A "Christian brother" and I fasted for one day and agreed to pray for each others "business," and this is what happened.
This impacted me greatly, as I processed what I heard God say to me so clearly. It opened my eyes to the glut of "training resources" and the shortage of Christians stepping onto the field, so to speak.
What I heard made so much sense that I began to share it to anyone who would listen. I realized that the times where God was speaking most clearly to me was when I was living it out on the field, I was doing something about what He was telling me to do.
I saw a way to help guide people into taking action with their faith, in fact, my job at the time for Cityteam was to do just that! I bought a web doman www.handsonchristian.com, set up social media handles, and even started working on a video to capture the message. I wanted it to be perfect so I worked my way into the Major League Soccer (MLS) Earthquakes stadium in San Jose, CA!
This revelation then led to the creation of a concept to coax people onto the field. Being in Silicon Valley at the time, of course this ended up being conceived as a technology platform with gamification elements to drive outcomes and was communicated in this venture capital (VC) style pitch deck ;)
Soon two others were attracted to this vision, it resonated deeply with what God was telling them to do, and the three of us together set to work to build out a minimum viable product (MVP) of this concept over the course of 90 days. It was an impossible task by any measure, even for a 17 year Apply veteran, and skilled community pastor, and I, but we embraced the reality that if it was God's plan, it would work. Ultimately, we couldn't find a way to solve the problem in a way that would generate revenue and we all got job offers that took us away from the project.
But what I heard from God on that day stays with me, and I continue to examine whether I am just training more, or if I'm actually on the field with regards to my faith. The pull toward the former is so strong.
In fact, the whole purpose of this blog is to encourage others to step out of their own comfort zone to take practical steps in their faith and their attempts to know God and Jesus.
And, I still have it in my sights to build something to this end--something that provides a trigger point to unleash people into the active practical aspects of their faith. My hope and prayer is that in late 2016 / early 2017, this vision might become realized.
To think that this all came from that vision God gave me in prayer during the World Cup in 2014, it's truly amazing how when we seek God in prayer, He can speak to us and inspire us, that in a single moment of quiet time listening, He can direct in such a rich way so as to literally change the way we think and even the trajectory of our life.
Back in 2013 I started retreating to a mountain to pray in a way where I mainly tried to listen. I say tried because it didn't come easily at first, hard to stop the mind. But I often needed something I knew couldn't come from my own mind, I needed to hear from God. Well, now with a new baby, new job, living in a new city, and a growing sense God that had moved me into a new position of responsibility in His Kingdom for which I was ill prepared, I was desperate to get away again.
A trip back to Silicon Valley provided the perfect opportunity. I had heard of a mountain, the Fasting Prayer Mountain of the World to be exact, where people pray just about around the clock, where they have little huts one can sit in and pray all night or any length of time. Sign me up.
As the day approached, my heart quickened for this date away from everything with my creator. The day came and I texted a dozen or so men to join me in prayer; as they responded that they were doing just that I began to feel a surge in my spirit. I drove up with a dear brother who was all too eager to join me, and after a brief walk around we settled into the chapel at about 9p.
I read Revelation Chapter 4 to see again how John describes Gods throne in Heaven. I prayed a brief and completely vulnerable prayer, then said, "God, I'll be there listening all night, oh Lord, if you want to talk to me, I'm here."
And I just lay there on the floor of that chapel, content to be at the feet of the Master, content to submit to him, so simple really, and in that place I found great rest. Once in awhile I read from Scripture, but mainly I lay there and listened.
There were moments when I had a full vision before me, a great insight I believe. In the early morning I began to intercede on behalf of people who had asked for prayer. It became a sort of blur of laying on my face and stomach, praying, listening, reading, resting.
At 5:30a a woman came into the chapel, followed by a few others from around the camp, altogether we prayed in Korean I think. We sang in another language. It blew my mind that it was morning already, it felt like I had just arrived.
I walked out and left the prayer mountain passionate for Jesus. In awe really. As I pulled away I thought that it would be amazing to stay for a week, or a month, or more.
The internal rest from that time began to sink in deeper as I got further away. In fact, when I boarded the plane, I went right back to praying, listening, reading Scripture the whole trip cross country, maybe another seven hours. I had promised almost two dozen people I'd pray for them, and I intended to usher each of them into the presence of the Revelation 4 God with me.
As I did, God gave me a sense about each person and I wrote it down, 15 pages in total. I've learned that when God gives me a sense about a person in prayer, it's often best to pass that on, if possible, even at the risk of looking like a crazy religious fool.
As my plane landed back in Philadelphia, I wrote the following words about my experience on the prayer mountain, rather it flowed out of me in one current taking literally just a couple of minutes to write. I'm so humbled and so thankful that God is so available to me (and you too), a second before him makes a lifetime away pale in comparison (there is no comparison). I sincerely hope and pray you are drawn away on a mountain before the King of Kings.
Can feel restless, tired, even defeated but uncertain as to the cause. Desperate for clarity, or at least trust that simply laying at the feet of God will suffice, as promised. A tingle in the soul to walk upon your grounds. To hear the drum beat worship of those who love you ignorant of the hour. Settle into a posture on the floor lowering myself to be awash in you. Not fully aware that even in that moment you are present and usher me into a dreamlike state. I will never know that which you have done...at times full to the brim with understanding more than I can contain. Settled into your arms in a peaceful rest with nothing but comfort all around me. Oh, how I have yearned to just be here with you. Nothing more, my Lord. Then a drawing into your Word any truth will become more than I anticipated. And like that you rise me with the sun, a sfumato garden in my view dashed with greens and pinks. A yearning to pass thru to my wife, a delightful garden herself. Then a chorus in another language that I understand even though I don't. You look me in the eyes unmistakably and it reminds me of how Holy and worthy of my attention you are. Then you squat beside me, God of the Universe, let it be known that never is there a rush or worry or departure from my side. As I pull away in awe of you reminded again that I need not. Praise you Lord, Creator on High who lives and reigns then and now and forevermore.
"I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stoneand give you a heart of flesh. And I will put my Spirit in you and move you to follow my decrees and be careful to keep my laws." Ezekiel 36:26-27
I was traveling on the East Coast, and I took a bite into a Chik-fil-A sandwich. They aren't so prevelant in San Jose yet. I posted a picture of said sandwich, to which a reply was soon posted that I was supporting a hate group.
When I read the message, I had an immediate sense that a serious division was being dropped between myself and this dear brother. I prayed right away. I was in a good place at that time, in the Word, feeling full of peace and love. And so I called this brother, no answer. I left a message. There was nothing to hide, even though I simply like Chik-fil-A's chicken sandwiches, I am full aware of the positions both for and against their Christian stance.
Days go by, no return call. I call again. Still nothing. The weight of division growing wider caused me distress. I decided to pray and fast over it. I enlisted others to pray with me over it. One night, while praying with a friend, the friend pointed out that it was not be who had division in my heart, but rather this brother who did. So we shifted our prayer for the brothers heart, that God would work in it and soften it toward me.
Within 48 hours, I received a call from this brother. It was on Mother's Day, I will never forget it. As I received it, I looked up to the sky through the trees and at the son, and I said that you Jesus. On the phone, this brother said to me that he wants to talk to me when the time is right, but more importantly that he loves me, and that he knows I am a good guy. He was reminded of this because he ran into a guy while playing softball who, after putting "two and two together" realized he knows me, and who then gave this brother of mine unsolicited words about how I am a good guy. These words were received and they rekindled a love for me, and that is why he was calling.
As I heard this story over the phone, tears came to my eyes. I just kept saying in my thoughts, "praise you God, praise you!" To see a prayer work so clearly, so dramatically, so fast, it is amazing to behold! Only God can change hearts like this, without any human interaction between us in the meantime. Where the Enemy (Satan) seeks to divide and destroy, God is all powerful for redeem.
To top it off, this brother of mine concluded by saying that it was too long since he'd seen me, and that he would book a flight for a visit within a week, which he soon did. This was an amazing turn of events, and I was delighted. Though, mixed with my delight was a growing concern around this conversation I would have with this brother. I knew that he had a firm belief that Chik-fil-A and their Christian stance, specifically in favor of the traditional family, was wrong. And I know he knows that I share the same Christian values, so what would become of our conversation?
Upon his visit a few weeks later, we had a delightful time. There was no early confrontation, and through much prayer and fasting before his arrival, I felt well prepared to talk about anything, especially Jesus! We took a day trip to Sonoma to visit wine country. A great day, but as we left, my dear brother did not stop imbibing on wine. In fact, he opened a bottle in the backseat of the car, and against protests, kept drinking. Soon he was becoming confrontational, angry even. He began to come at me "swinging" for my beliefs.
The situation became very uncomfortable. I did not want to even speak or rationalize with someone who was drunk. And yet, the tirade had to stop. I raised my voice, "Let me tell you why you are here," I said. I reminded him how a month or so ago he would not return my calls, how he was angry at me because of my post about Chik-fil-A. He said he remembered this. I told him how it distressed me so that I prayed and fasted for several weeks. He was silent. Then I recalled how he ran into someone, quite randomly, who exclaimed my character so that he had a change of heart, and called me, which led him to take the trip to visit. I said, "Can't you see, God loves you, he brought you here!" As I said these words, my dear brother broke down in tears, he accepted the love of God in that moment, I believe, and he even repeated the words, "God does love me, he does." It was a tender moment, we both cried.
I wish I could tell you that the division was eliminated entirely on that night, it was not. After all, drunkenness and shame were still present. The next day, there was a sheepish sense and my brother wanted to avoid me, I think. However, there was no reason for it--that would just be allowing victory to the enemy. And so I sat next to him, put my arm around him, I told him I love him, that we can always talk and even when we do not agree, we will still love each other in words and in action. He apologized for his behavior, and I immediately forgave him. I said we must forget about it, and was determined to move on and have a fun day, after all, it was my birthday!
In conclusion, what I learned most about this trial is that God heard my prayer and fasting brought a brother to me, He changed a heart, put someone in my brothers path to remind him. I also learned that in this case, that far more than words or a carefully constructed argument, it was my life itself that likely spoke to my brother. It was how my wife made such a big deal over my birthday with thoughtful gifts and homemade recipes. It was how we visited an early morning prayer group and the guys were so welcoming. It was how we played golf and a friend stopped to pray before we tee'd off and my pals were fighting over who could pay for lunch. It is the authentic overwhelming love of Jesus, expressed in relationships and community, that draws someone to God.