Rev Dr Edgar Mayer; Living Grace Toowoomba Church; Message on Snapshots of Jesus 06 – The Father’s Son; Date: 7 February 10

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The Father’s Son

 

Jesus is the Father’s Son. This is what mattered most to him and this is what stirred up the most opposition among so many people. For instance, John 5:17-18 – I read from the Bible: “ … For this reason the religious people [original: the Jews] tried all the harder to kill him … he was even calling God his own Father, making himself equal to God … ” This was at the heart of his mission. Miss his sonship and you miss everything. Jesus came to introduce us to the Father – our Father-God in heaven. One Bible book states in the very first chapter – John 1:18: “No one has ever seen God, but the only Son [Jesus Christ], who is truly God [himself] and is closest to the Father, has shown us what God is like” [CEV translation]. Jesus never tired of making this plain – John 6:46-47: “No one has seen the Father except the one who is from God; only he has seen the Father … he who believes [in me] has everlasting life.” John 3:35-36: “The Father loves the Son and has placed everything in his hands. Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life, but whoever rejects the Son will not see life, for God’s wrath remains on him.” John 10:30: “I and the Father are one.” John 10:38: “ … understand that the Father is in me, and I in the Father.” John 14:6: “ … No one comes to the Father except through me.”

How are we traveling with this? Chances are that we are struggling with this core revelation of Jesus – the Son of the Father – (What is God like – as a Father?) because none of our fathers are perfect. You may have a really great relationship with your dad but the general statistics are against us. In our culture – far too often – fathers are absent. Long hours at the office make them cranky at home and when divorce strikes a family, dads become even more remote. Then there are problems with raising children – discipline – either it is too harsh or there is simply not enough care to give firm directions on anything. Further, according to one writer: “If you’re a young man and you’re not being admired by an older man, you’re being hurt.”Not seeing your father when you are small, never being with him, having a remote father, an absent father, a workaholic father, is an injury.” “Between twenty and thirty percent of American boys now live in a house with no father present, and the demons there have full permission to rage” (Robert Moore). This is not good. Fathers – so many of them – are not coping with fathering. [They may not have been fathered themselves.]

It gets worse. Fathers even betray their calling. One resource Website in Queensland states: “Nowadays it is commonly accepted that: 1 in 6 boys is sexually abused before the age of 18. 1 in 4 girls is sexually abused before the age of 18. This is equivalent to 332,516 Queensland men having experienced child sexual abuse and the number is far greater for women” (http://www.livingwell.org.au/Home.aspx). Men (but not only men) – fathers even – are perpetrators of abuse. Then – to make this more radical still – in our culture fathers – many of them – do not protect the unborn. As a whole we do not speak up enough. In Australiaevery year about 100,000 babies are killed in the womb, that is: 2 aborted babies for every 5 born.

Therefore, what does it mean to us that – according to Jesus – God is our Father? What goes through your mind when you connect the words Godand father”? What do you think that he is like? We are now having a debate where numerous Christians say that God must not be called Fatherbecause this term is masculine, patriarchal, and oppressive to women – and men. So many people are struggling with Father-God. One pastor writes: “I thought ‘Jesus is OK, but watch out for God …’” (John Arnott: The Father’s Blessing, Orlando: Creation House 1996, p23).

Maybe you recognize this kind of logic: “God is an angry God who wanted to punish us because we are not good. But Jesus loved us and died to pay for our sins, so God had to let us go free. God would still like to get us, but he can’t, because Jesus keeps him from it. Jesus, our Saviour who loves us, saves us from God, the righteous Judge, who hates us” (Shirley C. Guthrie: Christian Doctrine, Atlanta: John Knox Press 1968, p91). Is this what we think? Many do – but it is not true. Jesus came to introduce us to the Father and he hammered the point that the Father was exactly like him – same will, same love, same compassion. Jesus said – John 10:30: “I and the Father are one.” John 14:9: “ … Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father … ” Therefore – just as Jesus loved us – the Father loved us: so much so that he bore the pain – endured the breaking of a Father’s heart – when he gave his Son Jesus to be a sacrifice for our sins.

If – right now – you still find that you are not comprehending the depth of God’s fatherhood, then this is a good starting point for learning more this morning and please know that you are in good company. I read to you a conversation which Jesus had with his disciples – those that had lived with him for years – John 14:6-14: “Jesus answered: ‘ … No one comes to the Father except through me. If you really knew me, you would know my Father as well … ’ Philip said: ‘Lord, show us the Father and that will be enough for us.’ Jesus answered: ‘Don’t you know me, Philip, even after I have been among you such a long time? Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, Show us the Father? Don’t you believe that I am in the Father and that the Father is in me? The words I say to you are not my own. Rather, it is the Father, living in me, who is doing his work …’”

Knowing Jesus is knowing the Father because everything that Jesus did – who he was – came out of his intimacy with the Father. Jesus opened up something for us – introduced us to the Father. Philip said: “Lord, show us the Father and that will be enough for us.” The good news is that Jesus did show us the Father and it is enough for us – today – this morning. [Consider also that God tolerates no substitute fathers – Matthew 10:37: “Anyone who loves his father or mother more than me is not worthy of me … ” 23:9: “And do not call anyone on earth ‘father,’ for you have one Father, and he is in heaven.” Yet, there is positive fathering in Christ Jesus – 1 Corinthians 4:16: “ … in Christ Jesus I became your father through the gospel.”]

Jesus knew that the Father was so good. Even when he was in absolute agony, crying out – Mark 14:34: “My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death … ”, he knew that he was praying to a loving Father. At night – when everything was dark – he kept praying – Mark 14:36: “Abba, Father, everything is possible for you … Yet not what I will, but what you will.” The Father was Abbato him, that is: Dad. “God you are my Dad.”

The same experience sustained the first Christians when they faced their own darkness. They wrote – 2 Corinthians 1:8: “We were under great pressure, far beyond our ability to endure, so that we despaired even of life.” Yet, they also shared – 2 Corinthians 1:3-4: “Praise be to … the Father of compassion [the Father of mercies] and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles … ” God is good and he is your Father.

Consider some more Bible references on how much you can trust the Father whom Jesus – his Son – introduced to us – Matthew 6:25-34: “ … do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear … do not worry … your heavenly Father knows [what you need] … ” Matthew 7:11: “If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!” Then, Jesus told a story where a son demanded his inheritance before the death of his father and then squandered all of his wealth in wild living. He came back in rags and not a penny to his name but this is what the father did – an image of what Father-God does for any sinner coming back to him – Luke 15:20: “ … while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him; he ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him.” God is good and he is your Father. Trust Jesus in this.

Now I want to become practical. How do you get a relationship with God where you know deep in your heart that he is your Father – the Father of mercies and comfort? The key to knowing the Father is in the following words of Jesus – John 14:18 – he said: “I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you.” John 14:16: “ . I will ask the Father, and he will send you the Holy Spirit who will help you and always be with you.” Jesus – the Son – introduced the Father to us and when he returned to heaven, the Father did what Jesus asked him to do, that is: the Father made the Holy Spirit come to us with the result that now the Spirit of God is active (even this morning in this church) in establishing and growing the same relationship between us and the Father which Jesus enjoyed here on earth. The knowledge of the Father will never go away. Consider two more Bible references – Romans 8:15: “ … you received the Spirit of sonship [daughtership]. And by him we cry, ‘Abba, Father.’” Galatians 4:6: “ … God sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, the Spirit who calls out, ‘Abba, Father.’”

Therefore, the key to the Father is the Holy Spirit because it is by him that we cry out – in trust: “Abba, Father.” If – so far – God has remained alien to you. The concept of a Father-God is in your head but not your heart, then you need more of the Holy Spirit. Ask for him. Every Christian receives the Holy Spirit and this morning you may allow him free access to your heart, mind, will and emotions. Sometimes the Bible talks about the person of the Holy Spirit as if he were a substance which can be poured out on people. He can drench you and fill you and saturate you until God is no longer just God but a Father – who loves you so much that he did not spare his only-begotten Son but gave him for you.

I will remain practical and look at what God has done in our own – more recent – history and across the world over the last few years. On Sunday 2 March 2008 I preached a message on opposing the moves of God. This is not what I had intended to preach but when I sat down to write the message, the sermon writing took on a life of its own”. As a Lutheran pastor I reflected on our Lutheran culture in Australia where so many times we happened to be on the wrong side of God. As a denomination we opposed the prayer meetings in preparation for the Billy Graham crusades in the 50s [General Synod statement, 1968: “ … We cannot, however, recommend participation or cooperation of our pastors and congregations in Dr Graham’s campaign. Dr Graham does not proclaim the Gospel in its truth and purity … Participation in the preliminary prayer meetings and cooperation in the campaign can hardly avoid compromise of the truth and entanglement in unionism … ”] and plenty of negative words have been spoken against the Alpha Course, Emmaus, 40 Days of Purpose, Hillsong, etc.

While I was preaching, I had a new experience. I felt a waveof the Holy Spirit go through me and – surprised – I thought: “Oh – God, you are pleased.” Then, for no particular reason – with no hidden agenda – I concluded by preaching that our opposition to the Toronto Blessing was also wrong.

This is what I said:

 

“As far as maligned movements go, what God poured out on the Toronto Airport church in 1994 ranks among the most maligned movments in modern church history … When you hear the word ‘Toronto Blessing’ is your reaction a good one or a bad one – and if it is a bad one (which it was for me for a long time) what do you actually know about this church and their leaders? …

I was confronted with my own preconceived ideas when I happened to listen to another mp3 sermon on the internet which happened to be by the pastor of that particular church. I expected a preacher from that kind of church to be loud and noisy and energetic and entertaining (drawing people in) but he was rather the opposite – a bit slow and unemotional – preaching basic Bible truths. I scratched my head and then a few months later I bought a second-hand book which turned out to be written by the same pastor: ‘The Father’s Blessing’ …

Let me give you a few quotes: ‘In October 1992, Carol and I started giving our entire mornings to the Lord, spending time worshiping, reading, praying and being with him. For a year and a half we did this, and we fell in love with Jesus all over again. Intimacy with Jesus is what we signed up for … ’ (John Arnott: The Father’s Blessing, Orlando: Creation House, p58) … ‘ Tens of thousands now have a story to tell, often with a similar theme: I don’t understand why I shook, fell, laughed, cried, rolled, jerked or whatever. But one thing I know, I used to be fearful; I used to be crippled inside; I used to be ineffective as a Christian; I used to have to use all my energy to keep my emotional strength up just to live another day; I used to be bound by hurts and fears. But now I am free, because the Spirit of God came to me and released me … ’ (John Arnott: The Father’s Blessing, Orlando: Creation House, p68). ‘This new move of God … produces good fruit – Jesus is glorifed …’ (John Arnott: The Father’s Blessing, Orlando: Creation House, p76) …

One of Toowoomba’s local Anglican priests – whom I trust – he has been to that Toronto church for a number of times and he has always come home renewed. Then the Alpha course can also be linked to the inspiration and empowerment which has flowed from Toronto to London – from Pentecostals to Anglicans. Rolland and Heidi Baker – missionaries in Mozambique – they came with Heidi being sick with pneumonia and total burn-out but then received healing in that Toronto church – lying on the carpet – and a prophetic commissioning by Jesus himself (who appeared to Heidi in a vision) – which has seen them subsequently plant more than 6000 churches in only five years – among Muslims – and the work continues even to this day …

There was and there is good fruit coming from this Toronto church and while not everything may be perfect: Why can’t we rejoice? Can we?”

 

After the message – as a church – as Lutherans – we repented before God. One person after another came forward, took the microphone and prayed – humble prayers – bringing before God our families and denomination, our pride and culture. We were sorry for opposing the moves of God.

This had immediate consequences. We repented on Sunday and on Wednesday I found myself attending the first session of a church conference at the Gold Coast. A friend (another local pastor) had invited me along and – without knowing anything about the hosts or venue or conference speaker – I came along only to find out that the conference was put on by a church that is part of the Toronto Airport church network [the Toronto Airport church being the home of the “Toronto Blessing”]. Thus – immediately – after our repentance on Sunday – without delay – God made me step into the stream of blessings coming out of Toronto.

On Thursday night an impartation was given and I hit the carpet for the first time in my life. On Friday – “by chance” – before the meeting – I had the opportunity to chat with the hosting pastor and I told him the story which he then asked me to share with the entire conference. I did and at the end of my sharing I was able – once again – before these witnesses – before the “Toronto Blessing” hosts – to repent as a Lutheran pastor for opposing the moves of God.

The aftermath of the whole experience had some unpleasant outcomes. Within Living Grace there were second thoughts about a more positive attitude to the Toronto Blessing”. Then, anonymous sources complained about my preaching to the presidents which led to ongoing pressure and meetings in Adelaide where the District President asked two of our denomination’s scholars to examine some of my sermons – including the one on opposing the moves of God – but in the end the District President wrote to all the Queensland Lutheran pastors: “ … I am satisfied that Edgar’s public teaching in these sermons is not inconsistent with the public doctrine of the LCA … ”

Yet, the pressure only served to underline the importance of what God was doing in our midst. When I came home from the conference – and as I reflected more on God’s guidance – I realized that the blessings of Toronto had already been scheduled to come to us in another way. Only eight weeks later – from the Sunday that we repented – Pastor Peter Steicke – the senior pastor of the Lutheran Good Shepherd congregation in Adelaidewas to conduct the Father’s Heartseminar in our church. And now I remembered the story of how he came to teach this seminar. He was on his way home from a mission trip to Uganda, when he stopped over in Amsterdam (Holland), visited a church and was prayed over by a former staff member of the Toronto Airport church. As a consequence he fell down under the power of the Holy Spirit and – in an instant – received massive revelation about God the Father. He experienced Father-God – deep intimacy with the Father. He was prayed over twice and went down twice – with the pastor saying: “He is a Lutheran. He needs it.” While he was lying on the carpet – God – in a supernatural way – downloaded into him revelation – all the Bible passages on the Father and his love. This is what he came to share with us at Living Grace and this is what he meant to impart into us – what he himself had received in Amsterdam – the Father heart of God.

 

[From an email – Peter Steicke (30 January 2010): Not only that but when I left Uganda I remember looking out the window of the plane thinking, ‘I never want to see this God-forsaken place again.’ I was full of despair. Upon receiving the impartation of the Father heart of God, not only did the despair lift instantly and miraculously, but I was also given a ‘divine download’, a vision of returning to Uganda (which four days earlier I had never wanted to see again!) to share with them the love of the Father in a country full of both physical and spiritual orphans.”]

 

We did have a good weekend and Peter did pray for an impartation of the Father’s heart into us but it is only now that I am beginning to grasp the greater significance of what happened. I have the feeling that – as uncomfortable as it may be to be exposed to some negative limelight – we may take upthe blessings of Toronto in a more conscious way.

For years I had the mistaken assumption that the Toronto Blessingwas about the Holy Spirit and in a sense it was. At the Toronto Airport church – in January 1994 – about one hundred and sixty people attended a service and then experienced an outpouring of the Holy Spirit. Numbers soon swelled to about three million visitors from all over the world in only six years – a great move of the Holy Spirit – but it was not primarily about the Holy Spirit. It was about the Father and the truth of these Bible passages – Romans 8:15: “ … you received the Spirit of sonship [daughtership]. And by him we cry, ‘Abba, Father.’” Galatians 4:6: “ … God sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, the Spirit who calls out, ‘Abba, Father.’”

And this may be bigger and far more significant than I first suspected. Our own small history is swallowed up in something bigger. So much what is going on in the Christian world right now (at least in the West) has been touched by Toronto or walks in partnership with Toronto. Pastor Bill Johnson – impacting the world himself – writes: “One of the great privileges in my life is to speak at Toronto Airport Christian Fellowship (TACF). I am always amazed at their ability to steward the greatest move of God of our lifetime. The grace and wisdom they carry is very inspiring” (Fred & Sharon Wright: The World’s Greatest Revivals, Shippensburg: Destiny Image 2007, p17). He has, tongue in cheek, called TACF the Mother Ship” (Fred & Sharon Wright: The World’s Greatest Revivals, Shippensburg: Destiny Image 2007, p249).

In a book – that covers church history over the last six hundred years – the authors (Fred & Sharon Wright) identify seasons of great interventions by God – tsunami wave revivals – of which (they think) there are four. According to the authors there are a few defining characteristics of tsunami wave revivals. I quote only a few observations:

 

“ … There are two components that every major revival features. First, it emphasizes essential truths about the nature and purposes of God that have been ignored, discarded, or lost by successive generations of professing believers and well-meaning church leaders and theologians. Second, the revival is spurred on by hungry and desperate people who are seeking answers to their needs, the Church’s needs, and society’s needs … Tsunami wave revivals are preceded and followed by smaller wave revivals … Tsunami wave revivals have two initial stages in their early development: the gathering stage and the scattering stage. During the gathering stage, there is a definite local or regional focal point, often based in a church … Then comes the scattering stage, which is when many think the revival is over. Actually, the revival has now moved into the most dangerous phase for the kingdom of darkness, because now the message and values that it carries are identified. It becomes a mobile, transferable, and hard-to-trace reality. Instead of impacting just thousands, now it begins to impact millions, transforming whole nations as it moves throughout the world … It takes decades for the whole Church to fully embrace and cultivate the fresh insights that birth tsunami wave revivals … ” (Fred & Sharon Wright: The World’s Greatest Revivals, Shippensburg: Destiny Image 2007, p27-29).

 

We do not have time to get into any sort of detail but the authors identify these four revivals: “1. The Reformation [beginning in 1517], released through Martin Luther, restored the truth that Jesus Christ is the only means of Salvation. 2. The First Great Awakening [ca 1730-1755], released through John Wesley, restored the truth that the Church needs to fulfill the Great Commission (i.e.: disciple nations). 3. The Pentecostal Revival [beginning in 1906], released through William Seymour at Azuza Street, restored the truth about the baptism, infilling, indwelling, and empowering of the Holy Spirit. 4. The Father Heart Revival [‘Father’s Blessing’ rather than ‘Toronto Blessing’ – beginning in 1994], released in Toronto, restored the truth that we need to experience the Love of God the Father and enjoy intimacy with Him.” (Fred & Sharon Wright: The World’s Greatest Revivals, Shippensburg: Destiny Image 2007, p41).

Some Christians tend to own only one of these four revivals. For them it is all about Martin Luther or John Wesley but we are meant to rejoice in all of them – walk in the fullness of God’s revelation to us. At this point in our own history maybe we can become more conscious of God’s current world-wide agenda – imparting in us the Spirit by which we cry “Abba” – Father-God – “Dad”. God wants us to know that we are loved. Families all over the world are under attack. Fathers are taken out by wars and work – disease (e.g.: AIDS) and divorce. We need a father that is never going to leave us. God knows and he says to you – and me: “I am your Father. I will never leave you. I know what you need and I will provide for you. I love you. I am pleased with you. I delight in you.”

At first, the leadership in Toronto was confused about what was happening. The senior pastor wrote in his book The Father’s Blessing”:

 

“When renewal started happening in our church during the ministry time on January 20, 1994, almost 80 percent of the people were on the floor, laughing, rolling and having the greatest time. I thought, ‘Lord, this is great. I am glad we are getting a little happier and more joyful. We needed to lighten up, but let us get on with the job of getting people converted!’ Others would even say to me, ‘This is supposed to be a move of God? How many people are getting saved?’ ‘People are being saved. We had five saved last night.’ I responded. ‘That’s not revival. A revival is when hundreds of people get saved and the community is impacted!’

At first I agreed. I told the Lord that I wanted to see people come to Jesus, to see them healed. So I started preaching more on salvation, but after the sermons, I noticed that the ministry time was difficult.

I didn’t understand that. The Holy Spirit was not flowing, and the people were not receiving from the Lord the same as before. The number of people who came to Christ was not as great as it was when I had talked about the joy of the Lord or the love of God or phenomena in the Bible. I asked the Lord why and was surprised by his response: ‘It is because you are pushing me.’ I said: ‘Lord, I don’t want to push you. What do you mean?’ God’s reply floored me: “Is it all right with you if I just love on my church for a while?’ … (John Arnott: The Father’s Blessing, Orlando: Creation House 1996, p20-21).

 

However, later this man understood what God was doing. He declared:

 

“ … Most are gun-shy about this kind of love and closeness; we don’t know what to do with it. It makes people very uncomfortable when we start preaching about intimacy. They say, ‘Come on. Don’t give us that mushy stuff. We want to hear the gospel.’ But the funny thing is that this really is the gospel. You can read it in John 3:16: ‘For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.’ …

The greatest revelation I hear night after night is that God has come to people by the power of the Holy Spirit and revealed his love to them personally, often through visions and dreams and prophecy. They say, ‘I know now that my heavenly Father really loves me.’ … “ (John Arnott: The Father’s Blessing, Orlando: Creation House, pp20-30).

 

Another leader from Toronto shared in a similar vein. He wrote:

 

“ … weekly chartered planes … thousands of visitors . came to see for themselves what was going on. Many of them ended up on the floor, laughing, crying, shaking, or repenting of sin. When asked what they were experiencing during these times, they would often answer that God the Father was pouring His love into their hearts … [the] Toronto Airport Church became the number one tourist attraction in Toronto during the summers of 1994 … Many would readily acknowledge that they were having a good time in the presence of the Lord and that they were enjoying the Lord’s refreshing touch upon them. Once they were back home, however, as time passed, what they had experienced was often interpreted as just a nice experience … No one was more surprised than me when criticism broke out over local Christian radio stations and in books. The focus of that criticism could be summed up in this question, which was hurled our way: ‘If this is revival, why aren’t you out in the streets evangelizing?’ Because I didn’t understand what was undergirding this outbreak of God’s presence, I became confused when the criticisms came our way. We were trapped between the critics of the revival and the lovely swirl of God’s mighty presence and wonderful manifestations … As I look back at that time now, I realize that many of the visitors to Toronto missed something vital to what the Toronto Revival is all about … Underneath the often mind-boggling manifestations, the overwhelming sense of His presence, and the displays of His great power in each revival, there is always an underlying significant truth that God is moving Heaven and earth to reestablish in men’s minds and hearts.

The two key truths proclaimed throught he Toronto Revival are: 1. Father God really loves His children, and He wants us to know and experience that love, and 2. He loves us too much to leave us the way we are, and He wants to set us free from past hurts that keep us in bondage … ” (Fred & Sharon Wright: The World’s Greatest Revivals, Shippensburg: Destiny Image 2007, p36-38).

 

God was loving on his church for a while – and (this morning) God can love on us for a while – because out of intimacy with him there will be an explosion of people coming to him from all over the world. Who would not want to be loved by Father-God?

Quickly now – just three examples of Toronto impacting the church across the nations. 1. Holy Trinity Brompton in London:

 

“‘The Holy Spirit hits South Kensington’ was the front page headline in the London section of The Independent (21st June 1994). It was not the first and was unlikely to be the last. London’s flourishing Holy Trintiy Brimpton, a charismatic Anglican church, had been rocked by waves of ‘holy laughter’, weeping and a multitude of other phenomena during its two meetings on Sunday 29th May.

The speaker at these meetings was Elli Mumford, a member of the pastoral team at the South West London Vineyard, a growing church which meets in Putney. She had recently returned from visiting the Airport Vineyard Church in Toronto. The Airport Church had met every night, except Mondays, since January 20th. Over 30,000 had visited the church, including in excess of 2,000 church leaders.

Elli had been transformed by her visit. She had gone there feeling spiritually ‘burnt out’ and longing for a fresh understanding and vitality in her relationship with Jesus. As she received prayer and encouragement she discovered God anew, much of the time while ‘on the carpet’ prostrate before God …

She asked the congregation to stand while she prayed that the Lord would bless them and give them all that he had. Soon hundreds were laughing, weeping, receiving prayer and meeting with God. Holy Trinity Brompton (HTB) was not the first church in the United Kingdom to be touched in this way, but the publication of their church newsletter detailing the events of Sunday 29th was to trigger an avalanche of publicity in The Sunday Telegraph, Daily Mail, The Independent and The Times. Christian word-of-mouth and the newspaper coverage would draw hundreds of ministers to the church in the following weeks; soon hundreds of churches were engulfed by the most intense spiritual fervour they had ever known.

In the midst of these ‘days of heaven’ an HTB staff member spoke of the ‘Toronto blessing’ and very soon the label became attached to what many believed was a special ‘time of refreshing from the hand of the Lord’. … Elli Mumford’s unadorned and heartfelt testimony was to be like a spark to dry grass in many churches, many of whom played the cassette over the church PA system and then witnessed astonishing scenes as pastors fell off platforms and keeled over in the choir stalls … ” (Dave Roberts: The ‘Toronto Blessing’, Eastbourne: Kingsway Publications 1994, p11-12). Additional comment: We know Holy Trinity Brompton through Nicky Gumbel and the Alpha Course which has reached millions across the world.

 

2. Brownsville, Pensacola (Florida):

 

“Little marked Father’s Day 1995 as more than routine. Families filed into the Brownsville sanctuary to celebrate dad’s special day. Visiting missionary-evangelist Steve Hill approached the pulpit to detail his recent Holy Spirit encounter at Holy Trinity Church, Brompton, England, his contagious enthusiasm sparking anticipation. Soon Hill invited attendees for prayer, but Father God revealed a different agenda. As members surged forward, God intervened to pour out His Spirit in an amazing visitation that continues today.

The following months featured service followed by service, attendees leaving in the wee hours to glean a little sleep, work a few hours, then return to this powerful deposit of God’s presence. Nightly, Rev. Hill shared fresh, anointed messages and cast his nets, drawing in souls touched by God’s convicting power as teen Charity James sang with urgent appeal the summons, Mercy Seat. Word spread, beckoning the hungry and the desperate from nearby communities, then surrounding states, the nation, and finally the world. Worshipers from nearly every continent flocked to the West Pensacola suburb of Brownsville to receive a touch from the Father.

Rocked by the sudden visitor inflow and awed by this Holy Visitation, Pastor Kilpatrick, Rev. Hill, Pastor’s assistant, Rose Compton, and church leaders strategized to accommodate the sudden response. Leadership scheduled four weekly revival services. Brownsville Prayer, Usher, and Personal Ministry teams, supported by other community churches, mobilized to host the guests. For more than eight years, visitors arrived, hungry, to leave powerfully changed.

Over ten years later, God continues to meet visitors from the nations. Millions have come, hungry to hear from God. Hundreds of thousands have responded to His call to salvation and a commitment to holiness, and a fresh charge has issued throughout the world for holiness and fresh intimacy with God.”

Did you notice the prophetic significance of the day which God picked for the outpouring? Father’s Day!

 

3. Rolland & Heidi Baker, Mozambique:

 

“I’m just a little preacher in the dirt. I’m just a servant in the dirt. I just sit with the people in the dirt, with the poor. Nothing special … My husband and I had both studied 10 years. Everyone said with that kind of education we should be training pastors. But God said, ‘Just pick up dying children.’ …

And then we went to Toronto. I was so exhausted. My husband had gotten so touched there, so I went. That’s when I saw the body of Jesus broken. It was awful. It was ugly. It was disgusting. It was all ripped and broken. He handed some of His broken body to me, it was horrible. It became bread. Then there were thousands … tens of thousands of children in the vision. He said, ‘Give them something to eat.’ And then I looked into His eyes and I looked at Him. He’s so beautiful, you see. He’s so beautiful that all the fear melted away. At that point, I had 320 children and I was tired. They all lived with me and my husband. They all call us Mama and Papa. They had to be fed every day. And educated every day. And clothed every day. All we got was severe persecution from the government. We had no water and no electricity. We had malaria and dysentery. We had dust. And yet, Jesus eyes wrecked me. Just looking into His eyes. Then He showed me a poor man’s cup. It was wooden. It wasn’t jewels and beautiful. And He held it to His right side and blood and water poured into it. He said, ‘Give it to all the children.’ And as I did, they all drank. Thousands and tens of thousands. He told me it was suffering and joy. He said I had to drink it too … suffering and joy.

So I went back to Mozambique after that experience and all hell broke loose. But I never lost faith because I knew what God could do. All of our support got taken away because we went to Toronto. This big church that was our main support, took away our money. The Marxists took away our building. We were in terrible, terrible shape. All I could remember was the eyes of Jesus. That’s the first time we had a miracle of multiplication. Then the Marxists took our building and the church we loved took away the money. (By the way, the pastor of the church is our dear friend. God has restored all things. It was because we blessed and did not curse. We refused to get angry. We just blessed and blessed and blessed. He’s the most godly man we know.) What happened was that all the children started walking 27 kilometers barefoot. They came to our little office since the Marxists had taken away our building. So we were homeless with all these children … We had every destruction imaginable. Our children were beaten, had rocks thrown at their heads … We had one toilet. All these kids, no food. Our money was gone. Our support was gone. But I remembered the eyes of Jesus. I’ve seen His face. Exodus 33 ‘Unless You go before me, I cannot go.’

And there I was I was so exhausted. My husband put big Scripture verses all over the wall. He’d print them out for me. I was praying these prophet prayers. I was angry, Why would such a thing happen? Look at this, we are in a  disaster. All these kids. There’s no toilet. There’s no bed. There’s no food. What are we supposed to do? They called me Mama. They said, ‘Where you go, we will go. We want to follow Jesus.’ The Marxists said they could stay but they couldn’t pray, they couldn’t read the Bible. But they said they would follow Jesus. And they all left, all of them. A mass exodus.

No one stayed. We had to escape in the night for our life. There was a contract out on my life for $20.00. My two blonde children and my husband and myself had to escape in the middle of the night. We had to leave our clothes. We left everything. We took the little children in our two trucks who couldn’t walk. The big ones walked 27 kilometers. They were beaten for worshipping Jesus and they refused to stay. They were singing, ‘But God is great.’ And they are walking and worshipping and they are being beaten. But they don’t care. They said, ‘We love Jesus more than anything. We will go where you go.’

It was the first time we had food multiplied. This woman brought chili and rice for our family of four. I opened the door and said, ‘We have a huge family.’ All these kids. I don’t know how many children there were. Probably more then a hundred. The woman yelled, ‘no’ when I opened up the door … ‘There is only food for four. I didn’t make enough.’ She was not happy. I said, ‘There’s always enough because He died.’ I was very tired. I didn’t even think. It wasn’t like I was full of faith. I was tired. I had all these kids who were tired. They had just walked 27 kilometers. They were sick they were exhausted, they were dirty. So we prayed. We had a little bowl of cornmeal that we had, some chili and rice. If you stretched it, it could have fed 10 people, at most. I said, ‘Let’s give them a lot, because they are hungry.’ We had these plastic bowls, I didn’t know God could multiply plastic at the time, but we started filling them up, everybody ate, even the woman. She was crying by now because she had never seen a miracle. She told everyone that came to her house about what Jesus had done …

The revival in Mozambique came in the midst of great floods … In the midst of famine, in the midst of flood, people are running to Jesus by the thousands … So we saw and we continue to see this day, great miracles of multiplication. We have food multiply all the time. God told me, ‘Feed the nations’. So we feed the nations physical and spiritual food. There’s always enough because He died. So I just believe Him.

From there, God’s just expanded everything. My husband came to Pensacola and stood in line, waited all day, and just got so, so touched. We are so hungry for revival. We went back to Toronto. We were so desperate. The Lord showed me hundreds of churches. I laughed hysterically. It had taken us seventeen years to plant four churches. How could He do that since we were just picking up dying children. So I asked Him for a strategy while I was on my face in Toronto. He said to give the first fruits … this dorm that you finally built … give it to the pastors. ‘I can’t do that … I built it for the orphans.....what will people say???’ Okay, so we gave it to be a Bible School. It was a small group of pastors, maybe 12 or 14. The fire of God fell on them. Just as I was stuck to the floor, with the electric shock bolts of God going through me, all the power, all the fire, all the dying to self, purification. It all happened to those guys, everything I got, they got.

God showed me that two of them would raise the dead. They went out the next week, found dead people, and raised them from the dead in Jesus name. It brought incredible revival. It brought a whole village to the Lord. We’ve seen 16 people raised from the dead in Mozambique now, maybe more. We can’t count anymore, we don’t even know how many churches we have. We know we have churches in 17 countries. The movement is one of the fire, the passion, and the love of Jesus burning in people. They just run out and plant churches like nothing you’ve ever seen. Muslims are coming by the thousands to the Lord Jesus. We were told they wouldn’t come, they were unreachable. We just started a Bible College in a Muslim province early in January 2003. They are running to Jesus. In one little church of about 15, the Lord told me to call everybody up who had demons. The power of God fell in front of an angry, Muslim crowd. They were pinned to the ground and set free in front of this mocking, angry crowd. The crowd then knelt in the dirt and received Jesus as their Savior. We now have 10 churches in that province. Just like that because of the power of God.

We have one little woman who is a pastor’s wife who has raised 3 children from the dead in a Muslim province, out of the grave boxes. This happened in a period of 7-8 months. We now have 59 churches in that province. The blind are seeing, the deaf hearing, the cripple are walking, the dumb are speaking, the poor hear the good news. We have 1500 children living in our centers. This is the best part. I said, ‘God how are we going to take care of the thousands more?’ He said, ‘I’m going to touch the hearts of men and those men are going to receive the heart of the Father, and they will take in the orphans. You model it. I want every pastor to take one to ten children.’ God has promised me 10,000 churches by October. We will have it. That is 100,000 children taken in. Do you see? So we took in eight boys as our own. With our two, it makes ten. God said, ‘If you’ll model it, they will follow.’ So we just asked the pastors to believe God and take the children in.

It’s scary when God asks you to feed the nations, especially if He tells you not to ask others for anything. He has told us to provide communal farms for the pastors. So we start a farm for 10 churches and it feeds the orphans and the widows, and the pastors as well. We have chicken, goat, duck, rice farms … every kind of farm. But we do have a major famine in one of the provinces. Many are dying, pastors and some children. It shocks your system to go from preaching where there is a famine to here in the luxuriant western world. I see dying, I see suffering, I see pain. The Lord told me that the church would care, and you did here at this conference. I’m so grateful for the incredible offering. People in the river of revival do care for the poor and I saw it demonstrated with no hype, no fuss in this conference … a sacrificial offering for the poor, the hungry, the dying. I believe that out of this revival in Pensacola there will be hundreds and hundreds of missionaries sent out. They will be a new breed who will not grow weary of well doing, but a breed who knows how to live in the intimate place. They will have fruitfulness unto harvest … intimacy … it all flows out of the secret place.

I’ll never go back. I’ll live in the secret place. My greatest desire is to live for Jesus and to die for Jesus, and to bring in hundreds of thousands and hundreds of thousands for His kingdom” (Interview with Heidi Baker – April 16, 2003).

 

Father-God can do a lot when we allow him to love on us for a while. Can you see it again that it was in Toronto that Heidi was commissioned by Jesus and that it was about caring for thousands of orphans – communicating the Father-heart of God to thousands of fatherless and motherless children? Then – out of this basic ministry of experiencing the Father-heart of God – a great work of mission was birthed – thousands of churches – with every pastor taking in orphans themselves – living out the Good News that we all have a Father-God.

Father-God can do a lot when we allow him to love on us for a while. This morning we need to experience him – know deep within ourselves – that we have a Father in heaven who loves us more than we can ever imagine. Did you notice how this revelation was passed on? It was by the power of testimony – sharing what God has done. The Spirit began to move in Holy Trinity Brompton (London) when Elli Mumford shared what had happened in Toronto [“ … many churches, many of whom played the cassette over the church PA system and then witnessed astonishing scenes as pastors fell off platform and keeled over in the choir stalls … ”] and the Spirit broke out in Pensacola when Stephen Hill shared his experiences at Holy Trinity Brompton (London). The Bible explains this basic principle by saying – Revelations 19:10: “ … the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy.” There is power in testifying to what God has done because the words of the testimony have prophetic power which means that they can recreate what has been shared. [This is also what we have done in today’s preaching.] Furthermore, Elli Mumford, Stephen Hill, Heidi Baker and so many others received the move of the Spirit by going to the place where it was happening and receiving prayer by the laying on of hands. This is also in the Bible Acts 8:17-18: “Then Peter and John placed their hands on them, and they received the Holy Spirit … the Spirit was given at the laying on of the apostles’ hands … “ Acts 19:6: “When Paul placed his hands on them, the Holy Spirit came on them … “ Also 2 Timothy 1:6: “Therefore I remind you to stir up the gift of God which is in you through the laying on of my hands.”

Jesus introduced the Father to us and he called him Abba” – Dad – which is what we can call him also. Do you want the Spirit of sonship – daughtership – this morning? Reflecting on our own history here at Living Grace and what God is doing in the world right now – we can say that God wants us to have this. The Father’s Blessingis already here. Take it. Be hungry for it. Father-God can do a lot when we allow him to love on us for a while. Amen.