Jesus said to ask and we will receive.
The response to my request for listening stories has branched out into stories of encountering God in prayer walking see Prayer Walking and divine provision. Below are three stories of divine provision. Please feel free to continue to send me stories about prayer waking encounters with God and now divine provision. For every story published I’ll send you a copy of my book Viral Jesus. For now I am suspending my listening stories series. However, I’ve enjoyed the stories that you have sent.
Thad’s Exact Provision Story
My business partners and I had not been paid for over 3 months because our biggest customer had refused to pay for the services that they had purchased from us. We were all just squeaking it out with paying our bills. One day we were leaving on a business trip from my home in San Antonio to Houston. My partner, Richard, got in the vehicle with me and told me that earlier he had stopped by the ATM to get some travel cash. As he stood there waiting for the machine to dispense the money the Lord spoke to him and told him to give $94 to my other partner, Wayne. We thought, what an odd amount? When Wayne arrived we took off for Houston while Richard told him what had happened at the ATM. Wayne was perplexed, until we were passing through downtown San Antonio and his wife called him on his cell phone crying. She had just arrived at her job, a bank, to find out that they were overdrawn in their account. She was totally humiliated and embarrassed. Wayne then asked her the amount of the overdraft, to which she sobbed — $94. We took a short detour to pass by the bank where she worked to hand her the money to cover the overdraft. We all learned a lesson that day about the Lord’s precise care for our situation.
Paul’s Provision Stories
When my wife and I were planting our ministry at Chico State in California our first year we were living on support as a campus missionaries and were nowhere near “full support.” God provided month by month. One time we were taking a group of students to a conference in Southern California and Christy checked our bank statement on the way down and we realized that we had nothing left! We didn’t have money for gas to get the students home! Later during the conference the leader announced that they would be taking an offering for our ministry! Which is not normally something done at college conferences! He didn’t know anything of our situation (but God did!) but that offering provided enough for us to get home and get pizza for our evangelistic study the next week!
More recently we just had our first son Owen and have had an epic fall semester of many students accepting Jesus. Money got very tight during this season of blessing in our ministry and things were getting pretty discouraging financially. We got a letter from our OBGYN doctor and at first thought it was a bill we opened it up and it was a hand written note telling us he appreciates the kingdom work we do and all the money for the delivery of Owen was enclosed! (including what the insurance paid him.) God is faithful to provide! If it is God’s will it’s God’s bill!
- Have you ever had an “exact provision” story?
- Why do you think so many Christians don’t believe God acts like this?
- Why do you think so many Christians don’t have stories like this?
- Do you think it is possible to live by faith, without a salaried job and serve the Lord full time; kind of the modern day version of no purse, bag or sandals (Lk 10:4)?
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When Lois asked how much the answer was specific.
We were on our way to a house church conference in Dallas from El Paso. After it was over we would be spending the night with a college roommate. She had been unemployed for quite some time and is a single mom. It was a desperate situation. I asked the Lord if we should give her an offering while we were there. He said yes, so I asked how much. “$700″ He said. Interesting enough was that I hadn’t given an offering in a couple months so most of it was already set aside. I took the rest out of savings and put it in an envelope. Before we left her home we handed her the money. Amidst bubbly hugs and exclamations she says asked if she could count it and disappears into her bedroom. She came back out crying. She needed $600 in just 2 days before she would have been kicked out of her apartment. What is comical is that after we left she was trying to track us down to give us back the $100. “I miscounted!” she says. “You can have $100 back”. Laughing, I said, “No, I was planning to buy you groceries! Go get some food!” I love how the Lord meets the needs of those in the body. I know God would not have left her homeless, but I was privileged to be a part of His plan. I was blessed by being in on His blessing!
Tim's time didn't work out quite like he planned.
My 10 year old son and I grabbed a basketball and went across the street to shoot some hoops. As we approached the court we saw a black man in a wheel chair in the court with a basketball in his lap. As we drew closer I observed this man had cerebral palsy and could barely move his hands. He greeted us with a giant smile and a drooling invitation to play ball with him.
I’m a little frustrated internally since I am here to play real ball with my son. As we interacted a few statements I noticed on his key chain around his neck was written WWJD. I asked him if he knew what that meant. In his difficult to understand speech he said What Would Jesus Do. I asked him, Do you know Jesus? He beamed and answered “I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength.” I was stunned. I am now over my frustration. I realize I am experiencing a messenger so unusual, he must be sent by God.
I learn his name is Malcolm. I ask him where he goes to church. He winces and says he goes to a place in San Jose but they don’t like him. When he asks questions they seem annoyed. To myself, I know exactly what he’s talking about. I am now struggling whether to tell him about the fellowship that meets in my home across the street. I have thoughts of reaching our upscale neighborhood but think that would not work well if he were there. This is obviously a thought from my flesh. I hear God say, “Invite him to your home you fool. There may be blessings you have no idea about.” The Spirit wins the battle and I invite him to this new fellowship where questions and participation from anyone are welcome because that is what the Bible instructs God’s people to do. He says he’ll come. I tell him I’ll need to make a ramp to get him inside.
Over the next four years Malcolm joins in with our fellowship and we connect like no other relationship I have ever experienced where he teaches me and I teach him. If I were to recount all the things we did and learned together it would take a book. The biggest thing I learned was what it means to “wash one another’s feet”. It’s a lesson that cannot be taught AND learned in a sanctuary, a seminary, or Sunday school room. It can only be learned in that live situation where Jesus presents us with an unexpected action that requires great humility and long suffering, and we respond in obedience and joy. Yes, there were thousands of blessings for me and many others, including my young boys watching their father teach them by example about washing feet.
- What did you learn from Lois’ story or from Tim’s story?
- The voice of God is not always audible, what other forms can it take?
- God spoke very specifically to Lois, including the amount of money she was to offer? Does God communicate with you this specifically? What would it take to increase the accuracy of our listening?
- God asked Tim to do something that went against his first inclination. How do we know when to respond logically and when to go against our inclinations?
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Chris' story took place near here, Bedford, England.
A few years ago we had been planning to help with a youth camp being run by people from Bedford. I was sharing some of this with my friend Paul who has serious and chronic leg and back problems and is always in considerable pain and constantly on strong, prescribed pain treatment.
As I was talking with him he offered to help put up the tents – this was the day before the camp. I really thought that would be a bad idea and was about to say so, but I sensed strongly that I should accept his offer.
We drove out together to the campsite and Paul worked hard with remarkably little difficulty. The guy who runs these camps said to him, ‘Any chance you could stay over the weekend and help with the kids?’
Paul stayed and several extraordinary things happened. He was able to run around all weekend with the kids, not even needing his crutches; the pain was much reduced. He became (and remains) a close friend of the camp leader and has helped every year since that first time. This has led to further friendships and involvements. Several of the youngsters decided to follow Jesus, all of them enjoyed having Paul there, and many of them have stayed in touch with him and returned year by year.
None of this would have happened if the Spirit hadn’t whispered to me, ‘Take Paul with you’. Sometimes the smallest word from the Lord can result in so much! He knows what’s best, we don’t.
And now for some links on listening. No particular order here, but they’re all about aspects of listening and hearing.
Response, are you listening. Speak to bones. Little Paxton Hearing and Doing. Thought Dream Yet Not Dream. Hearing From Spirit in Coventry.
And there are more links here, scroll down to the section on ‘Hearing, revelation’.
- Have you ever been asked by God to be a part of a divine appointment like this? Are divine appointments part of your life?
- Have you ever had a “strong sense” you should do something? Did you recognize this as divine communication?
- Chris noted, “hearing is only the first step, obedience is really what Father wants.”Agree or disagree?
- How can we be obedient to God if we don’t listen?
- Is doing what the Bible says the only part of listening? When does that stop being a relationship with God and become legalism?
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Click here to order Letters to the House Church Movement.
Some books are practical, some are theoretical; both have their place. Rad Zdero’s book Letters to the House Church Movement is strongly practical; while reflecting a deep understanding of the paradigms under which house churches and house church networks really work (theoretical).
Rad is a house church planter and network organizer in Canada; what we in the house church movement would call an apostle. He is also an astute theologian, though he might not call himself that. As such, he has had plenty of correspondence over the years, which touches on the real nuts and bolts issues that house churches face. By sharing his real letters with us he doesn’t paint house churches in some romantic glow. This is a warts and all look at what house church practice is really like.
Here is a sampling of the kinds of issues and questions Rad deals with.
- What are actual house church meetings really like?
- How do house churches deal practically with problem people?
- How do you deal with the house church radicals who have a chip on their shoulder about traditional churches?
- How do house churches multiply and how do they deal with missions?
- What are the real problems (not the imagined problems of those who have never experienced house church) that house churches face? How should they be dealt with?
- What does leadership look like in house churches? What is the role of elders and apostles? What does that word “apostle” actually mean in a house church setting?
- What is the role of women in house church?
- How do house churches answer the common criticisms that they face? What is their biblical backing for these answers?
- How do house churches group themselves into networks and how does that all work?
- What is their relationship with more traditional churches?
- What is house church spirituality like?
I could go on because Rad covers a lot of important ground just by answering real letters and emails he has received over the years. He does this graciously, openly, humbly, yet with a frankness and clarity I find refreshing. He doesn’t beat around the bush, but he is kind. I like that.
Who would profit from a book like this? First of all, any house church practitioner. Because Rad has long experience and the churches and networks he is dealing with are well organized and mature (or maturing), he has lots to say to us. Reading this book might show us some things we are missing.
However, I think this book would be good for people who are curious about house churches but have never experienced them or haven’t experienced them broadly enough to really know how they work. I would also include those who are critics of house church. My own experience with critics is that they are usually unaware of the reality and are often responding to their own imagined fears or some bad experience with an unhealthy house church practitioner (see bullet point three). It’s OK to criticize but that should come from an extensive enough knowledge that the critic isn’t just setting up a straw man and knocking it down. Rad gives the answers to the key criticisms that an experienced house church apostle of a large network would give. It’s best to get these answers from someone who actually knows what they are talking about from real experience.
Would I recommend this book? Absolutely, in fact I’m going to recommend it to one of the house churches I’m involved with. I think reading this book will give the Holy Spirit a chance to speak to us about what He wants us to do next.
- Have you even experienced house church? What was that like, good or bad?
- What questions do you have about how house churches work?
- If you are a house church practitioner, what problems do you fact? Where do you need to grow? I’d suspect this book would be a good resource for you.
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