So here we are on the first day of the conference. This is my fourth time here and I am quickly reminded of the things that I like about this conference, the things I don’t like about this conference, and ultimately why I keep coming back.
For starters, what I like a lot about this conference is that these people do not mess around when it comes to seeking after God. There is very little fancy about anything they do. No flash, no frills, just people honestly seeking after the Lord. 20,000 of them to be exact. And the start of the first session exemplified exactly that as they went straight into prayer and worship with little of any of a welcome or introduction…
The First Session
The first session was mostly a report on the work of the Holy Spirit in Kansas City in the past few weeks. Apparently, the Holy Spirit has been manifesting upon their campus in a powerful way, stirring an awakening of sorts in the student body. They’ve been holding extended meetings to seek the Lord in which many people have come to be healed from sickness, mental afflictions, cancer (yes, cancer!), sores; people have been delivered from addictions, depressions, and all sorts of bondages. It was a very encouraging report and something I assure you would never be heard in an evangelical church of any kind (which is why I find it very refreshing coming here).
On the flip side, the report the speaker gave on the expression of the Holy Spirit was where I found it tough to swallow. Reports of people convulsing, shaking, yelling, rolling on the floor, laughing uncontrollably were attributed to the work of the same Holy Spirit. He mentioned that these were witnessed and experienced by the most conservative of Christians in their student body who once mocked these types of displays.
I entered into the conference with the belief that these things are to be frowned upon. The manifestation of the Holy Spirit in the lives of those in the Bible did not result in these extravagant and unexplainable displays, but a controlled reverence and response to God Almighty. John, upon seeing God, “fell as his feet as though dead”, as did Isaiah, and the rest of the apostles at that. But laughing, convulsing, and rolling on the floor? Hard to believe that these are the work of the Spirit whose fruit is self-control (Gal 5).
However, it was hard for me to discredit the testimony of those who experienced these things. And who can argue with the results that came afterwards? As one of the pharisees in Acts reasoned, ‘if it is not the work of God, it will not be sustained; but if it is, who can stop Him?” These strange manifestations came with power. And the power authenticated the reality of the outpouring.
And so I am torn. My classic understanding of the power and work of the Holy Spirit in the lives of the believers needs to revised and examined.
But either way, that is not all I am left with from this first session. If all I gained was a strange judgment of their practices, then I am wasting my time being there! Here are some bullet points about what I am left with from this first day:
- Regardless of my positions of the expression of the Holy Spirit, God has convicted me again of being a man who is consistently filled with the Holy Spirit.
- I need to be praying and fasting consistently from now on in order to position myself to receive more from the Lord. (God give me grace for that!)
- The church in America is worse off than I thought and “business-as-usual ministry” will not suffice to match the exponentially increasing depth of darkness and wickedness that exists in our midst. We need true born-again, Spirit-filled, passionate lovers of Jesus to make a difference.
- I don’t realize how hard my heart is until I am in the midst of a people who are passionately seeking God. It’s always a rude-awakening to my self-deluded thought that “Phil is very passionate for God.” How wrong was I! Phil is this weak Christian who’s faithfulness to God can be likened to Hosea’s wife. And I realized that when I am sitting there trying to enter into the presence of God when thousands of others find it so easy and urgent to do so.
- FInally, what I desire most from coming here is not a good conference experience. I don’t care about having a good time here. What I desire is GOD. And being ruined by Him from the inside in order that the revival fires may burn from within me. Lord help me.
So these are my quick thoughts about the first day here at OneThing! Stay tuned for the rest.
Grace to you all!