In the 1980's a "new" movement swept through the American churches: intercession. It was quite problematic for pastors because the lay people involved in this new phenomenon claimed to have their own hotline to God and weren't afraid to use it. Worse yet, they claimed to hear from God what the pastor needed to do and were quick to tell him how to run his church!!! Few pastors warmed to the concept of being led by their sheep.
Things were very messy in the '80s in most churches. Intercession as a movement was an undeniable, unstoppable force in the American expression of the Body of Christ. There were amazing things reported as a result of intercession at the same time as the lunatic fringe of the movement managed to discredit it with their antics.
I was a late joiner. The evangelical stream I was part of was even more resistant to the concepts. Nonetheless, a hand full of us in the church I attended in Southern California began exploring this whole topic and seeing what it was like to pray for people in specific ways while looking for measurable answers.
There was only one big problem: all of us were as lacking in legitimacy as a fish in a tree. We generally tried to pray in a group. Ostensibly this was because of the power of agreement, a theological idea that was being bandied around at the time. In reality, it was because each one of us was pretty sure God was not actually hearing our individual prayers. But since, as a group, we were getting answers to prayer, God clearly liked someone among us enough to listen to them and the rest of us private frauds were happy to hang on the coat tails of whoever the favored one among us might be.
We were a strange group. We were bold enough and hungry enough for God's best that we would dare to explore controversial concepts in the face of religious disapproval. We were deemed by others around us to be somewhere beyond the cutting edge of Christian thought. At the same time, our insecurity was ever-present.
Out of this unlikely milieu was born Plumbline Ministries. I named the group for one simple reason. That is what Americans do. If it moves, you name it. I, at least, felt slightly more legitimate when my loose collection of friends, AKA intercessors, was named. That was in May of 1994. We had no vision, no values statement neatly printed on 3 x 5 cards and no protocol. But we had a name!
My sense of legitimacy was short lived. My experiments with intercession leaked over into the hotly debated area of deliverance. Within a year, I was called before a kangaroo court, found to be guilty of espousing untruths since Christians could not have demons and was declared persona non grata in the stream of the faith into which I had been born and grew up.
While that was quite painful at the time, in retrospect, God used it to radically accelerate my growth and to confirm my place on the radical fringe of Western Christianity. The only church I could find that would give me the time of day was in the high desert. I commuted there semi-regularly for a few years. That community had a more flagrant presence of occult practitioners and people in bondage than the more suave middle class community I had come from.
They were desperate. I was willing to experiment. We tried a bunch of stuff, learned a lot that didn't work and some that did. During that season of groping through the fog, I met some spiritual giants and some shysters. It was a gloriously messy season.
At the same time that I was getting some in-the-trenches DIY training, there were two technical shifts that forever changed the face of Christianity. First was the advent of e-mail and second was long distance phone rates dropping like a rock.
Those two things happening at the time the church in America was in a state of intense upheaval led to the formation of endless horizontal networks - a dramatically new social phenomenon. People who were looking for answers could now look outside of the institutional church easily. In the intercessory networks and deliverance movements, no one really cared what your doctrinal statement was. They just wanted to know whether you knew something that worked.
That God-ordained intersection of my knowing a few esoteric things about deliverance, at the same time that the means of communication changed in America, led to a tiny (one person) company having an impact vastly larger than its size.
During the rest of the '90s I worked full time in construction and wrote endless e-mails during the evenings, while continuing to participate in intercessory projects and deliverance sessions with anyone who was local.
In 2000, I was "discovered" by an international ministry. For a year I was given a place in the limelight on platforms around the world. As abruptly as that phase began, it ended, as I was simply not able to be what they needed me to be. The differences in values and the very rough edges to my character combined to spin me off into my solitary mode again.
Nonetheless, that brief season had given me some visibility, and the e-mails continued to come and go. By now I was full time with Plumbline Ministries, eking out a precarious living. My M/O emerged during that season. I began to be drawn to those who had been there, done that, jumped through all the hoops but not made progress. I passionately believed that there HAD to be answers in the Word of God, so I dug for them with vigor.
I would listen intently for root issues, look for patterns in Scripture, and experiment with new ideas. Some of them actually worked and were added to our tool kit. It was during this season that we developed our mantra of "measurable, verifiable, sustained change." Goose bumps during a ministry session didn't count!
I began recording teachings on cassettes, mailing them to the ends of the earth. Eventually I began my troubled relationship with websites. We transitioned from cassettes to CDs and started using graphic designers to pretty up our visually primitive presentation.
By the mid-2000s I had several young people working out of our home. I was traveling sporadically, speaking to small groups. Our network of friends expanded. Research in the Word continued to reveal new tools. There were many sticky issues we pursued, occasionally finding answers easily, more often gnawing on a problem for months or years.
In the midst of this cadence, God ambushed us with the initial revelation of the role of the human spirit in partnership with the Holy Spirit. I was shocked to discover I had almost no theology of the human spirit. We plunged into the Word of God, pulling out every reference to the human spirit and experimenting with the concepts we thought were there.
It turned out to be a dramatic tool, powerfully accelerating the healing journey for ourselves and those we were walking with.
By 2005 it was evident that we had seriously outgrown our home and my little mom-and-pop business model. We incorporated as Sapphire Leadership Group, Inc. We hired a CPA to oversee the books. And in 2006 we moved into our current commercial facilities in Anaheim, CA.
Amazingly, in 2006 we also did about 40 seminars across the country, mostly sharing with therapists and prayer ministers the tools for working with the human spirit. As a result of all that, the company surged in revenue and employees.
In 2008 the economy tanked. Buying CD albums became a luxury. We had to lay off most of our staff. And, I urgently had to develop a real business model, not just one that chased revenue.
Out of the next three years of soul searching and exploring the extant models in the religious and secular sectors, I decided that major changes were needed.
As of 2015, we have distributorships in six countries, on four continents and plans for more. Our research is invigorating since we have faces before us of the people who need these answers to their life’s issues. We have a wonderful group of "guinea pigs" who eagerly experiment with each of our new ideas, letting us know which ones are duds and which have some value to them.
We have friends and enemies in abundance. We know that we are trailblazers, not pioneers. We don't know where we will be in five years, but we know that walking with Jesus Christ, our King, will be challenging, fulfilling and probably intermittently quite painful.
We have not arrived. We are forever on a journey. Our lifestyle is nimble, collaborative and life giving. There is nothing anyone can join. We are not a movement or a denomination. We don’t license or certify anyone. We don't have a referral list of approved partners in ministry.
We serve the King and seek to empower those who are in the trenches, with dirt under their fingernails, doing the work of the Kingdom.