Towards Our Common Sung Theology

16227  Throughout church history, our faith, our doctrines, and our spirituality have been most vitally expressed through our sung words.  Sharing in the rhythm, tone, and energy that music – whether through hymns, praise choruses, A Capella, choral, instrumental, or chanted genres provides us all with a sense of our common humanity and draws us closer to one another and to Christ.  There is something about joining our hearts and our voices in praise and worship to our Creator that often speaks to the deepest level of our souls – weaving together our most profound emotions, inspiring us towards action (and occasionally protest), instilling in us a great sense of comfort, and even challenging us when we would otherwise feel apathetic.

Although there may perhaps be a few churches that still do not employ any form of music, it is fairly safe to say, that almost all major Christian denominations and other world religions find music integral to the life of the congregation.  Within the Mennonite and Anabaptist traditions, music has also been central to our life and witness.  In fact, I can recount being a young teenager and volunteering at the local Mennonite nursing home.  While there I met an elderly woman, Anna, who came across to Canada from the Ukraine on a boat while singing:

“Wherlos und verlassen sehnt sich oft mein Herz nach stiller Ruh; doch Du dekkest mit dem Fittich Deiner Liebe sanft much zu.  Unter Deinem sanften Fittich find’ich Frieden, Trost und Ruh; den Du schrimest mich so freund-lich, shutz-est mich und deckst mich zu.”

The English translation of which reads:

When I’m lonely and defenseless, my heart longs for rest and peace.  Then You spread Your wings of caring, with Your love You cover me.  Under Your soft wings of mercy my soul rests and is renewed, for You shelter me with kindness, keep me covered, close to You.  [https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D1GMdN73rnA  – plus cute baby conducting!]

This song greatly sustained Anna during some very stressful and confusing times of her life.  Being uprooted from the familiar and travelling to a strange land where she did not speak the language or know the customs and culture must have been very unsettling and challenging for such a young girl.  Yet, this song became an anchor to her in the storm, kept her face upright, and allowed her to see goodness and grace amidst the terror, turmoil, and loss.

Many of us also have had similar instances with particular songs.  There are a number of modern worship songs I go to when I am feeling distressed, confused, or anxious.  Here are a few you might like to check out for yourselves:

Strong Enough (Matthew West): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=knuHDPbE5es

You’re My Everything (Owl City): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sbOcVER0WqU

Guardian (Ben Cantelon): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MiRH8Hc8VQI

You’re Not Alone (Owl City, Britt Nicole): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DavJ9UKS2ps

I Will Praise Him (Rebecca St. James): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jXET-duSRr8

The Kindness of Our God (Rebecca St. James): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=roeDXgsmaUA

Diamonds (Hawk Nelson): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Yf1ARbpB0gA

Better Than a Hallelujah (Amy Grant): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Rm5kx3xqmg0

Shoulders (For King and Country): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TfiYWaeAcRw

Sparrows (Jason Gray): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wRJZQFRyZ6s

 

There are also a number of older hymns I turn to for support and guidance: How Firm a Foundation, Blessed Assurance (my baptismal hymn), It Is Well With My Soul, and Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing to name only a few.

 

One of the most wonderful advantages to music is that it allows us to express ourselves when words fail us.  Sometimes I am experiencing something, but don’t know how to share it with a friend, but if I play a certain song it summaries exactly what I would have shared.  At other times, my friends are really struggling with something and no words of advice or wisdom will lessen the impact.  Instead, sharing with them a song allows them to be in the present without meaningless words needing to be exchanged.  We thus minister to one another in this sense of shared musicality, letting the spirit flow freely.

There is a great worship song by the City Harmonic which sums up music ministry perfectly:

Praise the Lord when it comes out easy
Praise the Lord on top of the world
Praise the Lord ‘cause in every moment Jesus Christ is Lord
Even in the middle of the joys of life
There is always grace enough today to
Praise the Lord    

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Lm7V-26flkQ

 

In fact, the Apostle James himself wrote: Is anyone among you in trouble? Let them pray. Is anyone happy? Let them sing songs of praise. https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=James+5%3A13&version=NASB

Worshipping Christ fully through our music is about finding a balance between proclaiming the goodness of our God and singing the Lord’s song in a foreign land.
When we lift up our voices, there will definitely be many moments of jubilation, celebration, and delight.  But there will also be moments of immense pain, intense hurt, and immeasurable grief.  Nevertheless, when we turn our hearts and our voices to God in prayer and in song, we receive all the blessings of a pure and complete relationship with Him.  We are truly able to sing about the rest and peace we find in Him.  We are truly able to ask Him to keep us sheltered, close to Him.  We are capable of praising the Lord at every moment.  We are able to sing and be sustained because of our common sung theology – a solidly scriptural belief that places Christ at the centre.  We are able to share in our common humanity because music is the one gift that unites us all.

Developing a Posture of Perpetual Prayer (Mennocostal: IHOPKC Onething Series)

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The idea that Christians pray is often a mandate which is taken for granted.  We assume that it is the Christian thing to do and that all Christians pray.  Prayer is, after all, what makes a Christian.  It is the fundamental root of Christianity.  The one action that keeps us living and breathing Christ.  The Apostle Paul wrote that we are to “pray without ceasing” regardless of our circumstances.[1]  Yet, if only all Christians prayed!  If only all Christians fervently poured out their hearts on a regular basis how different our nations and our world would be!  Indeed we would see miracles happening!  We would truly see blessings taken place in our daily lives.

Prayer is something that I have often struggled with in my own life.  There have definitely been seasons of my life when I have been so on fire for Christ that I have prayed for hours and lived out my life as if it were an aroma to God.[2]  Yet, there have been even more times in my life when I have wrestled with knowing what to say to God.  There are times in my personal life when I am really struggling and when God seems distant and talking to Him seems so much harder than talking to a friend who I have met and gotten to know in person over the past few years.  To be honest, I have often been envious of Moses who was able to talk to God face-to-face in the way a man talks to his best friend![3]

Martin Luther once noted that, “It is the business of tailors to mend clothes and cobblers to fix shoes, and it is the BUSINESS OF CHRISTIANS TO PRAY.”  Christians are to be about their Father’s business, always!  It’s our vocation and our missional calling! 

We know that prayer is important because it is perhaps THE most fundamental teaching in all of Scriptures.  I know of few other topics which have as much teaching devoted to them than prayer and which have been modeled by Christ, Himself, as much as prayer.  Works of justice, righteousness, and compassion are important to the Christian faith and Christians are called to engage in them – but they are secondary to prayer.  Without prayer these works will cease.  Without pray these works are not sustainable!  That’s because, as Mike Bickle (founder and leader of the International House of Prayer movement in Kansas City, MO) states, “prayer and mission are inseparable and both need the prophetic ministry added on to them.”[4]

WHY PRAY?Oftentimes when you meet a very mature Christian, someone who has been through the most difficult things in their own lives, but who still has an unshakeable faith the answer for why they are able to keep carrying on even amidst adversity lies in the fact that they pray!  That they talk to God about whatever’s going on in their life and that He answers even if it is in unexpected ways.  They trust Him to be faithful even when they are not.[5]

Their prayer life has rooted them so deeply in Christ’s love and care for them that their hearts have a completely rock solid foundation.  Even when the highest storm waves crash over the sea or the mightiest tempests blow, they are still standing firm.  They are immoveable.[6]  They can sign with gusto the words to the song which says, “What though my joys and comforts die?  The Lord my Saviour liveth! What though the darkness gather round?  Songs in the night He giveth! No storm can shake my inmost calm while to the Rock I’m clinging.  Since Christ is Lord of Heaven and Earth, how can I keep from singing?”[7]

In the book of James we read the following, “Now the prayer offered in faith will make a sick person well.  The Lord will raise him up and he will be healed.  If he has sinned, he will be forgiven.  Confess your sins then to each other and PRAY for each other so that you may be HEALED.  The PRAYER of a righteous man is POWERFUL and EFFECTIVE.”

Have you ever seen mountains move?  Have you ever seen the earth turn over and surrender to God?  It’s because faithful people pray!  It’s the prayers of the elderly grandmothers for their grandchildren that impact the world.  It’s the prayers of the drunkard crying out in the dead of night that awakens God’s attention![8]  It’s in the sinner’s cry, the beating of the chest that God hears – it’s NOT in the pious, overly zealous prayer that is full of empty words but no heart![9]

When we pray for our brothers and sisters, God promises to heal them of their afflictions.  He promises to bring them comfort and relief.  He promises forgiveness and complete absolution of any sins.  But James doesn’t just end with that.  He says that not only are we to pray silently in our rooms, but that we should also have prayer meetings where we gather with other believers and are mutually encouraged by the things that Christ is teaching them!  How often I have been in a prayer meeting hearing another brother or sister pray something that the Lord has laid on their heart and in that instance known that that word was meant for me and that God was giving me the same encouragement that He had taught them!  If you are righteous and if you’re living a life that follows after Christ’s heart than it doesn’t matter how long you have been saved, it doesn’t matter how much seminary education you have, and it doesn’t matter if you are able to sing or preach, your prayers are still effective.  Your prayers are still heard by God and He takes notice of them!

A CALLING TO A LIFE OF PRAYER: Throughout my life, I have relegated prayer to the sidelines.  I made it a point to pray before meals and before bed… often my “amen” being muttered in the morning when I had gotten up realizing that I trailed off before I even finished.  As I got older and started to be more involved with non-Christian peers that soon ended up resulting in me not even thinking of praying before meals.  Sometimes I went entire weeks without lifting my heart and voice to Christ!  In the back of my mind, Christ was always there, but He was more like the One I called on when I needed something.  I didn’t spend nearly as much time praising and worshiping Him as He deserved.

However, over the last few years Christ has started tugging on my heartstrings again and reclaiming His rightful place as center of my life.  He has reminded me of my need for Him and how to a believer prayer is the food and water of the soul.  He has reminded me that in order to grow into full Christian maturity I need to spend time in His Word discovering who He is.

With Christ, prayer is a 24/7 lifestyle, it’s not simply a once in a while type deal.  It’s not good enough just to pray at breakfast.  It takes effort, but we really need to carve out dedicated time for Him.  Once we start intentionally making time for prayer and making time for Christ in our lives, then there is no possible way that we will stop being able to share our testimonies.  No possible way that we will stop being able to share all that we have seen and heard![10]  When we pray we will begin to see the hearts of families and of nations turned to Christ.  Until we pray, though, we can utter with our lips that we want to see revival, but it won’t take place.  It won’t take place because God sees our hearts and He knows that we are all talk and no action.  That we don’t want it enough to spend even one hour with Him in order to help join Him in His reconciling mission of the church on this earth!

HOW IHOP CHANGED MY PRAYER LIFE: A large part of my IHOP experience was simply being able to spend unhindered time with Christ alone where He came and ministered to my soul.  He delivered me out of my brokenness and set my feet on high places so that I could worship Him.[11]  During this time with Christ alone He continued to repeat over and over to my soul, “come with Me to the quiet place and allow Me to minister to you.”  I believe that this is the same message that Christ echoes to each person – young and old, across all different nationalities and ethnicities, across all socioeconomic levels.  It is a message of what true greatness really is. It is a reminder that all ministries need to be consumed with an attitude of prayer and completely covered with adoration to Christ!

We are often reminded in the Bible that worshiping and prayer never stops.  In Revelation we read that, “day and night they did not cease worshiping the Lamb.”  They kept saying over and over, “blessing, and honour, glory, and power be unto the Ancient of Days!”[12]  The Apostle Paul reminds us to be “steadfast in prayer and abundant in love.”[13]  Note here how prayer comes before love.  That’s because it’s impossible for us to love without first experiencing the ultimate and true love of Christ!  There are many non-Christian married couples who are deeply committed to one another, there are many non-Christian parents who truly do love their children, but they only love the best they know how to.  They don’t know true love because they have never experienced what that feels like.  I don’t doubt the fact that they are compassionate to their children and spouses, but the Bible tells us plainly that WE LOVE BECAUSE HE FIRST LOVED US![14]  If you want to know true love, if you want your love for your significant other, spouse, or child to grow, you need Christ to minister to you!  You need to come with Him to the quiet place so that He can love you and fill you with a love so great that you never knew it was possible to love someone to that extent before!

MY PRAYER LIFE WAS SHIFTED AT IHOP

In the first sermon that I heard Mike Bickle preach he told us, “Worship is an agreement of who Christ is.  Intercession is an agreement of what Christ said He would do.”  In order to have a vibrant prayer life – one that makes God take notice and one which will draw us into deeper Spiritual maturity with Christ, we need both of these elements.  They are completely inseparable.

At IHOP we listened and sang music, but it was NOT a concert.  I’ve been to many concerts before.  I have many favourite secular as well as Christian artists.  Oftentimes these concerts (primarily secular) are little more than mosh pits with the occasional overpriced beer or whisky.  Yet at IHOP as we sang, we were lead into deeper worship and communion with Christ.  Sometimes I sang, other times I sat there silently, there were a few times that I wept.  Still other times I prayed and interceded so hard and felt assurance from Christ that He was going to bring healing to the people I was praying for.  He confirmed many things to me during my time with Him.   I promise you that if you spend that time with Christ, He will do the same for you!  If you make an effort for Him, He will make time for you!  He’s never too busy to hear the requests of His children!

RECEIVING PERSONAL ENCOURAGEMENT TO PRAY THROUGH MY TEAM

When I went to IHOP I traveled with a group of just under 50 young adults (ages 18-30).  I got into a 12 passenger van with them and we drove all the way down to Kansas City, Missouri (which is a little over 15 hours from where I live).  I didn’t know anyone before I left.  I actually had a lot of anxiety.  I am an extrovert and do really enjoy getting to meet other young adults, especially if they are Christian and I perceive that we might be able to have much in common and might be able to network.  But when I left my hometown I had been through a very difficult past four months and was feeling pretty broken and the idea of having people I never even met before minister to me sounded pretty daunting.

I’m glad I didn’t let that hold me back!  These young adults might have been primarily younger than me, but they had a certain spiritual maturity that really inspired me.  This maturity led them to give up a shopping trip in St. Louis just so that we could spend additional hours in prayer at IHOP and continue to intercede and see the Spirit move and work!  To be honest, I don’t know many other 18 year olds who would have taken our leader up on that offer!

Really, it’s crazy how I spent all day every day for 6 days, literally over 10 hours in worship and then came back to the hotel and continued praying and discerning the Lord’s voice.  Even prophesying.  Up until last week when I went to IHOP, this was the kind of stuff I had only heard about in books or from missionaries.  I thought the empowerment of the Holy Spirit was confined to Africa and Asia.  I never realized He was so present here in affluent and busy North America!  I’ve never experienced worshiping this long before.  When I was a student at Tyndale there were some intense times when I was caught up in the Spirit and worshiped for 3 hours…once even almost all night.  But never all day AND all night!  I’ve adopted this posture of prayer.  At IHOP there were days when it was 1:30am and I just couldn’t stop praising Him.  Some days I would get 5 or 6 hours of sleep because I was so caught up in the Spirit and in worship, and I would be fully recharged the next day, and usually I’m the type of person who needs 8 hours or I’m sunk. 

I used to marvel that Africans went to church for hours, now I know it IS possible and it’s what I want.  I feel like I could do this all day every day and never get bored of it.  This must be just a glimpse of what heaven will be like when all nations praise God with the angels day and night before the Throne unceasingly!

CONCLUSION:Sometimes people think that I’ve gone IHOP crazy.  That I’m all about edifying IHOP, but that’s not the case at all!  IHOP was just one instrument that God used to encourage and strengthen me in my walk with Him.  He could have used any other means and I would have been equally as grateful, but God spoke to me and got a hold of my heart through this conference.  Any thanksgiving I have goes straight to God.  I give IHOP props for being faithful to the calling God has laid on their heart and how they have ministered to thousands and pray that God will bless them richly both in heaven and on earth for it.  But in the end of the day – it’s God I worship, NOT IHOP.

I want to encourage you to read my next several blogs about how the Spirit moved during my time at IHOPKC and all that He taught me while I was there.  My next blog will be written on the topic of intercession primarily on how God called me and equipped me to pray during the Night Watch – one of the most intense and Spiritually demanding assignments He has ever given me, but a ministry for which I am glad to be a part.  I hope you will join me in reading that blog and that the Lord may also call some of my faithful readers to join me in this vision of proclaiming the Kingdom of Christ until He comes again.[15]


[4] From a sermon Mike Bickle preached at IHOPKC’s ONETHING 2013 Conference

[7] My Life Flows On (Text and Music By: Robert Lowry, 1869)

[8] Better Than A Hallelujah (By: Amy Grant) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Rm5kx3xqmg0

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.