Sunday, December 25, 2011

Merry Christmas and Blessings to You in the New Year!

Luke 1:41-42: When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the baby leaped in her womb, and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit. In a loud voice she exclaimed: “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the child you will bear!

Luke 2:27-30: Moved by the Spirit, he went into the temple courts. When the parents brought in the child Jesus... Simeon took him in his arms and praised God, saying: “Sovereign Lord, as you have promised, you may now dismiss your servant in peace. For my eyes have seen your salvation...”

A baby hearing the news of the Savior and leaping in the womb, women getting filled with the Spirit and prophesying, old men being led by the Spirit and proclaiming that the salvation of God has arrived—the Kingdom of God is at hand in the coming of the Savior and the Holy Spirit moves as radical events took place!

The whole Christmas story is supernatural and miraculous from beginning to end. The Kingdom of God continues to be at hand for those who believe in the Savior, and the Holy Spirit’s power is available and works in those who have the faith to continue to believe for miracles.

May Christ’s Spirit work miraculously in your life at Christmas and all through the New Year, for the One who was born in a lowly manger to meet us in our spiritual poverty, gives us living water that springs up to new life, healing, and prosperity, as He leads, guides, and directs our steps.

Christmas blessings to you – Be filled afresh today and as you begin the New Year!!!

Ministry News: Brief Update

Europe Ministry Trip

We have been experiencing the miraculous in dramatic fashion: We recently returned from a three-month mission trip in Europe.

We started off in England, a country we haven’t been in over ten years even while doing other ministry trips to Europe over the years. We originally expected to only spend perhaps just a few days in England on the way to other places where we would be ministering. However, God opened door after door, and we ended up spending a month ministering throughout the whole country. We drove 2000 miles in England alone, going through every corner of the nation and even into other nations like Wales and up to the border with Scotland.

We ministered in London and in many other places throughout England. One meeting in particular exemplifies how God supernaturally opened doors for us as we went, where we ended up ministering at a rather large church in North Yorkshire (large for that area of England with around 250-300 people) which wasn’t scheduled at all. A sister we were staying with felt led to call the pastor the very day they had a meeting to inquire about having us preach that very same night. I must say I had no expectation that a last minute call on such short notice to a pastor of a rather large church would result in anything happening at all on the same day, since most places are usually very busy and require things set up far in advance, especially in Europe and that goes double for the UK—the miraculous nature of what took place reflects how God desired to lead us continually in what was impossible with man and was made possible by Him.

The pastor replied to our friend that he had a very unusual situation: A scheduled speaker who never confirmed and whom he didn’t know personally was set up for that night, so he thought we should come over to the church that evening and be ready to do a song or share just a short testimony. However, if the scheduled speaker didn’t show up, he said we may end up doing the whole meeting. Well, whomever Daniel—the scheduled speaker—was, he never showed. The pastor even called his name a few times from the pulpit. After no response, he said, “Bryan and Mercedes if you’re up for it, I feel led to have you do the whole message and then have you minister to the congregation.” We were blown away at such openness to the Holy Spirit’s spontaneous leading in this pastor—not the norm in Europe—and went on to have an incredibly blessed message that we both shared giving, and a very, very powerful ministry time going very late into the evening. The pastor said afterwards, “I felt like God’s anointing was on you when I met you before the meeting and that was definitely confirmed when you preached and ministered together—wow what a team!” We were definitely blessed, buoyed, and blown away at how God did all that with one phone call of faith from our friends Diane and Dave who we were staying with.

We had many other powerful things happen like this in England as well as in France, Sweden, and Norway as we ministered throughout what has become the world’s least evangelized continent. We’ll share more in our upcoming newsletter shortly—yeah, I think I said that before but the holidays get pretty busy so we’ll have it out soon.

Back in the States

We just did a conference on the Reformation up in Santa Barbara a couple weeks ago as well as preaching in the church there in Isla Vista. We had a radical Holy Ghost visitation as we shared about the Revelation of the Grace of God that revived the European continent centuries back and the outpourings of the Spirit that followed in its wake.

We also shared about our recent ministry trip to Europe and how the Lord guided our steps, including to the places where the Reformation took place.

God moved powerfully in the conference to the point that even we who were leading it found ourselves on the ground getting min- istered to by the Holy Ghost—just mind blowing!!!!! The Word of God is a double-edged sword that swings back upon those wield- ing it sometimes—Glory!!!

We also had the opportunity to witness and even lead some people to the Lord while out on the streets doing some outreach in the middle of the college party mayhem in Isla Vista that same weekend—Praise God!!

The Lord continued to move in power as we ministered in the church there on Sunday; we just had such an awesome visitation of God's presence the whole time.

We recently ministered at a conference on the Jesus People in the desert and had an awesome time sharing about some of the wild times out in that area with Lonnie Frisbee. In fact we took a hike up old Tahquitz Canyon and ended leading a young lady we met to the Lord and her friend into the filling of the Spirit and had a powerful encounter with the Lord under the waterfall up there where I was reminded of a vision I had after an accident in France of God taking us higher!! All right in the same spot where Lonnie had his encounter with Jesus years back.

We also preached at the Laguna Niguel Vineyard's Hispanic service a few weeks ago, as well ministering at the youth group there before that; we had an awesome move of God at both services. In fact, a fresh wind of the Spirit blew through the congregation as we ministered at the main La Viña service as the Holy Spirit filled many with fresh fire. Our friend said he'd never seen the pastor get so enthusiastic—he jumped on the microphone and encouraged everyone there to come forward and press in to receive all that the Lord was pouring out as a fresh wave of power washed over the congregation with glory and power.

We’ve also continued to see the Lord touch quite a few unlikely folk who you wouldn’t normally associate with a move of the Spirit—those with quite varied backgrounds like Nazarene and other mainline denominations who have been getting filled with the Spirit and ministered to and even healed. In fact, a young guy named Brandon just had his shoulder healed when we prayed for him at a Prayerfest at our friend Jeff’s place, where we were having this time of God moving amongst us. Praise God!

We just had an awesome time doing the Christmas service with Peter and Colette Crawford out at Goodnews church in Riverside where we had a great time experiencing the Christmas joy of Jesus perfect love as we reveled in the righteousness he has credited to us who have believed upon him and his finished work given to us by faith alone!!!

On a Personal Note:

Patrick is in 6th grade now and continues to enjoy surfing both long and short boards and skateboarding and biking and playing army with his friends. He even spoke at his first meeting at the La Viña youth group. We are continuing to catch up on things after being gone for three months which has a way of turning life a bit upside down. We had the opportunity to visit Colorado for a family wedding after returning from our Europe ministry trip which also gave us the chance to do a little hiking and fishing (the best freshwater fishing we’ve ever experienced) as well as a 24-mile bike ride that ended with a 1,100 foot climb straight up a mountain that definitely gave those legs a good burning, not as bad as Bryan’s recent sting-ray encounter but still quite the burn!!

We truly appreciate all your prayers and support and pray you have a Merry Christmas and blessed New Year!!!!

Bryan, Mercedes, and Patrick Marleaux

English scenes and views

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Holy Ghost Prayer Invasion

While conducting a retreat in Hamar, Norway on a ministry trip, we were having a closing prayer time when the Lord began to really visit us with His power. The Lord gave me a word about dreams and visions being released on some people. (Acts 2:17- 21)

Sometimes we think of these things as something that will happen later on in the future, but a sister named Torhild shared as we walked out: “I just had a vision of someone who needs to receive Christ who is struggling with addiction and needs prayer,” adding, “and I believe the Lord said today.”

Everyone was kind of talking and grabbing their stuff, getting ready to leave, so we began to walk back to some cabins where we had stayed for the retreat. There were quite a few different groups up there using this center. As we walked by the cabins, we noticed a girl sitting on a porch when Torhild said: “That is the girl in the vision.”

She went over and began to talk with her a bit. I joined in after a few moments and we started sharing about the love of Christ. The girl became overwhelmed and started crying, but then became embarrassed that she was crying and ran off.

Torhild caught back up to her a little ways down the road and talked to her some more. I and Mercedes and some others eventually began to join in with her again. Long story short: the young lady eventually received Jesus as savior. As we began to pray for her, she powerfully encountered the love and grace of God and was gloriously filled with the Spirit and ministered to in a very significant way. Many tears were flowing, and it wasn’t just the young girls tears either, we were all touched by the power of God’s grace in that moment.

It felt like something out of the Book of Acts. I think the Book of Acts has some good prayer models for us as believers, especially in the first two chapters:

The believers met and prayed, but with expectation. Expectation that was lit up by the presence and power of the Holy Spirit. Expectation is faith for God to move in the here and now. God filled and empowered and visited them. As they were filled, they took it out to others to reach them with the Gospel. Of course, some onlookers made fun of them because of the powerful manifestations of God’s presence upon them and mocked them—it was of course the religious community who mocked saying they were drunk. Explaining rather that this was actually the power of God moving amongst them and not a result of alcohol, Peter stepped out and opened his mouth and began to preach to them, and the Lord filled him with the words to reach those who were listening—he definitely had no three-point sermon prepared for this occasion. Wow, what a harvest that took place! (Read Acts chapters 1 and 2 for the whole story.)

Prayer is an important thing for us as believers, but we should approach it with the expectation and faith of a child who expects to receive, not as a drudgery or a ritual that just has to be endured with long drawn-out repetitions in order to check it off our list as some duty that just needs to be fulfilled. (Matt. 6-7) Nor should we think that we need to do this to make ourselves holy in God’s sight. Jesus, through His sacrifice on the cross has done that work for us already: “And by that will, we have been made holy through the sacrifice of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.” (Hebrews 10:10) Thus, prayer is not meant to be a ritual that seeks to accomplish what Christ already did for us on the cross, but rather, it's to be communication with a Living Savior who we have been brought into relationship with. Through mercy and grace, He has adopted us and made us as sons and daughters, and wants to communicate with us, not have us do rituals.

I’ve had my own journey where prayer used to be a very ritualistic thing. Oh, what a relief when I got invaded by the Holy Spirit who spoke in to my heart and said: “Put down that shopping list you keep reciting like some catatonic robot and stop rambling.” The presence of God blew over me and became so thick with glory it was amazing as the Lord showed me: “I just want to spend time with you and speak to you. You don’t need to do all the talking.”

Wow! God wants to speak to us…what a concept. Oh yeah, Jesus said that His sheep shall hear His voice, and He said it repeatedly and profusely: John 10:3-4, John 10:14-16, John 10:27-30. Sometimes He just wants to tell us he Loves us!! Just gotta come with childlike faith!!

I used to do some work at the Vineyard Anaheim now and then, way back when, and I liked how John Wimber would sometimes interrupt the morning prayer time and right in the middle would say: “You know, let’s just forget about the big, long, macho prayers for a bit here and let God speak to us.”

Inevitably, there would be some visitation of God’s presence where some important word or ministry would follow when the focus changed to letting the Holy Spirit take over, something important for us to remember about prayer along with these Scriptures:

John 10:27

27 My sheep listen to my voice. I know them, and they follow me.

Matt 18:3

3 Then he said, “The truth is, you must change your thinking and become like little children…”

Luke 11:13

13 If you then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!”

Ephesians 3:12

12 In him [Christ] and through faith in him we may approach God with freedom and confidence.

Acts 2:17-21

17 ‘God says: In the last days I will pour out my Spirit on all people. 
Your sons and daughters will prophesy. Your young men will see visions. Your old men will have dreams. 
18 In those days I will pour out my Spirit on my servants, men and women, and they will prophesy. 
19 I will work wonders in the sky above. I will cause miraculous signs on the earth below…21 And everyone who trusts in the Lord will be saved.’

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Signs, Wonders, and Child-Like Faith

Well it seems to be birthday season, Mercedes just had one and so did I and Patrick is next, striking a few memories of some wild things the Lord has done:

One year we had just come back from a mission trip and we were in that “cleaned-out” state from travel expenses and had literally no cash on hand.

In fact, I looked in my wallet and was thinking: “Well, no cash will make for an interesting birthday—I guess.”

We decided to head out on our bikes and go and do a bit of riding which is a relatively cost-free thing to do.

I just blurted out a little prayer on the way out the door: “Lord it would sure be nice to have a bit of money here to be able to do a few things today.”

That was one of those quick little prayers you say and then forget you even said it a few minutes later.

We headed out on the bikes and were cruising down this little ocean road when I spotted an old familiar face from way back from surfing and other things. He was standing in front of an elaborate bay front house with a “For Sale” sign in front of it.

I cruised over and after a few expressions to each other of what a blast from the past this chance meeting was, we each shared a bit of what we were doing lately.

This old friend had been doing real estate and seemingly doing very well, thank you! I asked who owned this palace he was currently representing and found out it was that of a popular Christian singer. “Looks like ‘Praise Pays’, eh?” I said as I checked out the elaborate marble and tile work on the place he was selling.

We chatted a bit and then he went inside his styling little car and came back and handed me a brochure from his real estate firm and said: “Make sure and take a look through this brochure later – don’t forget!” “Well, I’m definitely not in the market for real estate but sure, I’ll take a look.”

A little further on after riding our bikes for a bit we stopped to take a break and I decided to take a look at his brochure. We were blown away to find that five crisp and brand new 100-dollar bills had been tucked inside with a little note to us.

Wow! That will buy some lunch at least – ha ha! I was completely floored. What a miracle of provision. I hadn’t mentioned a word about our finances and was just chatting about surfing and other stuff with this old friend. Furthermore, I hadn’t mentioned it was my birthday and he had no way of knowing that fact.

However, God knew and heard my quick little prayer, a prayer that was just so quick and brief that in our humanness we sometime wonder if it is enough. That’s when the Lord spoke this Scripture to me:

Matthew 6:7-8

When you pray, do not use a lot of repetitious, meaningless words, as the pagans do, who think that God will hear them because their prayers are long. Do not be like them. Your Father already knows what you need before you ask him.

So often, we think that in order to get God to hear us we have to bend down on our knees praying so hard, loud, and long, until our knees bleed and our voices go hoarse, or that we have to fast until we are so pale and anemic that we look like we need a blood transfusion. And what is it anyways with all these people who want to tell everyone how much they fast all the time, disobeying Jesus’ clear command not to tell others when you are fasting?

Jesus makes it very clear that such an approach is born out of a clearly pagan ideal, which actually portrays a lack of faith in God as a loving Father. So often, there is a failure to understand the finished work of Christ and know that Jesus, by His blood, has brought us into a “New Covenant” whereby we stand holy, righteous, accepted, and adopted as our Abba Father’s kids, all by what Jesus did for us on the cross. The understanding that Jesus did it all for us on the cross gives all the glory to Christ, rather than to us fallen depraved humans. We so often want to think that we can earn something because we fasted enough or prayed loud and long enough, and thus want to boast in ourselves rather than in Christ who did it all for us.

It is such a comfort to know that Christ did the work for us on the cross and we are accepted and beloved by the Father because of what Jesus did and that we can approach God with the confidence of a child that says, “Hey Abba Father, I need…”

He often will amaze us with signs and wonders that blow our minds when we just come with that simple-child like faith!