TO HEAR HIS VOICE IS TO KNOW HIS PRESENCE
The Autobiography of Danny D Luehrs
The miracle working power of God has been on and in my life for as long as I can remember, even from childhood, I now feel impressed that I need to write it down so that it might encourage people coming after me. I have spoken to other great men used of God to write their story, but few take the time to do so. To the best of my ability and with the help of the Holy Spirit to bring it back to my remembrance I write this, my story.
A NEW ERA
I was going through a very difficult time in the year 2000 feeling like I was hanging on by my fingernails and could not make it another day. Then one night in May I was at the Carpenter’s Home Church in Lakeland, Florida and was standing by Lake Gibson when Jesus came to me walking on the water through the whitecaps on the lake. Jesus stood before me and asked, “Do you want to go higher?” I said, “Is there more?” “He said, yes My glory!” I said, “Yes Lord I want this!” Then an angel appeared before me to my right with a pitcher of water and the Lord said, “Cup your hands (the angel poured water in them) wash your face He said, then the Lord said, cup your hands again (the angel poured water in them) and He said, drink.” I then said, "What is this?” He said, “My cup!” I then knew that I would be facing more trials and tribulations to come, in fact, I became such a broken man through it all, I told God I had nothing left but brokenness to give Him and He said, “I’ll take it and give you beauty for your ashes!” This was the offering of my life, brokenness! But that is where my life began to change for the better when I thought my best days were all behind me. Truly the story of Joseph lives on in my life. This appearing of Jesus was all to refresh me with His presence through my trials of life. I want to encourage you to refresh yourself in His presence today by turning your heart toward Him and drawing closer today, His glory is coming in like a tsunami and you will want to be ready!
60’S WILD CHILD
Being raised in a Lutheran home I was accustomed to going to church on Sunday mornings and to my remembrance we never missed a Sunday. Talk about doing it according to the book, we as children were sent to a Lutheran school so we could still pray even after prayer was removed from the public schools. My parents tried to do what was right in the sight of God in raising their four children in a wicked society of the 1960’s.
The first thing I remember about God is when I was about five years old, my mother was trying to instill in me that God was watching over me in whatever I was doing, so one day when I was trying to get my own way my mother said, "Don't be acting like that, God is watching you!" So I took the belt that was in my hand and began to go in circles waving the belt like I was slapping God because He was watching me and I told Him to get away from me! To this day it hurts me to think that I would try to get my loving heavenly Father away from me, because He only wants to help us with our parents' discipline. This would take me another twelve years of hard learning.
To say the least I was a rebellious child, my mother said I was the hardest to raise out of her four children. I was only trying to be me! But by the age of five I would have a run in with the cruel taskmaster of this world, namely a devil of perversion that tried to destroy me when I was a young age. The devil knows if he can wound a person when they're young, he has them for life and they will go on to wounding others. Hurt people, hurt people, and liberated people, liberate others! It was at this age that a male teenager had sexual contact with me right in my own home under the care of my parents, unknowingly of course. Only through the blood of Jesus was I set free from its power! By the time I was a teenager the devil told me that I liked men. I argued within myself and said, “I have a girlfriend and that cannot be true!” After I gave my life to Jesus, I never had a thought like that again and even as a young Lutheran I knew that these thoughts were not my own, but those that the enemy was trying to make me believe a lie. I do understand why so many young men choose this lifestyle, but I also understand there is grace and forgiveness in Jesus.
MANY WILD OATS SOWN
At the age of nine I got my first job delivering papers six days a week in the afternoons and this would help me to buy my first motorcycle with the help of my dad. All the neighborhood boys went out and bought motorcycles also. So now we had six boys on motorcycles and the neighborhood would never be the same. These motorcycles would be good for us in learning mechanic's and learning how to work and pay for the parts and gas that would be needed. But when you get boys together and away from home for many hours at a time, you get trouble! This is where I learned a lot of bad habits like drinking and smoking both cigarettes and marijuana. By the time I reached my teenage years I had sewn a lot of wild oats that I would have to reap. "Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, this he will also reap" (Gal 6:7). One time all us boys were out riding our motorcycles and I hit an eight-foot-deep culvert that was going under the highway and crashed my motorcycle so hard that it bent the frame of my bike. I was not wearing a helmet and hit my head so hard that I lost my eyesight for a few hours. Needless to say, I wore my helmet every time from that day forward! I see this as one of the many times that the devil tried to kill me before I would fulfill the will of God for my life. I had at least 9 to 10 friends die in my small town of five thousand when I was young, and the devil wanted me to be one of them.
Around this time of my life we were playing with real bows and arrows when one of my friends in our backyard shot at me with an arrow, but for some reason before the arrow could penetrate my back the arrow just shattered! At this time I thought that I was invincible and nothing could hurt me not knowing that God had His hand on me and was keeping me for the work of the ministry, but mostly that I would know Him as Lord, Saviour, and friend.
In my early teens I had several run ins with death that really scared me and I knew God had kept me alive for some reason. Yet, even as a rebellious teen I still wanted to be pleasing to God. I tried not to take God's name in vain, because in my heart I knew this was not pleasing to Him. After I began meeting older girls and doing things with them that we should not have been doing, guilt would hit my heart and I would tell the girl that this was not right for us to be doing this and she would look at me in unbelief, but the next time out we would do it again, until one night we were in a head on car crash that could have killed us both, we walked away from it and to my remembrance I never was with her again!
A short time later my friend stole his dad's pickup truck one afternoon and we went out for a joy ride, he just wanted somebody to go out and get high with him. So, we were thinking we were pretty cool with the AM radio blasting loudly until we crossed the train track without looking and we just got over the railroad track and the train just missed my door! Boy did I sober up really fast! I remember shaking for hours later that day! The most sobering fact of all is, I would be in hell for many years now with no end in sight of the screaming, yelling, and tearing of my flesh! If it had not been for the mercy of God on my life, I too would be dead. I think of how many other young people had gotten killed on those same tracks. I remember with my dad seeing their cars all smashed up and their body parts scattered all over the torn metal. Why was I spared? I have had at least ten of my friend's die already and eight of them by suicide. Why am I still here, it was truly a miracle. This is why I can serve Jesus because He first loved me and wherever He sends me in the world I go! I am His bondslave to do whatever He desires; He has been so, so good to me!
When I was seventeen years old, I contracted out to tear down an old livery stable where people used to put their horses overnight when they came to town many years ago. My dad said that I would do anything to make a buck and I think he was right! Money was my god and that is what I gave my life to and almost every thought. This old building was large, and I knew nothing about tearing down such an old building which almost killed me twice. In fact, the building literally came down on top of me and I only had a scratch to show for it! God’s angels were working overtime that week.
If it were not for Motocross racing and meeting my girlfriend at the age of sixteen I am not sure, but I might have gone down the wrong path with my life into drugs and alcohol just to be in the crowd at that time of my life with the pure pressure. Motorcycles took up a huge part of my life and my money I might say, then add a girlfriend to the mix that helped me to see many things that I was blinded too and to be grounded.
Motocross helped me with managing my money. When I started racing at sixteen money was always tight so I started to charge all my parts on an account with the local Yamaha dealership until the fall. This was not wise! I ended up having to give the dealer my motorcycle to satisfy my bill and I was heartbroken that I had to give up my bike that I worked so hard to save for and pay off. I never charged another part there and learned to stay out of debt as much as possible.
Motocross helped me to stay healthy by not drinking or smoking to stay competitive. In the wintertime I started boxing until I was knocked out cold one day in the rink and never went back in because they lied to me about who I was fighting against, it was very humbling to get knocked out before a home crowd. My sister Debbie’s voice was the last thing I heard that day before lights out! In the middle of winter when it was -20 below zero I woke up and went running just to get into shape for the new motocross racing season. There was no price that I would not pay to win and if that is what I needed to do to win I did it. And guess what? I did win the Minnesota State B Class Motocross Championship my first year out of some three hundred and fifty bikes that year and was going to do the same thing the next year, for the bug of racing bit me hard, at least till the love bug bit me harder!
LIFE CHANGES QUICKLY
When I was about thirteen or so, I was riding my bike across town and I drove by a house and heard my name called out from the house, I stopped and walked to the door and nobody came to answer the door even though it was just an open screen door. I thought someone must be playing a trick on me! I never thought about it again until one night I picked up a girl at a beer party in a gravel pit that was being busted by the Sheriff and she needed a ride home. I then brought her to the same house that this voice came from calling my name. I thought for sure this girl was my destiny! I was sixteen then and this would be the girl that I married four years later as I received another sign from heaven that same year. One night we were driving around in the country and we saw a falling star in front of us and we both made a wish. When I made my wish that I could be with my new girlfriend forever, what happened next shocked us; this falling star shined right into our car's front windshield and lit the inside of the car up that night! I knew that night this was the girl I was to marry.
Victoria would be the angel that God would send into my life that would help me get freed up from bad friends, drugs, alcohol, and wild girls! She truly had been God's gift to me and our three children. I started drinking heavily again with her family and friends, but she would not stand for me being a wild man and common sense was coming into my mind about drinking and driving around at night. Within a year I had matured so much that I sat across from the table of my parents when I was seventeen and said I was wrong for my way of living and thanked them for their discipline that they had tried to give me over the years. I think they about fell off their chairs! God was setting me up for a bigger change to come, for this truly was a life changing point in my life and God would honor my decision to try to do what was right.
But once again the devil would try to kill me when I was eighteen with blood poisoning from burns on my leg and would be in the hospital for one week. While in the hospital I was placed in a hot bath when I went into shock and cried out to the nurses with all that was within me, “Don’t let me die!” After that I never thought of wanting to die or killing myself, I wanted to live again like in the old movie, It’s a Wonderful Life. I had no idea of all that God had ahead of me and am so thankful for His mercy and kindness in my life to allow me to get older.
"For the eyes of the LORD move to and fro throughout the earth that He may strongly support those whose heart is completely His"... (2 Chr 16:9).
Before I go on with my story, I want to say, the first time I ever heard the voice of God was when I was fourteen. I was working as a cook in a local restaurant when I went into the restroom I noticed that there were towels on the floor and I said to myself, “It’s not my job to pick those up!” But I did it anyway, and when I did, I heard the voice of God for the first time that I could remember when He said, “If you do that, I will bless your life!” This shocked me, I knew that it was God, because I would never have said such a thing to myself. I did not know fully what the Lord meant at the time, but this much I knew that God was watching me just like my mom told me when I was a little boy. God was speaking to me about servanthood even when nobody was watching.
At the age of seventeen I would receive a job at UPS that Victoria pointed out to me in the newspaper. I was hired out of seventy-five people to my amazement! When I was five years old, I saw a UPS truck at my neighbors and I said to myself, "I want to do that when I get older!" Now it was happening. God would use this job to teach me discipline, I called it my civil army job because they were so hard on us. As I stood in line that day to interview for the job there was one person that stood out to me and he would get hired also, this would be the person that God would use to point me to Jesus. For the first few years we would have our break time at 6:00 in the morning because we started at 4:00 a.m. and we would talk about the things of the Bible. Life was becoming a drag to me at the age of eighteen. I was working, working, and working! I would get up at about 3:00 a.m. to go to work, then go to school and then go to another job at the grocery store until 9:00 p.m. and do it all over again the next day. When I graduated from High School, I went full-time at the grocery store and worked at UPS. I graduated from High School making $18,000 that year, so I went out and bought a piece of land and was going to build a house there, but instead I bought a house in town at the age of nineteen.
DAN GETS SAVED
Bryan Johnson, the young man I was working with at UPS asked me a question that morning that needed to be answered. He said, “How do you know you are going to heaven?” Well, being a good Lutheran I thought I had all the right answers and said I go to church on Sunday, I take communion and I have been baptized as a baby. You see I thought I was saved by all my good works you know! He said that was all good, but that can't save you, only a relationship with Jesus could. I went home and started to read my Bible for the first time in my life because I knew nothing at all about the Bible, but every time I would start reading it a heaviness would come over me so that I could not understand it, so one day I prayed, Lord how can I read Your word with this veil over my eyes? Immediately I felt like a garment was taken from my eyes and I could read the word clearly! Sometime later Bryan asked me to go to a Lowell Lundstrom Crusade and there I would ask Jesus Christ to come into my heart. The preacher said, "All you Lutheran's go forward to receive communion every Sunday, why not come forward and ask Jesus to come into your heart?" I could not argue with that I thought. That night Jesus came into my heart and my life was changed forevermore. Hallelujah!
POWER FROM ON HIGH COMES
The next two years would pass by very quickly with me getting married and purchasing a home. But there was a change, a God consciousness growing in my life like I had not known before my salvation experience, I had a great desire to obey God and to be pleasing in His sight. But I had no power to obey Him like I knew He was expecting of me, a conviction of drinking and cursing was on me, but I did not know the way out. We need to understand that God knows our heart and what we are thinking and desiring to do, He will answer us as we cry out to Him with our whole heart for a change. "And in the same way the Spirit also helps our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we should, but the Spirit Himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words" (Rom 8:26).
When I was twenty I was working part-time with my brother in his auto repair shop and a man walked in named Bob Holmbeck who wanted his new car to have the oil changed. I then made a comment to him about owning a new car and he said that this would be his last new car for a while because he had sold his farm and was now going to school to be a minister. So, I asked him if he understood the Bible because I was told that you can't understand it. However, he said that he did understand it, so out of the blue I asked Him if he believed in speaking in other tongues? He said, yes to my amazement! To this day I do not know why I asked that question, for I had not been thinking about it or had I heard anything good or bad about it. When I was in seventh grade my teacher read about the account of the day of Pentecost in the book of Acts chapter two and I remember thinking to myself, "Why was that true for the Bible days for them to speak in other tongues and not for us today?" And to my knowledge that was the first and last time I ever thought about speaking in other tongues!
He prayed with me and all the guys at the shop that day. I went home to my new wife while crying and telling her that she needed to give her heart to Jesus and that we needed to serve Him. For days I thought about the conversation I had with Bob, he gave me his phone number and said to call him if I wanted to have him pray for me to receive the baptism in the Holy Spirit with the evidence of speaking in other tongues. I was living with such dissatisfaction in my life at that time and I was ready for a change, in fact I made my first prophetic statement that I was going to quit racing motocross and start putting my life into something else that would last for a long time. I thought I would buy rental properties, and this would give me some satisfaction to live for. I had fulfilled all the things I had set out to do by the age of twenty one. But what I didn't know was that God was setting me up to receive His power and to live a separate life unto Him.
Each day I would walk by my dialup telephone where I could see Bob’s phone number hanging there and would think to myself, call Bob, call Bob, call Bob! So, I finally called Bob, and this is where my life really changed. It was on a Friday night that Vicki and I went to visit Bob & Judy, his wife. I remember them being very friendly to us. The first thing we did was open the Bible to see what it had to say about receiving the Holy Spirit. He opened up to Luke 11:13, "If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more shall your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him"?
Well, I thought, I can't argue with that one! We looked up several other Scriptures and Bob said to us, do you want to receive the Holy Spirit baptism? “Yes, I do, I said eagerly!” So, we prayed that night, “Jesus baptize me with your Holy Spirit” I felt absolutely nothing! I didn't pray in tongues or anything else, but I knew something had changed in my heart, I just felt different.
I did not realize how much different I was until I went home that night. Friday night was the night I watched the TV show called Dallas. I sat down in my easy chair as always to watch it and was appalled at what I was seeing! There was swearing and cursing going on in front of me and I could not handle it, or should I say the Holy Spirit now abiding in me would not let me partake of such filth any longer! I got up out of my chair and turned it off and never watched it again. So I turned on the Christian TV channel and saw Jimmy Swaggart on, so I grabbed my usual beer on Friday night and watched his program and thought to myself, this isn't right either, going to church and drinking beer! So not long after that the Holy Spirit said, "Don't drink beer anymore!" And from that time on I didn’t, thank God!
Life is so much easier if we just learn to obey the Holy Spirit when He speaks to our hearts. If someone told me that I could not drink beer because I was a Christian I may have rebelled and told them off, that's just the way I was. But when the Holy Spirit speaks, we better take heed.
THE PERSECUTION BEGINS
It wasn't long before everyone around me knew that something was very different in my life. My family was the first to see the change and they didn't like it! When I was working in town I always went home to eat lunch with my family and after lunch I would lay down and watch the Soap's on TV at noon. But after I was filled with the power, I knew that I could not do this any longer, so I stopped watching and my family thought I was crazy because I said, it was a bunch of junk and I wasn't going to watch that stuff anymore. Then the time came to be tested in drinking, my dad drank every night of the week and he offered me one and I said, “I quit drinking!” Then they knew that something was up and began speaking against me, I told them I was living to please Jesus now. I would tell them they were not serving God the way He wanted them too. I didn't mind being called crazy when I found out that Jesus' family thought He was crazy and wanted to lock Him away. I told my mom, “I have found what I have been looking for my whole life!
We went on following Jesus and soon found a church that had just started up in our little town and only had services on Sunday night. We went one night and the first thing I noticed was that most of the people there were drug addicts I knew from the past because I used to run the streets and knew these people. They were meeting in the High School at the time, and I asked the janitor that was there who I knew, is this a cult or what? He said I don't think they are, so we went in and sat down. Most of these people were Hippie drug addicts that Jesus set free by His power! When they started singing very joyfully and raising their hands and dancing, I thought for sure this is a cult because this old Lutheran boy had never seen such a thing before! When the service was over, we rushed out the back door and the pastor was standing there waiting to greet us.
When we got home, I said to myself, “I'm never going back there again!” But I still had a burning desire to know more of God and I would get many teaching tapes from Bob Holmbeck so I could learn more and more. One tape I remember very well, the preacher said, "There's a great movement of God on the earth, and you don't want to miss it!" I fell to my knees and said, "Oh God please use me in this great move of God coming to the earth."
The next week my doorbell would ring and there stood the pastor of this new church, I remember thinking, “Oh no they're coming after me!” His name was Bob also, as I let him into our house he saw all my motocross trophies that I had won and said that he used to race motocross also, well, I thought he wasn't too bad of a guy after all! So, we talked for many hours that night about God and motorcycles, he stayed so long that my dad had to come over and try to run him off, but he too got in on the conversation. This night would be a great turning point in our lives as Bob & Mary Verstraete would become our new pastors. Thank you Jesus!
Now the pressure only intensified as we were still going to the Lutheran Church on Sunday mornings and this Pentecostal Church on Sunday nights. In the Lutheran Church we would have an adult Sunday School discussion with the pastor and I would ask questions about the Bible that I could tell was making him very uncomfortable, like do we believe in speaking in other tongues? Do we believe in tithing? It wasn't long before I could tell my questions were not welcome anymore so I went to see the pastor on my own one day and asked him a point-blank question; do you take the Bible literal? He shot back at me without thinking about his answer, NO! I said to one of the pastors, well then, you’re going to hell and I'm not going to your church anymore! It wasn't long after this that he and another Lutheran pastor came to check out my new church and they stayed only long enough to hear the singing and left to go tell my family that I was involved with a cult which made matters much worse for me because I was working with my bother part-time at his shop and someone there said to me, "I would rather go to hell then act like you!" I was very zealous for the Lord and maybe more so than I needed to be because I had finally found what I was looking for in life, I did not need to search anywhere else. Jesus said in John 4:14, "But whoever drinks of the water that I will give him shall never thirst; but the water that I will give him will become in him a well of water springing up to eternal life." This means once we have yielded our lives to Him we would never have to look anywhere else to find the true meaning in life. This verse was now so true to me!
The persecution on me was so great that I would go down the highway sobbing as I went to see Bob Holmbeck and would cry out to God, “If this is not real, please show me so that I might not be deceived!” At times I felt like I was losing my mind because it was all so different and difficult to me. God had become so real to me that I could not think about anything else, but Him! To this day this has not changed and I pray it never will end, for I have truly tasted heaven on earth.
The ways of God will never be easy or accepted by mainstream religious churchianity. Through persecution and perseverance we all must go, there is not another way to follow Jesus, for He said, if they persecuted Him, they would persecute us, for the servant is not above his master. Satan will see to it that you have a lot of pressure put on you as was against the Apostle Paul and the rest of the apostles. "For consider Him who has endured such hostility by sinners against Himself, so that you may not grow weary and lose heart" (Heb 12:3).
There were times when spirits of darkness would come to me in the night and put tremendous pressure on me to quit or say, "Your life will never amount to anything, why don't you just kill yourself!" At times it came so hot and heavy I could barely breathe. Then fits of depression would come on me for weeks at a time for no reason at all, until God gave me several dreams that helped set me free. I saw myself on the top of a fifty-story building that had a peak at the top of it and demons were on the top with people. The demons were sliding people off the top of the building causing great fear to come on them as they fell. This was the true cause of my depression, fearing the future and hopelessness in what I was believing would not come to pass. The root was selfishness in me. This dream happened two nights in a row and as I was on the devil’s slide, is what I called it. I turned to the demon that was trying to get me to slide down and said, “Don't you have someone else to ride this slide?” The demon said, "Sure we've got a lot of people waiting to slide, but we let the preachers go first!" I quickly awoke and asked God what was that dream about? He said, "Your depression is a choice and every time that I would agree with the demons, I would get depressed. But I needed to agree with what the Word of God said about my life, and I would be free." As soon as I would confess the word over my life, I was free. I had another dream shortly after this, I dreamt that I was floating in a hot air balloon enjoying the peace and freedom when all of a sudden, I was being pulled back down to earth and was very sad. I looked down and I could see demons pulling on ropes pulling me out of the sky and trying to put me into a dark cave. I then cried out to God for help, and He said, “Cut the ropes!” I then awoke and knew that demons were working over-time trying to get me to come down out of the ascending lifestyle of living in God’s presence so that I would go into depression. I later would write a book on this very thing, The Ascending Lifestyle.
One night God encouraged me greatly, I had been asking the Lord if my life was pleasing Him. For the Scripture says, "...This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well-pleased" (Mat 3:17). And I wanted to be pleasing to God! I went to bed that night and turned off the light and all of a sudden, my room was filled with white smoke and I began to cough a little and thought, I don't have to cough. I asked the Lord, "What is this?" He said, "Sit on the bed" and I did. He then said, "Your life is well pleasing to me." Then the smoke lifted from the room. This experience made up everything the devil tried to do against me! If God's presence hadn't been so real in my daily life, I may have just quit, daily I had to go to Him for strength and grace and still do. "Why are you in despair, O my soul? And why have you become disturbed within me? Hope in God, for I shall again praise Him for the help of His presence" (Ps 42:5).
GOD'S CALL TO PREACH
My wife and I went to the Sunday night service in October of 1983, we had a guest evangelist speaking that night from the east coast and as he was speaking he called us up for prayer and said, "God has a calling on our life, but I don't know what full-time ministry God has called you to, but you have a lot of money coming your way." I'm still waiting on the money part! I thought at the time he was saying this to me that I would make a good janitor for the Lord! Never thinking I was good enough to preach the gospel. For the next few years I would go to meetings and the preacher would pick me out of the crowd of people and prophesy the same thing to me.
The call of God didn't come on my heart until about a year later as I was working in the garage, the Spirit of the Lord impressed on my heart that we were going to be moving somewhere, He didn't say where. Just at that time Vicki came in the garage and I said we're moving. She said, “Where?” “I don’t know I said, just that God just told me that we are moving.” This was a new thing for me to follow my heart and not my head. Many times when God leads you it might seem really crazy because He is checking your obedience to Him. He must offend the mind to reveal our heart. "The heart is more deceitful than all else and is desperately sick; who can understand it" (Jer 17:9)? Many times we think we know our own hearts, but it's in the time of testing that really shows what we are made of. We disobey because of not knowing what tomorrow holds, not realizing who holds tomorrow.
At that time of feeling that we were going to move I did not have a call to preach, I just felt in my heart that we were to move. As I was watching the Jimmy Swaggart program one morning they were advertising their new Bible College and the Holy Spirit said, "Move to Baton Rouge Louisiana and go to Bible College." I was waiting on the Lord for such a direction, I said, "I'll go" not knowing all the testing that was before us. I was working for UPS full time now and just started driving a year earlier and just hating all the pressure they were putting on me. I knew when I quit I could not get rehired because UPS had a no rehire policy. As I look back I believe God was allowing all this pressure on me so that I would quit. Vicki and I were making about a thousand dollars a week back then which was a lot of money for a young couple, but this thing of being in the ministry was just burning in me as I would go into churches to deliver packages and my heart would say, “This is what I would like to be doing, working in a church!” But how? I would just confess the Word of God and the prophecies that were spoken over me and thanked God for His promises. It was a big sacrifice that we were going to be making, yet if I didn't, I felt I would die! I had bought a house that gave us some problems in leaving town, but I said I will rent it out if I have to. I put up a for sale sign in the snowbank and it sold in two weeks in the middle of winter. I thought this must be God leading us on! Money was no problem for us at all, our savings and the sale of the house was more than $16,000 and was enough for four years of Bible college. I thought for sure that I was now set, not realizing I was being setup to go through more trials and tribulations!
We got everything packed up and ready to go within a few weeks and we were on our way to Louisiana and drove through the night to get there quickly, but we both fell asleep that night while driving and as the headlights on the rental truck kept going on and off through the night as we were driving. We survived by angels on assignment! We found a motel when we got down there and rested a day and the next day we had our own place to live with the help of Carl and Fanny Smucker who later became the president of Auntie Anne's Pretzels in which his sister owned, they were already at the school looking for married couples to help move in. Next came the schooling that I was looking forward to, I loved Jesus and His Word so much that I could only imagine what it would be like to study His Word and pray and be around Christian people all day. Boy I was in for a big surprise!
When I began in school I was already two weeks late for the winter semester and the first day I had a test waiting for me! As I took this test I was not prepared at all for it and got an (F) on my first test and it only got worse from there on out. I was not a schooling type person at all, when I was in High School my average was a D or C at best and now I found myself in College? I thought schooling would be all different when I was learning about Jesus and when I had tests about the Bible I got really good grades. You might be asking yourself, isn't that what Bible College is all about, learning the Bible? Yes it was, but with all of man's theology mixed in with it and that is where I really had a hard time, with man's inputs. Just teach me how to know God's Word and His will! But I don't think many of them knew either, they were too preoccupied with religion! Bible college and seminary has killed more good preachers then anything the enemy could have conspired. The problem is many colleges run to the mind, rather than to the heart. For it's out of the heart that flows the issues of life, and not from the head, which is hostility toward God to try and figure out everything. The anointing flows from our hearts, that is where the Holy Spirit dwells in us, so when we minister from logic it is dry and lifeless even though the information that is given is good and doctrinally right, it is still lifeless because the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life and He is in our hearts. So let’s minister from the heart my friends!
TAX TIME HITS HARD THAT YEAR
I was in the H&R Block office in Baton Rouge, Louisiana getting my taxes done when a lady I didn't know walked up to me and said, "The Lord told me to give you these two Scriptures, Isaiah 54:17, "No weapon that is formed against you shall prosper; and every tongue that accuses you in judgment you will condemn. This is the heritage of the servants of the LORD, and their vindication is from Me," declares the LORD". The other verse was Hosea 2:19-20, "And I will betroth you to Me forever; yes, I will betroth you to Me in righteousness and in justice, in loving kindness and in compassion, and I will betroth you to Me in faithfulness. Then you will know the LORD." At the time she gave them to me, I thanked her for them and thought I don't know why she gave them to me. God always prepares us for what is ahead. Some people are always looking for a word from the Lord, they better be careful because they might get one! The enemy hears the words also and he will send out his demons to try and stop that word from coming to pass in our life. When God speaks it is all-powerful and all we have to do is believe the word and wait for the fulfillment of the word in its proper timing, because God cannot lie. God requires faith on our part to bring the fulfillment of it and this is where the enemy tries to cause us to stop believing and go and do something else that will not threaten his kingdom. The enemy has many different tactics that are all designed to stop us, but he must not prevail. If we will make up our mind and not quit when it gets hard we will always win! "And let us not lose heart in doing good, for in due time we shall reap if we do not grow weary" (Gal 6:9).
Within a few days after getting this word things got really hard for me in school, I could not handle sitting in class any longer, it was driving me up the wall! I went from running all day on my job at UPS to sitting all day for schooling, I didn't know how to handle it. I literally almost blew up one day in class crying out "Let me out of here!" I felt like I was in prison and needed to be released, the pressure became so great that I just had to get out while I could and I did after just six weeks.
This truly put our lives in a tailspin, I sat down at the table with Vicki and just wept saying "I messed up our lives and I'm sorry, please forgive me! I just gave up my good paying job and gave up our house and now after six weeks of college we are going back home." But first we wanted to go see Vicki's uncle in Florida and spend some time thinking and praying for direction. As I was praying I asked the Lord if we could move to Florida and work for her uncle being he had his own business and all, but the Lord said emphatically, "NO" I was to go back to Minnesota. I thought that I could have gotten out of all the embarrassment of my failure.
We moved back up to Minnesota and found a place to rent from my old boss. As we finally got settled into our new place I was sitting at the kitchen table contemplating my future, I could kill myself, I could stop trying to serve a God that just failed me, our I could go on serving the Lord and see what He would do in my life. I chose the latter because He had been so good to me and truly, I just loved God with my whole heart and could not imagine not living with Him.
A short time later a lady in our church said she saw me in an advertisement on TV from Jimmy Swaggart that I was going to be on the morning Bible Study show. I said, “Yes I remember asking a question during one of the telecasts never thinking that it was actually going to be aired.”
A few days later I watched myself on TV and then asked the Lord, "Now what do you want me to do with my life after I failed in Bible College?" He said to my surprise, "Go preach the gospel!" I just began to laugh, I said to myself that sure could not be God! But just in case that was the Lord I said, "Lord if that was you speaking to me send David Holmbeck to my door tomorrow morning at 8:00 A.M. to ask me if I would preach for him in the nursing home on the weekend." To my amazement David was at my front door at 8:00 A.M. the next morning and I have been preaching ever since!
TIME TO GROW UP SPIRITUALLY
In May of 1985 I received a word from the Lord about UPS, He said, "I will open the door back up to you for UPS." Little did I know that He would open this door back up for me at UPS many years later, so I tried my hardest to get my job back at UPS, but to no avail, that door was shut tight and I was devastated. Why God, why is this happening to me? Until one day I was in prayer at this same house and the Lord gave me a vision, I saw a wall before me that the enemy had constructed to try and stop me from going forward, when the Lord said, "Kick it down!" As I did the wall fell flat and I was able to go forward again. This happened several times in my vision and then it ended. The enemy of our soul wants us to quit at every difficulty in front of us which is only a façade and is not real. The Lord showed me that it is something like the movie, The Wizard of OZ. The little wizard faked his power causing all the people to fear him along with the Tin Man, but Dorothy got up some courage and looked behind the curtain and saw the little wizard making a bunch of noise with no real power of his own, but to cause others to fear him so that he could control them. This is what the devil does to people every day!
Many people just sit down and don't fight, while others just turn around and go back the other way, never growing spiritually. This is warfare whether we like it or not, we are behind enemy lines to bring down the kingdom of hell! God will show you many things in the spirit if you will take time to seek Him with all your heart so that you might finish your course. Spend time with Him, seek Him with all your heart!
The Lord showed me that many of the things we learn in the Bible are just in our head and not in our heart, so we must go through many hardships in order to learn that God is faithful to bring us through the storm. "And immediately He made His disciples get into the boat and go ahead of Him to the other side to Bethsaida, while He Himself was sending the multitude away" (Mark 6:45). Jesus made them get into the boat knowing that a storm was going to overtake them, but He did it anyway. Why, to hurt them? No, but to give them a crash course in TRUST! The disciples had to learn that Jesus is Lord even over the storms of life and they were not to fear them one bit because Jesus is still in our boat! “...Who then is this, that even the wind and the sea obey Him" (Mark 4:41)?
The storms of life do not even slow Jesus down, He walks right through them, even, without getting wet! We must learn to live in the supernatural where He lives. Jesus said, "He will never leave us or forsake us." Are you born again? Then Jesus lives in your heart and He said, He would not leave you, He's right there in the boat with you! The disciples had a hard time learning to trust Jesus. “And He said to them, "Why are you so timid? How is it that you have no faith" (Mark 4:40)? Faith is trusting in God to take care of you. Then again in Mark chapter six they go through yet another storm again, maybe bigger than the last one and the Bible says, "For they had not gained any insight from the incident of the loaves, but their heart was hardened" (Mark 6:52). Wow, what a word against them! Are you gaining any insight from your miracles that God has done in your life? He has not failed you, so why are you worrying?
The first road block the enemy would put in my path was hurt and rejection from Christians! We all have been hurt and rejected in one way or the other in life as we grow up. But the enemy tries to stop us in our tracks with these offenses. Jesus spoke to me several time, "And blessed is he who does not take offense at Me" (Matt 11:6). One of the great offences in my life was losing my good paying job. Several months after I came back from Bible College I sought the face of God as to why He allowed me to go through what I did. He said that money was my god and He had to break it off my life! I would do anything for a dollar my dad used to say and he was right. My quest was to make money and not the will of God for my life. These trials in my life help me to see that and to kill that desire in me. Satan would test me many times at making more money or to serve God wholeheartedly. God has given me grace to walk away from making money and will one day entrust me with much more money than I could have ever made for His glory!
When we are hurt in the church we think it is so much worse than being hurt in the world because these are Christian's and they are not supposed to hurt us we think. Many Christians are just trying to grow up spiritually like us and they are unknowingly hurting people. In fact ninety percent of the time we hurt people we don't know it unless we hear about it through another person.
When I was very young in the Lord one of my offences was that I was looked over for a job position in the church when someone else got it instead of me and I was angry and hurt and wanted to give up. That night I cried in bed and told the Lord, “This is not worth all these hurts to be a part of the church.” Then He showed me in Scripture, that there is a day coming when all hurt and pain will be no more and He will reward His people for doing what is right. Then He said to me, "Will it be worth it to make it into this new life?" "Yes I said all the pain here will be worth it all one day." Is not this what Paul the Apostle said in Romans 8:18, "For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory that is to be revealed to us." Let me just say as I write this some forty years later, THE TRIALS HAVE BEEN WORTH IT ALL!
My trials from there on out would only get worse and not better! In fact, it went on for seven more years before I saw light at the end of the tunnel. God was good to us and very faithful to meet all our needs. If I would have never left UPS the ease and comfort that I was living in, I would have missed so many other great things in life. Life is like going down a river and pulling off to the side and taking in the sights, but unless you go on down the river farther you will never see the sights around the next bend. Yes we gave up money and things, but money in and of itself will never satisfy you, but the life of faith will! I do not want to get to heaven and the Lord says to me "I had so much more for you but you would never leave the comforts of the shore and go out into the deep with me." Risk it all at God's leading and you will never have to live with the gnawing in your mind, what if I would have tried that?
Within a few weeks I got a different job that paid well and we bought a newer home that was only a few years old. When it was being built Vicki and I were walking by it when I said, “That would be just the perfect house for us to live in!” And here five years later I would be putting my feet up in it, glory to His name! But there was a small problem, we were $4,500 short to buy it. But God said buy the house! He told me to give $100 away each week and the money will be there when you need it. So we did and within six months the money was there to buy the house on the date of closing with enough money left over to pay the insurance on it. Praise God! This was the first time I had seen God at work in our finances.
We worked many hours to earn all the money, I was working from 5:00 a.m. as late as 10:00 p.m. every night, plus some Saturdays and I was burnt out and wanted to quit, but Vicki was going to have a baby and we needed the money and once again I brought the problem to the Lord and He spoke to me out of Psalms 127:2, "It is vain for you to rise up early, to retire late, to eat the bread of painful labors; for He gives to His beloved even in his sleep."
So by faith, I said that's it, I quit the job and went to work for my brother for $5.00 an hour and God met every need that we had, even with Vicki staying home with Joshua when he was born, all our needs were met. I believe the Bible teaches that wives are to stay home with their children when they are young and the only way for us to do this was by faith in what God's word said about the situation. God is faithful to do what He says, but if we doubt His word, we doubt His power. To doubt means; (twice) it's to think with your head and heart at the same time. God speaks to our heart and not our heads. Our own reasoning will steal from us the very things of God we are wanting. "For let not that man expect that he will receive anything from the Lord, being a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways" (James 1:7-8).
Several months later I received a job with another company that works in animal health and food ingredients. This was a slower pace job that I couldn't believe I was getting paid to do. It started with three weeks of vacation, plus full medical benefits. But after a few months of working there I was getting sick from the antibiotics in the product and I was forced to quit. But God's timing was perfect once again, at that very time they needed someone to work in the food production plant where there were no antibiotics. Within a few years I would be running the food production on my own. This job was what I needed to slow me down and make me patient, it would be a God send for me to finish my Bible schooling. You see, much of the time was just watching and waiting, so I asked if I could read books while at work and they said sure. So I would read all day long and I finished my schooling through Berean College in six months and was licensed with the Assemblies of God. Is God good or what?
At this time my tribulations in the church only increased for me. Much of my hardships came through the leadership, in fact I can tell you, I was hurt more through the leadership of the church than anyone else in my entire life. God has got to kill Saul in us and many times He will use leadership to do this very thing, just like God did with David through King Saul. David could have killed Him at any time, but did not because he knew that God was able to do it anytime He wanted to. If God wanted him as king, he would be king, because he knew the power of God would do it and not himself. Many people get offended at leadership and just leave the church all together, but this is not right because the church is the womb for birthing spiritual giants in the earth. Goliath may have been a giant in the natural, but David was becoming a giant in the spirit for God! The only time we should leave a church is if God tells us to, for our trials are only making us stronger and better for God's glory. Learning forgiveness was the key for me in all these trials. I believe each trial we go through God is trying to teach us a spiritual truth by putting them in action in the midst of the conflict. Soldiers may get head knowledge first through reading books, but only live training for combat will prepare them as if they were put in a real battle. God is always trying to prepare us for what's ahead, so we better learn our lessons well and not give up under pressure, for the Scriptures tell us, "Therefore, since Christ has suffered in the flesh, arm yourselves also with the same purpose, because he who has suffered in the flesh has ceased from sin" (1 Pet 4:1).
To arm means to put on offensive equipment to do warfare against the enemy. This equipment is found in Ephesians 6:14-18. Truth, righteousness, peace, faith, the word of God, and prayer. Our minds have to be prepared for the attacks of the enemy; God has to allow testing to take place in us for us to be fully prepared. If we do not pass the test the first time, we will have to take it until we do pass, and that is just the way it is and we will not change that! As one man said, "You don't flunk God's tests, you just take them over until you pass." Let me ask you, did you graduate from High School without passing your tests? No! The Bible is very clear, He tests each one of us so that He might promote us to new areas of service for Him. This is why the Bible tells us to, "Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance" (James 1:2-3).
Endurance means patience, we don't like this word because we want things now! The word patience means to "Stay under the tribulation” and let the stresses and pressures do its perfect work in us. It's like what fire does to gold, it causes all the impurities to rise to the top so the smelter can take away all the impurities. He just sits and waits for the work to be done. "... For He is like a refiner's fire and like fullers' soap. And He will sit as a smelter and purifier of silver, and He will purify the sons of Levi and refine them like gold and silver, so that they may present to the LORD offerings in righteousness" (Mal 3:2-3).
LEARNING IN A DESERT OF FORGIVENESS
I was making plans to go to India in the fall of 1988 when my trip was abruptly canceled. As I was cutting the lawn one day I saw a jet fly overhead and asked the Lord when I was going to get to go on a mission trip. He said go to the Philippines. My church was planning a trip to the Philippines next year. But to be honest with you I really didn't want to go there! So I waited for confirmation from the Lord and I did receive it. This would be my first overseas trip and I was excited to say the least, knowing that God had sent me. The first challenge I would face was to raise the $1,600 needed to go. I found out very quickly that when God calls you, He pays for what He orders. His vision to do something, always brings His provision. When we have His permission, we have His protection and His provision in all areas of life.
This trip would prove to be the greatest test of my life. I would have to learn perseverance, forgiveness and love all on the same trip. I would be leaving the country with seven other people from our church for three weeks which was too long for my first overseas trip, it would end up feeling like three years!
After thirty six hours of traveling time we finally made it to the hotel and I was walking through the lobby and I began to feel sick, my head started hurting and my back began to have sharp pains going down it. I was a faith preacher and I believed God would heal me as I spoke forth His word and rebuked the sickness to leave, but this time it wouldn't work! So I went up to my room and thought I'd take a nice hot bath to try and loosen up my muscles that were aching really bad now. When I went to fill up the tub there was no hot water and I began to think the devil had it out for me. That would be one long night as I was sleeping on a cot and by morning I had the full-blown flu! They say a cold is like a sailboat, but the flu is like a large ship, it's true! For five years I did not take any aspirin or pain killers, I just believed God to heal me. But that morning I was asking anyone for anything that could kill this pain, for I didn't bring any painkillers with, this was my first big mistake.
The next day was a travel day and to say the least I was not up to it, but I had to push myself. As we got to our next stop I was so sick they brought me to a doctor and she gave me some medicine that would kill the pain and clear my sinuses out. I tried to rest a few days there but I could not sleep night or day, it was ninety degrees in a foreign land and I was sick and away from my family. Sorrow and sadness swept over me like a ton of bricks that I could not contain. I said, "God I want out of here, I want to go home!" He said, "Fine, go home, but you’re going to have to come back here and finish up what you started." I said, "I'm staying, I'm not coming back here!" Little did I know that He would send me back a few years later in which I complied to His will.
I began feeling better in a few days after the medication began to work in my body so I began preaching. As I was in a church service where the Holy Spirit really touched me with His presence I began to weep because of His goodness. I first realized that God truly is everywhere by His Spirit! As I began to feel a little better physically, the spirit of strife would try to attack me and others on the team. The enemy knows that where there is division a house cannot stand. Strife and bitterness will shut the anointing power of God right down! I tried to look at everything optimistically, I know that God works all things out for the good to those who love Him. I was taking a crash course in forgiveness when my flesh was wanting to lash out. One night as we were driving to some meetings in the Philippines it looked like the bottom had fallen out of my life and ministry. I asked the Lord why He has allowed all this to happen to me? He said, "All your own works must fall flat and I must rebuild it so that I might get the glory!" This is a hard process to go through because we like to do things our own way, but God has His way and we must follow it. God’s breaking process is the way He calls all His people to walk that He might promote them in His timing. But most people will not submit themselves to His process of breaking, melting and molding because it is so humbling. It is the only way that the flesh can die as we call out to God from the heart to deliver us from ourselves. For no good thing dwells in our flesh!
Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you at the proper time (1 Pet 5:6).
Moses wanted to deliver the children of Israel before it was God's time and Moses got in big trouble and stayed out in the desert for forty years to get prepared for the ministry that God had for him. Joseph went from being a favorite son, to a pit, then to slavery, then to a dungeon before he was promoted to Prime Minister. As said, PIT stands for "Preacher in training!" Remember God does not do these things for His good, but for ours that we might inherit the blessing when it comes, and it will come if we do not give up! God is faithful when we can't see His hand, but we can trust His heart! "And you shall remember all the way which the LORD your God has led you in the wilderness these forty years, that He might humble you, testing you, to know what was in your heart, whether you would keep His commandments or not" (Deut 8:2).
"And let us not lose heart in doing good, for in due time we shall reap if we do not grow weary" (Gal 6:9).
I am convinced that ministers of the gospel are not made in a four-year Bible College, but that is only the beginning. I believe for us to be commissioned into the calling of God we will have to go through the school of the Holy Spirit which many times is the school of hard knocks. God showed me in another vision that if I would keep knocking down the roadblocks that the enemy was putting before me, He would open the door for full-time ministry within two years and this came to pass exactly as He spoke it!
But the hardest lesson for me to learn was forgiveness and more schooling was just ahead for me again. This came when the pastor resigned and I put my name in for the position and interviewed for it, but was turned down because they wanted new blood to come in, they said. To make things real difficult, I was interim pastor at the time and was the vice president of the church corporate board. I was to interview all the new candidates for pastor that I was turned down! This was not a very wise thing for me to do, sitting in both offices at one time, but I believe God had me there to go through the awesome test of character testing as David did, to see if I would rise up and try to control things the way I wanted them to go or just to trust God. A new pastor was found and put into office; within six months the church had split with some people blaming me for the whole thing because I helped bring him in.
Shortly after the new pastor had begun he brought in a prophecy by a so-called prophet that demanded we pay him more money. The pastor agreed to come for one amount and within two weeks he was demanding more money if we wanted him to stay. So the board agreed to pay him the amount he wanted. This was a big red flag for all of us, we just wanted to dismiss it all in the category of misunderstandings. In a few weeks things only got worse with his character when both secretaries resigned and said they could not work with him. He was caught lying and swearing along with other unethical things. Now I was right in the middle of a big church split and I didn't know what to do. All God said was don't rise up against the pastor. So I needed to watch my mouth when I was around others, I knew this was a test and I knew I would reap what I sowed, so I was very careful. But something had to be done and I was the vice president of the board. Maybe I should have fled for the hills like David did when Saul was after him, because the new pastor was after me! He was throwing spears at me from the pulpit every Sunday morning, calling me the anti-christ and other things! He was talking behind my back, saying that I was against him and I wanted to get him out so that I could become pastor. This was not true! I had my chance at being pastor and the church board turned me down and now to pastor there was out of the question. However, three years later I would be asked to come back there and pastor, but I said, no!
The way the church government was set up, the board had authority to fire the pastor and we did. Now I was holding the bag, those that were left wanted to go with the Assemblies of God denomination and we did. Finding a new pastor was the next thing to do, and we did. At that very time God spoke to me, resign your positions, so I did. This was very hard for me to do because I had worked myself up to assistant pastor, taking eight years and I was giving up a new office that I helped to build. I had spent the last five years helping to build a new building that was 10,000 sq. ft. and now it was done and I was done. As I left that office I said to myself it will be a long time before I get a new office again. Others were telling me I would have to start in some small church with an old building. I was willing to do anything for the Lord. One of the board members said I had been faithful to serve the Lord there and God would bless me for it. I thought to myself, it sure doesn't look like it. I feel like I am being cursed! This is the process we must go through to give birth to a new position. When a woman gives birth it's the last few weeks that are the most difficult. My harvest was just around the corner and I'm glad I did not give up under trial, for the next few years would be the best that I ever had. When it looks the darkest for a Christian, morning is about to dawn. Believe it!
"Blessed is a man who perseveres under trial; for once he has been approved, he will receive the crown of life, which the Lord has promised to those who love Him" (James 1:12).
FINALLY A CHANGE OF FRESH AIR
The new Assemblies of God Pastor that came to our church in Glencoe, Minnesota was A.G. Miller, he was what I just needed at that time in my life. One day we were sitting in front of a restaurant and he said to me "A few months from now we will laugh at this." I was out of ministry and hating it! I would go into my study and prophesy to my books, "I will use you once again to study for sermons!" This life of mine was all shook up and I didn't know why, God has to shake us out of our comfort zone so we will be willing to go to the next thing.
The Lord said to me, “COME OUT INTO THE DEEP and live by faith in the Son of God who died for you.” As I was driving across a bay the Lord spoke to my heart as I saw the different shades of water. “Are you ready to come out into the deep?" Where you could see the sand line was nice blue waters and it looked very inviting to me, but then beyond that was deeper and darker waters. I said hesitantly, "Yes Lord, I'll come out." Shallow waters speaks of being comfortable, it doesn’t take much faith to stay there as long as you can touch the bottom, it’s fun, you don’t have to trust God to help you too much. It's living in the possible when God wants you to live in the impossible! But going out into the deep takes great faith because you have to trust God to keep you afloat and you have to work your faith to swim. Did not Ezekiel say in chapter 47 that the river would be deep enough to swim in? This speaks of trust. When I swim in deep waters I must be honest with you, I am not very comfortable, I think of the depth and all the things in the water that might bite me! But that's just like Satan, he tries to cause us to fear all the things that we don’t understand or see. He wants us to head back to the shallow waters. But the big catches are not found by the shoreline. It is only natural to be afraid like the disciples were when they were out in the deep. Satan did all he could to destroy their faith, but Jesus made them go out into the deep! “And immediately He made His disciples get into the boat and go ahead of Him...” (Mark 6:45). Why would Jesus make them go into such danger? To give them a crash course in TRUST, for He has authority to stop every storm! Then His disciples said “...Who then is this, that even the wind and the sea obey Him?” (Mark 4:41). If we choose not to go out into the deep on our own, I believe God will send a storm our way that will break any ropes that are holding us to the shoreline and we will end up being like Jonah and thrown overboard so that we must trust God. Obey Him quickly, He’s got your best interest in mind, the storm can’t harm you!
Why should we be so fearful when God is with us? He said, "I will never leave you or forsake you." If you have been born again, then Jesus lives in your heart, Jesus is right there in the boat with you! To have faith in God is to believe that God is with you and Jesus is walking right through the storm with you. “And He said to them, “Why are you so timid? How is it that you have no faith?” (Mark 4:40). The storm winds only get stronger against us as we get closer to our destiny! I believe demonic forces can see things coming together in the spirit realm that are in our favor and they fight us with doubt, fear, and unbelief to stop the promises of God from coming to pass. It is only through faith and patience we inherit the promises of God.
THE BIRTH OF A PROMISE
"That you may not be sluggish, but imitators of those who through faith and patience inherit the promises" (Heb 6:12).
We cannot have the mindset that says, "If God wants it to come to pass it will." Yes, God's will, will come to pass, but it might not be through you that He will do it because you simply would not believe for the promises to come to pass. Remember the children of Israel that came out of Egypt? God wanted them to go into the promised land and inherit it, but the Bible says they did not because of unbelief! They would not trust God's word. The next generation after them did believe, God gave them the land! I don't know about you, but I am going to stand fast in the times of testing that I too might receive His promise of the fullness of God.
At that time of being without a ministry my company was moving me to third shift and I was not a happy camper with my job review and for some reason everything seemed stacked against me. I thought I was having a good year as far as job performance goes, but when God wants to move us on He will shake things up for us. That year I invented a way to make the food processing go easier with much less manual labor. I asked God how to make it work better and He gave me a vision of how to do it and it worked perfectly! So I thought this would be a plus for my review, but it was not even brought up, I then told the manager after seven years it’s time for me to leave and I left the company. This was a real step of faith or stupidity! God honored me and gave me a job the very next day! The next time I would hear back from my former company was, "How do we put the equipment together the way you had it?" And then when they went to start up the huge oven it all burnt up on them! I did not curse them; in fact I told God to bless them! Bless your enemies and do not curse them, Jesus said. When your time is done, it is done, but when God is in your life people must be careful how they treat a child of God!
I would go two more months before my breakthrough would finally come to pass for the full-time ministry as promised two years earlier. As stated before, just before we get a breakthrough in the spirit the enemy of our souls will do everything he can to try and curse our blessing that is soon to come to pass. We must stand on the word of the Lord spoken over us, for it will surely come to pass.
I told the Lord that I did not want to pastor a church if I could not do it full-time. I believe that spending time with God is the most important thing in the ministry. Without His anointing flowing through us, all we have is dead words coming out of our mouth. In 1985 I began to spend two hours alone with the Lord daily, except Fridays which was family night and I was not willing to give this up to fill some position. The Lord honored my faith and gave me my heart’s desire. "But we will devote ourselves to prayer, and to the ministry of the word" (Acts 6:4).
As I was driving home one night from work and admiring one of the most beautiful sunsets I had ever seen, the Spirit of the Lord spoke to me and said, "I am opening a door for you, go through the door I am opening, you will not see many more sunsets like this one, for my coming is very soon." When you get a word like this the first thing that happens is doubt tries to come against you and says, "Did you really hear that from God or was I making it up?" The only way to find out if you really heard from God is to wait and see if it comes to pass, if not, it was from the flesh or the enemy. This same night would be the night that I received a phone call that changed my direction of life totally. At about nine o'clock that night the chairman of the board at the Winner Assembly of God in South Dakota would call me and ask if I was still looking for a church to pastor and I said, “Yes I am!” They asked me to come and candidate for the position, this was very exciting for us being the first senior pastorate position. Did I know enough, was I good enough, was I likeable? These questions would plague me and the only way to find out if I had the goods to do the job or not, was just do it. I was twenty-nine at the time.
The first time we went to Winner and saw the building I could not believe what I was seeing, I thought they called me to be their pastor? It was a big building, I did not know what to expect, but this was over and above what I had asked or thought of! The outside was newly remodeled and they just added on a new sanctuary that sat two hundred people. And best of all, it was paid for! It was almost too good to be true, was I dreaming or was it reality? It was very real; God was blessing me for serving Him in faithfulness all those years.
The morning before I was to preach I was in prayer and the Lord spoke to me and said, "You will be elected into this church and you will be here five years." Again the only way to know if I was hearing right, was to wait and see. So I said to the Lord, “If I had heard you right please give me a one hundred percent vote.” As they voted that night on me, all I could think about is if I did not get the one hundred percent vote, what would I do? I knew in my heart that this was the right place for us, it just felt like home. The vote came back very quickly and they said congratulations you have received a one hundred percent vote! What a joyful day it was! God is faithful to all His promises and I like Joseph could now name my spiritual children Manasseh, "God has made me forget all my troubles" and Ephraim, "God has made me fruitful in the land!"
These next five years would be the best of my life. I felt like I was walking on a cloud and all the weight was off my shoulders. For many years before that I thought that I would have a perfect life if I just did not have this call of God to preach on my life. It was such a burden at times, I would cry out to God, "What do you want me to do with this calling!" He would say, "Seek the ministry!" I was sure glad I did not quit under trial as one minister had said, "It's a miracle that he did not go crazy crying ministry, ministry, ministry!" I can relate to that for the call of God is not something you shake off; you just have to endure it until your time comes.
At this church I would learn total dependence on God for wisdom and a fresh word to preach twice each Sunday. It wasn't long after we got there that I felt the load of the church coming upon me. I told the Lord, “I think I have bit off more than I can chew!” He gave me three words that strengthened me greatly that day; "Just trust me!" And so I did and He did help me daily. I found out that God does not give grace for tomorrow, He only gives grace for today. What weighs our hearts down many times is that we are always worrying about tomorrow. One day I was worrying about what to preach about on Sunday and the Lord gave me a word from John 7:61, "Jesus therefore answered them, and said, "My teaching is not Mine, but He who sent Me." This jumped out of the Bible at me and I understood that I did not have to speak from myself, but my Father in heaven would give me fresh manna from above to feed His people. Jesus said feed My sheep. I must trust God for the wisdom to run the church and to have the right messages to give to His people at the right time. The first year that I was there I had gone to a pastors meeting and while I was staying in a motel the Lord spoke to me and said, "You will preach to the multitudes and you will speak in large stadiums." I thought to myself, was that God or the pizza last night? And I left it alone.
The first few years in Winner were wonderful and almost without incident. Truly it was my honeymoon years until a lady from outside of our church tried to accuse me of molesting my boys. The board stood with me and we put this down very quickly and we never heard from this lady again. Not one person left the church that was disgruntled during those years. We were a close-net family and had a lot of fun. My Superintendent said this was truly amazing. I know now that the enemy was trying to shut down my ministry there or at least make it ineffective early on, because as soon as I got there I implemented prayer. I tried my hardest to get everyone praying, but to no avail, for the most I could get was about five percent of the people praying with me, but God honored this as you will see shortly.
I was really liking pastoring more than anything else that I ever did in my life, it was very natural for me and I was planning to do it the rest of my life. It was my Promised Land I thought! I think God just sits in heaven and laughs at us when we think we know all that there is for our future. After two years there I went to a summer camp meeting and felt the need to go down to the altar and give my life to the Lord for anything that He wanted me to do. The Lord spoke strongly to my heart and said, "Do not get too comfortable pastoring this church, this is not your calling, this is only your training ground!" I thought, oh no what else do I have to go through! But in order to graduate we must pass many small tests and then take the final examination. Life on earth is a school for training us for the work that God has prepared for us in eternity. When I went through high school I did as little as possible to pass my grades, this is what most Christian's are doing in their spiritual training. By God's grace I want to get straight A's in the School of the Spirit!
A year later an evangelist came to our church and said to me as we were in the church office, can I give you a word from the Lord? I said, “Yes please go ahead.” I had not received a word of prophecy for my life in many years and all of them had pretty much come to pass. As he began to prophesy the power of God fell on me and I had to grab a hold of the copier to keep from falling down. I did not write the prophecy down which I encourage people to do now. It was about God doing something new in my life and ministry and that I would be a great leader in a new ministry. This word confirmed what the Lord had spoken to me in the motel one year earlier, I had never told anyone about it! As I look back I see how the Lord just kept encouraging me each year in the direction I was to go.
THE YEAR THE POWER CAME
The year was 1995, and for three years we were praying for revival and it seemed like we would ride a wave in the Spirit and go back down without ever really riding it. One night in January after a church service I sat down to watch some TV and Jesus came walking through the window and said to me, "My coming is soon and some of your people are not ready, I will give you several messages that will prepare them." I am thinking the rapture is coming, we must get ready! But that was not what Jesus meant at all. Over the next few weeks He gave me messages of repentance and revival that went through our church after I shared this with them of His soon coming. What Jesus meant was that He was coming with the Spirit of revival to prepare us for His coming in great glory and power. It was kind of like on the day of Pentecost, Jesus said that the Holy Spirit was coming to them, but they did not have a clue as to what that even meant until the Spirit filled them all with the fire of the Holy Spirit.
As I prayed, I kept seeing a dam in the spirit that had cracks on both sides and a lot of water behind it, I knew that this was the key to the breakthrough for the church. We must be very careful and radically obedient to the Lord, for He will hide blessings in places we think not! One day an invitation came in the mail to go to a Signs and Wonders conference in Springfield, Missouri. The Holy Spirit said to me, "Go to that." I said, "I'm not going to that." You see it was put on by the Seminary of the Assemblies of God and I said that will be dead! And I threw it in the garbage. Another invitation came in the mail a few days later and the Spirit said again for me to "Go to that!" This time I said ok God I will bring it up at the next board meeting and if they say it is ok I will go. They said, “Sure you can go,” but this time I was hoping they would have turned me down!
I went down to Missouri thinking it was going to be the deadest thing I had ever gone to. But I was surprised by the power! Truly the power of God was flowing in a way I had not witnessed in years. The seminary president was dancing on stage and people were falling under the power of God and laughing. Many people were healed as the services lasted for hours. One night as an Argentinian man named Claudio Freidzon was preaching and standing on the back part of the stage the Holy Spirit said to me, "Go have him pray for you." Now at this point this was not an easy task because the altar area and stage were packed with people that were seeking God. As I tried to push myself through the crowd I felt like the woman with the issue of blood in the Bible that pressed through the crowd to touch the hem of Jesus' garment. As I asked him to pray for me I thought that I would be hit by the power of God and fall on the floor or something, but nothing happened! I was a little disappointed, but at least I was obedient. On the way home the next day a pastor friend of mine was with me in the van and I asked him if he had the Argentinian man pray for him. He said he did not. So I said, “I'll pray for you!” As I laid my hand on his shoulder my hand went numb and I thought to myself, this is the power of God flowing through me! For when I was in Romania a few years earlier I was preaching and my hands went numb and I had heard that when your hands go numb when you are preaching it's the power of God and you are to lay hands-on people at that time, so I did. As I was praying for this preacher I thought to myself, maybe the blood was just not getting to my hand.
The next Sunday morning I was preaching and the power of God fell as I was a preacher on fire, the people knew that something had happened to their pastor! Some more water was flowing over the dam! A few days later a lady in my church told me about Stephen Strader from Lakeland, Florida and how God was doing awesome miracle's through his ministry. This is just what I was thirsting for! So I called him on the phone and told him what God has been doing in our church and asked him to come to our church. He said he did not think he could come and we left it at that. The next Sunday the power of God fell again and I said to God, "I know this man is going to come, but I am not going to ask him again, you have him call me." Two days went by and he called me and said he could be at our church in ten days that was May of 1995. He asked me if I could be ready for him to come that soon? I said, “Yes please come!” As I was in prayer the next few days I saw in the spirit that the dam was cracking even more and the very top of it was falling apart with water running over the top. I knew something big was about to happen, but just what, I did not know.
I did not know what to expect when he came, I did see Rodney Howard Brown revivals in Lakeland, Florida being broadcast on TBN and what God was doing through his ministry. Stephen traveled with Rodney for about a year with revival going around the world and much of it started in Stephen's home church where his dad pastored the Carpenter's Home Church in Lakeland, Florida. But could this happen at our church I thought? For it had been there sixty years and many of the people were stuck in an Assemblies of God traditional rut. Time would tell and not knowing what was just ahead of me would not only change my church, but it would change my life. Now after looking back almost thirty years, I would have to say that was the most pivotal week of my life, putting me on a whole new trajectory in life!
When I went to pick up Stephen at the airport he came off the plane as any other person would and I thought to myself, is this the man that carries the power of God? He looked so normal! I don't know what I was looking for, maybe a halo or something? As we went to get his bags we were talking and the power of God fell on me in the airport and as we drove away from there the Spirit of God said to me "Your life will never be the same!" I would soon learn how prophetic those words would be. Not only would Stephen show me more of the Holy Spirit's power, but he would also introduce me to the CD player, the Internet, and Bob Jones and the Kansas City Prophets.
We started the meetings on a Sunday morning, for months I had seen this move of God coming in the spirit and the Holy Spirit was giving me messages about revival and the coming move of God to our church. I went out on a limb and told the people what to expect and many faces looked back at me in disbelief. I said to myself if this doesn't happen, I quit, I’m a false prophet! If I'm this far off in getting information from the Holy Spirit I had better get out of the ministry because I am going to stand before God! The morning service was not any different from most of our services until Stephen called people up to the front for prayer. As he began to pray for others they were falling under the power of God like cordwood. This had not happened in this church for decades that I knew of! I could feel the power of God flowing into His people, and again I was very excited. The evening service came and the power of God fell awesomely. People were stuck to the floor and the pews! Holy laughter broke out all over the building and people were falling under the power without anyone laying hands on them. I knew this was real because I knew these people and they were not the type to fake it. The services lasted till midnight and some people could not walk, and had to crawl out or be wheel chaired out, for it was a sight to behold. Just as on the day of Pentecost, these are not drunk as you suppose. Within two days the building was packed with people coming from miles around.
That first night I went to bed at about 3 a.m. and had a vision before I left the church. The dam that I had been seeing in the spirit had broken wide open and there was a small stream of water flowing over the rocks. I said to the Lord, "Where did all the water go?" He said, "It went into my people!" Now I really could not sleep! A few days later I would find out what this really meant. I received a book in the mail that I had ordered weeks earlier and it happened to come that very week to give me understanding about what just took place. The book was called The Next Move of God by Fuchsia Pickett. She said, "Man's religion has built up a dam that has been holding back the living waters of the Holy Spirit!" It was like the church was playing in a Holy Ghost water park. Truly remarkable!
That week of meetings was the highlight of my life. In the morning services Stephen taught on the anointing that gave me great revelation like I had never understood before. On Thursday of that first week my life would change so drastically that a new anointing came from on high upon me. As I was in the morning service I saw a pillar of light coming on me and I asked God "What are you doing?" He said, "I am putting in you what you are going to need." Then I went forward for prayer and I fell under the power as he prayed for me. While I was on the floor the Holy Spirit said to me, "Raise your hand" and as I did the Holy Spirit put a staff in my hand and Stephen began to prophesy that I would be like Moses was and be used with great power in the nations. When I got up a Methodist lady that was there said to me, “When you had your hand in the air I saw your hand was in a white cloud.” She said she thought she was seeing things and closed her eyes and opened them again and the cloud was still there. That was only the morning service. In the evening service God would demonstrate His power to me in a way I would never forget. I was leading worship that night and sung one song when the power of God fell powerfully on me as I was standing on the stage, the anointing of God came on me so hot and heavy to the likes I had not ever experienced to that date. His power scared me for a minute and I thought about asking Him to lift it because it was too much for me to handle, but I thought God will not hurt me, so I just walked off the stage and lifted my hands and I had a vision of myself standing with the staff like God gave to Moses to open the Red Sea. Then I had another vision later in the service of myself standing before people in Africa and as I reached out to the people a bolt of electricity flowed through me and into them. Many people testified of visions and changed lives that week. People that were in the church for fifty years said they hadn't seen that happen since the 1930's. Then just a few days after the power of God fell in our church the Brownsville Revival started in Pensacola, Florida bringing in millions of people for the next five years.
THE ENEMY ATTACKS QUICKLY
Friday night came fast that week and our meetings were over with Stephen. As the people were leaving for home that night someone came running into my office and said, “There's a fight out in the front of the church yard!” Two boys were fighting and one mother got involved in the scuffle and her wig was torn off! These people were greatly encouraged in the meeting and in a few weeks they left the church because they thought I should throw this boy and his family out of the church that started the fight. I was incredulous!
Then as I was taking Stephen back to the airport the next day I began to have great pains in my side and I was passing a great amount of blood. I called the doctor on Saturday and he said for me to come on Monday if it does not get any worse. I was somewhat worried of course. When I went in on Monday to see him, he said you definitely have something wrong. So he set up more tests on Friday. But on that Tuesday night when I fell fast asleep Jesus came walking through my bedroom door and said, "Be healed" and the presence of God fell upon me! I went back to have tests done on Friday and they could not find a thing wrong with me. The tests they put me through that day was like hanging me on a cross I thought.
Revival is costly and that was only the beginning of sorrows for me. Sunday came quickly and there was a great freedom in the service like I had not known before. When I called for the altar call, forty people came forward and the power of God amazed me and everybody else. Most of the people were touched greatly and fell under the power of God. I thought the church would be excited about this, but was I wrong! They wanted to go back to the old way of doing things, they said it was nice to have revival, but we can't have Sunday morning services like this. I said we sure can and we will for I was not backing down for what we labored for all these years! They thought I just wanted to be like Stephen Strader and I did. I wanted to walk in the power of the Spirit just like he did!
At this time my family and I had a two-week vacation planned for Florida. In my mind I thought this is a terrible time to be leaving when revival just broke out. Others in the church thought the same and said I should stay, but in my spirit I knew that I needed to leave and allow things to cool off for a little while. When we returned I sensed that people were glad to have us back. After all, the last three years were a honeymoon for us. As I went through the Sunday School area of the church I noticed that the floor had been waxed. We had just put new tile down and I was told that we did not need to wax this type of floor and I asked someone who waxed the floor and they gave me the couples name that did it. This same couple was in the church for twenty years and they asked me before I left for vacation if they should wax the floor. I told them what I was told that we should not. I am telling this story so that you might see how the enemy works through any open mouth he can. At the next board meeting I asked the board who gave this couple permission to buy the wax and wax the floor when I told them not to. Each one said they didn't know a thing about it and we left it at that. The next week I got a letter in the mail by these same people stating why they waxed the floor and that they were leaving the church because I was talking behind their backs. I had never discussed this with anyone else but those people I thought would know. So I asked each board member if they told these people anything about our meeting and one said he told it to a friend of the couple and he knew that it was a mistake as he was speaking. The enemy looks for any open door to stick his foot through, because revival is warfare against these evil forces and if he can cause division he has won. A house divided cannot stand, we had very little division my first three and half years there, but when revival came, two tithing families left within a few weeks. This tells me how much the enemy hates revival!
At this time I was receiving heavy fire from the enemy to back down and just have a nice church service and don't rock the boat, let's just all be comfortable! I saw right past his deception and pressed in harder with daily prayer at noon. Soon this prayer group came under fire because we prayed hard and heavily against the enemy's camp and we prevailed over him! God gave me a dream one night that gave me great understanding as to what was going on in the heavenlies. I had a dream that I was walking to a white truck but before I could reach the truck a big dog jumped on me and started biting my hands, my hands had white gloves on them. Then I looked into the back of the truck and all the gifts of the Spirit were present. So I grabbed a drumstick that plays drums out of the back of the truck and began to beat the dog that was on my chest and he ran away. So I went around the truck to get into it and the dog tried to stop me again and began tearing off my glove and I awoke.
The interpretation came quickly; the white truck is revival and the devil has tried to put people in my path to stop me from going on with revival. The white gloves represent the anointing that Jesus gives and the devil wants to take it. But with praise and worship I can beat the devil off me! All the gifts of the Spirit are present in revival and the enemy knows this and wants to stop us from moving on with God.
I could feel the church splitting into two camps. One was the traditionalist that did not want change and the other was a revivalist that wanted the deeper things of God and was willing to stand with me. Some of these wanted revival but did not want any confrontation. If you will not stand up for the truth you will fall to deception. As far as I can tell the traditionalist had 60% of the people, because on Sunday mornings when I had the altar call this amount of people would get up and leave when the Spirit of God began moving through the altar service. God kept me there by doing miracles in people’s lives. When people would rise up against me a major miracle would happen to some like a healing or a financial miracle and the people would quiet down again.
At this time I was truly amazed at people’s reactions to not having their own way in the running of the church. There was strife, slander, gossip and angry tempers that flared up. I asked God why He had allowed this to go on and He gave me several Scriptures to help me understand that these tests are only to try us so that we might prove to have genuine faith or are we still fleshly in our mannerisms when things don't go our way. "For, in the first place, when you come together as a church, I hear that divisions exist among you; and in part, I believe it. For there must also be factions among you, in order that those who are approved may have become evident among you" (1 Cor 11:19).
“But at that time he who was born according to the flesh persecuted him who was born according to the Spirit, so it is now also.” Gal 4:29
"For I am afraid that perhaps when I come I may find you to be not what I wish and may be found by you to be not what you wish; that perhaps there may be strife, jealousy, angry tempers, disputes, slanders, gossip, arrogance, disturbances" (2 Cor 12:20).
God is faithful in the midst of our storms. We would like to go through our Christian experience without any troubles or hardships, but this is not possible. "Through many tribulations we must enter the kingdom of God" (Acts 14:22). I was enjoying my mountain top experience for three and a half years, but grass only grows in the valley! I had been praying for years that God's will would be done in my life, but when hard times came, I said, “This can't be God's will.” But it was. The truth of the matter is, God's will is not always easy. Take a closer look at Jesus' life and Paul's life and we will see that we must be careful how we pray, because an angel is writing it all down! When I was in Florida for vacation in 1995 I went to church and went forward for the altar call and when I was on my knees with my hands held up, I felt someone put their hands on mine and started to push against me and I opened my eyes to see who it was and there was nobody there! I had asked the Lord for two years what that was about and He never told me until two years later. He said, "He was pushing against me to make me stronger." This was exactly when my trials really started in the church.
In fact, God had set me up to move to Florida and I didn’t even realize it. When we were driving to Key West the Lord asked me a question, “Do you want it? I said, “Want what?” He said, “Florida!” Not having any clue as to what He meant and not asking any questions, I Just said, “Sure” never thinking about it again until He told me to move to Florida in 1996 to my surprise. But I guess it should not have been because I was already set up by God!
God encouraged me greatly when people were leaving the church at that time, many other new people were coming into the church who were hungry for revival. Even as people were leaving others were coming in. In fact the new people I got to know better in a few months than those that were there for years because these new people prayed with me for many hours. People were coming as far as ninety miles away to attend the services and the finances went up with the attendance. God is faithful!
By the last half of 1995 I wanted to leave the church, I felt like I was a fish out of water. I had outgrown my tank and was very bored at pastoring there. My goal of having revival was accomplished, but my job wasn't done there and God was working perseverance in me. I received another prophetic word that Fall from a prophet named Gordon Hofer saying, “I was about to graduate and I would be training younger and older ministers to preach the gospel.” I was very excited to be graduating, but training ministers I thought?
I had plans to go to a Rodney Howard Brown's Camp meeting in Florida the next January and I told the Lord one night as I watched a Benny Hinn video that I would like to go to a Benny Hinn meeting sometime also. Now that Fall a man and his wife came from Tampa, Florida to our church to minister to the Indian people in our area, we found accommodations for them and they said if you are coming to Tampa for Rodney's meetings come stay with us. Now the next night after I had asked the Lord about going to a Benny Hinn meeting, Nelson Hendrix from Florida called me and said, "Benny Hinn is going to be in Lakeland, Florida and our church needs to get some ushers to work the meeting. Would you like to help?" I said, "Yes I would," for it was only thirty miles away from his home. Now I asked the Lord what are you doing God? He said, "I am wanting you to see how to minister to the multitudes." I said, "God if this is true put me up front ushering for the Benny Hinn meetings. "I went to the Rodney Howard Brown meetings and was totally delivered from wanting to quit the ministry that first night! When I went to usher for Benny Hinn I found myself ushering in front of the stage and catching people on stage for Benny Hinn. I said, "God I believe!"
DANGER, FLOOD WARNINGS
I am glad that I did not leave the church when I wanted to, there was another great move of God coming to our church. In our Sunday evening services the presence of God was becoming very strong, so that we would just sit in God's presence for a long time. His presence was so strong at times where the fear of God would come upon me and I did not want to open my eyes, but just to prostrate myself on the floor. One day we were in prayer and I had a vision of angels posting flood warning signs on all the sanctuary doors and I said, "God what are they doing?" He said, "A flood of the Holy Spirit was coming!" I had been preaching on the river of God and that we needed to live holy lives if we are going to swim in this river. Even though many people were touched by revival they were not casting off their sinful habits that so easily entangled us with weights so we cannot swim, but sink. "Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also lay aside every encumbrance, and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us" (Heb 12:1).
Have you ever tried to swim with weights on? It's very difficult if not impossible! But that is just what many people are trying to do with God. They want more of Him, but they do not want to give up their pet sin that holds them under. We had a lady in our church that owned a video shop with R rated movies and such. For two years she said she was going to get rid of the junk movies and make it a Christian Book store, but never did. One day she said to me, you talk about swimming in the river but I feel like I am drowning in it! The Holy Spirit told me to tell her that she needed to burn all of the filthy movies that she owns and she would be set free. We must understand that when someone is selling books, tapes and movies they are teaching people how to sin. Either we are teaching righteousness or sinfulness, God will hold us accountable. She said that she could not do that and left the church. Not long after this she was in the hospital with a swimmers ear! She told the Doctor that she hadn't been swimming. But she had been under the water of the Holy Spirit. I remember very clearly the day the flood waters came in. I was sitting in the back of the church and I felt the river go over my head. It was so powerful that when the janitor would come in and clean he would be slain in the spirit as he was vacuuming the sanctuary floor! No lie! Also at this time our adult Sunday class would be transformed as the power of God would come in as a blanket and people would be crying all over the room for no apparent reason. As I look back on this I would not have missed it for the world!
At this time I could feel in the spirit that Winner had an opened heaven over it, in other words the forces of darkness were being pushed back, so that the glory of the Lord could shine through. I would go to a ball game and I could feel the Spirit of God falling like rain. I thought maybe it was just myself, but then a missionary couple came into our church and said from the pulpit. "As we were driving into the Winner area it was like coming from heavy spiritual oppression to freedom in the spirit. We think we might want to retire here!" I would walk downtown and pray for people in the streets and the power of God would fall and bring conviction of sin.
Stephen Strader then came back to the church a year later and said, “You have really kept this revival going haven’t you! He said it is like your pastor has gone through a graduate course in revival! I had grown that year by God's grace, but remember it was the most trying year there, but the most fruitful.
The month of May 1996 was the most incredible month I think I have ever lived. We had a week of revival meetings with Stephen and the next week after that I was sitting in my office trying to read and I could not, because the presence of God was gradually becoming stronger and stronger by the minute. As His presence filled the room the Holy Spirit began to prophesy things that are to come to pass in my life. There are no words to describe the holiness that came into the room that day. It became so strong I just hit the floor prostate. Then the Holy Spirit said, "Jesus is here!" As I turned my head to see Jesus, He said, "Get up and sit in your chair." Jesus appeared to me three times within a few months, but this time it was much different. His purity was impressive. Many people say, "If I see Jesus I will ask Him about things in my life." No you will not! You will be in awe! My mind kept saying, “Is this real or am I making it up, have I been studying and praying too much?” He did not say much this time, He does not have to. He said, "The time is now!" He meant the time is now for His power to be poured out on the earth, but also it was time to be moving on from South Dakota.
RADICAL OBEDIENCE NEEDED
The very next week at the same time and on the same day of the week I was in my office praying. I was asking the Lord what He wanted me to do with the money we had in savings. We had sold our house in Minnesota two years prior, so I asked the Lord at that time what He wanted me to do with the money. He said, "Put it in a savings account for two years and I will tell you what to do with it then." So I did just that and now the time was up. I was thinking He would say, Invest in the stock market or buy another house. Now prior to this the Lord had spoken to my heart strongly in March of that year, "You have ten months to fulfill My will in this church." That's all He said, I did not know exactly what He meant, but I did know that in ten months my five years of being in this church was up, for that is what He said to me the very day I was voted in. What He said to me next just shocked me when He said, “Move to Florida." I was walking toward the United States map that I prayed over and was looking at Lakeland, Florida when He spoke this to me. The first words out of my mouth were, "And do what?" Now up to that point I had been to Florida three times within a year and within that same year eighteen people had visited our little church from Florida. I did not see it coming. In fact, one person from Florida said that God was calling me to Florida and I said, “No He is not!” I don't know why I was so shocked, because a few weeks earlier I said to my wife as I got out of bed, “I think we are moving to Florida!” But I was not sure. We had Florida postcards hanging in our room and van. Truly God had my attention now but I did not want to move to Florida!
I said to God, "Give me a job and I will go," He said, "Go!" I said my wife will not move without a job! He said, "Go!" I quickly called my Realtor friends in the Tampa area and told her what God said to me and the Spirit of Lord fell on both of us with holy laughter as she was in her office. She said this has only happened one other time in her life, but not at work!
As I told my wife what had happened she didn't know what to think, her first words were "If you get a job I will go." I said to God, "If you want me to go you must change her mind." He did. So I asked the Lord, "What must I do now to prepare for the big move?" He said, "Sell your car." I liked my little car that I was driving and it was paid for and I was going to drive that thing until it would not go any further. But He said sell it and that night I was having a meeting with the Sunday School teachers and one man walked in the door and said, “You don't know of any used cars for sale do you?” I said, “Yes I do,” and it was sold! Then I asked the Lord what to do next? He said, "Make plans to go to Florida in the first part of November to buy a house." So I did. God’s faithful leading was there all along as to how we were going to buy a house with no job? But we did!
The next seven months would be very trying in the area of patience. I could not wait to leave and see what God had for us in Florida. But He would not reveal it to me unless I was obedient in all that He told me to do. God is a God of faith. We would like a blueprint for everything that He tells us to do, but He does not operate that way. Faith is to trust Him completely as we obey Him in the little things, then the bigger plan is revealed. We can see this pattern in the life of Abraham. “Now the LORD said to Abram, "Go forth from your country, and from your relatives and from your father's house, to the land which I will show you.” (Gen 12:1).
God confirmed to us in many ways that we were to move. When we began to tell people about us leaving the church, they would say, "Oh we knew that!" It did not surprise very many people. One year before this I wanted to leave the church badly, but did not have peace in my heart to do so. Now God says leave and looking at my future plans with no guaranteed income, I was thinking this church is a nice comfortable place! We had no bills except our long distance phone calls and a nice one room Christian School for our boys. Now God is asking me to leave all this comfort and move into the deep south and pay all my own bills with no income that I knew of? But I said, "I would rather be a wet water walker, then a dry boat sitter!" The peace of God was my driving factor. "For you will go out with joy, and be led forth with peace...” (Isa 55:12).
I prayed and fasted for God's will to be done and if it was not His will I said close every door that is not of you. We kept on going in the peace of God. If there is no joy in what you are doing, God is not in it. If you have no peace, stop what you are doing until you can find His peace in what you are to do. The peace of Christ should rule our hearts. If there is no peace there will be a check in our spirit man saying don't do that or wait on the Lord. "And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body; and be thankful" (Col 3:15).
The Lord's timing was one of the factors that led us on. I had made plans to go to Florida that November to buy a house as the Lord told me to and I had seen an advertisement for a Prophetic Conference in Atlanta, Georgia. I had read most of Dr. Bill Hamon's books on the prophetic ministry and I felt the Lord saying to me that I was to have a stopover in Atlanta for the meetings before coming home. I said, "Lord, the price of the airfare will be very high to change at this late date." The price to change my ticket was only one hundred dollars! At the same time I talked to Stephen Strader and he said that Rick Joyner would be coming to his church in Lakeland, Florida the same week that I was to be there. Now Rick Joyner's book called, The Final Quest was given to me that summer and the book changed my life like no other book had, other than the Bible. In fact, I read the book six times in one year and bought over one hundred copies of them to give to others! I had been thinking that I would like to hear Rick speak sometime and now he was coming to the same city, at the same time that I would be there? It must be God I thought! This was Rick’s first time ever to minister at this church in Lakeland. Now only God could know the timing of this way back in June when I made my plans to go to Florida. I ended up in meetings Monday through Saturday that week with no time to spare. It was definitely God's providence for training me in the different camps of the prophetic ministry and He showed me who I was to align my ministry with, which was MorningStar Ministries.
MOVING DAY FINALLY ARRIVES
Moving to Florida was no easy task, leaving friends and loved one's tore at our hearts. The last night that we were in our house fear was gripping me, so I went to lay down on the couch to worry and pray about our future. I'm just being honest with you. As I was laying there worrying, my twenty-month-old daughter Ke-Yanna was in the bedroom jumping and singing, making her voice echo in the empty room and just having a good time! Then the Lord said to me, "Why is your daughter having such a good time?" I said, "She doesn't have to worry about anything, she knows that I will take good care of her." He said, "Will I not take good care of you? Go jump around in the room with her!" As I did it liberated me from all my fears and I knew that my Father was going to take care of me, I had His word on it!
We packed the U-Haul truck up in a snowstorm on Saturday and woke up to a snowstorm on Monday as we were leaving town. The highways were fairly clear to travel, but as we went down the highway the truck broke down and we sat at a gas station for the next five hours and waited. Then we found out that our truck would not be repaired until after Christmas, so we left the truck in Sioux Falls, South Dakota and went to Minnesota for Christmas with our family. But that's not the end of the story. As we left for Minnesota that night the snowstorm was still raging worse than ever and as we got out on the freeway this time, they were almost impassable so we had to stop at a motel for the first time in my life that a snowstorm had ever stopped me on the road. We had to get to Minnesota by Christmas Eve to sign papers for our new house in Florida and they had to be signed and shipped back to Florida by next day air in order for us to get homestead rights on our house, we needed to be in the house before the first of the year.
The devil began to beat me up in my mind that night in the hotel saying, “You must be out of the will of God, because if God had sent you everything would be going smoothly!” That was a lie straight out of the pit of hell! If that were the case Jesus would not have suffered and died on the cross. God's will is not always the easy road, but it's the best road! God gave me the Scripture where Paul said, "Three times I was beaten with rods, once I was stoned, three times I was shipwrecked, a night and a day I have spent in the deep. I have been on frequent journeys, in dangers from rivers, dangers from robbers, dangers from my countrymen, dangers from the Gentiles, dangers in the city, dangers in the wilderness, dangers on the sea, dangers among false brethren; I have been in labor and hardship, through many sleepless nights, in hunger and thirst, often without food, in cold and exposure" (2 Cor 11:25-27).
As we woke up the next morning our van did not want to start because of the 60 below wind chill, this was another first for me. Thank God someone had a long set of jumper cables to help us. We were able to get to Minnesota on Christmas Eve and got the papers signed for the house. Fortunately my brother's secretary was a public notary and was able to help us out in our time of need.
We finally got to Florida and settled into our new home and got everything unpacked and the devil says again, "What are you unpacking for, you have no money to pay the house payment anyway, in three months you are going to go broke when your money runs out!" God said to me, "Wait for three months then go out and minister for this will give your family time to adjust to living in a new area." So I did this and the three months passed by quickly. My first time at the Carpenter's Home Church was on New Year’s Eve, Jerry Bernard was preaching that night and as he was preaching he came over to me and began to prophesy over me saying, "You have a lot in you that has not even been tapped yet. Get ready it is about to break forth, for now is the season for the double inheritance to come to you!"
With three months off I went to work for a man in the church we were attending. I did deliveries around the state for him. I did not want to take the job, but the Lord said to take it. I said to the Lord, “This cannot be your will?” He said, “Have you not been praying for My will to be done in your life?” “Yes I said, but this cannot be it for me to work for $6.00 an hour and I do not have a second car!” I cried and sobbed as to how I could have fallen so far, so fast! I said, “Ok Thy will be done and I obeyed Him.” Now, if I had not taken this job of humility, as I called it, I would have missed what the Lord had next for me even though it was still years away. I was being set up by Almighty God and I did not even know it. We must obey and trust Him in all things!
With this new job I could listen to teaching tapes while I drove and prayed all around the State of Florida. It was very profound, because my boss had all kinds of tapes for me to listen to and one he gave to me confirmed my calling to Florida. A lady was speaking about how the Lord had shown her that in May of 1996 Jesus was going to commission people into the ministry that He had called them to. She said it would happen the third week of May. This is precisely the week Jesus appeared to me and commissioned me for this ministry!
TIMES OF GREAT TESTING
Buying a house in Florida without any guarantee of income was no easy task, it took great perseverance on my part and we did prevail. We moved in the very day we had closed on the house. My faith was being tested greatly because the payments were more than I had ever paid for housing and now I did not know where the money was coming from. We left South Dakota debt free and now I was being told to go into debt which I hated more than anything. Then sending our children to a Christian School for $500 a month was also a burden that I needed help to bear. I wanted to be in the will of God and when the cloud of glory is moving you had better move with it! We had come to Florida with one vehicle, my job was on the other end of town and I asked the Lord for a car and He told me to buy a car from my neighbor that he had for sale. Now this car was a remarkable sight! A 1980 mustang that needed a lot of work and a transmission. I went to my neighbor to see how much he would take for it and he said, "My wife and I talked it over and we want to give you the car!" I thought that was a pretty good deal and at the right price!
I went to work fixing up the old car and took out the transmission of the car thinking it was only a small problem and I found out that it was going to cost over seven hundred dollars to fix it! This was far more than the car was worth, so I went to see if I could get one out of a junk car somewhere and they told me it would be very hard to find one for that car. As I was driving home from work that night I said to the Lord, "I think I am going crazy!" I really did, because this is what I thought the Lord was telling me to do and again things weren't working out. I said, "You've got to help me!" As I was driving the Lord said, "Turn into this car junk yard." I asked the owner if he had a transmission for my car, he said I just got one the other day and it is in good shape! I put it in the car and it ran great until we got a different car. It took great perseverance to get it working and the Lord said, "Let this teach you perseverance and do not give up when your ministry starts."
VISION FOR A TRAINING CENTER
Some people have asked me, “Why move to Florida?” I have asked this question over and over to the Lord, but the Lord did not answer me one word, but just said, “Be obedient!” What soldier ever questions his general? So we moved not knowing what God had for us. Months later God had shown me why Florida, even though I did not want to believe it.
When I was doing my delivery work for this company I drove by a closed down Bible College near Kissimmee, Florida three times and my heart would sink each time I saw it, because here was some body's dream that has failed. I would pray God raise this work back up! But the third time I would drive by it was the last day I would be working for this company and the Lord spoke to me and said, "Would you like this place?" I said, "For what?" I started laughing like Sarah did in the Old Testament when He said to me, "To raise up a training center and a conference center for me." I have learned when God speaks I obey for He has done so many miracles for us, what would one more be? I said, "If that's your will, I will take it!" He then said, "Go back and claim it." So I did and as I was leaving the grounds He said, "And name it after Intercession City." I thought there is nothing in that small city and why would I name it after that hell hole? Then the name dawned on me, Intercession City, what is this place? As I drove through the town I saw the street signs named Faith, Hope, Charity, and Shepherd. I thought this place was once a Christian community. As I drove away I began to cry and say God please don't let me be deceived! His presence filled that truck for the rest of the day. I thought how will I ever get enough money to buy this place and He gave me a Scripture. “I have made the earth, the men and the beasts which are on the face of the earth by My great power and by My outstretched arm, and I will give it to the one who is pleasing in My sight” (Jer 27:5). I had no idea, but it would take another seventeen years before God gave me any land in Intercession City, but land and building He would give. Praise to His name!
On my next free day I took my family to see their future home and as we drove into the town I could feel and see demonic activity everywhere. Then my ten-year-old son Joshua turns to me and says, "Dad this place is filled with devils!" But when they saw the School they were all excited. I talked to a few people in the city and they told me about the history of the town and showed me books and pictures of its past glories. It was a ghost town in the 1930's and a lady named Ossie England came and bought an old hotel and renamed the city from Inter-ocean City to Intercession City. Then she started a Bible College 1937 until it burned down in 1957. Another school was built in the 1980's outside of town, but it too closed down in 1996 because of immorality problems with its leadership. God has a vision and an anointing for this little town for prayer and to train and send people into the mission field for His glory. Now the Lord has called us to enter into His plan for this city. We pray that we might have the grace to finish His will before Jesus comes again.
When I was pastoring I had a desire to train people for the ministry, but I had no idea that God would call me to start a school. He did try to tell me through prophet's, but I would not listen. One said, "I see you training young men and old men for ministry. Another said, "I see you training people for the ministry and I see a building already prepared for you." I thought they were all crazy, because I thought I knew what I was called to do, traveling as a prophetic ministry to the nations. But I also didn't think I would be pastoring either! Thank God He does not tell us everything in the beginning, otherwise we would quit for fear.
It is interesting because when we first moved to Florida the Lord gave me two visions of white tracks and a train. I did not understand what the train meant until I received a prophetic newsletter a few months later. This prophet, Bob Jones also had a vision of a train. He said when you receive a vision of a train it means "Train--ing people." At the same time of this vision I was reading a book that impacted my life called, "Rees Howells Intercessor," in which a pastor's wife from South Dakota felt led to give me this book just before we left our church. This great man of God had great faith to believe God for buying mansions in England by faith during the great depression, then he turned them into a Bible College with no money in hand. At the time of reading this book I thought I'm sure glad God didn't call me to do that! When I put this all together, it was just God's way of confirming to me my call to do the impossible. Is it any wonder that the name of this city is called, (Intercession City) as my calling?
Several months later I was in South Dakota preaching and I was thinking about the school and the impossibility of buying such a place for a few million dollars. I said to the Lord, "Confirm to me that I am hearing you." The very next day I was praying by myself in this little church and I looked at a bookshelf and saw a book tucked up behind the glass case called, "The Multi-Million Dollar Miracle," the Holy Spirit said, "Pick up the book and read it!" I said, "I don't want to read about getting a million dollars" and walked away from it. I came by it again and the Holy Spirit said, "Read the book!" I picked it up and saw on the first page the name of Roy Weed. I knew of his name because it was Stephen Strader's uncle. Then on the next page his dad Karl Strader's name was, he was my pastor in Lakeland, Florida. This had my attention to say the least! As I read this book I found out that Roy Weed was the president of the Trinity Bible Institute in North Dakota. It is an Assemblies of God school from the 1970's. God helped him to buy a college campus worth four million dollars from the State of North Dakota for one dollar! This was truly a miracle, then God said to me, "Do you believe that I can do it again?” “Yes Lord, I believe you can, I said!” A few weeks later the impossibility of the school was weighing on me again. I was out eating with a few ministers in South Dakota and one of them asked me to tell the others about Intercession City. I told them about the city and not about the college because I felt stupid. One pastor said, tell them about the school. As I began sharing about how God revealed this place to me the power of God fell on me as I sat there and I just had to shout! God has shown me that this is truly of Him and He has put this work in my heart for good this time. I have received many prophecies from around the country concerning this new work. Over and over I hear the same words, "It will be very large and people will come from all over the world to be a part of your ministry!"
My faith was tried greatly in the area of trusting God to build this work, or was I to put my trust in the denomination of the Assemblies of God to help? The Lord said to me so very clearly, "You cannot stay a part of the Assemblies of God and do this work!" I asked God for confirmation and prayed about it and talked to others about it for three months and felt this was the direction of the Lord for me and I gave my letter of resignation to the organization. I thought, now that's over! But my faith would be tried even greater in this. Because they wrote back saying that they needed all my ordination paper's and a written statement saying why I wanted to leave. I was in Minnesota for two months that summer preaching and so I took the time to seek the Lord earnestly on the matter. I came back to Florida still feeling that I was to resign my paper's. But my flesh keeps saying "What if you're wrong!" Then God rebuked me the next day through my devotional reading asking why I had not done what He had told me clearly to do, I then obeyed Him.
I asked the Lord why He was testing me so much with all these hard decisions? I believe the answer I got was this, "If I could not obey in the little things, I would not obey in the bigger things that were coming my way. It's like a soldier going through boot camp. He must learn obedience through all the seemingly foolish things they are trained in that could one day save their life by following orders even when they did not understand.
AM I HEARING RIGHT
I was faced with the greatest financial trial of my life at this time to trust God and go to India and preach across America. But will enough money come in to pay the bills I thought?
I live by the principle, "Where He guides, He provides and His vision brings His provision." My life of hearing God was really on the line this time, and if there is no provision then I have missed His vision somewhere along my journey and I would have to regroup and go a different direction for my life after I got back.
For eight years I had desired to go to India, but every time I made plans to go there they would fall through. When Stephen Strader was in our church the second time he said from the pulpit, Pastor Dan, would you like to go to India with me? I said, “Yes!” Our plans were to go in November of 1996, but as we got closer to the date of this trip it was canceled. The missionary in India said they were not ready for us until March of 1997. I wanted to go to India before we were to leave this church because the church allowed me to go on missionary trips with pay. This way I only needed to raise money for travel and not housing expenses. I wanted the Lord's timing in all of this and if this was His will, what more could I do, but wait? I used the time to raise more funds, but was still one thousand dollars short by March. I went to a T.D. Jake's meeting at the Carpenter’s Home Church in the beginning of March and the Lord said, "Give one thousand dollars away." This is about all we had left from the sale of our house. God had been speaking to me about sowing it, but I just rebuked the thought of it! Now He was asking me to make a sacrifice that I knew that my flesh did not want to make. Would I trust God or would I trust the money? I obeyed God. This was either faith or foolishness and I don't know what is the dividing factor of the two! Was I hearing God or not? I did not tell my wife right away because I didn't think she would approve of my actions. I did tell her a day or so later and to my surprise she was not angry, but said you better be hearing from God. I thought the same.
Something so incredible happened to me in the meetings that got my attention. A few days earlier I was in the delivery truck and the Lord began to speak to me very strangely saying in repetition, "You must be ready, you must be ready, you must be ready!" This went on for one minute or more and I thought why is He saying that? The day I was to go to the T.D. Jake's meeting I was in the truck and I said to God, "Confirm to me what You were speaking to me that day in repetition about being ready." That night I went to the meeting and my best friend Mark Begnaud was with me from Minnesota and T.D. Jake's wife gets up and introduces her husband and says, "About four years ago my husband was sound asleep and the Lord woke him up with repetition saying, get ready, get ready, get ready!" Isn't that just wild! This gave me great confidence that I was hearing from God.
This was all exciting, but I still had a problem, no money to pay for the trip to India. The airfare alone was $2,200. The money that I had in the ministry fund needed to pay our salary for that month's bills. I asked the Lord what to do, He said, "Put it on your credit card." I got really scared and said, "I can't do that!" He said, "Turn to Isaiah 45:1-3."
Thus says the LORD to Cyrus His anointed, whom I have taken by the right hand, to subdue nations before him, and to lose the loins of kings; to open doors before him so that gates will not be shut: I will go before you and make the rough places smooth; I will shatter the doors of bronze, and cut through their iron bars. And I will give you the treasures of darkness, and hidden wealth of secret places, in order that you may know that it is I, the LORD, the God of Israel, who calls you by your name.
These words jumped out at me, "I will give you the treasures of darkness, and hidden wealth of secret places." I said, "OK God if this is what you want I will do it!" Now up to this point in my ministry I had never received a check for over three hundred dollars for speaking in any church. I did not know how He was going to do it, but I knew I had His word on it and that was better than any check would be.
Just as all this was going on I received a phone call from one of the churches that I was to preach in when I got back from India. As soon as the pastor started to speak the phone line went fuzzy, so that we could not talk. I knew something was not right with him and the church he was pastoring. We tried to reconnect three times that night but to no avail. I tried to call him the next day from a pay phone and he was out of the office. The phone line to my house went bad the very minute that we tried to have our conversation. It was three days later before we were able to make contact. The pastor said he needed to cancel our April meetings. He told me about the last evangelist that they had in their church a few months earlier and how this man had an adulterous affair with a woman in his church and now it was all unfolding. This was my former pastor so I was able to talk about it and tell him that this is just the enemy attacks against the meetings. I could always gauge my meetings by the attacks of the enemy before them. He did change his mind about having me and we had true revival for sixteen days, people’s lives were changed by the power of God. The pastor paid a heavy price for revival though. One week before I went to his church his son called him and said to him that he was getting a divorce and that he was gay! Somehow the enemy sees God working behind the scene and does everything he can to stop the plan of God by bring discouragement to those who are involved.
OUR DAILY BREAD
When I first began to think about moving, money was always on the top of the list to think about. Trusting God for our daily needs was trying enough in itself, plus the ministry’s needs. I would try to figure it out on paper only to walk away more afraid of how these bills would get paid. When we were to sign for the house the financial statement said that we needed to give another $3,800 for the down payment and my blood went cold. I said to God, "I am not ready for this yet!" Thinking that we were going to go to Florida without money scared me half to death. Here it ended up that I read the financial papers wrong! God used this to show me that I was not trusting in Him to provide for us, but I was trusting my money. Jesus sent His disciples out with no money to teach them this principle. Now God was wanting to break me of this spirit of mammon. When He told me to buy a house with no guaranteed income and to get two loans, one for 11% interest and another for 15% it was pure foolishness to me. This offended my mind as much as Peter was offended when he had fished all night and caught nothing and the Lord told him to cast out his net, when he obeyed he reaped a great harvest!
The night before I went to India the devil really gave me a hard time saying, "Who do you think you are going to train leaders, God's not sending you, you had to borrow the money!" The pressure became so great on me that night to call this whole thing off. So I just began to praise God and the pressure eased. I went to lay on the couch and I thought if this is a demonic attack my dog will start howling, for he always howls when he senses these evil powers coming close. And sure enough the dog started howling within seconds. I just laughed and was free for the whole night. That night God woke me up and said turn to Isaiah 55 and two verses jumped out at me. "Behold, you will call a nation you do not know, and a nation which knows you not will run to you, because of the LORD your God, even the Holy One of Israel; for He has glorified you" -- "For you will go out with joy, and be led forth with peace; the mountains and the hills will break forth into shouts of joy before you, and all the trees of the field will clap their hands" (Isa 55:5, 12). I had no idea that we were headed to the Himalayan Mountains which are the tallest in the world!
These verses gave me such comfort that I was truly being sent by God and I just needed to trust the Lord in all things. As we were flying to Germany Stephen Strader looked out the window and said, “There's the Hale Bop comet.” It followed us all the way to Germany that whole night it seemed! I told Stephen that it was a sign from God that He had sent us. I still did not realize we were going up into the Himalayan mountains even at that time, it was all a great surprise from my Father! When we got there we were one hundred miles away from Mt. Everest, but we were next to the third highest mountain in the world, it was right out our door but we could not see it the whole time we were there because of cloud cover. I prayed to God, "If you really have sent me please let me see the mountain." On the last day we were there a rainstorm came and blew all the clouds out! It was nighttime and we could see the stars and the Hale Bop comet was so clear you could reach out and touch it, it seemed. The last morning I was there we awoke to see this awesome mountain. It was truly a sign from God that He had sent me!
I thought if I had to work the rest of my life to pay for this trip it would have been worth it. The month of April looked like a financial disaster for us! But that month over seven thousand dollars would come into the ministry through revival meetings and all our bills would be paid, praise His name! This again proved to me that I was hearing His voice and going in the direction of His will.
Now I had been praying for a different car for over a year because my Mustang was dying and one night I had a dream of a truck load of blue Buick LESabre. I then asked the Lord if this was the type of car that I needed to buy? He did not answer me at the time. But when I went up to Minnesota to preach in the Summer of 1997 I was at my brother Kevin's Auto Sales and Repair and saw a nice blue LESabre come in and I asked him if he would sell me that car. He said, “No, I already have this one sold.” So I went over to the car and laid my hands on it and claimed it for myself. That is what a good Christian should do, right? I said, "Lord, if this is my car don't let it be sold!" One month later I was driving in my van and the Lord said, "Buy that car from your brother." I said, "He will not sell it to me!" I went home and I asked my brother if he would sell me the car, he said, "Get me the money and it is yours!" Now I was in a real pickle, I did not have any money and I did not want to go into debt any more than I was, even though I was saving nearly two thousand dollars on the buying of this car. I put him off for a few days and went to some serious praying, was this God or my flesh wanting this car? I prayed for three days and no answer came, I stayed up all night praying and seeking God about this matter for the first time in my life I prayed all night! Because if I miss God on this it could put me under financially for many years. My brother was putting pressure on me now and I needed to decide. I got the news from the bank, they said because I was out of state I needed to have a cosigner. I haven't had a co-signer since I bought my first house at the age of nineteen! I thought, "I'm out of this one, but no my brother said, "I trust you; I will sign it!" The very minute I bought this car I was walking out of the sales department and two people called wanting to buy this same car!
I had a hard time sensing the presence of the Lord for those three days I was praying about buying the car. I went to pray that same day I bought the car and the presence of God just flooded my soul and I asked the Lord, "Why could I not sense Your presence these last three days?" He said, "Because you did not obey my voice quickly when I told you to buy the car." I repented and asked the Lord to forgive me. We must learn to obey right away; it could save our life some day and the lives of others.
God is faithful, we did not come behind in one bill over those years, but it was still hard on my flesh to just believe. He gave us meetings where no meetings were planned. Finally at the end of July of 1997 the Lord said to have a meeting in Intercession City, starting in September. I said Lord I have no money to get through August, let alone to rent a building and pay for advertising. The month of August looked like another financial disaster waiting to happen, no meetings, no money, but by the end of the month all the money would come in to pay the bills. Praise His name!
Times were tough, one day I went into the food pantry and there was not much food left. I thought to myself, I have never seen our canned goods down so far. The very next day someone gave us hundreds of dollars’ worth of canned goods and filled it back up! To my knowledge I never asked the Lord for them. I believe He wanted to show me that He knew our needs even before we could ask. So I thought I would ask for bread and bread came in! Then I asked for milk and milk came in!
One month came and went and all our bills were not paid, I sought the Lord earnestly for deliverance. At that very minute I was praying, I received a phone call from a friend and he said, “A blank check is in the mail to pay all your bills!” I thought, could this be true? It was! I paid all my bills, but I did not have peace. I sought the Lord and He said, "I did not pay my tithes last month." I went home that night and wrote out a tithe check and had peace.
The older Ford Mustang that I fixed up, the Lord had me give away to another needy family. I could have used the money myself to pay bills, it was only worth about five hundred dollars back then, but I knew I had heard from God to give it to this family. The funny part is, that after they received our car they were given a better car with cheap payments. Now I thought maybe I had missed God and if I had, God knew my heart and He would bless me accordingly. Late one night I got a knock on our door and this man says, “I sold the car and here is the money!” Five hundred dollars, just what I wanted for the car! The month before was the worst financial month of our lives. I told my wife not to complain if you don't want to stay in this place, for we will praise the Lord through it all. I said this might be the worst, but the best is yet to come! And the best did come, October was the best financial month of our lives and my wife received several diamond rings and jewelry that month. I Believe the Lord rewarded her faith.
This is the supernatural provision of God, no different than the manna in the wilderness. God is faithful, reliable, trustworthy and ever true to His promises and He can be depended on and trust Him with all your heart! You might ask yourself, why would God put you through all this? I asked the same question one night when I was burdened. I said to the Lord, “Where is it in the Bible that you left your people hungry and they were not able to pay their bills I asked?” He spoke back very quickly and said, "What about the children of Israel in the wilderness?"
And you shall remember all the way which the LORD your God has led you in the wilderness these forty years, that He might humble you, testing you, to know what was in your heart, whether you would keep His commandments or not. And He humbled you and let you be hungry, and fed you with manna which you did not know, nor did your fathers know, that He might make you understand that man does not live by bread alone, but man lives by everything that proceeds out of the mouth of the LORD. (Deut 8:2-3)
In the wilderness He fed you manna which your fathers did not know, that He might humble you and that He might test you, to do good for you in the end. (Deut 8:16)
Did you see that God wanted to do good for them in the end! Remember the story of Joseph, his brothers thought Joseph was going to hurt them, but Joseph says in Genesis 50:20, "And as for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good in order to bring about this present result, to preserve many people alive."
These testing’s are difficult, they are meant to be! If you want to go to college the test will be harder than first grade. Many of God's people want to be given great gifts and ministries, but they do not want to pay the price to get it. One day the Lord spoke to me and said, "This is not about money, this is about learning obedience." We only learn obedience through the things suffered. Are we any better than the Son of God? For the Scriptures says, "Although He was a Son, He learned obedience from the things which He suffered" (Heb 5:8).
This verse has always puzzled me, why would the perfect Son of God need to suffer and learn obedience. He already was perfect! Then the revelation of this verse came. Obeying is easy when things are going right for us, but what happens when God does not do what we think He should do? We have a choice, either do what's right or get offended at God and do the wrong thing. Remember the children of Israel in the wilderness, they were just delivered from bondage and walked through the red sea. They were all praising the Lord when their enemies were defeated. But three days later they were without water and instead of praising the Lord, they grumbled and complained against God. Their character was being tested, would they obey God's laws or would they obey their own heart. God tested them ten times and they flunked every time! The faster we obey in hardship, the faster we will get through the test. When we are going through a time of testing we cannot grumble and complain, we must praise our way through it and ask God for wisdom to get through the times of testing. "But if any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all men generously and without reproach, and it will be given to him" (James 1:5).
People ask for wisdom when things are going right, but not when they’re in a time of testing. This is when you need wisdom the most! God is not mad at you when you go through difficulty, He is just wanting to bless you with more when you get through it! Jesus said, blessed is he who is not offended at Me, and we will have many occasions to be offended at Him for the ways that He leads us.
Oswald Chambers said, "Faith by its very nature must be tested and tried. And the real trial of faith is not that we find it difficult to trust God, but that God's character must be proven as trustworthy in our own minds." From My Utmost for His Highest October 31.
I made plans in September 1997 to have meetings in a small civic center that holds up to about one hundred people. The man that rented me the building was a dear Christian brother that gave me the building for whatever I wanted to pay. I felt led by the Lord to pray in the city two days a week, so I prayed for a place to pray in the city and this man said I could pray there any time I wanted to. I felt like God had gone before me and confirmed my path. But ten days before my meetings where to start, I received a phone call saying that I could not rent the place because we were a church group. Now God had already prepared me for this when I read the books of Ezra and Nehemiah about rebuilding the Temple and wall of Jerusalem. The first thing that the devil did was to try and stop them through the people that lived there. This is exactly what the devil did with me. He tries to knock the strength out of you, but the Lord gave me three words in one day. "Rise up for the Lord your God is in your midst!" This I did and through prayer I was able to get the building back and have my meetings.
The first night of the meetings were not encouraging in nature with only twelve people in attendance. Five from my own family! The offering was not large enough to keep me going, but spiritually the service was a ten! The power of God came into that place with awesome power! Wherever His glory cloud is I want to be, if that is in South Dakota, India, or Intercession City I want to be there. God confirmed in me that night through His presence and the testimonies of people, that I was in the right place at the right time. But how would the money come in to keep the work going? Only God knew and He wasn't telling!
One man from Intercession City was there and wanted me to come and pray with him the next week. As we began to talk he said that he was a part of MorningStar Ministries. This caught me off guard and I could not believe it, because this is a small ministry and I had applied for ordination through this ministry. God had my attention once again that He was working behind the scene. This man's desire was to start an intercessory prayer group with me in the city. He ended up giving me hundreds of dollars’ worth of groceries that day which we desperately needed. God does supply our daily bread!
God had given me great favor with a Spanish Church in town that rented me their building. The pastor had been given a prophecy a few months earlier about a white man that she was to work with and this ministry would bring her great encouragement!
A GREATER VISION
I had been receiving prophetic words from five or more people for the last few months that the ministry was going to be huge. I could not comprehend what this could mean until I had a vision of it myself. I was in Intercession City praying and the glory of the Lord was manifest when I had an open vision. I saw a man standing in front of me with a suit on. The next thing I saw was a folded white towel in the man’s hands with a golden key on top with a golden ribbon going through the keyhole and around the folded towel. I asked, “What is this key for?” The man said, “To open the door that you have been looking through the keyhole for you are seeing with a limited view.” I then looked at the door and glory was shining around the door frame with glory coming through the keyhole. Next I saw the door open up and a very bright light come through the door, then we went through the door and we were above Intercession City. I then saw a hospital coming down out of heaven. I did not know if this was a literal hospital or spiritual one. I then saw a nursing home that also came down and I remember thinking, what would I want a hospital for, we believe in healing the sick. I then saw the hospital turn into a large white building across the highway. Then across the highway from the white building I saw the nursing home turn into a large building with the name across the top International Outreach Center. I saw the training center outside of town as a part of the ministry center. I then asked, “How is this possible?” I then saw an army of people standing shoulder to shoulder ready to march and help me build the work.
I then asked the Lord for confirmation in the Scriptures. He gave me Zephaniah 3:1-20 and said this was the city that was prideful and desolate and now it is time to raise it up. He showed me that He had a plan for this city from the beginning and wants to fulfill its destiny.
EVERY WORK MUST BE TESTED
Everything that God builds must go through a time of testing, including Adam and Eve. Satan was not left on earth because God had mercy on him, oh no, he was left for one reason, and that is to test the saints whether we would obey or disobey. We see in Scripture how Adam chooses to disobey; this goes on everyday whether people know it or not. I personally think Adam became comfortable with God’s presence and lost his fear of God, much like Samson did and it cost these two men dearly. Our familiarity with God will get us killed like an electrician that does not fear the power he is working with every day.
People ask why would a loving God leave such a nasty being on this earth? To perfect the saints. If you can receive it, the devil is actually doing us a favor! We either become more like Jesus or the devil. In the book of Job we see that God has the devil on a leash, he cannot do as he pleases, but only what God allows him to do. Job knew that through the tests he would be a better man! "But He knows the way I take; when He has tried me, I shall come forth as gold" Job 23:10.
The new work in Intercession City was lacking one thing, people! With only five people coming, was I to continue or not? In my heart I knew that God had called me there, but in my head a war was raging. I thought this is pure foolishness, our needs cannot even be met with these few people and let alone trying to build a work for God. Yet our bills were always paid! Then I received a letter in the mail from Arizona, a lady had two visions of me. She saw me running in a huge valley called, "The valley of decision." She then saw me in a fight between two forces that were trying to make me go their way. She was given Matthew 10:39, "He who has found his life shall lose it, and he who has lost his life for My sake shall find it." I knew in my heart what I was to do. Stand up and fight for the city! I could no longer lean on my own understanding as King Solomon said so well. "Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make your paths straight" (Prov 3:5-6).
THE FIRST YEAR CAME AND WENT
I knew that if we could make it through the first year we would be all right. At that time we needed about $2,400 a month just to survive, that's more than we ever needed when I was working a steady job. On paper there was no way we could make it, short of a miracle. I did not work a 9-5 job, I felt the Lord saying, just trust me for it! So I told my wife, "We will go month to month and if the bills aren't paid I miss God and I will get a job." This is harder for a woman than a man you know. The first year of testing was over and we made it without the smell of smoke on us! I preached a lot about the fire of God falling on the church, but never did I realize that we would be living in the fire! When we needed money, the money was there. It came either through preaching or someone would send us a check in the mail to pay the bills. This was not easy on our flesh; the flesh wants to do it on its own and know where the money is coming from each month. But if I could do this on my own, how would I know that God had really sent us? How could I trust the Lord for many thousands to start a Bible School, if I could not trust Him to provide for our daily needs now? The only month we were short was the month I did not tithe of our income to church. God is faithful to do what He says He will do if we trust Him!
John the Baptist said in Matthew 3:11 that we would be baptized with the Holy Spirit and fire. We may get excited about the Holy Spirit baptism of power, but we hear very little about the baptism of fire, where all the chaff is gathered and burned with unquenchable fire! This is where our sin is exposed and burned out of us by our trials. "Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal among you, which comes upon you for your testing, as though some strange thing were happening to you" (1 Pet 4:12). These tests are for our good according to the word of God, but our flesh is screaming the whole time. If we can remember that God is good, half the battle is over. He's not out to hurt us, but to free us of SELF! Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego were not hurt in the flames, they were only freed from their bondage's. "...When you walk through the fire, you will not be scorched, nor will the flame burn you" (Isa 43:2).
Do you see when the fire of God is burning so hot in us, the fires of the enemy cannot harm us and just as Jesus walked through the midst of His enemies, so will we! Jesus did not encounter much persecution from the enemy until His powerful anointing came. We need to count the cost before we proceed on with God and ask Him for a greater throne anointing. Jesus asked His disciples in Mark 10:38, "You do not know what you are asking for. Are you able to drink the cup that I drink, or to be baptized with the baptism with which I am baptized?" His cup was pain and suffering for the will of the Father. What will our cup be; ease and comfort or to know the fellowship of His suffering? "I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us" (Rom 8:18).
My friend, be encouraged today! I was encouraged a few months back when someone said, "If you are suffering right now, you’re probably right where God wants you." Some encouragement! This seems to be the order of the day for the Church, and when you fight against it you are only fighting God. It's like getting into the boat with the disciples with Jesus compelling them when a storm is coming. Jesus wanted to show them who was in control of the storm, just trust Him!
MIRACLES OF OBEDIENCE
The Apostle Paul both starts and finishes his letter to the Romans about the obedience of faith. In Romans 1:5 he writes, "Through whom we have received grace and apostleship to bring about the obedience of faith among all the Gentiles, for His name's sake." Then again he says in Romans 16:26, “But now is manifested, and by the Scriptures of the prophets, according to the commandment of the eternal God, has been made known to all the nations, leading to obedience of faith." I wrote about our moving to Florida and buying a home and how it all seemed so foolish to my own understanding. I call these great tests of faith. Before God can entrust us with greater anointings and positions in His Kingdom we must first meet the qualifications for that position and this takes time and effort. Even in the military and the corporate world one must undergo much training and testing to advance in any given field.
If you can keep in the back of your mind that life is a school and a training center for eternity. The lessons we are learning in our everyday life will last us forever and it cannot be taken away! Obedience is at the very heart of the matter; will we trust God at His word or will we try to figure it all out in our mind first before we obey. Adam and Eve would not obey God in the garden because they did not trust Him in doing what was right for them, so the enemy was able to deceive Eve. We must close all doors of distrust to the enemy and that can only be defeated by obedience!
Now only after one year of obeying God in moving we got a major breakthrough in our finances. When we were to buy our house the mortgage company said we would be getting a higher loan rate. I told my spiritual Grandma Bonnie Arris about it and she said, "If God can meet the smaller need, why could He not meet this one?" I thought, "Is God the God of the little and not the big also?" We were soon to find out. One year later we tried to get a lower interest loan and it was turned down twice and I gave up. Then one day a Christian man called me and asked if I was still looking for a loan and said he could possibly help me. At first try we were turned down again, but he would not give up so easily. Then the Lord spoke to me and said that the loan would go through. Now I know when God speaks to me like that, He is saying you are going to fight and not give up! The loan did go through a few weeks later and we found out that our house had gone up in value $12,000 in fourteen months, because we had fixed things up a little.
Now I must tell you if I had done things my own way in Moving to Florida we would be broke! First of all I would not have bought a house because when we first stepped out in faith I was not one hundred percent sure that it was God. It seemed foolish to me! I would have rented a place and said we will wait and see if this is really God or not. I asked the Lord after we had been in Florida a few months why He wanted me to buy a house and He said, "To keep me from moving." I knew I was stuck there and I could do nothing about it. If I would have done things my way, rather than obeying my heart I believe we would be broke today. We now had more equity in our home than we had money when we moved from South Dakota and that money was more than enough to pay for the car we bought last summer. God is truly a rewarder of those who obey Him! Many of the miracles God did may amaze you, and they should. Yet you might be saying, I wish God would do miracles like that for me. He will, but you must be in a place that you would need one! But it happens only through our obedience to Christ. In Genesis 15 God made Abram several promises. Then Abram says to God in verse 8, "O Lord GOD, how may I know that I shall possess it?" In other words he is saying, "How shall this come to pass?" But God responded in a different manner to Abram than one would think, He says to him, "Bring Me a three year old heifer, and a three year old female goat, and a three year old ram, and a turtledove, and a young pigeon" (Gen 15:9).
Notice God does not say to him, “I will send three angels to confirm it or I will cause the sun to go backwards to prove to you what I am saying.” No, God tells him to respond in faith and sacrifice an offering! The miracles of God will come through our faith and obedience to Him. Faith is not just believing for anything; it's believing in God’s faithfulness. No spoken word of God shall be impossible! God is just looking for someone to come into agreement with Him so He can move in a supernatural way. God has chosen to limit Himself on earth to work through people, by prayer and obedience. You must remember that God gave this world to man and man gave it to Satan. In order for God to intervene He must be asked too. When you say to God "Here am I, send me," you just gave Him permission to put you where He wills, then we have to choose to obey.
Every time a financial miracle took place in our lives, it was because we gave according to His leadership. Sometimes it was a lot of money and others a little, sometimes it was everything we had to live on, this truly was a sacrifice and God would honor our trusting Him and Him alone. One day I was walking into my house and I saw two squirrels fighting over the food in the bird feeder and the Spirit of God said to me, "Why are the squirrels fighting over the food?" I said, “Because they think that's all the food there is.” He said, "Is that all the food?" “No I said, there's more in the bag.” He said, "Is that it?" “No I said, there was more at the store and more in the grain bins and there's more in the field and more seed to plant!” Do you see? He said, "If you will get your eyes off of the money in your check book and look at me you will never lack!" This has held true for us to this day, He has not failed us as we were obedient.
Here is a prophecy I received about trusting the Lord,
"I am here, here and now, the Almighty! Must you rely on others? Must you turn elsewhere? I am here, I am with you, trust me! Put all your trust in me so that I can work and move on your behalf. Look at me, look at me I say for your every concern; even the smallest details that you see or that you feel might be insignificant, all that is important to you is so very important to me saith God, so put your trust, put your trust in Me!"
GREATER TIMES OF TESTING
For all that we went through I did not think it could get any worse. But I had to remember, the greater the test, the greater the glory!
Before we left our pastorate in Winner, South Dakota I asked the Lord, "Why are you sending me to Florida?" He said, "To enter the battle," I said, "I thought I was in the battle already?" He said, "No you have only been in training!" This made me really think about what this could mean, for the last twelve years were just training to go into battle, only three of those years would I consider as easy when I was pastoring. A man that knew nothing about this had a vision of me sitting in the back of a military truck and Jesus was driving it through a very muddy road and was going to drop me off to do battle. This was just days before I was to go and start this new work in Intercession City. Some encouragement!
God gives us what we need and when we need it, and God to put us in any work behind enemy lines He has to trust us not to run! In warfare training they have the people take their guns and crawl under barbed wire in the mud and shoot just over their heads. This is to train them not to run when you're under pressure, for if you get up and run you will get yourself shot, and it does happen! We must be able to stay cool under all circumstances. The Lord wants us to remain calm under pressure, faithful to the work He sent us to do, and not confused in battle. Confusion is one of the greatest attacks of the enemy in difficult times because we want everything to make sense to our minds, but our minds can't understand spiritual things so we must just trust ourselves to the Lord's leading. Intellect and reasoning are our enemies!
The Lord spoke to me about leaving work in Intercession City for thirty days and going back to Minnesota. I did not want to do this because it did not make any sense, but He confirmed that I was to do this. Two days before we were to go we were two hundred dollars in the hole, let alone no money to go on the road. But by the time we left the house for Minnesota we had $1000 dollars in hand! That month in Florida was the hottest and driest month ever and we had the greatest fires in the state’s history and we were long gone. God knew how much heat we could take!
I asked the Lord to show me what was going on in my life, He opened up to me the kings that attacked Israel before they were to go into the promised land. King Sihon and king Og found in Deuteronomy 1:4, “After he had defeated Sihon the king of the Amorites, who lived in Heshbon, and Og the king of Bashan, who lived in Ashtaroth and Edrei." Sihon was the first King, his name means, "Tempest." When storms and trials come against us when we are doing God's will, we must not stop, but push on step by step! Remember when we left South Dakota and everything went wrong, storms and trials.
Sihon was the king of Amorite, which means, "Mountainous area." We need to take the high ground and go up and conquer as God has commanded us. Sihon lived in Heshbon, meaning, "Intellect and human reasoning," this is when we want to live by our own understanding and not by what God commands us. This must be overcome!
King Og, meaning "Round," this enemy wants us to go around and around the mountain by causing us to not go forward. Og lived in Ashtaroth, meaning, "Self-seeking for riches." Self-seeking must die before we can go into the Promised Land and take our inheritance, this enemy of self must be overcome! Og also lived in Edrei, meaning, "Power of the flesh," we cannot give into self-promotion. We must wait on God and His power, for it is not by might nor by power, but by my Spirit says the Lord!
When we were in Minnesota that month, I found out that the Spanish Church we were renting from was moving out of the building. I did not know what we were going to do, for I did not have the money to rent it or buy the equipment needed to start a church. For weeks I had been praying for a place to have morning services. When I went to pray about renting the building the presence of the Lord fell on me and gave me the OK to do it. Now the first miracle would be the landlord renting to us for we only were paying $150.00 a month and that was by faith! The landlord agreed to rent to us for that price! But I had no money and I needed $250.00 for a deposit on the electric and water. The day I was to rent the building I became afraid and was not going to rent it for I was barely making it the way it was, let alone more bills. But before I drove out of Intercession City that day the Lord said, "Pay it in faith" and I did for He has never failed us when I obeyed. On that very day a missionary couple from Mission, South Dakota sent us a check for $250.00 to cover our costs!
Now we only needed chairs and an overhead projector and other things. With no money I went out and bought them on my credit card expecting the Lord to pay it, but the money never came at the end of the month to pay the bill! I would not have gone out and charged these items had not the Lord told me that $5000 dollars was on its way. One day before I found out that the building was going to be up for rent and when I asked what the money was for He said Intercession City. Maybe I presumed wrong and the Lord had to teach me a lesson in only buying what He tells me to. I always felt He told me too and that He would meet my needs, are not chairs a need? I am only learning to walk in faith and I find there are many pitfalls!
Almost no money came in that month and I needed to borrow money from my credit card to pay the bills. This hurt, doubt, fear and confusion began their assault on me. What was I to do, go get a job to pay these bills when God has provided so faithfully? No! I must fight it out in faith and believe the word of the Lord, for He has never failed us! One night in the middle of all this the Lord woke me up and said, "I am about to reveal my plan to you, press on and don't quit now!" To press in means to force your way through and this is what we must do, for we have come too far now!
TIME FOR GREATER REVELATION
Just to keep going forward was becoming very difficult for me, the enemy was doing all he could to defeat me in my mind and the pressure was making me feel like there was a thousand pounds on my chest and that my heart was going to stop. One Wednesday night I was at Carpenter's Home Church and Pastor Stephen Strader called someone out in the congregation that felt this weight on their chest and I was the only one to go forward when he said the enemy had to go and he did go!
The pressure of finances was so great on me, like it was work and I had to carry it by myself. Money was needed for my family and the ministry bills and a family was moving down from South Dakota to help us with the school. The couple were some of our most faithful people in our church there. One day in June of 1997 I had a full color vision of them walking to me. Then the Lord said, "I am sending them to help you." I thought maybe it would be right away for I needed all the help I could get. Yet it would be more than a year later before they would come down.
About a month before they came the devil was attacking me greatly by telling me, "You don't even know if you’re going to be here next month and if the money doesn’t come in tell them not to come!" Fear was battling me greatly about them until one night I was driving to Intercession City for a prayer meeting and the satanic on slot was so great on me that I could not handle it anymore and I began crying and weeping uncontrollably. Then the devil said, "Call them and tell them not to come and tell the people tonight that you’re not coming back!" I began to cry out to the Lord at the top of my voice. HELP! HELP! HELP ME JESUS! I felt as if hell itself was trying to swallow me up. Then I remembered reading in the book, Hinds Feet in High Places about how the great Shepherd will come running to deliver us from the enemy. Within a few minutes the attack was off and I could feel His presence again, then Jesus said, "They're gone now!" I knew that we must be on to something really good if the enemy is fighting me so hard.
Now shortly after this I was traveling to North Carolina for my first MorningStar Ministries conference. The first preacher to speak was a man named Wade Taylor. I must be truthful, when he came to the pulpit I was disappointed, because I wanted to hear Rick Joyner speak, but God had different plans. As he got up to speak the anointing fell on me and he had my full attention. He began to tell us how forty years ago he was praying and was caught up in a vision. The Lord told him that he would be the president of Pinecrest Bible Training Center in Salisbury Center, New York one day. He said that ten years later he became the president of this school after it had been closed down some years earlier. Now he really had my attention! Minutes earlier before Wade started to speak I was talking to a man sitting next to me and he asked me about what I was doing in Florida and I told him of the story of Intercession City and when he heard Wade tell the same story that I had just told him about me. He said, “Surely this was no coincidence of you being here.” I thought the same thing!
Wade Taylor started the school some thirty years earlier when it was given to him. To that date they still had ninety students attending, this spoke loudly to God's faithfulness. Wade told me that a man named Bill Britton from Springfield, Missouri helped him start the school, but I had no idea who he was. I thought maybe an Assemblies of God man coming out of Springfield Missouri for that is where the Headquarters of the Assemblies of God is.
For months I had been asking the Lord to show me another school that I was to pattern it after. I felt the Lord saying I was to go up to New York and visit this school. I just happened to have a free airline ticket to go, a few weeks earlier the Lord said to pack my bags because I was going somewhere. A few weeks before this I had a vision given to me that would give me more guidance, I thought at the time, “Here is that vision coming to pass,” even though it was not as I expected it to be, it was still life changing.
I was at a revival meeting one night when I had an open vision. I was in a storm, like a hurricane, it was first coming to land with its wind and darkness as they do. I was then taken above the USA and saw the storm just coming to land, it covered the whole East Coast. As I looked to the northern USA and a storm was coming down from the north, I then looked to the West Coast and a storm was also just coming on to land, then I looked to the south and a storm was coming up from the gulf. I then saw them coming together in the middle of the USA and formed one large hurricane over land, for the entire USA was covered under the darkness of these clouds. I asked the Lord for Scripture on this and He gave me Isaiah 63:4 “For the day of vengeance is in mine heart, and the year of my redemption is come.” I knew that the storms were more than literal rain and wind, but much worse for the nation. There were four hurricanes in the Atlantic at the same time that month, which was a sign of things to come, for this has never been seen before and it was a warning to us of the judgments on all four corners of the USA.
The next day I was reading a book that an older lady named Vinnie had given me by Bill Britton called, Eagle Saints Arise and from this book Ephesians 1:14 jumped out at me. “The Holy Spirit is the earnest down payment of our inheritance until the full redemption of the purchased possession.” Now this book has caught my attention! I had never heard of anybody preaching on the redemption of our bodies, a great revelation was coming to me that changed my whole outlook of the Christian faith and rocked my world! It was the message of The Manifested Sons of God.
Now before I go on with my story I must tell you what happened to me when I first came home with this book from Bill Britton one evening. As I walked into my house I had an open vision of Bill on the throne of God, in which at that time I knew little of nothing of the saints sitting on the throne. But as I saw Bill there he stood up shouting and praising God very exuberantly to my surprise. I then ask the Lord what he was so excited about? The Lord said, “You are going to read his book and you are going to understand it!”
Jesus said in Luke 21:28, “But when these things begin to take place, straighten up and lift up your heads, because your redemption is drawing near.” For we only have the down payment of the Holy Spirit now, but when the fullness of time comes, God will give all of His Spirit to us in great power to become the manifested sons of God. "And not only this, but also we ourselves, having the first fruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting eagerly for our adoption as sons, the redemption of our body” (Rom 8:23). This is what I had seen in my vision of great fire coming upon me with the Lord saying, “I am making my ministers a flame of fire.” As Christian's our best day is coming. We must not be preparing for the tribulation or the rapture, but the coming of His presence of the Lord to change us!
Days before I was to leave on my trip to the Bible School in New York State I was doubting if I was to go, then Bill Britton's wife sent me his teaching books and his autobiography. As I began to read in his autobiography I ran into Wade Taylor's name again, the same Wade Taylor of Pinecrest Bible School wrote an endorsement in this book that was published in 1985! Wade told me in person that Bill Britton helped him start this Bible School by giving him resources, even to his own hurt. Then I knew this was the same man from Springfield.
I asked the Lord, what He was trying to tell me through this all? He said, “I was to trust this man Bill Britton and not be afraid of the doctrines he was teaching about the sons of God.” I would receive other confirmation about this days earlier when a man from MorningStar School of Ministry called me and said he believed that the Lord was calling him down to Florida to help me start this school. I was shocked, for hours he began to tell me that he was teaching the same thing from Bill Britton's teachings and that he wanted to find a place where he could teach these very truths. Truly God's miraculous powers were at work in my life! Even MorningStar Publications had printed some of Bill Britton's articles in their books to confirm to me that Bill Britton was on track with his writings.
A few days after that I felt led to call a Pastor from Alabama that I had met at the MorningStar meetings the first night at the table. He began to tell me that his wife's family was brought up under Bill Britton's teaching at his church in Springfield, Missouri. He said that he was well informed about this teaching and in fact taught it on a regular basis in his church. God had just informed me that morning in prayer that I was to teach this. You see, there are many pitfalls in any new teaching and many had gone astray in pride with this teaching because they thought they were chosen above everyone else to become sons of God. When the Scriptures are very clear that we are all called to “Become sons of God,” for it is a lifelong process. "But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe in his name" (John 1:12).
For weeks and months I had been wondering what the Lord had called this school to be. But now He has made it abundantly clear to me that we were not to be a part of any large organizations or movements, but that He wanted to do something different here in Intercession City. Now some light was coming on to the direction of the training center. None of this was my own planning, in fact, I would have messed it all up if I had known too much! I had to go one step at a time as He revealed things to me because I don't know what to do and I can't figure it out with my own mind. Maybe that's why he chooses fishermen and guys like me!
"For consider your calling, brethren, that there were not many wise according to the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble; but God has chosen the foolish things of the world to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to shame the things which are strong" (1 Corinthians 1:26-27).
I received this prophecy a few weeks earlier from a lady at Carpenter's Home Church that saw ten or twelve doors before me and behind each door she saw great treasures that were going to be opened to me. She said some doors you can go through now, while the others would have to wait. When you talk about riches my mind begins to think about money, but the greatest treasures are not material ones though, they are people and spiritual truths that are given to us. When we seek Jesus and Jesus alone we will receive truth. Because He is the truth and there is no lie in Him!
The Lord said one night after He revealed many of these truths to me, "The treasures we have been receiving from the word is because of our victories over the kings, (Sihon and OG) and these are our spoils, truth! He then said, “The enemy keeps many from their Promised Land when they live in fear and refuse to be overcome by our faith. The truths of the Bible are the greatest riches we can attain in this life and are not easily bought. Many ministers are sidetracked by thinking money is My blessing, when in fact they are only deceived by them. The way of sacrifice in ministry is the way of receiving My treasures (truths) as a miner would suffer as he digs for gold. Look at My servant Paul, did he not receive My riches through beatings and trials? And My Son, did He not overcome the enemy on the cross?" I received confirmation of this word the very next day in my devotional reading in Streams in the Desert on November 3rd.
Great truths are dearly bought, the common truths,
Such as men give and take front day to day,
Come in the common walk of easy life,
Blown by the careless wind across our way.
Great truths are greatly won, not found by chance,
Nor wafted on the breath of summer dream;
But grasped in the great struggle of the soul,
Hard buffeting with adverse wind and stream.
But in the day of conflict, fear and grief,
When the strong hand of God, put forth in might,
Plows up the subsoil of the stagnant heart,
And brings the imprisoned truth seed to the light.
Wrung from the troubled spirit, in hard hours
Of weakness, solitude, perchance of pain,
Truth springs like harvest from the well-plowed field,
And the soul feels it has not wept in vain.
The New Year of 1999 started off very rocky, the bills were piling up on my desk and I was getting nervous. Then I received a letter in the mail from a faithful supporter of the ministry. I was hoping that it was our monthly check of $700 or $800 to pay our bills, but I had a feeling that it was something else other than money. My feelings were right, it was a notice that no more funds were coming from these people, they were going to drop me like a hot potato. It was very disheartening to receive a letter such as this and keep your Christian attitude! But God gave us grace.
A few weeks earlier I was told that the building we were renting was being sold and we had two weeks to vacate the building. I was beginning to question God on whether we were in His will or not. He told me a few months before that I was not to fear bringing my credit card up to $4000. I needed to borrow money from my credit card to pay some of our bills and I made sure that I borrowed up to that amount. I still had the promise from the Lord of the $5000 coming in which He told me seven months earlier, but how and where would this money come from? Things still got worse for us. Joshua broke his finger and that was another $500 that we didn’t have. Then my wife lost her job working for a church the same month, and on top of that our house payment bounced that month! Well, I started getting excited! I knew if I was getting hit this hard something good was in the works and I was not going to lose it by complaining, this would only allow the enemy to steal my blessing. So I said this is our worst month ever, so next month will be our best!
The first of February I received in the mail money I had in a retirement fund. I knew I had money in this account, but they told me last year that I could not take this money out until I was fifty eight years old. I had a personal account with a minister's fund that I wanted to cancel. So I called them up to cancel this account and they said because I was not with the Assemblies of God anymore that I needed to take all my money out. This meant that $5300 was coming to pay off all our bills! God is so good, and it gets better! The ministry was given four acres of land that sold the same week for $5000! On top of that we received $500 that week from some people unexpectedly. How awesome are His tests!
Now let me tell you the rest of the story. When I saw that we needed about $5000 I told the Lord that I must have missed you somewhere and I needed to get a job and pay our bills because the Bible says that one who does not provide for His own, is worse than an unbeliever. So I went looking for a job and had an interview with a company that I could make up to $60,000 a year. Now on Sunday I felt led by the Lord to give in the offering above my tithe as seed faith. Next the pastor said, “If there is anyone here that is sick of your finances, come forward and we will pray for you.” Now this is very humbling, but we were obedient to do so. On Monday this company called me to be at work on Wednesday to see if I would like the job. I told the Lord that if He didn’t come through I would have no choice but to take the job. Within the hour I received the notice that I had this money coming! I must tell you that a few days earlier I cried out to the Lord with everything within me for Him to deliver me and I was heard! Then this verse came to me, "During the days of Jesus' life on earth, he offered up prayers and petitions with loud cries and tears to the one who could save him from death, and he was heard because of his reverent submission" (Hebrews 5:7 NIV). I’m not sure why the Lord does this, but I know that He is never late and we must trust Him with all our hearts as the faithful creator that is doing what is right.
Have you ever heard the saying, “Jumping out of the frying pan into the fire.” Well, that’s what 1999 started out like. As soon as my money problems were taken care of, then I had another major problem on my hands that could have destroyed the whole work. It truly tested the quality of people we had working in the ministry. God had been speaking to me a lot about being in His furnace of fire. "The words of the LORD are pure words; as silver tried in a furnace on the earth, refined seven times" (Psalms 12:6). It takes a lot of time to be tried by fire seven times and we don’t like to wait for the refining to go on that long! But we must if we are to be ministers a flame of fire.
I was excited at first when this minister from MorningStar Ministries said that he was coming down to work with us in the School of Ministry. But then things started to change when I received a phone call from him that he wanted to start another ministry of his own in Intercession City and then he called again a few weeks later saying that he wanted to start his own church. At first I thought that it was ok for him to do this. Just after the first of the year he and his wife moved into their apartment in the area. He immediately wanted to start the School of Ministry and I said he could take Friday nights in his home to start these classes. I came to the first class and I felt like I was not wanted there. Like I was an intruder, for he made the comment after the class that he was surprised that I was even there.
He continued to come to the services and to Bible study nights at other homes and I could feel in my spirit that something was not right between him and I. There was friction in the air and I could not flow as I once did. I found out later that others were feeling the same thing and did not say anything to me. Finally I had a talk about it and he said that he had wanted to have the same part of the services that I did. I said this would not work, for there can only be one leader and that anything that had two heads was a freak! He said that I told him before he moved there that we would work together as one. This is where our misunderstanding started and we could not fix our differences about leadership, so I felt the need for us to go our own ways. I’m not sure why God allows these types of things to take place, for we all prayed about this matter of them moving down here and it didn’t work out. But God’s ways are higher than our ways and we must trust Him that He is working out all things after His own will.
Now I did not know what the other people in our ministry were thinking about me and this ministry that we had started together. Would they leave me also? Did they have faith in my leadership? Some of the people decided to leave and seven stayed. God showed me through a vision that He had now first laid the foundation of the work. I had seen each person there as a huge square cut stone and they all fell into place as a foundation with Jesus being the Cornerstone. The very next day He gave me 1 Kings 6:37, "In the fourth year the foundation of the house of the LORD was laid, in the month of Ziv." The month of Ziv is the month of May, the same month that all this transpired. Now the building could go up! God does not build out of physical stones, but out of living ones.
I wrote earlier about my first vision in 1995 of me standing before an African people. Now let me tell you the rest of that story.
In that same vision I saw myself on a stage preaching to people and a man came forward and I grabbed his hand and prayed for him and the power flowed through him and into all the people. In 1999 this vision was fulfilled when I went to Africa.
In May of 1999 I began receiving emails from the country of Nigeria, a pastor named Augustine received my email address from Becky Britton. I asked if he wanted me to come to Nigeria and he said yes. At that moment the presence of the Lord fell on me and I felt in my heart I was to go. But how and when was I to go? As I prayed about it the Lord said, “October.” So I planned the trip and started telling people about it to see if anyone would like to go with me. I could not find anyone that was interested, so I said to God if no one goes with me, I can’t go either. I said Jesus sent them out two by two. He said, “You will not be there by yourself, but with other Christians from Africa. I said I would go and the money began to come in for the trip. This was a good feeling, but money for the other daily needs fell off at this time. So my plans were set, I was finally going to Africa to fulfill this vision. Then things began to change!
You see, I had two visions of Africa, the first one I told you about, but in 1997 I had another vision while I was in New Mexico. This time I saw several countries from the north to the south of Africa where I was to go. I saw the continent of Africa and I was taken into the spirit above two countries that I was to go to. But I did not know anyone from these countries. Now after four years I have received invitations from these two countries. Two months before I was to leave for Nigeria the Spirit of the Lord spoke strongly to me that I was to go through the doors that He had opened for me. The very next day I received a letter from a pastor from Malawi. This is in southern Africa and Nigeria is in the north. I looked on the map and these were the countries that I had seen in my vision two years prior, then I knew this was God’s will for me. But again, how? I found out years before if you wait to see how, you will never go. I knew all I had to do was keep walking forward to the goal and it would just happen. It may sound like a crazy way to live, but it works when you trust God!
My first thought was how could I make plans to go to Malawi with such short notice, he did not have email, but he did have a phone and fax number. So I called and could not get a hold of him and I needed to buy my plane ticket right away. So I said to God, “If you want me to go there I will, but this pastor must call me tomorrow!” At four o’clock in the morning the phone rings and it is the pastor asking me to come to Malawi. Now I knew this was God’s will for me and I would need all these confirmations to keep me sane while I was over there all by myself. Now I needed three thousand dollars in three weeks to do what God called me to do. How would this all work out with my wife working as a 911 operator for the county at night and me gone for this long of a time? I had to leave all these questions with God.
The week arrived for me to leave and I had not received my visa from Nigeria yet. I tried for several weeks to get my application for a visa and they would not send me one out. Then finally I got one off the Internet and I sent it in one month before I was to go and I did not hear anything back from them. So I called them two weeks before I was to leave and they said, “We do not have your passport!” Good thing I sent it certified mail, for the post office said they had delivered it. The Nigerian Embassy lost it! What was I to do now, is this God telling me not to go or was this an attack from the enemy? I was sure I heard from God about going on this trip, so I chose to fight. I thought of a friend that I knew in New York City that worked in the Irish Embassy, I had met him nine years earlier, but would he remember me and would he help me out? I just happen to have a phone number from nine years ago, would it work? Yes! He remembered me and said he would help me out by going there, it took him three days to go down to the Nigerian Embassy and he got my passport back and sent it to me the next day, just two days before I was to leave! The day came for me to leave and God came through with everything that I needed, including an eighteen year old girl that would take care of our children at night.
As I flew into Nigeria I thought to myself, “What have I gotten myself into?” For I had not even talked with this pastor, for we only communicated by email, I tried to phone him many times, but could not get through because of their poor phone system. When I walked outside the airport at ten in the evening and I hoped the pastor would still be there, then I saw a sign with my name and these people came up to greet me. I took one look at them and said to myself, “This is going to be alright!” They seemed to be some of the nicest people I ever met. My trip to Nigeria went very well, I felt so sorry for the people because the military rulers had just raped the country and took all their wealth for themselves. But thank God they just had their first election and a born again Christian man was elected as president that year. Whatever hardships that I had to go through there my host pastor and his wife made it right for me for it was one of the hardest nations for me to have preached in.
Next my trip to Malawi went well, except for a little greed working in the hearts of the people that worked with me, it was very refreshing. I have found that in many countries that I go into most pastors are wanting my money rather than the true wealth of God’s word, but God still moved by His Spirit and lives were changed.
On my return to the United States I did not know what the Lord was going to have me do, for He told me that I was not to go back to St. Cloud, Florida for meetings. All doors seem closed and there was little money coming in to pay the bills. When I was gone I was already in debt $2,000 on my credit card. What was I to do? The first day back my friend Vinnie called about me coming to Kissimmee, Florida for Bible study. How was I to pay the bills with only one small Bible study a week, I didn’t know, all I knew was that I had to keep going forward no matter what. I thought for a while that I had lost my way and I asked the Lord for some road signs to show me that I was on the right path. Just like that God began to show me that I was going the right pathway. Thank God for confirmation!
THERE NEEDS TO BE A RESURRECTION
It has now been eight months since we started meeting at Vinnies house in Kissimmee and there is only her and I meeting together on a regular basis, all others have left for one reason or another. It is hard to see something dying, I have seen several people dying of cancer or others that are in a coma and it is difficult to pull the plug! We had a saying in South Dakota, "If the horse is dead it doesn't pay to keep kicking it, it's dead!" These meetings in Kissimmee are not dead spiritually, they're just dead from anyone wanting to come. We have had great meetings there and people would testify about what the Lord has done for them, but I think the word is too strong and it chokes them, even though I tried to cut it up into little pieces. Now after almost three years of having meetings out there we must let it die and wait for the Lord to resurrect it, unless there is death there can be no resurrection! I have been thinking about getting a job to help out with our finances, so I went to apply at an insurance company and I took their tests. As I was taking the tests I was praying, "Oh God if I am not to be here please let me fail this and I did!" At the time of this writing, May 17, 2000, I needed to know His will for me to leave the Kissimmee Bible study and I was at the end of myself and could not go on. So that night I went down to Lake Gibson by the Carpenters Home Church with a heavy heart and here's what happened. I know that I have already shared this once already, but I feel the need to share this life changing experience again just as Luke wrote about Paul’s Damascus road experience three different times in the book of Acts for good reason.
As I was sitting on the dock God’s presence began to envelop me, I then saw Jesus come to me walking across the water and through the waves. He said to me, "Do you want to go up higher?" I said, “Is there more?” Then He said, "Yes My glory." "YES I do want this!" He then said, "Follow me." After this an angel came with a container of water. Then Jesus said, "Cup your hands." As I did the angel filled them up and Jesus said, "Now wash your face." Then Jesus said again, "Cup your hands." Then He said, "Now drink!" I said, “What is this?” He said, "My cup!" And then they were gone from my sight.
His cup is one of suffering, "But Jesus answered and said, "You do not know what you are asking for. Are you able to drink the cup that I am about to drink?" They said to Him, "We are able. He said to them, "My cup you shall drink;" (Matthew 20:22-23a). In order for me to attain His glory I would have to follow Him wherever He goes, through suffering and without complaining. This now is my lot in life if I want to attain the high calling of God in Christ Jesus to enter His glory. It was an offer that I could not refuse and am still willing to pay any price of following the Lamb wherever He goes unto my death! A short time after this the Lord told me to drive down to Lake Okeechobee which is about a three hour drive south from where I lived. He never said why, just that I was to do it. When I arrived, I parked by the large lake and could not see across it because it was so large so I just looked over the beautiful water not knowing what I was there for. I then went back into the car just waiting on the Lord and starting to feel a little bit stupid for being there and wasting my time and money in which I did not have much of. All of a sudden a large basket of pretty red rubies appeared in the seat next to me and I said, “What are they for?” He said, “The red ruby represents trials, tribulations, and suffering that you have come through and are going through and will go through. They are given as a token of the price paid and will be yours forever.
During this time of waiting on the Lord for what He wanted me to do next I felt led to go to the closed down Bible College properties by Intercession City to pray on Sunday mornings. At first I felt foolish for going over there and praying because it seems so impossible and was this really from God? But each time I went there God's presence would meet me in a powerful way. I felt the Lord said to go over there for seven weeks. On the fourth Sunday that I was to go over there I didn’t get going until eleven in the morning so I said it was too late because I must be back by one. The Lord spoke strongly for me to go and I only had a little gas in my van and no money again, but I said Lord if this pleases you I'll go. As I started praying the Lord met me even in a greater presence that day. Why? I guess just to say you have done my will. As I was there praying I felt the Lord say to me, "Now is the time for you to have this property." Great and unusual joy swept over my spirit for at least one hour. But to be honest with you I still felt foolish, but I had peace in my heart.
On Tuesday of that same week I met for breakfast an Evangelist that said he had just read a great book called: "Redigging the Wells of Revival," He said, "I think you need to read it." So we went to the bookstore and they could not even get the book, so he let me read his. As I read the book's first chapter it brought confirmation to me about some things the Lord had shown me some years earlier. The book really had my attention when the writer started to write about how a Bible College had been closed down in California and a man felt led by the Lord to pray for the place that it might become a Bible School again. After thirteen years of praying for it, one time for a whole entire week of praying on the property. And then they did Jericho marches and other things around it and God gave it to them. Now this brought me great encouragement that I was certainly not crazy, but was in the will of God and doing what I was called to do. So that week I went out to the Bible School and drove in a wooden stake and claimed the property once again. As soon as I got out of the car the anointing hit me, and again I knew this is truly my calling to be there. How God is going to turn that property over to me I don't know, but nothing is impossible with God!
In that same week when all this was happening I received a prophetic letter from an older lady that I did not know personally. It said in it twice, "ALL IS OF ME!" I had been asking the Lord for several weeks, "Is this of you!" I guess this was a direct answer from God, but it did not seem to help for long. There were so many questions about how we are going to make it with no job and no money? Unbelief was setting in and God didn't like it! He gave me a verse in Psalms 95 that talks about Israel being in unbelief, and said that is how I am! I have seen the power of God deliver me over and over and still my heart was as hard as theirs was. I did repent and ask the Lord to forgive me and help my unbelief.
It is now the New Year of 2001; we are sitting with $4,500 of debt again and I have no idea how I will get this mounting debt paid for because I was not working a job or preaching much. When I would pray about it the Lord would say, "Just a little further." I could not figure out how any great amounts of money could come in, and this troubled me. Then we got our taxes done earlier than ever and had our tax money in hand by the second week of February in the amount of $3,200. God came through again for us! Now we could breathe and continue on down the road in this spiritual journey with the Lord, on to what? I didn't know. Why the Lord continues to deliver us I was not sure. But Paul's words spoke volumes to me that day, "Indeed, we had the sentence of death within ourselves in order that we should not trust in ourselves, but in God who raises the dead; who delivered us from so great a peril of death, and will deliver us, He on whom we have set our hope. And He will yet deliver us" (2 Corinthians 1:9-10).
Of all the things that God has promised us in Scripture, no greater thing to me is His promise of His fullness in our lives, that I desire most, this one thing alone burns in me and whatever price I have to pay for it in obedience to God makes no difference. He will help me pay it! It is 2023 and I am sixty one years old as I rewrite this and I can tell you that I am so glad that I did not quit, it has been quite a journey with God that has been so exciting that if it had been told me what was going to happen in the later years I would have probably said, “I don’t believe it!” Never stop following Jesus because it will be worth it, I promise, even though it might not turn out the way you thought, God’s will, will be done in your life and that is all that really matters anyway.
THE HARDER YEARS
In 2001 the Internet had been one of my greatest battles that I have had to face other than just trusting God for whatever He may have in my life. I could see very little good in my human nature and wanted to give up and to be honest with you, I would have rather died for there was not much encouragement about our future, our marriage, and the ministry. The thought of killing myself came to mind but I did not want to take a chance of going to hell so that was out of the question so all I could do was drag out another day hoping to make it to the end of the day. Most days I felt as if I was just holding on with my fingernails.
I had been on the Internet for about five years before it gave me any problems. Then a friend of mine started emailing me through the day and I would look for them several times a day to write back. The Internet was just dial up back then and it took time and became addicting to me and a change of pace. Because of being in my study many hours a day this was an easy escape from the routine, but Satan would use it as a trap for me. It became a habit for me to be online and even an excitement would fill my being when connecting and hearing the sound. There is a reason why they call it the Web, it’s a trap for many Christians, some polls are saying that as many as one in five ministers are hooked on Internet pornography, for pornography was then emailed to most people by the pornographers. This is a great temptation for most men, I also have had this spirit pull on me and the best thing I could do was get the Internet out of my house so that it would not be a bother to me. The Internet was pulling on the man of sin in my heart and the flesh cannot please the Father. My greatest joy is to please the Father and there is nothing more that pleases Him than for me to be like Jesus. "But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh in regard to its lusts" (Romans 13:14).
The greatest test then seemed to be just waiting on God and what He would have me to do. There is no ministry open to me right now and it is very difficult to understand why I must go through this. No weekly check coming in for me and the bills keep coming monthly, I hated borrowing money and then paying it off later, even though most of the bills were paid. But even in this I must learn contentment and learn to trust that God was leading my life and that He is working something far deeper in me then I can understand at the time.
By April 15, 2001, I had two visions I thought I should write down. In the first one I saw a two-way lane go into four and then I saw myself walking from the desert into lush green grass.
For months I had entered into a new realm of fire in the spirit that I was not sure of, then the Lord gave me understanding. Several times He has told me to read Isaiah 62. When I read it, it was a great blessing, but I did not fully understand why and what the Lord was speaking to me. Then the next day I ask the Lord about the level of His continuous presence in my life. I felt led to read The Pilgrim's Progress book again and I saw as they got to Beulah Land there they were in a great time of refreshing before they went into the river to die completely to self. They too were in a lush field and a highway that had been opened to them. Then that same day I read Paul Mueller’s article and he gave me more understanding from his writings of 1-1-96. The timing of this had to be from the Lord! He wrote that Beulah is a realm in the spirit that we all must attain to, (In which I now see as the bridal chamber where we prepare for our wedding of our soul and spirit becoming one with our Lord). All of these writers used Isaiah 62 to confirm what the Lord had given me. This is the place of preparing to be married to the Lord, that’s what Beulah means: "Married," this earth (our body) becoming one with Jesus, this is the fullness we all so desire. Then the Lord reminded me of the word He gave me in 1985 in the tax preparers office: "And I will betroth you to Me forever; Yes, I will betroth you to Me in righteousness and in justice, in loving kindness and in compassion, and I will betroth you to Me in faithfulness. Then you will know the LORD" (Hosea 2:19-20). Here is the Christian Standard Bible, “I will take you to be my wife forever. I will take you to be my wife in righteousness, justice, love, and compassion I will take you to be my wife in faithfulness, and you will know the Lord.” To know the Lord is to know Him as a man knows his wife in oneness. As the Pilgrims Progress book put it, Beulah Land was the place where the marriage contract was renewed. One week later I was looking at a map of Lakeland, Florida and there jumped out at me a lake named, "Beulah!" Then the very next day I saw a one hundred year old lady on TV with the name, "Beulah!" A few days later I heard a preacher speaking on "Beulah." I now know that surely this place I am in is, "Beulah land!" But one thing I must tell you, Beulah Land for the pilgrims was a place of preparation to cross the river before dying to the flesh. What does this all mean? I'm not sure yet, but one thing I know is that God always prepares us for what is coming ahead of us. He is faithful if we will just trust Him!
At that time in my life I didn’t know if I had ever been better in all my life! I don't know if I had ever felt His presence as I had in those months, it is continuous. I believe the Lord is doing this to show me that was His will for my life right now being closer to Him than ever before even if it all goes against my flesh to sit here and write His messages, rather than preach them, but there seems to be no end to the revelation that He was giving me. I fought with the Lord greatly over this in my spirit and then I got a word from two people a week apart that did not know me, and I was convinced that this was the Lord's will for my life.
I had a call today 3-24-2001 from an older lady that I did not know, her name was Nellie Langford.
She had a word for me that went like this, "I am well pleased with you, I have my hand upon you at this time, you are farther along than you realize. Now is the time when you must spend lots of time with me that you might come up higher and be changed. It will take many hours in my presence for this to come to pass.”
Many things would vie for my time and I must fight them. That same day that the word came I read in Paul Mueller’s writings, "God has had people cut off from fellowship and put them into their tabernacle or cocoon to have fellowship with God in spirit. So that He can give us more truth that others cannot receive. This is the mature path to sonship!" He goes on to say, "When the Lord calls us out He is then fulfilling the primary aspect of Tabernacles in our lives. God is preparing us for greater glory, a glory that can only come when we have experienced that intimate and secluded communion with God in Spirit. "But I have been the LORD your God since the land of Egypt; I will make you live in tents again, as in the days of the appointed festival" (Hosea 12:9 NAS).
April 5, 2001, a word by Bonnie Franklin
She began to break off discouragement and said, these writings are of Me, even as Paul wrote most of his writing in prison and I used them, so I can use your writings. Write! For this is what I called you to for now, sit at your keyboard and write! Don't say that you can't do this, for this is what I have for you now. Write the book and I will bring it around the world. She knew nothing of my writings.
September 7, 2001, just days before 9/11.
Even though I have had these great words of encouragement I still found it very difficult to believe after so much time had passed and the fire upon me continues to burn daily and I felt that my writings came from the heart of God. It seems so routine even though His presence is so continuous and is not boring, but sometimes I wondered, “Is this really you God?” Yet I know that if this presence would now leave me it would be very difficult as it would be for a drug addict to quit using. A friend of mine called to tell me that she was reading Madame Guyana's autobiography and she too felt the fire of God on her arms and felt as if she was living out of the spirit realm of God. And I too must say, it is as if heaven is now opened unto me at any time, for I sense Him at all times, but the door of hell seems to be open at the same time and if I wanted to go into darkness the enemy would be more than willing to give me a free ride into hell itself! For even as Madame Guyon said that the suffering and temptation was very great. We choose to press on this highway to the fullness of Christ!
Money problems and the pressures of life seemed to only worsen with the USA economy worsening with the September 11, bombing. Only a few hundred dollars comes in a month now for the ministry and one supporter said that they do not have much money coming in and will not be able to help us with their $200.00 a month support. We were regularly $500 short a month the way it was and had to use the credit card to make ends meet. We were over $5000.00 in the hole again and our checkbook is in the hole this time also and the pressure to do something to make money was great, but every time I try to get a job the door slams right in my face that has good potential. Then when I thought about getting a job I became totally depressed. On Monday August 13, 2001, I had a vision, and I saw a tongs like instrument go into a fiery kiln and pull out a chair that was blackened and crusty. The Lord said, "I am pulling you out of the kiln." (Meaning my time in the hardening fires is finished). I said, "What does the chair mean?" He said, "My throne, now watch what I do with it." So now we wait and see how He shines it up! "Behold, I have refined thee, but not with silver; I have chosen thee in the furnace of affliction" (Isaiah 48:10 KJV). "For many are called, but few are chosen" (Matthew 22:14 KJV). Even though my path seems to be still going the wrong way, I trust the Shepherd's word of promise that He will lead me into the high places as it was confirmed to me in the book Hinds Feet on High Places page 116 "Now thou shall see what I will do!"
When I asked the Lord what to do, He said, "You are almost there." Where is there? I think of the Bob Jones prophecy for me of coming through the mind field at midnight into the plan that God has for us. When I choose to say, "I trust your will Lord," great peace and joy come to my heart as if nothing was wrong and I know that if I have missed God in this direction that I am choosing to go on could bring real hardships on me and my family. But I must stick with my motto for life, "To Hear His Voice Is To Know His Presence" "And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body; and be thankful" (Colossians 3:15 NASB).
However, to climb in the high places of truth has proved to be much more difficult than what I first thought, I have found it to be very lonely at times with very few people around that desire the deeper things of God. But I guess that there are not too many people hanging around on the mountaintops are there? The Lord told me about two years ago that it would be a lonely place with few people wanting to be with me as illustrated in the books, The Pilgrim's Progress and Hinds Feet in High Places and this has come to pass. Now I just must keep my face upward into the high places until the Lord opens up the way back into the valley to help others to come out of the lies and the deceptions of the enemy into the high places.
The Lord has begun to reveal to me very clearly that He had prepared me for the high places of truth years ago, when He said to me in September 1998, "I am ready to take you up to the high places." But I did not understand such spiritual language as to what the "High Places" were until I read for the third time Hinds Feet in High Places when she said: "Sometimes, as she looked on the glorious panorama visible from these lowest slopes (truths) in the Kingdom of Love, she found herself blushing as she remembered some of the dogmatic statements which she and others had made in the depths of the valley about the High Places and the ranges of Truth (deeper truths). They had been able to see so little and were so unconscious of what lay beyond and above. If that had been the case down in the valley, how much more clearly, she now realized, that even up on those wonderful slopes (deeper truths) she was only looking out on a tiny corner of the whole.
She began to understand quite clearly that truth cannot be understood from books alone or by any written words, but only by personal growth and development in understanding, and that things written even in the Book of Books can be astonishingly misunderstood while one still lives on lower levels of spiritual experience (truths) and on the wrong side of the grave on the mountains.
She perceived that no one who finds herself up on the slopes of the Kingdom of Love can possibly dogmatize (be opinionated) about what is seen there, because it is only then that she comprehends how small a part of the glorious whole she sees. All she can do is to grasp with wonder, awe, and thanksgiving and to long with all her heart to go higher and to see and understand more. "Lord, that I might receive my sight! Help me to open myself to more light. Help me to fuller understanding" (End of quote).
In August of 1998 the Lord woke me up and said to me, "I am about ready to reveal my plan to you, don't quit now, but press on!" Even though at that time I thought it was the plan for ministry, yet God wanted to give me the plan of the ages! His plan and purpose throughout the ages is (Sonship), for Him to have a holy priesthood of believers, a holy nation that He could bless and judge the world through, which was in the likeness of His Son, Jesus.
I was preaching in a church in South Dakota and a lady said she had a word for me. She took my arm as she was standing on the stage and I stood on the floor and said the word of the Lord is, "Come up higher, come up higher Dan!" She then pulled me up on stage. She said the Lord knows you can't do it on your own, but the Lord will pull you up! It will not happen the way you think it will but I am to trust the Lord to bring it to pass, for now is the time. Then another confirming word was mailed to me a few days later from a seventy year old woman that I did not know. "God will bring you into a higher realm of experience and revelation because I seek for truth." Even as I received all these conformations that the Lord was inviting me into the high places with Him as He did Moses. I still did not comprehend what it all meant and why I was still suffering so much in my finances, for this was a great stumbling block for me. In October of 2001 I had a vision of myself standing on top of a mountain and was ready to go back down in the valley. And the song of the water came to me from Hinds Feet in High Places, "Lower still, lower still we must go!"
But how difficult it was for me to see these wonderful truths of God's word before this, because they went against all that I was taught in the religious church. Certainly they were the high places because so few people are willing to climb up and go against the established religion of the day because they do not want to be looked down upon in their Christian walk by others. God had to confirm these truths to me in many ways for me to really be at peace and receive them fully from Him. God had set up my path so that I would run into people that had the same message that He had given me. Now that He has given me His plan for the ages, I was told to write and wait and see what He would do. So through faith and patience we wait for His revealing through me to show me the next step!
Now that I have finished writing many books, I know that this must be of God because I could never do this on my own. He has given me many great hidden truths that I had asked God for. Yes, I must continue to write the word of the Lord to fulfill His purpose for my life as I was told in several prophecies many years before that I would do things that I didn't even know how to do. It was a great turning point in my life when I spoke with Rick Joyner about his writings, he said that he had to go over his writings four times and then let others edit them. This gave me encouragement that I could write what was in my heart, even though I made so many mistakes.
The prophecy I received on December 31, 1996, from Jerry Bernard, "You have a lot in you that has not even been tapped yet, God is going to take it out of you, so get ready it is about to happen, it is your season for the double inheritance to come!" The word did not make sense to me then, but now it does. Now I know that this word was from God and that what God has placed inside of me since the foundation of the world was now coming out, how exciting! But how difficult! Temptations and trials seem to be at every corner to try my faithfulness to God. Even all the years prior to these great truths being revealed to me had been hard, but they were only for preparation so that I could stand now. God is so wise and merciful!
I shudder to think that if I had not moved to South Dakota and then Florida in obedience and paid the price both physically and monetarily, God could not have entrusted me with these truths. If I had not gone to Intercession City to minister to a few people I would not have met Vinnie who gave me Bill Britton's books. It has all been a process of obedience! If we, then He, will give us the hidden treasures in the secret place! Even leaving the Assemblies of God and finally the organized church was a part of God's plan and purpose of sacrifice for my life at the time so that He could give me His eternal treasures of His word, by placing them into my heart and not my head. Jesus said in Luke 16:11, "If therefore you have not been faithful in the use of unrighteous mammon, who will entrust the true riches to you?" I was willing and faithful to invest my life and lifesaving into moving and giving into what God had for me. Yes, I am truly rich in the treasures of His word and experiences and I am willing to give it to all those who hunger and thirst for truth. When I look back years ago when He told me about the Bible Training Center I was still a babe in my Scriptural understanding. I cannot imagine what else He will reveal to me about Himself throughout eternity! But somehow I believe that all that He has given me is for the purpose of the school and to keep me in the difficult times. Oh how unfathomable are His ways!
A TIME OF RESURRECTION
A turn of events had taken place in my life over the last few weeks of 2001. Out of total despair I cried out to the Lord to open a door by noon to help me. Within minutes the phone rang, it was a towing company, called, "Autobody Resurrection!" It was a miracle for anyone to call me to work for them, but to be named, "Resurrection" I knew it had to be prophetic and that God must be trying to speak to me about Him resurrecting something in my life. To make a long story short, this job only lasted six days. That is the number of man! Then I felt I was to apply at UPS after sixteen years of leaving there and they hired me as a temporary employee for Christmas. This fulfills the promise of the Lord to me in May 1986, "I will open the door back up to you for UPS." This came to pass sixteen years later, November 27, 2001! What a God we serve, He does not forget His promises, He is the resurrection!
The lack of money and not knowing what I was to do for the last five years was the fire that God was using in my life. I knew this was about to change, but when and how much longer would I have to wait? I was again in debt $5,500 with no hope of being out of debt anytime soon. God uses many different circumstances in our lives to get us where He wants us to be. If He would not let us do different things we would not be content to stay where He wants us to be. Or if we would not dislike what we were doing by crying out to Him to change our circumstances we would just be content to stay in the same old place without having to move on to new territory.
Six months later my circumstances finally changed for the better in a way that I did not quite expect. I received a job at an auto parts store that I really enjoyed and it took the pressure of finances off me. When I was hired to work at the store the Lord said loudly to me, "Six months" when I was on the phone with the manager. I did not know what that meant. So six months passed and they wanted me to be a part of the management team. Also I had been seeking the Lord on what I was to do after six months and then that I had a dream precisely on the six-month date. The day was the beginning of the Feast of Tabernacles. The dream was about my wife and I as we were standing before a lady that was sitting by a table and she was prophesying over people. I grabbed both of her hands and said loudly in desperation, "I have got to hear from the Lord on what He wants me to do!" She then got very excited and stood up and said, "In 99 days the Lord has something very special for you!" She said this twice and I awoke. The date of December 23, 2002 would be the 99th day.
But still after a few months at the store I still had a large debt on my credit card. Then some friends of mine received a check for $259,000 in the mail and sent me $6,000 to pay off my credit card. How good and great is our God! Finally I was out of the fires of debt and hoped that the Lord would not have me there again, but the trials would go on in other areas of my life, like waiting in hope!
I had another vision about one year later in August of 2002. I saw a large loaf of bread being pushed out of an oven or cooling area by a man that was about half the size of the loaf. I then heard these words, "The cake is baked." I wonder why the word "Cake" was used rather than "Bread." The shape of the pan was that of a bread pan and that the words rhymed. Does it mean that I am fully baked and cooled enough for the Lord to feed me to the nations? I hope so! The word cake and bread is used interchangeably in the Bible. The Holman's Dictionary says, (Cake) a term referring more to the shape of a loaf of bread (flat and round) than to the type of batter or dough used to make the loaf. "And out of the basket of unleavened bread, which was before the LORD, he took one unleavened cake, and a cake of oiled bread, and one wafer, and put them on the fat, and upon the right shoulder" (Leviticus 8:26 KJV).
I had a saying years ago that I was to be bread for the nations. I asked the Lord for a sign that He had spoken this to me and Joshua came home with a golden eagle necklace that he had found and gave it to me saying this is for you dad. It was a sign! I now must wait again to see what the Lord will do on the 99th day!
Well, 99 days have come and gone with things happening. My garage was finished on that day which I have waited for six years! The incredible timing of God on this project was awesome and stunning from the beginning because I did not have any plans of finishing the garage. I know you might be thinking how could a garage have anything to do with the plan of God for me? But it does! It all has to do with trusting His timing.
You see, I was just going to cement a small area that was not cemented under my carport that the people before me built. But as I got started cementing one thing went into another and there I was putting walls up to finish the garage that these people had started years ago. I had never tried to finish it because I never had the money to do it. A man from the auto parts store drove a cement truck and said he could give me some free cement that was left over so I could then cheaply finish the uncemented areas. I waited for weeks for him to come, but he never came with the cement! So I found another cement truck driver that said he would come over when he had extra cement and he came over that very day! I was gone and my wife could not get a hold of me to come to the house. I was furious that God would allow him to come over the very day I was gone! I had been praying daily that he would come and save me $300 for the cement. Finally I settled down and began to praise the Lord for His goodness and timing of all things in my life.
To make a long story short, I had to pay for the cement and do it myself, but I got the courage and faith to finish the rest of the garage with the help of my sons. I knew one day before I was to finish the garage that this was the great surprise that the Lord had for me by answering my prayer for six years. I was truly amazed and excited at what we did with His help and grace! The final cost was just over $2000! Now that was a miracle because a new garage built by others would have been over $10,000.
Now, how could a garage have anything to do with the plan of God for me? His timing is everything! There was no way that I would have even started the garage because of our lack of money, but God in His wisdom led me and gave me the strength and wisdom to do what needed to be done. If I had gotten the cement too early the garage would have been done weeks before the 99th day. And even as God woke me up years before to tell me that my friend Mark would sell their home in one hundred days so God was giving me a great blessing in His timing. Through this I could trust God with His timing on the Bible Training Center and ministry that He has promised to give me. Even though at this time of writing in 2003 I am not preaching anywhere nor are any people ordering any of my five books to read. The garage has been a great encouragement for me even when nothing at all seems to be happening in the ministry. Surely this year has been a time of resurrection for our finances. Thousands of dollars have come in the first three months of the year to pay off all our debts and to buy something for the house that we have waited six years to get.
Yet I must say that the fellowship with God and the revelation of His word is not what it was when I was in the fires of financial troubles. Yet there are seasons in our lives that we must go through to get to harvest season. We love it when things are all going right in the natural, but I don’t think we grow as much spiritually in it. Hard times grow people and good times grow things! When I was in the hard times I thought about how this could be God. Yet now I wonder about these good times, maybe this isn’t God because I’m not suffering? I called this the Madame Guyon syndrome! God’s closeness is better than anything this world can afford! Yet God gave me a vision about me coming out of the fires and I must be content in this as well as in the hard times. This being our seventh year in Florida is proving to be a turning point for our money problems, but I still can’t wait till God gives us the Bible school that He has promised. At this time the Lord spoke to me again about money saying, “You have passed the test with lack, now you must be tested with much.” I was not sure what that all meant, but certainly I would find out!
MY GREATEST SUFFERING
In 2003 I would go through a divorce after being with Vicki for twenty six years and together since I was sixteen. This was probably the worst experience of my life. I will not get into the details for many reasons, yet many good and difficult things did come into my life.
On October 31, 2003, a word and vision came to me from the Lord at a Rodney Howard Brown meeting in Lakeland, Florida. As I was worshipping the Lord, His presence overshadowed me like a tabernacle, even though there were thousands of people there. He said, "Do you believe that I am working in your life?" I then had visions of what I had gone through and was now going through in my own heart. I started to cry and break up inside and I said to Him, "No I don't!" He then said, "I am!" In doubt I replied, "I cannot believe that!” He said, “Believe it because I am.” I said, "I believe Lord!" I then had a vision of a small sailboat and as I focused on it, it was just a toy sailboat! He said, "This is what your ministry looks like now." He then began to blow on it and it started to move and as it moved it began to grow in size as it was coming toward me, until it was a large ship, then the vision ended.
COMING INTO THE LIGHT
It’s now 2006 and I’m still not like Jesus! But I have not given up hope that one day I will be changed into His likeness by His grace and mercy. God has been so good to me by giving me of His presence, in fact today He sent His angel to ride in the truck with me to bless me. All I can say is that God’s presence is worth more to me than anything that the world can come up with! I have had two angelic visitations of late, but before I tell you this, I must tell you the rest of the story.
Several years ago I was in north Florida and was driving through a small town where a friend's grandfather was a part of the Methodist Church there. We stopped there and I said, “It’s just an old church, why stop?” We turned around and I sat outside talking with an older gentleman and was told to come into the church. As I came into the sanctuary from the back of the building I was smitten by the power of God and I said, “God is in this place!” When I said this the power of God hit us and we were on the floor with holy laughter and I could not stand any longer because the presence of the Lord was so strong and I just laid out on the floor in the presence of God. As I was there for a long time I asked the Lord, “What does this mean?” He said that “He was not done with the Methodist Church and He was going to revive it.”
Then one summer later we were on a trip up the East Coast of the United States and were visiting the old cities of America and we were driving by Savanna, Georgia and I said why not stop here for we have never been there before. It was getting late so we had to make a quick stop and as we were finishing up our walk through the city it was already dark and we walked right into John Wesley’s statue! He was the founder of the Methodist Church and he came to America to preach the gospel and landed in Savanna to start his first church, which I did not know. Was this a sign from God? Yes, because at that very time I was reading a book written by him and I believe that God was confirming His word to me about the Methodist Church. That experience stuck with me for many days to say the least.
I remarried a second time to a Christian lady and divorce one year later when she felt we were not to be together. I then felt my life and surely my ministry was over after moving to Kissimmee and then moving back to Lakeland again. I felt like a complete failure and that my life was over as I knew it, but God was not through with me yet and He certainly did not give up on me!
I moved back in with my friend Richard from Lakeland because I had nowhere else to go. If you remember I wrote about it that I had a vision of Richard and Vicki Jelinek walking to me and the Lord said, “They are coming to help you.” A few weeks later they moved from South Dakota. I had no idea that Richard would get divorced also and that I would have to move in with him! He was a true friend and helped me out of my difficulties until I could get through the second divorce and get back on my feet. But weird things began to happen, like, when I was moving back my stomach jumped twice within me like I was carrying a baby and a voice said, “You are going back to Kissimmee!” I thought that was odd! Now I look back and understand that God had to do that because my faith was so low and I thought that I had missed God and He was not interested in me for ministry. Sometime later I dreamt that I was with my former wife and we were walking on some of the most beautiful green grass, even lush fields and the next thing all around us was filled with the black water but we were on a strip of green grass untouched by any waters. I woke up in shock as what was so nice was destroyed! We were walking on green grass in our marriage and the enemy came in like a flood and tried to take us out, but God raised up a standard against him and we are safe.
When I was living and working in Kissimmee I always felt like I was at home there. When I drove up in the driveway of our house I was home. But when I moved away it was only a place to stay, like I was visiting and when I would go to my old home where the children were, that was not home either. One night before I was going to work the Lord said to me, “You’re going home to Kissimmee!” I thought that God meant I am going back to be with my former wife. When I went to work the first song to come out of the radio was “I’m going home!” I thought that was enough confirmation for me and then a preacher came on the radio and he was preaching about, “Going home.” I sure did hear from God! But we were divorced and I had no way of going back to Kissimmee on my little income I thought.
I then received these words from people at Morningstar ministries on 1/1/07. “I see you are spending a lot of time with God studying and writing what He gives you for the church. He will open doors for you to share what He has given you. God has had you resting for a while on the sidelines, but now He is going to open doors for you. You have tried several times and the enemy has tried to stop you from going forward with what God has shown you, but now is the time to go back, this is the year, for He will make a way for you to go back and finish what you have started! I then received these two Scriptures from the Lord about moving back, but I was afraid, “Was I really hearing His voice or was it just me?
"Arise, go to Nineveh (Kissimmee) the great city and proclaim to it the proclamation which I am going to tell you" Jonah 3:2 (NAS).
“And when he had seen the vision, immediately we sought to go into Macedonia, concluding that God had called us to preach the gospel to them” Acts 16:10 (NAS).
I did move back to Kissimmee, God had made a way for me to buy a home and I was almost living better than I was before. When I finally got all settled in and sat down in my prayer chair I said to myself, “I am home!” And just like that the presence of the Lord just enveloped me! Even when I go to the store I feel that I am home. I didn’t understand it, but I was home and was waiting for the other part of the word that was spoken to me at a Morningstar Conference that God would open the door for ministry. All I knew was that the enemy tried to stop me from living here and I, like Abraham of old, moved back into Canaan three times just like he did. The word of the Lord did come to pass “You’re going home” just not the way I thought! The enemy did not want him in the Promised Land, but even as I am in my Promised Land I must sojourn like Abraham until the Lord opens the next door, and many more doors He would to my amazement. Never, never give up my friends!
THE SUDDENLIES COME
It has been a few years since my last writings about my life and of course much has happened through these years. One major and great thing that has happened, I got remarried in 2008 to Marilyn from Minnesota. I said that I would not marry someone outside of Florida, but the Lord had given me a word at MorningStar in early 2008 that I would not be alone anymore and it came to pass that same year.
Before I got married that year the Lord had me do something that was almost unthinkable in the time of financial collapse of 2008, which was to travel around the world. The great outpouring of revival was taking place in Lakeland, Florida with up to ten thousand people from around the world coming there nightly. I was working in Lakeland at the time, but living in Kissimmee which was about forty miles away so at that time I was in Lakeland more than Kissimmee and it did not make any sense for me at the time to live that far away. Yet by faith I sojourned in the land of promise and by April 2008 the Lord spoke to me about leaving my work and traveling to Malawi, Africa by faith. To me this was nuts! He confirmed it so many times that I was to do this, that one time I was watching the revival from Lakeland on the Internet when the Lord said that I needed to go to Malawi and just like that Todd Bentley the preacher said at the same time. He said, “We were in Malawi!” Then he repeated it and I knew I was to go and made plans to quit my job.
This is interesting because I told the Lord before I moved to Kissimmee and put money down on a house that I would quit and travel the world if He wanted me to. But I felt led to buy a home and after a year and a half I was to leave and travel. Why the Lord does this is to try our faith to make us stronger for what lies ahead, if a weightlifter did not lift weights they would become weaker by the day, so the Lord tries our faith to keep us strong.
I was gone for six weeks to Africa, the Philippines, and California. But before I was to leave I went to the Ignited Church where the revival started in Lakeland on a weekday morning and sat down but I could not see very well because there was a pole that was in my way. So I got up and moved to the second row, third seat in and set my Bible and water down and went to the restroom and when I came back there were two women sitting next to me. As we conversed I found out that they were from Minnesota and Marilyn was a former Assemblies of God minister and missionary as myself and we hit it off well and went out for lunch after the service that day. To make a long story short we were married five months later! Here is the clincher, had I not quit my job I would have never been there to meet her and as I write this today many years later she has been sent into my life to help me know Jesus more.
When we got married she still lived in Minnesota and I in Florida because jobs were hard to get and she had a good paying job that she really liked and we were waiting to hear from the Lord on what to do next. Then one day in December the Lord spoke to me and said, “Marilyn must move down in faith.” I told the Lord that I would not tell her to do this, but He must. That very same night Marilyn had a dream and the Lord told her that she needed to be in Florida in twenty five days and she was! Then the fun started because we both did not have jobs and how would the Lord provide? It was not long and the Lord sent someone to our home that we really did not know and he would drop off hundreds of dollars outside of our house by putting it in the door or the grill to encourage us. We called this our Manna from heaven, it did not provide everything, but it was a big boost in the arm! Shortly after this a lady from Texas came to our home to meet with us even though we had never met her, but she was told to come and meet us so we did. She was an older lady that really loved the Lord and said, “Get ready for the suddenlies!” We are like, “What does that mean?” And then she left.
After this Marilyn got a job managing an office for a resort and after one year there she became the manager of the whole resort. Even though I had a great job again in Lakeland the Lord woke me up one night and asked me if I trusted Him? I said that I did and He told me to quit my job by May first and that one million dollars was coming in. Little did I know at that time that I would be working with Marilyn as her maintenance manager at the resort, but a few days before I was to quit in May her boss asked me to come and work for him. I would work there the next thirteen years and would love every moment of it!
Everything at Heritage Key Villas was going very well, but after a few months there we had to evict someone from their unit and we had to clean out all their stuff from the house. So we started to pack up everything and I found two Florida license plate tags that were not expired in the house that were from different counties and I thought that they might be stolen so I called the Sheriff’s department to turn them in so that the owners could have them back. Well, a worker for the Sheriff came out, not a deputy, but a traffic maid and before she did anything about the plates she was going to ticket Marilyn for parking the U-Haul truck in a Handicap parking spot in front of the townhome. May I just say, the day did not start out well!
The lady became very rude to us and threw my driver’s license back at me and stormed out the door with the plates and Marilyn asked for a receipt and she said that she would not give her one. Marilyn and I then asked her for her supervisor's name and number and then she snapped back at us and Marilyn put her hand in the car door and asked for the plates back when I told Marilyn to back off and she did, then this lady traffic maid called the sheriff on us. Within minutes there were at least twelve to fifteen sheriff cars there on the scene and we were placed under arrest and placed in jail for assaulting an officer! We were floored at how this Sheriff's parking ticket lady could lie and say that we blocked her from getting into her car and then another one said that Marilyn confessed to doing it! Within three weeks the state’s attorney threw out the case because there was not enough evidence and because we had a third witness that saw everything and was willing to testify for us. Praise the Lord for His mercies every day! All this was happening because the enemy could see that God was getting ready to bless us abundantly and he wanted to preempt it before it could happen.
A TIME OF GREAT BLESSINGS
The multifold blessings of the Lord had increased in our lives like I had not seen ever! We were able to buy a new Townhouse at Heritage Key Villas which sold for $320,000 three years ago and our final price was under $63,000. What a miracle of God! All of our bills have been paid along with my hospital bill of $67,000 for a one-week stay for gallbladder surgery. We were needing to replace one, if not both of our cars and we found a 2009 Buick Enclave that sold new for more than $40,000 and we paid $23,000 cash for it. How God does this I do not know, all I know is that He has blessed us beyond our comprehension. That year we took six trips with all of them being paid for and we went to Ghana, Africa in February of 2011 which has been paid for in advance. We were told that great blessings were coming but had no idea how great. God is so faithful, but the best was yet to come!
The blessings seem to have only escalated as the year went on. Many people were hurting, but God poured His presence into our lives. Two businesses were given to us, a Realty company and a Home and Lawn care company with seven employees, along with much greater responsibilities at Heritage Key. One of the great blessings had been the printing and release of my book called, The Ascending Lifestyle that year with a national publisher. 2012 had also taken off with great blessings having gone back to Ghana to teach pastors for a week and then one week later we were off on a cruise ship for a week. All paid for in advance! Truly it was a miracle of God and the suddenlies were upon us and all we had to do was put one foot in front of the other and obey God.
Yet, one thing was troubling me, why we were not building the school and the ministry that He has shown me so clearly over and over for 15 years. Yet I know in my heart it will come to pass in His timing just as all the business came without much effort of our own. This is what God said to Jeroboam, “Then it will be, that if you listen to all that I command you and walk in My ways, and do what is right in My sight by observing My statutes and My commandments, as My servant David did, then I will be with you and build you an enduring house as I built for David, and I will give Israel to you” 1 Kings 11:31.
Since 2008 when the Lord had me leave everything, He has now restored it all many fold. I now have the greatest wife ever, the finest vehicles I have ever drove, the best job, five businesses, the most money, trips wherever we want to go in the world. I wrote and published a book that year of 2012. In this calendar year we have also paid off our house that once sold for more than $320,000 a few years earlier. All we did was practice Matthew 6:33, "But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.”
Even though we had all the stuff with trips around the world, my spirit was not settled. I told Marilyn that the Bible school and the call of ministry seemed like a joke again as it did back last December when I got a word at Morningstar that “You feel like it’s a joke, but God says it is not!” And that day I gave a ride to a new owner at Heritage Key Villas who lives across from us, she and her husband were in their 70’s. As I was talking to them the lady says her husband was a Bible teacher at the Florida Bible College. At first I did not understand, then she said out by Intercession City and glory bumps went up my back and down my arms and I began to weep as to why God would put this person in my path and live across the street and all because she locked her keys and phone in her car! This is the very land that the Lord said He would give me 17 years earlier! I ask the Lord why this happened? All He said was, “Do you still think it’s a joke?” In December of that same year I heard the Lord say to me, “I am going to give you the buildings and the land. And I like Abraham said, “How can I know this please give me a sign today.”
It was a Saturday morning when I did not go to work, but this day I did. I have wanted to talk to this lady's husband about the Florida Bible College that he taught at. This day he was on his patio and I stopped to ask him some questions about the school. He gave me great information about the school and its founding. I then went home to see what I could find online.
1. To my surprise the school was founded the year I was born 1962.
2. The school was started with a youth awakening in Florida. We have been told countless times that we will start the ministry with the youth.
3. The school closed its doors in 1996 the very year that I moved to Florida. When I first saw the school closed down and the Lord said for me to raise it up would have been only months after it closed.
A MORNINGSTAR CONFERENCE
We attended the 2013 Morningstar New Year’s Eve Conference and were greatly blessed to be there as always meeting new people and bringing guests with us for their first time visit. But this year would prove to be different than the others when the Lord had given me a strong prophetic word for one of the speakers at this conference. We were there one year earlier and I had been praying about America and how we need godly leaders to lead the way as Joseph and Daniel had done in their time. So I ask the Lord where are our George Washington’s and Abraham Lincoln’s? That night as the speaker was on stage the Lord said to me, “There is your New George Washington!” I was floored when He said this because it seemed as if I just made this up in my head. But later I really felt it was the Lord saying this and I felt that I needed to share this with the speaker, General Jerry Boykin. I did not have the opportunity to share this with him at this conference so I felt off the hook.
The following year we were at the same conference and General Jerry Boykin was eating his dinner next to our table when the Lord said to me, “You need to give him that word I gave you last year.” I said, “Lord I cannot go up to him at his table with Rick Joyner and the others that are with him, the timing has to be right.” That night after the worship time I got up to go to the bathroom and was washing my hands and here walks in General Jerry Boykin. The Lord says, “Give him that word now!” I said, “Here now? Ok!” As I waited for him to do his business I thought of how to say it and when he came by me I said, “You don’t know me but the Lord gave me a word for you last year that I was to give to you, the word is heavy and I want to prepare you for it. As I stood by the door I said, “God says you are the New George Washington.” As I said this I could see the power of God hit him and he stumbled a bit and stopped and smiled at me and shook my hand and went on his way.
A few minutes after this I sat down again and General Jerry Boykin was asked to come to the stage by Rick Joyner to be ordained into the ministry through the MorningStar Church. What happened next left me incredulous when seven other people surrounded Jerry on the stage to pray for him and to give him any words they had from the Lord. Another man named George says to him, “I see the mantle of George Washington being placed upon you." I spoke with the man that gave the word after the service and told him what happened to me and he said he was told that I had given him the word in the bathroom after he had given his word. He also said that he had seen Jerry as George Washington over the New United States. One week later I was listening to Rick Joyner speak in his church and he brought up the subject of giving prophetic words at the right time and he brought up how a word was given to Jerry about being the New George Washington in the bathroom. One word from the Lord can and will change someone’s life!
THE 341 BLESSING
Again, what I am going to share with you is miraculous and almost unbelievable, but trust me we are living proof of God's kindness to us. This prophecy came from Bob and Bonnie Jones at Moravian Falls, North Carolina on 9/29/13 one of the last meetings Bob would ever give on earth before he went home to be with the Lord.
Bonnie asked who has a Florida license plate out there with the number 341? She then said who has a white SUV with the license and we said, “Yes that is ours.” She then said that they look for the 341 license plate everywhere they go because God blesses our meetings when that plate number is seen. But this time she was not really looking for it, but then saw our vehicle with this plate. She then shared a little about how the Lord had spoken to Bob about this 341 license tag and what it meant to him and that he wrote a book on it and she handed it to us, the book is entitled The 341 Blessing if you care to read it online. Bob had received a dream one night in 1981 where he was sitting by a table and there was a plate turned upside down and the Lord was standing by him and told him to turn the plate over. So when Bob turned the plate over there was a blank 341 numbered check under it that was signed in the blood of Jesus. The Lord went on to tell him that wherever they would see this license plate that their meetings were going to have a special blessing on them. And to the people that had the plate they could write the check for any amount they could believe God for.
Now this sounded pretty far out there even for us, but hey, why not believe the word? So we did! The very next week an unexpected $5,000 would come in and it only increased from there to $10,000 coming in the mail.
It’s now 2014 and the blessings of God have literally overtaken us in many ways that we could not have dreamed of. The closeness of the Lord was truly the greatest blessing in our life. The visions of the Lord were abounding and were quickly confirmed. One unexpected blessing was coming from our relationships that was being formed in Intercession City. We were called by several ministers to come share my vision of the town and to my surprise they did not reject me, but embraced us both and we had been meeting with them twice a week for prayer and fellowship which was a great blessing. But the interesting thing of it all is, that we are all from different Christian backgrounds that should not be agreeing on much. Yet our friendships abound in real spiritual depth and love for three years. In fact, we all agreed we have never seen anything like this before and are hoping we can hold the fellowship together despite the tests that came and went on our differences of faith. Our Thursday night prayer meetings kept going higher and higher as we sought the face of God together because of the unity and love we had for the Lord and each other.
The natural blessings abounded also and we were able to pay off two more townhomes and own a third one that we were paying off with a mortgage of only $80,000, for ONLY GOD COULD HAVE DONE THIS! But what was He up to I thought with all this? We were just flat broke a few years ago and now we were looking at buying a 5700 sq ft home that the Lord had spoken to me about in 2008 through a lady from Redding, California. She said she saw the Lord give me a large white house with pillars and then when Marilyn and I were at Morningstar they prophesied that God was upgrading us with a large new white house. He did not know if it was in the natural or spiritual, but my wife was having visions of a large white house also and when we were on a mission trip to Peru the house came up for sale. When she saw it on the Internet she says very excitingly, “That is the house the Lord has been showing me!” The house that we were looking at was in Intercession City, Florida and it was only a few years old but it would take a miracle like the other ones if we were to get it. But we knew with God all things are possible, yet my flesh did not want this big house with five acres and all the upkeep, but if it is for the kingdom of God I said let it come for Your glory Lord!
I know you might think that after all that God has done for us that I would have all the faith in the world to believe God for this big house, but my mind is practical and could see no need for such a place. But I said if this place is for you I will do it if you confirm to me that it is your will. That night I had a dream, I was at a gathering in the big white house and talking with someone that was important when I saw my sister Debbie who died in 1996 appear in the dining room area. She looked like herself and I walked over to her very happily when she said, “And use it for the Master’s glory.” I awoke and told Marilyn my dream and said that the house is ours! The Lord did give us the house for the purchase price of $270,000 with five acres when the original selling price was $350,000.
PROPHETIC PROMISES FULFILLED
In 2020 I had been seeing a white building in the spirit for some time and when I asked the Lord what I was seeing, He said, “Your building.” Not knowing where this building was, I again asked after the third vision and He said, “Intercession City!” I was like, where is it in town, and what is it and all the questions as to where it was? On September 23, I found out when we were voted in as Sr. Pastors of the Victory Baptist Church! This church building is located on the very land of the old Bible school.
The Lord had been speaking to me about demonstrating His life in this church, because that is what it needed most. I picked up the book called, Broken Bread and the writer said this very same thing! We must display the life of God!
I want to tell you about the church that we became pastors of in Intercession City, Florida to set the record straight. Out of the blue a Baptist Church called me in town and wanted to know if I would speak in their church because their Pastor left with one week’s notice. My wife and I first thought, what are we getting ourselves into? But if God is in it, why not! And within two services they wanted me to be the Pastor of this church, but the vote had to wait a week for the election rules protocol. So I was voted in a week later, but now the air conditioner went out in the church and mold was growing everywhere! To make a long story short, it cost over $26,000 to reopen the doors and the church did not have the money! Then on top of that they had done almost no work on this building in 40 years! So now we had to go through and renovate the church costing another $10,000. At this time God began to give us encouragement as to this being His will for our lives.
As I was praying about the church we were to pastor I had a vision of us coming through the front door and there were four large bottles of Champagne, two on each side of the door pointed on an angle so that as we walked under them the corks were popped and the new wine of bubbly flowed freely over the top of us.
Now what could this mean? Four is the number of sonship and our victory has been won in the spirit, heaven is rejoicing with us as we have passed the test and walked into our ministry that God had shown me some twenty four years earlier and was on this very property! I then read this word on The Elijah List about Champagne flowing freely. Champagne is the most expensive and the finest of wines, the biggest bottles made were named after great Bible characters. The largest bottles were named Melchizedek, he was and is a type of Jesus, but also represents sonship.
Champagne is sprayed over the champions of games or competitions. When they do this, it sprays over the crowd as well as the champions, and it sticks and can't be just rubbed off! You are a champion—you are winning! God is wanting to spray out a new thing. It is used to launch large vessels, which prophetically means ministries. God is going to release new, large ministries in this season that are going to impact the earth.
Champagne is also used in special family occasions when the family gets together. I'm hearing reports coming from all over the Church of different denominations getting together. Hungry people are crying out! It doesn't matter whether they're Catholic, Anglican, Presbyterian, or Pentecostal. There's a cry of, "I'm hungry God! Pour it out! I'm hungry God!" That's the season we're in a special occasion in the family of God! It's also used in special times of romance particularly during courtship. I believe we are in a season of courtship between the Bride and the Lord.
This was an older congregation of about 70 years and it was a King James Bible only church. Meaning, they only believed you could read from this version of the Bible and how we fit into this all is just amazing! As I had said prior, the church was built on the old Bible School property from 1935 and is where I had my first vision of the city in 1997. Now this must be God I thought! But within a few weeks of being there several people were already mad at us for one reason or the other, so they just left the church because I think the Holy Spirit in us was more than they could handle at the time. There were only about eight people to begin within the church and within a few months we were down to three!
As we were going through the two month process of renovating the church I found myself getting discouraged and asking God, “What is going on here?” He spoke back very quickly and said, “Clean slate!” I said, “What does that mean?” He said, “Both physically and spiritually.” At this point I said that I did not know if I had enough energy to run a business and take care of all the properties we had and pastor a church that needs renovations. With that being said the face of Jesus appeared in front of my face and He blew into me and He was gone as fast as it started. I then knew from this that He would give me the grace to finish this work.
I had stopped at the local Home Depot early one morning which I almost never do and when I looked up toward Intercession City there was a complete rainbow canopy over Intercession City and there was no rain that morning! I have never seen anything like it. Two years ago I was driving at 65 miles an hour in the rain and there was a rainbow on the other side of the four lane highway that was following me at the same rate of speed. I believe the rainbow has now found me and covered our city with the blessings of God to fulfill all His promises as He spoke to me over the years. Then that same evening there was a Good Year Blimp over my house. I believe it’s going to be a good year!
God is doing some really neat things right now in the lives of young people that He is touching through the church and there is some interest in others to help us get a training center going. The great thing about this story is, the church is debt free, our businesses are debt free along with our personal finances. God has truly wrought great wonders in bringing the word of the Lord to pass in our lives!
It has been over one year since I last wrote anything down here, but as you know life just keeps going on. Our church is doing well growing spiritually and numerically, people are being touched by the Lord and His presence is blessing many and His grace sustains us. I have seemed to come into a time where His presence permeates me as the tabernacle of God. I can be anywhere and just close my eyes and I am with Him where time goes by so fast that I wonder how that is possible. I only want it to increase and could not imagine not living in His presence and wonder how does anyone live without Him?
2023 A NEW WALK OF FAITH
With the beginning of a new year, a new walk of faith is before us. At the end of last year the Lord spoke to me about closing down my business that I had for over ten years. We had several employees and brought in a good amount of money to live a comfortable life. But when the Lord says you are done, you are done, otherwise I could end up being like Jonah and be swallowed up by a whale! He said, “Your life being known as a maintenance man is over, your life know as a pastor is over. In the coming days you will give no thought to your old life, as you will be known as a leader of the multitudes into My glory.
Since leaving my business behind, the presence of the Lord has only increased in my life and I would gladly obey just to get more of Him! But not only that there seems to be a genuine move of God in the earth with the Asbury School Revival in Kentucky. The presence of the Lord just permeates our church and the people both young and old are so hungry as we seek God together in unity.
Hopefully more coming soon!
THIS IS MY EPITAPH
DANNY D LUEHRS
I suppose not everyone takes the time or has a chance to write their own epitaph. I have done so because I want to give all glory and thanksgiving to the Lord Jesus Christ for my life on this earth. He has been my everything, not just Savior and Lord, but truly a friend that sticks closer than a brother. I have failed and I am sure that I have disappointed God more times than I can count. Yet He is always there waiting for me to spend time with Him and all I have to do is turn my heart towards heaven and He is there waiting and wanting to fill me with His presence. If I were to give Him a name it would be, (LOVE UNENDING!) I heard it said and believe it is true, “The life of a believer is a series of miracles wrought by the mighty God.” Amen!
I also want to thank my Mom and Dad for always being there for me no matter what I did and the choices I had made. Not everyone gets a chance to get old as I have had many friends and family members die before their time and I am so thankful for my brother and sisters in the natural world and in Christ. My life has been a series of both hardship and blessing as yours has been I am sure, but I have chosen to live with no regrets or looking on my past. My wife whom I have loved, Marilyn, has been such a loving and kind spouse and we both have grown in the knowledge of Jesus and have traveled the world and have made an amazing life together. We are so thankful to God for all that He has done for us and our family.
To my children, Joshua, Caleb, Ke-Yanna, stepchildren, and all the grandkids. I am sorry if I have been a disappointment to you and have not always been there for you. I love you very much and can say that you were all such a great joy in my life and I am so blessed to have had you in my life and taught me so much! The only words of advice I have for you and everyone else is. Ask Jesus in your heart and ask Him to fill you with His Holy Spirit daily and you will be abundantly blessed with His presence as I was. I can promise you that!
I pray for the greatest blessing on all your lives and I cannot wait to see you all in heaven where our relationship will continue on forever and ever! I leave you with my life verse. “But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things will be added unto you.” (Matt 6:33)
May it be written on my gravestone: “Here is a man who loves Jesus”