DIAMOND SKIES

After not raining for weeks, suddenly it was a monsoon. We woke up to our first morning in Malawi, Africa to one loud clap of thunder. Then the rain fell loud and hard.

The missionaries had asked us to pray for rain. The local farmer’s crops were in desperate need of it.

We danced up and down the covered walkway in front of the missionary apartments. We were excited that God answered the prayer, but even more elated because we saw the rain as a prophetic sign that He was going to pour out revival in the region.

It was a long 24 hours on two flights of air travel followed by a four hour bouncy ride over dirt roads that were basically one continuous pot hole. Finally, we were in Bangula, Malawi with our new found friends.

David and Joanna Morrison were the missionary base directors. They had overseen the growth of the facility from desert scrub to its current size and layout.

Two buildings now housed 60 formerly orphaned children. “Formerly orphaned” because they were now sons and daughters as part of the loving family on the Morrison’s base. The base also had a Bible school for area pastors and a chapel.

Knowing that Debbie and I wanted to begin outreaches as soon as possible, the missionaries gathered some of the children from the base as well as the nearby village. We shared a message with them and prayed over them afterwards.

A young man named Diamond testified of a vision that God gave him during the ministry time. He said that he saw a night sky full of stars as far as the eye could see.

Debbie told the group that she felt the vision harkened back to Abraham, who also saw stars and received a divine promise that he would have many descendants. She explained that Diamond’s vision meant that God intended to have many spiritual sons and daughters born to Him in Malawi.

Over the next few weeks we were able to have a small part in that vision of stars’ fulfillment as we saw many born into the kingdom and themselves becoming a sign and a wonder.

Next – “No Longer Orphans”

AFRICA!

Debbie felt herself launched out of her seat and propelled to the front of the church auditorium. The missionary speaker had just given an altar call for those who felt called to serve overseas. “Africa” was resonating with Debbie as she lay face down on the floor yielding herself up to the call of God.

“But God, You’re going to have to speak with Dan about this”, she prayed. “He has no desire to go to Africa”.

Unbeknownst to my wife, I was in another part of the auditorium, flat on my face as well. The Holy Spirit was speaking to me also.

The presence of the Lord was thick and heavy in the room. I crawled on the carpet over to the place where Debbie was prostrate on the floor.

“Debbie”, I whispered in her ear. “God has just told me we’re going to Africa. He wants us to go to Malawi”.

While she was praying, before I crawled over, she was asking that the Lord would send us to a part of Africa other than Heidi and Roland Baker’s base in Mozambique, where so many seemed to be called. Jesus immediately answered this prayer too with my assertion that He wanted us in the neighboring country of Malawi.

Malawi puzzled Debbie. “Why Malawi? Where was even Malawi on the map?”

After the meeting, she went home and did some investigation. She knew that she wanted to serve with a missionary movement called Iris Ministries founded by Roland and Heidi Baker. They were all about reaching the poorest of the poor, feeding and housing widows and orphans. God had tremendously blessed their church planting ministry as well. Over 5,000 churches had been spawned in a powerful movement of the Holy Spirit replete with book of Acts stuff like miracles, healings, and even dead-raisings!

Sure enough, as she investigated, she discovered a young couple named David “Mo” and Joanna Morrison who where pioneering a work in Malawi. They and their three small children had been living by themselves next door to a witch doctor. Only recently, had they moved on to the missionary base they had built. The base housed children who had been orphaned, a school for pastors, and facilities to store and deliver food to the desperate. Their ministry had already launched 300 churches in the area. Every month they fed thousands of widows and the destitute through their feeding program.

“Yes, this would be the place and the Morrisons would be our people”, Debbie thought as she read.

However, there was a problem. Debbie had multiple medical conditions that would make life overseas next to impossible. “God”, she prayed, “if you want us in Malawi, You’re going to have to heal me!”

Months later, we were in another conference at our church. During deep worship, the entire congregation was silent. The worship leader requested it. You could have heard a pin drop. Suddenly, from the floor where Debbie lay under the power of God, there came a giggle. Her giggling turned into full-on gut-busting laughter. The worship leader and most of the church may have been mortified with her “lack of reverence” but God wasn’t. The laughter was actually a form of healing-deliverance and she got up off of the carpet healed. The healing was so thorough that, under the supervision of her doctor, she was able to go off several medications.

As an extra bonus, the next day of the conference, Debbie was in worship. ” God “, she prayed, “if you could heal me of all of those conditions, could you also heal my eyes?” She took off her glasses and could immediately see small print across the room. Her eye exams have been better than 20-20 since!

We continued praying and planing for our future as missionaries to Malawi. Iris Ministries held a missionary training school at our church so we attended that. It seemed like a good strategy to us to take a short term trip to the base in Malawi to confirm our call there. We planned a three week exploratory trip.

With healing now dealt with, there remained the question of finances. How were we going to pay to go? Airfare and expenses for even a short term trip of three weeks would involve thousands of dollars. Jesus solved that problem as well. My company gave us a sales bonus that allowed us to completely self fund our trip!

It was the night before we were to fly away to Africa. We were packed and ready to go, excited about our trip. A missionary friend of ours who had been to the Morrison’s base in Malawi, was having a conversation with us. It was shocking.

“When you’re in Malawi”, he warned, “you have to watch out for the black mamba snake. It is deadly poisonous. If you see one, run over it with your car, don’t take any chances. They can crawl up inside your car and bite you and you’re dead! Also, be careful of the witch doctors. A child of one of the workers on the Morrison’s base was kidnapped by them. They found her chopped in pieces.”

We were horrified.

Thanking our friend for his warnings, we parted company. “God”, we prayed, “what have we done? We have bitten off way more than we can chew with this trip. This is too big for us. We’re just a couple of Starbucks missionaries!”

Suddenly, there was a knock at the door. Our daughter in law’s parents/our good friends were paying us a surprise visit. We poured out our hearts and fears to them. As they prayed over us, we suddenly felt the tangible peace of the Lord coating us like invisible armor. We would be ok. God was in this! He was with us here and He would be with us there as well.

Earlier that summer, as we continued our ministry with children and teens in the housing projects of Harrisburg, Debbie felt strongly impressed to share something with the kids. She told them the Bible story of the man who had sold everything that he possessed to purchase a field.

“The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field. When a man found it, he hid it again, and then in his joy went and sold all he had and bought that field”. Matt 13:44

Drifting off to sleep that night before our flight, we had no idea how what we were embarking upon would be so like that man in Jesus’ story.

It would cost us everything…Everything.

A TREE GROWS IN EDEN

Psalm 1 – a translation from the original Hebrew text

Happy is the man
Who does not walk
In the advice
Or the schemes
Of the wicked

And does not stand still
In the highway
Of the ones
Who miss the path

And does not sit
And remain
In the seat
Of arrogant mockers

But instead his pleasure and longing
Is the foundational instruction of Yahweh
The One Who Exists
And in His instructions
He is meditating out loud
Day and night

He becomes like a tree
Transplanted on the channels
And dividing streams of waters
That flow and bubble up

He reproduces
and yields fruit
In his season

His leaf is not decaying
Withering and fading
Like the life of a fool

And all he is doing
His work, business, accomplishments, and creations
Shall prosper, be profitable,
succeed and finish well,
Making it across and to the opposite side
Of the river of development

Please share what the Holy Spirit has shown you about Psalm 1 in the comments section below!

My Comments –

There is something about the verbal and out-loud reading and rumination of scripture, especially those building blocks of instruction that the Lord has delivered to us.  These building blocks form the foundation for our lives.  Jesus said that His words were a solid foundation vs shifting sand for the purpose of building the structure of ones life upon.  The OT Law is great but ultimately, Jesus and His instructions are the fulfillment of Psalm 1.  Paul said the only foundation that could be laid is that of Christ and that a man should be careful how he builds upon that original foundation.  It is like Jesus has the operators manual to our lives and wants to read out of it to us, sharing its secrets with us.

Jesus is the fulfillment of the tree that does not wither.  As we draw strength from the sap of the vine which is Jesus Christ’s presence (JN 15), we won’t wither like the one who does not abide in Him.

The streams in Psalm 1 are reminiscent of the rivers of Eden (and of Revelation!) . The way back into Eden is to verbally chew on and apply God’s instructions, especially those of Jesus. Even our daily tasks will then take on the playful and successful qualities that Adam and Eve briefly enjoyed in Eden.  Our life projects will make it to completion instead of drowning halfway there.

 

“Scripture in HD”

“Colorful richness from the Hebrew text”

Dan Murrill 2015

 

THE POWER OF PRAYER-WALKING

Looking back, every season of productive evangelism that we have experienced has begun with a prayer-walk. What is a “prayer-walk”?

A prayer-walk is a purposeful activity of prayer. It is intercession on foot. A large or small group of believers walks through a specific location that God has laid on their heart, praying as they go. All participants seek to tune in to what the Holy Spirit is breathing prayer-wise. There may be worship and prophetic words interspersed with the prayers. Often, the Spirit of God gives guidance about what He envisions for a neighborhood or region and shares that guidance with the prayer-walkers.

Is prayer-walking some kind of scriptural principle or Biblical mandate? No! There are some Biblical examples and precedent, though.

Joshua was told “every place that the sole of your foot will tread upon, I have given to you” (Joshua 1:3). We all know what happened when Joshua and his army marched around Jericho and praised Yahweh. The city was given over into their hands.

For us, it has simply been something that the Lord has led us to do routinely before we embark on opening up a new area for our gospel outreaches.

It kind of began with Jim Robb, the pastor of the church where we first found the Holy Spirit. Jim was a big, scary man both in the natural and in the spiritual. From the start, Debbie found herself intimidated by Him. After a while, she discovered him to be, using his own words, a “velvet-covered brick”! Jim had a soft heart. He also, like a father, had a soft spot in his heart for Debbie.

One day, before service, Debbie asked Jim how to pray. Our lives had been so turned upside down in Holy Spirit renewal that we were relearning even basic things like prayer. Instead of answering her question he told my wife, “Come with me!” Jim proceeded to lead Debbie through the hallways that literally encircled the church auditorium. He prayed out loud as they walked. His prayers were all about God showing up in His mighty presence and power. After Jim was finished, Debbie knew why it was that God’s Spirit came so strongly and predictably to our church.

Our prayer walk through the streets of one of the most notorious areas of Baltimore with our new friends, Sherry and JD, was notable. Instead of a basic prayer walk, it turned into a full-on revival meeting on the sidewalk with a prayer line, slaying in the Spirit, and deliverance! You can read about it in “Of Rats and Men”.  There is something about being a physical presence in an area with great need. As you are visibly wandering about praying, you become a walking lighthouse complete with a beacon attracting the endangered and needy. Following this prayer walk, the good fruit continued as scores of neighborhood kids, teens, and even some adults accepted Jesus in our open air campaigns there.

In Annapolis, we prayer-walked and prayer-drove. However, we and our friends lived right there in the middle of an American mission field. We had all moved to that dicey neighborhood for the purpose of reaching it. Ministry literally came to our front door and entered our living rooms! While we were there, we saw over 150 of our neighbors come to Christ.

Our friend, Andrea, led Debbie and me in a prayer walk through her dangerous neighborhood of Hoveter Homes. It was a little hard to concentrate on hearing God when you are vigilantly watching to make sure that no one is going to jump you. A short time later, the Holy Spirit gave us a directional download during deep worship at our church. Later that same day, the lost began pouring into the kingdom.

We had a frightening experience prayer-driving in the days before our outreaches began in Hall Manor. We had heard so many stories of murders, rapes, and muggings that we felt more comfortable driving around the sprawling project than being in the more vulnerable mode of prayer-walking. As Debbie and I and our neighborhood friend drove slowly through the neighborhood, praying, the siding door of our minivan suddenly flew open. A street thug jumped into our car. We all screamed! As quickly as he jumped in, he exited. With all of us screaming like banshees, he was probably more scared than we were! After we regained our senses, we surmised that he had thought we were “customers” or had probably jumped into the wrong car. Never a dull moment in Hall Manor! Jesus helped us, though, with our fears (see “Do It Afraid“) and nearly one hundred kids and youth came into a personal relationship with Jesus during our time there.

No, prayer-walking is not a silver bullet. However, we have seen wonderful fruit as a result. Like anything else, we seek to do only what the Father is showing us to do. Anything more than that quickly morphs into dead, religious duty.

Next – “Africa!”

THE BONY HAND OF PERFORMANCE

Recently, I saw worship time billed as “performance by the worship team” in an order of service belonging to a church that is part of a stream that was once known for its intimate worship.

Performance is a spirit. It seeks to light on Christian preachers and worship leaders to steal the focus away from God.

It co-exists with the anointing.

A leader in the spotlight can simultaneously have the glorious hand of the Holy Spirit on him or her to enable ministry as well as a demon’s bony hand of performance.

The spirit of performance is ravenously hungry. It is not satisfied with simply influencing individuals, it wants to permeate entire congregations.

Looking across the landscape of the modern church, we see a view radically different than the early church. 1 Corinthians 14:26 is the window that shows us how “church was done” in the beginning. Today, body ministry has devolved into what amounts to concert venues filled with spectators watching a few spiritual celebrities minister through word and song. The mighty bride of Christ has had its hair shorn like Samson and its wings clipped so that it cannot soar. The steadfast, unrelenting work of dark spirits over centuries has ripped ministry from the hands of many and granted it to the few.

The covering cherub was a worship leader before his fall. In his pride, did he enjoy being the center of attention, conducting his ministry over the throne but in front of myriads of angels? After his fall, we know that he and other fallen spirits enjoy receiving worship. Their desire is to upstage and hijack true worship. Stages are built and arenas are constructed to mimic what goes on in heaven. Instead of God being the focus of the multitude and being exalted, the secular musician is. All eyes are upon him. He and his craft are exalted. Standing right next to him, invisible of course, is the former “cherub that covers”. The musician thinks that he is receiving the attention and worship when in reality the invisible evil one standing next to him is. All this has been constructed to steal men’s hearts, attention, focus, and worship away from the living God.

Fast forward to the 21st century church. We construct our own giant platforms, arenas, and big screens. They are designed to direct the focus of the 1000 upon the one. Whether the “one” is the speaker or the worship leader, if performance is involved, the evil one is standing right next to the Christian leader, receiving worship. There is little difference between this and what is happening on the secular platform. How diabolical of the enemy to employ Christians in the worship of a man substituted for the worship of God.

Is it time to deconstruct our platforms, podiums, and big screens that enable the spirit of performance to operate in our churches? Would this help to take the focus off of man and put it more directly on Jesus?

Maybe a revival resulting in a change of heart is necessary first. Can we ask God to wash away our pride and deliver us from the spirit of performance? Leader and laity, both, are susceptible to its wiles.

Can we as congregations recognize what is happening and repent from giving adulation to a man or a ministry that belongs only to the Father? Can this subtle spirit of performance be unmasked, exposed, and driven out of our assemblies? Can we vocally and passionately address issues of performance that are polluting and perverting true worship?

Can we have the days of the Welsh revival again where the Holy Spirit was the leader and not a man exulted up on the big screen? Can we let the dancing hand of God alight on a parishioner’s voice, albeit a nonprofessional off key voice, but yet a voice chosen and anointed to lead out in that moment of time the song that the Holy Spirit has picked for that exact segment of the service? One song or chorus arising from this part of the room and another from that. No one in the spotlight. All eyes closed and tearfully focused on the only one deserving attention – Jesus!

Could it be that when this happens, some ears will actually hear the faint ethereal voices of angels joining in as well, lending their validation to this worship in the spirit and in truth?

Can the deep atmosphere of worship that this creates be allowed to spill over into the time traditionally devoted to the sermon? Instead of one man’s message, can that same dancing hand be allowed to the light on various parishioners who will then be anointed in that moment to deliver a nourishing message fresh from the oven of heaven? Again, the focus will not be on a single individual’s carefully crafted sermon. Instead, it will be on the One who creatively gives downloads to the humble and uneducated waxing profound now in the presence of God.

We are talking about a true revolution – a revolution of worship. Where are the Evan Roberts’s of today? Where are those who will take a stand and say enough is enough! Where are the leaders who will be willing to give up title and privilege (and even paycheck), and allow their ministry to be morphed from one being the center of focus to one being hidden and behind the scenes?

Where are the worship leaders and speakers who will now devote their life to training up and equipping the entire body to minister in worship and the word? They will essentially be working themselves out of a job over and over again but their reward in heaven will be vastly multiplied. The fruit that glorifies the Father will also be exponentially multiplied as the saints are truly equipped.

Instead of the proverbial thousands watching and giving glory to the seven men on the playing field, we will have the opposite. The seven will be equipping the thousands to the glory of God. Best of all, the one who has hijacked the focus of worship will be dethroned and the only One worthy of worship will now sit on His throne in front of His own church receiving His due worship and adulation from His beloved people.

Can we have ears to hear what with Spirit of God is saying to the churches?

 

Dan Murrill           April, 2015

 

A NEW PENTECOST

Every day can be a “New Pentecost”.

It is true that Pentecost, the Holy Spirit’s descent upon the 120 in the upper room, only happened once. From there, the “Pentecostal Experience” spread to others via the laying on of hands. An exception to the rule was Cornelius. He and his family sovereignly were descended upon by the Spirit of God.

While Pentecost was a one time event, we can have our own experience similar to it. Furthermore, once we have had that experience, we can have a daily or hourly redux of it – a refreshing of the original refreshing, if you will.

Many who have had a watershed encounter with the Holy Spirit years ago, still live off of the lingering fumes of that initial impartation. They are not aware that “His mercies” can be new and renewed every morning! We all need the fresh manna of His presence. Our spirits crave the fresh filling of Ephesians 5:18 on a daily basis.

Before Acts 2:4 there had to be Acts 1:4. Before there was a manifestation of the Holy Spirit there was an expectant waiting for the Holy Spirit. Jesus’ promise of the coming of the Comforter was fulfilled to the 120 who waited for it.

In Luke 1:11, Jesus promised that any who ask for the Holy Spirit will get what they have asked for and not a counterfeit. We mustn’t miss the point. The point is that if we ask, He will come. Our only role is to expectantly wait for Him to come upon us after the initial asking. It is interesting that the verbal tense for “ask” is actually present tense continuous. Jesus doesn’t want us to give up. He wants us to continue to ask and expect.

A parallel verse to Acts 1:4 is Luke 24:49. Jesus commands the disciples to tarry in Jerusalem until they are endued with power from on high. “Endued” means “clothed, enveloped, and hidden within”. This power of the Holy Spirit that surrounds, and even hides us, is to be tarried for. The word “tarry” is simply to “sit down”. That’s why the posture of the expectant disciples described in Acts 2:2 is that of sitting. The disciples took Jesus’ command literally. They all sat and waited. There is nothing magical about sitting. Jesus is essentially saying “Don’t rush about doing a million things. Instead relax and expectantly wait for My promise. Be still and know.”

If we have never experienced this tangible power of the presence of God that encapsulates and energizes, we can ask for it. As we wait expectantly, it will come. Don’t give up. Jesus will perform what He has promised. The arrival of the Pentecostal blessing may not occur upon our first “sitting” and waiting for it. It may come out of the blue when we least expect it.

The famous evangelist, D. L. Moody was not sitting when his initial Pentecostal blessing arrived.  As he walked down Wall Street in New York City, the Holy Spirit fell upon him sovereignly.  He had to quickly request a friend’s spare room so that He could withdraw and let the Spirit of God continue His work.  Sitting in that room for hours, the encounter was so strong that he asked God to quit as it was too much for him to handle!

Keep finding time, quiet time, to ask and wait expectantly.

For those of us who have had that first experience with the fire and wind of God, we must not stop there. We must daily ask for and expect a fresh infilling, a renewed power-clothing from above. This flame of the Spirit must be continuously tended.

It is true that this heavenly power and presence is for winning souls.  However, that is not the only purpose of being clothed from on high.  This God-Coat is offered to believers for protection from the enemy as well as for intimacy of relationship with Him.  Under this felt canopy of His presence, we are suddenly hidden from the onslaught of the world, the flesh, and the devil.  Inside this envelope of God our souls are washed, soothed, and energized for all the challenges of daily life.

The Psalmist in Psalm 43:5 bemoaned his soul’s condition. “Why are you despairing, troubled and turbulent”, he asked his clamoring soul within him. The answer to his jumbled up and weakened inner condition was to “wait expectantly for or tarry” for God.

We may wake up many mornings knowing that we’re seated with Christ in heaven, but feeling like we’re in a hell down here. Our inner man may be full of mixed up emotions, none of them good. Even though we have experienced an amazing encounter with the Holy Spirit years ago, that fact doesn’t seem to be helping us at all right now.

What is our response when hell and our unrenewed emotions gang up on us like this? Our response is to ask and wait for a reclothing from on high.

A sample prayer might be “Come Holy Spirit”. Sometimes that is all it takes. Soon, we will feel His reclothing as we sit, lay, or stand expectantly waiting like a dry sponge to be re-soaked.

Let’s find a quiet place to pull in a fresh saturation of His presence into our parched and jumbled lives today!

Dan Murrill April 6, 2015

VISIONS BEYOND THE VEIL IN THE HOOD

“In their hearts, they wondered how it could be sprinkling rain on them when there was a roof and a floor between them and the sky.” This is a memorable story from H. A. Baker’s “Visions Beyond the Veil”. His book documents a mighty visitation of the Holy Spirit upon children in a Chinese orphanage that he and his wife oversaw as missionaries. A short book and definitely worth the read, it can be found for free.

We had been ministering to the children and teens in Hall Manor for months now (see previous blog). Steadily, week by week, neighborhood kids had been coming to the Lord. When these young people were born again, Jesus gave them new eyes to see and ears to hear into another realm. We were seeing the fulfillment of Acts 2:17 weekly.

One of our most prophetically sensitive kids was named Ransom.

One Sunday afternoon during outreach, I was reading from the book mentioned above. We thought that its stories would be encouraging to the kids.

At this point, it is key to note that I had read nothing yet that referred to the story about “rain”.

Ransom was acting up or so we thought. We were all sitting outside on our big tarp as usual on a bright sunshiny day. He was trying to get my wife’s attention while I was telling the story. Finally, Debbie came over to see what he wanted.

“It’s raining on my arm”, he said. Then he asked Debbie how it could be raining when the sun was out.

Ransom was feeling supernatural rain from heaven.

Debbie knew the story that I was reading. She was aware that I was on the verge of reading the part where invisible supernatural rain fell on the Chinese children in revival. She told Ransom to hold on a few minutes for his answer.

When I began to read the passage about the rain from heaven, Ransom’s eyes bugged out of his head and his jaw dropped open. Debbie said he looked like he had seen a ghost.

Ransom had been given a taste of the spiritual experience of having Holy Spirit rain fall on him before I even got to that subject in my reading.

This made a big impact on Ransom. It was also validating and encouraging to us. God knew where we were and what we were doing and sent His rain as a kind of kiss from heaven.

Weeks later, I had decided to teach on prophesy. No sooner had I opened my mouth, Ransom interrupted me with “Mr Dan, God has a word for you”. I had only announced our topic and hadn’t even defined the word “prophesy” yet when Ransom had a prophetic word for me.

“God says yes”. That was his word. It was a timely encouragement and very significant to us.

Once again, the Holy Spirit was three steps ahead of us and letting us know that He was in the middle of what we were doing.

I hardly needed to teach.

For the next hour, all of the kids were getting prophetic words and giving them to each other and us. The words were all encouraging and kind. It was hard to believe that months before, there had been meanness and fighting in our first outreach. Now they were getting loving words from the Father for each other.

We were seeing our own version of “Visions Beyond the Veil” but in the inner city of America!

Next – “The Power of Prayer-Walking”