Rev Dr Edgar Mayer; Living Grace Toowoomba Church;
Message: Prophetic Declarations Over Living Grace; Date: 4 December 2011
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Prophetic Declarations Over Living Grace
It’s all about Jesus. This morning – I would like to debrief and process the intensity of the last few weeks. Right now – in this season – God is birthing something new in our midst. He is calling forth our destiny – the next phase – the long-awaited breakthrough into greater manifestations of his kingdom and glory among us. Right now – God is speaking over our church with dreams, visions and prophetic declarations from strategic visitors (six brothers from the Solomon Islands, Suzette Hattingh) [I have never experienced a season like this before] and we know that his word – the word of God – never returns empty.
Isaiah 55:10-11: “As the rain and the snow come down from heaven, and do not return to it without watering the earth and making it bud and flourish, so that it yields seed for the sower and bread for the eater, so is my word that goes out from my mouth: It will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it.”
This morning – we want to process the word – our current season in God – and then – in a most practical way – come on board with what God is saying. We will agree with God, then exercise faith and prophesy together – declaring the breakthrough – the birthing of something new in our midst.
However – first of all – we want to make sure that we keep building on the right foundations. It’s all about Jesus. I read to you from the Bible – 1 Corinthians 15:1-8 and 15:20-27:
Now, brothers and sisters, I want to remind you of the gospel I preached to you, which you received and on which you have taken your stand. By this gospel you are saved, if you hold firmly to the word I preached to you. Otherwise, you have believed in vain. For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, and that he appeared to Cephas, and then to the Twelve. After that, he appeared to more than five hundred of the brothers and sisters at the same time, most of whom are still living, though some have fallen asleep. Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles, and last of all he appeared to me also, as to one abnormally born.
But Christ has indeed been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. For since death came through a man, the resurrection of the dead comes also through a man. For as in Adam all die, so in Christ all will be made alive. But each in turn: Christ, the firstfruits; then, when he comes, those who belong to him. Then the end will come, when he hands over the kingdom to God the Father after he has destroyed all dominion, authority and power. For he must reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet. The last enemy to be destroyed is death. For he “has put everything under his feet.” ...
There is only one gospel – one good news message – by which we are saved, that is – as of first importance – the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Jesus came to die for us and then rose again from the dead with the new and absolute power to conquer all of God’s enemies – including death itself.
There were witnesses to Jesus’ resurrection. Cephas (Peter) saw Jesus alive on the third day after his death – also the other twelve disciples – Jesus’ inner circle. Then, five hundred people saw him all at once. James was another witness and so were all of the apostles – the key church leaders. They experienced the risen Jesus which made them certain that Jesus was worth all of their labour and love.
As Jesus rose from the dead, so would they and so will we. “For since death came through a man, the resurrection of the dead comes also through a man. For as in Adam all die, so in Christ all will be made alive.” Jesus removed the curse on the human race. Adam was the first man whom God created and he was perfect and he lived in a perfect place – the garden of Eden – which was a place without sin, without death, without pain, without despair, without poverty, without any separation from God. Yet, Adam – and we know this tendency in all of us – he was not content with his place before God. He wanted to be like God himself. He thought that God was not to be trusted. He thought that God was holding back from him. Therefore, he disobeyed a clear commandment from God which had the consequence that sin, death and the devil corrupted this world and the entire human race. Satan and his demons came to reign and oppress the environment, people and their families – nations. As Adam turned his back on God, he did not step into freedom but slavery to the devil that deceived him. Even today – if we are not with Jesus, we are still suffering from the same kind of slavery.
When Jesus commissioned Paul to serve him, this is what he said to him:
Acts 26:17-18: “I will rescue you from your own people and from the Gentiles. I am sending you to them to open their eyes and turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan to God, so that they may receive forgiveness of sins and a place among those who are sanctified by faith in me.’”
It is all about Jesus and the gospel by which we are saved is his death and resurrection which has broken the grip of Satan on us. He can no longer demand the punishment of death because – as we put our faith in Jesus – we receive the forgiveness of our sins. This means: We are free. Jesus is destroying all dominion, authority and power that are not of God. Everything – any other name – is under his feet. This is why – in his name – we preach with power, perform miracles with power, heal with power and expel demons with power. This is why (as the church of Living Grace) – in his name – we are coming into something new – another season of breakthrough. Jesus is destroying all dominion, authority and power that are not of God.
I repeat from the Bible reading: “Then the end will come, when he hands over the kingdom to God the Father after he has destroyed all dominion, authority and power. For he must reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet. The last enemy to be destroyed is death.” It’s all about Jesus. He has the power and he is exercising power – right now – reigning – putting all his enemies under his feet. And we are with him – reigning with him. Then – after Jesus has established the fullness of his power here on earth – the end will come. This world will be judged and cease to exist. Yet – as promised – we continue to live with him in eternity – risen from the grave as he rose from the grave.
Last but not least, I draw our attention to his love for us. He came to set us free. He came to die for us which was an act of extreme sacrifice born out of love. He loves you. As you are sitting in church today, he wants you to hear the good news: He loves you. He wants to remove the curse of death from you. He is risen from the dead. This is the gospel by which you are saved. It’s all about Jesus.
Ephesians 3:16-21: “I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.
Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine [he is able to accomplish a breakthrough that is going to be beyond our petitions and imagination], according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.”
Now we debrief and process the current season that we are in. First of all some revision: The following are excerpts from past documents. [In the preaching, do not spend more than five minutes on this.]
Living Grace had its beginning on Sunday 6 August 2000 when the first worship service was held in the Concordia chapel. Since then God led the congregation on a journey which comprised many things but never boredom.
Living Grace became its own independent congregation within the Lutheran Church of Australia on the 22nd of June 2002. On this day, Rev Dr Edgar Mayer was confirmed and installed as the pastor of the church.
Message: The Story Of Living Grace – From Cutting Edge To Basics; Date: 15 May 2004 at St Paul’s Lutheran Church, Toowoomba:
... Please hear this. God led us into humility. When we started out we thought that we would be cutting edge contemporary with a clear vision of what church should be like. How blind we were! God in a gentle way – full of grace – confronted us with the truth. We were nowhere near the cutting edge of his kingdom. Instead of living cutting edge faith we were full of unbelief including me the pastor. Unbelief. We didn’t even know the basics.
I read from the Bible – Acts 19:1-7: “ … Paul … arrived at Ephesus. There he found some disciples and asked them: ‘Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed?’ They answered: ‘No, we have not even heard that there is a Holy Spirit.’ So Paul asked: ‘Then what baptism did you receive?’ ‘John’s baptism,’ they replied. Paul said: ‘John’s baptism was a baptism of repentance. He told the people to believe in the one coming after him, that is, Jesus.’ On hearing this, they were baptized into the name of the Lord Jesus. When Paul placed his hands on them, the Holy Spirit came on them, and they spoke in tongues and prophesied. There were about twelve men in all.”
Back in the late nineties some of us realized that something had to change. Even though we tinkered with our traditional worship around the edges, a good number of young people were still saying: “This is not for us.” And some of the middle-aged were also leaving ... Many of us were bearing no fruit. I myself didn’t lead a single person to Christ. Why?
To a large extent we – with our limited understanding – blamed the worship style ... However, the new worship style was only God’s means to an end ... God used that kind of openness to bring about renewal.
We slowly began to hear the question which Paul asked the Christians in Ephesus: “Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed?” As good Lutherans we would always have answered “yes” because the Bible clearly says in 1 Corinthians 12:3: “ … no one can say ‘Jesus is Lord’ except by the Holy Spirit”. So how can we not have the Holy Spirit? And yet, like the Christians in Ephesus, we needed to receive more of the Holy Spirit. Listen again to what happened: “When Paul placed his hands on them, the Holy Spirit came on them, and they spoke in tongues and prophesied.” ...
Brothers and sisters in Christ, I think: that’s what had happened to us. We had learnt not to expect too much. And this went deep. To expect that Christians receive the gifts of speaking in tongues and prophesy while they hear the word of God preached to them – as happened when the apostle Paul was preaching – that is one thing. To expect healings to take place in worship – that is one thing. But – you know – we didn’t even expect the miracle of faith.
The Bible says that “faith comes from hearing the Word” (Romans 10:17) and Luther writes in the Small Catechism: “I believe that on my own I can never come to Jesus Christ my Lord, or believe in him, no matter how hard I try. But the Holy Spirit has called me to Jesus by the good news about him (by preaching and teaching about him).” Did we any longer expect and believe in such basic miracles? Did we really believe in our hearts – were we confident? – that preaching Jesus Christ would convict anyone of their sins and bestow faith on them? We hadn’t seen it in a long time. As far as we could see many a time the word of God returned empty. Who among us has led another person to faith in Jesus Christ?
We had learnt not to expect too much and this went even deeper still. The Bible says that the fruit of the Holy Spirit is – Galatians 5:22-23: “love, joy, peace, … “ and the Bible also says – Romans 5:5: “ … God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us.” But – let the truth be known – we no longer expected that to happen in a deep way because we didn’t experience much of that. That is: being immersed in the love of God so that we know that we have a relationship with a real God. Church services were not making us passionate and – as many other Lutherans – we were not good at reading the Bible or even praying to God. And that was true for me also.
We had learnt not to expect too much. And yet, at the same time there was this hunger for more ... God used the Alpha course to renew many of us traditional Lutherans. For the first time in a long time the basics of our faith were explained again and not only that. The course raised our expectation that God would become real in our lives. There were a few sessions on the Holy Spirit and for many these were the first few sessions they had ever heard on what he was doing in Christians. We were a little like the Ephesians who said to Paul: “We have not even heard that there is a Holy Spirit.” At our Alpha courses there were no wild ecstatic manifestations but we prayed for each other with renewed faith and the Holy Spirit poured some of God’s love and peace and joy into our hearts.
Then God put the Emmaus Walk retreat ministry in our way. People would go away for three days, hear the message of God explained in 15 talks, worship and pray, celebrate Holy Communion every day, eat lots of food, be loved in many different ways … and come home transformed. There was an experience of grace. Faith went from the head to the heart. God somehow blessed and keeps blessing these retreats which are an engine of renewal among many traditional churches.
What other means did God employ to lead us into renewal? He sent the Lutheran pastor Gemechis Desta Buba who conducted a worship service in the beginning of 2003. It was very basic: a few songs, a simple but profound sermon on the Lord’s Prayer and then prayer with the laying on of hands for all that wanted to come forward. Scores of people kept coming forward for a long, long time – traditional Lutherans, many had never come forward for anything else – Gemechis prayed over them and we received from God: love, joy and peace. Some were overcome by the Holy Spirit.
God also sent retired Lutheran pastor Dieter Klemm and Hanna Klemm into our midst teaching us about prayer counseling and pointing us to the training of the Elijah House School of Prayer. Just last year God blessed us with the 40 Days of Purpose campaign.
There is lots more (like the local Christian Leaders Network) – and while you may benefit from the same resources – let me repeat in humility. We had no idea that this is what we needed. We had no idea that we had to be renewed and relearn the basics of our faith. I had studied for eight and a half years but still many of the basics had escaped me also or to put it more accurately: many of the basics deep down in my heart I did not really believe or not believe fully. For instance: the importance of prayer, spiritual warfare, the indwelling and power of the Holy Spirit, the gifts of healing and prophecy, the tangible love of God, and so on. Even though I was a Christian all of my life I had never seen these things practised much anywhere. I had never known that God could become so real.
I may close by sharing another important development within Living Grace. The more God led us into renewal. The more God spoke to us through the Alpha course, the Emmaus walk, small group studies, renewed preaching, … the more we were led into repentance. Somehow our faith became more committed and radical.
For instance, God spoke to us about holding unforgiveness against each other ... The more God revealed himself to us, the more he called us into obedience – radical discipleship ... Slowly it became clearer to us that having the right doctrines is not the same as having a right relationship with Jesus and following him: being obedient to him. If we wanted God to continue his work among us, we were called to follow him, honour him, do his will and humble ourselves ...
Message on the Living Grace vision for 2007 and beyond; Date: 28 January 07:
... What is the ongoing vision of Living Grace? This is not an easy question but beginnings determine endings. Two early seeds were the following: 1) God moved us deeper into the things of the Spirit, and 2) God moved us into unity with the one people of God from all denominations ...
Marking This Day: Vision Casting Sunday – 12 October 2008 (On this Sunday we joined in a prophetic action whereby the congregation “crossed the Jordan” in form of walking through a representation of the Jordan at the front of the church. This marked the end of our transition into the “things of the Spirit”. I still remember what God told me one day as I was writing the next sermon: “You don’t have to transition anymore.” [Preparing the message “Healing By Power”; Date: 20 July 2008.] I thought that this could not be right. For years I had carefully spelled out what we used to think and then gently encouraged the congregation to come in agreement with the Bible and Christian experience in other communities. Thus, I spent another two hours on writing a “transitioning” sermon but the words did not flow and the sermon chapters were no good. Finally, I gave in and wrote down the truth without any debriefing of our past traditional thinking. This was what God wanted. Ever since this day, I preached the Word of God more directly at Living Grace.)
What I want to do now is to offer with some trepidation a review of what has been happening at Living Grace this year. This is not easy when strong emotions are clouding the issues and when I myself have been the centre of much criticism. Yet, I want to offer some thoughts of discernment from my perspective and my hope is that this is going to be helpful for accurate communication and positive decision making. Much of what I am going to share involves me and includes experiences and insights into my heart which I have not shared previously. This is not a comfortable exercise for me. It goes against my desire to focus on church members so that everyone may be released into their giftings and calling. The church is not just about the pastor but – on the other hand – it cannot function without trusting the pastor either.
I want to begin by reflecting on the year 2005. We had been experiencing renewal through the Alpha course, the Emmaus Walk, the visit of Pastor Gemechis in January 2003, the Christian Leaders’ Network and other influences, but in 2005 there were a number of breakthroughs that signified high-water marks in the life of Living Grace.
From the 17th of July to the 28th of August churches from across Toowoomba and across the denominational spectrum were doing together the 40 Days of Unity program which I had written. There were six pre-recorded small group messages on DVD, a small group study guide and a Unity Handbook with daily devotions on church unity. More than two thousand Unity Handbooks were sold and with this program we made a contribution to the one church in the city. As Lutherans who used to remain separate from other Christians, we recognized that church unity with all other Christians was mandated in the Scriptures and with joy we took our place in the one citywide church of Toowoomba. For the opening night of the 40 Days of Unity program we had the Lutheran pastor Dirk Willner at the Empire Theatre. The venue was packed and the message was powerful.
The messages of the 40 Days of Unity program were later published in the nationwide One Heart magazine (also on the internet) and found their way overseas with translation work in Japan, viewings in places such as Papua New Guinea and the publication of one of the talks in a Dutch renewal magazine. I also did a one day seminar with pastors at Yepoon. Yet, the message on church unity also caused some conflict. For instance, across Toowoomba various congregations (Anglican, Salvation Army, … ) put up banners advertising the 40 Days of Unity but here at Concordia College we had to put down our banner because the program was not deemed to be properly Lutheran.
Then more conflict of a more serious nature came in the form of an anonymous letter by a number of Lutheran pastors who made complaints about my preaching and practice, especially the use of non-Lutheran speakers and women in worship. The presidents of our church became involved with the result that at a public meeting of Lutherans from across the Darling Downs the district president read out a letter which was addressed to me and in this letter made some rulings which forbade women and Christians from other denominations to speak the Word of God in our services. I decided to bring this whole matter to the Qld pastors’ conference where after hearing my case the district president offered a public apology for making these rulings. This was a surprising turnaround but it meant that Living Grace could continue with her ministry. More pressure came in the form of a review into the Toowoomba tensions which amounted to a review of the soundness of my Lutheran teaching and practice. However, the review concluded with the recommendation that other pastors should refrain from statements suggesting that I was not faithful to the Lutheran Confessions or my ordination vow.
I include information on these conflicts because the nature of our ministry at Living Grace has meant that this kind of pressure has been a more or less constant companion in my work. In 2005 the conflict was a little more traumatic because I think that I came very close to being expelled from our denomination but I also received a presidential visit in 2006 when I began to preach the sermon series on the Holy Spirit and again this year. Even right now I am asked to respond in writing to more anonymous criticism which is in the vein of the following quote: “ … Edgar’s preaching is typical of the Pentecostal quest for personal spiritual power, at the expense of preaching Christ crucified for our sins and raised for our justification … “ I responded by writing: “This is a rather insulting sentence and again betrays a cessationist reduction of the Gospel.”
While these conflicts are unpleasant and draining, they are part of our ministry, if we want to be agents of renewal in the Lutheran denomination. I give you another case in point. Only a few weeks ago we did another But Wait There Is More Holy Spirit seminar in Adelaide, South Australia. Many blessings have come through this seminar but it also meant that without prior warning or official notification I became the topic of conversation at the South Australian district pastors’ conference where a number of pastors sought to pressure the district president into stopping the seminar from going ahead. Then there is a congregation in Victoria which a few months ago voted unanimously to call me as their new pastor but the district president refused to sign the call document.
These kinds of conflicts are not nice but I do believe that they are part of our ministry and we already have another invitation to do a Holy Spirit seminar with Lutherans at Ipswich. However, this year the conflicts have come home into our own congregation and we have to have a serious think about this because a house divided will not be able to stand. I myself will not last without the support of this church.
Another high-water mark in 2005 was the second national Lutheran prayer summit in Adelaide. I had initiated these prayer summits and in 2005 was the key-leader of a small team. There were about sixty Lutherans from across the nation and New Zealand and we spent three days in prayer, repentance and fasting. Crying out to God for our denomination we engaged in prophetic actions, repentance and even more repentance, and in one session had the privilege of praying for our general church president. After three days I was spent.
At the last session we offered individual prayer before Holy Communion. I was absolutely exhausted (feeling sick). The intense spiritual work of allowing God to lead the prayer summit (not having a fixed agenda) and guiding sixty people with discernment in the process had cost me everything. So I began to pray for people in a rather mechanical fashion. But then a rather heavy-built man crashed onto the wooden floor with a loud thump and I got the shock of my life, thinking: “He died. This man died on the way to Holy Communion. What am I to do?” I knelt beside him and discovered that he was alive. When I asked him how he was feeling, he just looked at me with incomprehension. This was not the first time that he fell under the power of the Holy Spirit. He felt wonderful and he just wondered about this strange pastor. Then I saw Jenny Sutton (our pastoral assistant). She was sitting a few meters away in a pew and she was laughing her head off. The expression of pure panic on my face was apparently funny and even later that night she was still laughing at me over dinner.
During that prayer time two or three other people fell under the power of the Spirit when I prayed for them. I never thought that this would happen to me and it made me think. One of the people was a young woman in her twenties. I asked her what she wanted me to pray for. She said: “I have been running away from God and I want to stop running.” I prayed and down she went, but when I knelt beside her to check on her, she looked agitated. Her face looked troubled and I asked her: “Are you okay?” She said: “I’m fine.” But she didn’t look fine and before I knew what I was doing, I again laid my hands on her and said: “In the name of Jesus whatever makes you run, depart now.” The next moment her face fell to the side and she looked as peaceful as a sleeping baby. Every facial muscle was relaxed and she was resting in the Spirit. This was also new.
What did just happen? I believe that at this time the young woman became free of a demon (demonic oppression) and I began to appreciate prayer in the presence of Holy Spirit power. There was something about prayer at the end of three days of repentance and fasting that was not there in the same way at most normal Sunday services. There was something about going deeper into the presence of God.
However, as good as that was, it would be almost another two years before anything of that nature would happen again at our first Holy Spirit seminar in Toowoomba and in my estimate this was a long time between drinks for a soul that was thirsty for more of God.
In 2004 I had been in Hopevale twice. The first time I was accompanied by Carl Humphrey and the second time Hazel Noller and Greg Kleidon completed the team. However, in 2005 more than 40 people (mostly from Living Grace) made their way to Hopevale and toward the end of 2005 Brett Humphrey, Ros Bausch and Kay Crighton made another trip to represent Living Grace at the confirmation service of the Hopevale community. This was another high-water mark in the life of our congregation because from then on the congregation owned the mission which has continued to this day.
Yet another high-water mark in 2005 was the contribution which God allowed me to make to our denomination’s Commission On Theology And Inter-Church Relations. The commission took up my suggestion of studying the spiritual gift of prophecy and I was invited to present the discussion paper “Prophecy In Today’s Church” in Adelaide at our second meeting for the year. The paper was twenty-one pages long and included another eight pages of testimonies from Lutherans across our denomination. My joy was that spiritual gifts were on the agenda of official theological church conversation with the presidents and numerous lecturers in attendance.
God gave us and God gave me much grace in 2005. One of the results was that at a one day leadership retreat with Pastor Ian Shelton from Toowoomba City church our leadership board (WAM) recognized my calling beyond the boundaries of the Living Grace congregation. God had blessed the citywide initiative of the 40 Days of Unity program, the national Lutheran prayer summit, the contribution to our theological commission and so on. Thus, there was a resolve to release me even more into the city and denomination and wherever God may be leading. While so far the planned release has still not quite happened, because Living Grace is still demanding most of my attention, there are positive signs and a growing understanding that when I minister beyond Living Grace at various seminars, there are teams from Living Grace coming with me for support and expressing church fellowship in mission.
In 2006 our family went on long-service leave. When we came back after two months, we came back to an unexpected job offer. A Bible college (with a number of campuses across the nation and one overseas) expressed a strong interest in calling me as the head of their theological faculty. They were also interested in Tatjana giving her the choice of lecturing either in theology or education. As one of the members on WAM said: “The ducks all lined up.” The timing for accepting such an offer would have been right. Living Grace was in a good place. The year 2005 positioned us in Toowoomba and we had now presidential endorsement for the nature of our ministry. Maybe now was the right time for us to leave. The new calling would have brought us closer to family. Tatjana always loved the idea of lecturing. We would have escaped further denominational conflict. The ducks all lined up but after much prayer both – Tatjana and I – separately heard from God that we were not to go. We were not yet finished serving at Living Grace. I then had a few issues with God about confusing us with this job offer and the emotional agony of coming to a decision. What was this about?
The remainder of the year saw me preach the six-part sermon series on the Holy Spirit which subsequently became the But Wait There Is More Holy Spirit seminar. The intention of the sermon series was to spell out and define what we had learned about the Holy Spirit over the previous years. The messages were meant to put a stake in the ground for what Living Grace believed about the Holy Spirit according to the Scriptures and the congregation received the preaching well. A growing number of people were seeking a further infilling with the Holy Spirit and the gift of speaking in tongues also became more common among us.
We experienced some conflict over the use of worship banners but before the tensions got out of hand God granted us repentance of our attitudes toward each other and one Sunday – with David Crighton giving leadership – we humbled ourselves before God and each other offering many spontaneous apologies. We reconciled and we rejoiced.
In 2007 the messages on the Holy Spirit were consolidated when they were recorded on DVD and became the But Wait There Is More Holy Spirit seminar which teams from Living Grace were leading in various places (Toowoomba, Buderim and Kingaroy) three times that year. Still more of our members were filled with the Spirit and more of our members received the spiritual gift of speaking in tongues. So far at most Holy Spirit seminars our observation has been that – just as recorded in the Bible – there would be people receiving the gift of speaking in tongues even when they did not ask for this particular gift. For some it simply seemed to come with an infilling of the Holy Spirit. There were also forays into the spiritual gift of prophecy and prayers for healing.
However, for Living Grace the main focus of 2007 was the Experiencing God course by Henry Blackaby & Claude King. This course was not about spiritual gifts or any ecstatic emotions but it was about the experience of hearing God revealing his will to us. It was about discipleship and we took time from February to August (half a year) to digest and internalize what was taught. In our private devotions, small group studies and Sunday sermons we wrestled with the concepts which for many of us Lutherans were so foreign and even infuriating. One of our members felt like tearing the book apart and he said in one of our services: “You know this course talks about experience and obedience and both of these terms are offensive to us Lutherans.” However, as a church we came to rejoice in the steep learning curve of 2007 and we became excited about knowing and doing the will of God.
Only there was again a cost attached to this course in terms of external conflict. Already in 2005 the anonymous accusations by some of my colleagues included the charge: “ … the doctrine: ‘God’s blessings follow Christian obedience’ is central to his [Edgar’s] theology, and consequently he blurs the distinction between Law and Gospel.” In 2007 the Experiencing God course at Living Grace triggered the resignation of another pastor from our own leadership board and then he and his family left the congregation. On both the Concordia College council and the Qld district pastors’ conference planning committee I was accused by colleagues of being a preacher of the law or having otherwise warped theology because I was promoting this course. Both pastors who were making these judgements had not yet read the manual and in fact knew nothing about the course. Then a few pastors took pen to paper and wrote against what we were doing. However, in the end the pressure did not escalate much further and 2007 was a fairly peaceful year. As a congregation we made progress. We did learn and appreciate anew that some of God’s blessings are indeed conditional on our obedience. Yet, obedience was not a negative but an adventure of joining the work of an amazing God who was doing God-sized tasks – taking our breath away with his saving will and love initiatives.
The beginning of 2008 saw us in good shape. Precept by precept God had been restoring to us good foundations of faith. There was the foundation of citywide church unity through the 40 Days of Unity program in 2005, the foundation of the infilling with the Holy Spirit through the sermon series and seminars in 2006 and 2007 and the foundation of discipleship through the Experiencing God course in 2007.
God had been good to us and for the first time in years I had no further concrete plans for the new year of 2008 except to finish the six-part sermon series on healing. What I had wanted to do originally was to preach another six-part sermon series on church unity by drawing lessons from the historical figure of Count Zinzendorf and the Moravians. Over more than a year I had already done a lot of work gathering books and articles, reading and even drawing up a series outline. Yet, finally I had to admit to myself that the series was a good idea but God did not seem to release me in preaching it. It was not easy to walk away from all of the hard work but I did come to a place where I prayed: “Okay. What do you want me to preach then, God?” It was healing by faith and his power. The revelation of how in the Bible the preaching of the kingdom of God and healings would always go together and how the healings often confirmed the preaching began to burn in me. This was central in the Bible but not yet central in my life or the life of the church. However, I knew that God was also going to restore this aspect of his truth to us. There would be much joy among us in seeing hurting people being healed and God be glorified. Even this year we have already had numerous testimonies where healings have occurred in response to prayer. Pure joy!
Before anything much happened in 2008 I noticed that my preaching changed and other people also noticed. Tatjana had been praying for me that I would gain more authority in proclaiming God’s Word and all of a sudden (it wasn’t planned) my passion for preaching went even deeper (the words have to come out), the delivery became freer (previously when I tried to be less tied to my notes I did not become freer but wordier) and I began to “feel” even more the power of God on me when I was speaking his Word. This was exciting and our staff joked among themselves how it was hard enough to share the pulpit with me before but now it became too daunting. They also noticed that something had changed.
Then we had a Living Grace prayer meeting for the new year on the 1st of February. At this meeting one of our members offered with much trembling and trepidation a prophetic word whereby the Bible reading of Revelations 3:15-20 was said to apply to us. What Jesus had previously spoken to the church in Laodicea, he was now also speaking to Living Grace. I quote from the Word of God: “ … you are lukewarm … You say, ‘I am rich; I have acquired wealth and do not need a thing.’ But you do not realize that you are wretched … I counsel you to buy from me gold refined in the fire, so you can become rich … and salve to put on your eyes, so you can see. Those whom I love I rebuke and discipline. So be earnest, and repent. Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with him, and he with me … “
I did not like this word, put it to the back of my mind, was not going to act on it and went about our normal church business. However, our staff and others agreed that there was truth in this word and when in March I was overcome by the Holy Spirit at a conference on the Gold Coast I found myself lying on the floor weeping over the lukewarmness of Living Grace and our denomination. I went to the conference for spiritual refreshment and not any weeping over our church. Yet, I stopped fighting God on this and proceeded to release this word to Living Grace on Sunday the 16th of March. [There were to be three sermons on this.]
At first we received the preaching well. We had never had a prophetic word like this before but many of us responded with repentance and even tears. Yet, a few weeks later on the 6th of April I managed to upset a good number of people by announcing that I could no longer uphold my Sunday morning program with three consecutive church meetings (one prayer meeting and two services) and therefore we would combine our two Sunday morning worship services. This had been on the agenda since January but I managed to botch the process and cause unnecessary hurt because a good number of people took my announcement as rejection and a lack of love for them.
That Sunday became the time when I lost much of my leadership at Living Grace in the sense that many people stopped listening to me and what I was actually saying. Floodgates opened with angry criticism of every kind. The judgements were often personal and aimed at my character. However, I was out of the loop because almost no one sought a conversation with me. I became a terrible person on the grapevine of Living Grace.
Yet, when the dust settled somewhat, it became clear that the energy for the ongoing tension at Living Grace was not fuelled by thoughts of combining the two services. What seemed to have happened was that my mistake served as the trigger which allowed pent-up discomfort over the two prophetic words to spill out into the life of the congregation.
People were concerned about more freedom in worship, the nature of a possible revival, barking like dogs, the Toronto blessing, Todd Bentley, becoming too pentecostal, the manifestations of the Spirit and lots more. We initiated a reconciliation process with twelve representatives of our congregation and theology was judged to be the most crucial tension point. Even the original proposal for the establishment of separate Saturday evening services gave as the rationale that some were wanting to pursue more of the Holy Spirit while others felt led in a different direction.
Some real points of contention were whether Living Grace could actually expect more from God. Were we not already experiencing revival every day? What more would we want from God? Furthermore, the idea of having to press in or actively pursue the presence of God met with resistance.
What made proceedings difficult was that many of the issues were not clearly defined and even the reconciliation process was to prove helpless in this regard. At the second meeting the representatives of our congregation came to the surprising conclusion that we agreed in terms of theology but this did not stop the confusion and judgements which were often more based on perceptions and fears rather than on reliable facts and information. Even the other week two of our members were absolutely convinced that Todd Bentley prophesied over Living Grace and that I showed footage of him prophesying over Living Grace in one of our services. Fact is that he never spoke to me and was not even at the service when there was some prophetic encouragement for us.
However, in my estimate not everything can be attributed to miscommunication or offended hearts. There are some real differences emerging in our church. For the last seven years many of us have been transitioning from a non-charismatic Lutheran background into the things of the Spirit and for the last seven years this kind of slow transitioning was rather peaceful. Yet, at the same time much of the transitioning was in the preaching and in the hearing first and did not necessarily find an outlet in practice. It was okay to hear about the Spirit and grow in our intellectual understanding but to give him free reign in our worship services was another matter. Not that many of us had been that intentional in exercising faith for the Holy Spirit to come down on us with the glory of God and power.
Therefore, the question which we now face and have been facing all year is: “Can we make a decision to surrender to him completely and allow him to come? Can we gain ground whereby we act on the revelation of the past few years and exercise faith in the fullness of his presence?” The prophetic word to the Christians in the Bible said: “ … Those whom I love I rebuke and discipline. So be earnest, and repent. Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with him, and he with me … “ I believe that we are suffering the current situation because God loves us. He loves us and therefore he disciplines us because he has even greater plans for us. “Those whom I love I rebuke.” God wants to come in fullness and – on an encouraging note – in some ways we are not completely sailing blind because at the Holy Spirit seminars we have already been experiencing more from God. It has already been our experience that as people come hungry and spend whole days in repentance and worship, God responds with releasing the fullness of his presence upon his people whom he loves.
I come to a close. No – one more brief observation – a small but important tangent. In the midst of this year’s turmoil we have experienced an amazing influx of new Christians and mature Christians. There were a few miraculous testimonies of how God directed them to join our church. They made no demands but immediately began to pray (even fast) for Living Grace. Their church attendance was regular. They became active in small groups, outreach, mission trips, serving and there was enthusiasm at a time when others – including myself – often felt like crying. At this point of time I want to say “thank you” for the encouragement and giving us hope that God will not allow us to self-destruct but bring us through this crisis.
God has been shaking this church in 2008 and it has been less than pleasant. Yet, today I want to ask you again that you forgive me for being a less than perfect leader. I have made mistakes and I am sorry. I have crowded the agenda, confused people, caused offense with my words and did not appear to be soft enough. I do not want to minimize my faults and give time for healing but can we nevertheless mark today as the day when we begin to move on and make the conscious step of saying “yes” to God – despite the hurts, despite possible fears of revival and losing control? Wounded as we are, can we get on board with the Bible and exercise faith so that the following Bible verses also come true for us – 1 Corinthians 2:4-5: “My message and my preaching were not wise and persuasive words, but with a demonstration of the Spirit’s power, so that your faith might not rest on human wisdom, but on God’s power.” Romans 15:18-19: “ … Christ has accomplished through me in leading the non-Jews to obey God by what I have said and done – by the power of signs and miracles, through the power of the Spirit … “ Matthew 10:7-8: “Jesus said: ‘As you go, preach this message: ‘The kingdom of heaven is near. Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse those who have leprosy, drive out demons … ‘”
God is saying to our church – Living Grace – and he is saying it with compassion and much favour: “ … Those whom I love I rebuke … Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with him, and he with me … “ We open the door today.
2009 AGM Report – Pastor Edgar Mayer
2008 was a tough year but it marked the end of a seven year transitioning period where God surprised a group of church planting Lutherans with renewal and kept leading them step by step into a greater revelation of himself. When it came to the crunch after seven years, a sizable group made the choice to break away but all of us ended up agreeing with the following statement (submitted at last year’s reconciliation process): Unless we pursue the fullness of the Holy Spirit in our relationship with God, there will not be the fullness of power for Christian living and mission work.
Then, on Sunday 12 October we intentionally “crossed the Jordan” in our worship service and marked this day as the day where we would embrace Bible promises such as 1 Corinthians 2:4-5: “My message and my preaching were not with wise and persuasive words, but with a demonstration of the Spirit’s power, so that your faith might not rest on human wisdom, but on God’s power.”
While we suffered internal turmoil, there was also external pressure from anonymous sources which made my preaching an agenda item for the College of Presidents. The Qld district president of our denomination had the task of investigating the soundness of my doctrinal positions and then went public with the following statement to all Qld Lutheran pastors (9 January 09):
“Adelaide Meeting with Edgar Mayer
As I have already informed you, Edgar and I arranged to meet with Vic Pfitzner and Steve Haar in Adelaide on December 1st to discuss matters Edgar has placed before the Church. The content of our discussion was drawn from Edgar’s sermon series ‘But Wait, There is More’ (the basis for his Holy Spirit seminar, and on the website http://geocities.com/mayeredgar) and his three sermons ‘Opposing the Moves of God’, ‘Two Prophetic Words over Living Grace’ and ‘It is in the Book’.
As a result of this discussion I am satisfied that Edgar’s public teaching in these sermons is not inconsistent with the public doctrine of the LCA.
In addition, Edgar has offered to take time at next District Pastors’ Conference to outline his vision and respond to any questions his fellow-pastors might raise.”
This was further positive confirmation that we have broken through something and have come to the end of our transitioning period. In 2009 we are now positioned to go forward and with a sense of excitement focus on mission work. Following the lead of our evangelist David Challenor we will bring new people into the kingdom of God and minister in the power of the Holy Spirit. There will be praise of Jesus Christ with much joy.
Rev Dr Edgar Mayer – Toowoomba, March 2010; Living Grace AGM Report
The year of 2009 at Living Grace was intense, fast and amazing. In February, we began with a third of our membership leaving the congregation and we ourselves preparing to leave the worship home of Concordia College chapel. At the same time Greg Storey was diagnosed with cancer which made us respond with boldness. We exercised faith and even shouted in warfare like the people of God in the Bible. The public gaze of many Christians and the wider community (everyone seemed to know Greg) were upon us. We had risked looking foolish. Yet, God granted Greg the healing of the “inner man” (personal testimony at http://www.livinggracetoowoomba.org/2009/sermons09.htm) and then the “outer man”. The cancerous lesions disappeared and the tumor shrunk. However, not much later blood poisoning set in (and much pain) and in September he died. About eight hundred people came to the funeral. Had we failed? Had God failed us? Greg was trusting God until the end and on the Sunday after the funeral Mandy also encouraged the congregation. She had peace in her heart that God had answered our prayers about Greg. We were not to let his death be in vain (testimony at http://www.livinggracetoowoomba.org/2009/sermons09.htm). Therefore, we resolved that we would not lower the standard of God’s word to the level of our current experiences. We would remain bold.
At the beginning of the year we began a weekly Friday night prayer watch and – for the first time – we preached on fasting and practised fasting. God spoke to us about acceleration and then the whole year unfolded with amazing speed – so fast. God used Greg to make us risk more in faith and – when time was running out – God surprised us with a new worship home. The Abundant Life Fellowship was selling the old Catholic church of St Teresa, which was perfect for our needs. We had no money, no credit history and no chance of getting a commercial loan but there was favour to work with us as a church. The purchasing price was $800,000.
Within a few weeks pledges for about $200,000 came in and – when we could least afford the sacrifice – we felt that God wanted us to tithe from these pledges and return $20,000 to him as a first-fruit offering. We made the decision and the very next day I received a phone call from the Flagstone Creek Community Church which was closing down. They wrote out two cheques for us. In the same week another Presbyterian pastor rang me and there was another cheque coming from a business which was being run by three Presbyterian congregations. It was a roller-coaster of emotions. Then – “out of the blue” – the leadership of Toowoomba City Church offered to guarantee a bank loan for us and even mortgaged some of their own property to do so. When I first received the phone call about this proposal, I was speechless and close to tears. Then, over the next six months many people worked hard on the complexities of the deal and settlement was reached on Friday 12 March 2010. We are now the proud owners of 90 Jellicoe St, Toowoomba. God is good.
Even more was happening in 2009. At the end of April I had begun a sermon series on Acts 10 for new Christians and God seemed to orchestrate events so that the last two messages of the series would become the first two messages in the new worship home. These two messages on the baptism in the Spirit and the word of God were programmatic in nature and “by accident” picked up on the mission statement of Living Grace: “One citywide people of God, operating in the power of the Word and the Spirit, to disciple nations, for the praise of God’s glory”. God seemed to lay positive foundations for the future. This was exciting and on the first Sunday at the new worship home God poured out his Spirit on many people.
From the beginning the new premises seemed to be a place where there was an “open heaven”. Something was “breaking” over the congregation. There was a new sense of freedom in our worship services and we enjoyed the presence of God. Almost every week there would be testimonies of salvations, miracles, healings, the receiving of spiritual gifts, provisions, etc (testimonies at http://www.livinggracetoowoomba.org/2009/sermons09.htm). God seems to have poured out so much love on us.
Another Living Grace ministry was also gathering pace and consolidating in 2009. Under the leadership of Evangelist David Challenor Jubilee Ministries continued with weekly Wednesday night meetings at the Station St Community Centre but also broke new ground with new initiatives (e.g.: Eating With Friends, court-appointed community service, delivering water, etc) and even the establishment of a partner Jubilee Ministries in Townsville. Dozens of people have made faith commitments to Jesus Christ.
On 12 October 2008 the Living Grace congregation had made the conscious decision to “cross the Jordan” (cf. http://www.livinggracetoowoomba.org/2008/sermons08.htm) and complete the transition which had begun about seven years earlier, when God had led us into faith renewal and the “(re)discovery” of the Holy Spirit. We now wanted to do the work of God’s kingdom according to the Bible:
1 Corinthians 2:4-5: “My message and my preaching were not wise and persuasive words, but with a demonstration of the Spirit’s power, so that your faith might not rest on human wisdom, but on God’s power.” Romans 15:18-19: “ … Christ has accomplished through me in leading the non-Jews to obey God by what I have said and done – by the power of signs and miracles, through the power of the Spirit … “ Matthew 10:7-8: “Jesus said: ‘As you go, preach this message: ‘The kingdom of heaven is near. Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse those who have leprosy, drive out demons … ’”
In 2009, God confirmed our step of “crossing the Jordan” and granted us the taking of “new land”. The whole battle for Greg’s healing cemented the healing ministry in our church and God literally gave us “new land” in our new church premises. New people have come in and much joy. Yet, there is more.
In the first week of August we preached and prayed for the sick on six consecutive nights at Toowoomba City Church. At the end of one service Peter and Faye Grieshaber were found to have gold dust on them. It looked like body glitter but they wore no make-up. This was a miraculous manifestation out of God’s glory. Then, in November we had a Friday night prayer watch where the presence of God manifested in some kind of foggy mist for about one and a half hours. In December, a woman was lying on the floor after the service and she was weeping in repentance with her eyes closed. After some time the person that was praying for her noticed that the back of her hands were covered with very fine gold dust. There was none on the palm of her hands. However, two minutes later he checked the palm of her hands again and this time the gold particles had also appeared on the palm of her hands.
Finally, on the last Sunday of 2009 I was preaching on the glory of God and at the end of the service asked the congregation to check their hands for any manifestation out of God’s glory. Two or three people immediately noticed the gold glitter on their hands but after the service there were dozens of people who could see gold sparkles on their skin under the bright lighting of the stage area. In my own experience everyone that checked their hands under the bright light discovered the presence of gold dust on their hands. Some had the gold also on their faces and upper chest. Even babies had received this manifestation.
Two weeks later the glory gold from the presence of God manifested again (10 January 2010). After the service dozens of people were checking their hands, arms, faces and upper chest for signs of the gold sparkles which looked like very fine glitter. There was such joy and excitement among children, teenagers and older people. Together we experienced the grace of God which was given to everyone and had nothing to do with personal faith maturity.
What do these miracles and manifestations mean? At this point I do not want to give a long answer. Miracles are meant to confirm the word of God, strengthen our faith and lead us to repentance. However, in our particular case I have the strong sense that God wanted to encourage us and confirm our first year after having “crossed the Jordan”. He is pleased with us. He makes us sparkle in his presence, which is saying to us: “I love you.” Furthermore, this is giving us the necessary boldness for more to come in 2010. We are on the right track – with HIM.
There have been celebrations in 2009 but also a fair amount of spiritual warfare – further sickness among church members, defamation and even death threats. Yet, this comes as no surprise when we are becoming a church that is more and more in mission and taking ground from the “enemy”.
What is in store for 2010? Since so many new people have come into our midst, there is a fresh need for community building with small groups and programs for young and old. Funds need to be raised and we have to discern the will of God together. At present, Living Grace commits its finances and staff resources to mission work and therefore is lacking a staff person for pastoral concerns and congregational programs (e.g.: small groups, Acceler8, youth). David Challenor is a full-time evangelist and I am also spending many hours outside of Living Grace (preaching invitations from interstate and overseas, working with David – especially on Wednesday nights, local Christian Leaders’ Network, etc). As a church we are in mission together and therefore some community building is happening as we are reaching out together. However, there is an opening for members of our church to rise up and fill the gaps in our midst. In Janne Eiby we have a wonderful part-time assistant who can help with coordinating our efforts.
There is more of God’s glory to come. I am dreaming but how would we get ready for the harvest of thousands in the Toowoomba region? We would have to think about planting new churches and providing training for the church planters. Could we do this together with the other churches in Toowoomba? In 2010, we will not rush into anything because we probably need some time to catch our breath but we will begin to inquire about God’s long-term assignments for us. I hope that this is exciting for everyone. Wherever the glory of God intensifies, there his people bear much fruit.
God bless you richly. Edgar.
Yearly Report 2011 – Living Grace Lutheran Church, Toowoomba; Rev Dr Edgar Mayer
... However, in 2010 the greatest source of joy remained the ministry of saving the lost. Under the leadership of our Evangelist David Challenor and Jubilee Ministries many new people have found love in our midst and life in Jesus Christ. For instance, one highlight of 2010 was the baptism of nine people in our Sunday service on the 24th of October. We are a community that wants to welcome those that are hurting the most because we know that God has compassion for absolutely everyone. Some of the new converts struggle to break with their past but we are not being deterred. God promised us a rich harvest.
Mission work also continued overseas and I myself ended up preaching in Papua New Guinea, Fiji and Indonesia (see reports at www.livinggracetoowoomba.org/2010/sermons10.htm). This was a new experience for me but God confirmed the outreach in all three countries with conviction of sin, converts (more than forty first-time commitments to Jesus in PNG), people being baptized in the Spirit, the release of the gift of speaking in tongues, healings (including the opening of a blind eye), impartation of the glory dust miracle and the strengthening of faith in the congregation ... Within Australia we also reached out to other communities with a busload going to the Aboriginal settlement of Hopevale (Far North Qld) and David Challenor impacting churches and cities in South East Queensland and also going to Townsville.
Still another source of joy was God’s financial provision for 2010. Our total income was $374,568.52 which allowed us to meet all of our commitments and reduce our property loan ...
Now we come to 2011. What may God have in store for us in the new year? I think that before God is taking us much further, he wants to rebuild our foundations. Last year we came to grief by losing a few core families over issues of accountability (church discipline), general gossip in the church, disrespect and lack of commitment to each other as a covenant community whose ties are not easily broken. Thus, last year in the midst of rejoicing over glimpses of a growing sphere of influence in kingdom work, God exposed our weaknesses as a community and, therefore, this year he seems to be telling us that – first and foremost – we need better foundations of love and forbearance among us. Only as our foundations become more solid, are we in a position to reach out higher and wider.
Last year we already learned that healthy life in God’s kingdom is sustained through a “culture of honour” (see Danny Silk: Culture Of Honor, Shippensburg: Destiny Image 2009) and this year I know that God wants me to preach a series on the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5-7) which is going to teach us further about the foundations of righteousness in God’s kingdom ...
Rev Dr Edgar Mayer – 30 August 2011; Half-yearly Report
The year of 2011 began with the trauma of the Toowoomba “inland tsunami” (10 January) and continued with widespread flooding in Queensland, earthquakes in New Zealand and a real tsunami (causing a nuclear catastrophe) in Japan. Thus, from the beginning we were in crisis mode ...
Thus, the beginning of the year was rather traumatic and our emotions were further taxed by world-wide economic woes and now rioting in England and a severe famine at the Horn of Africa. With these external factors, the church life within Living Grace was bound to be effected. However, there also seem to have been other causes which are making this an interesting season.
On the one hand, we are having a fantastic year with ongoing conversions, remarkable healings and miracles. God’s Word is rich and clear among us. One particular highlight was the Holy Spirit Intensive on Saturday 16 July. Almost one hundred people heard the Word of God together and shared meals with each other. Some were saved on the day. Others received an infilling of the Spirit. Spiritual gifts were released and demons manifested. We seemed to touch something new in God. The following two Sundays our worship in church was absolutely wonderful.
However, on the other hand, we have kept struggling with some internal strife and gossip. Maybe this is why God put the Sermon on the Mount on the agenda for the first half of the year (Matthew 5-7). It seems that we still need to learn about being church. Otherwise we cannot steward the measure of his glory which God is releasing among us. When Pastor Peter Steicke visited us again from Adelaide, he reminded us of our identity as sons and daughters of the Father in heaven. We are all members of God’s family and treat each other accordingly.
In the second half of the year, we will be studying Kris Vallotton’s “Basic Training for the Supernatural Ways of Royalty” and this course will be further teaching us about the culture which we are meant to enjoy as the children of God. We honour each other and together steward his glory ...
Last but not least, the financial situation of our church is putting us under enormous pressure. Despite God’s presence and blessings in our midst, our weekly shortfall in offerings exceeds $1,500 and our remaining debt on the building amounts to more than $450,000. We are committed to Jubilee Ministries which means that more than 50% of our budget is spent on mission. In my mind, this is what God has designed for us and we are rejoicing over every lost person that is finding hope in Jesus Christ ... Yet, the pressure on our finances has been a problem this year.
What are we to do? I am not sure ... This is the time for persistent prayer and learning to trust him ... It has been an interesting year. May God have his way among us and make us build on solid foundations ...
So far we have had an amazing history with God but now we are coming into something new. [Another interesting fact is that it was almost seven years to the day from the worship service with Pastor Gemechis Desta Buba (1 January 2003), where God first surprised us with the manifest presence of the Holy Spirit, to the worship service where the miracle of the gold-dust confirmed the glory of God on the church (27 December 2009). Furthermore, it was also seven years precisely from my first day as a Lutheran pastor in Toowoomba (1 January 1996) to the outpouring of the Spirit in the worship service with Pastor Gemechis Desta Buba (1 January 2003).]
2011 has been tough. This is not to say that we have not had amazing testimonies in our midst. Hardly a week passes without God releasing another aspect of his glory among us. If we added one high-light after another, we could probably write a best-selling book but we’ve also had the Toowoomba “inland tsunami”, persistent weekly deficits exceeding $1200, personal challenges across our entire church membership (e.g.: sickness, burns, global financial crisis, unemployment, demonic manifestations, depression, etc), further decline in church attendance, a few more people leaving because of miracles such as the gold-dust, new Christians backsliding despite real encounters with God, (for me personally) closed doors to ministry overseas and interstate, gossip and internal strife, David Challenor burning out, and for the first time in two years we have experienced a Sunday service which left me thirsty for the presence of God. I actually stopped the worship because we could not get into the place of intimacy with God. Helen Moohen told me later that this Sunday the angels did not join in when we sang praises to God but remained unmoved with arms folded in front of them. We had to deal with community issues, listen to the Sermon on the Mount and stop judging each other on the grapevine.
However – as the year progressed – we seemed to turn a corner. We accepted that this was going to be year of “stripping” and “building foundations” (chairman Gary Anderson at the Annual General Meeting). Des Wheeler, a member of our leadership board, keeps calling the process “pruning the vineyard” and “building on the rock”. Then, God released joy among us:
Joy: 2007 – Mt Gambier (woman laughing in front of the altar) ... 2011 – HS Seminar, 16 July (Jan and I) ... Glory conference, 1 October (a number of people, including myself and the Challenors) ... End of fast & prayer watch, 8 October (Marty) ... Healing Service, 21 October (Wendy Mitchell) ... Friday Prayer Watch / Su morning ...
1 Thessalonians 1:6-7: “ ... you welcomed the message in the midst of severe suffering with the joy given by the Holy Spirit. And so you became a model to all the believers in Macedonia and Achaia.” 1 Peter 1:8: “ ... you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy,” Nehemiah 8:10: “The joy of the Lord is your strength.”
This has also been prophesied to us: The leader of the Toronto Airport Church Denomination in Australia (Gold Coast, 7 March 2008); Pastor Peter Steicke (Living Grace, 25-26 April 2008); Pastor Les Holmes.
I think that we could sense a shift in seasons. What had impressed me all along was that the toughness of the year did not diminish the hunger in our church. Most of us were committed to push through. I also marvelled at the stated goal of this church – that is: together we wanted an outpouring of the Spirit of God which compares in magnitude to what happened in Toronto or Pensacola. More than once, this is what we declared as our desire and goal (at our leadership board and as a congregation in meetings and worship services). We want the fullness of God’s glory – his presence in the “Holy of Holies”.
This year, David and I were at the national conference of a Pentecostal denomination where they agreed on the goal of doubling their membership in ten years. This was bold but looked achievable. At least, there was encouragement to this end. With focused strategies and sustained energy, they thought that their congregations could grow 10% per year for ten years. However – here at Living Grace – you don’t pressure me with these kinds of goals. None of us spends much time focusing on numbers or dreaming about a big church. All of us – we want the glory of God. We want what we cannot achieve by ourselves. We want his fullness. I have been so thankful to be in a church where this is the declared outcome of the journey: more of God, an outpouring of his Spirit, his glory and power among us in revival proportions – impacting nations.
After the joy came an interesting week which led me to make a prophetic declaration over Living Grace on Sunday 30 October 2011. See www.LivingGraceToowoomba.org/2011/sermons11.htm. The following is from my own personal notes:
A few months before November, David Challenor had the impression that God would give $1,000,000 towards Jubilee and Living Grace ... I was sceptical ... One Tuesday, David confirmed his impression at WAM. The next Friday we were praying over our finances at the Prayer Watch. Without knowing anything about the $1,000,000, Joe took something out of his pocket, gave it to me and said, “Here, I give this towards it.” I looked at the piece of paper and slowly realized that it was a $1,000,000 banknote. It was a mock-up that was used as a Christian flyer but I sensed that God was encouraging our faith. A few weeks later, David came with another folded piece of paper on which was written “$1,000,000”. It was a thank-you note from Natasha who expressed her gratitude to David and Sonya and the church for saving her life. This piece of paper had been in one of David’s rooms for a few months but no one had picked it up. God again seemed to encourage our faith ... Joe’s banknote was placed on my desk (for daily seeing with the eyes of faith) and Natasha’s note was put before the cross in the church ... [For more than ten months our church finances have been at least $1200 below budget every week.] ...
Dream 23 October 2011 (Edgar)
In the middle of the night (I think), I dreamt that gem stones had fallen or manifested out of the glory of God in our church (Living Grace) and the congregation was standing in this mass of gem stones which were green (I think). There were so many that the entire worship building was filled up with the gem stones – maybe 1.5m deep (or more) all over the entire expanse of the building.
In the dream, it was clear that this would not only cover the congregation’s debt and expenses but also benefit and bless personally every single member at Living Grace and we could further spend millions of dollars in helping other churches, the LCA, those in need, people overseas, Israel, etc.
On the morning of the miracle, people could take many gem stones home for themselves and we also put aside gem stones for those that did not attend on this Sunday. The only “problem” was that this hardly made a dent into the mass of gem stones and we had to find a way to secure the God-given riches and also be wise in its distribution
When I woke up, I remembered this dream and a second dream which confirmed the message of the first dream.
Monday 24 October
I woke up and, remembering the dreams, I could not go back to sleep again because of the excitement in my heart. Later, David Challenor rang with the news that the Sunday fundraising concert at Concordia College went well and that the Presbyterians (AJ Sports Centre – Pastor Rollie Sondergeld) made a commitment to increase their financial support to Jubilee Ministries by $1000 per month. God seemed to waste no time and seemed to confirm the dreams.
Tuesday 25 October
On the internet, I perused the German daily newspaper “The Sueddeutsche” whose picture of the day was a picture of a huge gem stone (the biggest diamond in the world, worth more than $10,000,000). This gem stone looked similar (same?) to the ones that I saw in my dream. I made the picture my desktop picture.
Same week – Thursday 27 October: Confirmation of Orange preaching invitation. Positive feedback to the draft of my book “But Wait There Is More” by Helen Burger.
Friday 28 October 2011: Six brothers from the Solomon Islands with a prayer assignment.
Prophecy delivered by six men from the Solomon Islands. One of their leaders, James Keni, has a brother living in Toowoomba (permanent resident). The brother is the minister of aviation in the Solomon Islands government and he sponsored the six to come out here. They are members of a prayer network in the Solomon Islands which covers about twenty communities. They are from two different villages. The six men came to Toowoomba because God told them to come but no church in Toowoomba knew that they were coming. They ended up with Annie Cathcart whose prayer newsletters they had been receiving. For about ten years they had been praying for Australia and then Toowoomba came on their radar screen.
On Friday, they came to Living Grace and I spontaneously organized a prayer tour to the high places because Annie had told me that they wanted to pray at the high places. They knew exactly what needed to be confronted. One of them had seen a man without a head and they talked about families without headship and fathers. They thought that families would be coming under attack. At Mt Lofty, they said that a man had been ritually killed there for witchcraft purposes in the past and they proceeded to break the curses. [Previously, they also talked about unity.] When we prayed at Mt Kynoch, there was a young woman (with her partner) who was just beginning to have contractions and give birth to her child. (They under one of the pergolas.)
Back at the church, James told me that they had a specific prophetic word for Living Grace. They had come with specific prophecies for two churches in Toowoomba and Living Grace was one of them (Range Christian Fellowship was the other church). Privately, he told me that there had been witchcraft against the church from the outside but also from the inside. Therefore, there would be a decline in attendance but then they saw the church filling up and overflowing. Many people would be there. I sighed, “Not again.” However, he seemed to clarify that the time of decline was already past.
In the bigger prayer meeting in the church, James shared with everyone that one of their men recognized the church from a vision (two of them [Moses and Enoch] had the same vision on different days) and he prophesied that revival was coming to Living Grace and that this was one of the churches that God was going to use in Toowoomba.
Sunday 6 November 2011
Before the worship service, Karlee Peters comes up to me and wants to know whether the Solomon Island brothers are coming to Living Grace. She had not met them but heard about them. Then, she told me that the night before (leading up to Sunday) she had a dream where the Solomon Island brothers were in the middle of Living Grace and handing us a white baby. She gave me permission to share the dream with the congregation. When I did, she called out from her pew that she recognized two of the brothers from her dream. I think that it was Abel and Moses.
God seemed to make his prophetic word quite clear in our midst: dreams, confirmations, unexpected visitors from the Solomon Islands and – last but not least – a strategic Sunday service with Suzette Hattingh who is one of God’s “generals” in his kingdom. She also prophesied over us – strongly – with words that were not premeditated. However, before I get to her prophetic declarations, let us collect a few more of our own impressions, dreams and visions:
Chris Mitchell: Last week he saw the dam, which was previously holding back the water, break and pour out masses of water.
Greg Eiby: On Tuesday 29 November, he shared with the leadership board that he dreamt that the men of Living Grace were building a new church (quite quickly) on the rubble of what appeared to be an old church.
From: Helen Moohen [mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org]
Sent: Thursday, 1 December 2011 8:25 AM
... This morning during my prayer time I was shown a vision. This is how it unfolded: I had been praying just a bit earlier for the provision for us all and had moved on to establishing the door and gatekeepers at LG. The gatekeeper was at the edge of the concrete ramp and the door keeper was placed just outside the door. I prayed that as the people came in the spirits of this world would not be able to pass. A lot of people had already come and the spirits were held under the feet of these two mighty angles, suddenly the gatekeeper seemed to grow in size and he moved to the boundary across the drive and he stood on a lot of larger demons trying to come onto the property.
Then suddenly all the people were standing inside praising and worshiping. I was standing in the foyer watching what was happening. A procession of angels were coming into the foyer each one of them laid a suitcase on the tables. There were lots of them all different, some really old and battered some shining and new. All the cases were opened at the same time, inside they were full to the top with banded stacks of money. One angel came and seem to lift all the bundles up at the same time and break the paper band around each bundle, it seemed to happen all in one fluid motion.
Then the Lord was standing there. He looked at the angel. The angel threw the money up into the air. The Lord turned to look towards inside the sanctuary. As He did this, He blew at the money and it all was blown inside the church. Then I saw Edgar standing on the stage and money was falling in a heap around him not a lot the rest was falling into silver buckets that everyone was holding.
Then the people began throwing the money at Edgar. The heap around him got so large that I could only see his head. He was having the time of his life. Like a child throwing sand up into the wind that blew away. What was so awesome was that the more money that was thrown out of the peoples’ buckets the quicker they were filled. Some people almost made no dint in the fullness of the buckets. They were continually being filled and the heap around Edgar never diminished in size. Others were down to three of four notes in the bucket before they suddenly filled to overflowing again. Then it faded away and I was back in my home praying praising and giving thanks ... I had never seen it so clearly come into LG before. And it wasn’t old gold coin. It was brand new notes of today’s currency ...
Tatjana Mayer: A few days ago, she had a picture of a diamond and received the word, “The time is now.”
Finally – on Sunday 27 November – Suzette Hattingh ministered to us for more than three hours and this is how God used her. Watch an edited version of her preaching and prophetic declarations:
Transcript: ... [Beginning of the message] I call this the double-anointing. I had this specifically from the Lord to bring this morning ... I am talking to you this morning ... For every single child of God this word is true. There is no such thing as saying that this is only ... intercession was never meant for a secluded people ... kings and priests is actually a calling – a double-portion of the anointing – for every single man and woman of God ... and it should be lived by every man and woman of God ... This is a calling that belongs to the church ...
[At some time during the message] May I ask this beautiful church? Do you understand that your breakthrough that God gives you and even greater breakthroughs that will come to this church. There will be a time that this church would be too small. There would be a time that people would come here and it will be open a house – and I prophesy to you – this place will open twenty-four hours ... There will come a time [hold it – be quiet – wait] there will be a time that God will open this house twenty-four hours. There will be a time that you see manifestations in this house you have never seen before. There will be times that things will happen in this house that you will even wonder can this be God. There will be a time that you will start removing these benches. There will be a time that people are just lying under the power of God for hours. There will be a time that people will be walking over that porch – over that threshold – and be healed instantly. There will be at time that deliverances will take place. There will be a time that God has a purpose for this place to move in the power and the anointing like you have never seen before. There will be a time that many and all of you will be involved in signs, wonders and miracles. And there will be a time that you will be exhausted. There will be a time you wouldn’t know which way to go. There will be a time that you say: “God, we cannot.” And you are stretched to the limit and God says: “It’s not for you but for service.” [Pause. Yeah, go ahead, clap for Jesus.]
And there will be a time that you would need to come to that place that you walk at the porch and say: “God, God” and I warn you today as a prophetess of God there is a time you are crying out for revival, you are crying out for God to use you, you will be stretched to the limit. [Pause.] But I can tell you. Three meetings that wear you out will be nothing because of the hunger and the need of the people. The porch and the altar. As blessed as it is, the freedom you have, I walk in here as a servant of God, hope that I would have the privilege to be part and see your revival but if I never get that privilege because maybe I am in some other place of the world or maybe because God has sent me home already. I don’t know. Will you remember this word? That it’s not for you. And as hard as it would be to keep the balance between the porch and the altar. And that will be the only thing that will make you survive is that place at the altar so that you can deal with the demands of the porch. That people will knock on your doors at all times of the day ...
[During the prayer ministry] Lord, I impart today in this church the fire of intercession and evangelism and I release it over this place in Jesus’ name and I release a fire in Jesus’ name and I speak it out in the name of Jesus ... [To Edgar] Why are you on your feet standing? Who told you to get up? Fire. Take hands. I want to release a fire. I want to release a passion that will be a consuming fire in this place. Now. I release it in the name of Jesus. Passion and fire, Holy Spirit. That anointing that breaks the yoke, in Jesus’ name. And I thank you for that anointing right now to flow, Lord, in this place. Make this house like the days of Wigglesworth. Let it be a consuming fire. Wow. And I release in Jesus’ name that deep travail and that passion for prayer and that passion for evangelism, Lord, take the glory in this house out to the streets in Jesus’ name and I thank you for that right now ...
Now – how are you receiving this? What do you remember her saying? Do we agree with the Word of God in this season? [Invite responses from the congregation.] This is important. The Word of God – the words of prophecy – have power to create and accomplish what they say but they need to be received by us. Do we receive them? Will we exercise faith in what God has declared to us?
Hebrews 4:2: “ ... the message they heard was of no value to them, because those who heard did not combine it with faith.”
Hebrews 11:6: “And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.”
Romans 4:16: “Therefore, the promise comes by faith ... ”
Romans 5:2: “ ... through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand ... ”
Jeremiah 18:7-10: “If at any time I announce that a nation or kingdom is to be uprooted, torn down and destroyed, and if that nation I warned repents of its evil, then I will relent and not inflict on it the disaster I had planned. And if at another time I announce that a nation or kingdom is to be built up and planted, and if it does evil in my sight and does not obey me, then I will reconsider the good I had intended to do for it.”
What do these prophetic words mean? On a practical level, (1) there is no need to get back into a sense of striving for God’s favour. God has released joy among us and we can know that his word will not return empty. Revival – an outpouring of more of his glory – is coming. Then, (2) there is a need to keep building community among us. Suzette declared that we will be stretched and exhausted. Anyone that is stressed is usually not on their best behaviour which means that we need to create an environment where we show grace – undeserved love – for one another. We honour each other. Right now – we make a commitment to cut out gossip and negative innuendos. Evan Willingham preached on this topic only three weeks ago and he had God’s heart in his preaching. The only thing that can prevent what God has planned for us is disunity. Through the Holy Spirit – we can love each other into greatness rather than pulling each other down.
What else did Suzette say? What must we do or otherwise we will not survive? (3) We need to spend time at the altar – at God’s presence – for refreshment. [Numerous LG members already attest to the experiencing of refreshment through Suzette’ ministry in the Spirit of God. E.g.: Jan Humphrey, Alosha Lukashenok, Lyn Crighton.] Furthermore, (4) the glory that will be given to us is for service – for reaching the lost.
Today we want to complete – (in a sense) – the prophetic release of our calling in God – greater breakthroughs, this house like the days of Wigglesworth, signs, wonders & miracles, travailing, evangelism, deliverances, etc.
By the way, last Sunday we prayed for Suzette and asked God that he would especially heal her left leg which is suffering from the bending of her bones and other problems. A creative miracle was required. After our prayers (and Vicki Meagher prayed for her again during the service), Suzette had at least two consecutive nights without waking up in pain and also getting up in the morning without pain. For the first time in months, she was able to stretch her leg and the chiropractor attested that her two legs were now aligned which they were not only a few days ago.
I introduce you to the prophet Jeremiah in the Bible. He prophesied the destruction of Jerusalem by the Babylonians. No one wanted to listen to him and he suffered much persecution [abbreviate and retell in your own words]:
Jeremiah 26: Early in the reign of Jehoiakim son of Josiah king of Judah, this word came from the LORD: “This is what the LORD says: Stand in the courtyard of the LORD’s house and speak to all the people of the towns of Judah who come to worship in the house of the LORD. Tell them everything I command you; do not omit a word. Perhaps they will listen and each will turn from his evil way. Then I will relent and not bring on them the disaster I was planning because of the evil they have done. Say to them, ‘This is what the LORD says: If you do not listen to me and follow my law, which I have set before you, and if you do not listen to the words of my servants the prophets, whom I have sent to you again and again (though you have not listened), then I will make this house like Shiloh and this city an object of cursing among all the nations of the earth.’”
The priests, the prophets and all the people heard Jeremiah speak these words in the house of the LORD. But as soon as Jeremiah finished telling all the people everything the LORD had commanded him to say, the priests, the prophets and all the people seized him and said, “You must die! Why do you prophesy in the LORD’s name that this house will be like Shiloh and this city will be desolate and deserted?” And all the people crowded around Jeremiah in the house of the LORD.
When the officials of Judah heard about these things, they went up from the royal palace to the house of the LORD and took their places at the entrance of the New Gate of the LORD’s house. Then the priests and the prophets said to the officials and all the people, “This man should be sentenced to death because he has prophesied against this city. You have heard it with your own ears!”
Then Jeremiah said to all the officials and all the people: “The LORD sent me to prophesy against this house and this city all the things you have heard. Now reform your ways and your actions and obey the LORD your God. Then the LORD will relent and not bring the disaster he has pronounced against you. As for me, I am in your hands; do with me whatever you think is good and right. Be assured, however, that if you put me to death, you will bring the guilt of innocent blood on yourselves and on this city and on those who live in it, for in truth the LORD has sent me to you to speak all these words in your hearing.”
Then the officials and all the people said to the priests and the prophets, “This man should not be sentenced to death! He has spoken to us in the name of the LORD our God.”
Some of the elders of the land stepped forward and said to the entire assembly of people, “Micah of Moresheth prophesied in the days of Hezekiah king of Judah. He told all the people of Judah,
‘This is what the LORD Almighty says:
be plowed like a field,
Jerusalem will become a heap of rubble,
the temple hill a mound overgrown with thickets.’
“Did Hezekiah king of Judah or anyone else in Judah put him to death? Did not Hezekiah fear the LORD and seek his favor? And did not the LORD relent, so that he did not bring the disaster he pronounced against them? We are about to bring a terrible disaster on ourselves!”
(Now Uriah son of Shemaiah from Kiriath Jearim was another man who prophesied in the name of the LORD; he prophesied the same things against this city and this land as Jeremiah did. When King Jehoiakim and all his officers and officials heard his words, the king sought to put him to death. But Uriah heard of it and fled in fear to Egypt. King Jehoiakim, however, sent Elnathan son of Acbor to Egypt, along with some other men. They brought Uriah out of Egypt and took him to King Jehoiakim, who had him struck down with a sword and his body thrown into the burial place of the common people.)
Furthermore, Ahikam son of Shaphan supported Jeremiah, and so he was not handed over to the people to be put to death.
The time came for Jeremiah’s words to come true. Jerusalem would be oppressed by Babylon – like we experience the oppression of “Babylon” (the enemy forces of darkness) in our city and homes. However – before the actual fall of Jerusalem – before the long years of captivity (70 years) – Jeremiah also prophesied the destruction of Babylon. He prophesied a breakthrough which would allow God’s people to return, rebuild Jerusalem and once again expand God’s kingdom in the Promised Land.
This is the word the LORD spoke through Jeremiah the prophet concerning Babylon and the land of the Babylonians: “Announce and proclaim among the nations, lift up a banner and proclaim it; keep nothing back, but say, ‘Babylon will be captured; Bel [the head-demon] will be put to shame, Marduk [another head-demon] filled with terror. Her images will be put to shame and her idols filled with terror.’ A nation from the north will attack her and lay waste her land. No one will live in it; both people and animals will flee away.” “In those days, at that time,” declares the LORD, “the people of Israel and the people of Judah together will go in tears to seek the LORD their God. They will ask the way to Zion and turn their faces toward it. They will come and bind themselves to the LORD in an everlasting covenant that will not be forgotten.” ...
“Flee out of Babylon; leave the land of the Babylonians, and be like the goats that lead the flock. For I will stir up and bring against Babylon an alliance of great nations from the land of the north. They will take up their positions against her, and from the north she will be captured. Their arrows will be like skilled warriors who do not return empty-handed. So Babylonia will be plundered; all who plunder her will have their fill,” declares the LORD ...
“Take up your positions around Babylon, all you who draw the bow. Shoot at her! Spare no arrows, for she has sinned against the LORD. Shout against her on every side! She surrenders, her towers fall, her walls are torn down. Since this is the vengeance of the LORD, take vengeance on her; do to her as she has done to others ...
How broken and shattered is the hammer of the whole earth! How desolate is Babylon among the nations! I set a trap for you, Babylon, and you were caught before you knew it; you were found and captured because you opposed the LORD. The LORD has opened his arsenal and brought out the weapons of his wrath, for the Sovereign LORD Almighty has work to do in the land of the Babylonians ...
This is what the LORD Almighty says: “The people of Israel are oppressed, and the people of Judah as well. All their captors hold them fast, refusing to let them go. Yet their Redeemer is strong; the LORD Almighty is his name. He will vigorously defend their cause so that he may bring rest to their land, but unrest to those who live in Babylon.
“A sword against the Babylonians!” declares the LORD— “against those who live in Babylon and against her officials and wise men! A sword against her false prophets! They will become fools. A sword against her warriors! They will be filled with terror ... For it is a land of idols, idols that will go mad with terror ... ”
This is what the LORD says: “See, I will stir up the spirit of a destroyer against Babylon and its people ... ”
“Flee from Babylon! Run for your lives! Do not be destroyed because of her sins. It is time for the LORD’s vengeance; he will repay her what she deserves ... ”
“‘The LORD has vindicated us; come, let us tell in Zion what the LORD our God has done.’” ... The LORD will carry out his purpose, his decree against the people of Babylon ... “Before your eyes I will repay Babylon and all who live in Babylonia for all the wrong they have done in Zion,” declares the LORD. “I am against you, you destroying mountain, you who destroy the whole earth,” declares the LORD. “I will stretch out my hand against you, roll you off the cliffs, and make you a burned-out mountain. No rock will be taken from you for a cornerstone, nor any stone for a foundation, for you will be desolate forever,” declares the LORD.
“Lift up a banner in the land! Blow the trumpet among the nations! Prepare the nations for battle against her; ... This is what the LORD Almighty, the God of Israel, says: “Daughter Babylon is like a threshing floor at the time it is trampled; the time to harvest her will soon come.”
“Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon has devoured us, he has thrown us into confusion, he has made us an empty jar. Like a serpent he has swallowed us and filled his stomach with our delicacies, and then has spewed us out. May the violence done to our flesh be on Babylon,” say the inhabitants of Zion. “May our blood be on those who live in Babylonia,” says Jerusalem.
Therefore this is what the LORD says: “See, I will defend your cause and avenge you; I will dry up her sea and make her springs dry. Babylon will be a heap of ruins, a haunt of jackals, an object of horror and scorn, a place where no one lives ... ” declares the LORD ...
“I will punish Bel [the head-demon] in Babylon and make him spew out what he has swallowed. The nations will no longer stream to him. And the wall of Babylon will fall.” ...
“Babylon must fall because of Israel’s slain, just as the slain in all the earth have fallen because of Babylon.” ...
“But days are coming,” declares the LORD, “when I will punish her idols, and throughout her land the wounded will groan. Even if Babylon ascends to the heavens and fortifies her lofty stronghold, I will send destroyers against her,” declares the LORD ...
For the LORD is a God of retribution; he will repay in full ... This is what the LORD Almighty says: “Babylon’s thick wall will be levelled and her high gates set on fire; the peoples exhaust themselves for nothing, the nations’ labour is only fuel for the flames.”
This is the message Jeremiah the prophet gave to the staff officer Seraiah son of Neriah, the son of Mahseiah, when he went to Babylon with Zedekiah king of Judah in the fourth year of his reign. Jeremiah had written on a scroll about all the disasters that would come upon Babylon—all that had been recorded concerning Babylon. He said to Seraiah, “When you get to Babylon, see that you read all these words aloud. Then say, ‘LORD, you have said you will destroy this place, so that neither people nor animals will live in it; it will be desolate forever.’ When you finish reading this scroll, tie a stone to it and throw it into the Euphrates. Then say, ‘So will Babylon sink to rise no more because of the disaster I will bring on her. And her people will fall.’”
The words of Jeremiah end here.
Isn’t this mind-blowing? How was Babylon destroyed? An imprisoned staff officer – a single man without power in a foreign city – stood somewhere on a street corner and read out a scroll of prophetic words which announced the destruction of a world empire and its capital city. No one would have paid any attention to him but God’s Word never returns empty but accomplishes what it says. Then, the staff officer was instructed to agree with the scroll and speak out the words: “LORD, you have said you will destroy this place, so that neither people nor animals will live in it; it will be desolate forever.” He was further to act on these words – apply them – exercise faith – by tying a stone to the scroll and throwing it into the Euphrates river, saying: “So will Babylon sink to rise no more because of the disaster I will bring on her. And her people will fall.”
Can we do the same today? We receive what God has given us in dreams, vision and prophetic impressions. We pay attention to God’s messengers from the Solomon Islands and we agree with what God has spoken to us through Suzette Hattingh. Therefore, we do the same as the imprisoned staff officer which followed the instructions of the prophet Jeremiah: (1) We read out the prophetic words (and we do so substituting ancient Babylon for our modern forces which hold us captive). (2) Then we speak out what the staff officer was told to speak out – Jeremiah 51:62: “LORD, you have said you will destroy this place, so that neither people nor animals will live in it; it will be desolate forever.” (3) At last, we tie the words to a stone and throw it into some water. (Here in the church we may use the baptism font because this is the place where the old sinful self is drowned and one’s sins are washed away in baptism.) (4) And we say again the words given by the prophet Jeremiah – Jeremiah 51:64: “So will Babylon sink to rise no more because of the disaster I will bring on her. And her people will fall.”
[The whole church is enacting these instructions in the service.] The breakthrough is coming. Our city and our homes – our nation – will be set free from the devil’s influence. Babylon will fall. Now – as homework – I encourage you to do the same in your homes. For Jeremiah, it was important that the prophetic words would be spoken in Babylon itself – at the place of oppression – which was going to be destroyed. Take the words home with you and read them out in your homes. Then speak out the words of Jeremiah 51:62 (“LORD, you have said you will destroy this place, so that neither people nor animals will live in it; it will be desolate forever”), tie the prophecies to a stone and throw them into a bucket of water, saying – in the words of Jeremiah 51:64: “So will Babylon sink to rise no more because of the disaster I will bring on her. And her people will fall.” This is not an aggressive act against any other people but agrees with what God is saying to our church and declares (with power) that Babylon – the powers and principalities of this dark world – will sink before us – as an outpouring of God’s glory comes into our midst.
You may be tempted to feel funny following these instructions but the precedent is in the Bible. You are not performing some sort of magic but you exercise faith in God. You declare his Word – what we have discerned together – over your home and personal situation. Trust him. His Word will not return empty. The breakthrough will also come for your own personal need. Amen.
[The congregation is offering prayers of thanks and praise.]
Jeremiah 50:1-2: “Announce and proclaim among the nations, lift up a banner and proclaim it; keep nothing back, but say, ‘Babylon will be captured; [The head-demon] Bel will be put to shame, [the head-demon] Marduk filled with terror. Her images will be put to shame and her idols filled with terror.’”
Jeremiah 50:4-5: “In those days, at that time,” declares the LORD, “the people of Israel and the people of Judah together will go in tears to seek the LORD their God. They will ask the way to Zion and turn their faces toward it. They will come and bind themselves to the LORD in an everlasting covenant that will not be forgotten.”
Jeremiah 51:27-33: “Lift up a banner in the land! Blow the trumpet among the nations! Prepare the nations for battle against her; ... This is what the LORD Almighty, the God of Israel, says: “Daughter Babylon is like a threshing floor at the time it is trampled; the time to harvest her will soon come.”
Jeremiah 51:52-53: “But days are coming,” declares the LORD, “when I will punish her idols, and throughout her land the wounded will groan. Even if Babylon ascends to the heavens and fortifies her lofty stronghold, I will send destroyers against her,” declares the LORD.
Jeremiah 51:56-58: For the LORD is a God of retribution; he will repay in full ... This is what the LORD Almighty says: “Babylon’s thick wall will be levelled and her high gates set on fire; the peoples exhaust themselves for nothing, the nations’ labour is only fuel for the flames.”
 As far as I know, there was only one person that did not show the gold glitter. At least I could not see anything. However, this person was not interested in the manifestation because he was still so overjoyed that the word of God had come to him in the worship service. He did not think that he had missed out on anything because he was already so glad that he had come to the worship service.
Outside the church building I talked to another three teenagers who came from more troubled pasts and were still new to faith in Jesus Christ. I asked them whether they had gold on their hands. They had not thought about looking. However, all three could see the love of God sparkle in the sun, when they examined their skin. One never unplugged her ipod. Yet, God poured out his love on her and spoke louder than any other earphones: “I love you.”
 An email from one of our church members (11 January 2010): “ … Also, I washed my hands numerous times after church yesterday and I still had gold on right up to this morning! Tarik also showed me his hands after scrubbing them under the shower last night and the gold was still there. Nikara also had gold still on her face and hands this morning too, even though she had her bath last night too and washed everything. We think it's amazing!!! God is so good! … ” (Sonya Doecke).
My wife Tatjana also retained some gold sparkles on her arms until Monday night even though she had also showered. Another member prayed that her husband would also receive the manifestation even though he was not in church (this refers to Sunday 27 Dec 09) and he did. He is a doctor and had to be meticulous in washing his hands in hospital but he still manifested the gold glitter which comes out of the presence of God.
 Some question the manifestation of gold dust because they have never experienced this manifestation themselves and do not find the same in the Bible. Yet, these manifestations occur during the worship of Jesus Christ – among many mature Christians – and are therefore not likely to be of the devil. The Gospel of John points out that Jesus himself performed many miracles which were not recorded in the Bible (John ) and therefore we can also expect miraculous manifestations which go beyond the limited precedents of the Bible account. At one time, Jesus encouraged people to believe “on the evidence of the miracles themselves” (John ) and then promised his disciples that they would “do even greater things than these” miracles which he performed. Thus, Jesus again left scope for God to do new things and even greater things.
The purpose of miracles is to confirm the word of God (cf. 1 Corinthians 2:4-5; Romans 15:18-19), build faith (cf. John 2:11,23; 3:2; 4:39; 9; 10:21,25-26,32,38; 11:45; 12:18; 14:11; 15:24; 16:30; 20:30-31) and work repentance (cf. Luke 10:13-15). They are also an expression of God’s character – his holiness in wrath and love. The manifestation of gold sparkles on the church seems to be a declaration of love for his people which is important to remember because otherwise even miracles can become “boring”. However, we will not tire in our excitement when we understand the miracles as an expression of our relationship with God. We are not growing tired of him saying to us: “I love you.” And then we respond with worship.
Some may feel condemned when the miracles do not happen to them in person. However, God sent his only Son Jesus Christ to die on the cross for all people so that no one would ever miss out on the goodness of God. There is enough grace for everyone. The important miracle is not gold dust but the new creation in God through the forgiveness of sins. Furthermore, miracles are given to the church community (1 Corinthians 12:7) and therefore benefit not only the select few who happen to experience manifestations. They are not rewards for maturity.
At Living Grace gold dust may manifest out of the glory of God on some persons but absolutely everyone is surrounded by the same glory in that particular worship service. No one is missing out on the “atmosphere” of God’s presence. When an angel appeared to shepherds in the field, the glory of God shone around them and terrified them but in walking distance Jesus was born and the glory was present without the glory shine.
The most important key is never to take offense at God and believe the devil’s lie that God is holding back from us. The Bible declares: “He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all – how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things” (Romans 8:32; cf. Ephesians 3:14-21).
There is enough grace for everyone. Last but not least, I believe that when the door opens to manifestations, there are more coming (cf. Romans ; Acts 2-4). Therefore, we do not grieve or quench the Spirit by questioning the ins and outs of manifestations but remain full of expectation and praise.