I want to tell you some tremendous stories of God’s miraculous power, but in the context of the larger story of what God is doing in my heart. If you’re the utilitarian, give-me-the-miracle-story kind of person, just scroll down to the numbered list of stories. For the rest of you, those of you who have a soul (just kidding), just stick with me.
I started believing in all the demonstrations of the gifts of the Holy Spirit, first, because my Holy-Spirit-loving wife exhorted me graciously to have an open heart. Second, I read the books of Jack Deere. I was stunned by his ability to wed together the power of God’s Word and the power of God’s Spirit. Alas! I could be a so-called charismatic without floating away to Charismatic Lalaland.
After finishing his books, I prayed, “Lord, would you please let me be mentored by this man?”
Serendipitously (or by sovereign design – you be the judge), Jack lived in the city I just moved to. Alicia and I joined his church, and within a short period of time, Jack began mentoring me. Part of that mentorship included a crash course on prophecy and healing. I had the theology down, but now I needed the practice – and that’s what he gave me, as I was eventually hired by him and traveled the world with him.
In 2012, Jack retired and handed me the leadership of Wellspring. For the past 5 years, we’ve laid groundwork for increased fellowship, discipleship, evangelism, and prayer. We’ve always pursued God’s miraculous power, but the elders have been sensing for months that God was about to bring the pursuit of the Holy Spirit’s ministry into greater focus. “Empowered Love” – our definition of a spiritual gift – will be our theme and emphasis for 2018.
The conference we attended last week was just what I needed. 1500 people gathered for “Convergence”, which earned its title because of the very thing that inspired me in the reading of Jack’s books: the “convergence” of Word and Spirit, of theological depth and spiritual power.
I’ve always said that I want Wellspring to be a “bridge” for every kind of person to experience all the gifts of the Holy Spirit. I want to be the sort of place where charismatics and Pentecostals can join us in the passionate pursuit of the gifts, and where non-charismatics can get their feet wet in the things of the Spirit, in a relaxed, biblical, unforced environment.
This conference renewed my vision for the sort of church God has called Wellspring to be. It also renewed my vigorous passion to see God’s power manifest among His people. In the words of Matt Chandler, who spoke at the conference, “We’re coming into a time when content alone will not carry the day – the church must move in POWER.”
So that’s what’s going on in my heart. Now, here are the stories. I included names where I remembered them, but I prayed for a few hundred people and did not remember every name…
Story #1: Julie is healed of deafness
Previously, Julie could only hear 25% in one ear and 40% in the other. Here she shares her story of God healing her 100% in an instant.
Story #2: Josh is healed after 7 years of severe esophageal reflux
Story #3: A Worship Pastor’s vocal cords are healed after a “Word of Knowledge”
The Apostle Paul speaks of a spiritual gift called “words of knowledge” (1 Cor. 12:8), which I’ve always defined as “a divinely revealed fact about someone else’s life”.
A worship pastor came forward to receive prayer from me for his vocal cords. He said he hasn’t led worship in a few months and that the doctor had prescribed him with “vocal rest” – speaking only 25% of his normal amount each day. Not only has this prevented him from doing his job, but additionally, he said that his marriage was suffering because he had trouble communicating (most of us men struggle with this in our marriages too, but not because of our vocal cords!).
As I began to pray, I suddenly felt a sharp burn traveling down my throat, like what you would feel if you took a shot of vodka. The Lord spoke into my spirit that he had an unconfessed drinking problem. Given the social awkwardness of bringing that to light, I eased in: “Right before this condition began, had there been any unconfessed sin in your life?” He looked to be racking his brain and said, “I don’t think so.” So I just came out with it: “What about overdrinking?” He looked startled, but almost comforted that he could get it off his chest. “Yes, actually. On the fourth of July, I overdrank. And it was right after that when these issues began.”
Not every infirmity is directly tied to sin (Jn. 9:3), but oftentimes, there is a connection (Jm. 5:16). I asked if he would confess and repent, which he agreed to do. I also asked if he had confessed this to his Senior Pastor (and boss). He had not. I had the sense that if his healing was not complete right now, that it would be completed as soon as he confessed to his Senior Pastor. He agreed to make that confession.
The man and I began to pray, and he poured his heart out to God. As he prayed, he asked forgiveness not only for sinning that one night, but for other occasions as well when he drank too much in the last few months. The more he prayed, the more he started to feel a change in his throat, the more comfortable it started to feel to speak. By the time we finished praying, he said that he felt almost completely healed, if not totally healed – he was overjoyed.
If he was something shy of 100% healed in that moment, then I fully expect the healing to be completed as he confesses to his Senior Pastor. Regardless, it was an unmistakably massive and instantaneous improvement and possibly a total healing.
Story #4: Young man is healed of Crohn’s + Auto-immune disease that attacks his spine
Since he was 17 years old, he’d suffered a tremendous affliction in his digestive tract. Additionally, an auto-immune disease that attacked his spine had wreaked such havoc that as a (roughly) 30 year old man, at times he walked with a cane.
We prayed together for probably 20 minutes. I had the sense that he struggled severely from self-hatred. That just as he had “turned on himself” with self-hatred, now his body was turning on itself with these afflictions. I asked him if this was a struggle for him, and he confirmed that it was. I asked if he ever had a “death wish” – that is, “if I happened to get run over by a car today, that wouldn’t be so bad, and I’d be kind of glad.” It’s a little different from being suicidal, but close. He confirmed that he’s had this feeling since…. He was about 17. The same age when these symptoms began.
He repented for allowing these feelings of self-hatred to take such a deep root in his soul. We prayed together, as more relevant details from his past came to light and God began to heal the traumas of his heart.
After God touched his heart, we then began to pray for his body. So often the heart and body are connected! He began to feel the power of God moving through his back and his back straightening out, like he was getting taller. His eyebrows raised with surprise and elation, “I feel something! It’s getting better!” We continued to pray, this time with smiles. By the end of it, this stranger I’d never met gave me a tear-filled hug. “I’m healed!” He walked away, for the first time in a long time, comfortably.
Story #5: Denae is encouraged amidst her loss
I was praying for Denae, and the Lord began to speak to me about a loss she had recently suffered. As I asked the Lord for clarity, He showed me a picture in my mind’s eye (the Bible calls this a vision) of a dog rubbing up against her leg. I thought, “What in the world, Lord?” God began to speak, “Denae is a dog-lover, and I’m going to give her comfort in a way she’s not expecting – through the love of her pet.” How in the world do I share this ‘prophecy’?!!!
I said, “Denae, I had the sense that you’ve recently suffered a significant loss in your life.” She began to tear up, so I continued. “The sense I get from the Lord is that He’s going to comfort you in a way you don’t expect… Are you a dog-lover?” She confirmed that she is. “Well what I hear the Lord saying is that—this might sound silly—but I sense that the Lord is going to bring a great deal of comfort… through the love of your pet…” It sounded so strange to say, but she confirmed the words emphatically.
The Lord continued putting words in my mouth, so I continued sharing: “You’re a very spiritual person, and you’re really seeking God, hoping for comfort to come to you from heaven—from God’s Spirit to your spirit. What I hear God saying is, “Denae, you’re a human being and as such, you are not just ‘spirit’ but also body, mind, emotions. This is why God is going to use something physical (a dog) and emotional (your heart-connection with it) to minister to you.” Denae confirmed, “I’ve been seeing a therapist about my recent loss, and she keeps telling me over and over again, ‘Denae, you’re just a human being, you’re just a human being, you’re just a human being… just like you said.’”
I’m not a dog-lover myself, so it felt strange to say these things, but for Denae, it’s just what she needed to hear.
Story #6: Jennifer is encouraged about her spit-balling, strong-willed son
I had just met Jennifer and never seen her with children at the conference, but the Lord told me she had a son. Not only that, but that she had a young, strong-willed son who knew how to push her buttons.
After praying, I said, “Jennifer, do you have a son?” She confirmed and I continued. I said, “The Lord gave me a picture of your son spitting a spit-ball in your face, but you took it in stride as just a boy having fun, and you spat one right back at him, resulting in mutual laughter.” Then I interpreted the vision: “What I think God is saying is that your son can be a sort of strong-willed ‘line-pusher’, but you don’t need to be discouraged by it. Just take it in stride – he’s being playful. God wants to use you to harness the ‘strong will’ for God’s glory. Just like God harnessed Jacob’s strong will for His glory, your mothering will do the same for your son.”
She confirmed that not only does she have a strong-willed son, but just the previous day he’d found some trouble at school, requiring a call from the teacher. Jennifer said, “I told my husband Ryan, ‘At least he’s not spitting spit balls.’”
I said, “God gave you that very language – through the picture of the spit balls – to confirm in your spirit that this is from Him. Your son’s a leader, and God’s going to use you to harness his strong will for God’s glory.”
Story #7: Lauren Chandler receives a Word of Knowledge and healing for her head/neck.
Matt Chandler, the Lead Pastor of the Village Church and President of the Acts 29 Network, spoke at the Convergence Conference, and his wife Lauren came with him. My friend Michael Miller called on her from the stage with a word of knowledge: “Do you have pain right now in your neck that goes up the back of your head along the right side?” She confirmed that she did. He continued with a few words of prophecy and then prayed for her healing. All the pain immediately left her. Later that night when Matt preached, he said that the words of Michael’s prophecy gave the very details of their dinner table conversations over the last several months.
Personally, it was exciting for me to hear that such an influential Christian leader was so touched by the gifts of the Spirit. It gives me a great sense of anticipation for how God will move in His church in this nation!
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