Gathering to Listen #6

The “listening group” attempts to meet together two to three times per year for two to three days at a time.  The people involved have apostolic and/or prophetic gifting, many with a national or international calling on their lives.  We have learned much during our times together.  Here are some characteristics of what we have seen—in no order of priority:

  • The location sometimes plays an important part in what happens when we come together—for example, Globe. 
  • We have prayed about national and international situations.
  • God gives us spiritual intelligence that we are to act upon. Corporate obedience is key. Often we have been led to perform a prophetic act that symbolizes what we are praying about. Sometimes we have done this all together. For example, in Globe on the site of the medicine wheel, we formed a circle, facing outwards, and prayed blessing instead of curses over the land. Other times two or three people have been sent out from the group to perform that act.
  • Angels have appeared to some in the group.  God has given us instructions as to what to speak to them or ask them to do. 
  • We have often been made aware of demonic activity and shown how to deal with it. 
  • Dreams and visions play an important role in how God speaks to us.
  • At all times, gathering to listen has been an exercise in willingness.  For most of us, having the resources to get together (time, money and energy) has always been a challenge.  Moreover, being willing to live in a place of surrender is a constant growth edge for us that spills over into our gathering times.  We have all been dramatically changed by our times together.

 

Our gatherings have not always run smoothly. When we use human strategy to understand what God is saying and what we should do as a result, we find ourselves talking endlessly and getting nowhere—until someone suggests that we listen to the Lord again.  Transparency in our dealings with each other is essential.  Any conflicts have to be brought into the open and dealt with thoroughly at the foot of the cross.  

 

Gathering to Listen #5

Let me go back and tell you a little more of our first time together:

How does a group go about waiting on God for three days?  What do you do? 

For a while, we all waited in silence.  Then W.S. suggested that we let the Lord give each person an identity by allowing the Lord to present them.  Each person was introduced using prophetic words God gave to others, and by faith we took up our new identities.  Then we waited.  And God spoke Psalm 24 to us along with a picture of a very ancient gate. 

Ancient gates

Open up, ancient gates!
      Open up, ancient doors,
      and let the King of glory enter.
 Who is the King of glory?
      The Lord, strong and mighty;
      the Lord, invincible in battle.
 Open up, ancient gates!
      Open up, ancient doors,
      and let the King of glory enter.
 Who is the King of glory?
      The Lord of Heaven’s Armies—
      he is the King of glory.

We understood that God had given us the authority to open and close gates in the spiritual realms.  But we also understood that we weren’t ready to take on that authority until we were willing to surrender ourselves completely to Him.  We were particularly struck by verses 3 and 4: “Who may ascend the hill of the LORD?  Who may stand in His holy place? He who has clean hands and a pure heart, who does not lift up his soul to an idol or swear by what is false.”  So the Lord led us to surrender our own agendas, deliberately laying down our reputations and dying to the things we stood for and represented—the things that we love the most.  Each person placed on the floor in the center of the room items that represented their ministries, their strongly held convictions, anything in which they had put their identity apart from God.  We were empty—nothing was left that was our own.

From that position, Jesus continued to speak to us about Psalm 24 and gates. God showed us that He has given us keys that will only turn the locks of those gates as they are wielded corporately.  He told us we had authority to declare what the church is to be.  And so, looking out over the city and the plains beyond, we declared the different attributes of the church that God longs to see. 

 

Gathering to Listen #4

Continuing the story of the group that gathers to listen:

Over the next few weeks, more information came out.  The morning after we returned home, a leader from the Nav-Apache council visited D.B. at the coffee shop.

“Can you pray for one of our young men?” he asked.  “He went insane over the weekend, and nothing is helping him. “

“Why would you ask me?” said D.B.

“You may wonder why we let our youth come to your café.  The Apache believe that spirits can be transferred both by touch and by the preparation of food.  And you are known to be a man of peace.”

D.B. explained that the Great Spirit of Peace, whose name is Jesus, heals people today, and prayed that the young man’s sanity would be restored.  Within a few days he received news that from that moment, the young man was completely healed.

A few weeks later an extraordinary email was sent out to the group, with the information that the three-level house we had prayed over had, for a while, been the home of Anton LaVey, author of the Satanic Bible!

A year later, there was more good news.  For one year, there were no murders or suicides in Globe.  On top of that, the leadership of the city has dramatically changed. Other Arizona city councils continue to ask Globe, how they are able to accomplish so much change.  We know the answer to that: we believe that our prayers are transforming the city! 

What will happen if everywhere, groups of people go "on mission" with God, listening to him and carrying out the assignments he gives?

 

Gathering to Listen #3

Continuing the story of the listening gatherings:

The next morning, we started to pray through the things D.B. had described. The first place we prayed was on a hilltop where the scene with the Native American man had taken place. We repented for what had been done to his people in that area and bound the effects of the curse on the city and reservation, proclaiming blessing instead on both regions.

The next place we went to was the school, which looked more like a prison than an educational center.  We walked all round the school and prayed for the students, the faculty, and the administration.  We sensed we were supposed to anoint the doors and had brought a bottle of oil for the purpose.

The strange three-level house was next on our agenda.  It appeared from the outside like a normal, single story house—nothing unusual about it.  Behind it was a gorge, spanned by a footbridge.  As we stood on the bridge, praying about the picture, a lady came out of the house.  D.B. approached her.

“I’m interested in old houses,” he said.  “Can you tell me about yours?”

“It’s kind of unusual,” she replied.  “It has two basements with a swimming pool in the lowest one.”  She went on to describe the elevator down, the secret passage, as well as the identity of the owner during the era of the vision.    And it was all in perfect alignment with what God had revealed.

We were astounded at the accuracy of the picture.  Our praying took on urgency as we realized the reality of the vision.

We ended our prayer walk at city hall, where one of us envisioned a chain of corruption linking it to the police station and other government buildings.  We prayed that God would break this chain and bring righteousness to these seats of power.  

What were the effects of our prayers?  See the next post

 

Gathering to Listen #2

The following posts are part of a document written by LK and myself on what has been happened when we gathered to listen.

Ten of us sat around a campfire one warm Arizona evening. We had gathered there with no purpose other than to wait on God and listen to what He wanted to say to us. This was the first of three days of gathering to listen together in the city of Globe, Arizona.

For a while, we waited in silence.  Then D.B. spoke.

 "I just saw a couple of pictures," he said. "The first was of an old Native American leader sitting in the center of a fiery medicine wheel. He was placing a curse on our city. When I asked the Lord why he would do that, He showed me a picture of Native American women and children being thrown down a mineshaft. The old man was overwhelmed with grief and didn’t know what to do except to call on his ancestral spirits for vengeance.

American indian
"The second picture was of a house that I recognized as one just a few streets from where I live. It's a very ordinary house to look at from the outside but I saw it has two basements, connected by an elevator.  And in the lowest basement is a swimming pool. There is even an underground passage that leads to the next-door house. In the picture, which looked as though it took place in the 1960s and 70s, there were people I recognized, but much younger. They were partying, doing drugs, wife swapping. It was a very debauched scene."

What were we to make of these pictures? Were they just D.B.'s imagination?  By now we had learned to trust God speaking to people, and so we took them seriously.

Earlier, D.B. had briefed us on the city of Globe, a small town of 7,000 inhabitants on the edge of a Native American reservation. On the reservation, there is a place called Apache Leap, a 200-foot sheer cliff. Its name comes from the story that when the town was first settled, the pioneers took many of the native women and children and threw them off that cliff to be dashed on the rocks below.

The main industry, copper mining, had experienced a downturn over the years.  The small, blue-collar town had experienced some economic depression for quite some time.  In the midst of all this, D.B. runs a coffee shop—one of the few alternatives to bars in town. He is on the city council and has formed friendships with many of the local people. He told us that many murders take place on the Native American reservation and in Globe.  In fact, just a few months before our arrival in Globe, several high school students had committed suicide – four of them were about to graduate.

To be continued…

 

Gathering to Listen #1

For the past several years, I have had the privilege of being part of a group that gets together for two to three days at a time every few months with no agenda except that of listening to God and doing what he says.  We have recently had the "go ahead" from the Lord to talk more widely about this, but have decided just to use initials to identify people.  (Not sure what I can do about remaining anonymous when this is my blog!)

Two people came up with the idea simultaneously.  The Lord told N.G. that he wanted a group of people to come together to listen to him, because he wanted to teach us things that would be impossible/dangerous to hear on our own. So a group of maybe 20 of us came together in Colorado Springs for three days to listen to God.

Pikes Peak

One of the first things he told us was that we had to lay down our ministries, our passions, anything that was somehow "ours."  So each of us placed something in the center of the room that represented what we stood for, the things or beliefs we held dearest, and told the Lord he could take them, they were his, we were choosing to die to them.

That has been foundational for our times together.  We are not there to promote our own projects, or to enlist support for "our thing."  We are together with one purpose–to discover what God wants, what is on his heart, and to carry out any assignments he gives us.  The times have been very exciting, and have produced a shift in both the spiritual and physical realms.  The next few posts will describe a few of them.

I believe that one of the next moves of God will be where groups of his people are sent out on mission with God. They won't see the whole picture, but as they listen to him and obey what he says, completing whatever assignments he gives them,  the Kingdom of God will advance.

 

Description of a Spirit-led gathering #3

How many sermons can you remember a month later?  A year later?  A decade later?

When we were in medical school, we were involved in a controversial church plant–the Christians at the hospital decided they were a church.  Since they spent most of their time in the hospital and experienced great fellowship together, it was artificial to go to somewhere else on a Sunday morning for an hour.  Many of the medical students, nurses, physical therapists, cleaning staff, even some doctors, came together as a church in the consultants' dining room.  We were spoken against from some of the best pulpits in London! (How can a group of students start a church?  Who is going to teach them, etc.)  We were thrown out of the national organizing body for Christian student groups (although many of the leaders came to us privately and encouraged us to follow the Holy Spirit).

Together we were going through the book of Nehemiah. 

Ancient walls Nehemiah chapter 3 is one of those passages that most people skip.  It lists all the people and the area of the wall that they were rebuilding.  Basically it's a list of names, followed by which part of the wall they were responsible for.  We debated leaving that chapter out and going on to the next one, but eventually decided to study it anyway.  As we went through the passage, there was a mounting and almost palpable air of excitement.  The Holy Spirit revealed clearly to each of us the truth that as everybody does their part, the Kingdom is built.  Everybody is important within the body of Christ.  Today we take that for granted, but it was revolutionary thinking to us in that fledgling church.

What is perhaps most remarkable is that I still remember that time clearly, even though it was decades ago!  The Holy Spirit is indeed an amazing teacher, and even the way that we learned with everyone participating was a picture of the truths he was imparting.

Description of a Spirit-led gathering #2

Several simple/organic churches had come together for a celebration gathering.  At one point, it was suggested that people get into smaller groups to pray for each other.

Over in one corner, a family–mom, dad, and their two kids–were praying together.  Each had tears running down their faces. God was touching them.

I was close to a group of kids, ages 6 to 10.  Most of them were from Christian families, but there was one young lad there from the housing projects.  I was interested to see how they would react to him.  Most of the kids shared similar needs.  "My aunt's car has stopped running, please pray."  "My teacher at school is off sick," and so on.

When it came to the turn of the kid from the projects, his need was in a different category.  "My mom has thrown my dad out of the house because he was doing crack.  And now we don't have any money to pay the bills or buy food!"  How would these young Christian kids cope?

I needn't have worried.  They all prayed so simply, each tackling a different aspect of the problem.  Kids don't have a junior Holy Spirit! They can follow Jesus, sometimes more easily even than adults!

Child praying

Description of a Spirit-led simple/organic/house church gathering #1

I've been involved in churches that had open participation and attempted to follow the Holy Spirit now for around 30 years!!  Over this time, a number of gatherings stand out.  Looking back,  they were when the Holy Spirit was clearly leading.  I'd like to describe a few of them for you.

We started a church in a low income housing project.  Our times together were unusual, to say the least.  Here's a description of one of them.

We usually took plenty of food to our gatherings.  It was a way of giving to them in a non-financial way.  And of course, they provided some of the food too.  There were maybe twenty of us there on this occasion, and we were just finishing the meal when a commotion broke out outside the tiny apartment of the person of peace where we met.

One of the adults, James, went out to investigate, and the usual trouble maker, a boy of 9 or so, was fighting with one of the other kids.  So James dragged the offender upstairs and started talking with him, telling him if he behaved that way and cussed out the wrong adult in that environment, he was likely to end up getting shot or beaten up.  Then Rosa, our person of peace went upstairs to join the fray, and she and James started arguing about how to bring some discipline into the boy's life.  (This is church!)

Finally things settled down, and the adults gathered indoors while the kids went outside to play.  James opened things up by asking, "How does a Christian handle it when he really hates someone?"

Was this the Holy Spirit?  We thought so, and the next half hour or so was spent in looking at some Scriptures on this topic, with everyone sharing from their experiences, and contributing to the discussion.  We also touched on how to discipline kids, and how followers of Jesus handle it when they disagree with each other.

Someone suggested we pray about what we had learned.  Was this the Holy Spirit's prompting?  Of course!  So we spent time praying for each person there, laying hands on them and making the prayers relevant to their situations.  They were short prayers, so each person prayed several times.

Then we invited the kids in.  They love to sing, and so we spent time in worship and praise. At one point I looked up, and there were two kids, aged maybe 7 and 9, singing their hearts out, faces raised, eyes closed.  It may have been loud and out of tune, but I thought to myself, "Jesus, you love this!"

Facilitating a Spirit-led gathering: Idea #4

First Corinthians 2:16 says this: 

 For,    “Who can know the Lord’s thoughts?

      Who knows enough to teach him?”

   But we understand these things, for we have the mind of Christ.

The body of Christ often has the mind of Christ.  It is not something that is experienced so much individually as corporately.  Together, we have the mind of Christ.

Therefore, if we are facilitating a gathering there are some key questions that we can ask.  For example, someone may mention a need.  The person helping to facilitate may say, "Does anyone have any sense as to what the Lord wants us to do next?"  Someone suggests, "Maybe we should pray about it."  "Do others sense the same thing?"  Usually there is agreement, and so you go ahead and pray.  But maybe someone will suggest that you do something practical.  Does this have agreement from those there too?

Here are some other situations when a question may help to bring out what the Lord wants from the body.

Someone reads a verse of Scripture:  "Does anyone have a sense of what Jesus is trying to say to us through this passage?"

A time of prolonged silence (sometimes the silence itself is from the Lord):  "Is the Lord saying anything to anyone as we listen to him here?"

A picture or prophecy: "Let's weigh this and see what the Lord is saying to us through it."  Or, "Does this picture speak to anyone here about a situation in their life?"

Questions to the body will often lead to following the Holy Spirit.