I Have Felt the Tremors: Part 2
At about 4:15 on a Saturday morning in May, seven men—pastors and ministry leaders—loaded up into our 2005 Mercedes Sprinter to drive roughly 24 hours to Philadelphia, PA. The drive was filled with camaraderie, joking, and chatting about great Christian books, ministry and philosophy. I won’t tell you about the ridiculousness and stinkyness that may or may not have happened.
Long hours passed. Sleep deprivation sat in somewhere in middle Pennsylvania. A fun road trip became a bit of a “journey.” Expensive tolls. Trying to rest. Counting down the miles. Sleeping in a gravel parking lot next to the van behind a daycare center. Got up four hours later and drove some more….
And then we arrived…at possibly the biggest church I have ever been to.
The first thing we noticed was that it was almost impossible to get a parking spot for one of the three morning services. We jokingly mused, “Why is Pastor Joe so good at what he does??!!”
Upon entering the church, we saw—most strikingly—that most people looked like they WANTED to be there! This was a beehive of activity filled with information about getting involved and home fellowships. Their bookstore was stocked with some of the best literature on revival and the Holy Spirit, not to mention their study and commentary section was chalk full and brimming with written wisdom. They even put old books back into print from time to time!
So we find a seat in the in the “auditorium” or whatever and people are happy to greet us because we are the “obviously out-of-town” guys. Super welcoming. Super engaging. Then the worship started. It was focused on the Lord, not too showy, not their for entertainment—authentic. That was a big one for us. The message was solid and challenging, but with a lot of love and we finished by talking to some people and being invited to a free, catered lunch. Um, that was REAL good. Plus, we hung out with a ton of local pastors and other leaders in Calvary in town for the conference we were heading to in Maryland.
After Philly cheese-steaks late the night before, we jumped over to Maryland to experience even more of what the Holy Spirit was doing on the East Coast as we joined nearly 1,000 men to wait on the Lord, worship, and hear what God wanted to tell us. Immediately, the expectancy was intoxicating. Not only did men want to see God move in their own lives, but they were there because they KNEW He was going to! Really cool.
Even more so, than our Calvary Philly experience, was the worship focused and intense, yet strikingly simple. No entertainment, band extravaganza, just honoring music to the King. And as speaker after speaker came up to share what the Spirit had spoken to them through waiting on Him, many things started to come together and make sense. This was a non-themed conference, ever heard of one of those, just bring what The Lord is showing you to the table. Convicting. Utterly powerful. A tad Pentecostal. The Spirit & Christ were given center stage, not the movement, problems, the work, church, ministry—none of that. Jesus. Just Jesus. Very pinpointed. And it made me feel very small, in the best of ways….
You see, I have been a pastor for a whole 1.5 years and I thought I was starting to figure this thing out a bit. But God put men I have respected for a while, who have 100’s of collective years in ministry under their belts in front of me, and they seemed more humble and simple and “small” than ever before. It seemed I too would need to shrink at this place and let God be God, and all of us liars and thieves when it came to His Glory. I had nothing to offer. No talents or gifts. No super-cool ministry to taut, or success to speak of. I was standing in the throne room and my garments were dirty and my lips needed cleansed.
And I think that is what happened.
The Lord happened. I mean, very literally, you just set back and let the Lord “happen” to you. Way too simple. Very few books written on the subject. No webinar on this. No program. Just Him…engaging, enveloping, enrapturing. So refreshing.
We rounded out the trip with one last stop at CC Philly. Damien Kyle brought a heart-stopping message about the peerless, spotlessness of Christ as Passover Lamb. And then I got to sit down with Pastor Joe and tell him what was going down with us in the U.P. and he made himself available—genuine—and handed me an awesome stack of books. Pretty dang exciting, if I can say so myself!
As for my report on revival, I will quote Joe Focht (as I most often do) as he came to say goodbye to us crazy Michiganders after the conference as he shrugged his arms outward with that east-coast, what’s-a-matta-fa-you posture, “If that wasn’t the start of revival, I don’t know what is!” Sure thing man. What else can I say, a thousand men sitting before Jesus, praying, receiving the Word, and crying out for Revival—yeah, that’s about right!
I have indeed felt the early tremors of a last days, American Revival.