Our travels have taken us to many countries around the world and we have not only met many wonderful people, but have also observed God working in higher and higher degrees of power. Yet, regardless of the many different cultures and languages, we have enjoyed similar experiences in each location—in each seminar God has always perfectly provided just the right church, worship team and intercessors. Invariably, everything has worked out well.
But another aspect of our ministry is that we sit down with people on an individual basis and hear their stories. We listen to accounts of not being wanted before birth, of rotten childhoods, of marriages that have been devastated; horrible stories from normal people.
We have often heard from people who, upon reached their fifties and their sixties, have realized that the great dreams and the great prophecies that have been spoken over them have not yet been fulfilled. They wonder if anything is ever going to change. It seems like they’re always receiving healing but are never being completely healed.
One day, in a ministry session at Aslan’s Place, a lady in her fifties shared another very, very sad story. Relationships had not worked out, children had not come, she was miserable in church, she was miserable at work, and she had been a Christian for decades. As I listened to her I was reminded of the play, Les Miserables.
Les Miserables is the story of a man named Valjean, a prisoner who was taken in by a priest following his release. The morning after entering the priest’s home, breakfast was served and, as the priest left the room, Valjean grabbed a candlestick and ran. After the police caught him and brought him back they inquired, “Is this the man that was at your house and did he steal this candlestick?” The priest replied, “No, he didn’t steal it, I gave it to him. In fact I gave him both but he forgot to take the other one.” And so, Valjean left, experiencing the grace and forgiveness of Jesus Christ for the first time. And that very grace and forgiveness is the underlying theme of the play.
Eventually, Valjean became a very important man. He started helping people and even became the mayor of a city. Eventually he met a woman, Fantine, and her daughter Cosette. Very early in the play, when Fantine realized that she would soon die and leave Cosette as an orphan, Fantine sings a song called I Dreamed a Dream. The lyrics are:
There was a time when men were kind
When their voices were soft
And their words inviting
There was a time when love was blind
And the world was a song
And the song was exciting
There was a time
Then it all went wrong
I dreamed a dream in time gone by
When hope was high
And life worth living
I dreamed that love would never die
I dreamed that God would be forgiving
Then I was young and unafraid
And dreams were made and used and wasted
There was no ransom to be paid
No song unsung, no wine untasted
But the tigers come at night
With their voices soft as thunder
As they tear your hope apart
And they turn your dream to shame
He slept a summer by my side
He filled my days with endless wonder
He took my childhood in his stride
But he was gone when autumn came
And still I dream he’ll come to me
That we will live the years together
But there are dreams that cannot be
And there are storms we cannot weather
I had a dream my life would be
So different from this hell I’m living
So different now from what it seemed
Now life has killed the dream I dreamed
As I ministered to that woman I recalled that song, so I played the CD for her. She wept as she realized that the song seemed to be an account of her life. But it’s not just her life—it may describe the lives of many people, for we all dream dreams. We all believe that things are going to get better but they don’t, and many of us have heard so many unfulfilled prophetic words that we have wondered, “When is anything good going to happen to me? When is ministry going to start happening for me? When am I going to find a place in a church where I am going to be accepted?” And pretty soon we find that life has killed our dreams. It’s a sad fact the church is filled with people who have silently dreamed dreams and have been disappointed. And unfortunately our churches—the very places we would expect to receive comfort—are not always too understanding. All too often they do not comprehend that the church is filled with hurting people who are afraid to let anybody know because they fear further rejection or disappointment.
We may go through an unhappy childhood and, as a teenager, think, and “If I can just move out, if I can just be free of my parents, then everything will be okay.” And so we move out. Thirty days later the bills start to come and we are surprised because someone expects that we are now going to pay for those bills.
Or, we dream that if we get married then it’s going to be okay, so we get married. Then we think, “If I have children, then it will be better,” and then we have children. After three or four nights of not sleeping we think, “Well, I need to buy a house,” so we buy a house and it has to be repaired. Then we buy toys—adult toys—and they need to be repaired too.
We also have dreams of what the church should be, what our pastor should be, what our friends should be; and we seem to be crushed by disappointment continually. And so we wonder, “Is this what life is really about?”
I remember watching a cartoon with our children. A little mouse escaped with his father out of a room, only to fall into a trash can. The little mouse asked its dad, “Is this what the world is like?” Sadly, we’ve come to think that is what the world is like—any little success certainly must be followed by a larger failure.
I had the wonderful opportunity of hearing Dean Sherman of Youth With a Mission very early in our training in spiritual warfare. He made this comment, “If you look at all of entertainment, it rotates around three things; a great romance, a great adventure, or a great conflict.” Such a helpful insight, for we in the church are involved in the greatest conflict in the universe; we are involved in the greatest adventure in the universe; and we are involved in the greatest romance in the universe. So yes, we can expect something to be different in our lives.
In our meetings we have found that oftentimes when the Lord wants to do something special with us—something involving great romance, adventure, and conflict—the cherubim have shown up. I once delivered this message to a group of five American Baptist churches in the San Diego area, and God came in great power. My pastor-friend, Brian Fairley, said, “Paul, they were doing really good until you said, ‘The cherubim are here.'” I said, “Well, they are in the Bible.” He said, “I know, but it freaked them out.” So, let’s look at what the cherubim are.
The cherubim are mentioned in three places in the Bible; Ezekiel 1, Ezekiel 10, and Revelation 4. Looking first at Ezekiel 1:4-7, “Then I looked, and behold, a whirlwind was coming out of the north, a great cloud with raging fire engulfing itself; and brightness was all around it and radiating out of its midst like the color of amber, out of the midst of the fire. Also from within it came the likeness of four living creatures. And this was their appearance: they had the likeness of a man. Each had four faces, and each one had four wings. Their legs were straight, and the soles of their feet were like the soles of calves’ feet. They sparkled like the color of burnished bronze.”
These four living creatures are identified as cherubim in Ezekiel 10, and they are in the pillar of fire which is in the cloud of His glory. (Incidentally, Lucifer is a cherub, the singular form of cherubim, and that’s why you see Satan sometimes pictured with calves feet.) You can imagine how weird this is, but it’s right there in the Bible!
Continuing with verses 8-17, “The hands of man were under their wings on four sides; and each one had four wings. Their wings touched each other. The creatures did not turn when they went, but each one went straight forward. As for the likeness of their faces, each had the face of a man; each of the four had the face of a lion on the right side, each of the four had the face of an ox on the left side, and each of the four had the face of an eagle. Thus were their faces. Their wings stretched upward; two wings of each one touched one another, and two covered their bodies. And each one went straight forward; they went wherever the spirit wanted to go, and they did not turn when they went. As for the likeness of the living creatures, their appearance was like burning coals of fire, like the appearance of torches going back and forth among the living creatures. The fire was bright, and out of the fire went lightning. And the living creatures ran back and forth, in appearance like a flash of lightening. Now as I looked at the living creatures, a wheel was on the earth beside each living creature with its four faces. The appearance of the wheels and their workings was like the color beryl, and all four had the same likeness. The appearance of the workings was, as it were, a wheel within a wheel. When they moved, they went forward in each one of the directions. They did not turn aside when they went.”
So, visualize the four of them somehow all going forward and moving together in unity with, as we are told later, the fire in their feet. I believe this is where the anointing comes from. Of course, the anointing actually comes from the Holy Spirit, but it appears that the living creatures have between their feet the fire that sometimes hits us as we worship. It also appears as lightning—pretty spectacular!
“As for their rims, they were so high they were awesome; and their rims were full of eyes, all around the four of them.” (verse 18)
Now, you do not go outside and look at an automobile wheel and say, “Oh, what an awesome wheel that is.” Right? Awesome is big—really big—maybe as big as a large room—that’s awesome. And can you imagine all of those eyes blinking? Isn’t that weird? It would definitely make for a good video game!
“When the living creatures went, the wheels went beside them; and when the living creatures were lifted up from the earth, the wheels were lifted up. Wherever the spirit wanted to go, they went because there the spirit went; and the wheels were lifted together with them, for the spirit of the living creature was in the wheels.” (verses 19-20)
So now we have been told two things—that wherever the Spirit of God goes they go, but the spirit of the living creature is in the wheel and they are living wheels.
“When those went, these went; when those stood, these stood; and when those were lifted up from the earth, the wheels were lifted up together with them, for the spirit of the living creatures were within the wheels. The likeness of the firmament above the heads of the living creatures was like the color of an awesome crystal, stretched out over their heads.” (verses 21-22)
Above the heads of these four living creatures there is the crystal sea. It does not say the crystal pond. It does not say the crystal lake. It says the crystal sea. What is the nature of a sea? When you stand on a sea coast, you look and cannot see the end of the sea because it is too big. So these four are not six feet tall—these are big beings. I believe they are thousands of feet high if we were to see them in the reality of our third dimension, and they are holding the crystal sea.
“And under the firmament their wings spread out straight, one towards another. Each one had two which covered one side, and each one had two which covered the other side of the body. When they went, I heard the noise of their wings, like the noise of many waters, like the voice of the Almighty, a tumult like the noise of an army; and when they stood still they let down their wings.” (verses 23-24)
There they are flapping their wings, and their wings must be really big. Have you ever seen those old Roman movies where you have ten million soldiers going down a hillside and there are ten million voices that make a loud noise. Have you ever stood by Niagara Falls? Noisy. This is the noise of their wings. This is not like the buzz of a housefly.
“And above the firmament over their heads was the likeness of a throne, in appearance like a sapphire stone;” (verse 26a)
So, in addition to the cloud, the pillar of fire with the four living creatures in it, the crystal sea, we now have a throne—this is really huge. And I’ve learned, thanks to a man in Minnesota who heard this message, that the nature of a sapphire stone when light goes into it is intensified some twelve times and then it goes out in many directions.
“…and on the likeness of the throne was the likeness with the appearance of a man high above it. Also from the appearance of his waist upward I saw, as it were, the color of amber with the appearance of fire all around within it; and from the appearance of his waist downward I saw, as it were, the appearance of fire with brightness all around. Like the appearance of a rainbow in a cloud on a rainy day, so was the appearance of the brightness all around. This was the appearance of the likeness of the glory of the LORD.” (verses 26b-28)
I cannot understand this. His glory, His light, is coming off of Him; and it is as intense as is possible; and His eternal everlasting greatness is magnified 12 times bigger, and literally comes out as laser beams. This is very important because we are told that the Hebrew translation of the glory that came off Moses is that his face shot forth beams of light. He was “laser faced.”
So what happens when the cherubim show up? Three things. First, there is movement. Look at Ezekiel 2:1, “He said to me son of man stand to your feet and I will speak to you. Then the spirit entered me when he spoke to me and set me on my feet.” And we are told in Ezekiel 10 that the spirit came into Ezekiel and actually moved him to a different place away from where he was. You see, when the cherubim show up, the glory of God is present. And when the glory of God is present, there is movement. We are moved from where we are to where we need to be in our lives, in our marriage, in our family, in our ministry, in our motivations and every single area of life. We are taken from where we are to where we need to be because there is movement.
Second, there is a message. In Ezekiel 3, a message is given in a scroll.
And third, there is a ministry. Ezekiel was told to go and speak God’s words.
You see the cherubim do not show up in our meetings just so we can talk about them. There is always something more that is going on. There is movement. There is a message. There is a ministry.
I had a great privilege in December of 1999. We were called to go and minister at the Toronto Airport Church. Before we went, John Arnott called and asked if I would preach in the Sunday evening service concluding our week there, which was terrifying enough. Then after a couple of days they said they would like for us to speak at the Spanish church on Sunday morning, which would be translated—I thought that would be OK. But finally, a few days later, John Arnott called once more and said they were going to combine the English and Spanish church and they would like for me to preach on Sunday morning. That was enough to terrify me totally.
I had a sermon that I felt like God had matured in me about the Glory of God. Very early in my Baptist days I’d preached the book of Exodus and I came to that passage where Moses said, “Lord, show me Your glory.” The reason he had said that was that God was angry at the people because He looked down and saw them sacrificing to idols; and they were sacrificing their children. They didn’t just sacrifice grain and fruit. In that culture you sacrificed babies. They were sacrificing their babies and God said, “I want you to go down and deal with that.”
So Moses went down the mountain and he saw it. He became angry, and then he and God had this talk. So God said, “Now, Moses what are you going to do with your people?” And Moses answered, “They are not my people, they are Your people.” God replied, “Well, I’m just going to wipe them out.” So Moses argued, “God, you can’t do that. What is going to happen to Your Name, to Your fame? What are people going to think about You? Are they going to say, ‘You’re the kind of God that brings somebody out of Egypt and then You kill them all.”
So he contended with God. He laid hold of God, and God was not budging until finally Moses went for the ultimate prayer, “Lord, show me Your glory.” So I preached on this. And right about now you’re probably thinking, “What does that have to do with what we have just been talking about?” Read on.
The Lord answered immediately, “Yes, I will show you My glory.” And so He put Moses in the cleft of the rock and His glory passed by, and then He started proclaiming His name, and in His name is ‘I am a God who forgives and has everlasting patience.'” So Moses said, “See, I told You. That is Your name. I am claiming that.” And God promised, “I will go with You and I will keep the covenant.”
That’s the message I preached in Toronto. (Now, if there is any place where the fire can fall, it is Toronto. You can sneeze and lay out half the people. So I got to the end and I said, “Lord, release Your glory,” and I was waiting for the fireworks. Well, there was a little pause and people started shaking. Then people all over the place started lying down on the floor. Now, the Toronto church has a huge front area that is empty, plus adjoining aisles. Pretty soon, there were over 1000 people there—all lying down everywhere, and it got really quiet. I thought, “I have put people to sleep with my sermons before but I have never been this effective!” So I finally just sat down next to John and said, “Okay John, I think I’m done,” and just looked at me and didn’t even say anything; so I just sat there for 15 or 20 minutes with nothing going on. You just can’t do that in church. You have to have something going on.
So I went home and I prayed, “Lord, every other time I have done this Your fire has come, and the anointing has come, and we’ve prayed for people and they’d go flying, and we’d just have a wonderful time. What is this?”
Some time later I was impacted by a prophecy I received dated January 4, 2002. It was by Mike McClung and was titled, 2002 A Year of Rest, Preparation and Breakthrough. Here it is.
2002 a year of rest, preparation, and breakthrough. 2002 will begin the entering of the Sabbath rest. The true lordship of Christ and His resurrection glory is about to be revealed in a most profound manner to those who have pursued intimacy with Him. We now understand that Christ Himself is our Sabbath and we are to labor to enter into the fullness of His presence and rest. There is a great wave of healing and deliverance coming to the Church for the purpose of healing the wounded body of Christ, releasing the harvest. One problem that will rise is that religious people will become very angry and embittered towards those who are pursuing Him in rest. In entering His rest there will be unlimited provision, unlimited love and intimacy, unlimited authority, and unlimited opportunity. We will begin to see Him and the beauty of His riches, His resurrection glory and holiness, and no longer just as He is presented in the gospels in His poverty as the lowly servant. The shekinah cloud of His presence will be seen resting in places and geographical regions around the world. This will prepare us to come into intimate oneness with Him and His purpose and to be trusted with greater anointing, authority, and responsibility.
Next, I was in the San Jose area and I was doing deliverance for a lady. There were five of us present and, as I began, out of my mouth came these words, “Now, you need to understand, I did not plan to say these things. You understand this don’t you? Lord, take us to the fourth dimension for this deliverance.” And all of a sudden it was like we were in an elevator and we started going up. The power of God hit this woman and she started shaking. So we all just sat there while the Lord did deliverance on her. I wasn’t needed any more, so I was looking around trying to decide what I was supposed to do, and I thought, “Paul, try to worry about something right now.”
I must tell you that I could have received the gold medal for worry in my life. I was a great worrier—not warrior—worrier. I could worry with the best of them. I’m sure I could surpass you at any level, and I had some big things to worry about too—you know you’re alive if you have things to worry about.
So there I was, trying to worry, but I couldn’t! And I thought, “What is this place?” And so I said to the other four people, “Try to worry right now.” And so they started laughing and said, “We can’t worry.” We had gone to another place.
I want you to follow me now. The Bible says we are seated with Christ in heavenly places, not in a place. The scientific and mathematical names for those places are dimensions. And that is biblical. But we are not there all the time. Positionally we should be there, but in our soul and our spirit we are not always there.
Now, I mentioned before that there is the cloud, the pillar, and the cherubim. I can feel/sense all of these when they appear in one of our meetings. And, when the cloud shows up and people walk through it, something happens.
In Exodus 13:21 we read, “By day the Lord went ahead of them in a pillar of cloud to guide them on their way and by night a pillar of fire to guide them with light so they could travel by day or night.”
What happens? You follow the cloud, right? You go where the cloud leads you. There is judgment takes place in the cloud. We find that the cloud was behind the children of Israel, and on the other side were the people of Egypt, and judgment fell on them.
In Exodus 19:9 the Lord said, “Moses I am going to come to you in a dense cloud so the people will hear Me speaking with you and will always put their trust in you.”
There is communication when the cloud comes. We are told that the cloud came over the tent of meeting, right? It is the tent of His presence, the tent of meeting. It was there where Moses talked to the Lord. And when the cloud moves, we go with it, and as we travel we go to a place where there is communication. That communication may be visual, it may be auditory, or it may be simply in one’s spirit.
Now, I want to say something very carefully. In intimacy in marriage much is said without being said. That is intimacy. We somehow think we need to yak and talk and talk and yak to have intimacy with the Lord. But sometimes He just wants us to be with Him.
We see in 2 Chronicles 5:13-14 that the trumpeters and the singers joined in unison as one voice to give praise and thanks to the Lord, accompanied by trumpets and cymbals and other instruments. They raised their voices and praised the Lord and sang, “He is good, His love endures forever.” Then the temple of the Lord was filled with the cloud and the priests could not perform their service because the cloud of the glory of the Lord filled the temple of God. The glory is in the cloud which is the manifest presence of His glory.
Matthew 17:5 “When he was still speaking a bright cloud enveloped him and a voice in the cloud said, ‘This is My Son whom I love, with Him I am well pleased. Listen to Him.'”
There is a proclamation of who Jesus is, and again there is communication as the cloud comes.
In Acts 1:9 He ascends into the cloud. It’s the same cloud, and one day He is going to come back in that cloud, the cloud of His shekinah glory.
What does this all mean? I want to be very practical here. When the cherubim are present, there is movement. The cloud is moves and we follow it for the Lord wants to move us from where we are to where we need to be, and He wants us to enter into His rest.
Ephesians 1 says, “That the Lord may give you the spirit of wisdom and revelation so that you might know Him better.”
In Revelation 4:1 John says, “I saw a door open in heaven and the Lord said, ‘Come up here.'”
That is not just something that happened in the Bible—it’s for us here and now. He wants us to enter into the place of rest. Let me give you some more verses.
Exodus 33:14 “The Lord replied, ‘My presence will go with you and I will give you rest.”’
Psalm 55:6 “I said, ‘Oh that I have the wings of a dove I would fly away and I would be at rest.'”
Psalm 62:1 “My soul finds rest in God alone. My salvation comes from Him.”
Psalm 62:5 “Find rest oh my soul in God alone. My hope comes from Him.”
Psalm 91:1. “He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High.” You see, not everybody dwells there. When we dwell in the place of rest, then we are told we will rest in the shadow of the Almighty, and then everything is under our feet. The enemy is only under our feet in the place of rest.
Isaiah 30:15 “This is what the Sovereign Lord the Holy One of Israel says, ‘In repentance and rest is your salvation. In quietness and trust is your strength, but you would have none of it.”’
Jeremiah 6:16 this is what the Lord says, “Stand at the crossroads and look. Ask for the ancient paths. Ask for the good way and walk in it and you will find rest for your souls.”
Matthew 11:28-29 “Come to Me all you who are weary and heavy laden and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you for I am gentle and humble in heart and you will find rest for your souls.”
Hebrews 4:1 “Therefore since a promise remains of entering His rest let us fear lest any of you seem to come short of it.”
Hebrews 4:9 “There remains therefore a rest for the people of God. For he who has entered His rest has himself,” now this is the key, “has ceased from his works as God did from His.”
Why is it that we are so frustrated, so unhappy, and so unfulfilled in our dreams and our expectations? Why is it that we are so discontent because we have not entered into the kind of ministries that have been prophesied about us, and that we have not fulfilled the things that we have been given to accomplish? It is because we have not entered into His rest and we are still striving and working to try to make it happen. We work, and we work, and we work; and God says to us, “Why don’t you just let go of it and enter into My rest?”
One of my favorite sermons is on the prodigal son. The father gave the blessing out to both sons at the beginning. The younger son asked for it, but when the father divided it up it meant that, technically, the father was dead because an inheritance is only given away when one dies. But the prodigal son came back and his father saw him and welcomed him home. And with only two things left, a ring and a cloak, and the father gave all he had to his son.
So now the father (the Heavenly Father) has now given away everything. What kind of crazy God is this? You look at the gods of history and they all sacrifices of the children. They require flagellation where you must beat yourself. There are all sorts of misery; and yet this God of ours gives away everything. He’s like some sort of mad used car salesman who comes and says, “Here come and take whatever you want. I’ve already paid for it, you can have it.”
In the story the father then killed a calf. I think this is one of the things that angered the older son because, since the inheritance had already been given away, Dad was probably killing his calf. It’s like the older son was out in the mission field; laboring so hard, and so very tired and miserable; but he was working hard and was very religious, so he was doing everything right. But then he heard people laughing and having fun. He wondered, “What is that going on when I am working so hard out here, and being so good and doing everything so perfectly?” So he sent his servant in to check it out. Then he went and asked his dad to come out and explain things to him.
This parable is so absurd—it had to be hilariously funny to the Jews. They were probably on the ground laughing, just because it is so stupid that any of this might have happened. You would never ask your father to come out and explain himself in that society.
But the father did come out and asked, “Now, what is your problem?” And the older son answered, “Well they are having fun in there and I have been slaving away and you haven’t given me anything.”
What is this? He got everything in the beginning of the parable, right? He already had it. And he had a larger inheritance than the younger son because the older one always got the most.
His father turned to him and said, “Son, you know everybody has died in this parable. I died at the beginning of this parable. Now your brother has died. The calf is dead. Why don’t you drop dead and join the party?”
For you see, the Kingdom of God is a party made up of dead people; all of them just having a great time enjoying the Kingdom of God, and a crazy God who is so loving that He gives everything away.
And God says to us, “Now make every effort to enter into the rest.” So, there is one thing we need to work at friends, and this is it—we need to work at entering His rest. Why?
I heard Heidi Baker and she helped me understand this, because she has learned to enter into the rest and she lives there. Everything happens in His rest. It’s there where ideas come. It’s there where strategies come. It’s there where warfare takes place. It’s there where ministries are birthed. It’s in His presence, in His rest. I no longer need to plan and scheme. I do not need to start a media ministry. I do not need to try to raise money for buildings. I don’t really need to do anything except go into His rest and let Him do it. It’s a new way of doing church.
God is the one who started Aslan’s Place and everything that has happened significantly since the birthing of Aslan’s Place He has done. Donna and I are just trying to keep up with what He’s doing. Anything we have tried to initiate or start on our own has not worked. So I am finally getting it. He wants me to be in His rest and believe Him and enjoy Him; and enjoy my wife, my children and my grandchildren and enjoy being with people, being in love with people, and serving them. Our God is the One who will make it all happen.
I don’t care whether you are a businessman or a minister, it works. There are going to be new kinds of board meetings in which a board is going to enter into His rest and let Him speak. And they will say, “Oh my goodness, what a wonderful idea.” But they will no longer claim the ideas as their own.
Isaiah says, “Lord all that I have done You have accomplished for me.” Do you understand that every good thought, every good thing that you do is His idea? He just lets us look good while He’s doing it.
There are two ways that you know that you have entered His rest. One is that it is impossible to worry, and the second is that you cannot be jealous of anyone else’s gifts.
Heidi Baker has said that the pastors need to simply get down and lay on the floor and act like a bunch of dead people until they get something done in the church. So I invite you to do it—just relax in a comfortable position and enter into His rest. If you can see into spiritual realms, then look; if you can hear, listen. You might just experience peace. That would be okay. Because He is God, He will take you where He wants you to be.
I will tell you one more story and then I will be stop and let you enjoy His presence. I was with a medical doctor and the Lord took us up into His presence. He came back later and told me, “I was sitting in a lounge chair in a place in the heavens. An angel came by like a waiter with gave me a drink with an umbrella. The angel looked at me and said, ‘Can’t you ever relax?’ and gave me the drink and walked off smiling.”
Enjoy His place of rest. It is the Holy of Holies, the tent of meeting, Mount Zion, the secret place, the place of intimacy, the shelter of the Most High, the tent of His presence, the mountain of the Lord, the bedchamber, God’s bosom, a place of waiting. It is the higher ground.