A VISION FOR PRAISE AND WORSHIP

 

For me to share this vision with you in a way you can understand, I need to take you back to the days of David, the Psalmist and King of Israel.  I’ve shared parts of this in some Coffee Breaks, so for those of you who have been regular subscribers, bear with me if it seems like I’m being repetitious.

There is a picture that is worth taking a look at in Revelation 3:7-13.  The seven letters, as you know, are addressed to the seven Ekklesias, and represent a single letter to the Bride.  The message to the Bride is the overcoming of the seven spirits (exemplified in the seven nations which occupied Canaan) or ruling principalities which comprise the nature of the Beast (seen throughout Revelation), and are the counterfeit for the Seven Spirits of God.

Without getting into all of the areas of overcoming identified in this particular letter, the message to the Ekklesia in Philadelphia is “I have set before thee an open door, and no man can shut it…”  The “open door” is identified with the “key of David.”  The phrase, “the key of David,” is a very well-identified Hebrew metaphor which means, The power and authority of David,” and represents “the authority to access all that is within.”

The authority represented by this key is that He who holds the key, “openeth and no man shutteth; and shutteth, and no man openeth.”

The “key of David” also has another very specific application: the “Tabernacle of David.” 

The “Tabernacle of David” was nothing like the Mosaic tabernacle with the outer courts, the Holy Place, the Table of Shewbread, the Golden Candlestick, etc.  It had only one thing: the Holy of Holies.  The Holy of Holies contained only one thing: the Ark of the Covenant.  David’s tabernacle was nothing more than a simple tent (no complicated structure, no complicated procedure to gain access to the Holy of Holies — the “Secret Place,” the “Inner Chamber”) pitched over the Ark of the Covenant.  This was an extraordinary departure from the Tabernacle of Moses.  Not only did it not have all of the accoutrements of Moses’ tabernacle, it did not even have a veil which covered the Ark from view.

Picture, if you will, what David set about to accomplish in Israel.  His first act as King was to appoint singers and musicians whose responsibility it was to minister unto the Lord in praise and worship, 24-hours per day, 365 days a year — CONTINUALLY!  Yes, of course we know that the Levites continued in their normal priestly duties, but these praisers and worshipers did not concern themselves with any of the traditional priestly duties.  They had only one responsibility: to minister unto the Lord.  They did not minister unto the multitudes.  They did not offer burnt sacrifices.  They did not take, or receive from the people their sin offerings, etc., etc., etc.  Under the direction of three families (the families of Asaph, Heman, and Jeduthun), they ministered in rotating shifts or “courses” before the “open door” of the Tabernacle, praising and worshiping the Lord continually.

This presented a living photograph to Israel of the very core of God’s desire for His people.  It presented a picture of the wedding chamber — the bridal chamber — having been opened by the Lord to receive a Bride who was expressing her great love and great desire for Him.  The praisers and worshipers replaced the Golden Candlestick.  They were the flame of love and passionate desire for the Lord, burning continually before him, night and day.  There was no need for a Table of Shewbread, because the table was spread before Israel night and day in God’s provision for them.

From a purely historical standpoint, Israel prospered economically and militarily, and was provided for by the Lord in a never-ending display, so long as praise and worship went forth unhampered and unhindered.  During the forty years of David’s reign, Israel never lost a battle.  David took territories and dominions which had been promised to Abraham, and commanded to Moses and Joshua, but never attained by any leader in Israel’s history to that time.  He subdued the last of the Hittites, and eradicated the remaining traces of other nations which had contaminated Israel with their co-habitation.  The Jebusites, which had occupied Jerusalem since Shem’s death, were subdued and destroyed; and David purchased from Ornan, the Jebusite, both the hill, and the threshing floor as the site of the temple which would later be built.  He refused to take as a gift, or recognize Ornan (whose title was Araunah, or “Lord King”) as a king, or his equal, even though Ornan was the last of the Jebusite rulers.

Never before in history had a people prospered as they did with continual praise and worship going forth. Israel saw its land produce agriculturally and yield an abundance such as never had been seen.  The surrounding nations turned to Israel for leadership.  Kings, who before times had been constant enemies and invaded the cities of Israel, sought after peace treaties.  The Philistines, who had invaded the land with their armies for hundreds of years, were decimated militarily, and were unable to so much as raise an army against Israel (or anyone else, for that matter) for more than three hundred years.

The picture of Moab, Ammon and Syria was similar.  Each time they came against David, and against Israel, they were defeated.  In each case, after their third incursion, the defeat was so great that they were unable to raise an army capable of offensive action for some fifty years.  The Moabites, the Ammonites and the Syrians all became servant to David.

For the first time in Israel’s history, the nation had the Lord God as its focus.  The nation as a whole served God.  Idols were demolished.  Places of heathen worship were destroyed.  Israel as a nation developed more of a relationship with the Lord than it had ever seen since the days of Moses and Joshua.

God’s people prospered as they had never prospered.

This pattern and picture continued throughout the reign of Solomon, who saw an expanded ministry of praise and worship.  One of David’s last acts as King was to increase the number of families who ministered to the Lord under the direction of Asaph, Heman and Jeduthun.  Twelve people were chosen from each of twenty-four families, making a total contingent of 288 worshipers, twelve for each hour of the day and night, around the clock (see I Chronicles 25).

The ministries of Asaph, Heman and Jeduthun were enhanced at this point.  Their families were commanded to begin prophesying on and with musical instruments.

During the forty years that Solomon sat on the throne, Israel reached the zenith of its power and influence in the world.  The nation had prospered during David’s years, and now saw such wealth and abundance as would stagger the world’s imagination for centuries, and even milennia, after Solomon’s death.  With praise and worship going forth unhampered and unhindered for eighty continuous years, the Lord did for Israel what they could never accomplish in the natural.  Battles were fought in the heavenlies in the midst of praise and worship and spiritual foes defeated. Having been fought in the heavenlies, the outcome of the earthly battles was a foregone conclusion.  When the people ministered unto the Lord, He ministered unto them, provided for them, fought their battles and filled every conceivable need.

Rehoboam, Solomon’s son, did not see the connection between the worshipers and Israel’s might and prosperity, and after the counsel of some self-seeking politicians three years into his reign, he abandoned the ministry of praise and worship and sent the worshipers packing.  No sooner had he done so when Jeroboam came out of Egypt, gained the favor of ten tribes and split the nation of Israel with civil war. Israel soon became prey to its former enemies and lost its dominion in the world from that day forward.  Never again would a unified nation of Israel see the power and glory that had been theirs.  Never again would they see the provision of God in such manner as He had displayed during the eighty years of David and Solomon — and nearly eighty years of continuous praise and worship.


Only four more times in the nation’s history (and that only with the descendants of David who sat on the throne of Judah) did kings arise who remembered what God had done when praise and worship went forth in ministry to Him continuously.  Jehoshaphat was the first to remember, and the Lord gave him victory in the midst of an impossible battle with peace and prosperity during the last seven years of his reign — a seven-year period in which praise and worship went forth continually.

Fifteen years after Jehoshaphat’s death (a period of time in which there had been no ministry of worship to the Lord), after Jehoram’s eight years of war, Ahaziah’s conspiracy and death at the hands of Jehu after one year on the throne, and six years under Athaliah (Ahaziah’s mother), Jehoiada, the high priest, took a very young Joash, crowned him king, put Athaliah and her Baal-worshippers to death, and reappointed the descendants of Asaph, Heman and Jeduthun to the ministry of praise and worship unto the Lord. 

For the first thirty-nine years of Joash’s reign, praise and worship went forth as it had in the days of David and Solomon.  For thirty-nine years, the nation of Judah prospered as it had in the days of David.  Joash was able to throw off the yoke of his enemies, and ruled with freedom and authority in the land.  At the end of the thirty-ninth year of Joash’s reign, Jehoiada died, and there came a flood of self-seeking soothsayers currying Joash’s favor.  He succumbed to their words and enticements, abandoned the ministry of praise and worship, and dismissed the families of Asaph, Heman and Jeduthun.  Immediately, he was beset by war; and a year later, he was assassinated by his own servants.

For 112 years, the nation of Judah went through periods of war, famine, occasional prosperity and subsequent decline, politically, economically, militarily, and — most of all — spiritually.  Not until Hezekiah came to the throne was the ministry of praise and worship reestablished.  In his first year as king, Hezekiah reappointed the descendants of Asaph, Heman and Jeduthun to the ministry of praise and worship.  For twenty-nine years this ministry went forth unhampered and unhindered.  Hezekiah came to such prominence that even the kings of Israel honored him.  He shook off, once again, the yoke of bondage from the surrounding nations.  The nation prospered as it had in the days of David and Solomon, saw victory over its enemies and saw a peace such as it had not seen in more than two hundred years. 

During Hezekiah’s reign, the scion of a wealthy family came to prominence.  He had already served for a time as a governor in the land, and (although he had already begun prophesying in the time of Hezekiah’s father and grandfather and great-grandfather) came to be recognized internationally as a prophet among prophets.  During this time of such praise and worship going forth, he saw such visions as no prophet before or after him, and drew pictures of the coming Messiah and Bridegroom, Jesus Christ, in words which would forever etch themselves in the minds of God’s people.  That prophet’s name was Isaiah.

Only one more time in Judah’s history did a king come to power that saw the pattern of praise and worship, who reappointed the families of Asaph, Heman and Jeduthun to minister unto the Lord.  Fifty-seven years after Hezekiah’s death — a period in which Judah had become a vassal-state to Assyria and Babylon — Josiah came to the throne.  In the eighteenth year of his reign, Josiah repaired the temple in Jerusalem and reappointed the worshipers to minister before the Lord continually. History tells us that Ephraim and Manasseh, and Simeon and Naphtali, four of the tribes of Israel, joined with Judah during Josiah’s reign to worship the Lord.  For the next twelve years, they saw peace, prosperity, the provision of God, and victory over their enemies.

For reasons that seem to escape me, God’s people have not learned this lesson.  More than that, those who have served in places of responsibility and leadership seem to think that it’s okay to call their hymn-singing, song-singing, scripture-choruses and preaching, “worship.”  It is not worship!  They wonder why there is such a struggle to see things happen.  They wonder why there is no provision of God.  They wonder where the miracles went.  They wonder why there is such “backsliding” among the people and why people’s relationship with God is like a yo-yo.

Let me be clear.  I’m not saying that folks can’t or don’t worship while they sing their songs.  What I’m saying is that their singing has become a tradition that more often than not loses the focus of worship.  Folks sing the right words, they say the right things, they pray the right things, but the spirit of worship is missing.  There is no heart of intimacy and love being expressed in the Spirit.

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been frustrated going into churches and listening to the praise or worship leader sing these wonderful songs, get everyone hyped and excited and joyful, and then drop the ball.  They lead up to worship, but the “know-how” to worship seems to be missing.  Sometimes they will sing songs, Scripture choruses, or whatever, that really can lead folks into worship, and folks get right to the edge of entering into the presence of the Lord.

Then they stop, and everyone sits down, and the preacher gets up to preach his message.  AND THE HEART OF THE LORD NEVER GETS FULFILLED!!

In some of the Coffee Breaks published over the past few years, I’ve shared some of the experiences that Della and I had when we were in Post Falls, Idaho, Spokane, Washington, Red Deer and Cochrane Alberta, as well as in Anchorage when we gathered together with other folks for the specific purpose of ministering to the Lord.  We came together for no other reason than to see that the Lord received His due in the realm of praise and worship.  The things that took place were nothing less than dramatic.

But I’m getting ahead of myself.

The picture I’ve just shared with you of praise and worship that began with David is something that became a vision in my spirit.  It began when I was still at Long Beach Christian Center back in the mid-1970’s, and it has grown from that time. 

The essence of the vision was to develop a modern-day center of praise and worship that would grow into a 24-hour operation, with praisers and worshipers, singers and musicians ministering to the Lord in much the same way that David established beginning with Asaph, Heman and Jeduthun.  I foresaw the day when we would have families of worshipers who would become full-time employees of this ministry.  Their lives would be given over entirely to this ministry.  They would not need to seek outside employment in order to make ends meet; their needs would be met through the ministry itself.


I foresaw the day when people would come together for no other purpose than to minister to the Lord.  That didn’t mean we were excluding fellowship, teaching, and all the other ministries that accompany the presence of the Lord.  It just meant that the primary focus of the operation was ongoing praise and worship around the clock.

It took no great imagination to see that once such a ministry was in place, it would have the same impact on America as a nation as it did on Israel during the years that David and his visionary successors implemented.  I began to see visions of wholesale evangelism and nationwide repentance.

The vision began to coalesce in my spirit when I was pastoring Inupiat Christian Center in Barrow, Alaska beginning in the mid-to-late 1970’s and — at the same time — heading up operations for the Christian Broadcasting Network in Alaska. When we moved our CBN operations from Barrow to Fairbanks in 1981, a fellowship we called The House of Praise sprang up around the CBN headquarters and counseling center.

For the first time in my life, I saw what could be the beginnings of that vision coming to fruition. People began to come from as much as 100 miles away to join us in our worship gatherings. In central Alaska, that’s saying a lot!

Point is, when folks begin to experience the real presence of the Lord, a hunger grows inside of them that knows no bounds. You just can’t be satisfied with anything less. Your soul and your spirit crave the tangible presence of the Lord Jesus Christ.

Della and our friend, Leicha Barnes (now Leicha Welton) led the praise and worship. The three of us sang together. We began to experience some spontaneous music – you know – the kind where you just begin to sing and play as the Holy Spirit gives it to you fresh from His presence – music you’ve never heard or sung or played before.

The vision began to coalesce in my spirit when I was pastoring Inupiat Christian Center in Barrow, Alaska beginning in the mid-to-late 1970’s and — at the same time — heading up operations for the Christian Broadcasting Network in Alaska. When we moved our CBN operations from Barrow to Fairbanks in 1981, a fellowship we called The House of Praise sprang up around the CBN headquarters and counseling center.

I began to really wonder if things were going to take off and the vision I’d seen was going to become a reality. There was steady growth in our midst. More and more people were becoming a part of what was taking place.

In the spring of 1983, a young black woman who was on vacation in Alaska from South Carolina came to our CBN center. She had a gift-wrapped package the Lord had instructed her to purchase and bring to me. We’d never met before. I didn’t know her from anyone.

She handed me the box and said, “The Lord instructed me to purchase this and bring it to you. This is His Word to you.” She turned to walk away, then turned back and said, “Write the vision. Make it plain.” With that she walked out the door. I never saw or heard from her again.

I opened the box. It was a coffee mug. (My reputation with coffee goes back a long way, as you can see. (Grin) On the coffee mug was inscribed this phrase taken out of Habakkuk 2:3, “For the vision is yet for an appointed time…” 

The message couldn’t have been any clearer. I knew exactly what it meant. I knew the significance of that word. My questions to the Lord concerning the unfolding of that vision for praise and worship with our fellowship in Fairbanks were answered….in black and white!

Less than 60 days later, our relationship with CBN in Virginia Beach had been dissolved, the House of Praise disbanded, and the folks who had been a part of all that was happening scattered to the four winds. Lots of other things happened at the same time that I don’t need to get into.

The speed with which everything took place left me a bit shell-shocked, but it was clear that this was the Lord’s doing – He had another timetable than I did.

Four years went by. We had moved to Anchorage. Through a strange set of circumstances, I was involved in international banking. Opportunities to make fairly large amounts of money were coming my way on an almost daily basis.

Della and I were driving on the south side of the city one day and saw a great piece of land near the freeway we figured would make a good spot to build a worship center. I made some inquiries and found out the land was available at a pretty reasonable price.

One of my banking associates owned a civil engineering firm. I had taken the time to do all the basic design work on a worship center while still pastoring in Barrow. (When you grow up with a father who is a builder, among other things, you learn how to do structural design, planning, laying out the electrical and plumbing, and all the things necessary to build a church building.) Nearly everything was complete with my building plans. All I needed to do was to submit it to someone who was a certified civil engineer and have the plans OK’d as far as meeting city building requirements.

With minor changes, the plans were signed off on, and we were set. We had the property picked out, an agreed-upon purchase price, and we knew what it would cost to build the worship center. Now all we needed was the money to buy the land and build the worship center.

I’ve shared this story before in some of my Coffee Breaks, and it isn’t necessary for me to go through the whole thing again but briefly, an opportunity presented itself to work with the Canadian government through a series of partnerships with a California bank, a mortgage and finance company, Merrill Lynch, and the banking officer for the House Ways and Means Committee. We were responsible for recycling approximately $20 Billion into low-interest loans to Canadian businesses to help the Canadian economy.

The risks were fairly high, but so were the commissions. All of us agreed that in order to indemnify ourselves against any possible missteps, our commissions would be paid into a trust account at Sumitomo Bank in Los Angeles. The project took two years, and each of us earned something on the order of $7 Million in commissions during that period.

When the time came for the funds to be disbursed, Della and I were at Home Savings & Loan in Anchorage, along with the sellers, a real estate agent, and some other folks we were purchasing land from for this project. Everything was set to close as soon as the funds were wired in from Sumitomo. The Fed wire window came and went, and no funds came in.

It took three days for me to find out that the president of Bel Air Mortgage & Finance Company in Los Angeles, who was also the trust officer for our funds at Sumitomo, had taken the funds and fled the country. It was several months before Federal agents who were investigating the crime gave me the whole story of how it all happened.

To say that I was a basket case was putting it mildly. In the months that followed, after my spirit quieted down to the place where I could hear the Lord, He said to me, “Son, I don’t need you to finance my plans. I’m perfectly capable of financing this when I’m ready.”

Wheww! After that, I determined not to try and be one of “God’s little helpers,” if you know what I mean. You’ve all heard the old cliché, “God helps those who help themselves.”

What a lie! It supplants the sovereignty of God and our faith and trust in Him. I’ve got a better way to rephrase that old cliché, “God help them that get caught helping themselves.”

Hohohohoho………

One more thing the Lord said to me. “I instructed you to write the vision and make it plain. You haven’t done so, yet.”

Human nature is really stupid, though. Especially when you think you’ve got things all figured out.

I think it was 1990, or thereabouts, that I thought of another way to implement the vision. By this time, I was (and had been for going on three years) Chief Engineer for the FOX television station in Anchorage, and Della was managing the largest Zale jewelry store in Alaska, as well as serving as unofficial Assistant Regional Manager for the chain.

Without telling Della what I was doing (I dunno why….guess I was off in La La Land) I put an advertisement in the Anchorage Daily News looking for singers and musicians who were praisers and worshipers. The ad ran for a couple of weeks, and I started getting a fistful of phone calls.

Della called me one day from her office, and I had her on hold for several minutes because I was in the middle of an interview with a prospective “praiser.” When I finally got to Della, she asked me what was happening. When I told her I had been doing an interview, and explained the situation, she burst out laughing uncontrollably.

“You’re doing what? You’re interviewing for God?” The laughter was side-splitting.

OK. So it seemed like a good idea at the time.  Dumb!  You can see what happens when you get fixated on something – especially if it is a vision that’s been with you for many years, and you know the reality of it. The vision was real. My implementation was all screwed up.

I HAD obeyed the instruction of the Lord by this time to at least “write the vision, and make it plain upon tables that he may run that readeth it.” (Habakkuk 2:2) An article with the same title as this piece had been written, albeit in greater scriptural detail, outlining the plan and purpose the Lord had given me. I had distributed that article to everyone who would take a copy, mailed out copies to preacher-friends across the country, and seriously made an effort to get it out.

In late 1990, we began to meet with friends in our home who wanted to simply gather with us for some spontaneous worship. Without realizing what was happening, we began to gradually live what those families of Asaph, Heman and Jeduthun had lived as others joined us and the Holy Spirit began to give us entirely new music.

One of my longtime broadcasting friends, a representative by the name of David Hill who represented the Larcan transmitter folks, came to Anchorage on company business. He came to our home one evening as we were gathered together for worship. Dave sat there stunned as he saw what the Lord was doing in our music and worship. At the conclusion of the evening – maybe it was the next day – Dave said to me, “Why aren’t you recording this music and releasing it to the public? This deserves to be out there.”

At the time, I took it as simply a nice compliment. Nearly a year passed and in that time, both the quality and quantity of new music had expanded enormously. One night, following an extraordinary outpouring of new, totally spontaneous worship, Della said to me, “Honey, your recording equipment is going to waste. You need to hook it up and begin recording this. We’re losing a lot of music that ought to be kept for the future.”

That night, I took the time to set up my digital recording equipment, microphones, mixer, etc., and from that point on, we began to record everything.

Opportunities began to open us for us to travel and share what the Lord was doing in our midst, and we began flying to the northwest and Canada to share with different groups and churches both the vision and the spontaneous worship. It soon became clear that the Lord was instructing us to follow this as a more permanent course of action.

Without repeating stories I’ve already shared about the process the Lord took us through to move us from Anchorage, suffice it to say that by late 1991 and early 1992, we had completed a move from Anchorage to Post Falls, Idaho where we took up caretaker residence on a ranch owned by Earle and Marcia Treend, friends who were living in Anchorage at the time who had also been an integral part of the developing spontaneous worship.

Folks we had shared with in the northwest and western Canada began to gather with us at the ranch on a regular basis specifically for worship. Sure. We had times of fellowship and sharing and teaching, but the primary purpose of our getting together was to minister to the Lord. It began a five-year adventure for us that changed – no, transformed – our lives.

In some of the Coffee Breaks, (available in the archives at www.anothercoffeebreak.com)  I’ve shared with you how we both saw and heard angels singing and playing with us as we worshiped. We heard the sounds of instruments being played in our midst on a fairly regular basis that could only have been being played by angels. They didn’t correlate to any musical instrument we had in our midst.

On one occasion where the Lord was giving us rather strong prophetic music as we worshiped, we all heard the audible voice of God in our midst speaking to us. Because these worship gatherings were all recorded, we were able to go back and reference the times when these events took place and hear again the sounds of the angelic hosts and the instruments being played in our midst.

The purpose of our gatherings, however, was not to be excited or titillated by the extraordinary sounds of all these voices and instruments as we worshiped, but to minister to the Lord Jesus Christ, to express our love and adoration for Him, to allow His Spirit to flow through us to accomplish whatever He so desired.

And accomplish things, He did! We experienced being lifted into the heavenlies both individually and corporately to see angels going forth as ministering spirits to minister to the needs of many. We saw people being born again by the Spirit of God. We saw folks receive healing from various diseases. We saw as the thrones of the enemy were destroyed and the Gospel was allowed to prosper, unhampered and unhindered.

The point is that we didn’t just see these things happening in the realm of the Spirit, we saw the physical manifestations and heard report after report after report of things that were happening.

While many of these worship gatherings took place at Trails’ End — the ranch in Post Falls, Idaho — they also happened in Spokane, Washington. They happened in Red Deer, Cochrane, Lethbridge, Calgary and High River, Alberta. They took place in Anchorage. We were even invited to minister in a Presbyterian church in Detroit where the Holy Spirit demonstrated Himself tangibly to a people who were – to say the least – not accustomed to seeing or experiencing anything like what took place.

The vision for praise and worship had become a tangible reality in our midst. We were living it. It just hadn’t reached the place where we were operating in it 24 hours a day.

The way things were progressing, I think most of us thought we were really at the starting place where this vision was going to become a reality. We were enjoying the presence of the Lord in a dimension I suspect very few Christians have ever come to know. How many people do you know who have experienced the presence of angels in the midst of worship, or the sounds of instruments being played that aren’t there? How many folks do you know who have heard the voice of God audibly in a corporate setting?

Very few, I’ll bet. The point wasn’t the angels, the sounds of other instruments or the voice of God. The point was the presence of the Lord in our midst – tangibly! Sometimes the presence of the Lord was so thick we just had to sit there in total silence.

You know what happens to folks who experience this kind of presence of the Lord on a day after day basis, don’t you?  They get ruined for anything else!  They get spoiled – rotten!  Something happens inside of you that won’t settle for a substitute!  Nothing can counterfeit or replace the real presence of the Lord.

And let me tell you, change begins to take place inside of you.  Change begins to happen to your character and makeup without you realizing what’s happening.  A daily flow of the Holy Spirit’s communication within your spirit brings revelation and understanding of the purposes of the Lord in a dimension you can’t easily explain.

When the Lord began to scatter the folks who were a part of this incredible 5-year experience, and we suddenly found ourselves without it on a regular basis, it was an emotional letdown.  We were crying like babies.

You see, the Lord had to do this.  It still wasn’t the timing of the Lord for this to mature into a 24-hour worship center.  All that the Lord did in us needed to be seasoned.  Besides, there were those in the group who wanted to can the experiences and take control of things.

Human nature, you know.  Fleshly nature!  Carnal!  It’s what drives religion today.  It contaminates the presence of the Lord and the working of the Holy Spirit.  It’s why when you walk into so many churches across the country and around the world, there is no presence of the Lord.  Things are dead!  People have tried to capture what God was doing and hang onto it for dear life.  They’ve tried to can it.  They’ve tried to control things so as to preserve something marvelous.

That isn’t the way it works with the Lord.  You don’t put your hands on that which is Holy and expect to retain the holiness of God in your presence.  You don’t try to manipulate folks and events and expect that the Lord will continue doing what He has been doing.  That’s witchcraft.  And witchcraft is at the core of just about all that is religious in the world today.

By 1997, our regular worship gatherings had come to an end, and Della and I headed off to Lake Charles, Louisiana where I worked with Marty Scruggs at KPLC-TV, the NBC affiliate.  Although I could have wished for a more profitable time spiritually at the station, a bond formed with Marty and his wife, Thelma, and we have maintained ongoing fellowship with them in the years since.

I should probably be careful when I refer to the experience at KPLC.  When you are in the middle of withdrawals after years of almost daily worship and the very NOW presence of the Lord, everything else pales by comparison.  You become jaded.  Nothing else satisfies you.  The discontent affects everything around you.  It affects the way you look at people and ongoing daily events.

But Della and I had experienced something that would forever alter our understanding of what the Lord was up to.  It permanently changed our understanding of what took place in Israel when David assigned the families of Asaph, Heman and Jeduthun to minister to the Lord around the clock.  It didn’t take any great shakes to figure out why at the end of his reign as King of Israel David added 24 families with a total contingent of 288 praisers and worshipers – not counting the expanded families of Asaph, Heman and Jeduthun who were now assigned to prophesy on their instruments.

I can’t tell you how many times the Holy Spirit has spoken to me throughout the years and said, “Enlarge your vision.  Your vision is way too small!”

No kidding!

David did.  He had a vision for praise and worship the like of which no other king in Israel ever had, either before or after.

After seeing what the Lord did in Israel for nearly 40 years with the three families, David enlarged his vision for praise and worship.  He could foresee how with praise and worship going forth in Israel 24 hours per day, not only would Israel prosper, but the praise and worship would contaminate (!) the nations around, and the glory of the Lord would spread.

I really thought I had a vision for praise and worship.  I could foresee the building of a worship center and gathering together folks who wanted to minister to the Lord.  The problem with my vision is that it was humanly orchestrated.

Let me explain.

When the Lord plants a vision in you, there IS a certain requirement placed on you.  But that requirement is NOT for you to make things happen.  The requirement is to be responsive to the leading and direction of the Holy Spirit.  He is the one who makes things happen.  You just have to be ready to move as He says, “Move.”  Accomplishing the vision of the Lord in your life is nothing more complicated than saying, “Yes,” and responding each time the Lord directs you to do or say something.

Each time I stepped out to make things happen, everything fell through.  I finally had to go back to the word given to me in 1983 concerning the vision.

That word came from Habakkuk 2:2-3, “And the Lord answered me and said, Write the vision, and make it plain upon tables, that he may run that readeth it. For the vision is yet for an appointed time, but at the end it shall speak, and not lie; though it tarry, wait for it; because it will surely come, it will not tarry.” 

What was very clear to me was that this was a vision given by the Lord.  What was also clear was that its implementation was not going to come by my inventive artifice.  There was not going to be some clever doing on my part that would make it come together.

I resolved for myself that I would never again try and make it happen.  I had received a direct word from the Lord concerning the vision on a couple of occasions, but neither of those instances included a command to “Do it!”  Therefore I was going to wait until such time as I received a specific command from the Lord to proceed.  When that command came, I would know that the Lord would make His own provision to make it come to pass.

In 1999, we moved to south Texas – again related to my engineering skills and background – to put a new television station on the air for the Telemundo Network.  I stayed on at KTLM-TV until such time as my campaign for Congress commenced in the late fall of 2003.

In November of 2004, Della and I were in Washington, DC for meetings when we met a young man with a satchel slung over his shoulder bearing the imprint of the Supreme Court of the United States.  It caught my attention and I stopped him to ask if he was a clerk for one of the justices.

“No,” he said, “I’m part of a group that meets daily on the steps of the Supreme Court. We minister daily around the clock in shifts to pray for our justices and the courts, and to offer praise and worship to the Lord.”

Our conversation led to a discussion of the article I had written and distributed some 17 years earlier titled, A VISION FOR PRAISE.  It was both rewarding and humbling to me to hear this young man say, “I am a product of that article.  My pastor somehow got a copy of that and he has been sharing those principles and calling for people to get involved.  It’s why I’m a part of this group.”

In April of 2005, prior to our two months of travel, the Lord gave to Della a vision of a worship center facility.  I was not just a little surprised at the grand nature of the building.  It was nothing less than spectacular.  As she described it to me, I began to consider what it would cost to build it, and the Lord said to me, “This isn’t all of it. Enlarge your vision!”

Cough! Cough! Cough!

Well, it’s the Lord’s doing, anyhow!  There isn’t any way I’m going to fund this one out of my pocket – not in the natural.  God isn’t broke, and He can order anything He wants! You’re getting the picture, I’m sure.  Besides, we hadn’t received instructions from the Lord to proceed, so the picture could be as large and spectacular as it needed to be.

Right.  So much for normal human thought processes.

During the past couple of years there has been an increasing emphasis in the prophetic Word of the Lord going forth throughout the Body of Christ on restoring the Tabernacle of David.  That restoration process is going on now as we speak.  You see, before there can be a building, there must first be a people who — themselves — literally become the Tabernacle of David.  There MUST be a people in whom the Lord can literally Tabernacle.  This is what the Feast of Tabernacles is all about.  It is a time of celebrating the Lord’s presence in His people — and a visible, demonstrable manifestation of His Glory and His Covenant for the world to see.



Isaiah prophesied, “And the Glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together: for the mouth of the Lord hath spoken it.”  (Isaiah 40:5)



Then he said, “Arise, Shine, For thy light is come and the Glory of the Lord is risen upon thee.  For behold the darkness shall cover the earth, and gross darkness the people: but the Lord shall arise upon thee, and His Glory shall be seen in thee.”  (Isaiah 60:1-2)

That is a prophecy for this day!  This is the vision we seek to impart to those who will hear and respond.  This is the vision the Lord has stirred in me for more than 30 years, and this is the purpose for River Worship Center’s existence.  Throughout the past thirty-plus years, others have gotten the vision and followed through with it.  This vision is not unique to us, but it is something the Holy Spirit is saying more and more to those who will hear it.

We have had a vision for a new worship center that will seat thousands, but before there can be a physical building, there must be a worshiping people — a people of whom Daniel prophesied: “But the people that do know their God shall be strong and do exploits.”