With all my heart and soul I believe this: The citizens of planet Earth are currently living through the most critical and significant hour in human history. Further, the Holy Spirit of God is leading those “who have an ear” into a new dimension of revelation and glory that will catapult the Church of Jesus Christ into her true, God-ordained destiny in the earth.
With the infinite array of information, speculation, myriad “prophetic” voices; voices of doom, voices of encouragement, voices of sheer, emotional fantasy there remains one true, sure and unalterable word. That word proceeds from a heavenly and not an earthly Source. That word is the living, eternal and supreme word of God. It is from this word that all my belief and anticipation emerges.
As Christ’s church moves forward, we must recognize that our enemy is as much the “status quo” as it is Satan. The desire or need or penchant to return to past experiences, or the vestiges of that which God has passed by; any business-as-usual church experience will sound the death-knell to the full desire of the Spirit of God.
As surely as I know Him I am convinced that God is raising up a NEW VOICE, a NEW FACE and a NEW HEART in the earth. In 2008, Great Britain reported less than 2% church attendance. Having spent a good deal of time in England, I can attest to the veracity of that figure. Something is gravely wrong when the land that felt the footsteps of Spurgeon, Whitefield, Wesley, Wigglesworth and other powerfully gifted and anointed men and women of God has deteriorated into the state it currently languishes.
In America, the echoes of Azusa Street have faded into oblivion. The times of Jonathon Edwards and the Great Awakening have become merely historic footnotes in the anthology of the church. Dwight L. Moody, Aimee Semple McPherson, John G. Lake, Billy Sunday, Oral Roberts, Billy Graham all shook the land, but as someone has aptly commented, “America is overwhelmed today with dime-a-dozen imitator preachers.” Those who seek to plumb the depths of God’s Spirit and to tap heaven’s well of wisdom must look beyond former personalities and movements for direction and understanding. What God is doing is BEYOND. What God is doing is BEYOND denominations and conventional fellowships. Where heaven is leading is BEYOND corporations, programs, preaching services, man-made agendas, strategies and designs. God told Daniel to “seal up the prophecy” because it would require a future generation to understand. That future generation has been birthed, but where are the fathers, where are the leaders, where are those with “understanding?”
Ezra chronicled the temperament of the sons of Issachar “who had understanding of the times, to know what Israel ought to do.” These understood the times, and knew what to do! It’s the knowing of “what to do” that is critical and essential. The same “Issachar spirit” that placed the Tribe in holy writ is being placed within a generation that has awakened to a new day of God’s anointing for the earth, and that “spirit” must be recognized and given freedom to speak, to be heard, to be heeded.
A nucleus of forerunners is rising in this hour. These contemporary “sons of Issachar” have understanding, and are hearing “what the Spirit says to the churches.” It is these who will make a difference for heaven in our time and we all, who would follow Christ and who will be His body must listen intently.
I sat as an observer in a staff meeting in a world-renowned church. The church had grown rapidly, even miraculously when leadership surrendered their positions of power in favor of the power of the Holy Spirit among them. Yet once the church had experienced sudden and God-engendered growth, the leadership had turned to formulae and program and methodology to continue what had begun in the Spirit. The Apostle Paul identified the tendency when he wrote to the Galatian church, “Are you so foolish? Having begun in the Spirit, are you now being made perfect by the flesh?” (Gal. 3:3).
I watched the expectant faces of the young leaders who had gathered in that staff meeting as the “orders of the day” were issued. The meeting soon descended into the drone of the minutiae of running a huge enterprise called “mega-church.”
My heart ached until I wanted to just get up and shout to them,
“This is NOT “that!” This activity does not bear the imprint of the Holy Spirit of Acts 2. These neat and impressive programmed services do not have the inscription and the unction of a church that turned the world upside down! Get Up! Get Moving! You can change your nation! Get up! Get full of God! Get His Power and His Resource and His Word and His Wisdom and His Enablement and abandon these man-engendered, man-enabled systems and storm the nations with His love and grace and mercy!
A Vital Question –
I love the men and women God has raised up in past generations. God uniquely placed and used them for their hour. I love and respect the men and women God has raised up in the most recent generation. But I wonder, could it be that God intends to use the former generation (my generation) to provide strength and stability to the church while at the same time an entirely new generation rises up, in union with the former, in a coalition of those who understand the times and who know what to do? Unless one is spiritually blind and deaf it is obvious that a rising generation will possess a completely new and different notion of changing the earth? The church of Jesus will never vanish away so long as the Holy Spirit remains in the earth, but the expression of His church is surely and essentially in the midst of tremendous transition.
Old systems are indisputably vanishing, cleaving away like a disused shell to reveal an inner vitality of the Body of life in God. An old wineskin, unable to contain New Wine is rotting before us, and a New Wineskin, capable of containing New Wine is about to appear.
I believe something significant is contained in the Darlene Zscech song, “Touching Heaven, Changing Earth.” We must place greater concern on “touching heaven” if we are to “change earth.” Where we have spent inordinate sums of money and time and energy with our buildings and carpets and music and lighting and preaching programs, we must place our resources on “touching heaven” because if we can touch heaven, if we can see heaven, if we can hear heaven, if we can understand what the Spirit is saying to us, to our generation, to our hearts, we will witness a changed earth.
The focus has been on doing “things.” Our energies have been consumed with developing programs, producing strategies, and doing things the way they always have been done because, our logic tells us, “if they worked for the church of the 1960’s and 1990’s and 2000’s, these things should work for us.” But to follow a former generation’s example without hearing the current whisper of the Spirit will cause us to miss what God is doing in our midst.
What God is now doing is unlike what He has done in other days. What Heaven is now doing is visibly and essentially different from what He has done. God is leading us, as He led ancient Israel into a place from which we one will testify, “When you see the ark of the covenant of the Lord your God, and the priests, the Levites, bearing it, then you shall set out from your place and go after it. Yet there shall be a space between you and it, about two thousand cubits by measure. Do not come near it, that you may know the way by which you must go, for you have not passed this way before” (Joshua 3:3,4).
If somehow we can shift our concerns from the next popular ministry emphasis or what is happening in this geographical location or that arena to an emphasis on heaven, to an emphasis on worshipping the God of glory without concern for worshipping the way somebody is worshipping in America or England or Canada or Australia; if we can focus on hearing God and not hearing what a voice here or a voice there is saying; if we can focus on building deep, real and spiritual relationships with others in the Body of Christ, the resulting transformations in our own lives will have a powerful impact on the earth without the machinery of the systems and programs we have known in the conventional, institutional church.
We’ve got to touch heaven! We’ve got to become more connected with heaven than we are connected to the earth and its dying systems. We’ve got to become more connected with heaven than we are connected with a denomination or a treasured way of “doing ministry”! Until our supreme connection is with heaven, all our best attempts to change our world will fall ridiculously flat.
The emerging church – the true church of Jesus Christ cannot be as churches have been, or we will no longer possess a reason to exist. Let God lead into the deep, into uncharted waters, into latitudes no one has explored. Let God’s Spirit and God’s Wind carry us into a destiny heaven determined before the foundations of the world were laid.
God is building something far more substantive than an organization or a building. He’s building His church. Observing the machinery of a great church is instructive, but let me be clear: It’s not about machinery, systems, models or imitations. It’s about touching heaven and by virtue of God’s indwelling Spirit, touching one another.
Let us refuse to imitate yesterday’s anointing and discover fresh unction for today. When His Spirit indwells His church, His systems and models, His eternally creative beauty and brilliance will cause the earth (to) “be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the Lord, As the waters cover the sea” (Hab. 2:14).