This weekend, I had the opportunity to lead a retreat at Camp Caroline for about 120 young adults. This retreat was hosted by McKernan and open to people from all across the province. God moved in a profound way this weekend and I wanted to use my blog to briefly share about some of what happened!
In order to frame what I believe happened, it will be helpful to share a prophetic picture that a friend of mine had a few months back. He said that while he was praying for the Baptist Church, he got this picture of a tree with deep roots. The two of us continued to pray together and we I saw that, while the roots were deep, they were only drawing water from a certain level. Below where the roots were reaching was a whole new water table and it would only take the roots to go a little bit deeper to reach that level. Once that level was reached, the tree would flourish as it now was drawing from a deeper level. I discerned that the deeper level we would be drawing from was the revelation of John 4: that Jesus’ followers would worship Him in Spirit and in Truth. The revelation was not that there would be a balance between the two, where we have ‘half Spirit – half truth’ or even a tension between the two, where at times we’d have ‘75% Spirit and 25% truth. The deep revelation that I believe God gave to me was that we would reach a place where we realize our worship is 100% Spirit and 100% Truth, for we cannot truly have one without the other, in fullness!
With this in the back of my mind and a commitment to pray daily for the purposes of God, we set forth on a retreat where our primary focus was going to be on discovering and exploring the nature of Holy Spirit and learning about how Holy Spirit is still at work today in and through the Church.
Praying for this retreat, I had 2 major words going through my head – repentance, and expectation. The first word had to do with the reality that many of us in more traditional denominations, I believe, have limited the Holy Spirit because we have put God into our ‘rational’ box and anything that doesn’t fit inside of our ‘rational’ box simply cannot be of God. The problem with this line of thinking is that the New Testament never paints a rational picture of God and the Church – the New Testament paints a supernatural picture of God and the Church where miracles were an everyday phenomenon and regular people were empowered by the Spirit to do extraordinary things. I believe that these miracles and phenomenon were not limited to the Bible times and that, when we expect the Holy Spirit to move in this way and when we keep our eyes fixed on the giver of the gifts rather than the gifts themselves, God moves! Anyways, I felt the word repentance because I believe that we have been offended with the Holy Spirit when He has done something beyond our expectations (I am guilty of this too). We also needed to repent of all of the jokes that we’ve made about Baptist Churches… like ‘O, Baptists’ don’t speak in tongues’ or ‘typical Baptist, no one was clapping’ and things like this…
The second word was expectation. On Wednesday night, we were praying for the event. God’s word says that He is able to do abundantly more than all we could ask or imagine… so that’s what we prayed, that God would do abundantly more than all we ask or imagine! We expected that God would hear our prayers. On a side note, I, Kirsten, and some of our good friends have been praying for YEARS that God’s Spirit would move in a powerful way in McKernan, and I believe that those prayers were answered this weekend!
On Friday night, I shared my testimony and spoke about how I have seen Holy Spirit at work in my own life. My hope in doing this was to help ‘de-mystify’ some of the things that can scare us when it comes to Holy Spirit and ways that He has been at work. I also hoped that my testimony would help to break down some of the impact that an intellectual relationship with God as opposed to a vibrant relationship with the Person of God can have on our spiritual lives (this session was recorded and will be available in the next few weeks online).
After my talk, I led the group in a time or repentance and filling. I asked those present to prayerfully discern ways that they may have been offended by Holy Spirit or allowed lack of belief/wrong views of the Spirit to hinder their understanding of their identity as followers of Christ. After this, we prayed that the Spirit would fill us anew. This was a profound night and I know that some people received Spiritual gifts and others were deeply touched as they realized that God is still at work today in an incredible way.
On Saturday morning, I gave a much more practical teaching on Holy Spirit – what the Bible has to say about the person of God, both identity and activity. It was a fun time of opening the word together and really pursuing what it means for God’s word to move from our heads to our hearts.
On Saturday night, Luc Niebergall, leader of Royal Identity ministries in Calgary came and spoke to us about the reality of God’s Kingdom today. He shared numerous stories of how God has moved through him and his friends and he also spent some time talking about how he has been compelled through the word of God to believe for miracles in his life. After this, he said that the best way to learn it would be to experience it, so he had those who had back pain stand. He had those seated around them pray for them and a few of those people were miraculously healed! He then had us continue to pray for those who needed healing, both physically and emotionally.
A few people had their knees healed (some after 2-3 years of pain), I heard of one girl whose shoulder was healed, Kirsten, my wife, had one leg longer than the other and was healed from that too! After God had done all of this, we worshipped together and glorified Jesus for what He had done. He truly moved as we cried out to Him! This was the answer to the prayers we had been praying that He would do more than we could ask or imagine.
On Sunday morning, Luc took some time to teach on some of the questions that had come up from the night before and it was a good time to really address some of the objections that we have to a night like we had just experienced. It was super helpful for many of the people present. Following this, Luc shared his testimony and led us in a time of inner healing, which, I think was deeply impactful for many in the room.
All in all, it was an amazing weekend. God’s Spirit moved in a profound way. What I found so incredible about it, though, was the fact that it didn’t fit any mould or expectation. It was simply a group of people who were hungry for God and God met them in their place of hunger. My prayer is that we will see incredible fruit from this weekend and that God will reveal to us how we are to continue to steward what He poured out on us as we gathered at camp this weekend. I look forward to what is to come as we continue to pursue the purposes of God together!