Testimony @ cityprayer

December 29, 2007

Note:- no recording was made. These are my words to the best of my recollection.


It is great to be back in this sanctuary where I have many fond memories. Back in the mid 90s, we had many revival meetings here. I remember the nights when people were laid out not only in here, but out in the lobby. I also remember the pastor’s meetings back here in the prayer room where there would be 50-60 pastors prostrated on the floor seeking God.

Those were wonderful days. I kept a website during those times chronicling the events as they happened. In fact, those sites are still available on my own website now. I have archived them there.

I hope you will pardon my use of notes. I have this mental thing going on due to the trauma I have recently experienced. Sometimes my mind just goes and I forget where I am.

One of the things we learned back then was that revival is a way of life, not an event. I believe that is a quote from Kathryn Kuhlman who was in our city many years ago down at 8th and Acoma. In fact, on the top of her building she had a large neon sign that said, “Prayer Changes Things”. I think that is a good theme for our city, don’t you? And it is the reason we are all here this morning.

We can get all caught up in the excitement of a meeting, but after the meeting, then what? And the same can be said corporately.  After revival, what? Seems to me that after we are “re-vived” we should then be “vived” – living life in a new and powerful way. But how many of your churches suffered difficulty after the last move of God”?

Another thing we learned during the last move of God when there was so much talk of “the river” is that the river “out there” was to facilitate the flowing of the river “in here”. Did not the scripture say that “out of your bellies shall flow rivers – notice the emphasis on the plural – rivers of living water?”

But, is that what we have been looking for?

I’m afraid not. We like the manifestations and the power to come forth. But the power of God is not primarily in the power of the Spirit, but in the power of the Cross. It is less of us and more of Him.

Seems to me that we constantly get caught up in the externals when God is far more interested in the internals. We get caught up in performance rather than simply “being”. We become human doings instead of human beings.

Now, to shorten all this let me just recommend 4 books which speak to the heart of this. Read them at your own convenience. I think as people of prayer and intercession you will find them very helpful. They have been pivotal in my own current walk. (Books)

  1. Experiencing the Depths of Jesus Christ – Madam Guyon
  2. Rees Howells, Intercessor – Chapter 12 – identification, agony, authority (agony – there’s one we all like to talk about. No agony, no authority…)
  3. The Cloud of Unknowing, anonymous
  4. Abandonment to Divine Providence, Jean-Pierre de Caussade

I’ll come back to this last one in just a moment.

The Journey From Egypt to the Promised Land

Shortly before December 9th, I was thinking that maybe I ought to be a small group leader at New Life. I had this idea of teaching what is commonly called “the deeper life”. But, I don’t like a lot of what is passed off as deeper as it is too complicated. Seems to me that if it really is deep and it really is God even a child should be able to understand it. So, I tentatively called the group “Deeply Simple”.

I have often thought that the best way to explain something is by way of a story like Jesus did with His parables. And the best story I know of to explain the process of the deeper life is the journey of the children of Israel from Egypt through the Wilderness to the Promised Land.

The scriptures record that it could either have been an 11 day journey or 40 years. I think it is a very liberating idea. God will meet us right where we are – as unique individuals – and work with us. If it takes 11 days, great. If it takes 40 years, also great. He will be relentless in His pursuit of us. That takes the pressure off of us and helps us avoid the performance mentality trap.

But, notice something in this journey – the spiritual journey from Egypt to the Promised Land. It correlates with the Feasts of the Lord - Passover, Pentecost and Tabernacles. Passover – the feast where Israel is liberated from Egypt. Pentecost - tradition says God appears on the mountain. And then Tabernacles - when they reach the Promised Land to remind them of their wilderness journey. Passover - God delivers them with a mighty hand; the parting of the Red Sea.  At Pentecost, you have fire and thunder on the mountain. At Tabernacles – you have booths.

That’s pretty anti-climactic, isn’t it? This all comes under the idea of what are we looking for. We’ve had great moves of God in the past and there is always a lot of excitement and high drama. But, how do you get excited about booths?

At Passover you have salvation. At Pentecost you have the gifts of the Spirit. At Tabernacles, you enter into rest. The scriptures reveal that the children of Israel entered into rest when they entered the land and that we should, too. He that has ceased from his own labors has entered into rest. Isn’t that the end of our faith – to be at peace and rest? Isn’t that what the book of Hebrews is telling us? “some must enter in….”. I’m not trying to be dogmatic or deeply theological about this, but I wonder. I wonder if this is what God is trying to show us. Not very dramatic when compared to past moves of God, but incredibly powerful.

Dark Night of the Soul

There’s no need trying to make things appear better than they were. I had a really rough time in the hospital for the first week. I just couldn’t come to grips with the fact that this terrible trauma and tragedy had come to our family and that here I was wounded and in pain in the hospital. This did not seem to me to be the path that God had chosen for us. It didn’t seem right. Something had gone very wrong. In classical deeper life teaching, this is called a “dark night of the soul”. But, I also knew that He was there somewhere even if I could not sense His presence. Even as I was falling in the parking lot, I heard Him say, in answer to my protestations that this could not be happening to me…”we are going through” meaning, not over, not around, but through. Not a very comforting thought really.

A week later on Sunday evening, I was alone in my hospital room. I felt terrible. I was tired, I was nauseous and I honestly didn’t think I would make it out in time for my girls’ memorial service. The worst of it was that I did not sense His presence in the least. One of my counselors had recommended that I write down whatever thoughts came to me as a way of getting them out of my system.

So, I started writing. After only about two sentences, instead of writing my feelings related to what I thought was going on, I got into some really deep emotional stuff. I don’t think I had ever gone that deep before. Then it transformed into my pouring out my deep loss to God. I felt guilty because I wasn’t doing my psychological work, but on the other hand I felt I better go with this.

I began to see a light. Not the end of the tunnel, but at least a light. That was really encouraging. Then, the Lord spoke to me and said He was leading me out of this deep darkness. I asked Him where we were going and He replied, “Into Me.” I said, “I thought I was already in you?” To which He replied, “We are going to a place in me where you have never been.” “Where is this place and where are You, Lord?”, I asked. “Right here in the present moment.”

I was pretty startled by that as there didn’t seem to me to be anything in the present moment that bore the slightest resemblance to Him. "When you find Me in the present moment, you will begin to experience life in its fullest measure. There is a richness here you have not yet experienced. You will find it to be incredible as you walk in it.” I was completely amazed at what I was hearing. “The next person who comes through that door will be from me. Then the next and the one after that. Everything you see right here and now will be from me.”

This petrified me as I was alert enough to realize that even if the nurse who came into the room wanting to draw blood with that big honking needle was going to be from Him. I had gotten over my fear of needles – that was the least of my concerns in my condition. But that big one hurt like the dickens. And what if someone from the media figured out where I was and came in. What if some long lost friend made a surprise appearance? What if my brother came in again and wanted to hash over old misunderstandings and disagreements? And really, if He is here in this present moment, that logically means He was there in THAT present moment and that was a bit much to deal with.

In my experience with God, He doesn’t just show up and speak words in isolation. I also have the physical sensation of His presence. So here I was listening to this stuff and feeling Him at the same time so it wasn’t like I could just write this off to the pain medication or exhaustion. When He is present, it is also palpable and my mind also knows this is the correct course of action.

This can all sound all nice and good. But, in the practical side of my situation I had some pretty strong nausea to deal with and that is a very real concern. So, not only do I have to accept the person coming through the door, I also have to keep from barfing all over the place which was a key fear I had. Due to my abdominal injuries I was in no mood to barf.

Well, the next person that came through the door was, of course, a very helpful nurse who spoke just the right words and I could recognize God in it. And so was the next one. And the next one..

Then the Lord reminded me of a minor victory from the previous evening. I had actually let out a decent barf and I had survived!

So, now the threat of barfing could no longer hold me hostage nor could the fear of whoever was going to be next through the door. In fact, the last time I felt nauseous was 9 am Monday morning.

So, what am I really talking about here – deeply simple and all. The last book I mentioned above – Abandonment to Divine Providence – has another title under which it is sometimes sold – The Sacrament of the Present Moment. Those of you familiar with Catholic theology will appreciate the depth of this meaning. To Catholics, God is fully present in the Eucharistic elements. They take it literally when Jesus says “this is my blood and this is my body”. This is called transubstantiation. Now as Protestants we may not take it that far. However, He is present in the Eucharist or Communion or whatever it is your tradition calls it.

However, if you take that idea – of God being present at the Lord’s Table – and then transfer that to the present moment, then you can appreciate God being fully present in this present moment. And this is an important idea, for after all, He is the I Am, not the I Will Be. With God, there really is no past and no future because He lives in eternity and He has no beginning and no ending. He always was and always will be so therefore to Him there is only now.

And if we see Him now – in this present moment – then we also have entered into an incredible place of peace and rest and came into an experience of Him coming and tabernacling among us. And isn’t that really what it is all about? For the scriptures do say, “Christ in you, the hope of glory”.