Rev Dr Edgar Mayer – Living Grace Lutheran Church, Toowoomba – Date: 29 March 2015

For more sermons and other writings, please check the following homepage: www.livinggracetoowoomba.org

 

Relaunching Lutheran Renewal

 

This morning – depending on your formal assent at the end of this message – we are going to step out and dare to be on the front foot with what God has given us over the last fifteen years (the first service of Living Grace – a preaching place of the Wilsonton-Glencoe Parish at the time – took place in 2000). The plan is to launch a national renewal movement in our denomination – the Lutheran Church of Australia – which also includes New Zealand. With our elders, I propose that the name of the renewal movement is simplyLutheran Renewalbecause this name has history. A movement by this name – “Lutheran Renewal” – already existed among Lutherans in Australia (and in the United States) in the 70s until the 90s and, in the United States, the annual Lutheran Renewal conferences were the biggest gatherings of Lutherans in the country:

 

Larry Christenson: The Charismatic Renewal Among Lutherans, Minneapolis: Lutheran Charismatics Renewal Services 1976, p14-18: [This testimony is not from the author of the book but is quoted from Lutherans, the Spirit, the Gifts, and the Word, unpublished manuscript edited by a group of Missouri-Lutheran pastors, June 1973, pp.8-13. In the 70s and 80s “the 15,000 Lutheran charismatics that gathered annually in Minneapolis remained the largest annual meeting of Lutherans in the country” (Vinson Synan: The Holiness-Pentecostal Tradition, Grand Rapids: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company 1997, p263).]

 

It seems to make good strategic sense not to reinvent the wheel – not to risk being branded as irresponsible innovators of radically new things – but humbly reconnect with the past and step into the inheritance of those before us. They have already born witness to the infilling with the Holy Spirit, spiritual gifts and a closer walk with Jesus. They have carved out a place for renewal among Lutherans – they have created historical precedents: a national Lutheran Renewal newsletter, national renewal conferences with guest-speakers even from overseas, camps and even living in community – and we may just continue their work.

The possible disadvantage of the nameLutheran Renewalmay be that it seems to limit our renewal work to Lutherans but this may not necessarily be the case and we make sure that this is not the case. Everyone is allowed to have a home base and – as it happens – this congregation is a Lutheran congregation with a call to serve others in the tribe – other Lutherans – but not only them. Everyone comes from somewhere – Bill Johnson from Bethel Church, Heidi Baker from Iris Ministries and Brian Houston from Hillsong Church – but this is not stopping anyone from serving beyond one’s home territory.

 

More about Lutheran Renewal later. I want to draw again inspiration from the Azusa Street Revival (1906-1908) because the revival provides much encouragement for ordinary Christians. God used a small number of simple people who met in a sub-standard building (smaller than our building) and he used them to impact the world. Anything can happen with God.

 

The leader of the Azusa Street Revival was William Seymour – a one-eyed black pastor, with little education, the son of former slaves. Not a single one of his sermons (complete copy) survived. In worship services, he spent much of his time sticking his head into an empty milk crate, waiting on God in prayer. The core group carrying this revival never numbered more than 50-200 people and their worship building was a sub-standard former stable – with sawdust on the floor and plenty of flies – in the vicinity of a tombstone shop, stables and lumber yard – measuring only 18.2 x 12 metres (218.4 square metres). Seven days a week, there were three meetings scheduled but they ran into one another so that the church was open all day and long into the night. There were no instruments of music, no choir, no collections, no advertisements and no backing from a network or denomination. Black and white worshipped together and it could become noisy.

 

When I read their testimonies, I was struck by how small the meetings were – (the smallness of the building kept the numbers down and the outreach meetings in homes and modest churches seemed to quite small as well) and how few people seemed to be touched at any one particular meeting. In 2000, Reinhard Bonnke preached to 1.6 million people attending a single meeting in Lagos, Nigeria, and, according to CfaN (Christ for All Nations), nearly 1.1 million of those accepted Jesus as Saviour (filled out decision cards). This is impressive – big numbers – mass meetings – impressive engineering of the sound system – altar calls where buses bring people forward – what mission progress – but what spread from Azusa Street was more of a grass-roots movement touching people in dribs and drabs:

 

The Azusa Papers: [In the last eight months,] hundreds have been baptized with the Holy Ghost. Many of them are now out in the field, and some in foreign lands …

322 Brown Ave., McKeesport, Pa., Feb. 8. [1906] – The Holy Ghost has fallen on about a dozen here and they are speaking in tongues and we do not know where the work will stop. There have been two received their call to China. We praise God for His wonderful grace and power. --S.F. Black.

In Mobile – Davis Ave. and Ann St., Mobile, Ala., Feb. 1. —After a hard battle in this wicked place, the Lord gave me a tent in answer to prayer. We give God all the glory for victory. Five have been sanctified and three received Pentecost. One brother that has been crippled for years has been healed in his foot and can walk without a stick, and we are expecting a great work of the Lord here soon. --F.W. Williams.

In Spokane – Spokane, Wash., Mar. 21. Thank God, the work of the Holy Spirit is reaching into the remotest places of the earth. Upwards of thirty have received their Pentecost right here in Spokane in the past few days, speaking in tongues, writing, and praising God in all things. The Apostolic Light will be somewhat delayed, owing to my removal from Portland office to the work to which God called me in Spokane. --M.L. Ryan.

In Burgess, S.C. – Burgess, S.C. March 16. –We are having a wonderful meeting in our midst. Several are being baptized with the Holy Ghost. The people are coming by crowds and God’s great work is spreading. Glory to God for this wonderful salvation that is coming back to earth again.” --Mc. D. Brown.

In Santa Cruz, Cal. – Pentecost has fallen in Santa Cruz. The last report from there people were getting saved, sanctified, and baptized with the Holy Ghost, and healed. Many seeking. Brother and Sister T.W. McConnell have been laboring there and Brother Wilkinson has been assisting.

In Long Beach. – The Lord is blessing in Long Beach, Cal. We cannot tell just how many at this date have received their Pentecost and speak in tongues. Hungry souls are seeking. The street meetings are attended by crowds. Last Sunday night, many had to be turned away. Brother McCauley has charge of the work. He says, “The Lord has wonderfully planted the seed of salvation in Long Beach in street meetings every Sunday afternoon. O how I praise Him for the outpouring of His Spirit. A baby that had been sick all its life was wonderfully healed in answer to prayer. Peace be to all the saints in Christ Jesus. Amen.” --E. McCauley, Long Beach, Cal.

In San Jose. – 25 Short Ridge Ave., San Jose, Cal., Mar. 4. – Praise God for victory. Thirteen have received their Pentecost and Bible evidence since we came here Glory to God! The whole place is stirred. Sunday there were eight healed as soon as I anointed them, and they shouted praises to God. Sunday was a hallelujah day all day. Praise God. Sinners are under awful conviction here. The hall is crowded and the people cannot all get in. We are looking for the power to fall as on Pentecost. --Yours in Christ, H. McLain.

 

Utica, N.Y. – Blessed be the name of the Lord. Truly these days of the “latter rain” are days of Heaven upon the earth. We are a little band here but full of faith and pressing on. One by one, God is bringing our number into their Pentecost, and is opening other places where there are a few hungry believers longing for their inheritance. —Birdsell & Mason, 61 State Street.

 

[See also reports from Indianapolis, Ind.; Colly, N.C.; Atlanta, Ga.; Hill River, Minn.; Concord Junction, Mass.; Strole, Va.; Portsmouth and Richmond, Va.; Philadelphia, Pa.; Swanton, Ohio; Baltimore, Ohio; Denver, Colo.; Lynn, Mass; Chicago, Ill.; Snowflake, Manitoba; Colorado Springs; …]

 

England – In the past year, news comes that probably 500 people have received the Pentecost in England.

China – We hear from South China that about 100 have received the baptism of the Holy Ghost and they now have a paper in the Chinese called “Pentecostal Truths,” which is being scattered in China and Japan. It is a blessed paper and one can feel the power in it even though unable to read it.

Sweden – The Holy Ghost is falling on the humble in Guttenberg. In one prayer meeting, they saw fire, and four persons were filled with the Holy Ghost and spoke with tongues. They praised God until 5 o’clock in the morning. In a few days, more than twelve persons were baptized with the Holy Ghost and speaking in tongues.

PENTECOST IN AUSTRALIA – The Lord has visited Australia in great power and souls have been baptized with the Holy Ghost and signs following. In a cottage meeting, in February 1907, in Melbourne, a young brother received the baptism of the Holy Ghost and began to speak in tongues. Some fell under the power of God, and a great awe came over the meeting. The brother spoke and sang, giving messages in the unknown tongue and also interpreting. 

 

Then, I find it also interesting and inspiring how a simple newsletter – “The Apostolic Faith” – filled with testimonies – not really containing that much teaching – impacted thousands. They provided the newsletter free of charge and it went everywhere and others – also overseas – copied the strategy and began to publish their own free newspapers, spreading the news of the revival:

 

 While the mainstream media ridiculed Azusa Street, Frank Bartleman, an evangelist, kept a diary of what he saw and experienced. His vivid accounts, more than 500 in all, were published in Christian newspapers across the country. The Azusa Street mission also published a newspaper, the Apostolic Faith, which was distributed to 50,000 people, some of them overseas.

 

The Azusa Papers: A message was sent us from a people in New England states who received the Pentecost before we did. As Brother A.J. Rawson an evangelist of 15 Eliott St, Swampscott, Mass., received one of the Apostolic Faith papers and was reading it to his wife who is also an evangelist and has the gift of tongues, she broke out in tongues and interpreted. Her husband wrote the interpretation in English, and sent it to us, and we feel it is of God for His people. The message is as follows:

“This work is of God that you are reading of. Let no one put their hand on it. Let all press in and have their part. God has many richer blessings for His faithful children. Seek Him earnestly and pray for His gifts which are a witness of the Spirit.”

They also write, “We are with you in the Spirit in this last work of God. We are rejoiced to hear of those having the gifts of the Spirit according to 1 Cor.12. There have been a few of God’s children in New England, in Pennsylvania and Virginia who have believed for years that all these gifts were for the church, and they have been nicknamed the “Gift People.” They have had all the gifts including tongues, but it seems but a few drops preceding the rain and now the work seems to fulfill the “latter rain.” There are a goodly number of people here in the east ready to fellowship this work. We believe it is a token of the soon coming of the Lord. Amen.”

 

The Azusa Papers: Just before leaving for Los Angeles on the train, a friend passed me a copy of the Apostolic Faith. I was much interested and was determined to see for myself, but with the thought that this speaking in tongues was of the devil and I was going to do all in my power to stamp it out.

The Azusa Papers: March the 28th I received my personal Pentecost, —praise God. Had been praying for power in God’s service for one year. Last November a copy of Apostolic Faith was handed me. Pondered some and laid it one side. Had yielded all to God five years since. The 28th of January, after an illness in which God answered prayer offered in faith, I said: ‘Yes, I believe in the Pentecostal baptism with the Holy Ghost.’ I prayed earnestly for 6 weeks, at the close of which W.E. Woody from Chicago, Ill., came to our city and began Pentecostal services. I went, continued to hold on by faith, and receiving my blessing just two months from the day I received the truth. I was awakened about 1:30 a.m. after sweet, refreshing sleep, and felt a strange but sweet thrill go through my entire body and being. I heard the ‘Still Small Voice’ say, ‘I am come.’ My soul said, Glory! The muscles in my limbs, arms, hands and neck all moved and jerked, but such a wonderful joy filled me as I have no words to express. The muscles in my throat twitched, my tongue began moving, and, praise God, I began talking in an unknown tongue. I have spoken in more than one tongue since and also sung in them. I know some say, ‘tis the devil, some think ‘tis hysteria, but, glory to God. I know ‘tis all of Jesus.’ I do not quite understand why some of God’s people want power but seem to object to Bible manner of receiving. Thanks be to God for the unspeakable gift of His love and all it means.” —Josephine A. Newton, 437 Horton Ave., Grand Rapids, Mich.

 

The Azusa Papers: About December, 1906, I received the Apostolic Faith paper; and as I read it through in the spirit of prayer, I saw it was the thing that I had been looking for, and the first day of January I asked God as usual for a verse for that year, and He spoke plainly these words, “They shall be endued with power from on high.” That gave me such a wonderful faith!

After that I went to Shanghai with the intention of finding someone in the Centennial Missionary Conference that had the baptism of the Holy Ghost who could help me out. Instead of that I met opposition from every side, and one from Los Angeles that had attended the meetings denounced the whole thing as of the devil.

I went back to my station with a still stronger determination in my heart for the baptism. After I got home I received a letter from Chicago telling about the work going on in Chicago, and the writer herself had received her Pentecost. As my wife read the letter to me, this melting power that I had been praying for came upon me, and I fell down on the floor crying out “God’s wonderful mercy!”

From that time I felt the love of God in my soul stronger than ever before, but I was conscious that it was not the baptism. A desire came into my heart to go to America, but I did not dare to believe that it was God’s will that I should go. But as I prayed over it, that if it was His will He should open the way, He quickly did open the way, and I started and landed in Seattle, Wash., the 27th of August, just in time to meet a band of the Apostolic Faith people who were to go to Japan, Korea, India and China.

I went to their meetings and investigated the work carefully, and when I found out it wasn’t anything but Jesus that they exalted, I went right in among them to receive my baptism. As I got to the altar God’s blessing upon me was so great that I only shouted glory all the time. After the meeting was over I told the brethren that I could not understand how it was that I got so happy, because I thought I had something to do; but they said I could keep on praising Him, and that the Holy Ghost would come in that way.

As I told them the battles that I had had in China and that I had surrendered all, they satisfied me by saying that I was “prayed up” to date. It seemed too good for me to believe. I moved on to Oakland, Cal., and the same thing happened there, so I went to Los Angeles and the third day, on Sunday, Sept. 15th, He baptized me. I was under the power of God on the floor for more than two hours, and it seemed that every nerve in my body was charged and my jaws began to move, and I said to myself, “I could do that,” and I tried, but found out I could not do it mechanically, as it was done, and I was satisfied that it was of the Lord. Then my tongue began to move and a brother said to me, “Let the Holy Ghost have your voice.” I said to myself, “I am not going to obey man.” A short time after, the Holy Ghost said, “Give me your voice,” and I said, “I do not know what you mean.” Then such a power from within came forcing up, and I began to say a sentence, “Ya! ya!” I said, “This is my native language and I don’t want to fool the people, but it kept up for some time. So I began to praise God in English for the faithfulness of brothers and sisters around me, and they said, “Get your eyes on God.” I was fully convinced that it was all of God, and I shouted Glory! Then He began to speak through me in an unknown tongue, and I rose up under the power, going back and forth before the people preaching. I had no control of my body. I praise God for His manifestation and for the wonderful sweetness and joy that is growing stronger every day. I will advise anyone to get rid of all that you have and gain that “pearl of great price.” I pray God’s blessing upon all that are seeking God’s best and His mercy upon those who reject. Yours for lost souls in China. B. Berntsen. Tai-ming-fu, Chih-li, North China.

 

The Azusa Papers: Thank God for the means with which to get out this second number of the Apostolic Faith. This large issue is paid for in answer to prayer. The last issue of 5,000 was sent all over the United States and the world and was soon exhausted, so that we had to refuse a good many requests for papers. This time we publish 10,000. We could have used several thousand more last time, to good advantage. We do not find it at all necessary to advertise the paper, because the news of the work has gone far and wide already. The people are rejoicing to hear of this wonderful outpouring of old time Gospel salvation. And no wonder, they are starving on theological shavings. Never mind what the preachers say or anyone else, go in for Pentecostal salvation.

 

The Azusa Papers: There is now a free Pentecostal paper in Calcutta, India. It is called “Pentecostal Power.” It is a blessed paper filled with the testimonies of fire baptized testimonies and sound doctrine. We also received another new Pentecostal paper published free in Homestead, Pa. It is called the “Latter Rain,” and contains wonderful reports. Just as this paper goes to press, we received “A Call to Faith,” another precious Pentecostal paper published free at Martinsburg, W.Va. This makes at least seven new papers heralding free this Pentecostal outpouring.

 

The Azusa Papers: “Auf der Warte,” a German paper, says: At Cassel many children of God received the fullness of the Spirit after God had cleansed their hearts by faith. Many children of God have put right old debts. Through the speaking in tongues and the preaching, sins and bonds were revealed, and it was clearly taught that deliverance from the power of sin and the experience of heart cleansing are the conditions for receiving the Pentecostal baptism.

 

The Azusa Papers: The reason we put no name of editor at the head of this paper is because we want Christ exalted, that in all things He might have the pre-eminence.

 

The Azusa Papers: Since the last paper, Spirit-filled missionaries have gone out from Los Angeles to Monrovia, Liberia, Africa, two sisters to South China and a band of nine missionaries to North China. Also a band of fourteen missionaries went from Spokane, Wash., to Japan and China. They were able to talk to the Chinese and Japanese at the dock and on the ship in their native language. The “Apostolic Light” is now published by Brother Ryan in Tokyo, Japan.

 

The Azusa Papers: We hear from South China that about 100 have received the baptism of the Holy Ghost and they now have a paper in the Chinese called “Pentecostal Truths,” which is being scattered in China and Japan. It is a blessed paper and one can feel the power in it even though unable to read it.

 

The Azusa Papers: I received the Holy Ghost in San Jose, in November, and came to Kelseyville, in December. And when I received the January paper and read what the Lord was doing in other places, the power of God came on me mightily. I was alone and was lifted to my feet and stood on tiptoe with both arms extended above my head, and began to speak in tongues and to interpret, which I never had done before except a very little. Since I came here, one lady has received the Holy Ghost with a tongue, also the gift of writing some unknown language and the deaf mute signs. Another lady came from Healdsburg and has also received the Holy Ghost with a tongue, also the gift of writing some unknown language and the deaf mute signs. Another lady came from Healdsburg and has also received the baptism and the Chinese tongue. Still another who received the Holy Ghost in Oakland and the Chinese tongue, is here. She expects to go to China as soon as the Lord opens up the way. Two are seeking and we have been holding some meetings in one of the churches. The Lord is blessing His work.” --Frances R. Townsend

 

The Azusa Papers: People who have attended the meetings are taking the fire with them to the towns around about. The account of God’s work for my soul has been inserted in many religious papers, and has caused a stir. All can see it is the work of God’s Holy Spirit. Hallelujah!

 

[The Azusa Papers: “Cartoons in the newspapers were my first introduction to this meeting,” said a brother, “and I said, this is what I have been praying for, for years. I was warned by leaders that it was of the devil, but I came and got a touch of heaven in my soul.”]

 

A newsletter is not hard to publish. We have the testimonies and, like Azusa Street and, like Lutheran Renewal in the past, we could send it out free of charge, trusting God with enough free-will donations.

I will trace the more recent history which has brought us to this place. In 2013, I received an invitation to be one of the guest-speakers at a meeting of the NSW Lutheran District. This invitation cameout of the bluebecause I was not really known to those that invited me and the meeting itself was unique in the sense that the Bishop, the pastors and leading church men and women (maybe 110 people in attendance) were acknowledging the pain of decline and problems in the church. I had never been in a Lutheran meeting like this before – at least an official one. It was a meeting of crying out to God, humbling themselves and looking for answers. There was a surrendering of pride which opened the door for something new from God and I, with a certain degree of nervousness (feeling the pressure of the moment), ended up being the only guest-speaker on the weekend of the meeting at Warrambui Camp (outside Canberra).

 

The Gathering, NSW

(18-20 October 2013)

 

Under the leadership of some pastors and key church members (Fred Veerhuis, Tanya Cunningham, Fred & Inta Gollash, Russell Veerhuis, Joel Cramer, James & Judy Doecke) – with the blessing of the NSW Bishop Mark Lieschke and funding from the Lutheran Laypeople’s League – the NSW district of the Lutheran Church of Australia organized a weekend gathering (“The Gathering”) at Warrambui Camp to address the pain of decline in their churches.

I quote from the Contact Article:

 

In a time of declining numbers, financial pressure, damaged morale, and a crisis of confidence, the weekend is intended give impetus to fresh thinking and direction, and renewal of hope and courage. It will be the Holy Spirit equivalent to a Work Camp.

 

The weekend will include: Joyful worship … A time for expression of our frustrations, pains, disappointments and grief over the situations which confront us, and together casting all those cares on Him. Straightforward New Testament teaching about Christians using their Spirit-bestowed gifts and capacities in their local settings …

 

Failure and decline are not inevitable. We do not have to be on a path to death from which resurrection is impossible. For those “In Christ Jesus” faith and hope can always be renewed and rebuilt. To continue on without review and reflection about who we are, and where we are going, without at least asking questions and searching the scriptures, would be sad, and even bitter, to contemplate. Our conviction is that Jesus is Lord, and “In Him” the Heavenly Father is always for us and the Holy Spirit is always within us. As Paul wrote to the Corinthian church … Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. (I Corinthians 2:24) …

 

From the outset, therefore, this gathering was honest and humble and open for new directions from God. About one hundred and ten people came – fourteen of which were pastors. I was the guest-speaker and the organizing team gave me three sessions on Saturday. This was quite a “scary” proposition because the weight of expectation seemed to be too high and the content of my sharing might be too unsettling in this Lutheran context.

On Friday evening, the attendees shared their stories of grief and breakdown and received encouragement and healing from the Gospel of Jesus Christ. On Saturday morning, I began with my testimony and the story of Living Grace. Then, I debriefed the testimony with a theological reflection on Christian experience. (I challenged the LCA misconception that our “Theology of the Cross” excludes positive experiences of God.)

After these two talks, there were afternoon electives. Originally, my third talk was scheduled for late afternoon but the organizers changed it to the evening session and invited me to do ministry after the talk (prayer with the laying on of hands). This had been on my heart from the beginning. Thus, I modified my talk and sought to prepare everyone for the prayer time.

I acknowledged that our testimony and theological teachings on the Holy Spirit was probably a little overwhelming for some. It took us years to process all of the information and make changes in our thinking, not just one day. However, God gave grace and the third talk – like the other two talks (especially the first) – was light, clear, full of humour and laughter and relaxed everyone. In the end, there was trust and peace to receive prayer and God ministered to his people:

 

When I shared how demons began manifesting in our ministry (especially the Jesus Tent), a demon stirred in a man that was chairman of a congregation. As I was sharing, thoughts of blasphemy kept bothering him. He approached his pastor and he brought him to me. After the chairman became free, he returned to the others.

 

There were many people who were “slain in the Spirit” for the first time. One man confessed to me that he had always struggled with letting go of control and was surprised when he also fell down.

 

One pastor had been suffering from deep depression but, on Saturday evening, God gave him supernatural joy and he was laughing on the floor. Everyone was happy for him.

 

When John Borchert prayed for me, I also went down under the power of the Holy Spirit and received lying on the carpet.

 

After years of closed doors – maybe an occasional one opened to keep me going (e.g.: ministry in PNG and Fiji in 2010, the Jesus Tent in 2012) – this was wonderful. The gathering received my teaching and ministry and, in a relaxed atmosphere, processed the paradigm shifts which I introduced to them (e.g.: the need for the word to be combined with the Spirit, the value of Christian experience, the promise of power by the Spirit of God).

As this door opened – at this strategic meeting which represented a new beginning in the NSW District but also (possibly) in the Lutheran Church of Australia (LCA) – other doors began to open as well and suddenly I and we as a church were in a new season of reaching out and travelling.

The next stop were the German Lutherans in Melbourne (Springfield, 1-3 November) and then Rockhampton where Apostle John Alley invited me to be the speaker at their congregation’s family camp (Fri 28 – Sun 30 March) and, when the local Lutherans heard about my coming to Rockhampton, they invited me to minister to them in the days before the family camp (Tue 25 – Thu 27 March). In both congregations, the Spirit of God fell on the attenders. There were people on the floor and the miracle of gold sparkles brought much joy and, especially at the family camp, the intensity of people’s experiences under the power of the Spirit represented a breakthrough – in the words of John Alley “a new wave of revival”.

 

From Tatjana’s notes:

 

Many people received gold dust. One lady did not get it but when she was talking to her daughter on the phone the daughter received gold dust on her hands! [Edgar: When I first asked them to check for gold dust, there was again no overt enthusiasm. Later, I found out that my brief sharing last year released the miracle not only on that particular Sunday but the miracle had stayed in the church.]

 

One 9 year old boy received tongues. He said that ‘his heart hurt when he did not speak in tongues, and that it stopped hurting when he spoke in tongues.

 

Others received the gift of tongues.

 

One young man was slain in the spirit and unable to move for an hour while he kept laughing.

 

Another young man was slain in the spirit and stuck to floor. He could not get up even when the hall was being closed up. Four of his friends had to carry him to his dormitory. He was stiff as a board as they carried him, and apparently stayed in this condition for most of the night.

 

There were tears and laughter. One lady was released of grief and other issues as she kept calling out and making a noise. Something that she said she would normally never do as she was more reserved.

 

One young man asked for more love for his brothers and received and overwhelming love for them. He cried as he shared.

 

One lady gave the pastor the prophetic message that this (the prayer session) was holy ground. The next day a boy gave a testimony that he received the words from God: “Take off your sandals. This is holy ground.” He took his shoes off.

 

One boy (13/14 years) wanted to ask Edgar to pray for him that he would be less self-conscious in worship and would be able to worship with his arms up. Before he said anything, Edgar asked him to put his arms up while

Edgar prayed for him to receive. The young man stayed on the ground for a long time alternating between laughing and crying.

 

One young man shared a prophetic picture: As Edgar and Tony (a man who assisted with praying for people) were praying, columns of fire came down on them and went out onto the people they were praying for.

 

Rockhampton was an important stop and I only realized its significance later when I noticed a change in me. Apostle John Alley carries an anointing – a grace – for dealing with territorial head-spirits – the chief demons in a place – and, while Tatjana and I stayed in his home, I think that I picked up some of that anointing. He didn’t pray for me but I was in receiving mode and picked up the anointing anyway. Soon after we had a conversation about what was over Toowoomba, I had a vision of a dragon – this particular head-spirit – tumbling down a high wall (like a mortally wounded dragon in the Lord of the Rings series). This was a first for me (I usually don’t have visions and then not of demons) and then, one morning (just two weeks later), I had the following dream:

 

Dream – 13 April 2014 (Early Morning)

 

I went back to Stegemann in Neuendettelsau and attended a worship service with him preaching and his students. They were discovering the Holy Spirit but were in the early stages of wonderment and excitement. (At one service a few were almost falling to the ground but there seemed to have been no other experiences.) I sat with an older lady that talked about church music and I finally confessed that I didn’t like hymns and, after 50 years, I knew that I didn’t like them. (I smiled.) Stegemann’s Superior didn’t like the renewal and bogged him down with complicated theological arguments but could not prevail. Later, he (the Superior) could not be in the sanctuary because a demon manifested in him. (His face changed into something demonic.)

We were having a coffee outside somewhere (sun shining) and I shared from Living Grace (Stegemann knew about my book) and said that it was the same there and that not everyone was keen (hot) on revival but a few carried the others. Stegemann was excited also about his preaching and I remarked how when God speaks, it is always simple and clear.

Then, someone came into the sanctuary and “changed” appearances, manifesting a spirit (demon), and eventually I took over and spoke to the person with authority which made her normal again and I thought that I knew that the demon had left and I also knew that it was a head spirit (the head spirit coming against Stegemann and his congregation). After that person, another appeared (of lesser stature) and it was the same. Then a child appeared. The spirit seemed to have left the child also but – retreating – the child kept making faces. I told Stegemann about John Alley and his authority over head spirits and how he helped churches and I seemed to have done the same for Stegemann.

 

Encouraged by this dream and sensing what happened in the home of John Alley, I have begun (twice so far, the last time at Murwillumbah a few weeks ago) to pray a warfare prayer in the places where I have been invited.

However, something else happened through John Alley in Rockhampton. In my report, I wrote:

 

Apostle John Alley and Hazel, his wife, showed a lot of love to me and Tatjana. When he prayed for us [in the worship service] on the Sunday morning, I was touched and a few tears came. After he had finished, I looked over to Tatjana and the same tears had come to her. John promotes my book wherever he goes – actually takes copies with him and sells them – and he took the time and shared many valuable insights with me.

 

John Alley treated me as a spiritual father would and this is another grace on his life. He is teaching and carrying something about father-son relationships in the church. This is very much his apostolic message. Twice he had ministered at Living Grace and, at the time, we – our elders – were considering whether God wanted us to be more formally under his fatherly covering – relate to him more formally as a spiritual father – but we all sensed that this was not the way to go for us. I did not sense to recognize him formally as my spiritual father. We were still in the Lutheran denomination and I had Bishops over me – they had the role to be my spiritual fathers – and there were other local spiritual fathers (senior pastors) – especially one.

But, when John Alley blessed Tatjana and me in Rockhampton last year, he was the one to pray the fatherly blessing that released me into my work and become a fully-fledged father myself. (I had begun feeling like a father in the church previously but this was on another level.) Up to that time, I was looking for a spiritual father. I was looking for mentoring and approval – a sense of affirmation that I was on the right track and a blessing that would release me to step out in boldness – but there was rejection from the Bishops and – despite affirmation from people like Les Holmes and Herman Ruyters and Rollie Sondergeld – there was other rejection as well.

It took probably a year before I made the connection and realized that I was no longer looking for a spiritual father. I had the ones that I had and not all fathers are perfect but I am okay now (and certainly old enough to move on). This was important to step into the new season of doors opening and sharing what God has been doing with us.

After Rockhampton (25-30 March), I – often with Tatjana or a team from Living Grace – ministered in revival type meetings among Lutherans and others:

 

Slide 1

 

Toowoomba, QLD (18-20 April): Jesus Tent @ Easterfest.

 

Canberra, ACT (9-11 May): Follow-up meeting after “The Gathering” (2013) @ Tuggeranong with Pastor Greg Fowler and his congregation and others that wanted to come. Many of the attenders ended up lying on the floor under the power of the Spirit and they were lying in a circle around the seats in the church.

 

Portland, VIC (16-18 May): The invitation came from the Lutheran woman that ran the Christian bookshop in Portland. The majority of attenders (maybe 150) were Lutherans but all the other clergy of the town also attended (except the Pentecostal pastor) and, if I am not mistaken, absolutely everyone that came forward for prayer went down under the power of God. There were healings, new spiritual gifts (e.g.: the gift of tongues), deliverance from unclean spirits, repentance, breakthroughs in faith and, late on Saturday night (with only a few people left in the auditorium), we saw again the glory cloud of God (a fine mist).

 

Warrambui Camp, NSW (6-9 June); I was invited to run an elective and preach at the Saturday Communion Service @ the Better Blokes Men’s camp. On Saturday night, the service began @ 7pm and I prayed for people until mid-night.

 

Victor Harbor, SA (8-10 August): Ten people from Living Grace, and further team support from Portland and Victor Harbor, ministered to about three hundred and twenty attenders – mostly Lutherans – many of whom had travelled to be at the Holy Spirit conference.

 

Warwick, QLD (23 August): Another team from Living Grace went to Warwick and ministered in the local Assemblies of God Church.

 

Indonesia (5-15 September): Six from Living Grace ministered in the Spirit at two conferences in Indonesia and also explored our support of mission among unreached people groups. A few in the team expelled demons from people for the first time in their lives.

 

Oakey, QLD (24-28 September): Jesus Tent @ Oakey.

 

Toowoomba, QLD (30 September – 3 October): YWAM (Youth With A Mission) invited me to teach the module on the Holy Spirit at their local Discipleship Training School.

 

Pittsworth, QLD (29 October – 2 November): Jesus Tent @ Pittsworth

 

Slide 2

 

All of this was last year and this year – 2015 – we have already ministered in Rockhampton (14 February), Adelaide (26 February – 1 March) and Murwillumbah (7-8 March) and are scheduled to go to Vietnam (7-12 July), Adelaide again and the Barossa Valley (10-13 September), New Zealand (1-4 October) and Pittsworth (28 October – 1 November) and who knows where else. In 2013, God suddenly opened doors for us and they have remained open but not without opposition.

Probably for the last nineteen years – (long before we even became interested in the Holy Spirit) – I have seemed to be in the middle of church conflict. First, it was about supporting contemporary worship among the youth (the Live It service), then it was about establishing the first Sunday morning weekly contemporary service (breaking with the traditions of formal worship) in Toowoomba and planting a new congregation. More trouble came over church unity and our close relationship with others in the Christian Leaders’ Network (my citywide program of “40 Days of Church Unity & City Transformation) which led to an assessment of my preaching and teaching by a former president of the Qld District and another retired pastor … Then, God made us rediscover the Holy Spirit which upset others in the denominationand – eventually – led to a breakaway of members from Living Grace and another assessment of my preaching and practice by a former principal of the Australian Lutheran College (Adelaide) and one of its current lecturers.

The assessment, like the previous ones, cleared me. Therefore, the Qld Bishop wrote to all the Lutheran pastors of the District in January 2009:

 

Adelaide Meeting with Edgar Mayer

 

As I have already informed you, Edgar and I arranged to meet with Vic Pfitzner and Steve Haar in Adelaide on December 1st to discuss matters Edgar has placed before the Church.  The content of our discussion was drawn from Edgar’s sermon series “But Wait, There is More” (the basis for his Holy Spirit seminar, and on the website http://geocities.com/mayeredgar) and his three sermons “Opposing the Moves of God”, “Two Prophetic Words over Living Grace” and ”It is in the Book”.

 

As a result of this discussion I am satisfied that Edgar’s public teaching in these sermons is not inconsistent with the public doctrine of the LCA.

 

In addition, Edgar has offered to take time at next District Pastors’ Conference to outline his vision and respond to any questions his fellow-pastors might raise.

 

I should have been in the clear then but, in August of the same year (2009), a letter came from the College of Bishops informing me that I was now a pastor that was not eligible for a call in the denomination. There was no prior consultation with me about the content of the letter. I was not actually accused of anything and no evidence of wrongdoing was produced but there were areas of reservations for the Bishops, yet no process to address them …

This meant that, for the next five and a half years, I had a cloud of suspicion hanging over my head – an official judgement of doubt over my ministry and whether I actually belonged in the Lutheran church. In my correspondence with the Bishops, I argued that they were slandering me. This was defamation because how will they explain to people that I am not eligible for a call? They will have to say that, for now at least, I cannot be trusted with a call to another place. I am abadpastor. You cannot say that about anyone without a formal charge, presenting evidence, having the evidence tested and then arrive at a proper ruling. [This may not be a good feeling for Living Grace either. It seems that the Bishops were willing to sacrifice the well-being of this church if only I was contained – “quarantined” as the Qld Bishop said just the other week.]

In 2012, the LCA elected a new General Bishop, John Henderson, and there are hopes that he is going to be a different man, standing up for a different culture in our denomination. When God opened the doors for us in 2013, we were no longer contained and quarantined. So many people have come for a conference and – over a single weekend, after one day even or one meeting – they are no longer the same. God has touched them with the Holy Spirit, confirming what we have been teaching them. This is awesome but, from the perspective of some Bishops (not all of them and maybe not even the majority), presents a problem. How can they keep the lid on Living Grace?

Last year, there was another assessment panel charged with investigating what I am teaching at these seminars and also what I have written in my bookSurprised by the Holy Spirit”. (The book is a further problem for those that do not like our ministry. It is public [in bookshops] and makes sense to people.) The assessment panel directly reported to the General Bishop who was trying to resolve my standing in the church once and for all – at least over the matter of the Holy Spirit. The panel had again concerns (the issue of water baptism and Spirit baptism and their relationship resurfaced) but had no findings or charge against me.

We were scheduled to have a meeting – a discussion – at the National Church Head Office in Adelaide on Tuesday 24 February. However, two weeks before the scheduled meeting, the General Bishop happened to lead an ecumenical retreat at the James Byrne Centre (Highfields) and, taking advantage of his presence up here, I invited him to meet the elders of Living Grace in Toowoomba. He saidyesand did come on Sunday 8 February – (he was the first Bishop that did) – and we spent an afternoon together at Andrew & Letoya’s home.

Everyone was gracious and allowed me to tell the Bishop the story of the past few years and especially the nature of the Bishops’ treatment toward me – the lack of decency and justice (natural and Christian). He really listened and, by the end of my presentation, I knew that he had understood how I was seeing the situation from my perspective and, in matters of process at least, I knew that he shared my misgivings. He also picked up that I was not alone but that the elders and Living Grace were unanimously standing behind me and he was dealing with an entire church, not just a “renegade” pastor.

There was only point where we had a difference of opinion. He thought that, as the new General Bishop, he could now steer the process to a fair outcome but I had my doubts. I sensed that the trouble I was in – the opposition to me – was more serious than he thought.

While we had the meeting, I had a few editions of a newsletter in front of me that was published in the 80s and early 90s. At Living Grace, we had a week of fasting in the first week of February – as it happened leading up to the meeting with the Bishop – and, as I was coming out of my fasting days, (after breakfast on Friday morning) a thought came to me. I remembered that years ago, a church member had given me a few editions of a newsletter that was published by Lutheran Renewal, a national renewal movement in the Lutheran Church of Australia. I had had no knowledge of this movement but, coming out of the fast, I remembered having seen these newsletters and I began searching for them at home. Where were they? I had put them away years ago. It took a little while but I found them and, checking their content, I was intrigued by the number of people involved, their strategy of a national newsletter (delivered free of charge) and national renewal conferences (with guest-speakers even from overseas). They had a national organizing committee and were in dialogue with the Bishops and other officials.

Thirty to forty years ago, Lutherans in our denomination had already rediscovered the Holy Spirit and experienced the same kind of renewal that we have also experienced. They talked about spiritual gifts, speaking in tongues, Christian experience and lots more. I had the passing idea that maybe we simply reconnect with this movement which already has history among Lutherans. This was just an idea that was worth exploring.

At the meeting with the General Bishop, I had a few editions of the Lutheran Renewal Newsletter on the table before me because I thought that maybe I could talk about them and check what the Bishop knew and thought about Lutheran Renewal. I was too busy talking about other things but the Bishop recognized the newsletters and, without me prompting him, talked positively about the past and the abiding influence of Lutheran Renewal even today.

I ampainting a picturehere – putting the various pieces together. The General Bishop thought that everything will come good but I had my doubts. This was on Sunday. On Monday, I received an email from the Lutheran pastor in Rockhampton, informing me that the Qld Bishop had forbidden him to have the Jesus Tent in Rockhampton. He was the host who had invited us to come and he had also invited other churches to join the effort but now the Qld Bishop forbade him and his congregation to receive ministry from me. At the same time, the Qld Bishop was to tell the Anglican Bishop of Grafton that I was a pastor ingood standingin the Lutheran church so that the Anglican hierarchy would be comfortable having me minister among Anglicans at Murwillumbah, NSW. This was also difficult and, in the end, the General Bishop in Adelaide communicated with the Anglican Bishop and cleared me for the ministry in Murwillumbah.

 

Slide 3

 

I was very upset but I was also delighted. I was upset because I was scheduled to present the Jesus Tent to the pastors of Rockhampton that very week – on Saturday – and now I would have to go and tell them that my Bishop (the Qld Bishop) had no confidence in me. He had come out publicly against my ministry. This was awkward and was again putting me in a bad light. In my view (and this is what I expressed to the Qld Bishop in person when I arranged a meeting with him later on – around the 5th of March), this was defamation. No bishop has the right to shut down a ministry initiative without giving cause. There needs to be a process of putting something in writing at least and I should be informed by him. (He did not contact me.) I was so upset that I was in no state to write another sermon for Sunday and I asked Herman to cover for me.

On the other hand, however, I was delighted because it put the General Bishop on alert (encouraging him to treat the conflict more seriously than he would have done otherwise) and I just knew that the “powers and principalities” (Ephesians 6:12) behind the opposition to me, and what was happening at Living Grace, had overplayed their hand. There was nothing of God in the way that the Jesus Tent was shut down in Rockhampton. It makes discernment really easy. There was no process and no right for the Bishop to do so. No congregation has to get permission from the Bishop to run a ministry program and, within the LCA, we are all inaltar and pulpit fellowshipwith one another. The Bishop has no right to interfere unless there is false teaching and practice and then he has to prove his case. He clearly overstepped his authority.

 

Still that same week (following the meeting with the General Bishop on Sunday and the cancellation of the Rockhampton Jesus Tent on Monday) – maybe Wednesday 11 Feb – Herman came and shared with me the dream which he dreamt about me twice: Someone painted me (a bird) with a different colour which meant that the other birds pecked at me and killed me. Discernment: I am being labelled as not being and belonging to the other birds – Lutherans – which results in expulsion and persecution. Here, it would fit that the Qld Bishop keeps labelling me as a “Toronto Blessing” Pentecostal and keeps attacking me on that basis because the suggestion is that I am not Lutheran.

How do you counter this perception? Escape the isolation and find a platform where others can hear you, understand you and recognize you as a brother.

 

And – further adding to my delight – I knew the time had finally come to stand up and be counted. For all these years, I had to remain passive and just taken the abuse (and this is not really my nature) but now I sensed that a change had come. If a Bishop shuts down your ministry – your preaching and evangelism – this presents a crisis point and you either fight or walk away from the ministry. And this is obvious to everyone. The Qld Bishop forced me to act and I sensed that something had shifted in my favour in the spiritual realm.

On Thursday (12 February), I took authority over the situation at our Prayer Watch. On Sunday, Herman preached and he didn’t preach what he had in mind earlier in the week. God had given him a new message and the message wasbreakthroughfor Living Grace and our ministry:

 

Herman said: “It was breakthrough not just for individuals but breakthrough also for Living Grace and the Lutheran Church of Australia” (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZWgZ2OxDXd0#t=31).

 

Herman also sensed that God had wanted him to pray for breakthrough in people’s work situation but, not knowing what was on his heart, we had already done so straight after the worship. I led but then Letoya suggested that Brett had authority in this area and he should pray which he did. This was great confirmation that we were on the right track. God had put the same burden on all of us.

 

The whole church embraced the call to give shape to a national movement of Lutheran Renewal.

 

At the prayer meeting before the service, Vicki was surprised at my excitement and peace in the face of the Qld Bishop’s actions. She thought that the black mark against me name had become blacker and it was true but I sensed a change of seasons and had joy and confidence. Vicki took it all in and when she heard Herman begin to preach onbreakthrough”, (in her words) her spirit jumped and she was connecting the dots:

 

Vicki Meagher’s testimony: Two weeks before Christmas 2014 we were discussing prayer and fasting for 7 days in the new year (2015). As time went by, the Lord put on my heart He wanted the first fruits. It became clear He wanted the first day of the year, so I was led by the Holy Spirit into a 40 day fast from the 1st January to 9th of February.

We were going through difficult times in the church (Living Grace), difficult times personally. In general, everything was getting too hard. As always, God has perfect timing. It was such a relief that God took over, took control and set discipline in place. I laid everything down before Him that was weighing so heavy on my heart. He knew everything but I just wanted to make sure.

On Monday the 9th of February (40th day) I was reading and praying 5-5.30am and words came out of my mouth that had nothing to do with what I was doing. They were all out before I realized what had happened. I did not move or say anything – just sat. It had never happened like that before.

 

He said: “Call unto me, and I will answer thee and show thee great and mighty things thou knowest not.”

 

I was still for about an hour. Then I got angry because for so, so long I had been crying out begging, pleading with Him to do something and in the natural nothing seemed to be happening. So I let it go and walked away from what was said.

On Thursday 12th February (3 days later) – around the same time reading and praying – the exact same thing happened. Words came out of my mouth before I realized. I was in control of nothing.

 

“Call unto me, and I will answer thee and show thee great and mighty things thou knowest not.”

 

I didn’t get angry. I just cried, repented and meditated on what he had said – not once but twice. This fast was God’s plan. He ordered it. He planned it. All I did was obey. What was it for?

On Sunday 15th February, we all went into the 8am prayer meeting. We were talking. Pastor Edgar told us about his week. The Jesus Tent in Rockhampton had been cancelled. The black mark against him had become blacker. Turmoil was still around us but he said that he was excited. He was at peace. He spoke with confidence.

Church began and Pastor Herman was preaching and the word the Lord gave him was “BREAKTHROUGH”. My spirit jumped. God’s word was being confirmed all morning.

It is a new day – a new beginning. We will have warfare but God has promised:

 

“Call unto me, and I will answer thee and show thee great and mighty things thou knowest not.”

 

Amen.

 

Two weeks after we had met the General Bishop in Toowoomba and the turmoil with the Qld Bishop, we (Tatjana and I) – as I said before – were scheduled to catch up with him again in Adelaide at a meeting with members of the assessment panel and also the Secretary of the LCA (24 February). The General Bishop was hosting the meeting and the atmosphere was friendly and light. I had handouts prepared, clarified a few points, summarized my arguments and then asked to be shown how my thinking was not Scriptural or Lutheran. I was willing to be corrected and learn but there was no case against anything that I was saying. The assessment panel is now dissolved and I am curious about what is going to happen next.

However, this is not all that happened. On Wednesday 11 February, I had emailed the General Bishop with the request to give me another thirty minutes after the official meeting with the panel because I wanted to inform him about my intended actions – how I intended to fight the shutting down of my ministry. [That same day, I had asked Mandee to register the domain name www.lutheranrenewal.org.au.] How would he feel if we reconnected with Lutheran Renewal – the national renewal movement of the past? Did he have any objections? Would he try to stop it? But he said: Why would I want to stop it?” … The General Bishop was relaxed about the enterprise

 

Slide 1

 

This is an open door! More is to come but we are on the way – if we want to. Today, do you want to relaunchLutheran Renewal” – a national renewal movement in our denomination – the Lutheran Church of Australia – which also includes New Zealand? And we will move with speed – publishing our first newsletter in a few weeks and inviting Lutherans from across the denomination (and not only Lutherans) to a national renewal conference in Toowoomba on 20-22 November 2015. Clark Taylor is already being confirmed as one of the guest-ministers.

I may show you the draft of the first page of the first newsletter edition and I may read to you from the first editorial:

 

Welcome

 

How would you feel reading the following headlines?

 

Lutheran Pastor Visits Heaven

Lutheran Pastor Heals Blind Man

Miracles in a Lutheran Church

 

Amazingly, all of these headlines are true. On Good Friday 2004, Pastor Dirk Willner – forty years old – died in hospital. It took two minutes to revive him but, in this time, he experienced a visit to heaven. In 2007, Pastor Peter Steicke led a mission team from Paravista Lutheran Church to Uganda and – with the Bishop of the Lutheran Church in Uganda serving as interpreter – he prayed for a blind man and the man was healed, after three attempts, and could see. On the last Sunday of 2009 and ever since, a miracle occurs in the Living Grace Lutheran Church in Toowoomba whereby “gold sparkles” appear on people’s skin, mostly their hands. It came after preaching on the glory of God.

These are good testimonies and the aim of Lutheran Renewal – a new movement among Lutherans – is to make these testimonies known, encourage one another with them, stir up our faith and debrief all of our experiences – our relationship with Jesus – in a safe environment of studying the Bible and our Lutheran Confessions.

Lutheran Renewal already existed as a national movement in the LCA (Lutheran Church of Australia), beginning in the late 1970s and lasting until the early 1990s. A regular newsletter was published and national conferences were being held, with guest-speakers even from the United States. The movement established a national coordinating body, with representatives from each state, and engaged with the official LCA leadership.

I would like to invite you, the reader, to join us and see value in reconnecting with the Lutheran Renewal of the past, receiving its heritage, stir up again our hunger for the fullness of the Holy Spirit, encourage one another and remain connected.

As in the past, Lutheran Renewal would not be a formal organization within the LCA but we simply choose to relate to one another and support one another.

There are a few first steps. First, you may commit to the Lutheran Renewal Newsletter by making sure that you are on our database (email contact details to lutheranrenewal.au@gmail.com) and invite others to join as well. We only want to send the newsletter to those that request it.

Second, you may plan to attend our first national Lutheran Renewal Conference in Toowoomba, 20-22 November 2015 (more details below).

Third, you may correspond and communicate and, fourth, you may also consider financial support for the production of the newsletter (that is being sent out free of charge).

God is good and he loves our Church and going on the journey of Lutheran Renewal – giving shape again to a movement of renewal across the LCA – promises to be a great adventure. Do you want to come? There is a place for you.

 

       Dr Edgar Mayer (Toowoomba, Qld)

 

In addition to the newsletter and the conference, we may continue with offering Holy Spirit seminars, the outreach of the Jesus Tent (which brings traditional Christians into renewal through its nature) and hosting those that want to come and spend time with us (and this has already begun – e.g.: Roelf & Elna Buitendag, Dietmar & Rajele Witzleb, Les & Ritva Hannola). We may establish a national prayer network which is going to support the renewal movement, set up a webpage and Facebook page and so on. There is much that can happen.

We will be busy and it is not just me. The Anglican Rector of Murwillumbah already reached out to our team members (without even informing me) – Helen as intercessor, Barry & Mandee as worship leaders – to have more of their ministry. We all carry what God has put into this church and we have plenty of mature Christians here that operate in a variety of spiritual gifts and wisdom.

Another project is close to my heart and needs you. What would you think about writing a book together – “Testimonies from Living Grace”? I have written two books now – “Surprised by the Holy Spirit” and “Surprised by Miracles” (coming out soon) – and, in these two books, I am telling our story – how God led us into the renewing of our mind – how he led us to rediscover the Holy Spirit and a closer walk with him. You could write the third book in the series – many of us writing one chapter each – and share your personal story of coming into renewal – your struggles, confusion, fears, breakthroughs, joy, etc.

Books are effective. Koorong just ordered another one hundred copies ofSurprised by the Holy Spirit”. They bring people to the conferences and help people to debrief after them. If you wrote a book, it would clearly communicate that our renewal story is not the story of one man – the pastor – but a community. And it would give encouragement and inspiration to other congregations. Change is possible. You can venture into new territory. And I think that our testimonies contain enough heart-ache times which will make everything a little more down-to-earth – change is often difficult and slow but worth it. What do you think? I will produce a more detailed guideline sheet for the nature of the testimonies but this kind of work could bear fruit. (I don’t know whether any other church has ever done this. Maybe somewhere but I have not yet come across a book like what I am proposing to you.)

This is a big calling but if there is to be a relaunch of Lutheran Renewal – a national renewal movement – (I think) the leadership is ours – at least for now – because I think that we carry its spiritual DNA and vision. God has prepared us for this.

We may feel a little inadequate and we are but God has a habit of giving big calls to ordinary people:

 

2 Corinthians 2:14-16:  … God also helps us spread the knowledge about Christ everywhere, and this knowledge is like the smell of perfume … No one really has what it takes to do this work.

 

Matthew 28:18-20: Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”

 

Slide 5

 

I summarize the various points of discernment:

 

In 2013, God opened the door to reaching out to fellow Lutherans – Holy Spirit meetings – and the first engagement marked a change in the Lutheran environment because it was a humble District Gathering where the Bishop, Pastors and church leaders cried out to God in humility and asked for a way forward. Ever since, invitations have come in.

 

Early in 2014, I seemed to have received from John Alley (Rockhampton) an anointing to deal with opposing head-spirits in the places where God calls me and I received a fatherly blessing which released me into my work.

 

In February 2014, the opposition against me and Living Grace has reached a crisis and turning point with the Qld Bishop shutting down the Jesus Tent in Rockhampton. It was time to stand up. I did not believe that God wanted the closing of the door which he had opened.

 

Herman’s dream, which he had dreamt twice, was about other “birds” not recognizing that I was one of them. Therefore, they pecked me to death. We needed a strategy to show them what I am like and Living Grace is like. We needed a channel of communication.

 

Coming out of our fast, I remembered some old Lutheran Renewal newsletters. Slowly, the idea formed to relaunch Lutheran Renewal and to publish again a national newsletter. The General Bishop responded favourably.

 

When the Qld Bishop forbade the Jesus Tent in Rockhampton, I was upset but – strangely – also full of joy, excitement and peace. I sensed a change of season – a shift in the spiritual realm. The next Sunday, Herman preached “breakthrough for Living Grace and the Lutheran Church of Australia” and Vicki connected this word with what God had told her twice during her 40-day fast (which she had just completed). God had said: “Call unto me, and I will answer thee and show thee great and mighty things thou knowest not.” [Confirmation from Helen and the intercessors and Nadia.]

 

As we trust that we are in a season of breakthrough, we step out and give shape to a national renewal movement. We communicate clearly who we are and what we believe and create a safe environment for others to explore renewal for themselves. There is strength in a movement.

 

What do you want to do? Can I have a show of hands, if you want to relaunch Lutheran Renewal? Amen.