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March 18, 2024

God Put Me In His River

Rivers can be peaceful, violent, lots of fun and sometimes destructive. 

I’ve had several interesting river experiences. I remember floating down the Zambezi River in Zimbabwe. At that time, the country was named Rhodesia, and embroiled in a great internal conflict. Due to the constant threat of attack, an army patrol boat continually circled us, watching for terrorists; a nice, relaxing cruise! 

Then there was my trip down the Passion River in Guatemala, where an army of voracious ants crawled onto me as I lay sleeping in the boat. They had been hidden in the lumber we were transporting. When they were all in position, the ants began to bite all at once and with incredible precision. Actually, gnaw would be more accurate. Fifteen screams, one boat-rearranging conniption fit, and several dozen dead ants later, I regained my peace like the unflappable man I am and went back to sleep. Just like Jesus, sleeping through the storm.

On one occasion, I went skiing on the Ohio River near Cincinnati. I was in the water, not yet up on my skis, when my friend at the helm decided a barge was getting a mite too close. My buddy screamed, “Grab the rope!” and he hit the throttle. I did grab the rope, leaving my skis behind, and was dragged headfirst across the Ohio River out of harm’s way. It was a real drag.

On March 9, 1997, God put me in His river. Though interesting, even exciting, my previous river adventures pale in comparison to what happened to me on this particular Sunday. Along with several others, I was praying for people during our regular morning service. Suddenly, someone laid their hands on me and began to pray. I ended up on the floor receiving a vision from God. I lay there for 45 minutes, sometimes laughing and, at other times, weeping as God took me on a spiritual journey. Not being a person particularly given to this sort of thing, it took me completely by surprise.

I’m rather reserved and somewhat cerebral. I’m a teacher. I study, do word studies, run references. I think didactically; figure things out. I have to know why and how. My little cerebral, didactic mind wasn’t prepared for what occurred. Maybe this surprise invasion of my cranial disposition didn't blow my mind, but it sure stretched it out of shape.

Does it bother you when God does something you can’t quite explain or understand? If asked, I’d be the first to say I don’t have God or His ways completely figured out. This doesn’t bother me. It’s when He demonstrates it that I get a little weirded out. Just like you, I have my comfort zones.

What happened while I was on the floor was nothing less than amazing to me.

In this vision, I found myself in a river about waist-deep and perhaps 30 feet wide, frolicking with Jesus! This might offend your concept of the Lord, but He was in a very playful mood. We swam, we splashed, we laughed. He even dunked me! (I tried to dunk Him.) We did all the things people do when they play in the water.

At one point, Jesus put His head under the water, then came up shaking His head from side to side, throwing water all over me. Intending to do the same to Him, I put my head underneath the water but was distracted by what happened. As I put my head under the water and began to shake it, impurities were washed off me and began to float downstream. Each time I was immersed in it, the river brought cleansing to me! Just as Naaman the leper was healed by dipping in the Jordan River (see 2 Kings 5:1-14), God’s river was purifying me of my uncleanness.

Another thing I found quite interesting was that I couldn’t drown in this water. When my head went under and I accidentally breathed in, the water didn’t choke me as water typically does. Instead of going into my lungs, causing me to gag and choke, it flowed throughout my entire body, bringing refreshment and vitality. It was, indeed, the river of life (see Revelation 22:1). 

We continued to frolic for a while, just having fun. I can’t overemphasize how much Jesus was enjoying Himself. Psalm 46:4 became a reality to me: “There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God, the holy dwelling places of the Most High” (emphasis mine). Throughout the vision, no matter what we did, Jesus was having fun. Imagine that - God having fun. Until this experience, I don’t recall the thought of God having fun ever entering my mind. I guess I thought He was too cerebral and didactic.

A group of people on the shore were watching us. For reasons unknown to me at the time, they were hesitant to get in the water, seemingly afraid of it. I realize now that this group represents those who are somewhat cautious or even fearful of the manifestations of Holy Spirit.

As these people stood on the shore watching us, trying to decide whether or not to get in the water, the Lord looked at me and said, “Let’s splash them!” We began to do so, and, without exception, when the water touched those on the bank, they instantly wanted to get into the river. The water was infectious. Then they, too, began having fun with us. The water not only quenched thirst, but also created it. What a paradox!

At one point, I asked Jesus why the water was only waist-deep. I recalled from Ezekiel’s vision of God’s river in Ezekiel 47 that the river became progressively deeper, “trickling…ankles…knees…loins…enough water to swim in, a river that could not be forded” (Ezekiel 47:2-5).

He replied to me that this level was for the Church—for cleansing, refreshing, and renewal. “The deeper water,” He said, “is when the river flows to the nations.” Instantly, the water rose until it became a deep, swift current that swept us away. Though it was strong and overpowered me, I was not afraid. After this demonstration, we were brought back to the original place and water level.

As people were moving in and out of the water, I saw a lady diseased with cancer. Jesus looked at me, smiling. He said rather matter-of-factly, “Well, go heal her.” I walked over and put my hand on her. As I did, the Lord moved behind me and placed His hand on the middle of my back. When He did, the power went from Him, through me, and into this lady, healing her. We then went back to playing in the river.

Throughout the vision, Jesus took me in the spirit to several places throughout the world. The river was present everywhere we went, and we ministered to many. 

Then the Lord said, “Let’s go.”

“Where?” I asked.

“You’ll see,” He again responded, and off we went once more. This time, we landed on a beach. It was similar to a public beach with places to play, relax, or rest.

“What are we doing here?” I inquired.

“It’s time for some rest and relaxation,” He replied.

“But who will go to all the other places and tell them the good news?” I asked Him.

“Oh, I have lots of others who’ll go,” He responded. “It’s time for you to rest.”

And I did.

Rest is good. My sweet wife has arranged for 6 national leaders to cover the GH15 posts for the next few days, starting tomorrow, giving me a week of rest and prayer for my 70th birthday. I will introduce each one (via a recording), and they will bring a strong word to you. You will be very blessed by these voices, beginning with Gene Bailey of Flashpoint. 

Pray with me:

Father, thank You for the river of living water that flows from Your throne. It is a river of life, a river of joy, and a river of refreshment. As I take a week to be refreshed and relax with You, I pray that You will speak clearly to me. I also pray that You will refresh Your people, allowing them to drink deeply of Your presence, and hear clearly from You through these voices that are so graciously blessing me for the next week.

We also ask You for the river of revival to flow in our land, going to a much deeper level this year. Your river carries refreshing, healing, salvation, and revelation. Cause it to flow powerfully in our land and throughout the world, cleansing and transforming. We ask for this in the name of Christ. Amen.

Our decree:

We decree that the river of God is rising, and will flow powerfully throughout the Earth.

Click on the link below to watch the full video.


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