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I did not arrive at the Church until about 10 minutes before service started. I figured I'd end up with a seat way in the back, but that was OK. I walked in the building and decided to go straight to the cafe to get something to eat and hunt up a seat later. I went down the aisle on the far right to get to the cafe. As I passed the front row, someone called my name and invited me to sit with them -- it was a man I met on the shuttle bus from the airport. So now I had a front row seat. There was a pole between me and the speaker, but who cares?
I put my stuff down and rushed into the cafe just before the closed the doors. I was their last customer, but I did get dinner. I sat down to eat it rapidly and ended up meeting Barbara. We clicked instantly. After about 5 minutes of discussion, we felt like we'd known each other forever. It turns out that Barbara is a member of TAV and that her son was in the youth band, which was leading worship that evening. She had a seat in the center section immediately behind the two rows saved for ministry team. The Lord had told her to save a seat and she was not sure why until she met me. So I moved over to sit with her and was introduced to Bryan, a house guest of hers from New Zealand. Again, an instant click in the spirit. We'd just met and already I felt like I'd known these guys all of my life.
Worship was incredible. The Lord seemed to fall on the three of us during worship in humorous ways. First Barbara would bow, then Bryan (who was seated to her right) would bow, then I'd bow (I was on Bryan's right). It almost looked choreographed -- except that we really weren't aware of each other much because we were so overwhelmed by the Lord's presence. But the people sitting behind us got a kick out of it. It felt so good to be enveloped in His manifest presence during worship again. Barbara's son was on the keyboard, and the Lord gave him a prophetic song during worship. It seemed to really set the place on fire. Suddenly the Lord was pouring out His presence on just about everyone in the room.
After worship, they called up all of the youth (under 28) who felt led to be worship leaders and prayed for them and released a spirit of worship on them. It struck me as significant because only two days before we had installed a worship leader for a new once-a-month celebration service that I'm involved with. I had an incredibly strong sense about how interconnected the worship and renewal were. The renewal is about God coming and manifesting His presence among us. It is the worship that seems to invite in the Lord's presence. After all, the Lord inhabits the praises of His people...
Apparently John and Carol Arnott are on some type of vacation or rest leave or something like that. There was a husband/wife pastor team (Jan and Byron) from the Eagle's Nest Church in Dallas Texas who were running the meetings that week. They had brought with them their own ministry team from Texas -- comprised of pastor friends and their wives and of people from their own church, which is apparently also experiencing renewal. When they introduced guests they asked everyone to stand if it was their first time to Toronto Airport Vineyard (TAV) and about 85% of the ministry team stood up. I remember feeling distinctly uncomfortable with that. It seemed like they should at least soak in prayer for one meeting before they start ministering. But I figured that the leadership must know what they're doing so I decided not to worry about it. (It turned out that many of the ministry team were quite good, but others really should not have been praying. I'll not go into the details here, but I heard a lot of "interesting" feedback about some people's experiences receiving ministry. This really made me start thinking about ministry team guidelines I'd like to see in my own Church. I don't think anyone should ever be made to feel bad if they go up for prayer. People who come up for prayer are in a vulnerable spot and they should be treated very gently and lovingly. And those of us who minister must keep a humble attitude and a servants heart before the Lord.)
Jan and Byron were talented speakers and the audience seemed to really enjoy them. They were sharing about their first experienced at the renewal (in their own community, sparked by people who'd been to TAV and later by a visit from John and Carol Arnott.) It was very humorous and they also shared about how God taught them to give Him control of the meetings instead of trying to be in control. That really struck me. I'm in a position where I have some influence on what happens at my own Church's renewal meetings. I felt like God was stepping on my toes and I needed to give Him back control of the meetings. (By the way, this was to be tested the following Friday where God took control of our renewal meeting, changed our format (even bumped out the testimony I was supposed to share) and even changed what the ministry time looked like. But God does a really good job when we give Him control. It was our best renewal meeting ever!)
Since I was sitting pretty near the front, I ended up being one of the first people prayed for that evening, which meant I did not have to wait very long for ministry. Jan, the woman pastor from Eagle's Nest, prayed for me. At first it was general prayer and not that much seemed to be happening. Then she started blessing and calling forth prophesy in my life. It was like someone threw open the doors and a rush of anointing flooded me. I began shaking so hard that I could not remain standing. I ended up being down for about an hour. At first I was so overwhelmed with the Lord's presence that I did not really notice anything that was going on around me. I told the Lord that I really wanted to do serious business with Him, not just have some experiences. I wanted to go home changed. The Lord used that opportunity to talk to me about control -- who is to be in control? God or me? He said that it cannot be both. I felt strongly impressed to give Him control in every area of my life, and especially in regards to ministries I lead at my Church. I asked God to show me if I accidently started trying to take control back. I asked Him to help me to leave things in His hands. Then I could feel His power surging through me and was impressed with the following:
- God wants the best for us (He is caring)
- God in fact knows what is best for us (He is competent)
- God is so powerful that nothing, especially enemy opposition, can stop Him from doing what He wants to in us as we yield to Him (He is capable)
I was just flooded with a sense of His presence. I could feel His power surging through me and I was jerking from the midsection a lot. My hands were also shaking a lot (a chopping motion) and my feet were kicking quite a bit. It would sort of come in waves. Sometimes His power would be over me and sometimes His peace would be over me.
During the peaceful waves, I found that I was opening my eyes and looking around the room a little as God continued to pour into me. I also found that I was getting lost in worship again.
During this time, I happened to notice a man with long blond hair standing near me. He was lost in worship while he waited for ministry prayer. He kept sweeping his hand over a wide area as he worshiped. I could literally see the anointing spraying off of his hand -- and could feel it was over me as he swept over the area I was in. I had a strong sense that the Lord was pouring into him the ability to impart -- more specifically that he was receiving an anointing to impart God's anointing to others. Then the Lord told me that this man did not think he was receiving anything from Him. He was receiving such a rich gift, but he did not realize it. In fact, he thought that God was passing him by.
I felt so full of the Lord that I literally felt "dripping full", like the Lord would drip off of me if I were to stand up. It was so good to be in His manifest presence and to feel His goodness all over me. I was becoming much more aware of what was going on the room around me. But I was still very aware of the Lord's presence on me.
Eventually the man with the long blond hair got prayed for. Nothing appeared to be happening -- he did not manifest in any way. He seemed to be very disappointed when the prayer team left him and was looking around the room, no longer lost in worship. I felt led to get up and tell him what I'd seen and what I believed the Lord had spoken to me about him. So I got up and went over to him. He lit up like a christmas tree when I shared with him. He admitted that he thought that God had passed him by and was really glad to hear what I shared. He lives locally and wants to be on the ministry team. He had been seeking the Lord for an anointing to impart into others. He didn't even realize that God was already giving it to him. Isn't God good!
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