Waiting on God to Move Mightily in America
Analysis. I wrote a piece about a year ago that describes a life-changing experience I had at the International House of Prayer in Kansas City. I was deeply blessed to spend two days in private meetings with some of the most gifted and anointed national leaders serving today. Mike Bickel (IHOP) shared remarkably accurate prophecies given by Bob Jones (1930-1975) and explained how events were coalescing to reveal further fulfillments.
Chris Reed (MorningStar Ministries) miraculously prophesied over me in a manner I had never experienced before. So powerful was that moment for me and everyone in the room, I suddenly found myself tethered to the 50-year prophetic history that was unfolding at IHOP.
That miracle compelled me to book tickets for this past May to attend The Send, a massive Christian conference at Arrowhead Stadium. All signs indicated this would not be just another stadium event but a key puzzle piece in the emerging prophetic heaven-scape unfolding at IHOP and across the world. I will admit that my expectation to experience an unprecedented move of God was higher than any other event I’ve traveled to.
Disappointment often arrives on the heels of misplaced expectations.
Don’t hear me wrong; many nationally known speakers and worship leaders were there and did what they do best. But aren’t far too many of our Christian gatherings singly fueled by leaders doing what they do best?
Even at our very best, we know predictably well what we are capable of. This time, I had set my crosshairs much higher — I flew halfway across the country to watch God do what He does best.
Less than two hours into the 12-hour event, I slid from the expectant edge of my seat and slumped into the hard plastic back of my stadium mould. As speaker after speaker shouted their high-octane messages and band after band was more distorted than the previous, I plugged my ears in hopes to hear what the Lord might have been whispering.
I love the Church. God does not have a Plan B — we are it. But the older I get the less enamored I am with the current tides of Western Evangelicalism. Simply said, our frenetic gatherings serve up such copious helpings of excitement, performance, caffeine, and decibels, my wincing interior world protectively whispers: Can everyone please shut up for a minute? I can’t hear what God is trying to say…
We readily proclaim that Jesus is the Head of the Church, yet are reticent to hand him the mic so he can be the emcee of our gatherings.
The Still Small Voice Doesn’t Need a Sound System
Just as you Father, are in me and I am in you. I pray they will be in us…I in them and you in me — that they may be completely one.
~Jesus in John’s Gospel, Chapter 17
This is the essential placement of the Christian faith. Not so much the prominence of a passage within the doctrinal aggregate, but rather the genuine bearing of a believer and his God. And most astoundingly, the divine preposition that leaps off the page is “in.”
It begins with the indescribable, inimitable nature of the triune God. The Son is in the Father as the Father is in the Son, with the Holy Spirit as the unceasing love that flows between them. Three unique Persons: The perfect union of Elohim.
Even more inexpressible, Jesus prays that we would be in them and they would be in us.
While it may seem like a nifty word picture to run the highlighter over, this is no metaphor at all. This is Christ pulling back the earthen curtain just enough so we can behold a revelation that is more real than it is mysterious.
The intrinsically sacred modal of the Christian life lies deep within the interior world of the soul, for it is here Elohim chooses to dwell as He invites us deeper into The Trinity. While wholly impossible to grasp, the mere contemplative consideration of such truth is why someone like Brother Lawrence (The Practice of the Presence of God) found himself in the presence while washing dishes all alone in his monastery.
Too often, Christians instinctively recoil at what would be considered Eastern formularies that prize the interior practice of meditation, contemplation, and awareness. Remember two things: The Satan subtly schemes to twist, counterfeit, and corrupt things that God deems are good, and second, Jesus was from the East. Meditative prayer and contemplation were not just what He did but who He was.
Jesus frequently withdrew to the wilderness and prayed.
~ Luke’s Gospel, Chapter 5
History’s Impact on the Heart
The first fatal blow to the sacred space of the interior life came 300 years after Jesus’ resurrection when Constantine decreed the Christian faith as the national religion of the Roman Empire. In exchange for the decriminalization of worship and the ceasefire of martyrdom, a deluge of pagan, external appointments flooded the church.
The grassroots house-to-house movement that was devoted to gathering around tables, resting in the presence, and transforming lives was awkwardly ensconced with pomp and ceremony never exhibited in the first-century church.
Constantine’s motives were far more political than they were spiritual.
For more on this, read Pagan Christianity by Frank Viola and George Barna.
The second blow was in 1054 and the East/West split of the Orthodox and Roman Catholic Churches. The schism was primarily over papal authority but by that point, position, power, and property overshadowed the cherished writings of the Church Fathers, the Desert Fathers, and the early Christian Mystics who provide us with life-giving revelations that are an intravenous flow deep into our soul.
The final blow came in the early 1500s. We are still recovering from the hiving off of the Protestants from the Roman Catholics in the Reformation (Think Luther, Calvin, and Zwingli.) Timed perfectly with the unveiling of Gutenberg’s printing press, the once inaccessible Holy Scriptures were readily distributed to the masses. Pursuant, the intellectual rigors of biblical exegesis beclouded the hallowed chambers of the heart and moved the action 2 feet north to the hollowed confines of the head.
The contemplative formularies were not readily carried forward and even the reformers of today harrumph that scripture is the only thing people need. In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Bible.
This brief drive-by church history serves to frame where we entered the story and how the centuries have impacted what we call church today.
Rhythms or Arenas?
When Mike Bickel took the mic, I sat up in expectant hope that the heavens were about to open. Though he touched on a brief story of Bob Jones’ prophetic gifting, the promised outpouring remained elusive.
Even when Francis Chan called for a time of quiet to allow everyone space to commune with The Lord, the band immediately launched into deafening tones which sent me walking to the concession stands. My interior world was prepared and pregnant to receive new revelations amid long-awaited signs, and wonders — and it was at that moment I realized I was conflicted within myself.
Why did I get on a plane and fly halfway across the country to seek the glory which is already resident in my heart, in our family, and in our home?
As a worship leader, I have often said: Don’t expect a congregation to reach a height of corporate worship that exceeds the level of daily worship that happens in each of their homes. If individuals resist or refuse the invitation of Jesus to reside in the sacred space, don’t expect the collective to manifest something unexpected and never practiced.
As a family, we attended many Hillsong NYC services and conferences. While the times of worship remain as high watermarks, I remember Pastor Carl Lentz preaching with soaring energy and searing passion. Only later would we learn he was managing extended extramarital affairs during those same sermon series.
Reports allege ARC church leaders who have had similar failures ranging from torrid affairs to embezzlement of funds to abuse of power. And just today I read about a Wisconsin Pastor who was caught soliciting sex with a minor and it wasn’t his first time.
All of these churches had exuberant teams of greeters, high-amped bands, and exciting activities listed on the Connect Card under your seat. Lay aside your judgments about these unconscionable pastors and simply ask: What was the condition of their interior world as they contorted themselves to please people in seats while avoiding the Trinity who desired communion within? Likewise, what is the condition of your interior world if the externalities of an exciting Sunday experience were taken away?
Where is the Kingdom?
Teams from The Send KC worked tirelessly for years preparing for last May’s event. Over 5000 homes in the area were visited and prayed for, 6000 impoverished homes were gifted with tangible blessings of food and goods, and countless orphans were placed into loving families. I have no doubt Kansas City will never be the same because of The Send.
But these heavenly statistics do not resolve my immense disappointment and shattered expectations to experience the move of God I desired to see.
Jesus faced people just like me. In Luke’s Gospel, religious leaders asked Jesus what it will be like when the Kingdom of God erupts on Earth’s scene. I can feel Jesus within me lean in to say:
The kingdom of God is not coming with signs to be observed, nor will they say, ‘Look, here it is!’ or ‘There it is!’ For indeed, the kingdom of God is in you.
May we look first to receive the indwelling nature of God long before we set watch on the wall for the outpourings. May the revival fire in our homes always surpass the revival fires in our churches. And may we rest in the awareness that we don’t have to get on a plane to behold the glory that already rises upon us. And within us.
Are you waiting for a move of God? Experiencing one? Share your thoughts and prayers below.
(Used with permission. The Wine Patch, by Keith Guinta. Photo Credit: Jon Tyson on Unsplash)
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