Apart from my salvation experience, God has done no greater work in me in the last 25 years, than He did during the short period of time I was with the Vineyard Christian Fellowship. I was with them for almost exactly nine months. Nine powerful months. Do not underestimate the power of those nine months. I am telling you the truth. I am not lying.
So great was the work that God did in me during those nine months, that in recalling the work that God did in my life during that time, I can only surrender myself afresh to God and give Him praise for the work that He did. This testimony is long overdue. But in a way, it’s good that I waited so long to write it, because it proves, beyond any shadow of a doubt that the testimony is worthy. No one is paying me or telling me to write this testimony. I am writing it of my own volition as a thank offering to the Lord, for His utterly amazing work in my life while I was with the Vineyard Christian Fellowship for those short but powerful nine months.
Those nine months were not always easy. On some occasions, I had to contend with the flesh – my flesh and other people’s flesh (the word “flesh” being used as a synonym, in this case, for the sin nature and the potential for abrasiveness that comes with that sometimes). The time that I remember the most in this regards is the time the youth pastor of the Vineyard Christian Fellowship came into my house and pounded his fist on the table in anger at me, for doing things he did not like. Yes, people can get a little feisty sometimes! Apparently, he was upset that I would go up for prayer, again, and again, and again, and again, every week, standing in line to receive prayer at the Sunday church services that were going on. My liberty was a “little too much” – I would often fall over, and lay on the floor, as God “worked on me” during those nine months. What a hoot! As for the youth pastor, I wish the man well. He meant well, and is a good man.
On one occasion, a visiting prophet named Kin Lancaster came and spoke. What a tremendously nice man this person is. (I have not seen him since.) There was a youth camp meeting which I attended. Kin was the visiting speaker – a prophet, that is. And yes, I really do believe in prophets (I believe some make mistakes, too, but that does not undermine my belief in prophets – it merely tells me that prophets are human beings who make mistakes sometimes). Kin was speaking at a particular meeting that I attended. Kin spoke a particular prophetic word in the hearing of the entire group that had to do with me. He said, “I saw a stake being driven through your heart.” He said God had called me as a “prophet”. Hum. Interesting choice of words – not the “prophet” part, but the “stake being driven through your heart” part. What could it possibly mean? Was I a vampire that needed to be killed? Vampires are, of course, purely mythological creatures. But the story of a vampire is that they want blood. And the only way to kill them is to drive a stake through their heart.
I didn’t really pay any attention to the stake through the heart part of his words, but I decided it would be a good idea, pretty much that same week, to start putting the “prophet” part of his words into action. In the next few days, a “prophetic word” came to me, but it was born entirely of my flesh. How could this be? I can now look back almost twenty years later, and tell you exactly how this could be. Anyone who is not completely submitted to God in any area of his or her life is open to receiving deceptive messages that can truly “appear” to be “from God.” “Then how can any message be trusted?” you will probably ask me. The answer is, “test the spirits to see whether they are from God” (1 John 4:1) and “the spirits of prophets are subject to prophets” (1 Corinthians 14:32). So if a “prophetic word” comes, test it to see if it lines up with the word of God and tell another “prophet” and see what he or she says. That other “prophet” might be a friend of yours that you can pray with, and talk with, to see whether or not the so-called “word” that you received really lines up with the Spirit of God. If God gave it, He will confirm it. You can bank on that.
But back then – especially since Kin Lancaster said I was a prophet – I didn’t bother checking to see if the “prophetic word” I received shortly after that really was from God. The word was simply “too good” to pass up – the juicy morsel that it was! It was a “word” for … you guessed it … the youth pastor! I can’t remember whether the youth pastor had already bought a motorcycle or whether or not he was thinking about buying a motorcycle (that part is vague, for some reason), but I do recall that the “word” I received was that he should not own a motorcycle, since it was too dangerous and he could get himself killed! Little did I realize that the “thing” that needed to be killed was my flesh! God wanted to drive a stake through my heart – that is, my flesh – but for the time being I “ran with” this “flesh induced” so-called “prophetic word” and gave it to the youth pastor (thinking that I was doing him a great favor). After all, was I not a prophet?
The Lord foresaw all of this non-sense and even prior to my giving the so-called “prophetic word” started to give me some very interesting dreams. I had no idea what these dreams meant, but they were very interesting, indeed. All of the dreams (there were several of them, on consecutive days) explained in rather detailed but slightly veiled imagery, all of the events that would take place during the next roughly seven days! I had no idea what the dreams meant, but I faithfully wrote them all down, since, by that time, having been with the Vineyard for at least a little while and having become convinced of the importance of dreams, I was in the habit of writing my dreams down (I still do that today, and have received many amazing messages from the Lord as a result).
After receiving the so-called “prophetic word” from me, some time later the youth pastor came over to the house where I was staying and “blasted me” on account of the false prophetic word that I gave to him (he was mad). I said to him, in complete sincerely of heart, “I honestly believe this word is from God!” The youth pastor pressed me and said it was categorically not from God! This puzzled me in no uncertain terms. I did not realize I had spoken from my flesh. I did not yet understand that false prophetic words, including false “leadings,” could arise as a result of personal desires that were not submitted to the Lord Jesus Christ – which is why it is crucial for all servants of God (not just prophets) to “die daily” as the apostle Paul writes (1 Corinthians 15:31). The expression “die daily” means to submit ourselves to God daily, and to surrender any personal desires over to Him. We are not to hold onto bitterness, greed, anger, prejudices, anxieties, or fear that could in any way interfere with God’s will.
Finally, I said to the youth pastor, “If I am wrong in the word I gave, God is going to have to show me Himself!” The pastor answered, “He will!” and left. As soon as the youth pastor left, I suddenly got the urge to read the dreams that I had been carefully penning prior to that. And what a shocker I received. Now the dreams made perfect sense. The dreams were a story line of everything that just happened over the previous roughly seven days, complete with details on the youth pastor coming over and getting mad at me. Now how about that? Talk about precision. It was all there in black and white. This time I had the testimony of God Himself, and the finger was pointing right at me. This, then, was my introduction to the life of a prophet. The proverbial stake was put right through my heart, by God Himself. But did this mean that I had been a vampire, out for blood? Ah, interesting question. The truth of the matter is that the flesh is pretty ugly.
The prophet Jeremiah – a prophet indeed – wrote, “The heart is more deceitful than all else and is desperately sick; who can understand it?” (Jeremiah 17:9) What would you say? Is this categorically true or categorically false? If you cannot say, “categorically true” with absolute certainty about your own ability to go astray, then I’m afraid that you don’t yet qualify to be a prophet in God’s eyes – you are still a babe, and in need of training. In time, if you are open to hearing from Him and knowing the truth, deep on the inside, God will indeed show you the truth about these things.