Whoa, God is here!
(Please listen to John’s story by clicking the white play button at the top of this post. You can read the transcript of the story below.)
I expect stories. I get up every day, and not that I have a daily story, but I get up every day believing, watching and being alert for God moving in some way, some form or fashion, and I just don’t think a lot of Christians have that attitude. It’s routine and I think the Lord is shaking the church. I think he’s, you know, you can use different analogies. I think he’s just extending an invitation to a lot of Christians who’ve been in that milieu of normalcy and saying, “Hey come out of there.” First Corinthians 4 says the kingdom of God doesn’t consist of words but of power.”
I think what I want to share is a weekend story, and the weekend story really has three separate stories combined in it. So I’ll just go ahead and tell it the way it was. A number of months ago my wife was contacted by a young lady who lives in Tulsa, Oklahoma. She’s the daughter of some very very good friends of ours. We’ve known the family for years and she was in charge of doing the women’s retreat. They had an all-day Saturday women’s retreat coming up and she wanted Suzanne to be the main speaker. And so my wife was planning to go up there. I was planning just to carry her luggage, you know, and go up for the trip to stay with our friends, this girl’s mom and dad. A couple of days before we left our friends, called us and said, “Hey, we’re missionaries to the Methodists here in Tulsa. The Lord’s led us to be at First Methodist Church, a big Methodist church downtown Tulsa, and we tried to leave a few times, but the Lord has ministry for us here and we’ve been put in charge of the 30-year-old class. And when we started, there were, there was one couple in the class and now there are 20 couples in the class. And so since you’re coming, John, with Suzanne, we want you to teach the class on Sunday morning and teach about prophecy and then see if you get prophetic words for anybody in the class. So I agreed to.
We drove to Tulsa on a Friday. We got there at lunchtime and we hadn’t had lunch, so we stopped into a L’ Madeline’s restaurant to eat lunch. We put in our order, we’ve got our trays on the little rack and we’re going down and we get down to the lady who’s behind the cash register and I get a word, I believe, from God for her. Usually when i’m out in public there’s kind of a ramp, kind of an intro that I go through which is something to the effect of, “Hi, I know this sounds weird, but I talk to God, that’s called prayer. Sometimes he talks to me and gives me words for people and I think I have a word for you. May I give it to you?” That’s my normal ramp to transition into the word, but this time I didn’t have a chance. There were people waiting in line and I get this word so I just blurt this thing out. I said, “I know this is weird, but God just told me that you’re going to get restored to your daughter.” And I mean it looked like I had hit this woman in the face with a two by four, and she hands me my receipt, bursts into tears, and runs into the back room.
Well, that was cool, but what was also cool was standing next to her with this young tall guy with the little chef’s hat on, one of the employees. and he’s ladling soup and he was standing right next to her so he heard all of this and he very loudly goes, “Whoa, whoa, whoa. She needed to hear that. That was right on. That was exactly what she needed to hear. Whoa, whoa. I’ve always heard that God’s all around, but God’s here!”
And so that was pretty funny. So we went ahead and, you know, took our tray and went and got our food and ate, and at the end of the meal on the way out, I had a prophetic word for him also. But so we go to our friends’ house to spend the night. The next day, Suzanne goes to speak at this women’s retreat.
Well, back in 1996, I’ll go back even further than that.
New Year’s Eve 1989, the kids had gone to bed. Suzanne and I talked for a while then she went to bed and I’m alone with the Lord late at night. The Lord speaks to me and he said, “You’re getting ready to go into the ’90s, the 1990s.” And he said, “I’m going to do something in that year that corresponds to that psalm.” So in other words, 1990–Psalm 90, 1991–Psalm 91. And I’ve got stories about what happened almost every one of those years. But in 1996 (if you read the psalm it’s talking about praising God in the nations) by the time i got to 1996, first Sunday in 1996, I preach Psalm 96 and I said, “I think the Lord wants us to take worship out of our church and onto the streets and do worship evangelism.”
So that year we decided to go to Deep Ellum here in Dallas and at that time, Deep Ellum on the weekends was like a little Mardi Gras. There were thousands of people walking the streets, bars, tattoo shops, tarot card readers on the streets, lots of activity. We ended up going every Friday night from 11 pm to 1 am to the same spot in Deep Ellum worshiping, packing up our stuff, leaving. The next Friday night, we’d come back to do the same thing. We didn’t preach, didn’t handout any literature. The first three or four weeks, we didn’t even talk to anybody that was passing by. We just worshiped. So about the fourth week these young people that are walking by would stop and say, “Who are you guys? Because every time we walk by here we feel different.” And we would say, “Well, let us tell you why you feel different.” And we led several of them to the Lord and several of them that were prodigals came back to the Lord. And we ended up having a ministry down there. Okay, so that’s what we did in 1996.
Whoa, whoa. She needed to hear that. That was right on. That was exactly what she needed to hear.Whoa, whoa! I’ve always heard that God’s all around; but God’s here.
So fast forward again to my wife speaking to these women and she tells that story about how, what got us into Deep Ellum and about our worship evangelism. Well, during the break time at the women’s retreat this lady, one of the mothers in Tulsa, comes up to her and she said, “I’ve got to tell you my story. I was raised in a Christian home, but I rebelled and in 1996, I was a bartender in Deep Ellum on cocaine. and one night after I got off work. I was walking to my car and I heard worship on the streets and I began to cry.” And she said. “I got in my car. I went home, and I got down on my knees and I gave my life back to Jesus.” And she said, “I just wanted to tell you.” And you know at the time, 1996, we were the only ones down there worshiping. So my wife just considered that as like a little kiss from God that, you know, many times we do things in obedience to the Lord and we have no idea what the results are. But that was just a little kiss to hear this woman’s life was turned around because we went to do worship evangelism. So that was a great day for her.
This was Saturday. So Sunday morning we get up, we go down to the First Methodist church. There’s probably 25 or so people in this class, all in their 30s. My friend introduces me. I give a teaching out of the Scripture and out of my experience on prophecy and then I began to get words of prophecy for different people in the room. And I give two or three words and then I say something like this. I said, “There’s someone here, you’re a man. When you were in high school you played basketball and in the game against your rival you lost the game 86 to 84, and that game is still affecting you to this day. And what the Lord wants to do is he wants to reframe that memory for you.” And I said, “I know it’s real specific. I know it was a bunch of years ago. You might have to think about it for a few minutes, so I’m just going to go ahead and give some other words to people which I did. I gave another couple of prophetic words to people and then there was a kind of a lull, it got quiet and over in the corner with a wavering voice this man said, first thing out of his mouth he said, “I missed the free throw.”
And we turned and looked at him and he was weeping. His wife sitting next to him was weeping and patting his back. And for the next five minutes, he gives us a play-by-play description of the last minute of this game against his rival team.
He had the ball. He was starting to take a shot. the score was 85-83. He was getting ready to take a shot. They fouled him so he had two shots to make. He makes the first one so it’s 85-84 and then the coach calls the team back over to the bench and he said, “Hey, when Chad makes this next free throw, they’ll get the ball. As soon as they throw it in, foul the guy. We’ll go to the other and he’ll have one shot. We’ll get the ball back and then we’ll still have time to win this game.
Chad goes out and misses the free throw and he said he told us in the class he said it was one of those that went around and around the rim and finally fell off well 85 to 84 the other team gets the ball they foul him they go to the other end, he makes his free throw at 86-84 and the game ends.
As he’s telling the story, every mouth, just about every mouth in the room dropped open, including mine, and at the very end he said, “I have nightmares often about that game still.” So we brought him up to the middle of the room and several other class members gathered around him, and I just said, you know, I think God wants to reframe that memory to show you that your whole life would be different if you’d made that free throw.”
And he thought a minute. He said, “You know, you’re right,” he said.”If I had made that free throw, that made the difference and I would have gotten a scholarship to a major university to play basketball. And because I didn’t make the free throw, I went to junior college and met my wife there and I’m in Tulsa because of all of that, and I wouldn’t be here if I had, if I’d have made the free throw,” he said. “You’re right.” So we prayed for him and I haven’t heard follow up from my friend, but I fully expect that guy’s nightmares to go away now because of what God wanted to do it’s just it’s just astounding you know. The Lord is so much fun to follow and astounding what what he’ll do and and how he’ll do it.