlike the heart and soul of King David’s psalms—the earliest “blues.”
I began to visualize playing what I might call “blues-redeemed” in night clubs, and I visualized the powerful impact of hordes of people being brought to tears as lyrics would transition to simply thanking God for His deliverance from hellish chapters in a person’s life. Lyrics rooted in one’s powerful testimony of deliverance and freedom can pierce through any measure of darkness—and tug at hearts.
The reality is this: hundreds of millions of people in this country (Believer’s included) are starving for authentic encounters with God—the tangible reality of God in their midst. Tens of millions of the same are repulsed by what has become of church as we know it in this country—the likeness of the Laodicean Church, to be more precise. They are repulsed by toxic religiosity, politics; and the vain antics of rock-star-pastors posturing and positioning themselves before people on the platform; and who are addicted to the accolades showered upon them by their adoring fans from week to week. Tens of millions of people are sickened and repulsed by this abomination, as am I personally. As the result, a sea of people regularly visit bars, clubs, pubs, nightclubs and concert halls, enjoying the marvel of music—a marvel which often removes them from their pain, albeit temporarily. Arguably so, it is equally true that in these bars, pubs, clubs and concert halls, the same sea of people represent a large number who are terribly broken, and who drown themselves in alcohol, drugs and illicit relationships in an attempt to escape their pain. One would wish they could flee to the nearest “church,” however the present level of toxicity within the Institutionalized/Laodicean/Americanized Church is often far more lethal than what they are exposed to in night clubs and pubs. In fact, I venture to say that one is far more likely to bump-into Jesus in one of these clubs, than they are likely to bump into Him within the four walls of the institutionalized church as we know it, presently.
With the above travesty in view, I allude to the words of Jesus—a verse terribly overlooked in our day:
“Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick” (Luke 5:31).
The context of Jesus’ words herein were that in response to the Scribes and Pharisees who questioned Him when they discovered Mathew the tax collector, as well as Mathew’s heathen friends, hosting Jesus for a feast (contemporary definition: “party”). The Religious Spirit is quick to quip however: “You should have no fellowship with darkness!” Correspondingly, Ephesians 5:11 reads, “Do not participate in the unfruitful deeds of darkness [fellowship], but instead…expose them…” We must draw a distinction here however: for entering a dark atmosphere for the purposes of ministry, is not “fellowship.” Although, fellowship can occur therein, the objective once again is ministry—piercing the darkness with the Light of Life.
Within the current (read recurrent) Laodicean Church Age, we meet with rampant spiritual narcissism, defined in simple terms by masses of people congregating regularly to encourage one another to engage in perpetual self-absorption (a common contemporary phenomenon known as “having church”)—while the lost and dying, typically not more than a few blocks away; drink, smoke and inject themselves to death within dark corridors of bars and alleyways. Within this dark den, music stands as the primary medium through which one can pierce such mental and emotional confusion and numbness. Herein lay the spear tip or axe head of the “blues redeemed”—a new song.
A few days after my initial call from Miles regarding the Crossroads mission, I was going through some boxes in an effort to further organize our house in preparation for sale, when I happened upon a very old microcassette recorder (over 20 years old) which I had last used over 5 years previous (I now use a much smaller one, which uses a microchip). I decided to play “microcassette recorder roulette,” to see what kind of “notes-to-self” were still on the 60-minute microcassette which I had packed away over 5 years previous. I hit the Rewind button for maybe 15 seconds and randomly stopped the tape, and then hit Play. This is what I heard:
“This is a reminder to buy some new guitar strings, and to also return Don’s call about doing some ministry in Mississippi.”
Understand, the entire 60-minute microcassette was filled with notes-to-self about writings and speaking engagements I was working on at the time, as well as random notes. Friend Don had phoned me over 5 years previous, on 3 or 4 occasions, with a sense of urgency that I speak at 2 venues, one in Mississippi, and one right across the border in Arkansas. At the time I was buried in contracting work and could not free myself to do so.
Nothing less than divine orchestration would allow me to hear this message-to-self, recorded over 5 years previous, which alluded to “buying new guitar strings and ministering in Mississippi.” For here I was presently being invited to play worship on guitar while engaging intersession at the Crossroads in Mississippi—5 years later.
I should note that Don has also had a dream in recent history about the Crossroads; that of an awakening springing-up from that very spot—this long before our recent mission.
It was days prior to my departure to a rendezvous point of Birmingham Alabama that Isaiah 61:4, 9 (recall that the Crossroads are at the intersection of Highway’s 61 and 49) came to me; it reads:
“…they will raise up the former devastations; and they will repair the ruined cities, the desolations of many generations…their offspring will be known among the nations, and their descendants in the midst of the peoples. All who see them will recognize them because they are offspring whom the LORD has blessed.”
The historical context of Isaiah 61:4, 9, speaks to the restoration of Israel—one of many promises as well as periods of restoration in Israel. The expositional and pointedly-prophetic application for Clarksdale Mississippi however, speaks to the redemption of several generations tormented by devilish pacts originating at the Crossroads. In fact millions of musicians and singers have made pacts with the Devil, at the Crossroads, over many decades. We witnessed many them come-and-go while we were there. Aware then that the Devil’s ultimate goal is that to sew destruction and death into the lives of those who do his bidding in the music industry; generation upon generation subsequently experience divorce, poverty, premature death, suicide, drug addiction, etc,
Isaiah 61 was already on the hearts of the “Delta Force” team long before I was included in such. That it came to me as well was simple confirmation that we were all hearing the same thing.
Equally so, my wife Gigi, as well as a dear friend and prophetic-intercessor, Cathy, shared Isaiah 28:18 with me, just prior to our trip. Isaiah 28 had also been given to the team prior to Cathy’s sharing of such (again, layer-upon-layer of prophetic confirmation). Isaiah 28:18 reads:
“Your covenant with death will be cancelled, and your pact with Sheol will not stand…”
This is in essence what occurred as we assembled to worship and intercede at the Crossroads repeatedly, over a 3-day period. At one point I wrote on a guitar pick, with a Sharpie maker (in red ink—to symbolize the Blood of the Atonement), the following:
I then buried the pick in the ground—in the grassy island within the intersection of Highway’s 61 & 49 where we worshipped on guitars. Miles also drove an anointed wooden stake into the ground with a mini-sledge.
The concluding verse that the Holy Spirit whispered to me while we were there; perhaps the “icing on the cake,” was that of Psalm 33:3, which reads:
“Sing to Me a new song; play skillfully, and with a shout of joy.”
For me, this was a prophetic-promise, that springing forth from this very intersection would be a “new song” that redeems Delta Blues music, and morphs it into glorifying the Lamb—by drawing Delta Blues lovers into meeting the Lover of their souls.
During our time at the Crossroads, Miles mentioned that when he was near me he would often receive a prophetic prompting to the word “Redemption.” I ultimately shared with him of my guarded and secret inner turmoil over my history of buying and subsequently selling 5 Fender Stratocaster guitars over a period of 3 decades. As Miles shared this word “redemption” with me, it became clear that the Holy Spirit was doing a new work in me (a “new song”) by redeeming my love for electric guitar, and by birthing “new songs” which would take-back the Blues from the clutches of evil, and would use them to glorify the Lamb. What was meant for evil would be used to glorify God—in the end.
It was a treat to see Miles play Amazing Grace via slide, on his vintage Fender Telecaster (a ’65?). This one act alone, at the Crossroads, no doubt sent a spiritual ripple-effect through the atmosphere—a ripple-effect which had likely never before graced that intersection.
It was as we assembled on the island late in the evening for our first worship session, that the atmosphere was discernibly evil, through a discernable heaviness and tension. That evening Miles and Dale pressed-on and remained until after midnight—a critical step, as midnight represented the time in which Robert Johnson is said to have sold his soul. I however bowed-out each evening at roughly 11:00PM, to retire to my hotel room. I was suffering from much fatigue (one of the more pointed side effects of a severe case of tinnitus) and simply couldn’t go-the-distance through midnight. The morning after our first late night worship session was met with an unexpected cool breeze from the north. This breeze remained with us for the 3 days that we were there. The atmosphere had radically changed on the island, and God’s presence was tangible. Something had surly broken, and we felt great freedom as we worshiped thereafter.
One of the more humorous encounters during our mission was that which occurred on our way to the Blues Museum in Helena, AR, wherein we passed a radio station sign reading, “Delta Force 3.” It so happened that the 3 of us comprised the “Delta Force” which I had loosely dubbed our group prior to the trip.
Too funny :O)
During the final worship session together at the Crossroads (Day 3), and while joined by 2 intercessors who had joined us for this session, having driven from northern Alabama; 3 things occurred which bore the unmistakable fingerprints of God.
Just prior to entering into worship for the last time as a group, Dale mentioned that he had yet to see a bird on this island while we were there. He then prayed that God would restore birds to this island. Days before Dale prayed this, I had begun craving doughnuts, oddly enough (I never eat them); in fact I had begun to whine about not being able to find a “real doughnut” anywhere. With these seemingly unrelated elements in view, the following occurred in the final moments of our last worship session on the island at the Crossroads (Day-3):
During our final worship song, “We Will Dance On The Streets That Are Golden,” a large earthworm sprang-up out of the ground, right between my feet. It was responding to the vibration of our worship. This may seem inconsequential, until we meditate on Revelation 5:13 for a moment: “…every created thing which is in heaven and on the earth and under the earth and on the seas, and all things in them, I heard saying, ‘To Him Who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb, be blessing and honor and glory and dominion forever and ever.’”
A few moments later, a bird landed on the grass (in answer to Dale’s prayer) just a few feet from us. Then, yet a few moments later, a couple appeared with a box. The man, also holding a beer, said, “I saw you here last night, and just want to thank you for what you’re doing” (Hmmmm, how did he “know” what we were doing?). We opened the box and therein was a freshly baked dozen doughnuts! After the couple left, we noticed a stamp on the top of the box, which sported the name and address of the doughnut shop. Dale realized the shop was just a few hundred feet from where we sat. He went over to the storefront and realized the shop was empty—and closed—yet the doughnuts were freshly baked—fresh out of the oven. Miles then quipped, “Ya spoze he was an angel, with a beer in his hand?” I quipped, “If he was set on offending the Religious Spirit, I can’t think of a better way than to have a beer in his hand.”
I’m convinced the couple were angles—sent just to place God’s fingerprint of affirmation on our mission—and to say, “Job well done.”
There were many more significant sites and declarations/proclamations visited and carried out during our trip. My focus upon the Crossroads themselves has rather been the focus of this brief musing.
(photo taken by Dale)
On this New Year’s Eve I wish to share an excerpt of scripture which I believe holds a treasure of a key to unlocking all that has been stored-up for each of us in 2014–irrespective of what each of us may be facing in the natural as we look forward.
Gigi and I have plenty to be depressed about at present, but we’ve rather chosen to keep our collective gaze fixed upon the greater reality of a God who is already in tomorrow–before we awaken each day.
As I look back upon 2013 I recall many times when I have failed to listen to what a still, small, voice was coaching me to do from one moment to the next–the still, small, voice of the Holy Spirit. Many times I allowed depression and despondency to rule the day, when all the while the Holy Spirit was speaking to me through impressions, words of knowledge, vivid dreams, etc, It boggles my mind that He continues to speak to me despite my hard-headed-ness and hard-hearted-ness. He is a merciful God, beyond what can be described.
Today I am reminded of a key within Deuteronomy 11:10-14–a key which waits for us on 01-01–14—tomorrow. I will quote this passage below, and then briefly re-visit the key contained herein.
“For the land into which you are entering to possess it, is not like the land of Egypt from which you came, where you used to sow your seed and water it with your foot like a vegetable garden. But the land into which you are about to cross to posses it, a land of hills and valleys, drinks water from the rain of heaven, a land for which the Lord your God cares; the eyes of the Lord your God are always on it, from the beginning, even to the end of the year. It shall come about if you shall listen obediently to My commands which I am commanding you today, to love the Lord your God and to serve Him with all your heart and all your soul, that He will give you the rain for your land in its season, the early and the late rain, that you may gather in your grain and your new wine and your oil” (NASB).
Historically, this was addressed to the Israelites as a conditional promise as they looked toward occupying the promised land. The obvious condition was that of loving the Lord and serving Him with the whole heart. But the subtle key to bringing this excerpt of scripture very close to home, to each of us personally, and with very tangible and practical relevance, is what I believe the NASB version has captured perfectly, in and through these words: listen obediently.
It is one thing to listen intently for the Lord’s voice from day to day; it is another thing entirely, to obey what we hear. The new wine and oil of the Holy Spirit’s manifest presence in, about, and throughout our daily affairs, hinges upon simply listening…and obeying.
I look back upon 3 decades of colorful and often hair-raising ministry exploits around the country, and out of the country. I think back upon how much more could have flowed through me, had I purposed to obey what I heard. It is truly absurd to recall the thousands of hours I’ve spent in silence in the wee hours, asking the Lord to speak to me. And when He has, I have often shrugged it off as if it were inconsequential. With each New Year however, I am soberly reminded of the gravity of the times in which we live, and dully reminded that I no longer can afford the careless liberty of mishandling a precious word from the Lord.
In the natural, here in the West, we are stepping-into alarming times in 2014. Alarming as they can be however, we serve the God of Peace, Who dully reminds us also this evening of His personal agenda with the works of darkness–soon and very soon:
“The God of peace shall soon crush Satan under your feet” (Romans 16:20).
The early Believers crushed Satan under their feet by not loving their lives even unto death–for even in death they were the victors. Their victory in death? They had overcome the world.
My very personal encouragement to each of you this evening, and as New Year’s Day unfolds, is that to carefully guard that time you set aside to still yourself before the Lord, to listen to His voice. I also encourage you to begin taking your dreams very seriously. Write them down, meditate upon them, and be reminded that God is very actively speaking to us “deep in the night” (Job 33:14-16) in this hour. Receive His dreams (the one’s which are distinctly from Him) as gifts from the Throne Room.
On a closing note; and as glib a this may sound; thank you for continuing to call me “friend.”
One of the great honors of my life has been that of representing the Amish and Mennonites on three missions to Israel–missions which exemplified the deepest display of collective teshuvah that I have witnessed.
It was no less an honor for me that Ben Girod would ask me to compose the initial draft of his book: An Amish Journey to Forgiveness. I was equally honored to co-labor with Micah Smith, founder of Global Gateway Network, who conducted the final edit of the book.
Having been invited as well to pen the Preface to the book, I was deeply humbled to know my thoughts would grace the opening pages of this precious work. And it is with joy that I announce that the book has finally gone to print; now available online.
To read a preview of the book, you may do so at:
As you then click on the “Book Excerpt” tab, you will read the Preface that I was equally honored to compose.
I encourage you to consider ordering your copy of this Kingdom Jewel of story.
You may also order a copy of the book at Amazon, by clicking the web-link below:
* This article is comprised of (3) sections: 2010, 2012 and 2013. Please scroll-down to view the article in its entirety.
**For ease of viewing, you may click the photos to enlarge them.
To Zion with Love – 2010
“Awake, my glory! Awake, harp and lyre! I will awaken the dawn!”
(King David, Psalm 57:8)
In November of 2010 a large team of Anabaptists (Amish and Mennonite leaders) embarked upon a Repentance Mission to Israel.
It was in the Winter of 2009/2010, and while visiting with Amish bishop Ben at his home in Bonners Ferry Idaho, while also having the honor of speaking at a service at the Amish church of Bonners Ferry; and while discussing this mission in its infancy; that I was asked to compose a draft of a Declaration of Repentance, to the Nation of Israel, on behalf of the Anabaptist Nation (Amish and Mennonites). It was as we discussed the initial vision for such a mission, to include drafting the Declaration, that we in turn focused upon the essence and implications of Genesis 12:3, wherein God, speaking to Abraham, and to figurative Israel as a Nation, declared:
“I will bless those who bless you, and I will curse those who curse you.”
Having determined that to have ignored the plight of persecuted Jews throughout Europe for over two centuries; the Anabaptist family as a whole had in essence “cursed” the Nation of Israel by opting to remain indifferent and collectively silent during this period, and most pointedly so in contemporary context, during the Nazi Holocaust. It was further determined that to see the Anabaptist Nation freed from such the curse, that it may then take its rightful place on the front lines of End-Times advances; it must not only collectively resolve to bless the Nation of Israel, but to do so on Israeli soil.
It was earlier, in 2007, that the Amish of Libby Montana and Bonners Ferry Idaho (communities separated by perhaps an hours’ drive across state lines) hosted a mini-conference entitled, “The Gift of Prophecy.” The keynote speaker was that of friend Tom, from Alabama. Tom would then invite me to speak/minister at this conference, as well as two other ministers from Alabama; Dale and Don. It was during this precious time in ministry over a 3-day period that I was introduced at one point to Amish bishop Ben and his wife Barbara. I knew the moment I met Ben and Barbara that I would later co-labor with them in some fashion. I was equally honored to have met Pastor Lloyd and his wife Mary Etta of the Libby Amish church, and their dear family, as well as Lloyd’s brother Elvie and his wife Rebecca, and their dear family. The Miller’s also own/manage a log home business which hand-craft’s and erects them around the nation (please see web-link to Meadowlark Log Homes at the close of this article).
Pictured below: Tom (far right), Rebecca (far left), and extended family of Libby, MT.
Following this initial meeting of 2007, it was very clear that Tom had dully embodied the name of his ministry—by “clearing a path” for me to write history with the Anabaptist Nation shortly thereafter. One of the more distinct trademarks of Tom’s ministry is that of “clearing paths” for prophetic and apostolic ministries to run their course through maturity, throughout the globe, as well as assisting in the birthing of congregations and training centers.
With the cogwheels in-motion toward a Repentance Mission to Israel; and having been asked to compose the initial draft of the Declaration of Repentance to the Nation of Israel, I set to the task of prayerfully meditating upon a message which would speak to the very heart of Zion.
A copy of my initial draft is accessible below, by clicking the hyper-link:
Having then submitted the draft to the Amish leadership team in Bonners Ferry, to include Micah (founder and president of Global Gateway Network) who is also based near Bonners Ferry, it was decided that the draft would need to be greatly reduced, that it could be contained within a one-page parchment scroll; and that in large typeface. Micah had been to Israel on dozens of occasions, over a period of decades, and therefore exercised keen insight into what the finished Declaration should look like (i.e., cultural relevancy). Micah was also chiefly instrumental in laying the groundwork for this mission as well as leading such. He would remain the critical guiding-light in subsequent missions as well.
You may view the edited copy in its finished-form, as it appeared in the form of the scrolls presented to leaders in Israel, via the hyper-link below:
I remain honored to have composed the initial draft, to have co-labored with Micah, and to have played a part in the end-product which was later submitted to many key leaders in Israel.
While consecrating ourselves as our November 2010 launch-date approached; Micah and Henry (one of several key-leaders within the Bonners Ferry Amish church), in tandem with Amir, Israeli resident and representative of the Israeli Ministry of Tourism; labored to orchestrate a series of special meetings with Israeli leaders, to occur over a seven-day period. With each pending meeting, we would collectively humble ourselves and verbally repent for having rejected the Nation of Israel, while also issuing a copy of the Declaration of Repentance scroll. As our departure of November neared, the meetings to occur would include those with:
For the sake of brevity, I will conclude this brief narrative by stating that the Ruach HaKodesh, the Holy Spirit of God, graced each of these meetings with His sweet, tangible and often powerful presence. In doing so it was unmistakably clear that He was honoring our hearts as we “bowed down” before the Apple of His Eye—while also touching the very core of the “Apple.”
I will continue to add additional narrative to this article as time permits; likely in small segments, as I have time, as there is a beautiful story to tell herein. In the interim I will alight upon one particular and very personal encounter which unfolded while praying at the Kotel–the Western Wall.
In essence, and in short; as I stretched my hands toward the Wall I began to pray in accordance with Ezekiel 36:26, which reads:
“I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; and I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh, and give you a heart of flesh.”
As I prayed this prayer, and while aware that “God knows the thoughts and intentions of our hearts” (Heb. 4:12); I asked that the “stoney” places, the figurative scar tissue in my heart, as the result of deep wounds; many of which were self-inflicted; would be replaced with new “flesh,” and the ability to feel again where there had previously only remained numbness. While praying this prayer at the Wall, I felt God’s supernatural healing surge through my hands and into my heart, as I lingered at the Wall. Each time I have since prayed at the Wall, and during subsequent visits, I have prayed the same, and I have continued to receive deep healing of the heart, with each encounter–healing which may be likened to the peeling of an onion–one thin layer at a time.
As I draw this introductory narrative to a close, I take joy in mentioning that Among the Mennonite leaders present, was that of Al and Ada of Pennsylvania. Al is a seasoned professional photographer (Ada is a nurse), and true to his craft was always at the right place at the right time exercising finely honed situational-sensitivity which enabled him to capture many priceless moments in time. All subsequent photos herein (to include the 2012 and 2013 missions further on in this article) are to his credit, and used with his permission.
(above) Amish bishop Ben making verbal declaration to Host and Guide Amir, prior to presenting Amir with Declaration of Repentance. Barbara is immediately right of Amir. Ben and Barbara’s son Cornelius can be seen behind Barbara’s right shoulder.
(above) Overlooking Jerusalem; Mennonite bishop Lloyd embraces Amir following presentation. Micah is right of Amir. Barbara can be seen in backdrop; Amish leader Steve is in black vest next to David in suspenders.
(above) Ceremony within the Hasmonean Chamber beneath Western Wall, HaKotel, with Rabbi Shmuel Rabinovitch; David behind Amish bishop Ben as he prepares to kneel and verbally declare repentance on behalf of the Anabaptist Nation. English interpreter next to Rabbi Rabinovitch.
(above) Members of team near Y’shua’s tomb.
(above) Amish and Mennonite team members within Christ Church Hotel courtyard.
(above) Israeli host, Amir, and Amish leader Steve.
(above) Meeting with Jerusalem Deputy Major Naomi Tzur.
(above) Micah and David, Jordan River.
To Zion with Love – 2012
In the Spring of 2012 it was determined that we would return to Israel, to follow our Repentance Mission—with a Blessing Mission—to simply bless the Nation of Israel in accordance with Genesis 12:3. It was as the glowing embers from our 2010 experience were still smoldering, that we would go on to experience God’s precious presence in ways which surpassed our previous. We would also see the miraculous fruits of our repentance and blessings, in the lives of Israelis very dear to us at this stage.
I will add that the intensity of our mission this time around was heightened, due to ongoing and incoming rocket-fire from Israel’s hostile neighbors. There’s nothing quite like the exhilaration of going from sipping a “White Chocolate Mocha Latte” at Aroma Café in one moment, to scrambling to a bomb shelter in the next (smiling). I was duly impressed with the grace and poise with which Israelis responded to the incoming attacks and warnings. I was also keenly aware of the Shield of Grace which covered the entire nation as we traveled about–and scrambled about.
I will divulge that it was through the gift of a dear friend in Hong Kong that me and my wife Gigi were able to go on this 2nd mission. It is to him, and his Spirit-sensitivity, as well as the Spirit behind his sensitivity, that I offer my eternal gratitude.
It was during our return-mission in November 2012 that we would collectively experience the precious flow of the Ruach HaKodesh, the Holy Spirit, through each of us as we worked in concert to again bless the Apple of God’s Eye. Tears were shed around the clock as His love visited us, worked through us, and touched the soul of Zion once again. We would later walk away from this equally precious 7-day encounter, with a deeper revelation of the “one new man” which Rabbi Saul so passionately discusses in Romans 9 through 11.
Our itinerary would be similar to that of our 2010 Mission, which included the addition of a privileged meeting and ceremony with Israel Chief Rabbi Yona Metzger, and yet another special ceremony within Yad Vashem’s synagogue, to include blessing and embracing another Holocaust survivor.
On the occasion of our 2012 Mission, Verna Yoder would personally design and hand-embroider a beautiful wall-hanging for each the Israeli’s we were to meet with. The wall-hangings declared Ruth 1:16, which reads:
“Entreat me not to leave you, or to turn back from following after you; for wherever you go, I will go; and wherever you lodge, I will lodge; your people shall be my people, and your God, my God.”
My narrative of this mission is limited to a cursory glimpse at present. I will purpose to add more narrative as time unfolds, and will allow the photos to rather tell the story for the present.
One particular event that I will insert presently, is that of a truly mind-boggling experience in the Upper Room. In short, as our Amish-Mennonite team entered the Upper Room, we were stricken with the beauty of roughly 25 Brazilians in a far corner, praying in the Spirit with great intensity. We immediately lifted our hands and began the same–roughly 25 of us at the moment. In turn, roughly 25 Koreans who had been quietly singing songs in yet another area of the room, lifted their hands, and began praying in the Spirit with much volume and intensity. In the same moment, all three groups shot into what one might call “full-afterburner” in praying the Spirit–at the top of our lungs. We did so for an extended period, and as we did so the Holy Spirit filled the room in such measure that most were weeping and many had to fall to their knees with emotion.
Yet another truly life-changing moment was that on our ascent to Mt. Carmel, wherein we stopped to have lunch at a cafe prior to making the final trek up the mountain. During this stop, we would experience the profound fruits of our labor in the form of an encounter which would echo into eternity. Because of the nature of the event and the people involved, it is prudent to refrain from additional detail, and to rather simply declare Baruch HaShem!–for His mighty hand at work in our midst.
(above) Fanning the flame at JFK Airport (NYC) prior to departure for Tel Aviv, by sharing our personal testimonies of God’s goodness and grace. Jonas shares his story. Brother’s Steve and Jake (left to right) are next to Jonas.
(above) David and Gigi–Garden of Gethsemane.
(above) Sea of Galilee.
(above) Sea of Galilee.
To Zion with Love – 2013
“My soul waits for the Lord, more than the watchmen for the morning…” (King David, Psalm 130:6).
Often the most critical ministries in which we will engage throughout our lifetimes can be likened to the philosophy and goal of the U.S. military’s Delta Force, wherein operations are carried out with very few ever knowing they occurred. Such was the case with my return to Israel in January 2013.
Returning to Israel solo, I was representing the Anabaptist Connections Team and several other friends, who made my return possible by under-girding this trip financially and spiritually. It was therefore as representative of the entire team that I returned to minister to two precious Israeli friends who needed a healing miracle.
On the heels of a protracted and grueling fast previous to my departure, I then looked like an emaciated vagabond upon my arrival. However in the spirit, I felt very bold. For seven days I earnestly contended for a divine healing. I can say that in 3 decades of intense ministry, I had yet to meet with a battle such as this. God yet showed Himself sovereign in many ways.
During this mission, my 3rd to Israel as of this date, I had the unusual privilege of spending extended time at the Kotel, the Western Wall. Having prayed at the Wall on previous occasions, I had yet to experience such on Erev Shabbat (Friday evening). The presence of God was profoundly so on this night. I am aware that our spiritual senses are unusually keen during and following a long and intense fast. This evening could have therefore been “like any other” to local Israelis. For me however, time seemed to stand-still as I leaned against the Wall and earnestly contended in intercession for this dear Israeli couple. While doing so, and while also feeling as if I were in another realm beyond the physical, I was granted perhaps a nanosecond experience of feeling the Father’s heart for this couple. His love was profound, and surged my heart with a supernatural heat. I could only weep during this experience.
My heart has been deeply wed to the fabric of Jerusalem. And when I am away from Jerusalem I feel as if I have been displaced from my childhood home.
It has been a high honor for me, co-laboring with my dear Anabaptist friends, as well as my larger circle of friends around the globe who have under-girded me with support and prayer during each of these three missions to Israel. And as truly amazing as each of these missions have been, I believe this is only the beginning…
*Note: Please take a moment to view the web-links below, in association with several ministries represented in what would become (3) strategic missions to Israel.
Path Clearer Ministries:
The above web-link represents a ministry founded by Dr. Tom, who truly embodies the namesake of his ministry, in that he “clears paths” in the work of the ministry around the globe. I have had the privilege of ministering with Tom in three states to date, each venue of which entailed prophetic mini-conferences which were very fruitful and which spawned many testimonies of lasting fruit—fruit which remains. Tom moves in the prophetic and apostolic realms, and has authored 4 books to date (the latest of which is approaching publishing). The 3 titles currently available can be purchased from the above site. I recommend all of them. I was honored to compose an endorsement for his Hope When Everything Seems Hopeless volume, which can be viewed via the sub-link below:
The above web-link represents the vision and mission which fuels the Anabaptist team based largely in Bonners Ferry Idaho and Libby Montana respectively.
The above web-link represents Bishop Ben latest book: An Amish Journey to Forgiveness. I was deeply honored to labor to produce the initial draft of this book, whereby Micah of Global Gateway Network equally labored to produce the final edit. This web-link will take you to the book Preface was I was doubly-honored to compose. I encourage you to not only purchase a copy of this volume, but to also consider purchasing Ben’s first book:
Baptized by Fire: The Gethsemane Way, which can be purchased via the AnabaptistConnections site.
Gobal Gateway Network:
The above web-link represents the ministry founded by Micah—a ministry which impacts the globe through planting and overseeing new congregations in very remote regions of non-English speaking people groups. Micah is regularly joined in his global missions by GGN team members representing the medical professions, and who donate their time and resources to helping and healing the needy. Micah is also responsible for acting as a conduit for hundreds of Believers making their first pilgrimage to the Holy Land, and that over a period of decades.
Light of Hope Ministries:
The above web-link represents the ministry of the extended Amish Lapp family based in Pennsylvania. This courageous family has also served as overseers of “The Glory Barn,” a congregation which characteristically moves in the power of the Holy Spirit, and which has seen countless healing miracles in their midst. I recommend Steve Lapp’s new book: The Glory Path, which can be purchased from this site. I characterize the Lapp’s as exuding what I call “Freight Train Faith,” wherein they will stop at nothing to see God’s glory manifested in their midst—wherever they happen to be.
Meadowlark Log Homes:
Owned by the Amish Miller Family, settled largely in Libby Montana; the business is under-girded with a great deal of honesty, integrity, character and superb craftsmanship and commitment to excellence. The Miller Family are wholly submitted to serving God, and to honoring Him through the work of their hands.
Yom Tov, Friends:
Many years ago a wise leader once shared a timely personal maxim with me:
“While on a given platform, and while gracing a pulpit, a lectern, a microphone, or perhaps even a television camera; take God very seriously, but also remember to never take yourself too seriously.”
Over the years I have done well to remind myself of this. When I have forgotten such, I have fallen-prey to the wiles of the Religious Spirit, who is ever-lurking in the shadows, waiting patiently for an opportune moment to fuel the vein antics we yield ourselves to when facing a sea of people; for we are predisposed to a performance mentality, and we can very easily get in the way of the graceful work of the Holy Spirit, if we are not careful.
To disarm the Religious Spirit in public meetings, and especially so when I am a focal-point in a given service; I take liberty to laugh at myself. In so doing I am immediately freed from the temptation to perform, and I subsequently send the Religious Spirit whimpering down the road to another venue.
As the times intensify about us; as chaos, confusion and anxiety slowly and subtly yet steadily continue to lap at our feet, not unlike an incoming tide as we stand in the wet sand looking out upon the horizon; we do well to remember that nestled within our quiver of weapons is the God-given gift of humor.
With these thoughts thus far in view, let us take an unusual turn…
I have been a student of Holocaust Literature for quite some time. As I have poured over the pages of those who have survived Nazi death camps, and especially the Jewish writers among such, I have thanked God for each and every soul that has emerged to share with us what in turn occurred within their souls as they endured unspeakable suffering. These were virtually tried by fire, to emerge with unspeakable depth, and corresponding depth in recognizing the fingerprints of God—in the most unlikely places, and in the most unlikely moments.
Communist Romania, and the subsequent persecution, imprisonment and torture of Jewish leader’s Richard and Sabina Wurmbrand (founders of The Voice of the Martyrs ministry); and that during an equally dark chapter within the pages of Eastern European history; were no exception to the treasure chest of souls who were so beautifully refined as they emerged from the throes of suffering, that every page of their subsequent writings drips with the unmistakable anointing and fingerprints of the Holy Spirit of God—the Ruach HaKodesh (Hebrew).
For those who have had little exposure to the Wurmbrand’s; I encourage you to secure two volumes penned by these two respectively: In God’s Underground, authored by Richard; and The Pastor’s Wife, authored by Sabina. Richard composed many volumes, however in my opinion In God’s Underground contains the highest concentration of the kingdom jewels he was given. Sabina’s book is equally rich.
One of the most prolific Jewish authors to emerge from the Holocaust is that of Elie Wiesel. Having read most of his works, I count it a supreme privilege that his volumes would grace my personal library. For those unfamiliar with Elie’s work, may I recommend you consider securing first his trilogy: Night, Dawn, Day.
Though there are many tremendous Jewish authors to have emerged to write priceless volumes; and while it is my aim to rather address a topic quite removed from the Holocaust; I will allude to but one more author.
Victor Frankyl, a psychiatrist, emerged from unspeakable suffering within the Nazi death camps, to later make a remarkable contribution to the field of psychiatry by introducing Logotherapy (I discuss Logotherapy in greater detail, in a previous article). Frankyl’s seminal work is handsomely contained in his book: Man’s Search for Meaning. In the event you are unfamiliar with his work, I strongly recommend that Man’s Search for Meaning be added to your personal library as well.
*Note: Frankyl took psychiatry to a new level, by superseding the industry’s terminal focus upon brain chemistry and its interaction with drugs, to that rather focusing upon a human grasp of meaning in life–an exercise which melds the more substantive elements of philosophy, psychology, and especially theology–meaning as reflected in the discovery of what God would have us do with our lives.
It is within the pages of Man’s Search for Meaning that we meet with Frankyl’s personal discovery of the profound place and purpose of the gift of humor—a discovery which convinced Frankyl that humor is truly God-given, and a God-given medium for survival.
I will paraphrase the excerpt in question (as I have loaned-out my last copy of this tremendous book):
“When the human being is faced with suffering, agony, hopelessness, remorse, shock and despair which seemingly defies words and expression; he does well to be reminded that when all hope is lost, the gift of humor remains at his disposal. For humor exercised, even if but for a brief moment, can elevate one just enough above one’s demise, to in turn gain a brief glimpse of hope—a glimpse of hope which will feed the soul just enough life and hope to enable it to carry on and to see the next day.”
Frankyl alludes to his discovery as he goes on to define his work in coining the concept: The Will to Meaning.
With Frankyl’s observation of humor in view, I return to my initial discussion of The Work of the Ministry. If we could see us as others see us as we carry out the work of the ministry in formal gatherings; and if those who fuel and perpetuate the worst elements of ongoing congregational politics could in turn see themselves as well; we would have ample occasion to laugh at ourselves. And it is in the spirit of laughing at ourselves that I offer you a brief reprieve from the weight and pressures of your role in leadership.
As I have long-searched for tools by which to build-up, strengthen, affirm and encourage weary leaders, I have on occasion discovered some veritable jewels. Such is the case with the 8:14-minute video-clip I have inserted at the close of this article. Within this video-clip, you will meet with an uncanny assortment of scenes which humorously depict precisely what we often witness on a given platform on Shabbat, if you represent a synagogue; or on Sunday, if you represent a congregation otherwise. You will also meet with an uncanny assortment of scenes which depict the colorful congregational politics we are graced with from week to week (or hour-to-hour for some of us). With each scene, I’m confident you will not have to ponder more than a fraction of a second, before seeing corresponding parallels to that which you witness ongoing within just about every facet of public ministry (smiling).
Before you view such however, please ponder the picture I paint with my closing thoughts.
One would have to be lost in deep denial, ignorance, delusion, or have been lobotomized, at this stage in history, to fail to recognize the signs-of-the-times as they define the unmistakable trademarks of the End-Time’s domino’s toppling in succession before our eyes. This said, and as fear and anxiety continue to mount about us, we do well to remember to laugh at ourselves regularly, and to remember also that God is in complete control—He knows the events of tomorrow—before we awaken (provided of course that we are first able to sleep).
I believe we also do well to consider a maxim that I personally coined some time ago:
“Spiritual warfare is overrated.”
I jokingly exclaimed this to myself while sitting in an exhausted heap on the floor, following one intense yet fruitful deliverance ministry session with a dear soul. I must have resembled a cartoon character of old, with stars dancing over my head, my hair frazzled, and with my clothes torn, tattered and smoking from flash-burns (smiling).
Please understand dear reader; I could never be personally and legitimately charged with underestimating the place and purpose of spiritual warfare within our daily lives. Were you to know the nature of the ministry in which I engage daily, you would fully understand why I would render such a disclaimer. Our spiritual lives, in this lifetime, do in fact reflect one massive battlefield. What I am saying therefore, within the maxim in which I have coined, is this: We must never work ourselves up and into a place of such embattled frenzy that we completely forget that within but a fraction of a second, and with but a gentle touch of one of His fingers, God can dispel every battle that we face. After all, He is known in Hebrew as “Adonai Tseva’ot”—“The Lord of Armies.”
We must therefore exercise great discernment and Spirit-sensitivity in the selection of, or the choosing of, our battles.
There are battles in our lives, often self-inflicted battles, and even battles which we were never commissioned to engage, which should be rather left to God alone. And leaving them to Him requires that we learn to rest in Him–and to more often find the occasion to laugh at ourselves–the very point of my collective musings within this article.
When we forget that God is far more omnipotent than any dust we can stir-up in His name, or any stirred-up dust that we might otherwise settle in His name, our vocation has surly become “overrated,” and we have lost sight of His majesty in all things.
The Holocaust, and Holocaust Literature is no laughing matter. It is a very sobering study and meditation. Equally, a visit to Israel’s Holocaust Museum (Yad Vashem) is very sobering, and heart-wrenching. I have taken part in 3 historic ceremonies therein, on 3 separate trips to Israel; ceremonies involving holocaust survivors. And I have counted these moments in time precious, as I was privileged to embrace each of the survivors, and bless them.
The above said, please understand that by inserting reference to the Holocaust within the context of a discussion of humor, I am in no way discounting the suffering therein, nor our supreme duty to honor the victims of such. Much rather, I have used the very words of survivors themselves, who have encouraged us to laugh at ourselves and our circumstances, as one of many means to overcome them.
And when we find occasion to weep about our own suffering, we do well to meditate upon the following excerpt of scripture, which happens to be in “the back of the Book.” And as you do so, take special note of Who has the last laugh (smiling).
“Stop weeping; behold the Lion that is from the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has overcome…” (Rev. 5:5, NASB)
Enjoy this video-clip:
Yom Tov, Friends:
Often within the counseling, inner healing and deliverance ministry which I regularly facilitate, I will draw upon a counseling or therapy modality which I rather deem to be a ministry-model; known as Logotherapy.
To quickly pacify my mainstream-ministry colleagues, I wish to assure you that Logotherapy firstly, is not representative of classic psychology and psychiatry as you may understand it. I say this as I am keenly aware of the depths of the darkness which lurks within the corridors of much of secular psychology and psychiatry. Nor secondly, is Logotherapy a form of psychoanalysis as psychoanalysis is commonly understood—Logotherapy rather supersedes the common definition of psychoanalysis. In fact, Logotherapy, the elemental essence of Logotherapy, is in my experience an authentic ministry-model created by a godly Jewish survivor of the Nazi death-camps of World Word II.
My time is limited this morning as I pen this article, so I must therefore keep this concise (concise to me, that is), to perhaps expand upon it sometime later. I will therefore offer the simplest sketch possible on this topic, yet a sketch which will hopefully more so yield a broader brushstroke of understanding, in the end.
Firstly, something seemingly extra-biblical does not necessarily make it counter-biblical. An example of this concept is that of the myriads of books written in my lifetime which portray profound personal experiences and dealings with God—experiences and dealings which seem to parallel the Apostle Paul’s experience portrayed in II Corinthians 12:3, wherein he was “…caught up into the Third Heaven…and heard inexpressible words which man is not permitted to speak.” Many of these heavenly experiences that I have read and heard are accounts of those I have known personally. Additionally, I too have had many experiences with God which would alarm most, however I know them to have been more authentic than daily life as we know it. The nature of many of these experiences, both mine and others, cannot be found within the pages of scripture, yet I know them to be true and authentic—carefully cultivated discernment affirms this. Most within mainstream Christianity typically opt to quietly categorize such things as one having experienced “an epiphany,” to then safely say nothing further as they internally equate “epiphany” with delusion (a conclusion quickly and neatly filed within their left-brain).
Secondly, I have been a formal student of Psychology, Human Behavior and Theology, as well as an informal student of Psychiatry, for decades. Within my studies I have found the bulk of the fruits of the teaching and application of secular psychology, human behavior and psychiatry to be rather wanting and even pale when contrasted with the life-giving and life-changing dynamics of daily meditation upon Scripture, the Bible–the Torah, the Tanakh, the Old Testament; and the B’rit Hadasha, the New Testament, as well as the accompanying divine romance which Scripture beckons our souls to engage. For when it comes to helping human beings to meet with authentic and lasting freedom from emotional and psychological torment, the inner transformation and healing which results from immersing ourselves in Scripture, and yielding to its transforming effects upon our souls, subsequently conforming ourselves to it, we meet with thee most potent avenue on the planet for terminal personal change.
As I allude to the potency of Scripture, the Word of God, I wish to insert a brief analogy which came to me many years ago. I had just finished an extended time of quiet-time with the Lord, a time of lingering stillness with Him, when I recalled my first experience with a microscope in a high school science class. I recall placing a small drop of tap water on a small glass slide. Looking at the drop of water, I saw translucent matter—nothing to be seen in it beyond clear water. However moments later, as I carefully slid the slide under the microscope, zoomed-in on the drop of water and then further magnified it, I discovered this small drop of water to be alive with living organisms. As we therefore drink common tap water, we are ingesting living organisms, most of which are quickly destroyed by the components of our immune systems. Scripture, to the transverse, is very much like the still and apparently lifeless drop of water on the slide, in that as we meditate upon the pages therein; and though the ink on the page appears dry and lifeless; if you were to place a spiritual microscope over but one letter of such, you would see what is called in Hebrew, “Mayim Chaim,” or “living water”; you would see elements of life, which when meditated upon, are ingested into our souls and which transform us each time we absorb such.
As we consider the posture of meditating upon Scripture as a life-transforming activity, I offer by contrast what I believe to be a grave misnomer in this regard, largely spawned by what I believe to be a mistranslation of II Timothy 2:15, wherein we find it in the King James Version (Olde English) to read, “Study to shew thyself approved…” The concept of “study” within the Western mind is that in simple terms to dissect and analyze text, and then cram as much as we can into our left-brains, to then be spewed-out at test-time upon examination, later. We call this regurgitation, “education.” Such the model and paradigm has graced Bible colleges and seminaries for 100s of years in this country, producing 10s of 1000s of graduates who have left-brains packed with Bible trivia and knowledge—but no intimacy with the God therein.
The actual Greek-translated “study,” reads, “Be diligent.” Further, a Hebrew translation of this verse begins, “Give diligence…” (הֱיֵה שָׁקוּד). As well, Psalm 119:97 in Hebrew translation reads, “Oh how I love Your law; it is my [King David] meditation all day long.”
With the above in view, I am thoroughly convinced that the Holy Spirit rather prefers we are diligent to meditate upon Scripture, verses “study” it (as we understand the concept of “study” in the West). As we still ourselves, calm our left-brains, and breathe-in the life-transforming properties of Scripture, our souls are then cleansed (by “Mayim Chaim” – “living water”) and further transformed.
Returning again to the application of secular psychology, psychoanalysis and psychiatry; I contend that “professionals” largely and woefully ignore the spiritual construct of a person—the most critical component of the human being. And because the spiritual aspect of people is largely ignored, lasting inward change rarely occurs. Instead, what appears to be changed behavior (outwardly) is very often that of the result of the experimental application of psychotropic drugs—lifelong experiments. The spiritual makeup of a person then ignored, a patient or client will go on to ingest drugs which include chemical properties which purposefully induce violent withdrawal symptoms, leading the victim to believe that they must then succumb to a “lifestyle drug” (a very clever phrase used by the pharmaceutical and medical industries to suggest patient-agreement that a given drug should simply be taken—for life).
Of course, the trillion-dollar pharmaceutical industry quietly laughs all the way to the bank, while the physicians who quietly receive untold kick-back’s for pushing such, laugh with them.
I believe it timely at this point in my musings to issue a disclaimer of sorts. I know many people who are presently on psych-meds. It is not my purpose to unduly inflict guilt, remorse and condemnation towards you. Most if not all of those who know me, know also that I view psych-meds as serving some limited purposes (key word: limited). I define these “limited purposes” as follows: psych-meds can serve the purpose of a bridge over troubled waters; troubled waters defined as seasons in our lives which are sometimes marked by mental and emotional trauma. Once we have fully crossed this bridge however, and we have placed both feet firmly on the bank, on the other side of the troubled waters, it is then time to plan a deliberate path which leads away from the bridge—leaving the bridge behind. This is where I often differ with secular psychiatry, secular psychology and general medicine. It is also why my ministry is classified as “Scripture-Based and Prayer-Based.” The other side of the “troubled waters” to which I refer, and the other “bank” on the other side of the “bridge” to which I refer, looks very different from the bank defined by the medical and pharmaceutical industries, who rather define this bank as the threat of the cessation of the revenue-stream they have managed to carefully and deceptively extract from your wallet. We are therefore talking about two very different “banks.”
Please understand also that I am not unduly encouraging the reader to flush their meds and be done with them at a moment’s notice—unless God has clearly spoken to you to do so. I am simply saying that medical treatment in this age represents a hybrid of those who truly want to help you—and monstrous corporations which fuel their appetites by brainwashing you into believing you must be dependent upon their advice and services for the remainder of your life.
Please understand, friends, that I do acknowledge the small minority of medical practitioners and pharmaceutical chemists who enter these fields with pure motives. However, the monstrous corporations that they go on to serve out of college foster a goal quite removed from the pure origins of these young, fledging professionals. For anymore, upon a visit to your local physician you are quite fortunate to have the opportunity to make eye contact with them before they become preoccupied with writing-out your next prescription—a transaction which often occurs within 3 to 5 minutes of your entrance into the examination room (i.e., “drive-through medicine”).
With these primary introductory points in view, I begin my brief expose of Logotherapy by first introducing you to the man who birthed this work.
The late Victor Frankyl, a Jew, survived imprisonment at no less than four Nazi Death Camps during World War II. During this period Frankyl was subjected to unspeakable suffering, as were all Jews, Jewish Sympathizers and Nazi-Opposition who shared the same fate. During Frankyl’s nightmare in the death camps, he witnessed many truly noble acts committed by men and woman who were often only hours from death, weakened by sickness, starvation, and internal resignation to life—the will to die. Within Frankyl’s observance of the many noble acts, he discovered a truly revelatory dynamic which he later coined the “Will to Meaning.” In essence, and in short, what Frankyl observed was that while in the face of unspeakable suffering and agony, a given person would find purpose in for example forfeiting their last scrap of moldy bread to be fed to someone who appeared to them to be in worse shape than themselves; perhaps only minutes away from death, versus the hours allotted to themselves—the “meaning” exemplified in their mission to get this final morsel into the mouth of their dying and fellow inmate, and which subsequently elevated them beyond their immediate suffering. They had then “willed” (read: made the internal and calculated decision) to engage a mission far beyond the immediate concern on their own survival, and in so doing had tapped “meaning” (read: divine purpose), which gave them the internal resolve to carry it out. Subsequently, the all-consuming satisfaction which was then injected into these noble beings—came that in the form of life-sustaining purpose (meaning) which propelled them into the next day. Whereupon had they not “willed” to carry-out such “meaningful” noble acts (read: The Will to Meaning), their longstanding and internal resignation to the clutches of death would have run its course within a matter of but a few hours.
In very simple and corresponding terms therefore; written particularly for those seeking to understand the basis for my implementation of a very real symbiosis between Logotherapy and Prayer-Based/Scripture-Based Counseling Ministry; I offer what is nothing less than a profound parallel to one of the more beautiful and passionate exclamations of the Apostle Paul; namely that found in Philippians 3:13-14, which reads:
“…one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and reaching forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.”
This one scriptural excerpt powerfully encompasses the core philosophy of Logotherapy—that of taking our eyes off of our own suffering long enough to engage a divine purpose which speaks life into others (i.e., “the upward call of God”).
Victor Frankyl had practiced psychiatry prior to his capture and imprisonment. It was not until he had survived the death camps however, that he then returned to civilized life as a visionary—one who had received an acknowledged “download” from God, which would then reshape his practice for the remainder of his life, and which would spawn a large following of therapists who would go on to perpetuate the same.
What is little known about Frankyl, is that his parents, recognizing “the writing on the wall” with respect to the implications of Nazi occupation of Eastern Europe at the time; agreed that Frankyl would flee to the U.S., to sustain his practice—and his very life. However, only days before making the clandestine voyage, Frankyl’s heart altered his plans. Knowing full well that he could very well be soon exterminated along with his parents, he found a great deal more meaning in forfeiting his life for the sake of spending the remaining waking moments with his parents. As divine providence would then have it, he yet emerged from the holocaust, alive.
I should insert at this point, two things: 1) I do not consider myself a “therapist.” I rather consider myself a “minister”. And 2), I have opted to utilize Logotherapy as a “springboard” for ministry, versus that of a formal therapy—which only ends in therapy, and nothing more. This to say that I draw upon an essential tenant of Logotherapy as but a springboard into the greater reality of helping others to discover their spiritual mission in life, as well as also helping them to dig a deeper well of their personal intimacy with God—through new life in Y’shua—Jesus. For it is in and through intimacy with God; or renewed intimacy with God; and deeper intimacy with God; that we more clearly see the unique mission (meaning) that we have been given in this life—a mission larger than life itself—and a mission which will elevate us above our deepest suffering, pain and turmoil, so much so that our suffering, pain and turmoil is overshadowed by the wake of our much larger purpose (i.e., “…forgetting what lies behind [and] embracing the upward call of God…”).
Having studied at length the lives and works of Sigmund Freud, Alfred Adler, Carl Jung, Ivan Pavlov, Jean Piaget, B.F. Skinner, Carl Rogers, Abraham Maslow, Pee-Wee Herman and many others (hey, just kidding about Pee-Wee—just making sure you’re still paying attention); I have come to conclude that these contemporary pioneers of formal psychology and psychiatry have unduly perpetuated what Frankyl has coined the “Existential Vacuum”—a phrase which, in very simple “layman’s terms” means: the vanity of perpetual focus upon self, and which King Solomon (much earlier than the above-named “pioneers”) called, “vanity of vanities, striving after the wind” (or, in cattleman’s vernacular, “wrestling a greased pig”).
We cannot cure our selfish beings by looking yet further inward. To the contrary, we cure our selfish beings by looking upward—to God—and to His larger purpose (meaning) for our lives. Once we then grasp the larger purpose, gaining His view of our “issues,” we can then resume our inward gaze to meet with divine perspective—a cure to our inner turbulence within the soul and spirit (what psychologists and psychiatrists call “the psyche”).
In simple terms therefore, the more focused upon self that we become, the more separated we become from gaining the divine perspective which will enable us to cure the very pain which has successfully lured us into perpetual self-focus, or narcissism, to begin with.
The only image that remains with me vividly, and that within the 100s of children’s books I have read, is that of a young boy laying on a rich green hillside, all alone, and gazing up at a turquoise sky adorned with cotton-white and puffy clouds on a warm sunny day. He imagines animal shapes formed therein, and he is smiling. I recall intently observing this image within a children’s book when I was perhaps 10 or so—wishing that I were that boy; wishing that I could be so carefree and at-peace that I could lay on a hillside, on a warm sunny day, and forget time while imagining the animal shapes in white puffy clouds.
It is in Mathew 18:3, that Y’shua (Jesus) reminds us that unless we can embrace the simplicity of His message like a child, and with child-like simplicity and trust, we will not see the Kingdom of which He preached, taught and modeled. Much earlier in time, Y’shua’s ancestor King David, in the Book of Psalms, chapter 131, verse 2, muses: “Surely I have composed and quieted my soul; like a weaned child rests against his mother, my soul is like a weaned child within me.”
King David was describing his heart-posture as he drew near to God in his daily time of prayer and meditation, as he poured-out his heart to God in prayer, meditated upon His Word, and then sat in stillness and in silence, to be deeply affirmed by the permeating presence of God drawing near to him. Y’shua’s call to become “like a child,” and King David’s description of feeling “like a weaned child,” describe the profound act of looking upward and into the arms of a Father—Father God to be more precise, to the extent that we escape the trappings of our narcissistic natures, and find the true essence of meaning in our lives. Once we discover this meaning, and we make the conscious and deliberate decision to act upon this meaning, we have then engaged what Victor Frankyl coined “the will to meaning.”
Minutes after Victor Frankyl was permanently freed from his final death-camp, he wandered several hundred yards from the place of his previous captivity; a bastion of perpetual misery, agony, torture, suffering, hideous stench and death; and began to quietly walk upon a railroad track. In a state of post-traumatic shock that few of us can imagine, he eventually fell to his knees, looked up into the sky, raised his hands, began to weep, and simply said, “My Lord and my God.” It was at that moment, after having inspired countless fellow prisoners to will to continue with life, that he fully acknowledged and embraced God as his medium of sustenance and salvation from eminent death. It was also then that he embraced the profundity of his purpose, his meaning. He had survived, that he could then go on to help many others survive. Therefore, not unlike the illustration of the young boy on the hillside, looking up into the sky with complete freedom to imagine, Victor Frankyl met with the same freedom—the freedom to imagine the endless possibilities of meaning—when our lives are submitted to the embrace of the God who created us to find and fulfill such meaning.
As you ponder what I’ve just written, please be reminded that my purpose in penning this brief article is that to offer but a very simple glimpse into the work of Logotherapy as it is interwoven into the ministry of pastoral counseling which I regularly facilitate. It is the symbiosis between the two which has been my focus. My article herein was not by any means that to represent a formal study of Logotherapy. Much rather, at best this has been but a cursory glimpse, a subjective glimpse into but one primary tenet of Logotherapy, coupled with corresponding tenets of scripture.
May you soon discover, embrace and act upon the depth and breadth of the calling to which you have been uniquely equipped.
January 21, 2013
Yom Tov, Friends:
This evening marks the completion of my 21-day fast, and yet another journey into what Madame Jeanne Guyon (French mystic, circa 1700) coined: “the mysterious depths of Jesus Christ.”
Without exception, when we fast for the purposes of drawing nearer to God, and that we might further be conformed to the image of Messiah Y’shua; He answers the yearning of our souls to more closely commune with Him. And it is this present communion which has resulted in the new mission in which I find myself—as I type.
I wish to thank each of you for the overwhelming response to my recent request that you would consider sowing financially, and with your prayer support, into my latest Mission to Israel—a mission which, in much larger context, is that representative of the ongoing fruits of 2 previous missions in which I have been honored to have been included—the Amish and Mennonite Repentance and Blessing missions of 2010 and 2012 respectively; that I might again sojourn with Sarah and Abraham in Jerusalem, and serve as a conduit of healing to Sarah and Abraham. As of today your gifts toward this mission have not only surpassed my projected personal expenses; they have also resulted in what will be a significant financial gift rendered to Abraham and Sarah as I greet them on Wednesday. For those of you who could not sow-into this mission financially; your prayer-support is an even greater gift. I am aware that all of us have met with trying economic times—me and Gigi included. And so, please be reminded that this was a no-guilt plea for your response.
As I have shared previously, Sarah’s cancer therapy has come at great cost. As such our collective gift to them will water their souls. Additionally, I wish to thank those of you who designated gifts directly to Sarah and Abraham above and beyond what you have sown-into me personally for my traveling expenses. I am simply in awe of your hearts, and more pointedly your hearts toward the “apple of God’s eye”—Zion. You cannot get much close to the core of this “apple,” than Sarah and Abraham.
I’m presently at a hotel in New York, for an overnight stay prior to my departure for Tel Aviv tomorrow (Tuesday). I arrive in Tel Aviv late Wednesday morning following an estimated 12.5-hour flight. Benjamin, Abraham’s business partner and friend in Tel Aviv, is going to seek to break-away from the bustle of his schedule, to drive me from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. I am very grateful for his kindness. As many of you may recall as we were in Israel together in November, I complimented Benjamin on his selection of a rather “charismatic” pair of socks he was sporting at the time. As I see him on Wednesday I will be presenting to him a set of 3 pair of argyle socks—which no man can live without.
I have been very privileged over the past 32 years to have been granted countless avenues in which to minister, many of which have been a great honor for me, and which have permanently changed me. However I must say that what awaits me in Israel this time, is of a nature which will require more Spirit-sensitivity and faith combined, than I have ever sought to move-in. In this light, I realize now in retrospect, that this 21-day fast was the perfect prelude to such—as the fast ended on the very day on which I have embarked upon my return to Israel—a turn of events which were wholly unpremeditated at the onset of my fast on January 1st.
It was while in my prayer room perhaps a little over a week ago that that the Holy Spirit so surged me with such a love and compassion for both Sarah and Abraham, that all I could do was weep. It was not long following, that I generated my blanket prayer request, that this trip become a reality.
As most if not all of you are at least in a cursory capacity familiar with the colorful history of the Azusa Street Revival, I’m certain you will appreciate a momentary glimpse into a timely maxim from F.F. Bosworth, one of the primary faith-healers spawned by this outpouring (John G. Lake was yet another). On the wall, next to my Quiet-Time chair in our study, is an 8” x 10” black & white photo of F.F. Bosworth, William Seymour and John G. Lake, taken sometime between 1906 and 1910, outside a meeting house on Azusa Street (Los Angeles). As odd as this may sound to some of you, I actually feel an anointing emanating from that photo. It was F.F. Bosworth, author of Christ the Healer; a copy of which I have in my possession as I type; and which I am re-reading for perhaps the 5th time; said:
“We cannot reach-up and grasp with our hands from God, what we cannot first envision with the eyes-of-faith.”
It is through the “eyes-of-faith” that I have seen in recent weeks, visions of Sarah being delivered and healed of stomach cancer. When our first recourse is not that to believe God for the miraculous, we very often fall-prey to becoming comfortable with much less.
Miraculous healing is still in fashion—despite what the Apologists would have us believe.
Aware that such is wholly upon God’s shoulders; I am equally aware that our part is that in exercising faith—great faith, and in consecrating ourselves as channels for the divine.
What I have long referred to as “The Genesis 12:3 Key” is being released over the lives of everyone who has responded to my plea. The blessing for the Church at-large, is spiritual in nature—largely experienced in the form of an increased measure of God in our midst. And is this not the purpose of our meetings as we congregate? If it is not, we’ve surely been duped somewhere along the way.
As I bring this note to a close, and while dangling by but one thread of cogency on the heels of having slept for all of 1 hour last night; I wish to offer you yet another download the Holy Spirit spoke to me just a few days ago, in and through another precious observation in nature.
It was early in the morning as I let my dog out (“Joybee the Wonder Dog”—black & tan short-hair miniature dachshund), that she might “make the beepees” (that’s, “Number 1”). As I did so, a small Schnauzer named “Snicker-Doodles” (who had escaped from the property next to us) came to pay Joybee a visit. And as with each occasion that Snicker-Doodles escapes and visits Joybee, they dart around jumping over each other like a couple of wild rabbits, running in figure-8 patterns and having a blast playing cat-n-mouse. Joybee rarely gets to see other dogs, and rather enjoys the company of her 20-pound brother (“Freud” – the cat). Joybee is but 12 pounds. It was as Snicker-Doodles was finished visiting Joybee, that he darted back to his house, and disappeared.
Though it was not even 20 degrees outside, and Joybee was shivering in the cold (she did have a sweater and jacket on), she darted toward Snicker-Doodles as he disappeared, and ran her 50-foot leash-line taunt, to then lean away from the line as hard as she could, to stretch just another ½” toward Snicker-Doodle’s direction. She froze in that position, shivering from the cold, and whimpering in a pitiful chimpanzee-like fashion, and remained focused upon where she had last seen Snicker-Doodles, for at least 10 minutes. At the 3-minute mark I went back inside to warm up, and had the unusual sense that I should observe her for a moment. As I stood inside the door, and as the minutes ticked-by, the Holy Spirit whispered this to me:
“Joybee’s entire being is fixed upon seeing Snicker-Doodles re-appear where she had last seen him. She is certain that he will return—right where he was last seen. She is so intent upon him reappearing that she will freeze before she concludes otherwise.”
It was then that I realized what was being spoken to me. We as Spirit-filled Believers have many times witnessed powerful visitations from God, wherein He has visited a location in such might that for a time a heavenly portal is established, and all who visit the locale are touched profoundly. As time marches on however, and though the portal may dissipate, we yet eagerly wait for Him to return to the same place, and in the same way. However, God is ever-changing, and no two visitations of His presence and power are the same. He is always up to something new—which requires new levels of faith, new levels of risk, new levels of hope and anticipation, new levels of vision; and new levels of the revelation of the love, mercy and compassion in which He seeks-out the lost and the sick among us. Also required, are new levels of consecration—through prayer and fasting.
I have so enjoyed interacting with those of you who have opted to fast as well. It was for this reason that chose to make known my fast—to spawn participation from others. I have enjoyed the deeper dialog with each of you—the brand of transparent sharing which occurs when our bodies are dying—while our spirits are awakening with new life—as the result of fasting. It is talking about those deep recesses in the heart, which sets the stage for God’s whole habitation therein. He is after the “whole heart” (Psalm 119:2). Your reward will be rich, and I’m lifting each one of you in prayer.
For those of you who are unaware; Micah and Nancy Smith over many years, and Ben and Barbara Girod in more recent years, have modeled Y’shua to Abraham and Sarah in Israel, and at home, in such a way that Abraham and Sarah have witnessed the indelible fingerprints of Y’shua in their midst. It was this lengthy investment in Abraham and Sarah which set the stage for both of them to be showered with the love of God by the collective Anabaptist team recently in November. My ministry to them therefore, comes on the heels of precious labor which has gone before—and which I handle with great care. It was in emulating the love of Y’shua, over such a long period, as Micah and Nancy, and Ben and Barbara have, that the stage has been set for Y’shua to show Himself majestic to both of them. In this light, and in this context, I am not only humbled and honored to co-labor with these couples and the larger Anabaptist Connections and Global Gateway Network teams; I am also humbled and honored that so many of you would so lovingly and sacrificially sow-into this latest mission with your prayers, and with your finances.
I am eternally grateful to each of you.
Yom Tov, Friends:
Day-14 into my 21-day fast, I pause once again to share with friends some things I feel are worthy of meditation.
It was in the Summer of 1982 that I met the late Dennis Bennett, an Episcopal priest who is deemed within the annals of church history as “the father of the Charismatic Movement.” I was, from 1982 to 1984 privileged to have sat under his tutelage repeatedly, in the area of Inner Healing and Deliverance.
It was in 1960, that from the pulpit of his 2600-member congregation in Van Nuys California, he freely shared of he and his wife Rita having recently experienced an explosive baptism in the Holy Spirit, followed by an immediate experience with speaking in tongues and moving in the revelatory gifts. Shortly after this service in 1960, Dennis was excommunicated from the Episcopal Church.
Dennis and Rita would go on to write several Charismatic Christian classics including Nine O’Clock in the Morning, and The Holy Spirit and You.
Two of the countless things which Dennis shared with me remain with me foremost. The first is that of his repeated encouragement to approach Father God as “Pappa” or “Daddy,” and in doing so to picture ones’ self sitting on “Pappa” or “Daddy’s” lap. This was the greatest challenge for me of all, and one that I struggle with, still.
Dennis was onto something in this. It would be several years later that I would experience the object of Dennis’ goal, while I meditated in the Psalms, and while re-reading Psalm 131:2, which reads: “Surly I have composed and quieted my soul; like a weaned child rests against his mother, my soul is like a weaned child within me.”
It is this very picture, a picture of a child in the lap of a mother, which Dennis sought to impart to his students—a model for daily intimacy with Father God.
I would go on to submit myself to countless Inner Healing and Deliverance ministry models over many years, and ultimately begin to facilitate such for others; which is what I do now very often.
The second of the two things which are chief among that imparted to me by Dennis so long ago, is that which he whispered into my ear after teaching a 2-day seminar/mini-conference based in his book, The Holy Spirit and You. After sharing a truly heart-gripping message about the ways and means; the ebb and flow of the Holy Spirit; Dennis walked very softly over to me, leaned very close to me, and whispered in my ear: “The Holy Spirit is a gentleman, David. He will never force His way into your affairs. Rather, He will very gently, and very subtly, speak as a ‘still, small voice,’ so subtle that if you are not attuned to Him at the moment, you will completely miss Him.”
Thirty years have passed since that day with Dennis in 1982; one of many days spent with him over a period of a few years. And throughout the course of 3 decades I have callously ignored “the Gentlemen” on countless occasions. Granted, there equally has been many times when I have heard Him clearly, but far more in which I have chosen to ignore Him—to my dismal demise.
This is perhaps the fourth occasion in which I’ve fasted at this length since 1981. And with each experience I am reminded of how we are so much more keenly attuned to the “still, small voice” of the Holy Spirit, while fasting. I have long used an analogy of “spiritual antennae,” in that when we are not fasting, our antennae are often in the retracted position—barely picking up heavenly transmissions from day to day. Whereas as we fast, the antennae become fully protracted, and we receive a much clearer “signal,” not unlike the behavior of radio waves and a common radio (perhaps not so common anymore).
One of the more pressing issues addressed in prayer during my fast, is that of a neurological issue with which I have battled for 12 years; a condition which has equated to the trial of my life. It has been with fully protracted “antennae” that I have more clearly heard the sound of Y’shua’s voice—in the midst of my suffering.
I have been reminded in recent days of a fitting analogy within the dynamics of one emerging from a dark room—into bright sunshine. The initial shock to the eye pupils prompts many to cup their hands over their eyes momentarily. Conversely, as we fast, we grow so much more accustomed to the “light of life,” Y’shua Himself, that when we approach darkness we experience the same shock to our spiritual pupils. In this vein I have largely avoided national news for 14 days at this stage, as the deception behind such news; especially that related to activities within the White House; emanates so much deception that it is a shock to my spiritual eyes. I have rather opted to spend more time observing the spirit-realm—which is where our focus should be hereafter.
It was in 2005 that I released an article entitled, The Eagle Has Landed. Within the article, which was published by a few prophetic periodicals at the time, I spoke of a demonic assault upon the minds of the masses, in the form of audio-visual system-overload—a condition which spawns the perpetual hunger to have some form of audio-visual stimulation in front of the eyes and in the ears around the clock. I also spoke to the demonic assault of prescription drug programming—a programming which includes the diabolical connection between the medical industry and the pharmaceutical industry, characterized by the alarming speed and precision with which millions of physicians write-out prescriptions within minutes of seeing a given patient; as well as the art with which the same number of physicians sell their patients on “lifestyle drugs”—drugs which are to be taken for life. Chief among these are psychotropic medications of all sorts—many of which physicians have tried to convince me to take as I battle the hideous effects of a neurological condition (Catastrophic Tinnitus).
But you must know, friends, that for 12 years I have denied the pharmaceutical industry such satisfaction. The pharmaceutical industry is a trillion dollar a year industry. And I have refrained from such programming for one reason—that I might more clearly hear from the Lord—for others.
To dissuade would-be antagonists; allow me to grant that for many you I understand your medication to be necessary. Do let that one rest, I implore you.
The race, in which we find ourselves as Believers, can be reduced to but two simple objectives: being Spirit-formed…and Spirit-led. It’s that simple. As we grow in our sensitivity to yield to both dynamics, all else meets with relative harmony—and peace.
I wish to thank each of you; friends who span the globe, and who are in varied places in your pilgrimages; for tarrying with my musings during this fast. This is the first time that I have felt compelled not only to share that I am fasting, but to share what I glean while doing so—so as to spawn a broad and renewed hunger for such (pun intended) among friends. For it is fasting and prayer, adopted as a lifestyle hereafter, that is going to enable us to fully navigate the turbulent waters before us as 2013 continues to unfold. Without such, we may very well “faint with fear” (Luke 21:26) over what is forthcoming about us. The United States that our fathers, grandfathers and great-grandfathers fought-for, is quickly fading into memory.
A profoundly redemptive element of this alarming national metamorphosis however, is this: we are being called to supplant our national patriotism with a much larger allegiance—an allegiance to the Kingdom of God Universal.
As saddening as the fall of the U.S. is—a notion which is particularly painful for me as a Navy veteran—it must now be relegated to context in the light of a much larger mandate—that to expand the Kingdom of God on earth. Soon we will no longer look at the world about us as Americans, but as Believers. The “American Dream” must be replaced by the Apostle John’s dream of the “New Jerusalem” (in literal Israel)—a vision far exceeding our present narcissistic orbits.
This is our hour to shine like “a light upon a hill” (Isaiah 60:1), as we fix our gaze upon the Lamb from sunrise to sunset.
As you ponder what I’ve shared with you this evening, equally ponder the path you might take toward becoming further knitted into a congregation of Believers (whether that be in a formal setting in public, or an informal setting in a home). For it is the community of the Saints, a collective strength, which will sustain you as you continue to submit yourself to being Spirit-formed…and Spirit-led in the midst of the raging battle about us.
As day-7 of my 21-day fast begins, I pen a reflection once again from an observation found within nature, on my mini-farm.
Though greatly weakened from gnawing hunger, I have forced myself out into the weather to walk briskly through the snow and ice, to maintain a regimen of exercise. Even when the temperatures are near zero at times, the wind is blowing strong, and sleet is covering my eyeglasses, I press-on; bundled up of course, and pray in the spirit as I pant like an exhausted wolf after chasing a rabbit through the snow up a mountainside.
I have long deemed snow to symbolize purity and purification. And it is in the snow that I have found a sobering tale in recent days.
In my walks through the snow I have marveled over the foot, hoof and tail prints of many animals, and the stories these prints tell. In all, I have seen deer, coyote, cat, raccoon, opossum, fox, rabbit and bird prints. In just the past few days alone I have observed the telling story of wanderings, chases, confrontations, skirmishes, fatal fights, and the aftermath of one animal becoming the dinner of another, either dinner on-the-spot, or the dragging of such into the woods.
I observed the footprints of a bird which wandered away from one of my bird feeders; it wandered over toward my heating fuel tank. I then saw prints from a cat having bounded from behind my smaller (mini) barn, intersecting the bird prints. I then observed interlacing and overlapping circular prints of both, followed by a few feathers strewn about. The cat had obviously reached its fiber count after devouring the bird, and chose to leave but two feathers remaining. I have observed deer tracks emerging from the fifty acres of woods directly behind my southern fence line, and making a “B-Line” to one of my bird feeders. And because I also line the ground with bird seed, for the Mourning Doves who are ground-feeders, the deer (several deer) opted to eat the bird seed, which happens to contain cracked corn.
A more brutal tale was told in the snow just this morning, as I found half of a rabbit in the snow just a few feet from the main entrance of my larger barn. I saw the fresh rabbit tracks having emerged from a cluster of pine trees, and straight toward my barn. I then observed coyote tracks emerging from the other end of the cluster of pine trees, intersecting the rabbit right where I found its remaining hind quarters. The coyote had obviously cleaned the area with its tongue, not unlike a person who absorbs the last drop of broth after a great bowl of soup; for there were very few blood stains remaining in the snow following the this violent encounter.
Recalling the metaphor within snow, as representative of purity and purification; I am dully reminded of the purification which results from fasting.
Over the past 7 days, and while pressing-into more concerted prayer and meditation with the Lord, I have been shown a map of my thoughts, emotions and actions in recent months. And though outwardly I can often convincingly emulate the fruit of the spirit, I have yet harbored thoughts and emotions, and subsequent actions, which defy this fruit.
In the same way that the tracks in the snow have revealed hunger, searching, wandering, conflicts, aggression, violence and death; so our purification which occurs during fasting unveils the very same emotions and actions within our personal histories.
The Lord, through the prophet Jeremiah renders a sobering assessment of the tendencies deep within each of us: “The heart is more deceitful than all else and is desperately sick, who can understand it? I, the Lord, search the heart…” (Jere. 17:9-10a, NASB).
One may be inclined to readily argue that this excerpt of Jeremiah describes the unredeemed heart, the heart that has yet to experience the full habitation of Y’shua’s (Jesus’) rule and reign. Think again. Recall the puzzling transition with Peter, within Matthew chapter 16; whereas in one moment Y’shua declares to Peter that “…upon this rock [Peter’s revelation/declaration of Who Y’shua is] I will build My church…I will give you the keys of the kingdom…” (vv. 18, 19). And yet in another moment, but a few verses later, Y’shua rebukes Peter, saying, “Get behind me Satan! You are a stumbling block for Me; you are not setting your mind on God’s interests, but on mans interests” (v. 23).
In the span of but a few verses, Peter has gone from being highly exalted and affirmed by Y’shua as having revelation which is so great that the Church Universal would be founded upon it; to then being rebuked by Y’shua as being Satan’s personal spokesperson. Hello? This excerpt of Peter’s story serves to underscore the condition of the heart which Jeremiah soberly uncovered, and which further serves to remind us that we too are subject to the same propensity.
I have, over decades at this stage, experienced many moments when the Holy Spirit has found fit to grace me with revelation far and above anything another human being has shared with me; only to find myself just days later, allowing my thoughts, emotions, and subsequent actions defying the same.
I have on many occasions, over many years, submitted myself to the cleansing process of various models of Inner-Healing and Deliverance ministry. This began with my first meeting with Dennis and Rita Bennett in 1983; authors of The Holy Spirit & You, a Christian classic written in 1971. And more recently I submitted to such in San Francisco close to a year ago, at the hands of two precious brothers who team-up from Texas and Hong Kong respectively, and travel the globe together. In one day I received ministry from them, and the very following day I was ministering with them. This pattern of receiving and giving ministry is one which I have long sought to speak to leaders, especially as relates to the ministry of Deliverance—a grossly overlooked and vital ministry in this hour, as the Bride succumbs to intense purging this year as 2013 unfolds.
I have discreetly shared with many leaders over the past few years, the growing criticality of submitting one’s self to the trusted hands of mature Believers, on an annual basis, and submitting to a deliverance session not unlike the way we submit our automobiles to major tune up’s, and car washes wherein we can select the “Deluxe Wash,” which includes a “full undercarriage spray.” Leaders especially at this juncture, need to periodically submit themselves to trusted hands, lay all their “issues” upon the table, and receive the cleansing power of the deliverance afforded to us as we entrust others with our hearts. It is those leaders who fail to do this, and who feel themselves above such activity, that wind up setting themselves up for a terrible fall. We have seen this played-out many times over, over many years, as the news media has attempted to make a mockery of such unfortunate souls.
We are, as the Church Universal, entering a very sobering period, my friend, intensely so as 2013 unfolds. And as we march further into the chaos unfolding within the End-Times before us, we have to be sober in spirit—around the clock. There is no more liberty nor latitude for lives of compromise, as alarmingly depicted in Revelation 3:16. I encourage you to re-visit that passage in light of what I’ve just shared.
Lest I fall prey to taking myself entirely too seriously at this moment; allow me to confess to you that for nearly 7 days I have had a recurring vision of a warm pecan pie sitting in front of me, with whipped cream on top—and the pie is for me alone. The vision includes eating the whole thing—in one sitting. And worse, the consumption of this pie is all that matters in the whole wide world. Such vanity, I repent.
Day-3 into a 21-day fast, I want to share a brief story with you.
Yesterday toward the end of the afternoon, and Day-2 of my fast, my body was feeling the painful gnawing effects of what I’ve entered-into. Along with such, I have augmented this 21-day period with much prayer and meditation. At one point yesterday afternoon I was flooded with the awareness (again) of my very broken trail, a trail which has entailed decades of healing and deliverance from severe wounds and strongholds in my life.
The Holy Spirit was placing His finger upon many areas deep within my soul, in which I should pursue deeper healing, cleansing and deliverance. Just as I began to feel overwhelmed, I looked beyond my desk, out the large window in front of me and into the 4 acres of snow-laden terrain directly before me. I was adoring the army of birds that frequent the 8 bird houses I have mounted on the parallel fence line, and the 2 bird feeders I keep full, year-round, even in the snow. I also regularly clear a 4’ x 4’ area (in the snow) beneath the feeders to also feed the ground-feeding Mourning Doves, which are my favorite.
In a flash this beautiful picture was violently interrupted by a beautiful little Chickadee which slammed into the window right in front of my face. My heart winced, as I love birds.
I sat at my desk for about 3 minutes or so, and the thought then came to me to go outside to see if it was lying on the deck, in the snow (we still have 12″ of snow on our deck). Sure enough, it was lying on its back, legs curled up, breathing briskly and blinking wildly. Had I left it there it would have frozen to death within minutes, as it was not more than 17 degrees or so outside at the time, just prior to sunset.
I quickly cupped the bird into my hands and went inside, placing my hands by a heater vent and prayed for the bird. After several minutes its heart began to slowdown and its eyes began to close. It was very near death, as I could see that its neck appeared to be broken. Roughly 10 minutes had transpired at this point. At once, a surge of compassion welled-up within me and I took my prayers into full-afterburner. Within seconds the bird’s heart began to beat more rapidly, its eyes came wide-open, and it fluttered its wings within my hands. I then made my way out the back door (to the chagrin of my 20-pound cat “Freud” who wanted to eat it, and my 12-pound miniature dachshund “Joybee” who wanted to lick it [clean it] to death inadvertently). I raised my hands up in the air and launched the bird, and it flew off and out of sight.
As I stood there watching the bird fly away, the Holy Spirit whispered this to me: “What you have just observed in the life of this precious bird, a bird laying crumbled in the snow and ice, moments from dying; is a picture of what you were feeling inside just moments before it slammed into the window before you. It is how you spoke life back into the little creature, by cradling it in your hands, warming it with heat, speaking life back into it, and launching it, that is precisely what I am doing with you as you fast.”
1 Corinthians 15:46 finds its place within the underpinnings of this story, and it reads:
“The spiritual is not first, but the natural; first the natural, then the spiritual.”
I was able to observe in the natural, what would then unfold spiritually, for me.
We can very often convince ourselves that God is no longer working on our behalf. For me, these emotions often come after great victories. One might call the dynamic a “counter-punch.” As we experience such, we can very often forget that He is as close to us as my cradled hands were–for the precious little Chickadee bird.
December 31, 2012
It is on New Year’s Eve of each year that I have typically looked back upon a combined annual trail of God’s goodness—contrasted with my personal failures. Failure for me is not necessarily failure for someone else. Failure often is subjective.
I define my personal failure in terms of moments when I chose to respond to an environment through the emotional filter of my wounds—versus that through the filter of the new heart given to me by Y’shua many years ago.
It is through Teshuvah; a turning-away from our natural predispositions; and a returning-to our redeemed spiritual predispositions; that we will ultimately look back upon a given year and see His grace in our dealings, versus our personal disgrace.
I recall over three decades ago, the surge of the love of God running through my new heart. The sensation was that far beyond anything I had experienced through drug experimentation as a youngster, and far beyond any emotion I had experienced before, otherwise. Immediately upon the yielding of my life to Y’shua, I was graced with supernatural love, grace, compassion and kindness toward everyone. It is this romance, to the newly redeemed, which seems euphoric in nature. I recall in those early days thinking, “Oh my God, is this the way it is going to be hereafter? And this is free?”
The reality is that the “honeymoon” stage of one’s spiritual conversion is generally short-lived. The decisive turning-point is typically that which hinges upon a shocking sting from the Spirit of Religion—fluidly manifested wherever Believers congregate in suits and ties. Yes, I said it. I will agree with you, that there is nothing inherently wrong with suits and ties. However, men act differently when they are in suits and ties (key word: “act”).
It is following each “sting” that we are met with a choice; whether to die to the hurt, or whether to allow the hurt to fester into a lingering wound which ultimately prevents us from moving in the love, compassion, kindness and mercy which we were generously shown by Y’shua Himself in the beginning.
How is it that we can begin this race with such love and compassion toward the world about us, only to find ourselves decades into the race, feeling tired, beaten, despondent and numb? This metamorphosis does not occur overnight; rather it may occur over a period of many weeks, months and even years.
Lest I continue to bore a hole deeper into the mire of discouragement, allow me to counter this trend by reminding you that though our spiritual numbness may develop over an extended period, this numbness can be healed—overnight, whereupon our “first love” experience with Y’shua is rekindled.
For many, your current state of spiritual numbness and despondency in question cannot be attributed to a given sting or wound. Rather, it corresponds with the discerning of the compromised state of the Church at large in this country, which is indeed impetus for deep and seemingly unquenchable sadness. I know it very well. Irrespective, and again, the experience of our “first love” encounter with Y’shua can be rekindled, overnight.
It is at this point that I apologize for inducing spiritual arrest, as I drop the “F-Bomb.” Yes, the “F-Word,” which, in the context of this article, and the larger context of the mission of this web site, is downright unconscionable.
Brace yourself, for here it goes: “F-f-f-f-f-asting.”
There, I said it, “fasting.”
I sincerely hope that you will continue to like me, despite my vulgarity.
I have an extremely sensitive physiological construct. For example, when I dare to wear clothing that is not pure cotton or pure wool, I itch immediately, and ultimately breakout in rashes of all sorts. If I have more than a scant portion of sugar or caffeine, or artificial sweetener, I become nervous, hyper, and agitated. I’m also extremely sensitive to noise, a condition rooted in a severe case of tinnitus (perpetual screeching noise in my head—going on 13 years at this stage). And because I am very sensitive, I lose a minimum of 1 pound a day while fasting. Fasting therefore has been an extreme challenge for me, ongoing.
Y’shua said in Matthew 6, “When you fast…” My, was He not being a bit presumptuous in word-selection, by saying “when,” versus “if”? He was being so bold as to assume that we would be fasting—as a lifestyle. No wonder He is considered to have been a “radical” while He walked about Israel. He overturned a few tables in His day, and He has certainly upset my personal “applecart” by presuming that for me, fasting is a matter of “when,” and not “if.”
Do you realize that when you purposefully fast for spiritual purposes, you are actually dying, physically? You are starving your body, in essence killing it. But you are dying physically, that you might in turn live—spiritually.
It is critical at this juncture in history especially, that a lifestyle of fasting be adopted hereafter, that we might “endure to the end.” “Those who endure to the end, shall be saved” (Matthew 24:13).
It is as I personally approach the dawn of 2013, that I have opted to engage a 21-day fast, that I may further die to elements within me which, as I look back upon 2012, came between me and deeper or renewed intimacy with Y’shua. In divulging such, I am reminded that also within Matthew 6, Jesus warns that fasting should be done “in secret,” that we may be rewarded by our Father in heaven. Why therefore, would I opt to divulge to you that I would engage a 21-day fast, January 1 through January 21? I have done so that I might in turn influence you to consider the same.
Misery loves company, doncha know.
But for real, and on a sobering note; the spiritual climate over this country, since November 6th of 2008, has been steadily falling, in an accelerated fashion, into unprecedented darkness. This darkness shifted into “overdrive” on November 6th of 2012. As the result, the love of many has grown cold. Matthew 24:12-13 reads, “Because lawlessness is increased, the love of many will grow cold, [and again] but the one who endures to the end will be saved.”
Look at the landscape about you, friend; the forecast within Matthew 24:12-13 is now upon us.
I have witnessed within the Body of Y’shua abroad in this country, over the previous four years, a subtle yet steady hardness and coldness encroaching upon the hearts of the Redeemed. For many, this process cannot be attributed to one noteworthy event, but is rather attributed to a series of events which systematically envelop a given soul with hopelessness. And is this very chain which binds, the chain of hopelessness; that can be broken in an instant—through fasting and corresponding prayer.
It is time, dear friends, to “pull out all the stops,” to draw upon our more lethal weapons in the battle of good and evil, the battle that rages within—far more so than the battle that rages without, and to deal a death-blow to the works of darkness which would seek to dampen the fire of your “first love,” that heart-condition that was in the beginning flooded with the love of God.
There could be a number of reasons why you cannot join me in such a fast at this time. If so, I would ask that you would pray for me as I do so, between January 1st and January 21st. If you are able to join me, do send me a note indicating so, and I will equally pray for you.
Understand that a fast can be defined on many levels. The fasting of food is most pointed. And it need not be a complete fast from food. In my case for example, I will do so gradually, slowly tapering my food intake until I am down to water-only. I have to do so gradually, or my body goes into shock and nearly shuts-down in more ways than one.
Compromise, indifference, insensitivity, coldness, callousness and spiritual despondency are all about us, dear friend. And it is contagious. We can receive immunization to such, through the powerful weapon of fasting. The battle is raging, dear friend; and it is time to “lock-n-load,” and to engage the works of darkness head-on, that our lives will more so illuminate the darkness about us “like a light upon a hill.”
December 12, 2012
Yom Tov, Fellow Pilgrim,
It could be that the subject of this photo adorning my home page is familiar to you. If not, please allow me to fill you in on the essence of what you are viewing by way of but a cursory overview.
This site in Old Jerusalem (Israel) is known in phonetic Hebrew as “HaKotel,” or “The Kotel,” more commonly known in English as “The Western Wall.” The wall is positioned westerly of the Temple Mount (the golden dome over the previous location of the Ark of the Covenant, which can be seen in the upper-left of the photo) and is an actual remnant of the Second Temple, the construction of which began approximately 19 B.C. or B.C.E, under the direction of Herod the Great.
Hundreds of millions of prayers have been prayed at this site, for over 2,000 years. The subsequent spiritual dynamics intrinsic to this wall are very difficult to define. Having personally prayed at this wall on many occasions (to include just under two weeks ago, at the time of this writing), I deem these experiences to have been of the most precious of my lifetime. For it was at this wall upon my initial visit to Jerusalem that I experienced a spiritual heart-cleansing that would further alter the course of my life. In fact, I would go so far as to assert that without exception, everyone who prays at the Western Wall is changed with each visit, to one degree or another, whether knowingly or unknowingly.
Old Jerusalem and Solomon’s Temple can, theologically speaking, be deemed the holiest place on earth. One could counter this statement by arguing that theologically as well, wherever God happens to dwell, is “the holiest place on earth,” for God dwells throughout the universe—He is omnipresent. With this admission I will share that I was once approached by a rabbi at the Western Wall, during my first pilgrimage of 2010, and asked: “Tell me dear pilgrim, is God in Satan’s heart?”
David: “I would have to think not.”
Rabbi: “But is not God everywhere?”
David: “I would have to concede that God is in fact, everywhere.”
Rabbi: “Then God resides in Satan’s heart, does He not?”
David: “I’m afraid you’ve got me there, contemplative one.”
The rabbi then rendered a deep guttural chuckle, slapped me on the back, placed his arm around me and said with a smile, “Welcome home, pilgrim.” And in truth, I had never felt more “at-home” in all my life.
Should you favor the posture of an exegete or an apologist, you may find yourself grinding your teeth at my admission of the rabbi’s good-humored conclusion. To placate the wrinkles in your forehead therefore; I yet do not believe God resides in Satan’s heart. Perhaps someday I’ll have the blessed opportunity to share a vanilla latte at the nearest Cafe Hillel with the good rabbi, and implore him to concede that God cannot possibly reside in Satan’s heart at this stage. Israeli rabbis are groomed in “yeshivas” (paces of study—the study of the Talmud and Torah) wherein among other things; they are encouraged to argue—for the purposes of sifting through the rubble of subjectivity—to ultimately arrive at objectivity—the object of HaShem (“The Name”)—God.
Notwithstanding the good-humored posture of the rabbi, the Western Wall yet remains host to the most permeating presence of God that I have personally experienced in the 32 years that I have sought to draw near to Him (to include the many seasons therein in which I have run from Him). With my personal experience in view, I will sporadically allude to the Western Wall in subsequent posts, and will as well devote a span of a book I am currently writing, to my experiences herein. With the above in view, I will hereafter take liberty to speak very candidly about the impetus for the creation of this humble web site.
“Teshuvah” (תשובה) is a Hebrew word, which means literally, “to turn,” and to “return,” and connotes a posture of, or a call-to, repentance. “Tzion” (ציון) is an ancient Hebrew transliteration of the word, “Zion,” as found for example within the transliteration of Psalm 137:1. Tzion means, in its rudimentary form, “the pure of heart.” It also connotes the location of the ancient City of David, as well referred to as “Mt. Zion,” or simply, “Zion.”
With the above word-study in view, “Teshuvah Tzion,” the title of my web address, and that irrespective of any perceived violation of proper syntax, is rendered:
“Return—to a place of purity of heart.”
It is therefore teshuvah, the call to turn, to return, and to repent, toward a place of purity of heart, which will remain central to my offerings on this site.
My message could not be authenticated without the underlying reality of my personal repentance—ongoing. And it is my personal repentance which took on a new form, measure, intensity and velocity on November 6th of 2008. For it was on November 6th of 2008, that the gravity of God’s judgment upon the U.S. came to bear upon my heart in such a way that I felt my heart was being squeezed by the very hand of God (it was in January of 2007 that I was forewarned of this probability, and it was then that I began sounding the alarm, only to be met with scoffing and ridicule by the masses). It was thereafter that I retreated into a period of deep introspection, with the intent that I would submit myself once again to God’s thorough housecleaning of my heart—every room, every corridor, every chamber, every closet. I thereafter discovered that God’s personal dealings with me in this regard would be pointedly prophetic of His call to the nation, the U.S., and namely the Church in the U.S., to do the same.
It was during my new season of pointed repentance with fasting, that my wife Gigi began to revisit with me the events of some nine years previous; the events of 09-09-99—September 9th, 1999. For it was on 09-09-99, during a literal and figurative “mountaintop” experience in Moravian Falls North Carolina, and during an extended fast, that I experienced one of the more profound “epiphanies” of my life. It was on this date that I experienced what felt like a hot cattle iron branding my very heart, with an iron in the shape of the Megan David (“Shield of David”), or more commonly known as the Star of David. It was thereafter that I realized I had been “branded” with a profound love for Israel, for the Jewish Nation, and for the spiritual foundation represented in Judaism.
“System-Overload” is a term or phrase which inadequately describes what occurred to me during the “branding” to which I have alluded, above. My wife Gigi will readily attest to the reality that it took me nearly two weeks to regain my faculties after leaving the mountains of Moravian Falls. It was thereafter, some nine years later, on November 6th of 2008, and in the wake and the brutal sting of the reality of the nearness of God’s national judgment upon the United States, that I buckled-under personally, and caved-in to the weight of the truth that I had personally been living a lie in many ways, and for many years, to include the denial that God had in fact charged me with pointing the way to a largely shrouded path to personal and national repentance, for failing to bless our “older brother,” the Jewish people, the Nation of Israel.
I will refrain hereafter, from expanding to the point of replicating the work of my current book-in-process, by working toward a conclusion which will be but a small capsule of a much larger message, reflected in subsequent articles on this site. The “capsule” that I refer to is embodied in the following phrase which I have personally coined: “The Genesis 12:3 Key.”
Barring my preference to expand upon the exegetical and expositional facets of Genesis 12:3; I will simply quote the verse, and with equal simplicity conclude this introductory letter by stating the essence of the message herein. Genesis 12:3 reads:
“I will bless those who bless you [Israel], and I will curse those who curse you [Israel].”
In but cursory terms, the promise herein is first to the Jew, initially in the form of the blessing of the inheritance of Eretz Yisrael—the Land of Israel. And secondly, to the Gentile, a spiritual blessing in the form of the spiritual understanding and revelation of God’s habitation—the blessing of His presence and anointing upon the work of their hands as they so seek to serve Him and honor the Apple of His Eye.
It was during my pointed season of fasting and repentance following November 6th of 2008, that I began to more visibly declare “The Genesis 12:3 Key” to an apostate nation (the U.S.), and an apostate Church (the mainstream Christian church in America).
Flash-Forward, and as the subsequent events of November 6th of 2012 have woefully unfolded, the United States has once again defiantly turned their collective backs upon Israel—further evoking the “curse” promised in Genesis 12:3. It is hereafter that the remaining fragments of the soul of this once great nation will be excised and cast to the wayside, making way for the further establishment of a government at war with God Himself. This grave condition, dear reader, is in large part the result of the collective resolve of our nation to curse Eretz Yisrael, the Land of Israel, the Jewish Nation, and the Apple of God’s Eye.
As you personally resolve to bless Israel; and that far beyond “lip service”; you will step-into the fullness of God’s habitation, favor and anointing upon the work of your hands as you seek to serve Him—with your whole heart. Until you do opt to bless the Apple of God’s Eye, there will be a mysterious element, a critical element, missing from your midst. Herein find the prophetic cup of coffee that a large cross-section of the Church in America has woefully ignored. For the fruited plain of this nation is adorned with thousands of “mega-churches,” multimillion dollar ministries which manufacture hype and hoopla on a weekly basis, spoon-feeding the masses “Christianity Lite,” and which when empty, lay barren and devoid of the fullness of God’s habitation—as the result of their failure to bless the Nation of Israel; their failure to acknowledge and further discover the ancient jewels represented within the treasure chest of the foundation of their very faith—their Israeli-Hebraic roots—Judaism.
A lesser known verse within the “Tanach,” (Heb., Tanakh) the Old Testament, which I prefer to call the “First Testament,” and which is known within practicing Jewish circles in a division of the Tanach known as “The Prophets;” we find nestled deep within the Book of Jeremiah, a verse from chapter 50, and verse 5, which reads:
“They will ask for the way to Zion, turning their faces in its direction; they will come that they may join themselves to the Lord in an everlasting covenant that will not be forgotten.”
Interesting to note, is that the name Jeremiah in Hebrew, literally means, “YVWH throws.” And as I deem Jeremiah 50:5 to represent a “prophetic pearl” for this hour, realize that a pearl has been “thrown” your way, a pearl which I encourage you to closely examine for its authenticity.
I deem Jeremiah 50:5 a prophetic pearl for this reason: The exegetical and historical context of this verse places it within the framework of the ancient destruction of Babylon. Following such, and emerging from the dust, rubble and debris, is a sea of shell-shocked survivors crying:
“Please show us the way to Zion!”
In addition to the two instances in history in which Babylon has fallen in great measure (past tense), we look to another instance yet to occur. I save the discussion of the future “fall” for a later date.
With historical context in view, I take license at this stage to offer you an expository application, a prophetic application, which I believe speaks rather profoundly of much of our planet at this stage in history, and certainly very pointedly of the country in which I currently reside—the U.S. For through our repeated defiance of God; the protracted and marinated state of our lukewarmness as a Church nationally; and the collective decision as a majority to repeatedly turn our backs upon Israel; we are quickly marching into the very destruction depicted in chapter 50 of Jeremiah, and doing so as figurative “Babylon.”
The economic underpinnings of this nation are collapsing, not unlike a series of dominoes. As they continue to topple, so the superficial underpinnings of much of formalized religion will topple, much of which represents nothing more than a business perpetuated by cunning marketing practices and that wholly bereft of God’s favor and endorsement. Many of these structures and organizations are personal ministry empires—woefully removed from God’s purposes. As these structures topple under the pressure of financial strain, so millions of disillusioned Christians will emerge from beneath the dust, rubble and debris, also crying:
“Please show us the way to Zion!”
What the masses will be crying-out for, is to know and experience the full, authentic habitation of God in their midst, and to dwell within the Church “not made with hands.” It is at this stage, as this nation and people are brought to our knees in desperation to know God’s full habitation; that Zion, “the pure of heart,” will emerge in the form of thirsty spiritual pilgrims. It is also then, that the deceptive veil of Replacement Theology will be lifted from the minds of the masses, and it is then that millions of Christians will discover that they have not replaced Israel, contrary to demonically-inspired doctrine. They will rather discover that they are in fact a spiritual extension of Israel, having been grafted into the “olive tree” of their “older brother.” With this revelation will come the discovery of the jewel within Genesis 12:3, and the subsequent passionate love of Israel, and the deep desire to bless the Nation of Israel. It is at this point in history; a point in history that I see unfolding very soon; that I will continue my resolve to point the way to Zion, and to challenge each and every soul that is capable, to make a personal pilgrimage to The Kotel, the Western Wall, to carry out a profound measure of teshuvah—a turning away from apostasy, and a turning-to the blessing of Israel.
Many lovers of scripture who reside in the U.S. have remained puzzled as to why the United State appears to have no significant place of mention within the framework of eschatology. And though I realize this comes as a sting to one’s national pride, I must be honest in saying that the reason the U.S. has no significant role in the End Times, is because it is presently, as I type in fact, subtly sliding-into a state of global irrelevancy, as the result of God’s judgment herein, which in turn is the result of a nation which, as a majority, has repeatedly turned its back upon Israel, subsequently “cursing” the nation of Israel.
We should not despise God’s chastisement however, as the end-result will produce an emergence of a precious remnant who are fully yielded to God’s ways and means—a collective posture which will foster the deepest revelation of purpose, mission and vision thereafter.
In closing, dear reader, I wish to thank you for enduring to the end of this introductory letter. I have by necessity limited much of what I have shared to but cursory glimpses of much deeper discussions which I’ll take greater liberty to speak to in subsequent musings. And as I close, I will allude to what I refer to as the “spiritual kaleidoscope” of revelation available to us.
As we fully yield ourselves to God’s ways and means, and we daily practice the posture of “waiting at His gates and the posts of His doors” (Proverbs 8:34) by stilling ourselves before Him and contending for His voice, we are given the gift of elements of revelation which, when formed together with many other elements, produce a panoramic view of God’s handiwork throughout the globe. In this context, it was Rabbi Saul who, within the “B’rit Chadasha” (Hebrew for New Testament), or which I prefer to call the “Second Testament;” stated that “we all see in part…know in part…prophesy in part…and look into a mirror dimly…[or]…as through a glass darkly.” As such I will concede that my message to you herein is one within a spiritual kaleidoscope of messages that must be heeded in this hour.
As mentioned previously, I have refrained from the temptation to offer greater depth into the discussion of the Abrahamic Covenant, Eschatology, Replacement Theology, the “One New Man,” etc, I have done so to rather keep our focus upon the meat-of-the-message herein—teshuvah.
I will say equally that I have paid a dear price, a price which you may find difficult to believe, to carry the gist of this message abroad. I therefore ask that you would prayerfully meditate upon what I have shared with you; asking God that He Himself would affirm to you personally, the truths within what I have shared with you.
I look forward to dialogue with many of you as time unfolds.