The Process of Transformation • Part 2
“The Process of Transformation” is descriptive of a vital truth. This impartation is part 2 of the teaching with that title. If you have not already done so, I recommend that you first read “The Process of Transformation Part 1.”
Last time, I talked about how we came to Christ often sets the stage for how we judge our spiritual growth, about the concept of spirit, soul and body, and how it relates to reading the Bible. I also discussed how it’s possible to “be in two places at one time” (we’re seated with Christ in heavenly places while living on earth), using Jesus’ words as an example…
John 3:13 And no man hath ascended up to heaven, but he that came down from heaven, even the Son of man which is in heaven.
In saying this, Jesus was referring to Himself, but He was talking about being in heaven while on the earth. Just as we (now) sit with Christ in heavenly places, we are following Jesus’ example on the earth. In fact, we have become like Him (1 John 4:17). Remember, there is no time nor distance in the spirit, only in the natural. We’re told in Ecclesiastes 3:1 that time is for when you’re “under heaven,” and distance basically works the same way.
I’ll illustrate how this works (“being in two places at one time”) by sharing a personal testimony from an outreach to Pakistan four years ago. You’ll be amazed at what God did, but remember, we’re talking about the nature of spiritual things.
In March and April of 2017, I scheduled two back-to-back outreaches to Thailand and Pakistan. I was taking my son Ethan and a friend of his to Thailand, then after two weeks of ministry among hilltribes in northern Thailand, I was sending these two young men home while I flew south to Bangkok, then on to Karachi, Pakistan. Please bear with me as I share some necessary details.
To give you a picture of how this worked, I’ll share an overview of our itinerary. We were to fly from Portland on Tuesday, March 14th to Chiangmai, Thailand via LA and Hong Kong, then get right to work traveling village to village. At the end of that time, as I said, the young men flew home on Wednesday, March 29th while I had to wait a day to fly out, at which time I headed south to Bangkok, then west toward Karachi, where I would spend the new days before flying to Quetta in Southwest Pakistan before heading back to Karachi, and eventually back home on Saturday, April 15th.
Obviously to enter these countries, I needed visas, but the visa requirements for Thailand and Pakistan were quite different. Thailand was easy for an American. You simply show up at the port of entry, present your valid US passport, the officer takes your picture, stamps your passport and wishes you a pleasant stay. That’s it. Pakistan is much more involved because you must apply in advance according to a complicated procedure. You present to the Pakistani consulate a letter of invitation, 2 passport photos, bank statements, and a long form properly filled out with explanation of who you are what you do, why you want to visit their country, where you’ll stay and more, accompanied by a cashier’s check for about US$200 and your actual passport. If you can’t drive to the consulate (which in my case is 1200 miles away for the closest location), then you must mail all these materials with proper return postage and packaging. Despite the hoops one must jump through, however, the consular office is normally quite efficient and you can normally have your passport returned, complete with your Pakistan visa sticker, within 1-2 weeks.
I applied for my Pakistan visa in early January (normally plenty of time), and in my application, I stated the date I needed to be in Pakistan (approx. April 1st). However, remember I needed to have my passport — with the Pakistan visa — in hand before I left for Thailand on March 14th. Soon after sending off my application, I left for New York City to minister at a church in Queens. Upon my return at the end of January, I discovered my passport had not arrived yet, so I called the Pakistani Consulate to inquire. What they told me was that there was a delay, and upon asking about this, they said that I was “red flagged” because of a statement about helping in a relief program in Pakistan. I told them this consistent with applications in the past which were promptly approved. Nonetheless, I was told that the Consulate General said that my application must be rubber stamped by the Interior Minister of Pakistan and therefore all my paperwork was forwarded to Islamabad!
My immediate thought was, “Oh great! My passport and visa application are being sent to the other side of the world, where they’ll sit on some bureaucrat’s desk until he gets around to looking at them!” Ouch. That could affect, not just my plans for Pakistan, but also for Thailand, and my son and his friend were counting on me, not to mention our friends there. I informed my main contact in Karachi, Pastor Amjad Farooq, of the situation so he could follow up with the Interior Minister’s office, something he did so repeatedly.
After about a week, I called the Consulate back. I was told the same thing. I had to wait. “Any indication as to how long?” I asked. “Oh, they don’t tell us these things. We’ll contact you when we know something.” “Well, I’m going to Thailand before flying to Karachi, so I need my passport before the middle of March.” We concluded the call. I called back in another week. Same thing. Then another week. Same response, but by now, the person on other end of the line, who was getting use to my persistence said, “Please don’t call back. We’ll call you when we know something.” By this time, the Consulate’s office had received my passport back, so the lady added, “Would you like for me to send back your passport without the visa so you can go to Thailand?” I declined, choosing to wait and see what would happen. I didn’t call them back for some time, but I sure called on the Lord. I asked others to pray.
As I relate this story, I’m reliving it in my mind. You probably know what I mean. When you undergo something intense — probably a good descriptive word for spiritual warfare — you go through emotional highs and lows. A thousand thoughts can enter your mind in the process. This was my experience. I knew I was supposed to be in Pakistan in April after two weeks in Thailand; there was no logical reason I could not be where I was supposed to be, but all of a sudden, there was this impenetrable “brick wall” in front of me.
On Saturday, March 4th was our annual banquet — one of the highlights of our ministry, where I would present what God is doing through Ambassador Ministries and give the people an opportunity to be a part. Even though I didn’t have a US passport in my possession (it was in Los Angeles), I presented the Thailand and Pakistan outreaches just as if there was no problem whatsoever and the team was leaving in 10 days. (Perhaps you wouldn’t have done the same, opting instead to plead with the crowd to pray fervently for the next few days for a resolution to my problem — but Holy Spirit led me to share as if no problem existed.) God blessed us. If memory serves, I think we raised the remainder of the outreach budget. However, when I got home, I was faced with the cold reality of the same obstacle — no passport — yet my faith was reaching out to lay hold of it, complete with my visa sticker inside, all of which had to be accomplished within the following week.
I had determined that even if I didn’t hear from the Consulate beforehand, despite being told otherwise, I would call them back no later than Tuesday (March 7th), which was one week before we were scheduled to leave. So on the 7th, I made the call. The answer was the same. No approval yet. My heart sank. The lady on the other end of the line again asked me if I wanted them to mail back my passport without the visa, to which I once again declined. Instead, I said I would buy the necessary postage for an overnight delivery and get it to them, so they could mail out my passport no later than Thursday. Time was tight. I didn’t say it out loud, but in my mind, I was ready to cancel the Pakistan portion of the trip. I let my hosts there know that I might not be showing up after all — just in case. They said they would continue to pray. The following day, I received a call from the Consulate saying that they received a fax from the Interior Minister’s office in Islamabad — and I was approved. At this point, we were all rejoicing! Everything was now fine. I received the passport on Friday and got busy packing my bags.
At this point, you would think that was the end of the story, but it wasn’t. Hold on, because it gets much better than this (and remember, I’m relating this to “being at two places at one time.” I haven’t explained that yet).
Passport in hand, I headed to the Portland airport early Tuesday morning on March 14th to begin our flight to LA, followed by another flight to Hong Kong, and finally a flight to Chiangmai. We had a fruitful outreach in Thailand as always. Our basic modus operandi there is to travel village-to-village in crew cab trucks through hilltribe villages to lay hands on the sick and watch God heal them. Indeed, many were healed, delivered and saved. Our time came to a close in Thailand, so I saw my son and his friend off at the Chiangmai airport, then prepared myself for the next part of the journey.
The following day, I flew to Bangkok in order to catch a flight to Karachi, Pakistan. The style of ministry is quite different there, where open air campaigns, leaders’ conferences and street crusades work very well. In Pakistan, I usually minister to the sick en masse, then we receive healing testimonies — as many as time allows. The demonstration of the Spirit draws many people to Christ, for which we glorify the Lord.
In all my 9 visits to Pakistan, April 2017 was unique because on this journey, I was scheduled to fly to Quetta, a major city near the border with Afghanistan. There is a large Afghan population there, but it’s also known as a stronghold for the Taliban, so holding a Gospel crusade there has inherent challenges. For one thing, you cannot draw too much attention to what you’re doing, so radio and television advertising, or even handbills is out of the question. There are Christians in Quetta, but invitations to this meeting were word-of-mouth only. We had a crowd of only about 100 people, Believers and non-believers alike, but God did what He always does – heals, delivers and saves. This meeting took place on Monday night, April 10th. Those who attended were so excited that they begged the organizing team to hold another meeting the following night. The team huddled, discussed the matter and said yes. So on Tuesday night, we were back at the same location, but this time, the crowd had doubled in size. Once again, the Lord healed, delivered and saved the lost. Many testimonies were shared and there was great rejoicing. I was so thrilled and gratified, but what happened the following day was completely unexpected….
On Wednesday, April 12th, the day before leaving Quetta for Karachi before heading back home, I was relaxing in the lobby of the beautiful hotel where we were staying. As I sat there, my host, Pastor Amjad Farooq approached me and sat down. We began with small talk, then he said to me, “Brother, about your visa, God gave you a great miracle,” his voice inflected to underscore the word “great.” I agreed, recounting how that, even though there was a long delay in the processing of my Pakistan visa, the Lord moved on our situation. “Yes, brother,” I said, “I got my passport with my visa inside just in time.” Pastor Amjad replied emphatically, “Oh, no, brother, you don’t understand!” Well, now he had my attention, since I didn’t know what I had missed. He was about to tell me. He continued, “Brother, yesterday the Pakistan Interior Minister called me. I didn’t want to tell you this while you were preparing for the meeting, but the Interior Minister called me and said to me, ‘I just want to let you know that I have your friend’s paperwork on my desk and I’m going to approve his visa. Don’t worry, your friend will be able to come to Pakistan. You can tell him that I will sign his application and send it back to the Consulate in the USA. He can come to Pakistan.” I couldn’t believe what I was hearing (not at first anyway). I asked how this was possible?! Amjad didn’t know either, just how it is possible for the Pakistani Interior Minister to approve my application for a visa to come to Pakistan — two weeks after I had already entered Pakistan with a legal Pakistan visa?
Needless to say, God wanted me in Pakistan for the first two weeks of April 2017! To answer the question “how?,” I’ve heard a few theories, but suffice it say, no flesh-and-blood human knows how that worked. There are some things God does that remain mysteries. Many earthly events are heavenly invasions — the timeless invading time.
Ecclesiastes 3:1 To everything there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven.
Time is for “under heaven,” not for heaven itself. Time is only for the earth realm, but earth can be penetrated by a heavenly incursion if that’s what is necessary for God’s predetermined will to transpire. In the case of me operating within heaven’s mandate right under the Taliban’s nose in 2017, it required one of those heavenly intrusions to override the plans of the demonic realm. (By the way, on the next visit to Pakistan, we were unable to return to Quetta for safety reasons — so we apparently went there at exactly the right time.)
Sometimes God veils our eyes to what He’s doing — so we can’t mess it up! I didn’t know this in advance, but I was at the vortex of a spiritual war. Apostle Paul spoke of one of these types of incidents in 1 Thessalonians 2:18-19 — Wherefore we would have come unto you, even I Paul, once and again; but Satan hindered us. (19) For what is our hope, or joy, or crown of rejoicing? Are not even ye in the presence of our Lord Jesus Christ at his coming?
Having said that, does this mean that we have nothing to do with the miraculous? That God works apart from us? The answer is an emphatic “NO”. While we cannot know always how God works, it still takes faith on our part to enact heaven’s realities on our behalf. That’s why Jesus taught His disciples to pray, Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven (Matthew 6:10). Without the prayer, what is done in heaven cannot be done on earth!
But there’s more. While Jesus was here on earth, He instructed and informed us in Luke 17:20-21 with these words about the Kingdom — …The kingdom of God cometh not with observation; Neither shall they say, Lo here! or, lo there! for, behold, the kingdom of God is within you.
At one time, God confined Himself to an earthly temple. Today, WE are the temples of God (1 Corinthians 3:17 and 6:19). That means the place God chose to live, right now, is in US. To receive a move of God, we look to God; but recognizing His location (or address), we look inside. (Don’t misconstrue these words! I’m not saying we’re God. We’re temples of God. God put His presence in us, His glory in us, “His treasure in earthen vessels” as it says in 2 Corinthians 4:17.) We are to draw upon the resources of God within us; to draw on a deposit that’s already been made. This brings us back to a scripture we discussed in Part 1…
2 Corinthians 5:17-18 Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new. And all things are of God…
When we were born again, when we were raised with Christ, when we received the deposit of heaven, God put Himself in our spirit man. If we understand the process of transformation, or put another way, if we know how to draw from our spirit man into our soul what was placed there at the new birth — then heaven will invade earth. At that point, God’s will is done on earth, just as it is in heaven (Matthew 6:10). Our experience will conform to the reality of heaven. We’ll delve more into the process of transformation in Part 3.
If you want to hear more about this topic, request my 4-hour teaching on CD by the same name, “The Process of Transformation.” To order, click here.
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May God bless you Richly in Every Way,