I’ve never claimed to be a prophet. I don’t take lightly the idea of stepping out and saying, “Thus says the Lord,” unless it’s something he’s already said in the Word. I mean, in ancient Israel people were stoned when their prophecies didn’t come to pass (see Deuteronomy 18:20-22). What I’m about to say to you might seem presumptuous, but I’m going to risk saying it because it’s something I can’t shake from my spirit.
Recently, New Harmony has been experiencing an awakening from the Spirit of God. It started with our men, but it is quickly spreading into our women as well. I wish I could tell you that it came through the preaching ministry or through the worship ministry, but I can’t. That’s not to say that God hasn’t been blessing those ministries in our church; He’s been incredibly faithful and we hear good reports all the time. But God is currently using a local ministry called Encounter Ministry to blow a fresh wind of the Holy Spirit through our men and women. And the effects of that has been spilling over into our church in tremendous ways. In February I attended one of the encounter weekends for men (Men’s Encounter – it’s Ashes 2 Beauty for women). To see it for myself, seeing grown men have this head-on-collision with God, was amazing and it gave me some insights into how God is shaking up our people.
However, weeks after that weekend, I was still kind of wrestling with God over my time there. I prepared myself before I went. I prayed. I fasted. I took copious notes, even on the things that I’d heard before. I didn’t want to miss what God would say to me. And yet, I walked away from that weekend, encouraged to see my brothers built up in their faith, but still waiting for God to say something to me. I was almost jealous of how my brothers had been amped up, but I somehow missed the chance. Worship was a huge thing at Encounter, but I was slipping into a place where I didn’t even want to listen to music. I mean, I could worship with the Church because that’s easy, but in my personal time with God, I had no desire to worship.
Probably three weeks ago, I finally got an inkling to listen to some music, and a song came across my iTunes. It’s called, There Is A Cloud, by Elevation Worship. The song is inspired from Elijah’s time of prayer (1 Kings 18:41-45) after it hadn’t rained in Israel for three years. He kept sending his servant to see if the sky had changed, and on the seventh time, there was a cloud the size of a man’s hand rising from the sea. Soon after, the rain came in a downpour, and the end of the drought began.
As I listened, my heart turned. God began speaking to me. He was telling me that I don’t need to go away for a weekend to have a special encounter with him. I’ve had plenty of those in my life, and for this season of life, another retreat isn’t what I need. The thing that’s wrong with me is my ability to receive. The song’s chorus is simple: we receive your rain. And ever since, even in this moment, God has been showing me how my receiving capacity is diminished. It’s nice that I’m a pastor. It’s nice that I have a degree. It’s nice that I have a ministry. Those are all good things that God has given. But somewhere along the way in this, my capacity to receive from God was compromised.
How did my receiving capacity get short? It’s actually tragically simple: a lack of confession. Family, it’s not that I was never confessing. I confessed, but my confessions weren’t quick. When you let unconfessed sins pile up, what you end up with is a calloused spirit. When your spirit is calloused, your ability to hear the Holy Spirit is weakened. This cuts to the core of our relationship with God. Since the Holy Spirit is the seal of our redemption, and the very presence of Christ within us, and since He is a person with the full spectrum of emotions that anyone else would have, when we grieve Him through a lack of confession, our relationship becomes strained. Fortunately, He never leaves us because nothing – not even our relational strain – can separate us from Him (Romans 8:38-39).
So, as we have began singing this song in our church, it has spoken to the hearts of many. It has served as a confirmation of what so many are already sensing in their spirits. God has already began waking up many men and women among us. I believe, he’s waking us up so that we can reap a harvest of souls. I believe when God saves or when he revives, it’s not just for the sake of saving or reviving. Ephesians 2:10 tells us that he has preprepared work for us to do. Every salvation, every revived believer is saved or revived so that the kingdom of God might move forward.
I believe with all that is within that God is waking his people up in Salem, in Licking, in Rolla, in Houston, all around this area because a harvest is coming. There is a cloud that’s thundering with the healing rain of God’s Spirit, and what’s coming is something none of us could’ve expected. Already we’ve seen the rain fall on a few. My prayer for New Harmony, and for every Gospel preaching, Jesus loving church in our little corner of the Ozarks is that we are ready to receive. Get confessed. Prepare your heart. Let the rain fall and transform you, your family, your friends, your neighborhood, your city. Let the Kingdom of God invade the drug houses. Let the Holy Spirit mend broken marriages and satisfy the singles. Let the rule of Jesus Christ reign in our hearts so that our lives might be made new and darkness be pushed back by His light within us. Your kingdom come, Your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven!