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It looks like the Lord is doing it again! A group of pastors from the San Francisco Vineyard visited the vineyard in Toronto. If I understand the story correctly, they came back and met together the following Wednesday and found that the same anointing had come home with them. Church member Murray Swanson relates this story:
Michael Brodeur, the lead pastor at SF Vineyard, took some of his staff up to Toronto for a week last week and they have all came back charged like lightning bolts! On Wednesday they had an emergency meeting of their kinship and ministry leaders and had a mighty move of the spirit which subsequently spread thru the Thursday kinships also.
Yesterday (Sunday) - pretty much the same thing and they have decided to start meeting every night this week starting last night - and boy did the Spirit move last night - I have never seen anything like it (not even at Vineyard conferences) - about 350 people turned up and so did God's Spirit - no sooner did worship stop and when the pastor was still talking - but people were spontaneously being overcome by the Spirit in their seats - laughing, crying, falling off their seats, flopping around the floor, screaming - it was spooky for a while I must say - there was a really long prayer ministry and at least half the place ended up down on the floor as God was pouring out his Spirit in waves ministering in deeply personal ways with each person - it was powerful stuff.
The word that Steve Robbins brought to the SF church and the pastorate themselves had prophetically re-iterated to them whilst in Toronto is that God wants to bring release and freedom - from unbelief, failure to trust in His power and other on-going sins and blockages, then to refill each person in new ways and to anoint them in power and with giftings to minister especially in outreach and evangelism.
I received word of this via email Tuesday afternoon and felt impressed to cancel my evening plans and attend this meeting. They started with a half hour of worship, inviting people to gather at the front of the Church and stand together for worship. It was nice, but not particularly powerful. Then they had everyone sit back down. The head pastor gave a brief report of how they had vistited Toronto and that God seems to be doing the same things here. He explained that the Lord was visiting with visible manisfestations, including laughing, crying, people falling to the ground, people going into spasams, some people screaming, etc. He said that he had a bit of trouble understanding why God's spirit was chosing to move in this way rather than being very orderly. But he also said that God is boss and gets to choose what He wants to do. He shared a little history about past revivals and how the same types of manisfestations were reported at them. He quoated Johnathan Edwards, a big-time past revival leader, as saying, "I judge whether it is orderly not by the physical manisfestations but by the changes in people's lives leading to a more orderly Christian lifestyle. Therefore, I neither encourage nor discourage the manisfestations, I simply invite God to do whatever He wants to."
The pastor had a couple of other people on his staff share. One shared how God is moving on the children as well as the adults and "turning the hearts of the children to the parents and the hearts of the parents to their young." One told of his experience in Toronto. The other gave practical instructions of how to pray for people -- just ask God to come and bring more of His presense into their lives. If you touch them, be sure not to push. Treat each person with respect, don't yell as you pray, don't accuse anyone of not being willing to recieve from the Lord, etc. Don't have pre-conceived ideas that everyone you pray for should fall or show some other manisfestation, etc. In short, pray for people but let God be the one who does the work. He reminded them that "the people are coming for prayer to meet God, not to meet you." Then the pastor gave more practical instructions for the people who wanted to receive prayer. He suggested that they do not feel pressured to fall or to manifest in any way, but also not to fight God if God seems to be doing something in them. He said that if you do fall, do not be in a hurry to get up, stay down and let the Lord fully meet you, even if it takes 1/2 an hour or an hour or longer. Don't worry about what the Lord is doing with other people, just ignore them and concentrate on what the Lord is doing with you. He said that the Lord primarily wants us just to come and meet Him and allow Him to fill us. It is not a time for deliverance or rebuke, (though God may choose to do those things), but for basking in God's presense. He said that our job is just to receive, God would take care of the giving. He promised that God would come in power and meet us.
Then he had two people give testamonies. The whole time between when the meeting began and when they started praying for people was about one hour, with half an hour of that being worship.
The pastor invited anyone in leadership who needed refreshing from the Lord to come forward for prayer, promising that after the leaders were prayed for, they would open up the alter to anyone else who wanted prayer and also promised that everyone who wanted prayer would get an opportunity to be prayed for. Then he asked everyone who was still in their seats to pray that God's power would come mightily.
Then they started praying for people. Nothing fancy, just asking God to come and manifest His power in their lives. At first it was relatively quiet. A few people when down. Then things started geting exciting. God's presense became so tangable that you could sort of "feel it in the air." People started responding to God's power. Some were falling without even being prayed for. God did all sorts of things as far as manisfestations go -- some people fell to the ground and rested peacefully, a big smile on their faces. Some were crying, some were flopping around like fish out of water and most were laughing joyfully. They had someone playing a guitar and leading worship songs as the prayer was going on. The people who were not at the alter were singing along, but every now and then a great wave of laughter would break out over the group.
After a while they opened up the alter for anyone who wanted prayer and most of the audience came forward. Some of the leaders who had been on the floor got up and started praying for those who had not been prayed for yet. It did not seem to matter who did the praying, God came and met people powerfully -- some people did not even need to be prayed for, they were showing the same manifestations without any human point of contact. It was clearly a work of God's spirit and everyone there seemed to sense His presense. Around 11:00 PM or so, some of the people started leaving, and the ministry time was primarily over. But many people remained on the ground in front of the alter until after midnight. A sort of Holy laughter came over pretty much everyone who was left at the alter after about 11:00 and lasted until midnight.
When I went up for prayer, the alter area was pretty crowded and I was in the back of the crowd. I know it would be along time before someone got around to praying for me. I stood there worshipping the Lord and praying that He would touch me too. I sort of expected that it would be like what I experineced when Shiloh had it's prayer conference three weeks ago. I expected to be enveloped in the Lord's peace and simply bask in His presense.
But as I was praying and seeking Him and inviting Him to be Lord of every area of my life, I suddenly found myself starting to shake -- first my arms and legs then every part of me. I was really surprised, as I'd never experienced any thing of this sort before. I shot off a quick prayer that if this was not of the Lord that it would stop, but gave the Lord permission to do whatever He wanted to with me. I continued to shake and I continued to pray, inviting Christ to be Lord of every area of my life and asking Him to fill me with His power.
Eventually, a woman came and prayed with me for a few minutes. I was not thinking much about falling or anything other that totally surrendering to the Lord. Then I sort of collasped and someone was behind me who caught me and put me on the floor. I spent a little bit of time being enveloped in the Lord's presense again and then my whole body (except my arms from my elbows down and my legs from my knees down) began to shake again. That lasted for over an hour. I did not understand what was going on but gave the Lord permission to do whatever He wanted. I also prayed that if any of this was not from Him that He would make whatever was not of Him stop. It crossed my mind how undignified I must look laying on the floor shaking uncontrollably. But somehow that did not matter.
I could sense the Lord's presense and I felt a great deal of peace. The Lord seemed to be speaking to me while I was down there. One of the things that He told me was that He was going to do two separate things with me this evening and this was the first. Finally my body became still and I was enveloped in God's peace. It felt so wonderful that I did not want to move. I could sense God smiling down at me and I was just so happy to belong to Him. Both of my arms from the elbows down became very warm and tingled. (The Lord had done a partial healing of carpel tunnel for me three weeks ago. I sort of think He may have been completing the healing then, but I'm not sure. I do know that I've spent a long time typing this morning and my forearms are not fatigued at all.)
As I became more aware of what was going on around me, I sat up and looked around. A lady near me was making gestures like someone was choking her and she was trying to fight unseen hands off of her throat. So I went over and prayed for her, commanding in Jesus name that any spirits who were not of the Lord Jesus Christ leave her. After a minute or two she quited down and went into a deep peace. A big smile spread over her face. Later she sat up and thanked me for praying with her, saying that she was glad I came over because she had been begging the Lord to send someone over to help her.
Then I found one of my friends that I had been sitting with. She was laughing uncontrollably, drunk in the Spirit. When she touched me, I started to laugh as well. My other friend came over and joined us, also drunk in the spirit. Before we know what happened, God's spirit came over us again and we were all back on the floor again, laughing uncontrollably. God's power was so awesome and the joy is simply beyond description. I tried to sit up, but found that I was unable to do so. It was like some great but gentle force was holding me down. I ended up staying on the floor laughing for atleast 45 minutes. For some reason, I don't really understand it, this experience was very healing for me. (Normally I am not given to this type of display.) But somehow it did not matter. I sensed God's presence and His delight with me and experienced the joy of the Lord. I found myself praising Him even in the midst of all that laughing.
Finally the Lord let me get up at about 12:10 AM. I got in my car and drove home. Yet the presense of the Lord seemed as strong when I was alone in the car as it had when I was at the altar. It is so good to belong to Him!
When I woke up this morning, I could still sense the Lord's presense. He really opened scriptures up to me this morning as I did my devotions. I wrote notes in the margin as He showed me things from His word and ran out of margin before I ran out of things to write.
God is so awesome and I can hardly wait to see what happens at tonight's meeting!
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