During our weekly prayer meetings there have been some consistent messages God has given us.
“See to it that you do not reject the one who speaks. For if they did not escape
when they rejected him who warned them on earth, even less will we if we turn
away from him who warns us from heaven. His voice shook the earth at that time,
but now he has promised, Yet once more I will shake not only the earth but
also the heavens. This expression, “Yet once more,” indicates the removal of what
can be shaken—that is, created things—so that what is not shaken might remain.
Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, let us be
thankful. By it, we may serve God acceptably, with reverence and awe, for our God
is a consuming fire.” Hebrews 12:25-29. ref. Haggai 2:6-7
#1 God is shaking not only the world, but His Church. The appropriate response right now is repentance.
It is easy to say, “Yes. God is shaking everything.” We tend to point to the political system, our culture, our nation. But, let’s not forget that, first and foremost, He is shaking His church… “so that what cannot be shaken may remain.”
“For the time has come for judgment to begin with God’s household…” 1 Peter 4:17
The only response is to repent – “change the way we think” about who we are and what we are doing as the Church. We discussed this in our recent Vision Night.
We must shift from being initiators to responders… saying YES to what God is saying and doing today, instead of developing our own agendas, programs and productions. In fact, we believe God is saying two things specifically right now… PRAY & OBEY.
We must shift from being consumers to contributors… living for the sake of others, not ourselves. It is time to sacrifice our comfort and our preferences to rescue people from a lost and dying world.
We must shift from living by obligation, to living by relationship… it is not about checking a box on a “to do list,” but opening our hearts to being filled with the fullness of God until we overflow with the life of God to the people around us.
For too long the American church has been a reflection of our own culture. Church has been about the success of our presentations, programs, personalities and productions – promoting a brand in the name of attracting people to God.
In an attempt to be culturally relevant, we have crossed a line and developed a desire to be culturally acceptable, when all along, we were meant to be representatives of another culture… the culture of heaven (Philippians 3:18-21).
Our desire should be, as NT Wright says, "to bring the life and rule of heaven to bear on earth" (ref. Matthew 6:10). If this is our true desire, then church will look significantly different.
#2 We cannot go back to the way things were… nor should we.
It would be a mistake to do so. God is trying to shake off the dust of this world… this present evil age (as the Apostle Paul describes it)… and activate us to begin living the life of the age to come - the Kingdom of God that is now at hand.
Our desire to return to normal is, in all honesty, a desire for comfort. The world will not return to what once was -- there is definitely a new normal. The current crisis and disruption has only served to accelerate changes that were already coming. To maintain status quo would be a tragic mistake.
We must embrace that we are living in days that require more than comfortable living and a weekly nod to our faith, but radical commitment to God's current mission in this world.
Dr. Craig Keener explains this beautifully in the introduction of his book Gift Giver: The Holy Spirit For Today:
The early Christians were dependent on God's Spirit from start to finish, and
we must be too. Each revival in history has been the result of a fresh outpouring
of God's Spirit, usually accompanied by experiences or commitments that
threatened the comfortable status quo of religious institutions of the day. Yet
the strength of the flesh, or proud human intellect that seeks to control God's
power by reducing it to terms we can explain, can pretend to be sufficient for
God's work only when the kingdom of Satan appears to be dormant. NOW IS
NOT SUCH A TIME.
Those of us involved in various forms of frontline evangelism recognize that our
world has little time to spare; we stand in desperate need of revival. Will we dare
to submit our lives to the giver of the Spirit, regardless of what price the Spirit may
call us to pay to reach our contemporaries for Christ? On the answer to that question
hangs the fate of our generation. -- Dr. Craig Keener, Gift Giver: The Holy Spirit
for Today, pg. 16
#3 The Darkness will grow darker and the light of God’s glory will grow brighter.
The words of the prophet Isaiah come alive in our current context. It is as if he were looking forward to today. The world seems to be growing darker, but God is in the business of rescuing people from darkness -- see Moses leading Israel out of Egypt. God has been bringing these words to our attention repeatedly this year.
"They will fear the name of the Lord in the west and his glory in the east; for he will come like a rushing stream driven by the wind of the Lord." Isaiah 59:19
"Arise, shine, for your light has come, and the glory of the Lord shines over you. For look, darkness will cover the earth, and total darkness the peoples; but the
Lord will shine over you, and his glory will appear over you." Isaiah 60:1-2
We sense God is saying to us that we must prepare for the battle to become more intense. The darkness will grow darker.
But, in the midst of this great darkness that is covering the Earth, we will see a great move of God -- call it Revival or Awakening -- it will be God coming like a rushing stream.
We will see His glory upon His people, and all who will turn to Him, like we haven’t in decades. But, know this… it will come in the midst of great darkness, difficulty, trouble and crisis (ref. Isaiah 60:2 & John 16:33). The battle between the kingdoms of this world and the Kingdom of our God will intensify in the days ahead.
There will be such a sharp divide between dark and light, good and evil. It will be increasingly difficult to live life with a foot in both worlds. A person’s life will either demonstrate their love for this world or their love for God and His kingdom.
Those of us who choose to live for the Kingdom of God will face opposition, maybe even discrimination and persecution. However, we will carry the glory of God and be the rescuers of people from the darkness that is settling over this world, bringing them into new life… God’s life.
#4 Prayer is key in this time.
We must be a people of prayer in the days ahead. And prayer must be understood as more than presenting requests to God… it must also be the practice of seeking God’s heart and conforming to His desires.
I believe we are in danger of missing what God is doing in this day if we do not make a serious commitment to personal and corporate prayer.
In fact, we believe that God's desire is to raise up Houses of Prayer in every village in Spring and The Woodlands. We are not sure how this happens at this point, but we will continue to press into God’s heart on this matter, until He makes His way clear to us.
During a recent prayer meeting, Laura and I both, at the same time, saw a picture (call it a Vision if you will) of a house on a street with fire hovering above it and light shining out of it towards all the other houses on the street. I heard the Lord say to me, “don’t stop until my glory covers every street in The Woodlands.”
Those of you who know me, know that I have little patience with some of the craziness that takes place in charismatic life. So at the risk of sounding crazy… I want to share with you a dream I had as we were preparing to plant Christ The King Vineyard Church.
In this dream, the first scene was in a church sanctuary (worship hall). There were about 10 or 12 of us sitting in a circle. The room was large, but we were in a small circle in the center engaged in prayer. The room was largely dark, but there was light over our circle of prayer. The time of prayer was powerful… left me in tears.
Then the scene changed to a much larger meeting in the same church sanctuary. This time the lights were all on and every seat was filled. There were people standing around the edges and people standing outside in the lobby looking in. The choir loft was filled with pastors. There was an electricity in the room and sense of anticipation. Everyone was very anxious to start the meeting. It was a prayer meeting. People were coming to me asking, “when can I pray… I want to pray… can I be next?” I was scrambling around with a few others trying to get things in order so the meeting could start.
I usually don’t remember my dreams. I can count on one hand the amount of dreams that I feel like God has given me in my life – that were a message from Him. This was one of them.
I know this dream has nothing to do with the success of our church meetings or the eventual size of our church. In fact, I was keenly aware that many churches and their pastors were gathered together. It does seem to me that this dream concerns an assignment we have from God as a church... to work with other churches and leaders to facilitate a prayer movement in our area.
That together our cry would be, "Will you not revive us again, Oh Lord, that your glory will fill every village in Spring, The Woodlands, and beyond." (ref. Psalm 85:6-9)
I must confess I am not sure exactly what to do next. Except that we should pray. That is why we have set up Friday nights as a time of prayer at our home. Every Friday night at 7:00PM we will gather to worship and pray, pressing into the heart of God and looking for His direction on the next step. I hope you will join us. I know in my heart that it must start with us… we must first become a House of Prayer.
As Dr. Keener says, now is not a time for “comfortable status quo.” The fate of our generation hangs in the balance.
For His kingdom and His glory…