Bringing Biblical Light to Your Questions
Thank you for taking the time to read this letter and for hearing my heart on some of the issues that seems to be causing division and some confusion in the Body of Christ. Throughout the Old and New Testaments and in every age following, as far as I can determine, the Lord has given His people dreams and visions, signs and wonders, heavenly encounters and divine supernatural experiences that, for the most part, we cannot understand with our intellect. In the spiritual realm, God isn't limited by our thinking!
God's ways of communicating with us hasn't changed from the beginning of time, although the Bible is the mainstay of His communication to us in today's Church. Sometimes pictures say a lot, though, and the Lord does speak to us through visions and dreams, just as He spoke that way to the people of ancient days and just as He has promised us that He would in the Last Days. God says, "I am the LORD, I change not" (Malachi 3:6).
Whenever God pours out His Spirit, dreams and visions become integral to the move of God and are especially a Last Days phenomena according to Joel 2:28 and Acts 2:17. God-given dreams and visions are often because of the gracious outpouring of the Holy Spirit. They fall into the category of the miraculous when supernatural revelations are imparted. Ezekiel, the prophet operated in a continuous miracle ministry in the revelatory realm.
Some people desire Scripture for every manifestation of God - for every detail of every God-given, Holy Spirit inspired vision, dream, encounter, or demonstration of the supernatural realm of God manifested on the earth. While I firmly believe that we're to defend the Gospel of Jesus Christ, I don't believe we're to defend divine manifestations of God, because they are proof within themselves of the Gospel, wherever the Word of God is sent forth. Discern yes, but defend, no. Consider that many of the "greater" things that Christ said we would do hadn't even been done yet and weren't recorded in the Bible.
While it's good and right and biblical to test the spirits to see if they are of God, it's vital to realize that just because a type of vision or a sign is not listed in Scripture, that it's unscriptural, to be discounted, or false. For instance: If you dream of Jesus visiting you, and in your dream, Jesus, the Man, was the most handsome man you'd ever seen, would the fact that the Bible described Him as having no beauty or majesty to attract us to Him, nothing in His appearance that we should desire Him (Is. 53:2b), discount your dream as being scriptural or genuine, relative, and of God?
Just as no two people are alike, no two experiences are alike. Guaranteed, the Bible doesn't list the details of each dream, each encounter, or everything that God has, does, and will eventually reveal to His people. It doesn't record every detail of every dream, or everything someone has seen in the spirit realm, or on earth for that matter. Nor does it record every possible miracle, but it does say that nothing is impossible with God (see Luke 1:37; Matt. 17:20). We have no account of miracles like amputated limbs growing back, but the absence of this is Scripture doesn't mean that such a miracle unbiblical.
If a person is of the mind-set that everything spiritual that happens or manifests in our lives has to be found in Scripture to be divine and of God, then that standard or belief would have to be applied to every area of one's life. God responds to each one of us in different ways so the specific way He speaks to any of His children should not become a doctrine of correctness.
Someone once said that limiting revelation is like trying to fit an ocean into a cup. God is continually restoring truth and light to His Church. Therefore, we should place no limit on further revelation. To have a view that everything that happens in someone's life because of God's loving response to us as His children should be listed in the Bible or else it's wrong or evil, is like saying that Jesus, who is the Word represents a list of do's and don'ts. Jesus is a Person who, through intimacy and relationship, we perceive and understand by the Holy Spirit what is good and what is evil. If Jesus listed for us everything that we needed to know, then knowing Him would have become an option. It's in knowing Him, who is The Word that we enter into what He has prepared for us.
To apply doctrine to the response of God in our lives is wrong. For someone to assume that something that happens to us isn't of God because it's not in his or her doctrine or knowledge of Jesus is, in my opinion, to grieve the precious Holy Spirit. I believe each experience is unique and tailored to the individual's background, experiences, circumstances, capacity to receive, and personal relationship with Jesus. The experience is usually one that a person can relate to. The Lord meets us where we're at and often shows us things in a way that gets our attention, in a way that we, as individuals, uniquely understand and relate to.
Some are questioning the soundness of my visitation from Jesus while I was in
Focus on the Revelation
This can be drastically different from one person to another. What's important, however, are not the details of, for instance, a vision, but how it points to Jesus, the revelation gleaned, what we learn from the experience, how we apply it to our life, and/or speak it into the life of another, and how it draws us closer to Him, for His name's sake. Because one person may not be able to relate to a dream, vision, or experience of another, he or she may attribute this to the devil or to the flesh, or hallucinations, for example. I'm sure many have seen strange things happen in our meetings - things that puzzle, things that aren't normal to them, but understand - God doesn't seek approval for how He manifests through His people or in signs and wonders.
The Bible is full of visions, encounters, signs, wonders, miracles, and manifestations that people have experienced, some of which may be downright hard for many to wrap their minds around, let alone believe it could happen today. Again, it's all relative to each individual, their experiences, and backgrounds, and with what they have learned through intimacy with Christ Jesus, and what they have received as a love response from God. I spend hours and hours at the feet of Jesus and perhaps the next person doesn't.
As I can recall, Smith Wigglesworth once had a vision of Satan. He'd been sleeping in bed during a thunderstorm that had rattled the windows and made the lights flicker. Suddenly he saw a vision of Satan standing at the foot of his bed. However, he wasn't in the least bit disturbed because he had first-hand knowledge and experience of God's protective nature and understood the power of the name of Jesus. "Oh, it's just you," he said to the devil, and turned over and went back to sleep.
If this were a new, breaking story today, how would people receive or respond to the account of what he saw? It would all be relative to what you know or have experienced relating to demons, or the knowledge that you have about the authority that you have as a blood-bought child of God, even to the church climate. If you've never cast out a demon from your life and seen him run at the mere mention of the blood of Christ Jesus, you wouldn't understand.
Likewise, if I say that I had a vision of an angel, or encountered one or even spoke with one, but you haven't doctrinally or experientially, come to terms with the reality of angels being in our midst, then you may not attribute it as valid. You may even tag me as someone who worships angels, seeks them for counsel, ministers under the power of, or misrepresents them in some way. In the case of the angel called "Emma," who I described as having mother-like nurturing qualities, some have automatically assumed that my doctrine is that I believe in female angels. This has never been the case! For whatever reason God chose to show me this angel in a female persona, He did. This isn't to say that the angel was female. Angels are spirit and appear in many forms. Perhaps that's the form God chose this angel to take for the purpose of the revelation He gave me. They are spirit beings of light, created out of God's glory, without gender, and appear in whatever form God chooses to send them to us.
Let me throw this out there for you to think about. If someone encounters an angel on earth that has come in the form of a female human being, and even refers to the angel as a "she," it doesn't raise eyebrows. We know they must sometimes appear to us in human form because the Bible tells us not to forget to entertain strangers, "for by so doing some have unwittingly entertained angels" (Hebrews 13:2). There is biblical precedent for angels appearing in human form in the example of the two angels who came to
Even though they appeared as men, they are still genderless. Emma appeared to me in angelic form appearing feminine, which is not to say Emma was female or had a gender. This was the first angel I'd ever seen in feminine-like form, in this motherly nurturing type of persona that opened up a well of healings and breakthrough.
Mary, Paul, Peter, Jesus, the shepherds, and several disciples, and many Old Testament folk like Abraham, Hagar, Daniel, and others had angelic encounters and some interacted with them in conversation. That doesn't suppose they worshiped these angelic beings or sought them out for revelation apart from God. I never summon angels directly. I do ask God to send angels to encamp around me, and others. Let it be said, that I seek only God for revelation and should He send an angel to me to impart revelation, get my attention, or open wells of revival and healing, so be it. I'll echo Mary's words when the angel Gabriel visited and conversed with her "You see before you the Lord's servant, let it happen to me as you have said." And the angel left her (Luke 1:26-38).
Christ paid the price for our spiritual blessings and access to heavenly things - angels included. Where I would be concerned about angelic revelation as being deceptive or as angels actually being demonic spirits, is where not-yet Christians claim angelic revelation while rejecting the cross of Christ.
Angels have a purpose in God's plan. It shouldn't come as a surprise to the Body of Christ that an angel, called the "Winds of Change" should usher in a new move of God.
Of the angels we learn, "He makes His angels winds and His servants flames of fire" (Heb. 1:7, NAS; see also Psalm 104:3, 4). If God has chosen to send them to us, it behooves us to welcome their presence as we usher in the presence and move of the Lord.
We see a manifestation of God's presence and power by means of "wind and fire" in the New Testament on the day of Pentecost "when suddenly there came a sound from heaven, as of a rushing mighty wind and it filled the whole house where they were sitting. Then there appeared to them divided tongues, as of fire, and one sat upon each of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance" (Acts 2:1-4).
Angels are messengers from God in heaven to His church on earth, and they seem to appear at the most critical points in the history of salvation. We get the sense also that they observe what's happening here on earth at least in the life of the Church. Christ ended two of His parables saying "there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents" (Luke 15:7,10, NKJV). They are also reapers in the great harvest, "...the reapers are the angels" (Matt. 13:39). Described as "ministering spirits sent forth to minister for those who will inherit salvation" (Heb. 1:14, italics mine).
Some people have even ventured to say that my visions and visitations are false. That's like telling someone who's just told you about a dream they had in their sleep that they didn't really dream it.
In the case of my encounter with Paul the apostle, just as Paul didn't know if he was in his body or out of his body when he was taken into the third heaven, I don't know whether my encounter was in a vision or an actual encounter. I do know that it was not of the adversary. God had reason for this experience and for the revelation that transpired from it. These things I cannot refute.
It's not that far out there when you consider that the apostle Peter beheld Jesus, Moses, and Elijah on the Mount of Transfiguration and was actually commissioned while in a visionary trance, to preach to the Gentiles (see Matt. 17:9, Acts 10:19).
Some may not find my experience doctrinally sound, and liken it to speaking to the dead, and unbiblical, citing the apostle Paul's warnings in Galatians 1:8, and 2 Corinthians 11:14, of which I'm very aware. My accountability team and I, through careful examination, determined that this vision was not outside of God's realm. God had a purpose and a plan for the revelation He gave me and it all pointed to Christ.
In visions and encounters that I share, I emphasize that it boils down to Jesus Christ who is the essence of everything and is the All in All. It's all about Him, the Way, the Truth, and the Life. An encounter with heaven is an encounter with the Lord Jesus Christ.
Many people don't see what's happening in the spirit realm, viewing things only from the physical realm. This is one reason why there's so much division right now. I have found that many are judging things by what they see or hear in the natural, by their natural senses, to feelings, or without having relevant supernatural experiences themselves.
No Prototype for Revival
One of my colleagues told me of a pastor and his wife visiting
This seems to be what I hear from many attending, and from what I read on blogs from people who've experienced the fire of God at our meetings. Every night we see hundreds of pastors and leaders all hungry for the fire of God to touch their churches, to disarm the religious paradigms that keep God in a box, quenching the work of the Spirit.
People may see me or others sprawled out on the floor, or in heavenly laughter, or shaking because of the glory and presence of God, but try to look beyond and understand that something's happening in the spirit, trusting that there's that other realm that you may not see.
Revival is often messy because there's a lot happening and sometimes it's hard for people to take in everything they see in the natural. Many come and some do manifest fleshly things, but for the most part, everyone is sincere and of good intention at a revival. Trust it's better to be full of life with a little untidiness than to be dead. Also, trust that God is big. He can handle it and can separate the tares from the wheat.
Revival shakes paradigms. It doesn't fit the mainstream Church's way of thinking. Revival is an upstream move of God that breaks away from the stagnant pools of religion and tradition. Those bound by tradition and inside a paradigm of do's and don'ts who give way to an upward stream, find transformation, and a new supernatural, empowering paradigm for their lives.
Moves of God like this are never normal. Do you think what happened in Acts looked normal to the disciples, or even to the onlookers? Pentecost was way, way out there, pretty far out, and must have caused much talk. No one had ever seen anything like it before. Revival is about new things happening, so it's important not to be quick to judge. There's no prototype for revival. It's not a cookie cutter thing. We're only in our baby stages - and there's a lot to learn, but what we need now is the support of the Church because unity is crucial.
If you cannot understand the supernatural things of God, or even if you disagree or choose to discount or discredit me in any way, then I urge you to look at the fruit. Every day we're seeing salvations. Every day people are being healed, not only physically, but emotionally too! Every day, people who thought they knew Christ are discovering Him in a fresh and powerful new way. Every day, we're teaching people how to use their gifts to evangelize. We're equipping and sending hundreds into the streets and marketplaces to talk about Jesus.
It's not even limited to this region. We're seeing this move of God as exponential growth because people carry the anointing and glory of God home to their churches and regions, empowered to "do the same stuff" and ignite more fires.
Before You Pick Apart the Worker...
Please examine the fruit before you pick apart the worker. People are being saved! Certainly this is common ground with every believer - our hearts should always be for the lost. Can we not come together and make this our mission, understanding that our theologies may be different but that we agree on this very important and vital commission. We serve the same God. God is the Father of all of us. We are His children. We are all in the same family. We are all running the same race but at different paces. The Word planted on good soil bears good fruit!
Salvation of the Lost
If you're watching out a window from a distance and see a child running around a busy street and in obvious danger of being hit, but see someone close-by who could help, what would you do? Would you first judge the person to determine if he or she is "fit" enough or qualified to lend assistance, in your eyes? Would you check to see that the person is wearing an "S" for "Superman" on his shirt? Would you wait for the right person to come along that fits your mold, or would you throw open the window and yell, "That child - save that child!"
Please. Our mission is to save the lost. Period. Everything that is happening at
Jumping into rivers of condemnation, disapproval, even censure before experiencing things for yourself could make you responsible for the loss of the one who may have come to the Lord but for quick judgments or criticisms. God is doing new things! Church history should never be used as a blueprint for experiences or beliefs, that's what the Word of God is for.
New Wineskins and New Garments
This move of God may not fit your perception of revival, especially if you are basing it on previous revivals, or even on the traditions of the Church. So too, I likely don't fit the mold of the traditional evangelist. Jesus used the Pharisees' disapproval as an opportunity to teach why it was important that He didn't fit into their mold. First, He used the metaphor of the patched garments and said "No one tears a patch from a new garment and sews it on an old one. If he does, he will have torn the new garment, and the patch from the new will not match the old" (Luke 5:36). To try to attach a new, unshrunk garment to the old will not only tear and destroy the new but also the old won't look right and will eventually tear again. Jesus contrasted the old and new again with a parable about new wine and old, saying that if a person pours new wine into old wineskins the new wine will burst the skins, the wine will run out, and the wineskins would ruin (Luke 5:37, 38).
What could possibly be so new in Jesus' day as to be ruined by being attached to the old? The radical Gospel! Man-made rules and tradition would hinder the work. Jesus wanted them to see that the dead Pharisaical traditions didn't result in heart transformations. It would be easier for them to clasp onto and justify what was familiar and comfortable, than to be led by the Holy Spirit but the two can't be combined. Jesus wasn't throwing out the law or discounting it but came to fulfill it. The Gospel needed to be free of the confines of tradition and religious comfort zones to work its power. Jesus wanted to restore the hearts of the people, to restore life to the core of the Hebrew faith. Those external things, as Paul wrote in Colossians 2:23, "have an appearance of wisdom in self-imposed religion, false humility, and neglect of the body, but are of no value against the indulgence of the flesh." Their system of laws had lost Christ who was their substance. They had the shadows but not the substance of Christ. Pride pretended to penetrate heaven but hadn't.
Signs, wonders, and miracles should be proof of the Gospel. However, Jesus said there would be false signs and wonders in the last days that were not done by Him (Matt. 7:21-23). Of this, I am well aware. Some people may do these things in His name and yet never really have a relationship of love and fellowship with Jesus. Salvation is knowing Jesus and being known by Him - it's much more than spiritual works or a verbal confession. I understand that lofty places in this visible kingdom are no proof of anyone's acceptance with God, and neither are the mighty works, even done in Jesus' name. However, the condition of the heart is what truly allies us with Him. This I've stressed repeatedly in my ministry. The heart changes when someone spends much time with the Lord. This is the foundation of my ministry and my walk with Jesus. From the outset of my salvation, my ministry, and even today, I spend hours in the secret place of His presence. I seek Him and His will for every meeting. My team here at
Spend time in His presence and you won't be as resistant to change. You won't be afraid to be a new wineskin, God's present wineskin. You won't even be the same wineskin as tomorrow, because with God wineskins are new and newer. New wineskins won't limit God or what He can do.
When Did the Devil Change His Plan?
From what I've been hearing, my heart is saddened because critical people are bringing more attention to the supposed "works of the devil" in my life, and here in Lakeland than to the very real and wondrous works of God. Too much credit is being given to the devil and to man to the detriment of God's sovereignty and power. Some are even attributing good and wonderful manifestations of God's loving response to His children, to the devil! But this exalts no one but themselves when they choose to make a ministry out of their judgments and criticisms in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ. Since when did the devil come to heal the sick, raise the dead, open deaf ears and eyes, lead people to salvation in Jesus, or preach that the
For this reason, I asked my staff to remove from our website, articles that are causing such strife and division and deterring the Body from the very real and pressing focus of these last days. Jesus wept when people missed the purpose. Every blessing flowed and people received, but they missed the purpose. Don't miss the purpose!
Again I emphasize, it's good and right to search out the Truth and to discern the spirits, God expects us to do so. Nevertheless, it's also important to do so outside of one's comfortable box, not mistaking discomfort for discernment, and realizing that God is not only a God who is the same yesterday, today, and forever, but also a God of new things. Realize also, that if you spend time in His presence, in fellowship with Him, and if daily, you put on the full armor of God and spend time in His Word; you'll be more comfortable erring on the side of extravagance rather than quench the Spirit. A body of believers without the Holy Spirit is a breathless, lifeless body.
I am accountable to God, and to those who He has sent to me to speak wisdom into my life and ministry - (I submit to an accountability team that comprises my pastor and spiritual overseers from varying backgrounds and denominations). They have not discounted the things that the Lord has shown me just because they don't fit the mold of tradition or the old wineskins that some are carrying. The dreams, visions, and experiences that I've brought forth have been solely for ministering to the Body of Christ. My experiences have made me even hungrier and more zealous for God. That hunger transfers into a hunger to see others experience what I know to be true. They've been substantiated through the Word of God in principle, and accepted and given the go-ahead by my accountability team.
I also have an entire department of our ministry devoted to intercession, to coordinating and administering prayer covering over my life and family, over the ministry, and to those to whom we minister. We have an email list called The Firewall that comprises hundreds of intercessors from around the world who keep us covered in prayer.
Steadfast Word of God
Certainly, some people may not understand the visions God has given me, just as I may not understand theirs, but I'll always hold and stand firm on the truths and the promises He's given me because He lines them up in my life with the Word. What eternally matters is His Word, which is steadfast and true. My visions may fade away but God's Word never will. As long as I have the Word, I don't even need manifestations to prove to me that God is God.
However, God has promised that it shall come to pass in the last days that He will pour out His Spirit upon all flesh: that "your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your old men shall dream dreams, your young men shall see visions" (Joel 2:28). God is raising up an Ezekiel company empowered with the gifts of faith and the working of miracles, with voices like trumpets commanding and heralding the miraculous power of God. Effectiveness and power isn't limited to clergy. God will pour out His Spirit upon all flesh.
We have to be immersed people. I want to be saturated with everything that God has for me - including dreams, visions, miracles, signs, wonders, and everything accessible to me as a child of God in the supernatural realm of His kingdom. I want the same for you, and so does God.
Go the Distance
People may criticize me for my boldness and zeal, for my methods and ways, for my intensity and urgency, but when we follow the Holy Spirit, He often leads us to do bold and even unexpected things - even outside of our norm. Samuel prophesied to King Saul that the Spirit of the Lord would come upon him and that he would prophesy and be turned "into another man" (1 Sam. 10:6). I am another man. Try to look beyond my paunch and the tattoos, and see how God has used me, and see how He can use you, and is using others.
Christianity shouldn't be a dead religion but full of life, vim, and strength! Supernatural signs and wonders so often lead people to the saving power of the Lord Jesus Christ. Whether people know it or not, no matter which way a person comes to Christ, the supernatural is involved.
It's vital for us to go the distance with God if the world is ever going to experience the might of who He really is! Walking in communion with God and in the reality of heaven on earth is the distance to aim and reach for but you have to be open to the impossible happening, even if it bursts your wineskin. The realities of heaven that have happened in my life, and that are happening here at
Take Part in the Feast
God uses the foolish things of the world to confound the wise. For some reason, He's chosen a bald-headed, red-bearded, tattooed, pierced, imperfect man as an agent for revival. I understand why I would come as a shock to the religious camp. Nevertheless, trust that if what I'm doing is of the flesh or of the devil, I will fail, but if what's happening is from God, nothing and no one can quench this blazing revival fire unless God wills it.
We're throwing a feast and we're inviting the sick, the poor in spirit, the oppressed, and those bound in old wineskins. We're going out to find and minister to those that no one else can touch to bring them in, and we're seeing an outpouring of God's blessings such that we cannot contain. Is it the work of the devil?
Spend time praying for souls. I pray you can see past my imperfections and gaze at the perfection of Christ Jesus. Break through your old wineskin and into the present one. Trust the wisdom of God and His hand in all of this.
I'm thankful that people are being watchful in these last days, just as I am watchful. Questions are good when we're uncertain of things. Trust too what a respected Pharisee advised in Acts 5:38, 39: "And now I say to you, keep away from these men and let them alone; for if this plan or this work is of men, it will come to nothing; but if it is of God, you cannot overthrow it - lest you even be found to fight against God."
I understand that people have questions, and God understands too! I invite you to come to
Fresh Fire to you,
PS: Just as I was wrapping up this letter to you, I received an unsolicited email from Dr. Gary S. Greig, PhD., a former Associate Professor of Old Testament and Hebrew at Regent University School of Divinity, and Senior Editor, Theology and Acquisitions for the Regal Publishing Group. In his letter, this biblical scholar and theologian shared that the Lord had healed him of sleep apnea while entering into worship while watching a telecast of the Lakeland Outpouring. He wrote that the Lord prompted him to write and send us an independent theological witness to help as many leaders and believers as possible understand that the
This paper is written at a high level of scholarship for pastors, church leaders, and theologians yet is understandable to the layperson. The Lord told Dr. Greig to "sow into the revival," not by publishing this 55 page booklet in a conventional way, but by donating it to Fresh Fire Ministries to use as we will, even if it's just as an encouragement to the ministry. He has granted us permission to post or distribute this paper free of charge and advised that the Lord told him to suggest a donation of $3-$5 to go to Fresh Fire Ministries to help cover the costs for ushering in the outpouring in
According to the Lord's leading, and our examination of the booklet's contents, we are in agreement with his theological assessment. Our accountability team has made this very informative document available to you on our website in PDF format for download, and will have print copies available as soon as possible. Our heartfelt thanks go out to Dr. Greig and to the Lord for this timely and vital theological response to concerns and criticisms. Please click here to download of Biblical Reasons to Receive God's Glory and Give it Away in Power Evangelism, by Dr. Gary Greig.