Tuesday, 4 May 2010

Form eNcounTer weeKeND reflections . . .

The assumption most of us make when told we are going to have a healing weekend with two hours of extended prayer, is that most of the two days will be spent sobbing on the floor, surrounded by highly skilled spiritual warfare warriors (probably with an MA in “Deliverance”), breaking spiritual ties left right and centre . .. only to rise out of the ashes at the end of it, like a shiny new phoenix. Perhaps a bit of a sweeping statement to say that’s what we all assume, but you know what I mean – I thought it was going to be complicated. What is going on within me that is so complicated and beyond me that I need the professionals to spend TWO HOURS sorting it out? This mentality makes inner healing stuff feel so confusing and inaccessible to the average joe! So perhaps more intrigued than anything, I went along with it, hoping to nail what was secretly wrong with me. Surprisingly then, what the weekend really showed me, was the simplicity of repentance and freedom, and the massive amount of joy that comes with it. We lose out when things get over complicated because of the intellectual way we seem to like to engage with things. Not being much of the intellectual sort myself, I love the fact that we’re meant to enter the kingdom like kids, and have FUN, for goodness sake. Anyway, for me, the encounter weekend involved speaking out forgiveness to people, receiving forgiveness myself, as well as receiving a bunch of exciting prophetic words. (I love prophetic words, its great to hear who God says I have the potential to become – so long as I actually do something about them! Not much point in having a collection of dormant prophecies).

So, yeh . . .to“conclude”, it is very easy to have a scheduled in “event” that we assume is going to change our lives forever. And yes, sometimes they do. However, one does not want to become an “event” junkie – it robs us of the mindset that we can actually walk in that level of freedom daily. Thus, the encounter weekend has not made me into a brand new person, more that, I have had deeper revelation of how free I actually am. God has given me all this freedom, yet half the time I forget to actually occupy it. When you know who you are and what you have, and live like its true every day, nothing can stop you.

ReVIvaL. . .

Revival is something I am excited about, and that I most definitely want to see in my life time, if not in the next few years. The question I would ask then, is whether or not revival, as we have seen in the west over the past few years, is a true reflection of kingdom living, or whether in fact, such outpourings have never reached their full potential, due to the churches tendency to “centralize” moves of God, rather than following the decentralized model of revival that Jesus taught, and that we read about in the book of Acts. Since “revival” is not a word we come across in the bible, it is the name we have given to phenomena that is primarily based on human experience – and a pattern that has repeated itself over time. Thus, definitions tend to be along the following lines; that it is a “period of unusual blessing” where “God works deeper than ordinarily in the hearts of men” during a “seas on of refreshing.” Personally, I am not convinced that such outpourings of the spirit were ever meant to be deemed unusual, or around for only a season. My guess would be that revivals that we have seen across the west that have come to an end have done for several reasons: they have not been stewarded properly, and the level of hunger that attracted the power of God in the first place has not been sustained, or, as in recent cases, the move of God became focused on one individual leading “meetings”, rather than the body of Christ as a whole.. None of this has anything to do with God intending his salvation, fire, blessing and signs and wonders to be manifest for a “season”.
The words “revival/awakening” cannot exist if not in the context of their opposites – for something to be “revived” or “awoken”, it has to first be dead or asleep. According to Charles Finney, “revival is the return of the church from backsliding”. The implication is that, if the church is not moving forward and expanding, it is moving backwards. There is no middle ground. This being the case, if revival is deemed “unusual”, we have a problem, since, from what I can gather, the church is meant to be in a constant state of “revival”.

Perhaps then, the whole paradigm in which the concept “revival” exists is throwing us off course, leading to complacency and limitations, rather than cultivating a constant hunger for his presence and a desire and expectation to see his kingdom come every day. There is something wrong with the mindset that says; “when revival happens, THAT’S when i’ll see heaps of people saved” , or “when revival happens, that’s when ill see all the miracles”. That’s really not what Jesus ever said, or implied. Such a mindset limits our ability to be a constant vessel for God, because we’re not expecting him to move until “revival time!!”

In a lot of ways, that’s what it comes down to: expectancy.

When I go to a healing conference, I expect to see healing, I expect to encounter God on a totally new level, and I expect to leave with a bunch of cool testimonies and a new experience of God’s power, and most of the time, this is what happens. Expectation fuels hunger, and when we are hungry, we stand in agreement with the kingdom, this alignment creates a channel for heaven to become manifest on earth. I don’t see the same level of power on a day to day basis as I do in those conferences, not because God cant be bothered, or because he is in a different mood, but because I’m not expectant. I’m not hungry. Somewhere down the line we’ve got confused. Its not that we don’t pray for healing when we’re not at a conference, its perhaps more that our faith levels are far lower.

This got me thinking about revival and evangelism, and how we often associate God’s power with “events”, miracles at “events”, salvation at “events”. This has happened lots, and that’s great, however, it creates a model for centralized revival, revolving around one person leading a meeting, and whilst some have lasted longer than others, most of them have drawn to a close. Yes, Gods power does move in ebbs and flows, even so, when kingdom outpouring stops short at a meeting, it is not fulfilling it’s purpose. Did Jesus model this? Did Jesus tell us to expect things to work this way? I don’t think he did.

For a start, Jesus brought revival to every situation he encountered, it was not confined to a season. He modelled a life that sustained an awareness of God’s presence, a communion with him that it just leaked out wherever he went. Secondy, he gave us a framework for how encounters with him should lead us to the lost: (luke 10: prayer, people, preach, power, person of peace, plant, persecution, which inevitably leads us back to prayer)

Acts then clearly demonstrates this pattern, a pattern that suggests that an outpouring of the spirit in such a way always seems to be the response to hunger in the people. The day of Pentacost came after the disciples had been in the upper room praying for ten days. Significant outpourings across the world are usually God’s response to hungry people, rather than sporadic. However, imagine if the disciples had then thought “wow, the holy spirit is amazing! Let’s gather everyone we can possibly fit into this room so we can carry on! This is where the presence of God is!” No. They do what Jesus told them, and totally drunk in the spirit, they spread the good news like wildfire with boldness. Thousands come to faith and the good news spreads well beyond Jerusalem.

I guess what ive been asking myself, in relation to all this stuff, is when im praying for revival, what is it im actually asking God for? I guess it needs to start with a revelation of him, so that I can bring revival to every situation I encounter.