I walk into the tent in Paradise and it is standing room only. This is impossible. When the Lord ordered me to do this, I assumed it would be a test of my willingness to preach to an almost empty tent.
This is a vision that had all the promise of a candle in the wind. Here in Paradise, California, you can’t drink the water. The power grid is still sketchy and cell service is limited. It’s a good long walk to the restrooms. But that is just the start. All around are the rubble and wreckage of the fire. For locals, there is little here but agonizing and terrifying memories. That’s why most of the residents are gone and why they stay away.
Still, God said to do it. And here I am doing it. I am so shocked and thrilled at the turnout that I forget my real challenge: What do I say to this community? They not only lost homes, they lost loved ones. They have heard every trite phrase and pat answer. How do you preach to people who feel as though they have lost everything?
The Holy Spirit is having amazing mercy on me. He gave me fresh insight into these verses:
Isaiah 61: 1“The Spirit of the Lord God is upon Me, Because the Lord has anointed Me To preach good tidings to the poor; He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted, To proclaim liberty to the captives, And the opening of the prison to those who are bound; 2 To proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord, And the day of vengeance of our God; To comfort all who mourn, 3 To console those who mourn in Zion, To give them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, The garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness…”
The explosive worship ends and I stand to begin preaching. The first words out of my mouth are the verses you have read above. What comes next is a step by step declaration of this devastated city coming back stronger than ever. Here are the points:
-Beauty for ashes, means a trade. God is telling you to bring your ashes and trade them for His crowning glory. You can hold onto the sense of loss and devastation or you can trade it for a new day. We have come to Paradise to bring the promise of a new day.
-Don’t say you have lost everything. Stop saying, “I have lost everything.” You can’t say that unless you are confessing that God is not your source. Philippians 4:19 “And my God shall supply your every need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus.”
-Let the works of God be displayed. We can torture ourselves searching for reasons why this happened or we can let the works of God be displayed. The disciples wanted to know why a man was born blind.
John 9: 1 says: “Now as Jesus passed by, He saw a man who was blind from birth. 2 And His disciples asked Him, saying, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?” 3 Jesus answered, “Neither this man nor his parents sinned, but that the works of God should be revealed in him. 4 I must work the works of Him who sent Me while it is day; the night is coming when no one can work. 5 As long as I am in the world, I am the Light of the world.””
Those words, “that the works of God should be revealed in him” are—in my opinion—an inadequate rendering of the true meaning of this text. The King James Version was written when there was a strong, perhaps too strong of an emphasis, on the belief that everything that happened, happened because God caused it. The implication here is that God blinded this man. A better rendering is, “neither he nor his parents sinned, but in order to let the works of God be displayed in him, I must work the works of Him Who sent me. The night comes when no man can work.”
Quit torturing yourself by questioning why something happened, instead, let God display His power because time is of the essence. That is the message for Paradise, California. LET THE WORKS OF GOD BE DISPLAYED!
Then the works of God were displayed that night in the tent. There is no time for me to tell you, nor can I find the words to describe the flood of healings and salvation that came in the tent. Something beautiful, powerful and lasting is unfolding in Paradise. And, as we have seen so often in California, the harvest is great and the laborers are few. And that takes me to point of this blog.
God gave me a dream and I saw Highway 99 turn into a river of salvation and healing. From the day I was ordered to hold meetings that will take our tent from the top to the bottom of this highway, we have collided with the impossible. There was no money. There was little support from Christian organizations. There was resistance so great that I felt I was in direct contact with hell.
The cycle of this tour is always the same. We find a tent site. We face obstacles that are insurmountable. Then something happens—it always happens. The impenetrable wall crumbles before us. The immovable resistance to the work of God rolls away. The tent goes up. We string the lights, set up the stage. We fire up the generator. Then the people−who everyone tells us will never show up−come in droves. Then the straightforward message−that no one is supposed to respond to−cuts to the heart of lost souls and they take the Kingdom by force. Now the tent is going south to Stockton.
In Stockton California—possibly the top city for murder and prostitution—we have won the right to use the most visible and prized location: The Weber Point Event Center. This, too, is impossible. Here again, we are facing total resistance. We are back to square one having our faith tested and, yet again, we see the mighty hand of God on our mission.
Some churches do not want us here. But just as soon as we start to feel discouraged about that, other churches jump in and rally to our cause. Over and over again, we see the Hand of God break through—often at the last minute.
The crowds are growing because people are following us from one tent crusade to the next one. THERE’S AN ARMY RISING UP! We also know the warfare of the next one will be fiercer than the last.
Every demon in hell is committed to stopping the Stockton tent crusade. But, once again, they will fail. Once again, the Holy Spirit will find a way where there is no way.
What is unfolding in California as we journey south on Highway 99, is an act of God that should cause you to rejoice. With every mile we cover, we watch myths and falsehoods die. The most carefully guarded secret of Satan is California’s hunger for God.
Stockton is next! Please−come join us if you can. Each and every night, we are watching God obliterate that lie! Hallelujah!