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21 Day Fast Notes

 

Notes from the 21-Day Fast

 

I.      Introduction

 

Tonight I want to speak to you about my experience with the 21-day fast, and the goings on after that fast. This is more of a talk tonight than a sermon.  Now some of you may have done long fasts before and that is awesome, and you have probably have experienced break through personally, breakthrough in other areas, or just got closer to the Lord. My experience with fast was different than in the past, and I’d like to share some insight.

 

The verse that stood out to me after the fast was:

 

Matthew 11:28, “Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.”

 

Initially going into the fast, this verse definitely wasn’t on the radar for sure.  But what we think, and what God is aiming to do during a fast He calls us to do, can be totally different from what we are thinking. I was looking one way, He led me into another.  But after the fast I understand, and I continue to receive revelation even today about it.   More revelation is what I want.

 

I know results of a fast are not always visible at first, and underlying issues such as specific strongholds you fast and pray about may need continued prayer and fasting, that’s a given, but I have to say this time of fasting was different and not easy for me.  Not so much on the food part, but the issues of the mind that the Spirit was engaged in to changing the way I think.  There were many sleepless nights, early rising to pray, and a lot of frustration. 

 

That frustration came out of me; I felt angry.  Barb mentioned it one night and I agreed.  I said, “I feel angry and I don’t even know why.”  I could only believe it was things the Spirit was rooting out of me, and there is a lot to root out.

 

What was exposed was how complex I am, and how complex we all are, I did not want to believe I was that complex, I thought of myself as being fairly simple, but that’s not true, for any of us really, and like an onion, I needed to have my layers peeled away to expose the heart, so I could be emptied out. 

 

We are like a big house with many rooms with many doors and secret passageways that need to opened and exposed and cleaned, so we will can be filed with the truth. 

 

Experiences, words, teachings, examples that do not line up truly with the Word of God need to be pulled out by the roots.  There are things that may be close to being totally clean, and that may be 90% okay, but that 10% needs to be tossed too as we need complete truth in us. And that truth is the pure Word of God in our lives.  His promises.  His life.  His love.

 

Many weeks back now when David Hogan was speaking at Lakeshore Tabernacle, he confirmed what the Lord was dealing with in me about truth in some of the things he spoke about.

 

Do I care about what man has told me or taught me, or spoke over me, or do I believe in the absolute Word of God and what it says? 

 

Do I believe what Jesus taught His Disciples?  And if I believe and do not follow those beliefs, restrict them, or do not acknowledge them, well then why?  Am I fearful of what people may say or think of me?  Am I trying to please someone?  Like my old mentors? My parents?  My friends, or other Pastor’s?  Teachers?  Who?  Am I afraid that what I have believed all of my life may be wrong, and if I give into what the Word says, am I acknowledging that all the people who taught me, and all the doctrines and beliefs I have stood for was wrong?  I believe this is a struggle that many pastors in this city are going through today.

 

I felt like my heart was ripped out of my chest, as well as my brain removed.  I need to be rebuilt.  Remade.  And I wanted to be.  I am 59 as of March 4th, and at the halfway point of my life, I want the 2nd half to be free in Christ, and not bound in Brad.  I want the life of Christ to be the life of Brad.

 

 

Back to Matthew 11:28 that explains more of what I have been saying about me.

  1. Worry

Matthew 11:28, “Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.”

 

Matthew 11:28 was not about me being overwhelmed per say by some heavy burden of life, that I should be handing over some load to Jesus, but in some points it was about handing things over.  

 

I was working through what I would consider as being shortcomings in my life that, I perceived.  Now they may not be true at all, but our perception of ourselves can lead us into many different directions and keep us from the direction that God is pointing us to.

 

I believe one of the largest issue that has affected me my whole life is the fear of failure.  That fear has been driven by people who had no faith in me, even saying I that I would not amount to anything. Initially I believed it, and ran away from God.  I was called to be a pastor at age 16, but figured I could not do it.  I saw my father run from it after pastoring, so why would I want to do it and fail.

 

When I came back to the Lord, I threw myself into ministry, and life in general, with the thoughts of succeeding to the point that caused me to attempt to over achieve, and that’s not good.  I was not going to fail.  I did fail, and when I did it crushed me.  I was on an emotional roller coaster trying to live two lives, one in business and one in the church.  I felt like I failed at both.  I was trying to honor man and not God.

 

When I was prompted to start this church, the possibility of failure was in my face.  What happens if it doesn’t work?  I was failing before I even started, and it took eight years to move on the dream God put into my mind. 

 

I had thoughts, what if I couldn’t do it?  Or can I do it?  Do I have the personality to do it?  Do I have the intelligence to do it, and not just business intelligence which I think I may have, but spiritual intelligence?  I can pray, but can I pray good enough?

 

But I came to a point where I didn’t care about me, so I was like God; I’m doing it anyway because you told me to.  Fearfully.  Help me, You’re my only hope.  So here we are.

 

These thoughts all came up in the past month again. All my perceived shortcomings were in front of me.   I was like God, I done with this.  I am done with these thoughts.  The pain of it.  I felt pain.  Somedays I couldn’t pray, I just sat there.  Bible open, grasping for some meat from the divine book of truth.  Grasping for a life altering word.  I needed light, bright light to blind me into a spiritual reality of “I get it.”  Somedays all I could say was “Oh God”, and go off praying in tongues.  I didn’t know what to say.  This went on for days, and I guess that frustration turned into grumpiness, anger, then more prayer.

 

Then one day, God took me back to my past.  Back to when I was a child.  Back to the old Zion Revival Center.  Back to a place where miracles happened through common people.  Back to a memory of the first pastor I could remember as far back as a 5-year-old, the Reverend John Clark.  A carpenter by trade, no schooling that I knew of. 

 

He raised the dead.  The lame walked, and people were set free of sickness and from many a disease. Pastor Clark and the people that attended knew the promises of God.  Pastor John was just a humble loving man. He was an unassuming giant.  And as a little squatty kid he was a giant to me, because he was really tall. But he was just a man, he was just like me, and just like you.  Same with the people of the church. I can still see them.  What a happy group they were.  They were Believers, with a capital B.  It wasn’t about who they were.  It was all about who Jesus was.  Who Jesus is.  My favorite verse since I came to Christ in my early 20’s was:

 

Philippians 4:13, “ I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.”

 

1 Corinthians 1:7, “Therefore you do not lack any spiritual gift as you eagerly wait for our Lord Jesus Christ to be revealed.”
 

I can, and I lack nothing concerning Christ.  There is nothing I cannot do.  I am a Believer.  Jesus said, that’s all that matters.  I don’t need a PhD. I need the Holy Spirit.  I need a listening ear to hear when God whispers to me.

III. People

 

What the Lord also dealt with me about was about people.  I have a burden for people.  Not to say I haven’t had one, maybe not a burden; I love people and want them to succeed in life physically and Spiritually, but I have a burden for hurting lost people, but maybe not in a way people may think.

 

I am not an evangelist now, I was to youth years ago, but now I see myself solely as a pastor, operating in the other five-fold gifts when needed.  I am not a power preacher or speaker, and truthfully don’t care to be. Side note (I wanted to be like Billy Graham.) when I was younger.  Not now. I do not want my sole pastoral existence to be tied to preaching.  Actually preaching is third on my list for ministry.

 

I want to be a pastor of prayer first, then a pastor who participates with the Holy Spirit to heal the sick, cast out demons, raise the dead, and break strongholds over people, neighborhoods, cities, and nations.  Then comes preaching.  If you are operating in the first two, the 3rd part is easy I would think, just testifying about the power and love of God on people.

 

So that burden is for lost people to see God.  To feel God.  To feel the presence of God, because there is no other feeling than being in the presence of God.  When in the presence, your life is altered.  I want to see people pass from one life to another and be free in the complete Word of God.  I want people to receive, so they will give.  I want to see an army of Spirit filled people lovers.

 

I want people to see the manifestation of the Spirit today, because words do not hold the power on the younger generations as they did in mine and those before me. I believe technology has ruined that. I believe Jesus is calling His church back to signs and wonders and the expression of the Holy Spirit today.  I believe the Apostle Paul’s words from 1 Corinthians 2:4-5 rings today to the younger generations:

 

“And my speech and my preaching were not in persuasive words of wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power: that your faith should not stand in the wisdom of men, but in the power of God.” 

 

The youth today have heard enough talk, and when looking at the church, they have not seen too much action.  Today is the day for action.  The demonstration of the Spirit and power openly shows the love of Jesus for His people, and we need to be the conduit to deliver it to open the hearts of this generation to the knowledge of the love of Jesus.

 

These demonstrations of power are not solely for the confines of the church. The Lord wants us, me to be out where the people are, because the majority are not coming in here, and the church was never meant to hide behind walls.  It was to be alive with power out among the people who need life.   

 

The awakening Jesus wants to do to this region is going to be caused by a church that intercedes for the lost, as well as one that brings healing to people in miraculous ways where they are.

 

IV. Individual Strongholds

 

The next area that was exposed to me, was the elimination of spiritual strongholds over my life.  Strongholds that kept me from moving ahead Spiritually, as well as affecting me physically.

 

Matthew 6:22, “The eye is the lamp of the body. If your eyes are good, your whole body will be full of light.”

 

The Lord spoke to me about what I put into my body, through my eyes, and ears.  He also spoke to me about how I talk, “what I say.”  What I speak over myself, and what I may say over others.

 

I read a Smith Wigglesworth devotional book almost every day.  I was reading a story about Smith who had appendicitis for 6 months.  He kept on working even in pain and one day he collapsed, and the doctor came to his bedside and told he and his wife that there was nothing they could do.  He was going to expire.  So Smith laid in bed and prayed. 

One day an older woman who he knew was a prayer warrior and a young man came to see him.  The young man jumped on his bed and commanded the evil spirit to come out of his body.  Smith said that before he could say anything, the power of God came on him and he was instantaneously healed.  He was going to tell the young man that he didn’t have any devil could be in him, how could that happen?  He was the great anointed preacher who had prayed healing on thousands.  

 

I was reading this and pondering it, because this was something I did not believe like Smith.  I am like no way too.  Same thing.  I am baptized in the Holy Spirit with power. 

A son of God.  Have prayed healing on people. 

 

The Lord spoke to me and said, “Smith opened a door for his sickness. But God used it for His glory.”

 

And actually I was sitting there on a Thursday with a killer ear ache which had been prayed for by three pastors on Wednesday, and all the pain had gone away, I was healed, and I was reading this ticked off.  I was like God, what is with this.  Pastor Milt Thompson saw the infection in my ear, and he saw it dissolve.  My pain went away.  But it came back later in the day and I was like God, what’s up with this?  I was healed in Jesus name.  Healed.  The pain was gone, and we rejoiced.  What is going on?

 

In my nice big easy chair sitting and reading Smith Wigglesworth, and having this revelation about an open door, the Lord gave me a vision.  An awake one.  I looked down at my body, and I was all dressed in armor.  I could see myself, and it wasn’t me sitting in my shorts.  I had armor on my legs, my arms, my chest and midsection. Just like the knights of old.  It was gold colored.  It was like real. I didn’t even freak out. But what was interesting about the armor, was that holes formed in it. 

 

The Holy Spirit spoke to me and said, those holes are words spoken over you that are not true that you still believe.  They are fears you have in your life.  They are doors that you have opened up with your eyes, and things you have heard in your ears that do not line up with the Word of God.  They are impure thoughts, and lies. 

 

He said specifically, TV shows I have watched, movies, music, and places I should not have been or people I should not have been around.  I feel he covered everything.  Anything that does not honor God and opens us up to the demonic.  What revelation!

 

He said when we go where we shouldn’t, see or hear what we shouldn’t, say what we shouldn’t, andr take our minds captive, a hole is opened in our armor and the enemy can strike us in that hole. I believe we may use the term “a chink in our armor.”

 

Depression, a disintegrated self-worth, fear, unbelief, and sickness can all be a part of us not being fully clothed in the Word of God and its promises and walking outside of it and receiving the consequences of our decisions. 

  

The Spirit said that I must take my mind captive.  I must.  I must set myself apart.  I must watch what I saw about myself, and what I say about others. I can curse myself and curse others.  Proverbs says “the power of the tongue can bring either life or death”, and there is so much truth in that.

 

But as I sat there looking at the armor.  The Spirit said as I cover each area with the Blood of Jesus and confess, and repent, and speak the promises of God over myself to break curses, I began to see those holes began to disappear.  He said be strengthened, you know what to do.  We all know what to do. If we listen, the Holy Spirit tells us exactly what to do.  We must learn not to act quickly on anything.  Just listen, and the Blood of Jesus will heal and strengthen us.

 

The enemy cannot interfere, cannot penetrate what God has sealed when we walk in confidence in the full armor of God with the shield of faith in front of us.  I saw armor that looked like it had never been touched.  It was all shiny and looked brand new.  It had not been just patched up, it had been made supernaturally brand new.  That is what God does to us.  He makes us brand new.  God does not use second hand materials.  He uses the best that He has.

 

For me it was taking inventory of everything in my life to bring it under the Blood.  To walk away from things in my life that may seem to be trivial, but could put a hole in my armor. 

 

And you may say I am being legalistic, but I don’t think so.  I believe Christians, those who call themselves believers have really been dumbed down over the past 50 years maybe more about the consequences of certain actions.  We have grace, but we also have responsibility. 

 

1Peter 1:13-16, “Therefore, preparing your minds for action, and being sober-minded, set your hope fully on the grace that will be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ. As obedient children, do not be conformed to the passions of your former ignorance, but as he who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, since it is written, “You shall be holy, for I am holy.” 

 

Do not be conformed to your former ignorance.  Be holy.  How?  Listen to the Holy Spirit. 

 

It is sad to say, but many are conformed to ignorance because of generations before them, they need to listen to the Holy Spirit about what truth is today.  As the Lord spoke to me, He said “Do not care what people think of where I am leading you.  Do not follow the hearts of men, but follow My heart.”  “I am the way the truth and the life.”  I have come to a fact that people are not going to like me because of my stand for God and His Word.  Jesus told us that.  So be it.  I am a son of God! As His son I will honor Him and His Son Jesus.  Man cannot forgive my sin.  Man cannot do anything for me concerning this life, so why do I want to spend my time trying to please them?

 

V.  Final Thought

 

When I started the fast.  I wanted to be free from my flesh, totally, that was a prayer.  Not really knowing what I was asking.  I did not want Brad to have any control anymore.  I wanted to be that humble person praying so my land would be healed, personally and corporately. 

 

I asked the Lord, because I wanted to know what His definition of humility was?  Not my perceived one.  I am still seeking that.

 

I want to raise the dead and everything that goes with that.  I want lost people to see God in power.  I want to see the stronghold over Kenosha broken.  I want to be totally abandoned to God.  I want to have the Glory of the Lord fall on us like in the days of old.  

 

And I believe it will come.  I think we all want the same thing.  We are of the same Spirit, but God is asking us, as He asked me, “do you believe?”

 

Do you believe I am who I say I am?

 

“Do you believe Me Brad?”  Do I?  Do you?

 

VI.       Conclusion

 

Remember the church I talked about earlier that I grew up in, the Zion Revival Center?  In that church was also my grandmother who we buried last Friday in Vina, AL.  Actually that church started in my grandfather and grandmother Armstrong’s house.  It started as a bible study in their small front room.  Healings took place, and the power of God fell on the house.  People began to fill the home because of the presence of God there.  Eventually they had to find a building to meet in.  So they purchased the stable of John Alexander Dowey, the founder of Zion, IL.

 

The church in its early days, and when I was a kid was a church of miracles.  My grandmother believed in miracles.  It wasn’t surprising that at my grandmother’s funeral service, that the Holy Spirit would pour out during the service, and during the song, “All is Well with my Soul” it sounded like Angels were singing in that funeral home during the last singing of the chorus. It was crazy.  It came from the back of the room.

 

The funeral directors said they had never experienced a service like that, and family members sat there with eyes wide open at what they experienced. It was like you could reach out and touch God. The family is still talking about it. 

 

Our God is real, and powerful, and overwhelming when you are in His presence.  To those of us who believe, He is an all-consuming fire.

 

 

During the family meal at the family church, my immediate family was prophesied over, who would have thought…. A piece of that prophecy was that God was going bring together 30 pastors in this city, and we and our churches are going to cause a revival here that has never been seen.  God answered me. 

 

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