Made A Sign & A Wonder
It is very difficult to put into words what it feels like to be made a sign and a wonder. Words like “caught away” or “in the Spirit on the Lord’s day” take on a new significance to me now. However, I am not usually conscious that I am being a sign and a wonder; it has become so natural. It is only as I look back that I realize that the Lord's hand was on me.
Before the renewal began in 1994, I had been the pastor of an inner-city church in Liverpool, England for twelve years. The vision of the church was to reach the poor. So we sent teams into Europe delivering food and clothing to the refugee camps. We also pioneered a social and economic project, working alongside the Anglican Church Urban Fund, and the Lord opened up doors for us to meet the Queen at St. James Palace in London and receive an award for the project from Prince Charles.
THINGS WERE ABOUT TO CHANGE
In the spring of 1994, a prophet by the name of Bobby Conner came to minister at a church in Liverpool. Jean and I attended his first meeting. After the service was over, he made his way towards us and asked, “Will you be in the meeting tomorrow evening? Before I could reply he continued, “For I have words of destiny for you.” Those words still ring in my ears today!
The next night Bobby began to share about anointing, his Texan accent ringing out, “Mantles can be divided... They are given to those who are desperate for them...,” he said.
At this point, the tone of his message changed, and he began to speak deliberately, “I want to talk to a few of you tonight and let you know that God has a destiny and a call for you.”
He stopped and pointed to me,
“...Would you and your wife stand up? There is an anointing for you.”
Jean and I stood to our feet, holding hands.
Bobby continued, “And God will give you an anointing. ...” Now the words were flowing with the power of the Spirit and were hitting us and entering into our spirits. I was finding it hard to stand on my feet, desperately holding on to Jean, who has always been my support and strength.
Bobby began to describe the anointing that was to come upon me and said, “There will be a display of the power of God... mocking tongues that have been mocking you, God says, ‘I will bring them to a quiet’.” He asked Jean and me whether we understood.
We didn’t. Little did we know that he was talking of things to come. There is a lot more which I will not share; however, at the end of the prophecy Bobby said to the congregation, “I feel quite dizzy now, but that was fun!”
We didn’t realize it at the time, but what he was experiencing was a foretasteof the anointing that was to come upon me. The dizziness was the intoxication of the Spirit, and the fun was the joy.
A SIGN SPOKEN AGAINST
How quick we are to judge by the outward appearance something that is new or strange. One of the agonies of being a prophetic sign and wonder is that people on the whole are too quick to write you off because you appear unusual. They perceive you as weird. They don’t take time to examine the fruit.
Jesus said that when a man has tasted the old wine, he does not take to the new wine straight away.
At first appearance the new can look crazy, but if we understand the purposes of God and the prophetic anointing being carried, then we will not frustrate the grace of God, and we will realize that the Lord is trying to direct our lives.
It is important therefore that we understand the following things:
1. The sign is not the destination, but it merely points us in the right direction.
2. A sign is to awaken us out of our sleepy state; it warns us that something is coming.
THE NEW ARRIVES
One day as I was walking through the doors of TACF, I asked the Lord to get me drunk.
He said to me, "Mix your drinks." So I took every opportunity to get as many of the ministry team to pray for me and to give me a drink. I even sat at the end of rows in the meeting so that I could grab their hands as they went to the washroom.
You cannot get drunk on one drink, you have to be desperate for it. You have to take time to soak up the anointing.
As I soaked Him in, I became drunk in the Spirit.
When I received this anointing the Lord told me, “John, I am making you a flashing sign so that you will be noticed like the signs on the highway!” This was very hard for my natural mind to comprehend, particularly because I am English, and our culture demands us to be reserved and not to project ourselves. However, when the anointing of being drunk in the Spirit came upon me, I had no fear of man, or of what people thought about me. I was carried along by the inspiration of the Spirit.
FREEDOM FROM THE FEAR OF MAN
One of the greatest things to hold people back is fear, in particular, the fear of man, the fear of what people might think of them. This stops people from pleasing God and moving in the supernatural.
In John 12:43, the scripture says that many leaders believed in Jesus, but because of the Pharisees they did not “confess Him”. Even though they believed in Him, they desired the praises of men more than God.
One of the benefits of being intoxicated with the Spirit is that you are freed from old mind-sets and paradigms. Even though from the outside you look like a mess, you are in fact very sensitive to the Spirit, and can hear His voice and obey freely, even if your reactions could be against everything that you have been taught.
Jeremiah knew this experience, in Jeremiah 23:9 he says, “I am like a drunken man whom wine has overcome because of the Lord and His holy words.” We have also forgotten that the early Church was born with the sign of intoxication. As the Holy Spirit fell on Pentecost, the believers drank Him in to such a degree that they were completely abandoned to God. The crowd that gathered on the day of Pentecost was attracted by what they heard and what they saw. The early disciples were accused of being full of the new wine because they looked drunk. Jesus was also accused of being a “winebibber.”
What is the purpose of being drunk in the Spirit? Jeremiah was prophesying to a people in bondage under the Babylonian system. As the Holy Spirit intoxicated Jeremiah, He enabled him to prophesy to God’s people, to deal with the judgmental spirit in the house of the Lord, to break through mindsets created by false prophets who loved the status quo.
It has been the same for me. Whilst under this intoxication, the Lord has had me do things and proclaim certain words, which seem foolish to the natural mind. There have been times when I have been preaching and have begun to cry out, “HEY!” from the pit of my stomach.
I later discovered that the word “Hey” is the fifth letter of the Hebrew alphabet. The number five stands for grace. It is the same letter that the Lord added to Abram’s name when he changed it to Abraham. Its literal meaning is “to invoke God’s creative power.”
Someone who is made a living sign and wonder does not operate on a natural level. By their very lifestyle they challenge the principalities and powers and warn them that a major change is coming.
This anointing of drunkenness is offensive to the principalities and powers that are causing the Church to be lukewarm
. The power is in the offence. Simply put, an offence is a hurdle that people need to get over if they are to come into the bigger and wider purposes of God. Our ways are not God’s ways.
When I was in California I received an anointing that I call “the ding-dong anointing.” I began to shout, “Ding- dong!” and my right arm drooped down to one side. The Lord showed me that he had put a set of keys in my hand, and they were ancient keys.
One day as I was talking to the Lord about the anointing, I asked him if it was possible to still have the wonderful experience of freedom this anointing gives, but not to appear drunk. The Lord told me that to Him being filled with the new wine was a very intimate thing. He took me to Ex.28:31, where we have the description of the High Priest’s garments. Around the hem of his robes were golden bells and pomegranates.
Pomegranates were used to make a strong drink, and you will find numerous references to the word linking it with grapes. When the spies went into the Promised Land, they brought back clusters of grapes.
The colors are also symbolic. The bells were made of gold, symbolizing the Glory of God. The pomegranates were blue, purple and scarlet. Blue speaks of heavenly places, purple speaks of royalty and scarlet speaks of the blood shed for our redemption. The keys speak of gatekeepers.
He showed me that when I was getting drunk, I was in fact entering into a holy place with Him, a place of intimacy.
When Jean and I were launched into an itinerant ministry in 1997, we considered the possibility of relocating to America, as a fair amount of our time was spent on that side of the world, but the Lord would not allow us to move out of Liverpool. Liverpool is a gateway city, and its very founding was prophetic. Its symbol is an eagle.
The book of Acts declares that the Lord has an inheritance for nations and cities. In Acts 17:26 says, “The Lord has determined their pre-appointed times and the boundaries of their dwellings...” I believe that every nation has a particular calling from God, an inheritance. One of the appointed tasks that a living sign and wonder accomplishes is to call down God’s blessing over an area. The Lord showed us that we have to have our feet planted in the soil of a “gateway place” in order to carry this anointing.
The church of Philadelphia mentioned in the book of Revelation, chapter three, was a “gateway church,” and interestingly enough, verse 7 mentions keys. There are people who carry a gatekeeper anointing, and the anointing that they carry opens gates and situations that could not have been opened without the keys they hold. His anointings are the keys.
A BROKEN SIGN AND WONDER
A lot of people say they would love to be a sign and a wonder, but one of the negative sides to becoming a sign and a wonder is that you have to experience being broken. Jeremiah said “my heart is broken within me”.
One of the hardest things is handling rejection.
You really have to embrace it, even more so when it comes from close friends whom you love. During the last ten years, I have laughed but I have also cried. I now know what it must feel like to be an alcoholic, to have people look at you and despise you because of your inebriated appearance.
However, this last ten years have been the most wonderful years of my Christian life. I have felt like I have compressed 10 years into one. In spite of all the ecstasy and its necessary agony, what more can I say but, "More, Lord, in 2004."