BIRTHMARKS OF A MOVE OF GOD
As soon as I walked into the building I could sense the presence of God.
We were visiting one of our spiritual sons who has planted a work in the southeast part of our country. We were only passing through. It was just Carolyn, me, and him. The atmosphere in the small building where he was holding services was charged with the presence and power of God. I knew him to be a man of prayer so that did not surprise me.
Our visit encouraged him and birthed some things in him, but it also left its mark on my wife and I. I have not been able to shake it. In a day when many churches are toning down on the move of the Spirit, structuring their services in such a way where it leaves no time and space for the Holy Spirit to work, and following the latest Madison Avenue tactics and cultural church trends, it was refreshing to hear the testimony of a brother who is moving in the opposite direction.
There are always certain birthmarks of a real move of God in a church or a city. Here are the ones we witnessed in the testimony of this unnamed brother and the work he is doing.
1. He is not following the money. God has led him to be high intensity on the power and glory of God and low profile on money emphasis. Of course, we are not opposed to receiving offerings, but in his particular case he is not receiving conventional 10-15 minute offerings that are attached to a tithing/offering message. Instead he leaves a basket in a corner where people can give if they choose to.
I used to think this method was a form of shame, that most people wouldn’t give, and it would cheat the people out of a blessing. But because of the day’s extreme emphasis on finances and the diminishing level of trust in Christian leadership, this brother has chosen to allow people to give out of the move of God that is touching them instead of a forced agenda. It is working for him.
Money doesn’t control him. He stays detached from the system of unbelief. Some men recently tried to manipulate him with a large tithe and he sent them on their way, refusing to let them use money as a form of manipulation to control him. How refreshing that is in today’s church culture!
2. He is following the glory. This work is marked by a passion for the glory of God. Many miracles, signs, and wonders are taking place. Instead of the focus being on the wealthy and those who can give, it is on the poor and those who cannot give. The example of this is seen in at least two places in Scripture: the parable of the great supper (Lk. 14:16-24) and the cleansing of the temple (Mt. 21:12-14). Instead of the traditional ministry philosophy where the members of the church serve the pastor and his vision, the pastor and the vision serve the people and empower them to fulfill their calling and destiny. There are rules, boundaries, and protocol but love is the law that prevails.
In January the church did an outreach in the open air for the drug addicts, the prostitutes, the sick and diseased, and the outcasts of society. Miracles were reported and many were saved, healed, and delivered.
They began taking the gospel to the projects on Sunday afternoon after their church service. They would pray and then go out. The power of God started moving in these projects. One day about a dozen gang members and hoodlums came out and this brother talked to them about the Lord. They wanted nothing to do with church or God. In the south, religion, man’s traditions, and hypocrisy have choked the life of God from its churches and embittered many.
This brother challenged them and asked them if God were to come down and touch them, would they serve Him? They answered yes. Then he prayed a short prayer and the fire of God came down on the street and they were all slain in the Spirit. Glory to God!
Every time this unnamed brother goes to the projects some of these men now go with him. Word of mouth advertising is spreading quickly and people keep coming and the Lord keeps adding to the church.
One millionaire businessman who owns the plaza (strip mall) where their facility is located has begun to tithe to the church because since they’ve been there the businesses in this plaza have been revitalized. At one time they were all close to foreclosure. Empty buildings are now being filled. This millionaire is not even a church-goer and is giving to this church and work because God has touched his business.
3. Finally, the work is built on true worship and prayer. There is a love affair going on with the Lord here, and it begins at the leadership level. People are learning through precept and example to seek the face of God more than His hand. The birthing of the glory of God and the movement of Divine activity have come out of that place of true worship and prayer.
Here is something every pastor needs to know in this hour. The glory of God will take care of a thousand concerns that you have. When you satisfy the heart of God and let Him build His house of prayer He perfects everything that concerns you. His glory touches other areas of your life and ministry so you will never have to address them. Take care of His business and He will take care of yours.
I have known for years that there is a move of the Spirit that modern day Charismatics know nothing about, and we’ve got to get it back. He wants to build houses of prayer that are filled with His glory. This alone will satisfy God’s heart and the heart of every man.
The works of God that will stand the test of His holy fire are gold, silver, and precious stones. Conversely, works of wood, hay, and stubble will be burned up.
My fervent admonition to you today is to go for the gold. Go for the glory. For unless the Lord builds the house they labor in vain that build it (Ps 127:1).
Oh ministers of the Lord and you who bear His vessels, the Holy Spirit has been sent to help you. Pray, listen, and follow Him. This is the season He wants to make everything new, fresh, and alive again.
BRING BACK THE OLD ANOINTINGS: HOW LONG WILL WE BE SATISFIED WITH HAPPY SHALLOW REVIVALS?
Many of our so called modern revivals are happy but shallow. This is of deep concern to me for I am not seeing the old anointings any more. My heart grieves especially for the young people who have never witnessed the real power of God.
Honestly, some things I see today are appalling. That old teaching that we are free from the Law has raised its ugly head again. Certainly, we are free from the Law written on stone, but we are not free from the Law that is written in our hearts.
In a time when repentance is needed the most we have teachings sweeping the land that tell Christians they don’t need to repent. In a day when there is a deplorable lack of holiness in the Church we are being told that we are already holy enough through Christ’s sacrifice (2 Cor. 7:1). In an hour when we sadly lack God’s power we are oversaturated with Church conferences that focus on numbers. Whatever it takes to grow numbers seems to be the cry of every powerless pastor.
Call me old school if you want to, but I see far too much irreverence, levity, frivolous behavior, a deplorable lack of holiness and sanctification, and a far too easy backsliding in the modern Church, which frankly is coming from hearing another gospel.
For the Pentecostal and Charismatic, our baptisms of the Holy Ghost are also too shallow. And we don’t even speak in tongues any more, or we designate it to the back room. Pentecostals seem to be growing in number but where is the power?
Things have got to change and it starts with ministers. If enough of us do not change, people will go underground and find another way. We will have more nones and dones, unchurched and de-churched among the multitudes.
Since this magazine is a Pentecostal/Charismatic publication let’s talk about our movement.
Is it still a movement or have we been grounded? Are we really in revival or in a rut? Is it a mighty flowing river that brings refreshing or has it become a swamp full of stagnancy and stench?
There was a time when Pentecostal meant something. In old fashioned Pentecostal meetings you weren’t supposed to know what was going to happen next. When led by seasoned mature men of spiritual stature there was order but there was also power and life. Today, it’s 5 songs, a prayer, an offering, announcements, and a sermon – dismiss, rinse, repeat. Such routine and predictability!
Thus the reason many are leaving our local churches. Oh, they’re not leaving God; they’re only leaving the church to find God. Ouch! I know it hurts to hear that.
At one time Pentecostal meetings were nothing less than the gate of heaven. It was a meeting with God.
Repentance is our deepest need. Without repentance men’s hearts are not touched, broken, melted, or moved. The result is superficiality. There are many who still receive the word with joy, but they lack depth or have no root. And so they are not fit for the day of tribulation or persecution (Mat. 13:5, 20-21). Through soft and non-repentance preaching many pastors are grooming their people to miss the Lord’s coming and be martyrs in the great day of tribulation. Ouch! I know that hurts, too.
You can easily tell where there has been true repentance. The one great characteristic is a love for the Word. “Great peace have those who love Your Law, and nothing causes them to stumble” (Ps. 119:165). If you’re still easily offended you have never repented as you should.
“Then He began to rebuke the cities in which most of His mighty works had been done, because they did not repent” (Mat. 11:20).
And let’s get one thing straight. We desperately need miracles and the power of God, but that alone does not produce repentance. Neither is it in what we say or don’t say. We can say the sweetest things or the most terrible things with still no guarantee of repentance. Some will still remain indifferent and never be affected. It is the Spirit that we need to produce repentance in men’s hearts.
The call is to pray and to preach with the Spirit. The call is to let the Spirit move!
Jesus wept over the cities who had not repented because He knew of the judgment that was coming. When is the last time you heard a message on judgment. Most preachers today have never been to the judgment Seat. They will never preach it until they’ve trembled before it themselves. Today religion is happier to speak of universal salvation and a pie in the sky for each of us regardless of the road they traveled to get there.
Without the Holy Spirit you will make men hard. That was my most common mistake as a young preacher. Crusty, dry soil needs a fresh shower of rain to be broken up. The great need is to see the holy, spotless King in His glory and then you will understand the universality and gravity of sin and the deep need of repentance.
A fresh outpouring of the Holy Spirit will produce not only repentance but it will keep us humble, broken, and softened before Him whom all things are open and naked (Heb. 4:13).
The true anointing of the Spirit is what is clearly missing from preachers and our gatherings today. Many are gifted and can dazzle audiences with their charisma and knowledge but they lack the dew of heaven.
Many are like Samson who did not know that the Spirit of the Lord had departed from him (Jud. 16:20). And just as Samson, we have lost our way.
May God have mercy on us and grant us repentance and lead us back to the gate of heaven.