Tuesday, November 25, 2008


Some years back I met with a middle-aged man from Columbus who was brought to the Vineyard on a weekday afternoon by a friend. He had been concerned about some chronic issue in his life that he really didn’t want to identify and wondered if his friend knew someone he could talk to somewhat confidentially. For whatever reason, my name popped up.

The three of us sat in a little room as he began to casually share his story with me, nothing too deep. He was well dressed, polite, and a successful sales rep. After about twenty minutes of mostly listening, I asked if we could pray together and invite the Holy Spirit to come. He said he wouldn’t mind at all.

We prayed for a few minutes and then I asked God to come upon him. He promptly curled over, head over his knees, and then fell out of his chair and began to writhe on the floor like a snake, grunting as if in pain. His friend was quite surprised as we went through what I would call a low-level deliverance that lasted only about fifteen minutes. It mostly had to do with demonic harassment regarding a sexual bondage. After that, he lay on the floor like a wet dishrag for a few moments, got back up in his chair, and was a bit bewildered over his behavior. I asked if anything like that had ever happened in the past and he said no. We chatted a few more minutes and he left, in his own words, “feeling lighter.”

I bet so.

Prior to launching his public ministry, Jesus presented His mission statement in Luke chapter 4:

“The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to release the oppressed, to proclaim the year of the Lord's favor.”

Immediately Jesus began His public ministry and gave expression to “the Lord’s favor”, the Kingdom of God. This is a classic passage for us at the Vineyard; we want to describe ourselves as a Luke 4 church. Matthew describes what happened after that announcement in Jesus’ hometown synagogue as nothing short of astonishing:

Jesus went throughout Galilee, teaching in their synagogues, preaching the good news of the kingdom, and healing every disease and sickness among the people. News about him spread all over Syria, and people brought to him all who were ill with various diseases, those suffering severe pain, the demon-possessed, those having seizures, and the paralyzed, and he healed them. (Matthew 4:23, 24)

Jesus came to announce freedom to bruised, broken and bound humanity. He came to make people whole, to set them free. If you want to know what God is like and what He wants to do, look at Jesus. If you want to know what Jesus is like and what he wants to do, we should be able to look at the Church. And if the Church is to do the same work as Jesus—and he indicated we would in several places—you can be guaranteed we’ll have some supernatural encounters.

Typically in the book of Acts, with an outpouring of the Spirit comes an initial explosion of transrational experiences: people prophesy or spontaneous worship erupts or tongues occur or, at least in one instance, the facility vibrated. But when you look at what continued in the behaviors of the Church, the ongoing evidence that God was moving among them in the Spirit were: transformed lives, the activity of spiritual warfare (usually in the form of persecution), a boldness in evangelism (often accompanied with signs and wonders), and radical generosity.

I hope this series on the Holy Spirit created a desire that moved beyond the typical charismatic borders and into a longing for God-centered power that focuses on mission.

His mission.


  1. Powerful story about the man.

    Would you say that any believer could invite the holy spirit into such a session and get similar results?

    I have, for the second time ever, prayed with/for someone, but I still have the feeling that I am being kind of "cheesy" or something.

    The doubt is not gone, and the fear of looking foolish is still around, ... which may explain my feelings while I've prayed for someone out loud and in their presence.

    How should one overcome this? Is it normal for a more recent follower to have such feelings?

  2. Yes...absolutely any believer. And yes, those feelings are natural especially for new believers. When you get time, check out some prayer training opportunities at VCC. Karin Maney, our pastor over Prayer Ministries, is an excellent trainer.

  3. Dave,
    I wanted to write to you and tell you how my life was impacted by your message last week.
    I have been trying to become more open to the leading of the Holy Spirit in my life. I have to admit that sometimes it is really hard to get over my own insecurities to do what I feel I am beind led to do. I was encouraged by your story of the time that you were led to pray for the girl and how you resisted. When you submitted,both you and the girl were blessed. And because you shared that story, more were blessed.
    On Sunday, I dropped off my boyfriend at a basketball game. On my way home, I saw a guy walking on the side of the road. I heard the Holy Spirit inside say very firmly, "Give him a ride". Like you with the girl, I had a very lukewarm response. He was rough and tattooed and smoking a cigar. I just didn't want to. But it was cold so I rolled down the window and asked where he was going. He said, "Beechmont". That was 15 miles west and I was only going 2 miles east. I told him I was sorry but I was going the other way. I rolled up the window and he kept walking. Again, I heard "Pick him up." I sighed and pulled up next to him again. "I'll give you a ride if you get rid of the cigar." He smiled and said,"It's already gone."
    He thanked me and I told him not to thank me but God. I said obviously God wanted him to know that He was thinking about him. The guy introduced himself as John and immediately said that he was trying to get to work and he had been praying that God would help him out. He began to pour out his life and we continued talking for about 15 minutes even after we arrived at his destination.
    I won't bore you with all the details. I just wanted you to know how that one story-maybe incidental to your message- had a major impact on my life and a guy on his way to work.