3 Days of Light, 2016

IMG_3759Last weekend I once again joined with Kelly Williams, Papy Fisher and a few of his Desanka team in festival ministry, this time at the five year old 3 Days of Light festival, which Kelly had been working on getting into for a couple of years, held this year in the mountains of Ferguson, NC. I have worked with this group at the Wild Goose festival several times, and last year at Haunted Happenings in Salem, MA. It was the first time at this festival for any of us. In addition to doing the usual prophetic ministry out of a tent, Papy was determined to serve the festival in some way similar to what he has done at Wild Goose. So, with Caroline Buchanan’s capable leading, in addition to prophetic ministry, we provided free delicious meals, water, coffee, the occasional roll of duct tape, etc., to anyone and everyone. The impact of having this added aspect of ministry is hard to calculate, but for the sake of illustration, let me say that our presence at this festival was maybe ten times as effective as it would have been with just the ministry tent alone. The ministry tent is where the deepest impact happens. It’s where bondages are broken and people knowingly connect with God. But there was more traffic through the ministry tent because of the free food and drink and the fellowship and relationships that resulted from them.

IMG_3766The importance of that fellowship and the relationships that follow can’t be overstated. This is where festival goers encounter people being Jesus at ground level. They are loved; even more importantly, they are liked. They keep coming back, not only for sustenance but just to sit and visit. Relationships deepen. Contact info is exchanged.

Contact info is exchanged in the ministry tent also, but the dynamic is different. It is that of one person needing help from another person. Sometimes, ministry really does continue afterwards with those who have received ministry in the tent, and a discipleship of sorts ensues. The friendships that develop over food, drink and conversation are different and invaluable. They are, I think like the friendships Jesus formed while on earth, with the mutual affection and easy interchange of people who like each other.

I really can no longer imagine doing outreach ministry without this dynamic.

IMG_3756The encounters we had in the tent were very deep, quite numerous – one after another much of the time – and often very intense. Some were so intense I wasn’t able to talk about them even with others on the team. I still feel unable to tell some of the stories. There was what appeared to be more demonic manifestation than usual, all of which were vanquished as we remained steadfast in prayer and the authority we carry. As usual, many of those who came entered easily into a two way conversation with their Creator, who they either didn’t believe in or weren’t sure existed, and then were delightedly stunned when it was pointed out to them that the conversation had occurred (that’s one of my favorite things). There was one man who, through tears, said he was “stuck” because of a broken heart. My own heart broke for his grief. He left, not without sorrow, but no longer stuck, and free of guilt and shame. I watched his face light up with joy when it was pointed out to him that he had had a two way conversation with God. It’s just so cool that they don’t realize this is happening when it happens!

God is so wonderful.IMG_3754

 

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NOT How It’s Done

317268_218106624916180_1870703189_nRecently, a friend, sent me a link to a blog written by a guy who is part of a Christian prayer group. This particular blog article was about a music festival, one of a series of music festivals that happen in various places around the world. The prayer group obviously feels threatened by the existence of these festivals, owing, it seems to their New Age ethos. The writer of the blog mentioned the New Age leanings and called it an “occult” music festival. He writes how his team visited one of the festival arenas prior to the festival to pray that, among other things, attendance would be low and that there would be “major delays and disruptions” so as to hinder the festival. And he reports that attendance at that particular festival, unlike similar festivals held elsewhere, was extremely low indeed and that the delays and disruptions and troubles were pretty substantial. The author was pretty excited about the group’s apparent success, but from my position as someone who attends festivals all the time, I have to ask – what did they really accomplish?

I’m sure they believe they frustrated the powers of darkness.

Assuming for the sake of argument that the group’s prayers were responsible for the low attendance and the technical troubles, did anything redemptive happen as a result?

The author counted as a victory the low attendance. The arena, he reports, holds 15,000 but only 1,100 showed up. If we allow that the music festival is a place of spiritual darkness, then we can make the assumption that those that stayed home avoided that darkness for that period of time, but there is darkness, and light, everywhere, and I doubt this music festival is as evil a place as this group of Christians assumes it to be. And what about the delays and disruptions? Were they a testimony to anyone that the love of God is greater than any power on earth? Certainly not to the attendees or the organizers, unless the group engaged them to tell them what they had done, but the author doesn’t report engaging any of them, though some of them stayed at the arena to observe the “fruits” of their “labors”.
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So they engaged no one, blessed no one, loved no one.

If these prayer warriors HAD engaged the organizers or the attendees and told them that the festival failed because they had prayed against it, would they have been grateful? Would they have seen this as an act of love on the part of the prayer team?. No, they would have seen it as an act of aggression. They would have, I promise you, felt (understandably) that these Christians hated them and disapproved of them, and that therefore, the Christian God probably hates and disapproves of them too.

encounters under the Tree of LifeIt appears that these intercessors attended the festival but DID NOT bless the attendees, and this is what I find most troublesome about this whole episode. This looks to me to be just another case of fearful Christians too afraid to actually walk in love amongst those Jesus has died to love. How does anyone read the accounts of Jesus and not understand that he absolutely wants to BE there with these people, and that it is our job to go where Jesus wants to be?

I’ll tell you a secret: I go to many festivals – it’s what I do – and I and those I go with are often the only Jesus followers there. You know what we always find?

Jesus is already there!

On one hand, I commend these intercessors for their zeal and I know they believe they are being loving and doing the Lord’s work. They don’t know they are being fearful, but they are, and Jesus followers, of all people, should fear nothing. They apparently were praying for the attendees to not enter into covenants with darkness. Well and good. But why were they not THERE for them, listening to them and praying for their real earthly and spiritual concerns? Why were they not ministering to their needs and empathizing with their hurts and disappointments? In short, why were they not loving them? Isn’t that what Jesus did? When did he ever do anything resembling what these “prayer warriors” were doing?

Our ministry – the ministry of ALL Jesus followers – is that of reconciliation (2 Corinthians 5:16-20). There’s a better way to do this than by disrupting things and opposing people’s free will, which even God does not do and which does not redeem anything at all. Jesus meets people where they’re at. This is the difference between the Tree of Life and the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. The fruit of the latter may make you feel clever. But it is ministering Life and Light which has taught me what Jesus meant when he said, “I have food to eat ye know not of”.

 

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The Street Preachers Strike Again

Recently, someone commented on one of my blog posts. Here is the comment. The part in sub quotes, which I’ve emboldened, was taken from the blog post in question, in other words, I wrote it:

RuebenIsDisappointed“This is what you live out? Really?

‘My definition of evangelism looks something like this: To love my neighbors in truth – to get to know them, to listen to them, to truly “see” them. To be available to them, and to not give up on them – ever. That is, after all, how God treats me.’

“That’s not how he treats his own … His actions speak falsely … He judges and castes away those who have a differing opinion. He takes pride in yelling and arguing with those who stand on the street and share their point of view with others . He will condem you without seeking to understand. After all, he is right…there’s no room for any other perspective.
“If your actions are a reflection of who God is and If God treated you the way you truly treat others , I wouldn’t want to have anything to do with your God.
Your hypocrisy knows no bounds.”

Anytime someone comments on my blog, I get an e-mail and am given the choice to approve the comment or not. An e-mail address for the commenter is provided. This commenter’s name was given only as “Jo”. I don’t know who it is, but I am sure that he or she is connected with the bullhorn street preachers we regularly encounter here in Salem.

So I sent “Jo” an e-mail. This is what it said: “Have I wronged you in some way? I’m assuming you are one of the street preachers who preaches on the streets of Salem. Is this right?”

Having the misfortune of many years of dealing with these types, I know how they operate. I decided I would not approve the comment unless the commenter was willing to engage in something resembling a dialogue with me. I was sure he/she wouldn’t. But I had to provide the opportunity, and that’s why I sent the e-mail.

They didn’t respond.

So I sent a second e-mail a few days ago. This is what that one said: “I’m pretty convinced of your affiliation to the bullhorn street preachers, and your failure to answer my previous e-mail is very typical. You people are scared to death of having dialogue with those you come to slander. You are present day Pharisees, whitewashed tombs, wind without rain; you have nothing to offer the non-believers you judge and slander. 
“Had you chosen to engage, I would have approved your comment on my blog and a conversation could have taken place there. I am considering writing another blog post using your comment as the basis to show how devoid of anything resembling Christ-likeness you bullhorn cowards actually are. Thanks for that opportunity.”

Yes, I know that’s pretty harsh.

So why am I writing this blog? Because I find these people and their actions so reprehensible as to be akin to murder. That’s not much of a stretch, based on Jesus’ own definition of murder; it’s actually consistent with that definition. I feel this kind of hateful behavior needs to be exposed.

These people come, spewing insults and accusations toward people they not only don’t know, they refuse to know them. They absolutely refuse to engage in conversation, choosing instead to hide behind their bullhorns. I have heard the refer to people they do not know, some of them believers, as “sluts”, “homos”, “devil worshippers”, etc.

So let me take the commenter’s points one at a time:

“That’s not how he treats his own”

You would not believe the lengths I have gone through to get some of these would-be evangelists to admit that I am their brother in Christ. Yes, I believe they are Christians. Badly mistaken ones, but Christians nonetheless. Only once have I succeeded, and that was probably because I was making him really nervous. I can be intimidating sometimes.

If I am one of their own, why do they announce to the crowd that I am a heretic? and doing the devil’s work?

“He judges and casts away those who have a differing opinion”

This one is laughable and when my fellow ministers read this, they’re liable to choke on their soup. I should probably warn them before I post this. Talk about the pot calling the kettle black. These people have NO tolerance for any opinion other than their own very narrow and mean one. ‘Nuff said.

“He takes pride in yelling and arguing with those who stand on the street…”

Well, I don’t take pride in it, but other than that, guilty as charged.

“…and share their point of view with others”

They don’t “share” anything. They come uninvited and spew murder and hate. They come empty handed and are good only at really making people angry.

“After all, he is right…there’s no room for any other perspective”

One of their complaints against me is that I have TOO MUCH room for other perspectives. They themselves have none. Again, the pot calling the kettle black.

“I wouldn’t want to have anything to do with your God”

I know. My God is a God of mercy and grace. Yours is a harsh judge who hates people. They actually tell people this: “God hates you”. Yes, they do.

Many times, while these people are spewing hate from their bullhorns, I have shouted out to the crowd, “Who wants the god they’re preaching?”. They universally respond in the negative.

I can’t communicate how difficult these street preachers make it for those of us who are just trying to love people the way we see Jesus loving them. The older I get, the more sure I am that Paul’s “thorn in the flesh” was the legalists and “false apostles” who followed him around and made life difficult for them. It is frustrating beyond words. I fully understand why Paul and even Jesus used such harsh language in speaking to them and speaking about them. I know they are not going away. Sometimes, they make what we have to offer even more attractive. But their works are the most grievous thing we have to deal with, more difficult than lack of funds or fatigue. They are my thorn in the flesh.


U.K. 2016

“(T)he world has been crucified unto me, and I unto the world”

 

IMG_3550I’ve just returned from my trip to the UK. I did prophetic outreach at three festivals. I was joined at the Burning Nest festival near Port Talbot Wales by Mark Searle, Dee Cunniffe and Mr. Jeff. I then joined Phil Wyman and Andrew Thomas at How The Light Gets In, a philosophy and music festival in Hay-On-Wye, also in Wales. Several of the friends I’ve made during that time honored me by inviting me to visit them in their homes, so after the second festival, I travelled around England, visiting people in Hereford, London, and Hastings. These are not people who would identify as Christians and they know that I do, and yet through working together, breaking bread together, sharing a drink together, and hearing of or seeing with their own eyes how the love of God sets people free, we have become friends. And during my visits with them, those friendships were deepened. I was also able to do healing work and dream interpretations for some of the people I visited.

IMG_3443I then met David and Sandi Brown and their daughters, Shalom and Zoe, and Christopher Gaston in Salisbury and together we took a bus to the four day Stonehenge Solstice festival. Phil joined us there later that same day.

During the five weeks I was there, I saw a great deal of the UK (one of the many perks of this ministry I’m surprised to find myself in) but, more importantly, I and my teammates broke bondages, interpreted dreams and prayed for healing. Painful memories had the pain of them removed. We pointed out the Light of the World to people and taught them how to move toward Him. We warned them of the dangers they were likely encounter and how to avoid them.

IMG_3468Festival ministry is not something I ever would have chosen. Festival culture was not something I had any awareness of, and even if I had been aware of it, nothing about going to festivals would have appealed to me. I’m an extreme introvert. I avoid crowds. I don’t enjoy parties. Festival ministry chose me, you might say, suddenly and unexpectedly, back in 2007. I thought it was blip, a singular event in my life, but it has expanded and grown to the point where I have retired from my job to devote my life to it. I don’t presently have a place of my own to live, mostly because I don’t seem to need one. It’s a luxury I can do without for now. Meanwhile, the list of festivals I go to keeps growing. I expect to increase the number of UK festivals from three to five. I’ve lost count of the US ones. I still don’t like parties, and there are things that people do at festivals that I have no interest in doing, so there’s much I don’t participate in. But I am drawn to these people. And I am drawn to festival culture. It is my life, and I absolutely love it.

IMG_3574This is a culture that looks at society as it is and believes there are better ways. Who can argue with this? The world is a mess. The desire of these people for an alternative, and their belief alternatives are possible is, I believe, because they, like me, are created in the image of God. There is a hunger in all people for certain realities that reflect the nature of God, and there is much in society that does NOT reflect that nature. This is the Imago Dei, and is an amazingly beautiful thing to observe even in people who have no conscious desire for God himself, although I believe all people possess this desire innately. I have heard thoughts and opinions that reflect qualities I recognize as Godly from witches, from New Agers, from people who were drunk or high on drugs, from the mentally ill – all, I believe, possess a spark of the divine. I believe that even those with whom I vehemently disagree, or who are doing detestable things, in their heart of hearts, what they really desire at the bottom of it all are the things of God. God loves festival people, and I love them too. They ARE searching for a better way, and while I do not imagine myself as some sort of guru in their midst, I do see my role as that of a gentle guide, available to all if they want it, but honouring their journey whether they do or don’t.

What can I do for you? Do you have dreams that need interpreting? You can e-mail them to me. Are there bondages or strongholds in your life you need help getting free from? I do this ministry through Skype, free of charge. Feel free to contact me.IMG_3482


A Great Weekend

10440282_799350580142958_7205492013393001991_nThe weekend outreach at One Tribe Fest, Raleigh NC, is over. Not a lot of traffic at this one, possibly due to the weather. But it was still a very good weekend. We had committed to help with setting up and packing up the event, and the event organizer, a woman named Dulce – an apt name for this sweetheart of a woman – was very grateful and has become a real friend as a result. We look forward to serving her at many other events.

Part of our duties included helping other vendors with their set-up, which can involve a LOT of work. So, between that and the long conversations we had with them during the slow weekend, we made plenty of new friends, and strengthened relationships with others we have met at other New Age festivals. We ministered to many of these vendors over the weekend, which we always try to do. Besides just being a natural thing to do, it builds a kind of family atmosphere with them, and gives the whole event a feel of community.

Despite the sparse attendance, we did have (I’m guessing) a couple of dozen encounters with attendees. For myself, there seemed to be more requests for dream interpretation than usual, and as usually happens with those, people are often disturbed by dreams that are actually reassuring once understood. I love watching the look of relief people get when they find out what their dreams actually mean.

We saw people set free from heartbreaks and bondages of all kinds. We watched people who believed only in an impersonal Universe ask for and receive for themselves answers directly from God. As always, we simply made the introductions.

I am so blessed to be able to work with Papy Fisher, Kelly Williams, and their whole Desanka ministry team. What an amazing group of people! Their favor with event organizers is increasing and they are seeing more and more doors open to them. I expect to have the pleasure of working with them more and more.

In two weeks, I leave for Iceland and then the UK. We have a team that I am so grateful to be a part of joining us for three outreaches. We will have prophetic encounters probably numbering well over a hundred during that time. We have lots of new things we are going do this year in our never-ending desire to grow and adapt fresh approaches in effectively serving and ministering to the people Jesus loves – which includes you!

How can we serve you? Do you have dreams you need interpreted? Or need prophetic ministry? Maybe you’d like to be on our team, or learn how to do this kind of ministry at festivals and events near you. We can help. Feel free to contact me.


This weekend’s outreach – April 30, 2016

10440282_799350580142958_7205492013393001991_nI’m in North Carolina for a weekend outreach at One Tribe, a New Age festival in Raleigh. It’s always a great treat and privilege to work with Kelly Williams, Papy Fisher and the whole Desanka team. The tent is set up and ready, and of course, looks beautiful as it always does. It will be a great time of being a part of what God will do in the hearts, bodies, minds and spirits of those who are genuinely seeking spiritual reality and truth.


Unlearning Evangelism

“Evangelism is teaching the gospel with the aim to persuade”

IMG_2442This is one definition of evangelism I just came across. It’s a pretty good one, in certain situations. But what happens if you’re talking to someone who doesn’t want you to teach them, and doesn’t appreciate your attempt to persuade? This approach is fine if someone, or many someones, have asked a question, or otherwise shown their openness to engage with you, and then only if doing so actually answers their question.

In my ministry, that kind of favor, or permission, usually happens AFTER there has been a genuine God-encounter; a healing happens, or someone is powerfully set free from some bondage, or we interpret a dream and the interpretation rocks their world. That’s when they start asking questions: “How are you able to do that?” “How did you know that?” “Why do you do this for free?” “What are you guys all about?” See? Now we have permission. And people will listen. If they are offended by my answers, at least they aren’t offended by my presumption. The truth is, I can’t remember the last time someone got offended. We’re living in a time when people are very much interested in talking about God (“The fields are white…”). They just don’t want to feel he is being shoved down their throats. Having experienced the love and power of God, they WANT to talk about it. Sometimes they come to Christ, right then and there. But they pretty much ALWAYS go away knowing there is a God who knows and loves them, often even if they have not asked any questions.

I love it when that happens. Those are the times I identify with Jesus when he said “I have bread to eat you know not of”. But though I do the work of an evangelist, getting people “saved” is not my first concern. In a real sense, it is not my concern at all.

encounters under the Tree of LifeI notice with some amazement that Jesus demonstrated the power and the love of God without requiring anything of those he served. Even among the “stiff-necked” who had no intention of following him, such as the Galileans in John 4 when he healed the nobleman’s son, he did a miracle and met the need. It used to puzzle me that he would often perform some miracle and then, while he had their attention, fail to lead them in the sinner’s prayer. It’s true that he was continually preaching the good news about the Kingdom, but he DIDN’T REQUIRE ANYTHING OF THEM! This, despite the fact that the people were thronging him, pressing him, crowding him, anything to be in his presence. He had them in the palm of his hand!

And that is what most would-be evangelists today don’t have.

There are two kinds of evangelists out there. There are the ones who preach in churches, or in stadiums for pre-packaged evangelistic rallies. These are “preaching to the choir” for the most part, to people who are already Christians who are there for the show. Many of them bring their friends and neighbors and many of these do “get saved.” All good.

RuebenIsDisappointedThen there are the street preachers, brave souls who go into the marketplace and shout their version of the “good news” at people. Trouble is, with most of these, nobody ever takes what they are saying as good news. Including me. Or my fellow prophetic evangelists. It doesn’t help that these same street preachers purposely seek us out and will often stand as near to us as they can with their bullhorns and announce to the crowds that we are “of the devil” and leading people astray. As proof of this, they often point to the line of people waiting to talk to us.

Jesus had crowds of people waiting to talk to him too.

They waited, because they knew he had something real to offer them. They wait for us, because they know we have something real too. The street preachers come with nothing to offer – and expect to be heard. They think they are evangelists. They are actually “clouds without rain.” (Jude 1:12)

To do the work of Jesus, you first of all must be genuinely concerned for the people you want to reach, and to be genuinely concerned means to see their real, earthly, flesh-and-blood needs. Meeting those needs has to be your real motivation, out of compassion. When I and my teammates go to minister, we try very hard to do only what we see the Father doing – because that’s what Jesus did. As for their salvation, I personally believe that their “getting saved” is between them and God. My role in that is to make the introduction, to answer their questions, and possibly to lead them to where they want to go if they don’t know how to get their on their own. I am a facilitator.

My definition of evangelism looks something like this: To love my neighbors in truth – to get to know them, to listen to them, to truly “see” them. To be available to them, and to not give up on them – ever.

That is, after all, how God treats me.