At the end of the service, a couple people gathered to figure out what was going on with him. One lady discerned that there might be something demonic at play, and she started commanding it to come out of him. Brandon immediately leaned forward in his chair and basically passed out.
A group gathered around and several of us laid hands on him, praying and commanding the spirit to come out. At one point we laid him flat across the seats. The lady strongly rebuked the demon and Brandon started coughing, and sat up like he was going to cough something out. But then he laid back down and we knew it hadn’t left him. This basically went on for the next 2 hours. He was in and out of consciousness. Sometimes his arms would thrash around, sometimes he would speak in gibberish.
Eventually the convention staff kicked us out and we had to carry him outside. We laid him on a concrete bench and continued, even though it was cold and now it was after midnight. At one point one lady looked him right in the eyes (we were trying to figure out the status of his salvation at this point), and asked, “Is Jesus Lord?” This was the most intense part of the whole night because when she asked him that, Brandon’s face contorted into an expression of total rage and defiance, and it looked like he was about to spit in her face. One of the other ladies said “You will not spit on her!” And he obeyed. But when she asked him again, “Is Jesus Lord?” the same exact expression came over his face again.
During a moment when he was somewhat lucid, someone asked, “Brandon how are you feeling?” He paused and mumbled, “…I feel like you guys really care about me.” Everyone laughed and it was a much needed moment of comic relief. Other times when he seemed to be himself, he would say, “It’s not going to leave,” and everyone assured him that it would.
Through some spiritual warfare training we remembered that demons like a fight, and sometimes the more attention and focus you give them, the more they’ll take. So we stopped all the rebuking and just started speaking over his future and declaring God’s presence on him. I asked him, “Brandon, what do you want to do with your life?” He immediately started talking about how much he wants to help people, and he came fully into his right mind and started talking and responding normally. We talked for awhile, said a final prayer, and then Brandon stood up and said, “Let’s get outta here, huh?” We all laughed again and one guy gave him a ride to the shelter where he was staying.
You’d think this experience would give me a healthy fear of the demonic, but actually I came away with such an overwhelming sense of God’s love. There was something about seeing 10 people all stay with him till 1am, praying over him, anointing his cuts with oil, covering him with their jacket when he started shivering… some of us cradling his head, others holding him up each time he would sit up to cough… some standing off to the side, singing… one guy literally carrying his limp body in his arms when they told us to leave the building… Honestly the next morning in worship I was just crying and crying because it had been such an overwhelming picture of God’s unreserved love and grace, not just for Brandon, but for me, for us.
Hi guys, not much to report. Still in the midst of meetings and fundraising and such. Last week I had the chance to promote the film at NRB in Nashville — had a blast.
I feel it in my bones, you’re about to move
I feel it in the wind, you’re about to ride in
You said that you would pour your Spirit out
You said that you would fall on sons and daughters
A couple weeks ago I finally had the chance to hear Todd White speak in person. Todd was an atheist and a drug addict for 22 years, and about to commit suicide when he had a pretty crazy encounter with God in 2004. As a baby Christian he saw someone miraculously healed from leukemia, and after that he went after the gift of healing like there was no tomorrow. He prayed for over 1000 people before he saw one single healing, but one day it happened, and now a healing happens every day of his life, everywhere he goes. Even so, he says he’s just doing what every Believer is called to do, and his passion is to “raise the bar to normal” for the body of Christ.
Anyway I finally got to hear him speak, and I knew it would be amazing but I wasn’t prepared for it to wreck me the way it did. (And by “wreck me” I mean basically cause me to crawl out of my skin with joy.) His spoke for almost 3 hours and I have listened to his talk at least 4 times since I got home, just trying to get it in my blood. Anyway I know it’s long but if you get the chance to listen, I guarantee you won’t be the same.
I can see it now, your kingdom come
I can hear it now, the sounds of heaven
You said that if we ask, we’ll receive
So we are asking for your greater measure
2017 has been a pretty rigorous year for my church family. We’ve undergone long periods of fasting and seeking God’s presence, spent 8 weeks pursuing healing and freedom from any type of bondage we personally were dealing with, and another 8 weeks studying Jesus’ ministry of supernatural healing. Last night for the very first time, after 11 months of training, we went on the streets of downtown LA in small teams, to see who the Spirit would lead us to pray for.
Let’s just acknowledge the idea of approaching a stranger to ask if they need prayer or healing is enough to make the modern Christian’s skin crawl. But we certainly didn’t do it carelessly or without preparation. And the motive was simply and plainly to love on our city. And it was incredible. I won’t even try to describe what it feels like to have the very first person you approach instantly start weeping and say “Are you guys Christians? Yes, please pray for me! One hour ago I almost died in a car accident.” And then when it’s all done, to look you in the eyes and say, “You have a healing gift, I feel the pain leaving my body.”
Why doesn’t the modern church do these things? Among the common excuses are, “God doesn’t heal like that anymore,” “Jesus only gave that authority to the 12 disciples,” “It’s not always God’s will to heal,” “That’s just pentecostalism,” “It’s not respectful to push your religion on people.”
Aren’t we just more loyal to political correctness and social customs than we are to the Word? Aren’t we just afraid of rejection, and afraid of how powerful the Holy Spirit inside us really is?
Yet Christianity isn’t just another belief system, it’s reality. And we can’t ignore what the Word plainly says — That Jesus gave his disciples “authority to drive out impure spirits and to heal every disease and sickness,” then told them to teach everyone “everything I have commanded you.” That he extended his glory not only to the twelve/ seventy, but “also for those who will believe in me through their message.” That “whoever claims to live in him must live as Jesus did.” That “signs will accompany those who believe.” That the power in us is the “same as the mighty strength he exerted when he raised Christ from the dead.”
So come and blow on through
Spirit move, we’re ready for you
Come and do what only you can do
What does any of this have to do with sexual purity? The thing is, purity isn’t just for you. It’s not just a way to bolster up your own sense of self-righteousness. “I’m 34 and still a virgin, yippy skippy!” It’s so you can host his presence. It’s so your body can be a physical temple for his Holy Spirit power — not for you, for others. There are people all around us who are hurting, depressed, addicted, suicidal, and trapped, and they need an encounter with the resurrected Christ, and we are his physical body on the earth.
“The kingdom of God is not a matter of talk, but of power.” Jesus went so far as to say, “Do not believe me unless I do the works of my Father.”
I pray you are all living right smack-dab in the center of your calling!
Hi friends, you may have noticed I’ve become a bit of a Jesus freak in recent months.
It’s an interesting thing that happens to a person or group of people when they start to grow beyond religion (which can sometimes mean form and ritual without relationship and power) and begin to encounter the living God.
In January during 3 weeks of prayer and fasting, I started to experience what it’s like for the Holy Spirit’s presence to come into the room. One particular morning during worship, for 10 minutes straight, my skin started to crawl all over with this insane tingling, and the pain in my body (some of you know I’ve struggled with chronic pain for 14 years) started to have some relief. This intense tingling/chills mixed-with-pain-relief has happened pretty consistently in worship for the last 9 months, and it’s woken up a hunger for God’s presence that is on a completely new level for me.
I just got home from Bethel’s Heaven Come Conference in downtown LA, which happened directly across the street from one of the biggest porn conventions in the world, and couldn’t help but reflect a little. In the midst of so much bickering, mud-slinging, and weak, insipid, political Christianity, there is a movement of Christians sprouting up that has started to grasp the crazy, reckless love of God and the meaning of “true religion.” People beginning to walk in the full, holy, supernaturally transformative power of the true Gospel, which claims to be the exclusive means for freedom from all forms of bondage, including disease, addiction, depression, isolation, fear, poverty and shame. Good, honest, humble people who are who are simply fading into the background of all the political bickering, and instead creating spaces for God’s presence to powerfully fall (just like it did in my room that day) in ways that bring true healing. People who are seeing the drug addicts, porn addicts and the prostitutes through God’s eyes — and instead of condemning the evil, they’re inviting them to encounter the presence.
You might look at all this at say “Oh Melody’s getting a bit Pentecostal” because humans have a need to put labels on things they don’t understand or haven’t experienced.
You might look at this video from the conference and say – there’s a lot of religious people being religious and working themselves into an emotional fervor, but I was there and I felt the glory of God fall, and the sickness in my body run for the exit. And it was something to get kind of excited about.
All I know is, I can’t apologize anymore for the name of Jesus, and I definitely can’t continue in a kind of religion where all we do is talk about the power but not live it out, and I no longer mind looking a little foolish, uncool, and obsessed.
The name “Heaven Come” is actually not about getting to heaven, but about seeing heaven come to earth. In this day and age of natural disasters, wars and rumors of wars, violence and hatred, the church gets really excited about escaping it all via the second coming. But I have a feeling Jesus isn’t coming back till the church gets its act together and starts living in the full reckless, crazy power and love implicit in the Great Commission and modeled in the early church. Cool thing is, it’s starting to happen.
This is actually the heart behind the “Your Love Is Strong” project… a very religious-sounding word called Revival. Because the power to live a life of purity comes from a genuine life-changing encounter with God. We don’t get holy by trying really hard to not sin, but by encountering God’s presence in a way that changes us forever. Conversely, the worshipful act of holy living is part of what invites that presence to fall with power, so the two go hand in hand.
Very excited about what’s to come.
Hi guys! Lots of exciting things going on around here. I’ll try to be sparing with the exclamation points. But first of all, check out our new video!!!!!! 🙂 This is our way of sharing our vision for the project and how we plan to use the film in ministry. DeVon Franklin was kind enough to make an appearance. This video is (finally) public so you’re welcome to post and share.
Also, I’d like to officially welcome Claudia Wells to the cast of YLIS! Claudia is best known for her role as Jennifer Parker in Back to the Future. She’ll be lending us her talents in the role of Santana, an eccentric homeless woman who inadvertently has a lot of wisdom to share with the other characters. Claudia is a dear friend from church and has an absolute heart of gold, and we’re beyond thrilled to have her on board!
I wish I had some way to share all the myriads of ways God has been working miracles for this project. It has been a HECK of a journey, taking terrifying leaps of faith and watching God show up and show out, time after time. A couple months ago I felt God put it on my heart to shoot the aforementioned video. I was praying for resources, and I felt God convict me to go ahead and get started and just trust that the funding would be there. I remember I was driving home and sort of mulling over how stressful this whole walk-by-faith thing can be… and God convicted me that he’s been faithful for the past 2 years, and it’s time to put away the anxiety and go to a deeper level of trust with him. Walking into the house I was praying, “Ok…… I’m not gonna worry about the money…. but this feels insane to me.” Checked my email, and had a completely unexpected $1000 donation that payed for the entire video.
The same thing happened again a couple weeks ago. It’s always been my goal to shoot a feature documentary that would accompany the movie, since a doc can capture the real-life stories of people grappling with these issues, and take a more didactic approach to sharing some of the principles of waiting, and how it can set you up for healthy relationships. God impressed me to go ahead and get started on this doc so we’d have all kinds of clips to share at the conference next year. The impression was so strong — but the task was so huge — that I took a whole morning just sort of mulling it over and praying about it, and asking God if he really wanted me to move forward. By 3pm I had another email with another substantial donation. Confirmation? I’m starting to write a proposal for the documentary.
These are just 2 stories but this type of thing is happening over and over, in big ways and small. This particular project has come with its own very unique set of challenges, but despite all the blood, sweat, and tears, right now I feel pretty lucky to get to witness God’s awesome faithfulness. A lot of times I wrestle with the feeling that I’m being presumptuous to move forward with such boldness. But I was recently reminded what God is concerned about finding in his people. Luke 18 says, “When the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on the earth?” It doesn’t say, “When he comes, will he find a lot of excessively presumptuous Christians?” ……Copy that. 😉
A lot of you have asked about the conference. We’re still laying the groundwork, but it’s looking to take place in LA in March. Stay tuned for more details.
We can’t get enough prayer…
Appreciate all your support so much.
Hi folks, I have some very exciting news to share. My home church New Dawn Christian Village will be teaming up with Mt. Rubidoux SDA Church in Riverside to produce the film next year. And we’ll be kicking off the whole production with a “Your Love Is Strong” conference in Los Angeles in January, themed “Redefining Purity.” The word purity has almost become a bad word in certain circles, as it’s often associated with guilt, shame, and what you shouldn’t do. But true purity isn’t about the absence of something, but rather the presence of someone — the presence of an intimate relationships with living, breathing Almighty God, from which all power to live a holy life comes. The conference will bring together churches and speakers from all over the city (and hopefully the country) as a sort of symposium on how we can totally reframe the way we preach, teach and talk about sexual purity in the Christian church. It all starts with creating an atmosphere where people can actually have an encounter with God, rather than inundating them with information about what they shouldn’t do.
As you can imagine I am basically beside myself with excitement about what God is doing. It was always my dream that this whole thing wouldn’t just be a movie, but a movement. It’s about Revival, especially in younger generations of Christians.
I have to give a shout out to the amazing team that has formed to bring all of this about: Pastor Michael Kelly from Mt. Rubidoux. Pastor Erwin Guevara and his wife Joanne from New Dawn. Executive Producer Marilyn Beaubien, and Producer Elizabeth Nelsen. My literal, absolute Dream Team of powerful, prayerful, Spirit-filled men and women of God… I’m just waiting to wake up and realize this is all a dream. 🙂
Please continue to cover us in prayer as we start to lay the groundwork for this ministry and movement. Satan likes to keep it real in the spiritual warfare department, no joke. And if you’d like to donate to the cause, I definitely won’t stop you. 😉 You can make a tax-deductible donation toward the project here.
Thank you for all your prayers, encouragement, and support!!!
“Shouts of joy and victory
resound in the tents of the righteous:
‘The Lord’s right hand has done mighty things!
The Lord’s right hand is lifted high;
the Lord’s right hand has done mighty things!'”