-Tough Times? Time to Praise The Lord!


    (Image via Wikipedia)

Here’s a timely message from Habakkuk 3:17-19:

Habakkuk Rejoices in the Lord

17 Though the fig tree should not blossom,
nor fruit be on the vines,
the produce of the olive fail
and the fields yield no food,
the flock be cut off from the fold
and there be no herd in the stalls,

18 yet I will rejoice in the Lord;
I will take joy in the God of my salvation.

19 God, the Lord, is my strength;
he makes my feet like the deer’s;
he makes me tread on my high places.

To the choirmaster: with stringed instruments. –ESV

The passage reminds me of a book I read years ago, and then again recently, and highly recommend: “Prison To Praise” by Merlin Carothers.

Just like the Habakkuk passage, the book testifies about how we need to be praising God no matter what circumstances we find ourselves in. How praise can change the very dynamics of our living and bring us closer to our Father. Just like prayer changes things, so does praise.

Here’s my favorite NT scripture with this same message- I Thessalonians 5:17-18:

17 pray without ceasing,

18 give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. –ESV

The greatest example of this teaching that I can think of is Paul and Silas in prison singing praises after being beaten (Acts 16:-40). It was the very worst of circumstances, but praise changed everything. An incredible story that we should take to heart and never forget. Praise the Lord!

-Gracelines: Examples of The Kingdom Breaking Through


     (Photo credit: Old Shoe Woman)

Last year was an extraordinary year at VCC Laguna Niguel and 2013 seems to be even more so. ‘More’ is the key word. The church is experiencing the Kingdom breaking through in a number of different ways especially in healings and miracles.

One thing that we have decided to do in the last several years is to continue to pray for healing until proven otherwise –death proving the otherwise. Some of our congregation have finally received remarkable healings after years of prayer with no results. This has encouraged us to keep on keeping on.

Along the way we are also learning to rejoice and celebrate even minor victories when God brings any kind of relief or partial healing. Some Christians seem to find partial healings to be somewhat controversial nevertheless we are dedicated to always celebrate what ever God gives us. Yet we also continue to pray for even greater blessings.

The most important change for us came when we began to notice that healings or miracles in one area seemed to open to door and dial up the faith for others to receive similar blessings. We started calling these ‘Gracelines’ since a whole line of similar healings, miracles, and testimonies have followed.

For 5 years or more our church had become a ‘migraine free’ zone where a large number of people in our congregation who used to suffer from severe reoccurring migraine headaches had received substantial healing. Doesn’t sound like much unless you are plagued and occasionally disabled by that malady.

Then this last year one of our key leaders in our healing rooms received a remarkable healing of his eyesight in one eye which had severely degenerated. Then later he and others had prayed for a lady who was legally blind and her sight impossibly began to increase over a week or so until she could actually read again. More remarkable healings in eyesight have followed and continues to this day. In my own case, I had one eye with distorted vision. When I looked upon a straight line or board with my one eye it would look crooked to me with a jagged line in the center but after prayer one day in church that went away. Still need glasses but at my age I am truly thankful for the blessing of better eyesight.

Then another brother who had continual pain in his shoulder for 5 years was healed and it has opened to door to many others with shoulder trouble and severe pain to be healed. The testimonies are still coming in on that one. Then there was another with knee problems with similar results and breakthroughs.

Another Graceline opened when a pastor’s wife testified that she had lost a necklace that was really dear to her and prayed for its return for several days. Then one morning it just appeared around her neck. I know that is a strange one for many and I have no theological explanation for it but it has opened a door for others to pray for lost things with amazing results. Many have received dreams or visions of the location of what they had lost after prayer.

On one occasion I could not find my keys after looking everywhere I could think of for 30 minutes or so. Finally time was up and I really needed to get going to work. Usually at that point in the equation I would have been fuming and yelling at my dear wife and blaming her for moving them but then I remembered a couple of the Graceline testimonies and turned to prayer instead and immediately had a picture of myself working in the garage the evening before and found my keys right where I left them on the work table. All this may sound trivial to some but believe me my wife is even more thankful for this blessing than I am.

Then there was a couple early last year who are worship leaders/musicians who testified that they had prayed for money to pay their rent and while driving down I5 Freeway money rained down on their windshield and when they pulled over and picked it up they found that it was just enough to pay the rent with $10 left over which they gave to a homeless person the next day. Then after that another lady testified that when she went to buy a car, the vehicle she really needed was several thousand more than she knew she really had but the Lord told her to buy it anyway and when she handed over the cash she had in an envelope it somehow had multiplied and was exactly enough to complete the sale. This not only opened a door but a deluge has followed with new testimonies nearly every week.

We have started to call these- ‘mail box miracles’ since so many of the testimonies that followed have revolved around folks receiving needed prayed for unexpected money in the mail. In these dire economic times, many in our church are living from week to week trusting in God like never before to bring what is needed to support their families. One week I was a couple hundred dollars short of the expense money I needed for an out of town business trip. I had prayed for help in that area but still was completely surprised when I received a $200 check in the mail from a Christian contractor I had used for referring him to a neighbor across the street for a job. Amazing.

We have a lot of business owners in our congregation and these have been particularly tough times for small businesses but God has been faithful through it all. I will save that for another post. But another door which has been particularly significant is the ‘job’ Graceline. So many of our folks have lost jobs in this economy and have been out of work that we started actually taking time on Sunday morning to pray for those who needed new jobs or business with remarkable results. While the jobless rate in our county is still above 10% nearly everyone in our congregation is now working and paying their bills.

Bottom line- this is not revival but it is better than we have ever seen before and I have already posted about the even more remarkable things happening in our outreach ministries. But there is nothing happening here that isn’t happening or can’t happen elsewhere. It is just now happening more often. It is a matter of our faith and expectations being dialed up and increased exponentially in certain areas in response to the testimonies and experiences of other brothers and sisters in Christ.

Our understanding of ‘Gracelines’ is that when you take the time to acknowledge and rejoice in what God is doing he seems to open up the door to The Kingdom breaking through even more in the same areas. We have also found that including testimonies in our regular Sunday services has encouraged our people to live by faith and include God in their everyday living. Blessings have followed, miracles and healings have increased, Gracelines have continued, and our faith, expectations, and thankfulness have gone to another level.   

-Outside the Walls: The Kingdom Breaking Through


(Ziggerat in Laguna Niguel, CA: Wikipedia)

Last February VCC Laguna Niguel sent a team to India and had incredible results during the 2 weeks or so that they were there with 10’s of thousands coming to Christ, along with hundreds of healings including a number of miracles which featured lame folks that now walk and blind who now see.

On the plane on way back, Pastor Mike pleaded to the Lord for similar results back home in South Orange County, California. At the time we were hopeful for revival to break out in our church. While our services at VCC seemed to dial up considerably in 2012 most of the healings, miracles, and salvations that one would associate with revival actually began to happen among our people ‘outside the walls’ of the church at Starbucks, Walmart, Costco, at the malls and at high school games. Even at the federal ‘Ziggerat’ building across the street but particularly at our Mercy Warehouse Ministry just across the parking lot.

The Kingdom started breaking though in the food warehouse in March. Since then as far as we can tell over 403 people have come to Christ along with several hundred healings and miracles which continue to happen nearly every time we open the doors of the 24,000 square-foot facility. Meanwhile the faith of the warehouse volunteers for talking to folks about Christ and praying for healing in that ministry has risen to another level entirely. It is no longer Nazareth in that place but far closer to India.

It wasn’t until the last few months of the year after numerous accounts and testimonies that it began to dawn on us that the Kingdom was breaking through and God was doing some extraordinary things among our people ‘outside the walls’ of our church.           

-100,000 Bottles of Water: A Prophetic Picture of Provision

A week and a half ago we received 100,000 bottles of water as a donation from a supplier to our Mercy Warehouse at Vineyard Laguna Niguel.

I have talked about the warehouse before –it is a on-going ministry of our church to the poor and just regular folks of South Orange County. We give away approx. $100,000 worth of food, clothing, furniture, and etc. per month out of our 40,000 sq ft. warehouse. We also have become a food bank supplier for other charities in the area including the Salvation army.

Usually when we receive a large donation like that it is because we are going to need it or someone in the area. If 100’s of loafs of extra bread shows up it means that some other charity in the area has probably been shorted and really needs the bread.

The warehouse has become a prophetic picture of God’s provision. So when 100,000 bottles of water shows up some wondered if disaster was soon to strike in our own area. However according to several of our contacts in the Middle East the water sure could be utilized there.  But we were frustrated in all of our attempt to arrange for shipping.

Then the huge quake hit in Japan and it became very clear where the water needed to go and immediately we were able to find transportation. The water is already there.

In thinking about this experience and others lately, this is a prophetic picture of God’s provision for us.  It is going to be there exactly when we need it. File this for future reference as our own nation, communities, churches, and even our own families go through disasters and crisis in the future.      

-Opportunity on the Brink of Disaster

Looking at the news can be a scary prospect lately. I see that Greece, Portugal, and Spain were about to go down the tubes over the last weekend and take the Euro and the entire European Community with them. The USA put up another Trillion Dollars that we really don’t have to keep the entire world financial system from collapsing like dominos starting with Greece. Something the American media really didn’t cover.

Meanwhile, the news media in America keeps on trying to convince us all that the economy is improving and makes it sound like the current 9.9% unemployment rate is actually ‘good news’ with folks going back to work—dutifully following the Monday morning talking points memo supplied by the Obama Administration. The dirty little secret is that unemployment is actually closer to 18% as the government takes those who haven’t gotten a job after 6 months off the list.

The word I keep on hearing from the Lord personally and from others prophetically is that now is a time of new and greater opportunity for God’s people.

I ask the Lord—How can you call this a time of ‘opportunity’ when my business is so bad I wonder if I’ll be able to pay all my bills at the end of every month. Then the Spirit reminded me that over the last year I have received just enough income to cover it all. Sometimes it really has taken a miracle to get it done.

Right now we have one of our adult children along with two grandchildren living with us so our expenses are far greater than they were a couple of years ago and our income is far less. Originally we had planned to retire this year but now that is entirely out of the question.

Yet when I attended our weekly Marketplace Prayer meeting this morning at VCC, the word that kept on coming up in everyone’s testimony or prophetic word was ‘opportunity’. When I thought about it later the Lord reminded me of Joseph and how he had prophetically turned disaster into opportunity. How his family was saved from famine and the entire nation of Egypt. Not only that, they ended up prospering in the midst of disaster.

That is what the Lord intends for his faithful people in America—to prosper in the midst of disaster. However, sometimes the Lord’s idea of prospering can be somewhat different than how we may picture it. Nevertheless it is all good.

Then the Lord reminded me of what was happening at my home church. Over 80 folks have come to Christ in the last month at Vineyard Community Church and just this week our Pastor took a team to India and around 20,000 were saved in a 3 day conference and thousands were healed.

Now for me that is a real sign confirming that He really does intend to expand our opportunities and to prosper us both in the Spiritual realm and in the Natural–even in the midst and on the brink of disaster.           

-Victory in ‘Living’ The Lord’s Prayer: “Thy Will Be Done in Earth”-Part 2


Matt 6:9-13
Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name.

10 Thy kingdom come.

Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven.

11 Give us this day our daily bread.

12 And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors.

13 And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil: For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever. Amen.   -KJV

Part 2-Living and Praying the Will of God

The fact is, the more you include the Holy Spirit in your daily activities the greater the possibility for you to actually do the will of God in your life on earth. It is the Spirit which guides us beyond ourselves and connects us with our Father in Heaven.

The best way to include the Holy Spirit in our day is to start it off with prayer. When I get to the “thy will be done on earth” part in my prayers that is when I remember to pray for the salvation of all of my family and friends. It really is the will of God that everyone should accept the free gift of his Son Jesus and salvation. He really doesn’t want anyone to parish.

Another thing I am confident of when it comes to God’s will is to pray for the spiritual condition of myself, my family, and friends. I pray:

“More of the Spirit Lord and more of your power to do and be the person you really want me to be. More of your Spirit for my whole family, let them grow in you and become the people you have called each one of them to be.”

Then I pray individually for each member as directed before I turn my attention to my friends.

Healing is another thing you can pray about. After all there is no disease in Heaven. It is the ultimate will of God to eradicate and eliminate sickness and death.

Yes, we live in a different context and I know that sometimes the Lord may allow us to get sick like he did Job. The Scriptures also tell us that some in the past have even gotten sick and died because of the way they abused the Lord’s Supper. But until death proves otherwise I am going to pray for healing for myself, my family, and my friends -and folks that show up at church for that matter.

Another thing that is consistent with the will of God is for us to be free from anything that would enslave us. Many around the world are still literally living in some form of slavery. Others are enslaved and controlled by religion and culture. That would include all of us in varying degrees.

Finally, there are many that are enslaved by alcohol, drugs, gambling, and sex –or anything else that folks have a dependency problem with. Demonic influence is another biggie.

These are all things that we can pray about to God the Father with complete certainty.          

-Victory in ‘Living’ The Lord’s Prayer: “Thy Will Be Done in Earth”


Matt 6:9-13
Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name.

10 Thy kingdom come.

Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven.

11 Give us this day our daily bread.

12 And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors.

13 And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil: For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever. Amen.   -KJV

“Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven”

In the last article on The Lord’s Prayer we talked about the Kingdom of God and concluded that the Kingdom represents the ‘rule of God’. Therefore wherever God rules there is his Kingdom. So when we pray for his Kingdom to come we are really praying for an extension of his rule and authority which is exactly what we are praying for also when we say:

“Thy will be done on earth as it is in Heaven”

His will is done in Heaven. There is no sickness, there is no death, there is plenty of everything for everybody. His will reigns in Heaven but not necessarily here on earth. Choices and free will changes the whole equation here and messes it all up. We have sickness, death, famine, and natural disasters. Also, sometimes nature itself seems to be completely out of control.

Jesus came to change the direction of all creation and bring it back and reconcile it to God the Father. God had given authority over creation to the first man Adam and Satan had stolen it when Adam and Eve chose to rebel against God in the Garden.

Jesus reversed the course of and possibility of all creation when he lived as a perfect man and took back the mantle of the earth. Mt 28:18clip_image002 tells us that Jesus now has all authority in Heaven and on earth. He holds the keys to bringing the rule of God to the earth just as it is right now in the Heavenly realm.

Roman 8:12-19 tells us that all creation awaits the revelation of the ‘Sons of God’. That is All of creation awaits and is depending on some folks to wake up and understand more fully what it means to be the children of God through faith in Jesus and cry out—Abba Father!

All creation waits for a group of folks to not only pray- Thy will be done- but actually live it?

But how can it be done? How can we even know what the will of God is? Then how can we actually do the will of God on Earth? After all, all sorts of weird doctrines have been formed using this Romans 8 passage as an excuse.

A lot of the will of God is communicated to us in his written Word—The Bible. If we follow all of the rules and teaching laid out there then will His will be done on earth at least in our lives? No, not necessarily, we could never be ‘religious’ enough. It is really all about relationship. One can follow all of the rules and yet really not know God the Father. How do we know? Because Jesus said so.

There were a bunch of folks that followed all of the rules and even elaborated on a few of them but Jesus told them that they didn’t even know God. Meanwhile one of the religious rulers in Judea came to Jesus and asked him what more he needed to do to be received into the Kingdom of Heaven. Jesus told him that he needed to be ‘born again’. The guy’s name was Nicodemus and he really didn’t understand what Jesus was saying.

Most people today think that it is just a matter of being ‘good enough’ to get into Heaven. Folks mistakenly think that God grades on the curve and since they aren’t all that bad they figure they’ll make it in. Nicodemus was a religious leader who followed everything he knew of in the scriptures, was one of the very best people in all of Judea, and was pretty well shocked when Jesus told him that he wouldn’t even get to see the Kingdom unless he was somehow ‘born again’.

Being ‘Born Again’ is really the key to doing the will of God. When we say yes to God and his plan and accept his son Jesus then that is the beginning of saying yes to the will of God. When we submit to His plan of salvation through His Son Jesus then we become part of the family of God and God the Father gives us a part of himself—His Holy Spirit to dwell in us. The Spirit is there to teach His ways and counsel us and give us direction.

When we actually listen to the counsel and direction of God’s Spirit within us then we begin to actually do and live according to the will of God. The hardest part is to learn how to listen to the counsel and word of God for our lives.

We need to realize that when we pray ‘thy will be done’ we are actually committing ourselves to be a part of the fulfillment of that scripture. To date Jesus is the only one who ever fulfilled the words of the prayer and did the will of His Father on earth as it is in Heaven.

It is only through His Spirit that we have any hope of doing any of the will of God. Individually we always fall short but collectively the ‘body of Christ’ working together for a change can make a difference and bring about changes that could never be accomplished alone. All creation waits for the ‘Body of Christ’ to rise up and do the will of the Father?

It would mean that for once all of the body parts would be working together for a change and edifying and building up the entire body instead of working against each other. It would mean that finally there would be an organization –a church that does what the Father is doing as Jesus did (John 5:19) and nothing else.

Can you even imagine a church that actually does the will of God on earth? Yes I know, with what we have today it is hard to imagine. Yet, that is what we are praying for when we say “thy Kingdom come, thy will be done on earth”.

The greatest fulfillment will wait for Christ’s return but I do believe that we can have and should have a glimpse of it in our midst.

It is time for the church to get this down—all of the church. I believe that the ‘Fatherhood of God’ and greater intimacy will be part of the Kingdom message of a ‘New Awakening’ coming soon near you. Again, all of creation awaits for the church to understand more fully what it means to be and act like the children of God and cry out—Abba Father! (Romans 8:12-19).

-American Church: In Transition-No longer ‘Business as Usual’


One thing that should be obvious to most of us involved in the American church is that we are in a time of transition and nothing quite works the way it use to. Many major ministries that have been successful in the past are finding that past formulas no longer work and many find themselves in economic difficulty.

The lesson to be learned in this time of transition is to listen more closely to the Holy Spirit and ask for God’s help in everything that we do even the perfunctory tasks that we use to take for granted and perform automatically. We really do have to understand that ‘business as usual’ no longer works in the natural and in the Spiritual realm. What passed for natural wisdom can longer be counted on.

This goes even more so for Christians involved in businesses right now. It is a new day economically in America and Christian business folks should link up with intercessors and band together to support one another in prayer and seek special guidance. Spiritual creativity is in order as businesses fall away on the right and the left in America.

. For too long the American church has been a place of entertainment and escapism—also a place that only sells an ‘escapist’ eternal future. It is now time for the church to actually occupy until he comes and become the people of the Kingdom—‘Thy Kingdom come, thy will be done. On earth…”

-A Vision of St. Patrick and a Hedge of Protection

Yesterday morning I attended the Marketplace Prayer group at our church as usual. During the worship I had a remarkable vision of the ministry of  St. Patrick:

I saw him walk into the center of a village and challenge the pagan priests to a test of power. He called for the people to bring all of their sick to him. Then he asked which ones the pagan priests had been paid to heal but didn’t. Then I saw him pray for those first, heal them and later heal all the rest.

Then I saw him walk around the entire parameter of the village praying for a hedge of protection around it casting out all demons and calling for God’s protection over the village against attacks from snakes, vermin, and devouring animals.

Following the vision I asked the Lord what meaning it might have for us. Then I immediately saw a picture of myself circling the parameter of my own property praying, and stranger still praying over my check book.

Later that morning Pastor Mike and others started talking about how we are in the midst of a battle and that we need God’s protection over our jobs, businesses, and over everything we own. The enemy wants to steal and devour. I then told the group about my vision.

Afterward another bother leaped to his feet and told us how just the day before a snake had crawled up on his porch and he had prayed for protection over his family. Then the Lord’s told him that it was a sign in the natural that he and his were really under a spiritual attack from the enemy. He related how he had circled his entire home and property praying for God’s hedge of protection.

After the prayer meeting I immediately went home and circled my entire home and property praying for a hedge of protection over my family and everything I own. Then I went on to work.           

-Victory in ‘Living’ The Lord’s Prayer: “Thy Kingdom Come”-Becoming Naturally Supernatural


Matt 6:9-13
Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name.

10 Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven.

11 Give us this day our daily bread.

12 And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors.

13 And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil: For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever. Amen.   -KJV

Becoming Naturally Supernatural

When we pray ‘Thy Kingdom Come’ in essence we are praying for the Kingdom and rule of God to become part of our lives. But then we ignore him so much of the time—at least I do. Even for those of us who are Pentecostals and Charismatics, the supernatural is still the exception rather than the rule particularly in America and the Western world.

It is time for us to more clearly understand that Jesus is our example. He demonstrated what it means to bring the Kingdom and rule of God into human experience. How to be naturally supernatural.

The time has come for Christians to stand up and be the ‘body of Christ’—be real representatives of Jesus just like we have always been called to be. It is time to do the works of Jesus and forget about playing church and putting all of our efforts into organizations. The church should never be an end but always a means.

Unfortunately the history of the Christian church places so much emphasis on the organizations and leaders that have come and gone. It is riddled with the dead shells of past revivals, by-gone ministries, fallen leaders, and those who don’t know that they are fallen. But Jesus Christ remains and he said that he would be with us to the very end.

It is time to go back to the future. Our future lies in doing the works of Jesus in the 21th century just like the first all over again.

Sometimes I wonder what it would be like if Jesus had come in our century rather than the first and to America rather than Judea. Who would be his disciples?

I am fairly well convinced that the main-line churches would probably be like the Sadducees of old and many Evangelicals would act in similar ways to the Pharisees. Also, the secularists would probably be like the Romans and their puppet rulers who sought after riches and political power.

What if a revival came to America and the Western world that looked very much like the works and ministry of Jesus? What would the response be? How would the religious leaders in America respond? How would the secularists?

I believe that when revival does come millions of regular folks will be affected and they will experience a major change in world view. The supernatural will no longer be the exception but a natural expectation and result. Bringing the Kingdom into every day life in the 21th century would change it all.

If and when the works and ministry of Jesus become the norm among the faithful Christians in America there will be a major paradigm shift and the supernatural works of Jesus will become natural for the participants. Then we’ll end up with a new ‘Kingdom culture’ to rival and parallel the secular culture that is now dominating America and the Western world.