A number of years ago, I was invited to speak at breakfast to be attended by some of the leaders of the largest and most impactful ministries in Latin andSouth America. It was to be held in one of the rooms of the church and the people of the church served the meal and honored those that came. There would be about 60 or more that would come and that is another story for another time.
The day before the breakfast I was to have lunch with the pastor and his staff at a buffet restaurant and we had never met before. I was also to speak at the evening service on Sunday night and God had been allowing me the privilege of seeing tremendous demonstrations and outpourings of His presence and power in the weeks prior to this in the central valley of this nation. I had heard about this church and the impact it was having in the nation and in theAmericas.
I had been travelling in different nations and had been to over 100 churches overseas and in theUnited Statesand God had visited everywhere. Before too long however, things went back to normal and the move of God so called stopped and I knew that was not God’s heart. There was only one church inFijithat had continued to allow the Holy Spirit freedom and Lordship and that ministry went on to affect the country.
One of the keys or foundational understandings that must be embraced by LEADERS is a conscious decision to reverence the Holy Spirit. As one pastor inAmerica said, “the Lord came to me one Sunday morning and asked if He could have the service back”. He was stunned. The pastor had never even had a thought along those lines in all the years of ministry. The Lord repeated Himself and this pastor humbled himself and gave the services back to the Holy Spirit. It was one of the reasons God visited that church. It has been happening for 12 years now. God has taught this brother how to steward what God has done, to shepherd revival and the keys to see it perpetuated and increase in the lives of not only himself but also of the members of the church and beyond.
Revival began by the Holy Spirit 2,000 years ago when Jesus ascended and was glorified, after He GAVE the promise of the Father and released the Holy Ghost who invaded the 120, accessing the realm of Heaven on earth in experience and demonstration. It was never supposed to stop. This idea that it is sovereign and comes only at certain times orchestrated by God is not true. Revival was supposed to continue, grow and of the increase of His government, of the growth and expansion of His kingdom there would be no end … of daily glory to glory to glory there was to be no end. Revival is the normal Christian life, subduing the foes of God through the power of the Holy Spirit.
The Holy Spirit ushered in revival, the beginning of transforming reformation. What makes us think it will come any other way? We are not smarter than God and He already showed us in Acts 1 and 2 how this is to be. The Holy Spirit is not just about the gift of the Spirit which is the gateway into the gifts of the Spirit. The Holy Ghost is the gateway into an open heaven and the author of revival invading society. The Holy Spirit must be the One who is Reverenced and Depended on if there is going to be any move of God which then and only then will be sustained and perpetuated.
May every man and woman of God, every believer and follower of Jesus Christ who hungers for the authentic and the genuine, for true revival and reformation, read the following story as a key to it happening in our lives and ministries.
As I sat down at lunch, the pastor struck me immediately as a man who was living in the presence of God. There was just something about him. He wanted to know a little about me and why I had come to his nation. I felt to share how I had gotten hungry for God while pastoring churches inHawaiiin 1994 and how I sought God for 11 months and the cry of my heart to know Him, be like Him in character and have more of Him in ministry so others would believe in Jesus Christ. How on November 1st, 1994 God had opened up a truth about the Holy Spirit and how 10 days later I was visited by God walking across aChristianSchoolclassroom at 9:00 in the morning.
As I was sharing he began to weep at the table and said, “Oh, I want to be a man like that“, which shocked me because I KNEW he was an incredible man of God and his ministry was truly awesome and I was thinking, ‘my life has not come close to this in ministry’. I felt I was just BEGINNING so his statement took me by surprise. He was just openly weeping and then he shared this story….
This was in March 1997… he began by saying that a few years before he had invited a famous minister from Mexicoto preach Sunday services, morning and night in his church. The church was already strong and many were being saved and discipled. In the morning service as the minister preached, a number of people began laughing with joy in the service. A spontaneous joy broke out among some of the people and the pastor got up and stopped them. He was very upset. After the service he came to the minister from Mexicoand said “I don’t want to see this nonsense again“. Because the invited minister was already scheduled, was so well known and respected and because people were travelling from all over to hear him speak, the pastor didn’t feel he could cancel him and send him home.
The minister said, “I didn’t do it“. The pastor was upset and said, “you can preach tonight but only from the Bible. WE are a church of the Word and we don’t want this kind of stuff in this ministry“. Of course, the minister fromMexico was ONLY reading from the Bible anyway.
That evening the minister got up to speak and the pastor sat on the stage directly behind him. The minister began his message and all of a sudden about 200 people stood up simultaneously in different parts of the building and just like that, they all collapsed and fell down. Whoosh!!
The pastor rose from his seat and approached the podium to stop this when a voice spoke to him, “Raoul, this is me“. He stopped not believing his ears. It was the voice of God that he was familiar with. Again, the voice came, “Raoul, this is me. I am doing this“. He couldn’t believe it! God did this in the service. He did not understand anything beyond that but he did know one thing. He knew His Father’s voice and he knew that it was of the Holy Spirit.
He was weeping as he relived this at the lunch table. He said he immediately began to repent to God in front of the whole church, asked forgiveness for grieving the Holy Spirit and begged God to give him another chance in the ministry. I could not believe what I was hearing. I mean, the pastor was ignorant of this, not intentionally wanting to grieve the Holy Spirit, but in his mind that is how he looked at it. He repented to the visiting minister and was so shaken that he promised NEVER to grieve the Holy Spirit again and humbled himself to give the Holy Spirit freedom in his ministry and in his life and to be teachable and learn.
I sat there watching this man tremble and shake unabashedly weeping and he said, “Earl, I have tried with all my heart since that day to give the Holy Spirit freedom in my life and church and give Him the control of this ministry“.
Reverencing the Holy Spirit … giving Him the control of our lives, churches and ministries. Learning of Him … not asking Him to bless our agendas, our structures, the way we have set up ministry and services … plan all we want but at any moment knowing He can come and speak and redirect … letting Him touch the people the way He wants … stay so close to Him and His word that we can recognize it is Him and not be offended at manifestations.
A leader who gets hungrier and hungrier for God and sets the course of passion, models desperation for ALL HE IS AND DOES, is the example of humble yet believing dependence on God. He is willing for the NEW to come and to be taught how to create the wineskin, the new way of thinking that allows the new wine, the fresh release of His presence and power to abide and increase, never trying to do it the same old way.
When I walked into that church that Sunday, I arrived a few hours before and walked into a prayer room with hundreds of people, the pastor and the leadership, all worshipping, praying, establishing their dependence of the Holy Spirit for the evening meeting. When I walked into the service, God was already there. My spirit soared into His presence, I was lost in adoration as everyone was. People moved to the front, knelt at the altar, walked to and fro. There was freedom to love Him and He was free to love the people. People were laughing with the joy of God, weeping loudly or silently, reading the scriptures, prostrate on the carpet, standing with hands outstretched … freedom just to be with God, encounter Him, the real reason to come together. The musicians were lost in His glory, songs were released from heaven, then testimonies of His salvation and healing and even the fruit of going into other cities, evangelizing and building up the other churches!!
The pastor sat in the front row beaming and one time just got up, took the microphone and started loving God, “Bienvenidos, Espiritu Santo“, (which means ‘welcome Holy Spirit’). At one point he just held his heart and swayed telling Jesus how much he loved him. We are talking thousands of people. It was natural and beautiful. When I got up, I just invited the musicians back up. The program was whatever He wanted (which just might be a more refreshing way of doing church services). I never had such an enjoyable time ministering and did God ever come in ever increasing power and presence.
Maybe we can learn from this … As pastors and leaders, we OWE the people an encounter with God, we owe it to them. God yearns to encounter us and transform us but it can only happen by the Holy Spirit and there must be a recognition of this and a subjection of the way we have done and are doing life, ministry and church to the Holy Spirit right from the start.
In the Beginning … GOD … all was without form and void, all was darkness … the Bible starts with this … we should too. And the Spirit of God moved, or hovered lovingly and THEN GOD SPOKE. The person of God should be present, don’t you think, before we speak on His behalf? We must value the Presence of God more than anything else and that is what happened to this pastor in Latin America, he got out of the way so he could walk more clearly in the way and see God do unprecedented things in his life and ministry. A lifestyle of yielding, depending on and honoring the Holy Spirit. May we allow this to happen in our lives today.