Understanding Pentecostalism: Pentecostal Questions and Aswers Essay

index This year for my Protestant Spiritual Traditions class at Tyndale Seminary I was required to write a paper on Pentecostalism.  The assignment was simple: to write three question you would ask a Pentecostal and then answer them as if you were that Pentecostal. No further research (outside of what was discussed in class and the assigned textbooks were to be used). As a Charismatic Anabaptist, this assignment was intriguing to me and when I shared what I was writing on, several individuals seemed interested in reading further.  So, I’ve included this essay here.  This essay also begins a series of a few more scholarly and longer pieces to this blog.  These essays will appear once a week throughout the month of May as an experiment to see if the readers enjoy this type of writing or not.  Please feel free to get back to me with your comments regarding how you think this is going.

Introduction

Many individuals believe speaking in tongues, prophesy, and other manifestations of the Spirit to be the very essence of the Pentecostal Movement. However, the scope of Pentecostal spirituality encompasses considerably more than the characteristics listed above. In Protestant Spiritual Traditions class, Dr. Van Johnson related that Pentecostalism is a fairly young movement, having only been formed around one hundred years ago (Johnson 27 March 2015). Nevertheless, in this short time period, Pentecostalism has established itself as being a diverse and worldwide movement which embodies and incorporates such aspects as spiritual gifts, an individual awareness of the Holy Spirit’s movement in a believer’s life, and a passion for evangelism and mission (Johnson). Yet, despite the fact that many Christians from other faith traditions do not fully understand Pentecostalism, it remains one of the largest Christian traditions in the world. Today, over a quarter of all Christians worldwide identify as Pentecostal or Charismatic, the majority being children and youth, coming from urban centers and living in geographically poor areas (Johnson). Due to the large influence Pentecostalism has on evangelical Christianity, this paper will seek to address the specific characteristics of Pentecostalism in a way that those unfamiliar with the Pentecostal movement can understand.

nonsense-memes-speaking-tonguesQuestion 1: Many Pentecostals believe in a post-conversion experience where one is filled with the Holy Spirit. This is often referred to as “baptism in the Holy Spirit” and is accompanied by visible manifestations – primarily speaking in tongues. What does this baptism entail and why do Pentecostals believe it is important?

Speaking in tongues, commonly referred to as glossolalia, is often considered to be the initial evidence of a believer being baptized in the Holy Spirit and subsequently filled with His power. In the same way that one is physically baptized in water to testify to their love for Christ, Spirit Baptism refers to a total immersion in the Holy Spirit and a desire to witness for Him. According to Pentecostals, this concept of speaking in tongues as evidence of being baptized in the Spirit first originated in the book of Acts, where on the day of Pentecost, many believers began evangelizing in foreign languages they had never spoken before. When the crowd around the believers heard them speaking in their own languages, many were amazed and drawn to the Gospel (Acts 2).

In recounting this miraculous story, the early Pentecostals initially associated this supernatural experience with xenolalia or the speaking of a foreign language unknown to the speaker but recognized as an actual earthly language. Well-known father of the Pentecostal movement, Charles Parham believed that God would give Christians the ability to speak foreign languages in order to expedite missionary activities and reach the nations for Christ (Johnson). Although Parham maintained this notion, Pentecostals later came to associate the baptism in the Holy Spirit primarily with glossolalia or the speaking of a “heavenly language” unknown to humankind (Johnson). In both instances, tongues were and are considered to be an essential witness to the Holy Spirit’s power in an individual’s life. Whether for personal edification, missionary activity, or both, tongues empower an individual to be bold in Christ and attain a place of intimacy with Him, where their desire for holiness grows.

For example, Adam Stewart writes about Ellen Hebden, a monumental figure within the Canadian history of Pentecostalism, recounting her experience with tongues in this way: “the Holy Spirit manifested His power in such a wonderful manner that everyone present saw that it was God” (qtd. in Steward 22). According to Johnson, Pentecostalism was heavily influenced by the Holiness Movement of the 1800s in which individuals focused on a New Testament restoration of the present day church (Johnson). This resulted in many of these individuals shunning worldly pleasures, including alcohol, tobacco, and dancing, in an attempt to better focus on Christ.

Thus, for many Pentecostals, tongues were (and are) a sign of combining holiness with the power of the Holy Spirit. In this pursuit of holiness, the early Pentecostals sought to live godly lives – not because they disdained worldly joys, but rather, because they had experienced such a profound joy in Christ that they did not want anything in the material realm to distract from it (Johnson). This new understanding of spiritual holiness prompted many Pentecostals to witness and evangelize; spurred on a desire to testify to the greatness of God; and ultimately established a framework for the expectation of even greater spiritual manifestations to take place.

Healing_'laying_on_of_hands'_ceremony_in_the_Pentecostal_Church_of_God._Lejunior,_Harlan_County,_Kentucky._-_NARA_-_541337Question 2: Many Pentecostals have witnessed and experienced miracles, healings, and prophetic utterances, yet many other evangelical Christians believe these events ceased after the book of Acts. Are these supernatural experiences truly still meant for today? How can one know whether or not these claims are truly legitimate?

According to Johnson, the Pentecostal movement teaches that the supernatural activities recorded in the New Testament are still happening today (Johnson). Cecil Robeck further explains how this concept of restoring the former supernatural activities found its way into what later would be termed “the latter rain movement” (Robeck 19). This theory views the book of Acts as the “early rain” creating the conditions for something of an even greater magnitude to take place in order to usher in the Second Coming of Christ (Robeck 19). Finding its validation in the prophecy of Joel 2:28 in which the Israelites are told that “your sons and daughters will prophesy, your old men will dream dreams, your young men will see visions” Pentecostals thus were and are filled with a renewed expectation of the coming of the Kingdom of God (NASB).

Today, Pentecostals hold a largely experiential faith in which they frequently have personal encounters with Christ, resulting in deeper intimacy with God. Consequently, this propels them to move forward in evangelism (Johnson, “Pentecostal Wheel,” 2). Nevertheless, healings and miracles are not solely rooted in the Pentecostal openness to wonder and surprise; however, they further serve as an effective means which God uses to save the souls of many unbelievers.

According to Robeck, miracles are an increasingly important evangelistic tool tangibly proving the Holy Spirit’s empowerment for mission within an age and culture that finds fulfillment in critical thought, scientific reasoning, and logical arguments (Robeck 42). Michael McClymond further goes on to say that “healing stimulates church growth” (McClymond 40). According to McClymond this is especially the case in several Chinese churches where close to 90% of new converts “attribute their conversion to a healing experience” (McClymond 40).

Pentecostals view healings and miracles as an opportunity to evangelize and witness as well as to testify to Christ’s immutable character in which God is the same “yesterday, today, and forever” (Hebrews 13:8). Pentecostals therefore imply that since God historically accomplished all of these miraculous acts and since He has not changed, that He therefore continues to work in the lives of believers in incredible ways in order to continue to build His Kingdom.

goQuestion 3: Pentecostalism has often claimed the motto of “Come, Lord Jesus.” How does Pentecostal theology fulfill the Great Commission? Do Pentecostals evangelize because of Christ’s imminent return or simply in order to serve the marginalized?

A major distinguishing feature of Pentecostal theology is its ability to interact with the poor and marginalized in society. This is evidenced by the fact that Pentecostalism is found within more Third World countries than in the West and can be identified as a movement of the poor, with close to 90% living below the poverty line worldwide (Johnson 27 March 2015). Furthermore, James Smith writes that Pentecostal theology is placed within “an overarching narrative that has an eschatological orientation towards the coming Kingdom” (Smith 45). Due to its experiential eschatology of individuals feeling the tangible closeness of Christ, this movement fosters a theology that the Kingdom of God is both imminent and already existent (Johnson, “Pentecostal Wheel,” 2). Smith further acknowledges that Pentecostalism is a belief system which challenges the complacency of the elite, empowers believers, and seeks to transform society (Smith 46).

With its emphasis on the soon return of Christ, Pentecostalism emphasizes that all believers are invited to participate in the Great Commission because many labourers are needed for the great harvest of souls (Johnson, “Pentecostal Wheel,” 9). Those who practice Pentecostal theology seek to live with the understanding that Christ is coming soon, and therefore all believers have the responsibility to evangelize to as many souls as possible. This results in a sense of urgency that Christians must always be prepared to testify, witness, and provide material resources for those in need. In this way, Pentecostalism fully recognizes the dichotomy of both the “now” and the “not yet” as they seek to build the Kingdom of God here on this earth while awaiting Christ’s final triumphant return.

Conclusion                                                                                                                                         

Pentecostalism is a faith tradition with a deep history of openness to the movement of the Spirit. It has often had a very strong emphasis on evangelism, mission, and the power of Christ resulting in the salvation of many. Pentecostalism acknowledges the power of the Holy Spirit, and encourages intimate encounters with Christ by fostering a patient expectation for His return. By embracing such traits, Pentecostals build the Kingdom of God on this earth, all the while encouraging others to do likewise. At the same time, they continually press forward to witness the Holy Spirit produce an even greater outpouring of His love on this world than what has previously been evidenced.

Works Cited

Johnson, Van. “Pentecostal Spiritual Traditions.” Tyndale Seminary. 27 March, 2015. Lecture.

Johnson, Van. “The Pentecostal Wheel: Defining Characteristics of Early Pentecostal   Movement.” Handout. Tyndale Seminary. Toronto, ON. N.D. Print.

McClymond, Michael. “Charismatic Renewal and Neopentecostalism: From North American    Origins to Global Permutations.” The Cambridge Companion to Pentecostalism. Eds.   Robeck and Yong. New York: Cambridge University Press, 2014. 31-51. Print.

New American Standard Bible. La Habra, Calif: Foundation Press Publications, publisher for the Lockman Foundation, 1971. Print.

Robeck, Cecil. “The Origins of Modern Pentecostalism: Some Historiographical Issues.” The  Cambridge Companion to Pentecostalism. Eds. Robeck and Yong. New York: Cambridge University Press, 2014. 13-30. Print.

Stewart, Adam. “A Canadian Azusa? The Implications of the Hebden Mission for Pentecostal Historiography.” Winds From the North: Canadian Contributions to the Pentecostal  Movement. Eds. Wilkinson and Althouse. Boston: Brill, 2010. 17-37. Print.

Smith, James. “God’s Surprise: Elements of a Pentecostal Worldview.” Thinking in Tongues.       Ed. Smith. Grand Rapids: Eerdman’s Publishing Co., 2010. 31-47. Print.

A Mennonite Seminarian Turned Pentecostal Intern Re-Examines an Anabaptist Approach Towards Signs and Wonders

lamen “Holy Spirit come with power, breathe into our aching night. We expect You this glad hour, waiting for Your strength and light. We are fearful, we are ailing. We are weak and selfish, too. Break upon Your congregation, give us vigour life anew.” (1)

“If you believe and I believe and we together pray, the Holy Spirit must come down and set God’s people free. And set God’s people free. And set God’s people free. The Holy Spirit must come down and set God’s people free.” (2)

“Praise the One who breaks the darkness with a liberating light. Praise the One who frees the prisoners, turning blindness into sight. Praise the One who preached the Gospel, healing every dread disease, calming and feeding thousands with the very bread of peace.” (3)

The words to these well-loved Mennonite hymns echoed across the room as we all stood to sing of the Holy Spirit who heals, restores, forgives, and nourishes us. As a congregation we beseech the Holy Spirit to come into our lives empowering us for acts of service and witness to the wider church, to help us rebuild and restore our common humanity. We have no problem believing the Holy Spirit is more than capable to do miracles, but we have a hard time believing that He will do miracles for us. Today. In the 21st century.

As an Anabaptist thinker I grew up being skeptical of such spiritual activity myself. I doubted that God would choose to send angels and other prophetic messengers, and the thought of speaking in tongues seemed prosperous, forget about the idea of raising someone from the dead. I thought that the gifts of healings, casting out demons, and receiving words of wisdom from someone we barely knew were all things of the past. Not at all important or relevant to our society today. However, over time, I have come to believe otherwise.

When I was in my late teens and early twenties, I began attending Tyndale University College and Seminary, a trans-denominational school in Toronto, Ontario. While there my eyes and heart were opened to a variety of spiritual experiences, and over the years I have been incredibly blessed by God to be able to speak in tongues on a variety of occasions, to give and receive prophetic words, and even once to be able to interpret the tongue of another person. Throughout the last five years, I have also received challenging dreams and visions, have experience both demonic and angelic visitations, and on at least one occasion have experienced supernatural protection despite being in geographic places of profound spiritual darkness and distress.

Now, as someone who once was skeptical of all of these activities myself, I know how easy it is for individuals to just write-off these experiences as fanciful imagination or attribute them to lack of sleep, but now that I have experienced these other-worldly encounters myself I have no reason to believe that they no longer take place. In fact, as I read the Scriptures and discuss theology with seminarians of a more charismatic persuasion, I am drawn to believe that God did indeed grant these spiritual gifts to His people and that He has not stopped doing so. For example, both the Old and New Testaments are replete with examples of Christ’s followers, both before and after His departure, being able to open up the eyes of the blind, to heal dreadful diseases, and even to raise sick individuals from the dead. This is further cemented by Jesus’s rebuke on more than one occasion to His disciples for not having the faith to accomplish miraculous feats. Most importantly, after Jesus’s ascension into Heaven, He promised the Holy Spirit to His children as an advocate and a comforter, although there are numerous statements (both implicit and explicit) before that of the Holy Spirit being a vital part of the Trinity.(4)

This preliminary understanding of my own experience with spiritual gifts, thus serves as a backdrop as I approach Micael Grenholm’s chapter in the new MennoNerds Anthology “A Living Alternative” entitled “Charismatic Anabaptism: Combing Signs and Wonders With Peace and Justice” (if you own the book you can find his chapter on page 247). In his chapter, Grenholm argues that spiritual signs and wonders still occur and that they can indeed be a method of producing peace and justice in our world. At first glance this may seem quite peculiar. Many individuals may wonder how and why signs and wonders are important to the Christian community of faith and how it even applies to peace-making. After all, most Pentecostals are not necessarily pacifists and most pacifists are not necessarily Pentecostal. Nevertheless, as Grenholm traces the historical movements of the Charismatic church, it becomes quite evident that Pentecostalism began as a largely peace-oriented church and through believing in the power of the Holy Spirit has been able to accomplish wonderful and rich evangelism which helps dis-empowered individuals at the same time.

When I first received my copy of “A Living Alternative” I was immediately drawn to reading my own chapter (hey, there’s something special about having your work in print!), but as soon as I finished that, my next stop was to read Grenholm’s chapter. By way of explanation, Grenholm publishes frequently on topics of charismatic gifts and the Holy Spirit and has a blog and YouTube channel called “Holy Spirit Activism” which you can check out here: https://holyspiritactivism.wordpress.com/category/holy-spirit-activism/. A self-proclaimed Anabaptist thinker, Grenholm is one of the few scholars I have met who is able to meld both charismatic and Anabaptist ideals together without keeping them distinct. That’s because throughout my life when I started exhibiting more charismatic experiences many (though certainly not all) Mennonites disagreed with me that such things were possible and many did not want to continue the dialogue at all. Contrarily, on several occasions Grenholm and I have read each other’s literary works, have agreed or disagreed on certain points of theology, and ultimately have furthered dialogue within our individual circles because of it.

Reading through Grenholm’s chapter in “A Living Alternative” recently once again produced points of contention and fostered awareness of what the Holy Spirit is indeed capable of. It is hard to do a chapter full of such good scholarship justice in only one blog post; however, I’d like to highlight just a bit of what Grenholm shared in his chapter that I really resonated with.

Firstly, as I already alluded to previously, Grenholm traces the charismatic renewal through the centuries in the first few pages of his chapter. Here he references some of the best known occurrences of Spirit-filled worship including the Azuza Street Revival and the Toronto Blessing. The Toronto Blessing, now manifested in the Airport Christian Fellowship (also known as: Catch the Fire) is a movement that is still going strong in Toronto, Ontario. I have had a few opportunities to attend this church myself, and while I largely do not agree with the theology they espouse or the way they proclaim it, and while I believe that pastors should have more education than what their pastors currently possess, I have, like many others, been quite impressed by the sensationalism of the whole experience. It is hard for me to sort out what is truthful or not because I have never been to any of their healings, but without limiting the Holy Spirit, I do believe that certain occurrences are quite possible. My only caution with attending churches like this is to beware of emotionalism (meaning that belief and theology in healings and miracles must be both emotional and intellectual) and to ensure the testing of all such activities. The Apostle Paul himself warned to “test all things”.(5)

Secondly, I resonate with some of Grenholm’s words of caution on the testing of so-called spiritual experiences. I, personally, have been asked on more than one occasion if I believe that prophetic utterances still exist today. My answer: sure they do! HOWEVER, there are two criteria that I always keep in mind when someone tells me they have a word of the Lord for me personally or for the church. First, prophecy cannot contradict the Scripture (6). As the Bible tells us, no one can say “Jesus is Lord” and at the same time say “Jesus be cursed.” (7) A house divided against itself cannot stand (8). Therefore, everything that is claimed to be prophetic must be in accordance with what Jesus said and with the message of peace and justice that He proclaimed to the world. Secondly, prophecy must come true.  The Bible tells us that we will know a prophet based on whether the words take place as he or she espoused or not (9). In certain cases this can be quite difficult to ascertain based on the time frame they give us, but we should always be cautious of accepting all prophecy before it can be faithfully proven to us. We need to be alert and vigilant because many false prophets exist who only provide words of comfort which “tickle people’s ears” but in essence lead them astray. (10)

Finally, I found the personal encounters of the Holy Spirit that Grenholm uses in his chapter to be both encouraging and inspiring. Although it is easy to dismiss these experiences as legitimately happening, they remind us that the Holy Spirit primarily works in personal ways and that He is not confined or limited to our understanding of who He is or what He can do.

Like Grenholm, I truly believe that when we allow the Holy Spirit access into our lives, He truly will do great things through us. I am not of the persuasion that this looks the same for everyone, as I do not believe that every individual has the ability to speak in tongues, to be prophetic, or to do healings (in fact, Paul himself said that tongues was the least important of the gift (11). Nevertheless, I do believe that every believer does possess gifts which they can use to benefit and further God’s Kingdom here on earth in an attempt to bring peace and justice.

A very short anecdote about this would be from my own experience. As someone who grew up in the church and who has thankfully never experienced much hardship, it is easy for me to believe that my testimony is boring, uninspiring, or unable to bring people to Christ. After all, how can street youth, battered women, or deviant adolescents truly connect to a “good little church girl” who did everything she was supposed to do? Yet, a few months ago I started fervently praying allowing the Holy Spirit full permission to use any parts of my personal story that would benefit the church and bring glory to God. Although it did not happen right away, the Holy Spirit took me up on the offer. Soon I was asked to preach and in particular to share parts of my testimony, I was asked to write, and individuals were placed in my path with whom I could discuss and encourage. This may not be as profound as raising someone from the dead, but it did bring my attention to the fact that the Holy Spirit is a powerful force and one we cannot ignore because He is persistent.

I want to thank Grenholm for reminding all of us that the Holy Spirit is alive and active and that He woos each one of us closer to the heart of God. I also want to thank Grenholm for his courage in discussing a topic not always well thought out in the western Anabaptist church and for his honesty and integrity in exploring these concepts further. I hope that if you have the opportunity you will read his chapter in “A Living Alternative” for yourselves. I look forward to further dialogue on this topic with you :).

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1) “Holy Spirit Come With Power” (Text: Anne Neufeld Rupp, 1970; Music; attributed to B.F. White; copyright 1970)

2) “If You Believe and I Believe” (Zimbabwe Traditional; copyright 1991 WGRG The Iona Community)

3) “Praise the One Who Breaks the Darkness” (Text: Rusty Edwards, Music: American Folk Melody; Copyright 1987)

4) https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=John+14%3A26&version=NIV

5) https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=1+Thessalonians+5%3A20-21&version=NIV

6) https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=2+Peter+1%3A20&version=NIV

7) https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=1+Corinthians+12%3A3&version=NIV

8) https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Mark+3%3A25&version=NIV

9) https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Deuteronomy+18%3A22&version=NIV

10) https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=2+Timothy+4%3A3&version=NIV

11) https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=1+Corinthians+14%3A5&version=NIV

To purchase a copy of A Living Alternative: http://www.amazon.com/Living-Alternative-Anabaptist-Christianity-Post-Christendom/dp/0989830411/ref=asap_B002BMG086_1_9?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1417959721&sr=1-9

Delivering a Prophetic Vision (Mennocostal IHOPKC Onething2013 Series)

Image

“And it shall come to pass afterwards,
    that I will pour out my Spirit on all flesh;
your sons and your daughters shall prophesy,
    your old men shall dream dreams,
    and your young men shall see visions.
29 Even on the male and female servants
    in those days I will pour out my Spirit.” (Joel 2:28-29 – http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Joel%202:28-29&version=ESVUK)

Have you ever met someone who was so in-tune with the Word of God and could hear God’s voice so clearly that they spoke tremendous truths into your life and brought immense encouragement into a situation that you never even addressed with them personally?  If so, it is very likely that you have met someone with the prophetic gift!

Now before you start getting carried away and thinking that all of this is just some type of Charismatic hoopla, let me stop you for a minute and explain the gift of prophesy.

Before going to IHOPKC, I personally had a lot of doubts about prophesy.  I didn’t grow up in a church which believed in the prophetic gifts, and I had never received a prophesy myself which made any degree of sense. At least I didn’t think I had.  But that’s because I had the wrong idea of what prophesy was!  Like many people, I believed that prophesy was some type of fortune telling akin to the lady with the crystal ball and tarot cards.  I believed prophets to largely be people who were making things up for the sake of gaining attention.  However, at IHOP I acquired a different understanding of what prophesy is.  Sometimes a prophet might be able to speak a word into your life concerning some future event which is to take place, however, more often than not it is about confirming stirrings which others have already started to feel, encouraging individuals about where they’re at in their walk with God while making them crave more, and boldly declaring the Scriptures through rightly dividing the Word of Truth.[1]  People who exercise the prophetic gifts often have a keen sense of observation, a deep level of empathetic compassion which enables them to literally feel the needs and hurts of others, and an ability to pray through the Spirit in an intercessory way which the average young Christian cannot.  Prophets also must have enormous Spiritual maturity as it is a gift which has great potential to be abused.  It is for this reason that when someone prophesies over you it becomes very important to be on your guard and to use discernment before accepting a Word from the Lord for there are many false prophets in our generation.[2]  It is also important to test all the Spirits to see if the Spirit behind the Word is coming from God or a person’s wrongful desires.[3]  You will know that the Word comes from God if it brings you encouragement or admonition into an area of your life that you have been seeking out God’s will for and if it comes as reinforcement or reassurance to questions already brought before the Lord.  On the other hand, if the Word seems to go contrary to other doctrinal teachings and contradicts Scripture itself, you can be sure that there is some reason to raise a level of concern about the Prophetic Utterance.[4]  Finally, if the Word is truly from God, it should also be consistent.  Therefore, the teaching of Prophesy is to ask at least one or two other prophets to see if they receive the same direction from God concerning your life.[5]  If all the prophets reveal the same message than you can be sure that the prophets truly had the gift of God.  On the other hand, if a prophet mentions something unsettling to you or which does not seem to fit and you approach other prophets who do not have the same Word for you and the Words seem to be entire disconnected, it may be possible that you have come into contact with at least one false prophet!   That’s not to say that God will never disturb you through a Prophetic Word.  Just like the Prophet Nathan, sometimes God calls us to prophesy difficult realities over others on topics we would much rather avoid or which are somewhat unpleasant.[6]  Yet, even when God brings our sin to light, a true Prophet should be able to also deliver some level of hope to the situation.

The most common form of prophesy is likely in the form of Prophetic Utterances of Scripture.  If you listen to the majority of people who truly have the gift of prophesy, you will notice that somewhere between 80-95% of what they are saying is either Scripture word for word or messages which are hidden within the Scriptures.  They aren’t just pulling words out of the air, rather they are saying specific verses which are able to speak truth into your circumstance.  Prophetic Utterances of Scripture are verses which are spoken at the right time and in the right way.  Just like the book of Proverbs tells us, “a word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in settings of silver.”[7]  This is yet another way to test if a person is truly prophetic or not.  If you have doubts, you can think back to what they told you and try to match it up with the actual Word of God.  A true prophet cannot contradict what God Himself says!  Oftentimes, when people prophesy they may be able to give it to you in writing or via a recording.  This makes it even easier to look back at their prophesy to not only see if it came true, but also to see if it is following the Word of God.[8]

Sometimes people have this mistaken understanding that prophesy will reveal something life altering to them.  However, this is often not the case.  For the most part, prophesy simply confirms stirrings that have already been in your heart for quite some time or things that you have been praying about (or have been on your mind) for a while.  These thoughts or images that have been pressing on your soul for the last little while may not be anything grand, they may not be a new calling or a new life direction, but nevertheless, hearing a prophet declare truth over the situation you are struggling with can still bring much encouragement.  Oftentimes, these confirmations can be revealed to a prophet during prayer.  Be wary of a prophet who prophesies without first opening in a word of prayer.  Often the Holy Spirit must be tapped into and invited into our midst so that we can truly discern the Word of God.  Without asking the Spirit to come we are simply taking words at random and hoping that they will somehow apply to the situation.

Also, do not doubt your own personal experiences and what Christ is teaching you.  Often a prophetic word which God has given directly to you concerning your own life can be used as a prophesy to others.  Sometimes I have been in a group of people and been able to sense a certain struggle and other times I have simply shared in general terms what Christ had been laying on my heart or teaching me only to hear murmurs from others that that was also a word to them.  Sometimes people were truly encouraged because it felt to them like God was giving a direct Word to them, even though in reality I was just sharing what Christ was teaching me that day.  That’s how prophesy happens sometimes.  It can happen organically.

The very first times I received a prophetic word, I had so many doubts that I often went in with this type of attitude that the prophet should be able to reveal everything about me even though they had never met me before.  I thought that prophesy was exactly like having a tarot card reading.  However, I soon learned that God does not reveal everything about your situation to someone even if they have the strongest gift of prophesy that you will ever encounter.  Personally, I believe this is one way that God protects us.  Sometimes, like in King David’s case, the exact sin is laid before the Prophet.[9]  However, more often than not, our personal sins simply stay between God and us.  There is no reason for a prophet to know all that is going on in our minds and our hearts.  In many instances God only gives as much knowledge to a prophet as is beneficial to the relationship and will bring healing and wholeness to us.  It is for this reason that I’ve had many people minister to me prophetically in ways that were so specific they could not be generic without the person ever saying specifically what I was struggling with.  They may not have known the circumstance, but God revealed enough to them about it that they could deliver a prophetic word which let me know that it was directly from God and that God had given them a specific insight and filled them with compassion because of it. 

I think part of the reason that IHOP has become such a controversial movement is simply because they DO place so much emphasis on the prophetic gifts of the Holy Spirit.  I do not agree with every teaching that IHOP espouses on prophesy, however, I think that perhaps the fact that it is controversial means that maybe, just maybe, they are doing the work of Christ who taught us that “if they hate you, keep in mind that they hated Me first.”[10]  Jesus used strong language here.  He didn’t say, “if they don’t get along with you”, “if they aren’t buddy-buddy with you,” or “if they don’t really like you.” NO.  He said, if they HATE you.  If they persecute you.[11]  If they say all kinds of evil things against you.[12]  Our culture, even our churches, have become so politically correct.  So cautious about offense.  There’s nothing politically correct about the Gospels!  The fact that IHOP is offensive to some shows that to a degree they have gone back to the Biblical roots of Christ!

Perhaps gifts of the Holy Spirit are as foreign to you as living cross-culturally.  Perhaps you don’t know where you stand.  But maybe that’s the point.  Maybe the point is to begin to question and to begin to search out the Scriptures fervently and ask God and trusted mentors in prayer what it’s all about.  Maybe the point is that it will never fully make sense to us until we reach glorious perfection – but I wouldn’t have it any other way.  If I understood it would take away the glorious mystery.  But I can still trust and wait regardless.

Actually, it’s crazy looking back at my experience with prophesy and prophetic utterances.  Now that I have a deeper and clearer understanding of what prophesy means I realize that I have often experienced it, sometimes even by people who don’t even believe in the prophetic gifts!   I have experienced words of prophesy as interpretations of tongues, as encouragement from peers at Tyndale who spoke into a circumstance without even knowing it fully, and through the occasional dream or vision which God gifted me with and left me with a burning to passionately intercede for someone in need of prayer.  Yet, until recently, I didn’t even know that those instances were examples of prophesy!  It’s so cool when I think of the fact that I, who once was sceptical, have been so filled with the Holy Spirit both during and after the IHOP conference that I have almost completely forgotten what it’s like to not believe in the charismatic gifts.  I almost catch myself asking the former Deborah, “how could you not see it?  It was happening right before your eyes the entire time!”  But that’s the beauty of grace and faith.  That’s the beauty of realizing that I never knew what it was called so I could not claim it as a lovely blessing sent right from the lap of God.

Not everyone has the gift of giving prophesy, but all of us who are Christians have the ability to strengthen our capacity to hear the Voice of the Bridegroom and through being attentive to that Voice to offer encouragement and support to others.[13]  Thanks be to our Lord Jesus Christ.

Here’s some further info about prophesy if you’re interested: http://www.kingwatch.co.nz/Prophetic_Ministry/testing_prophets.htm

 


Expecting Big Things From God (Mennocostal: IHOPKC Onething 2013 Series)

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The New Year just rolled in a week ago and already I am finding it hard to keep the resolutions that I have made.  It’s not like I made any goals which were beyond grasp.  Rather, I thought back to all that I had learned during my week at the International House of Prayer in Kansas City and from the sermons, worship, and personal prayer times gathered three items which I felt God impressing on my heart.  These items were: to do the night watch twice a week, to fast from all forms of social media once a week, and to read the Bible 15 minutes every day.  Yet, even though my heart remains willing, my flesh stays weak.  It is hard for me to have the same vibrancy in worship even though only a week ago I was on fire for Christ.  It is hard to not be surrounded by that same culture of prayer but to continue to be steadfast and secure in the Word.

Yet, as I was worshiping and reading the Scripture last night during my night watch, I realized that we can spend so much time making New Year’s Resolutions, and there is nothing wrong with that!  It honours God when we try to maintain our physical bodies in a way that edifies Him.[1]  He rejoices when we conquer temptations which once controlled us.  He loves it when we dedicate time to figuring out more of who He is.  He even loves it when we are willing to spend more time being better financial stewards.  But in the end of the day, it’s really not so much about our goals, it’s about what God’s dream for our life in 2014 is.  What His dream in our marriages and families is and what His dream in our church is.  It’s less about our will and desires and more about His mission for our lives.  When we offer up our lives and our churches as a prayerful offering to Him we are letting Him know of our desire to have Him build the house/ministry so that we don’t have to keep labouring in vain![2]      

Making 2014 a Year Covered in Prayer: Every great ministry begins and ends with prayer.  Every great ministry is surrounded by a group of people who support it through prayer and who offer encouragement to the intercessory missionaries who surround it.  It is through prayer that we are able to discern God’s will and direction for our personal lives and for our churches.  It is also through prayer that God gives us the grace to accept failure and to know when a certain ministry is to be completed.

How powerful it would be, how much change we would see – even mountains moving if EACH believer, each church, each community of faith, each ministry, gave even a dedicated small fraction of each day to Christ.  Even if they didn’t feel like it.  The prayers of the struggling and the cries of the doubting are often the most precious and meaningful to Christ.[3]  How great would it be even if we only started with one hour, even just 15 minutes a day.  We would see God accomplish great things.  We will see our attitudes change.  We would see the hearts of the nations be moved and stirred.[4]

It can become easy to be discouraged with the concept of prayer if you always think about prayer as being a prolonged time with Christ.  I want to say to you: God loves and needs BOTH the short and the long prayers.  He needs the breath prayers, because as one of my best friends says, “they make prayer as real as breathing”.  He also needs intercessors who will pray the night watch dedicating an entire working shift to the work of the Kingdom.

In the end of the day, it’s definitely more about the quality of time rather than the quantity.  One can sit with Christ for 3 hours accomplishing nothing and having no real and intimate expression of worship.  Likewise, in half an hour, someone can have gloriously divine fellowship with the Creator.  Yet, there is still something to be said of the immense effort and dedication of spending a significant block of time with Christ.  It calls for a challenging of former priorities and a shifting of what is truly important.  If you want to gain maturity in Christ, it will only happen through spending time with Him.  The more we get to know Him, the more we fall in love with Him.  The more our lives begin to reflect more of who He is in and through us.

The Bible tells us that if we have faith we will be able to see even mountains move.[5]  There can be a temptation to take this verse literally.  To literally believe that God will move physical objects.  I don’t doubt the power of Christ and the fact that He could devote His energy to that if He wished to.  Perhaps that truly is the case in some countries.  HOWEVER, in the North American context I have come to interpret this in a different light.  God promises that with faith, we can move mountains – insurmountable barriers and obstacles that others face.  Areas of our lives that we’ve tried to change and addictions we’ve tried to break, but can’t.  Moving those areas of oppression and bondage of habitual sin and unholy desires out of the way by the instruction of the Holy Spirit and through the power of the Love of Christ so that they (and we) can catch just a glimpse of Christ’s incredible mercy towards us!

THE LORD ACCOMPLISHED GREAT THINGS AT IHOP

Corporate Worship

One thing about IHOP that I just could never get out of my mind was the fact that over 30,000 young adults were joined together in one building all worshiping and praising the same Lord.  People often wonder where the young adults in the church are.  They believe that the institutional church is dying out.  Yet, when you see the size of a small city gathered together you are able to become encouraged!  You know that faith still abounds.  You know that God is not finished with this generation yet!

The Prophet Isaiah writes that in the last days, nations will STREAM to the house of the Lord, and yet we resist this.[6]  We are afraid to see it happening.  We hold it out at an arm’s length.  Sometimes when thousands are worshiping we label it as brainwashing.  Even a cult.  Why?  Didn’t Jonathan Edwards, George Whitfield, Charles Wesley and others witness thousands of salvations in a single week?  Did not the Holy Spirit use the ministry of John the Baptist and of the early church Apostles in the book of Acts to fill thousands with the Spirit?  Every day the Lord added to their number![7]  Why should that change?  Why are we afraid to enter that dance?  Why do we doubt the supernatural love of Christ that wants to see all people and all nations come to Him?  The love of the One who said that He is willing that none should perish, but wants everyone to experience an indwelling of His eternal Spirit?[8]

The young adults of this generation grew up in a “me-centered” culture which says that they are number one.  From a young age they are taught to get to the top at any cost.  They are taught that it’s a “dog-eat-dog” world.  Yet, here at IHOP, I saw 100 nations and over 30,000 young adults[9] willing to give up their vacations and school breaks to go to a church conference.  In an individualistic, entitled world, this is pure craziness!  Many people think the church is dying, but there are still thousands of faithful young men and women heading God’s call for real relationship on their life.  30,000+ people worshiping in Kansas City, MO.  The American Midwest.  What if movements of this magnitude sprung up everywhere?  If thousands of young adults and teenagers who love Jesus gathered weekly, even daily, to worship and pray all over the world?  What a movement would start!  How incredible the Holy Spirit’s outpouring would be on our generation!

A Personal God Even in the Midst of a Great Crowd

One thing I just could never get over during my time at IHOP was the sheer magnitude of the effect that this prayer movement has had on this global generation.  It’s super intense to think about how God greatly impacted these 30,000+ people.  We were all together to worship the same God, and yet God, because He is creative said 30,000 different things to us.  He inspired us in 30,000 different ways.  He gave us thousands of different callings.  But it’s all for the same God, for the same purpose, and for the same mission – the mission of bringing His reign to this earth!  30,000 different experiences and 30,000 separate spiritual encounters.  It’s just incredible how the Holy Spirit works.  How’s He can call so many people to the same mission in so many different contexts, cities, and nations, at the same time.  After experiencing such a thing there is no possible way I could continue to doubt Christ’s love for the church and His heart for this world! 

It is incredible beyond comprehension to think that Jesus knows every single person who attended this conference by Name![10]  He loves each one with an everlasting love.  He never gets tired of loving because He IS love.[11]  Not only does He know everyone’s name, but He knows everything about them.   He knows all of their ups and downs.  Their weaknesses and victories.  And He LOVES them even despite what they have gone through in their lives.  Even despite their vilest sins.  He has given each one a unique personality and unique abilities – no one can take their place.  He has placed each one on this earth at this time to impact this generation.[12]  In my lowly humanity I can’t even comprehend knowing 1,000 people or even 500 people to half of the extent that God knows each one of His children.  I can’t even imagine loving 100 people to half of the extent that God loves the one stray sinner who is lost in their world of grief.[13] 

On December 31st, 2013, all 30,000 of us ushered in the New Year and that was truly an incredible experience to be a part of.  So many people celebrate New Year’s in ways that don’t honour Christ.  Their celebrations include partying, drinking to heavy excess leading to drunken mobs, and strippers.  There are people who are flippantly make resolutions with no resolve to keep them, having change as the farthest idea from their mind.  Some entered the New Year feeling incredibly lost and confused.  Even hopeless.  Left out and abandoned.  2013 did not bring many good things to them – only high medical bills, loss of employment, or the death of a close relative or friend.  But here, at IHOP, over 30,000 young adults gathered in one place ushering in the New Year with an outpouring of tongues and cries of the Spirit.  Here 30,000 people sat and stood ministering to the Nations in incredible ways while the world moved on unrelentingly gratifying the flesh.  What a ministry!  Just like a Song of Song says, we are called out to be lilies among brambles![14]  And that’s exactly what we did that day as we sang and proclaimed the love of Christ over the Nation and over the world!

A Personal Understanding of Greatness in the Spirit

If IHOP taught me one thing, it’s that as long as you are open to the Holy Spirit He will heal, restore, and manifest Himself in miraculous ways.  The Holy Spirit manifests Himself to the extent that we allow Him to.  He accomplishes as much through us as we permit Him to.  If we don’t see evidence of the Holy Spirit in our lives, it’s because we don’t expect greatness from Him.  We don’t have because we haven’t asked![15]*  Had we but simply have asked, we would see even greater things than these in our generation![16]  The Word tells us that God knows how to give good gifts to His children.[17]  These good gifts include intense manifestations of the Spirit, spiritual gifts, and blessings beyond comprehension.[18]

As Misty Edwards shared in one of her sermons, “lukewarmness is the greatest danger of our age.  It’s a subtle indifference in our churches even though we still use the language of Christ – it’s the exact opposite of the person of God.  We cannot survive lukewarm.”[19]  Misty encouraged us that with Christ we either go in the whole way or not at all.   Lukewarmness leads us to a certain numbness.  As Misty boldly proclaimed, “you cannot survive lukewarm!”

Although Misty had so many great applications to her message, I found the historical significance to be the most interesting.  As a student of Theology this kind of stuff just grabs my attention so quickly and I eat it up.  As Misty stated in no uncertain terms, this writing was to the church of Laodicea.  They were a church who had a great reputation for being on fire for the love of Christ.  So this message was not being written to the lost, the sinners, the pagans – it was being written to a core group of believers who had just experienced the revival of the early church![20]  Even though people all around them saw them as being zealous for Christ, God saw them as little more than rotten out corpses.  He used harsh language – He said they made Him SICK!  Have you ever thought of that before?  Being indifferent to the love of Christ and His reconciling mission to the world “makes God ill”.[21]  Watching the poor go to bed hungry and not caring makes God come down with flu-like symptoms (which is just a polite way of me saying… it makes God throw-up). [Hey, St. Paul used this kind of language himself often in the Scriptures].

Our nation has confused ideas about what real man-hood is.  They think that being a man is about being powerful, being mighty, and being able to have control.  They also have confused ideas about what true woman-hood is.  They think a woman’s identity is solely tied up in her beauty, her looks, and how much of a feminist she can become.  Do you want to know what true man-hood is?  It’s being able to look after the orphans and widows in their distress and keeping yourself pure in a world that tries to lure you in to sexual sin and temptation![22]  Do you want to know what being a true woman is?  It’s being able to have a quiet spirit![23]  It’s being able to have a good name and have inner beauty![24] 

You cannot be lukewarm and be a true man or a true woman after Christ!  If you want to be a man [woman] after God’s own heart, then you have to KNOW God fully.[25]  Just like He knows you fully.[26]

Our world often teaches us that we need to BEWARE OF EMOTIONALISM.  Yet, our emotions are so precious to God.  When we experience emotions we are alive.  Pouring out our hearts and crying out to the Father may be as far from my ESTJ personality as Kansas City is from Toronto, but still if I want to grow in my faith and mature in the way I view God, I can’t push it to the side.  Instead I must embrace it.

Our culture is obsessed with short-term success – but that glory and fame easily fades to God.  Banning Liebscher (member of Jesus Culture) preached a sermon to us about how LONGEVITY MATTERS TO GOD.[27]  He told us that when God first calls us it’s easy to get passionate.  Fired up.  But then it’s easy to forget about the love we first embraced the call with.  That’s lame man!  It’s like the immature boyfriend who gives you a ring then takes it back the very next day.  It’s like the person who looks in the mirror, fixes his hair, and fiddles with his tie then goes out and forgets what he looks like.[28]  He forgets if his eyes are blue or brown.  If his hair is black or blonde. God is calling us to more than that!  He’s the Lover who wants us to remain faithful to Him and His calling no matter how hard it gets.  No matter how steep the path is.  It’s easy to start.  It’s easy to catch the vision.  What’s hard is persevering.  What’s hard is “burning longterm”.[29] 

Let’s be honest.  No one cases how many Facebook friends you have.  How many blogs I’ve written.  In the end of the day, God’s not going to be like, “whoa!  You wrote a lot of books” or “you recorded a lot of albums!”  That isn’t success!  Success is hearing the phrase “well done, good and faithful servant.”[30]  Success is knowing your heart is so intertwined with God’s that it’s inseparable.  If you accomplish great things for God, which you will, if you reach the nations, which you will, if you acquire any measure of earthly success, which you will – it’s only because of Christ!  He uses you to the extent that you are willing to let Him use you!  It’s not about people remembering you – it’s about pointing people to remember Christ!

Success is an attitude of the heart.  It’s not about small or large scale projects.  Showing love to your family and closest friends is just as important to your success as a missionary as showing love to the world.  That’s why when we start ministering we need to begin by praying for revival within our own families, within our own marriages, within our own dating experiences, BEFORE we can even THINK about praying for revival in our nation and in our world! 

There was one day when I was in the prayer room at IHOP and God came to me and very clearly told me “read the Song of Solomon.”  I was like, “that’s random, God.  Are you sure?”  God’s like, “yeah”.  Then as soon as I start reading, the worship team begins singing the Song of Songs![31]  As soon as that happened I was just sitting back and thinking “whoa! This is a Word from the Lord!”  Then as I read the words to this ancient love song every verse comes alive, speaks to me, makes me lovesick for Him!

Do you want true success?  True success is when that happens not just once but more often than not.  When you and God become so tight that when people speak to you, you hear Christ in them.  When experiences happen to you, you see the finger of God in them.  When you read Scripture you feel like it’s personally edifying and speaking a word into your soul.  A word of encouragement you needed to hear which you can no longer ignore.  When that starts to happen, you know that you have become a successful person.  Even if people a world over still don’t know your name and even if your bank account hasn’t grown exponentially.  You are still a successful person in God’s eyes and in the end of the day that’s all that really matters.

A Final Word

Finally, I leave you with a final word of encouragement that I received from one of the teaching outlines in our conference handout book by IHOPKC leader, Stuart Greaves.  His teaching simply states, “there is coming the greatest outpouring of the Holy Spirit (Joel 2:28-29)[32] that will result in a unified and glorious end-time church (Ephesians 5:27)[33], the preaching of the Gospel with power to all of the nations (Matthew 24:14)[34], the greatest release of signs and wonders (John 14:21)[35], and the salvation of Israel (Isaiah 62:7[36]; Romans 11:26[37]).”[38]

If what you just read in Greaves’s quote makes you want to see this change come about in our world and in our nation all you got to do is simply trust God that it will happen.  When you love Christ and when you pour your whole heart and ministry into Him THEN you will see the King of Glory high and lifted up![39]


[3] From “Better than a Hallelujah” By: Amy Grant: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Rm5kx3xqmg0

[9] These numbers do not even begin to include those tuning in to the conference via God T.V. and online webstreaming (bringing the numbers up by several more thousand)

[15] http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=James%204:2-3&version=ESVUK (* If you think God isn’t doing great things in your life is it because He isn’t doing great things or because you aren’t ALLOWING or believing that He will do great things?)

[19] Sermon by Misty Edward at the OneThing IHOPKC Conference

[21] Illustration used in Misty Edward’s OneThing sermon

[27] Sermon by Banning Liebscher at IHOPKC Onething 2013 conference

[29] A phrase Banning used in his sermon

[31] One cool thing about IHOPKC is that they literally SING the words of Scripture.  They have the passage on the screen and accompany it line by line, word by word, to musical scores.

[38] “Standing in the Watches of the Night” outline to Stuart Greave’s sermon at IHOPKC OneThing 2013 conference, found on page 73 of the “2013 Teaching Notes” Handout Book

[39] From the song: Hosanna by Hillsong: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WgJYNlDhY-4

Reflections of a Mennocostal – My IHOPKC Experience (An Introduction to A Blogging Series)

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INTRO TO IHOP: No I am not talking about pancakes…although I do love the IHOP restaurant which I frequented during my days as a seminary student living in Indiana…yum… I drool just thinking of it.  Instead I am talking about an international prayer movement which is spreading around the globe and which the Holy Spirit recently used to break me, wreck me, and mess me up (in a good way).  Let me introduce this movement to you in the next few paragraphs.

Every year tens of thousands from over 100 different nations around the globe flock to the International House of Prayer in Kansas City, Missouri.  Tens of thousands more join the IHOP movement through a live online web streaming of their 24/7 prayer room (which you can access here: (http://www.ihopkc.org/prayerroom/).  IHOP has also gained momentum over the years even offering a university program focused on intercession with majors in media, ministry, music, and missions.  IHOP also offers inner-city and prayer internships, has helped develop several well-known musicians including Misty Edwards and Jon Thurlow, and offers vibrant ministries for children, as well as deliverance ministry for those affected by the sex-trade (known as Exodus Cry: http://exoduscry.com/).  IHOPs are located in many other locations across the United States and a few IHOPs are being formed in both developed and developing countries around the world.  There is also a similar movement in Toronto called THOP (Toronto House of Prayer: http://www.thop.ca/). 

With all of these ministries, it would appear that he Holy Spirit is in this movement, however, not everyone thinks so.  Toted as a revival movement by some and a cult by others, leader and founder, Mike Bickle (http://mikebickle.org/) and speakers associated with the ministry such as Lou Engle are both loved as well as scorned.

Throughout the years, people have, however unfortunately and unrightly, developed inaccurate representations of what IHOP is and I admit that when I went to the One Thing young adult’s conference from December 28th-31st, 2013, I was anything but sold out on the movement.[1]  I was skeptical at best and cynical at worst.  Being a General Conference Mennonite, I’ve always been cautious about charismatic worship, even though over the past 4 years, God has been leading me deeper and deeper into manifestations of the Spirit which I can’t ignore.  I came to IHOP because I was curious – I wasn’t really expecting much.  I literally thought that people would roar like lions and that there would be gold dust and proclamations that people can raise from the dead.  But that’s not what I discovered!  Instead I discovered beautiful new friendships strategically placed in my life, believers passionate about prayer, and a deepened journey with Christ in my own life.

In the following paragraphs I want to share with you just a taste of what God laid on my heart at this conference and why I feel like if I keep it in it will be fire to my bones.[2]

The amazing think about IHOP is that it is a ministry consumed by a passion for prayer.  They do evangelism, social justice, and worship, but everything revolves around an attitude and posture of all day and all night prayer.  This is a unique ministry for although all ministries which are of God pray fervently, very few have someone sustaining it through prayer literally during every hour of the day and night. 

What also surprises me about this movement is that people keep coming back and every year the ministry grows exponentially.  When I asked a young woman from my group who attended her fourth One Thing conference what the draw was she replied, “It’s the longevity.  The fact that it’s the oldest prayer movement in North America, and Francis Chan is speaking.”  She also remarked that One Thing has incredible worship and people are so touched by it that they share that excitement with their friends who then become curious.  Almost everyone in attendance at the conference is there because they have experienced the worship before and loved it or they have heard of someone else’s experience of worship and wanted to join in.

These two things surprise me, but perhaps the biggest surprise is how people who have never even attended IHOP think lowly of this movement.  I DON’T agree with some of the doctrinal theology or priorities which encompass this movement, but I also can’t deny that God has ministered to thousands here – which is why they keep returning, sometimes more than once a year.  We wonder where the youth are in the church but when over 31,000 young adults all gather to worship in one place we disregard it as a cult rather than glorifying the Holy Spirit.

Here’s the thing: If God would have made me want to love Him more, but not given me the Holy Spirit, it would have been enough.

If God would have poured out the Spirit, but not given me a specific missional calling it would have been enough.

If God would have given me a calling, but not spoken into my brokenness, it would have been enough.

If God would have spoken into my brokenness, but not filled me with a love of worship it would have been enough.

But God in His mercy showed me all these things and so much more!

 

It’s incredible how I went to IHOPKC with a group of about 50 young adults ages 18-30 and in sharing testimonies with each other throughout the conference was encouraged to discover that each one was challenged by God in a different way and for different purposes.  Each and everyone from our group has left changed – with a greater passion to know God and a greater desire to do the Will of the Father.

Personally, I left knowing that I want to fall in love with God in the same way that Jacob fell in love with Rachel.  He loved her so much that he worked for 14 years but to him it didn’t even feel like a day because he was so consumed by his love for her.[3]  That’s what I want my relationship with God to look like.  I want to start spending more time WITH God rather than just FOR Him.  I want to go and tell others all that I have seen and heard, how the lame now walk, the blind now see, and the deaf now hear.[4]  I want to see women receive their dead back to life![5]

So, was it worth it to drive 20 hours to the Midwest with a bunch of people I’ve never met, live off of 5 hours of sleep for 6 days, and leave all technology at home fasting from social media?  I think it was.  Allow me to share why in the next several blogs.

KEY LEARNINGS FROM IHOP: I have decided to devote the next several blogs on ZwiebachandPeace to the work that the Holy Spirit accomplished in my life through attending IHOPKC.  I do this with the understanding and discernment (through listening to the voice of the Spirit) that although there are some things which are meant to be of a private nature, between God and I, there are also many things which God confirmed to me would be an encouragement to other believers from around the globe.

My next few blogs will address: 1) A Four Part Series on the Following:

A)     Developing and Remaining in a posture of prayer at all times. 

~ Learning how to cultivate a lifestyle of prayer and fasting.

B)     Expecting great things and revival to happen

~ Great things may happen in miraculous ways, but more often than not they happen in the stillness of our souls and in the sound of sheer silence.[6]

 

C)    Delivering a Prophetic Vision

~ Prophesy is perhaps the one gift that requires the most discernment for there are many false prophets.[7]

~ Many people believe that prophesy is fortune telling so they regard it as ungodly, however, more often than not it is about confirming stirrings which others have already started to feel, encouraging them about where they’re at in their walk with God while making them crave more, and boldly declaring the Scriptures through rightly dividing the Word of Truth.[8]
~ Rev. 22:6

 

D)    Cultivating the Multicultural Reality of Heaven on Earth

~I live in Toronto – the most multicultural place in the world.  There are many times when I am the only visible minority on the bus BECAUSE I AM WHITE!  But compared to Heaven, Toronto is pale, not tastefully colourful.  Heaven is a way more multicultural reality than what any of us can experience anywhere on this earth.

~ Scripture Verse: Revelation 5:9-10

2) Invitation to be an Intercessory Missionary and to Join the Night Watch

~ Practicing 24/7 prayer here on earth so that when we get to heaven we will be used to it and look forward to it (Revelation 4)

~ Revelation 21:22-26, Revelation 22:5

3) Reclaiming the Art of Biblical Fasting

 

WHY THE BLOGGING SERIES? IHOP really messed me up in a good way.  It made my faith so much more of a priority for me.  God taught me so much from this conference.  In 4 days He taught me more than I have learned in the past four months!  He confirmed so many of my searches and gave me assurance for my doubts.  I honestly felt like every time I thought I had maximized the teachings of the Holy Spirit that God showed me something else.  I am blogging because I believe that God meant these lessons to be digested by our generation.  There are many things that God meant personally for me, they are private, individualized instructions and calls to confession and repentance.  Obviously I won’t share those, but I will share the other words God gave me which He confirmed were meant not just for me.  They are meant as encouragement for the faithful and an admonition to wake up for those asleep in their sins.[9]  I share because I believe God wants this generation to move and impact the world.  I believe God wants this generation to be mighty for Him, constantly heading His call.  But I believe it doesn’t start and end with us, no!  I believe our hearts will be joined with the faithful saints of old and with the mighty generation of believers coming after us.  I share these thoughts as an offering to God because I believe the Mennonite church needs revival.  I believe the Catholic, United, Anglican, and Lutheran Church needs revival.  I believe the Baptist and Reformed churches need revival.  I even believe that the Pentecostal and Charismatic churches need revival!  We’ve been stagnant and lukewarm for far too long and God is tired of it![10]  He is calling us to so much, only a fraction of it which He revealed to me.  In the last days He will reveal so much more of His vision to any man or woman who boldly heeds His call and is truly willing to impart those truths to the nations.[11]  Just like Jesus said to Philip when he recognized Christ as Lord and asked that he be able to see the Father “are you for real?  You and I have been tight for so long and yet it’s like you don’t even know Me. Whoa-oh, Baby!  You ain’t seen nothing yet!  You’re going to see so much more than just this.”[12]  In this House of Prayer with the hearts of thousands intertwined with God’s in prayer, worship, and genuine intercession God began to reveal to me the deepest longings of my own heart.  I hope you will also be able to experience such heavenly joy and delightful laughter in your own lives.

CONCLUSION: It’s an understatement to say that I went into IHOP with many prejudices. I went because I was curious – my charismatic experience confined to only a handful of experience of tongues, dreams, and visions.  Having been brought up in churches which do not engage in the gifts and often discouraged by church leaders when I pondered charismatic thoughts with them and shared my own experiences.

I was expecting Holy Laughter, people being slain in the spirit (looking like they were having seizures) and miraculous wonders.  Instead, what I saw was real people who are real in their relationship with Christ – totally sold out on Him.  I had many biases, but God used my lack of understanding in the prophetic to humble me.  I still don’t agree with all of the teachings, but it has left me seeking more.  Unsatisfied with where my years of theological education have left me and wanting my spirit to join fully in God’s unfinished mission.

 I could have chosen to let my inability to fully accept manifestations of the Spirit hinder me and hold me back, but then I never would have experienced Christ’s love impacting over 30,000 young adults all from different walks of life.  I may not understand everything that IHOP stands for, but the Holy Spirit is heavy upon this place.  Come see for yourself.  Come experience rapturous grace and the beauty and mystery in the fact that the Holy Spirit is simply too magnificent to be placed in the box of human comprehension.