October 30, 2015
It all started when Holy Spirit spoke three things to me in successive stages: "Simplify." "Consolidate." "Get out of debt."
Sounds like a peculiar place to begin a revelation of the Glory, doesn't it? You see, despite our calling and involvement in ongoing ministry, Della and I were both very much occupied with our business endeavors. She was managing the largest store in the Zales Jewelry network in Alaska and serving as the assistant regional manager for the chain. That was a commitment to 60-70 hours a week.
I was Chief Engineer for the FOX television station in Anchorage and had a newspaper business with the Anchorage Daily News. Between us, we were pulling down a generous six figure income. The problem was that our business commitments were eating our time so there was little left over. We hadn't lost our vision; it had kind of been shuttled to the background with family needs, family commitments and business responsibilities.
The irony of it was that we should have been totally debt free with plenty of reserves on hand to take care of any emergency. We weren't! We had fallen into the trap of "keeping up with the Jones," along with all the debt that accompanies that kind of ridiculous lifestyle.
When the Word of the Lord came to us with those three simple phrases, even though it rang in our spirits as Truth, we couldn't figure out how to make it happen. We didn't have to. Without getting into a long, drawn-out tale of events that began to unfold, we were able to withdraw from our business commitments, and at the same time saw the Lord deliver us from more than three-quarters of our debt literally overnight. Invitations to minister in the northwest and in Canada came quickly.
Somehow the command to "Consolidate" hadn't quite jelled in me yet, and so I rented storage units and put most of our household in storage. Fact is, I should have sold it at a yard sale. Three years and $4400 in storage fees later, much of it was ruined by mold and mildew and had to be thrown away. Della had clearly heard the message to consolidate and tried to talk me out of putting things in storage. Wives! It gets exasperating when they hear, and you don't, and you ignore their counsel, and wind up paying the price. OK. You get to laugh at me, too!
Problem was, I thought our leaving Alaska was very temporary -- perhaps six months or so -- and we'd be back. Even Della thought we would return a whole lot sooner. Nevertheless, we obeyed the Word of the Lord, even if our obedience was mixed with presumption.
We were asked to take over the management of a 160-acre ranch (more accurately, an agricultural preserve) just out of Post Falls, Idaho called Trails' End. It became a home base for ministry throughout the northwest, and a gathering place for people who joined us for several-times weekly, and even daily spontaneous worship gatherings. Not in our wildest imagination could we have foreseen what God was going to do in our midst.
Because our focus was on ministering to the Lord, and NOT each other, the more we ministered to the Lord in totally spontaneous praise and worship and intercession, the more He ministered to us. It was transformative for all of us!
When Jesus was teaching the multitudes in what we commonly refer to as "The Sermon on the Mount," He made the statement:
Matthew 6:33: But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.
Now that may seem a bit out of context, but consider: when our focus is the Lord Jesus Christ, we lack for nothing. When Jesus was preaching here, He, of course, was referring in a general sense to one's physical needs -- where they lived, what they wore, what they had for food, etc., but it takes no stretch to realize that He was referring to everything we have need of in our growth spiritually.
The Greek word, zeteo, translated "seek" in our English translations, is an adaptation of a Hebraism meaning "to worship." Thus when you worship the Lord, seeking His presence, His character, His nature and His rulership in every part of your life, you have absolutely nothing to concern yourself with as far as the things of this life are concerned, and as far as His development in you and restoration to that image in which we were first created.
The Message Bible sometimes misses the essence of both Greek and Hebrew metaphors, but it really captures it in this case.
Matthew 6:33, Message Bible: Steep your life in God-reality, God-initiative, God-provisions. Don’t worry about missing out. You’ll find all your everyday human concerns will be met.
Two other illustrations from the Word capture the essence of what I want to share with you. David really understood the significance of living in the presence of the Lord, and he wrote the following:
Psalm 16:11: Thou wilt show me the path of life: in thy presence is fullness of joy; at thy right hand there are pleasures for evermore.
I Chronicles 16:27: Glory and honour are in his presence; strength and gladness are in his place.
Are you seeing the significance? When your desire is to minister to the Lord, and it becomes the focus of your day, your life, your very breath, He begins to reveal His Glory.
And that's precisely what began happening to us as we gathered with other worshipers to minister to the Lord. It began with Robert and Sandy Storer meeting with us several times a week. Not long afterward, Robert's brother-in-law, Bob Bartow and his then-wife, Charlotte (now gone home to be with the Lord) joined us. As the word began to spread of our spontaneous worship gatherings, more and more people began to join us.
When I say "spontaneous," that's exactly what I mean. We didn't sit there with song books or sheets of music in front of us, and we didn't try to play anything we'd ever heard before. Holy Spirit faithfully downloaded new music in us, mostly instrumental, but increasingly with prophetic singing. What made it so extraordinary was that we all played the same thing at the same time as though it was being directed and orchestrated with all the musical cues you would expect with a band or an orchestra. That can happen sometimes with two or three musicians who work together for years and instinctively know each other's signals -- as long as each person has a pretty good idea of what the music is -- but when no one has ever heard the music before, it is nothing but miraculous! Oooops! OK, normal in the Glory!
Trails' End was a ranch owned by our friends, Earle and Marcia Treend, who were currently in Alaska. Periodically, they would fly down from Alaska and join us. Earle's background was that of a jazz trombonist. Marcia, on the other hand, had been principal cellist with the Detroit and Spokane symphonies. Doesn't sound like a workable combo, does it? However, before we left Alaska, Della and I had been gathering with Earle and Marcia on almost a daily basis to worship, and the combination of Earle's trombone, Marcia's cello, and my guitar had become a very unique sound all by itself.
Add Sandy with either her guitar or her recorder, Robert with some percussion, Bob with his synthesizer (that was unusual all by itself because he was a classically trained organist) and Charlotte with a zither (which later became a harp as she learned how to play the harp in our worship), and now you have an orchestral sound unlike anything one would expect. And it didn't stop there. We had a dozen or more people who joined us from time to time, Mary Ellen and Beryl (both from Canada) Dale and Merlee (they had pastored in Spokane), as well as folks who came on a sporadic basis from around the northwest.
That was the foundation, musically, for our worship. More and more as we gathered together, Holy Spirit created a unifying sound and a sense of holiness in our midst that defied anything any of us had ever experienced before. It didn't take long for us to begin having individual and corporate visions and manifestations.
One evening, as we were ministering to the Lord, we were literally picked up corporately into the heavens to see the hosts of Heaven arrayed around us. On another occasion, Della saw an angelic warrior in full battle gear appear before her, kneel down with spear in hand and say to her, "Command me."
More times than I can count, various individuals would see the Lord appear, take them by the hand and begin dancing with them. The visions and manifestations of the dimensions of the Spirit became consistent virtually every time we gathered together.
There are a few of the corporate experiences really stand out among the hundreds that took place.
In July of 1994, we took our instruments to the Calgary Stampede. We had been assisting our sister-in-the-Lord, Eileen Finnman, at an open-air kitchen in the agricultural section where we were serving breakfasts, coffee and cinnamon buns (Eileen was world-famous for her cinnamon buns). There was a pause in the serving of customers so we quickly set up and began worshiping. There was a bandstand only two or three hundred feet from us with a very noisy country band. As we began to worship, the entire area around us became blanketed with the presence of the Lord. Eileen observed a couple as they were walking toward the booth. About 75 feet out, they stopped with a very peculiar look on their face. They took a few steps backward, tilted their heads, took a few steps forward, then repeated the actions before coming over to the booth. They said to Eileen, "What's going on, here? You are enveloped in a bubble. The sounds of the Stampede are quieted down, and the worship has tangible presence of the Lord." We were later able to confirm what they experienced by listening to a recording while the worship was ongoing. Before the worship began, the noise was literally cacophonous. When the worship began, the noise around the area was blanketed to the place where it was barely there.
In the summer of 1995, we had a larger than normal (perhaps 30+) number of folks gathered together at the ranch. Our worship had taken on a very militant theme. The prophetic sounds and prophetic singing were expressive of Kingdom authority, taking down demonic forces over the region and even the nation. One particular piece which ran on for nearly 30 minutes was expressive of the Bride of Christ defeating Satan's armies. As we were worshiping, the whole house began to shake. We heard a sound like the noise of thousands of horses galloping together. For a place that was nestled among the trees and no open fields of any consequence nearby, the sound stopped us. We got up, went outside and walked around the place. All of us could audibly hear the sounds of an army on horseback -- an army of unimaginable size and proportions. The ground vibrated and shook. The galloping sounds were precise and in unison. It was an audible demonstration of what we were seeing and hearing in the Spirit.
In the fall of 1996 -- it was one of our last major gatherings before we all began to scatter to different places -- the worship again had a very authoritative sound to it. There was an intensity that was unlike anything we had previously experienced. All of a sudden, everything came to a halt and we were enveloped in an indescribable zone. All of us heard the audible voice of the Lord speaking in our midst. "I AM THAT I AM! I AM THAT I AM, AND THERE IS NO OTHER! It stopped us totally for that evening. No one moved. The instruments stopped and we just sat there enveloped in the Glory.
What I've shared with you barely scratches the surface of the things that took place as we ministered to the Lord. I haven't talked to you about the people that called in while we were worshiping with serious needs for healing. I haven't talked to you about the music that Holy Spirit downloaded immediately which resulted in healing. I haven't talked about the manifestations of healing and deliverance, or the change in the spiritual atmosphere over the area around Spokane, Post Falls, Coeur d'Alene that lasted for years afterward.
What happened, also -- and this is what caused our gatherings there to cease -- was somewhat the same thing that happened with the Azusa Street Revival at the turn of the 20th Century. Folks began to take the Glory for granted. People were coming to our gatherings just for the miracles and the dimensions of the Spirit that were unfolding -- NOT to minister to the Lord.
For those who did gather with us for no other reason than to minister to the Lord, the breakup of our gatherings and the scattering of folks to the four winds was something of a shock to the system. When you live and breathe in the Glory, it is an entirely different mode of living. Without that realm you feel incomplete, like you have lost something.
We haven't, by the way! What we experienced during those five years was nothing but a foretaste to prepare us for the days ahead! That's where we are heading, folks! If you are in pursuit of the presence of the Lord, get ready!
I remind those of you in need of ministry that our Healing Prayer Call takes place on Mondays at 7:00 PM Eastern (4:00 PM Pacific). Our call-in number has changed to (712) 775-7035. The new Access Code is: 323859#. For Canadians who have difficulty getting in to this number, you can call (559) 546-1400. If someone answers and asks what your original call-in number was, you can give them the 712 number and access code.
At the same time, in case you are missing out on real fellowship in an environment of Ekklesia, our Sunday worship gatherings are available by conference call – usually at about 10:45AM Pacific. That conference number is (605) 562-3140, and the access code is 308640#. We hope to make these gatherings available by Skype or Talk Fusion before long. If you miss the live call, you can dial (605) 562-3149, enter the same access code and listen in later.
Blessings on you!
Sunnyside, Washington 98944
Email Contact: Admin@RiverWorshipCenter.org
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