Ruach Conference 2014: Wrecked on Tuesday

I have a half-written post about Tuesday’s morning and afternoon sessions, but my heart is so stinkin’ full after the night service I’ve gotta spill some of it before I explode.

Let me just start by saying how ridiculously good and anointed the RPC Worship Department is. I say department because they have like 27 different teams and every last one of them is dripping with anointing.

I said all that to say that tonight’s opening song, “I hear the sound” flat wrecked me. I found out later that John Brockman, one of RPC’s many worship leaders, wrote this song. And I can only imagine how God would upload a song like this to anyone.

Well, that was just the opener. Lee University’s Campus Choir backed up the worship team and, as always, they were jubilant and highly anointed.

Worship prepared the way for the word from Free Chapel Pastor Jentezen Franklin. “Don’t Waste Your Oil” was the subject of his message.

His text was 1 Samuel 16 where David is anointed king after the Samuel passes over his brothers.

Jentezen’s message was basically pour into people who will receive what you have to give.

He listed various types of people that he won’t waste his oil and/or time pouring into. Everything from mean people to stingy people to those who ridicule and mock the moving of the Spirit for today–are not worth losing sleep over. It’s not worth it to even argue with them.

Can I tell you how freeing that is?

Jentezen went on to tell the story of a city in North Carolina near a Marine Corps air station that has signs posted around the city stating, “Pardon our noise, it’s the sound of freedom.”

The funny thing about that story is I just heard the very same thing on Sunday when Dr. Bryan Cutshall, president of the Redemption School of Ministry, preached at my home church (a wonderful experience that started off our week with a bang).

Pastor B, as he’s affectionately known, shared the story after the most remarkable exegesis of Psalm 23 I’ve ever heard–a word that still has me in wonder even today.

After Tuesday night’s service, as I walked by Pastor B. he stopped me and remarked about sharing that story Sunday and he called it confirmation.

As if that wasn’t enough, a young man with Campus Choir (who I didn’t know from Adam) stopped me on our way out the door and gave me a prophetic word. The young man said that he could see I was locked in a prison room and I was praying, fasting, and even singing at the wall for it to fall, but God had to remove some things behind the wall first. He went on to say that the wall is falling now.

Now, I’m not typically one to just accept a prophetic word from a total stranger. Ever. But the truth in that word confirmed by actual issues I’ve been facing, coupled with the confirmation of Pastor Jentezen and Pastor B. tells me freedom is here!

You can call that weird. You can call it strange fire. You can call it whatever you want. I call it the sound of freedom. I call it an on time word straight from the throne.

Thank God for Ruach.

Ruach Conference 2014 – My Thoughts on Day One

When I first heard about the Ruach Conference some months ago, I knew it would be a can’t-miss event for spirit-filled believers everywhere. And let me tell you, day one of the conference certainly lived up to those lofty expectations.

After a brief time of worship, the conference began with a greeting from the pastor of the Redemption Point Church, Kevin Wallace. Pastor Kevin noted that he felt a burden to host the Ruach Conference after hearing about another conference which existed only to shut-out and shut-up spiritual gifts and the moving of the Holy Spirit in today’s church.

He didn’t call-out that conference by name, but I can only assume he was talking about last year’s Strange Fire Conference hosted by John MacArthur in California.

I posted a response to MacArthur’s rhetoric right here at joelabarker.com–a post that has been my most-viewed and commented-on to date.

I don’t believe Pastor Kevin’s vision for Ruach was for the conference to be the “Anti-Strange Fire” conference. Rather, the heart of this conference seems to be just what it’s branded and billed to be–breathing fresh life into the spirit-filled church.

For this worship pastor, Ruach’s vision became reality in the two sessions I attended with the incredibly anointed Ricardo Sanchez.

The Grammy award winning worship artist said some things during those two hours that made me uncomfortable and downright convicted in my heart.

It’s really easy to become complacent in ministry. That’s especially true when you feel called in multiple areas, as I am. Sometimes you get lost in the shuffle between where you are now and where God is calling you to go. I’m not making excuses, I’m just telling you the truth.

Truth is exactly what Sanchez shared.

Among the first noteworthy comments he shared was this little gem, “the presence of God will always come where the presence of God is invited.”

Well, yeah. I’ve said it many times. I’ve proclaimed that very fact on my fair share of stages. I’m just not sure I’ve really believed it every time I’ve said it. Today, I believed it.

Sanchez continued, “when God’s presence comes, the Kingdom comes with Him.” Now, that I’ve never heard. But man, did that open up my heart right off the bat.

Think about that for a minute. When we experience Him in worship, we are experiencing the presence of the Kingdom of God.

I recently had a few moments like this in worship.

Leading worship at my home church’s Fall Campmeeting just two short weeks ago, we reached a different dimension than I’ve ever experienced. I began flowing in prophetic worship and it was like God literally sat down among His people in that church.

His Kingdom broke through and that experience has changed the way I view worship. And of course, Ruach happens at the perfect time to reinforce and confirm what God began two weeks ago in my heart.

There were many more quotes and topics I could share from our time with Ricardo Sanchez, but the time of worship we had with him toward the end of the session deserves a mention here.

It only lasted five or six minutes, but our small group of about 25 worship leaders experienced a shift in the spiritual atmosphere as Ricardo led a medley of worship songs before our time was up. He was touched. We were all touched in just a brief few moments. Further driving home his point that God shows up when He’s invited.

Dan Reiland’s leadership talk followed the worship breakout session.

I was excited to hear from Reiland. He’s a can’t-miss interview on multiple podcasts that I subscribe to–including the 200 Churches podcast where he’s a monthly guest.

Learning some of the ins-and-outs of leadership from someone of his stature in the Kingdom was a treat. I discovered that I’m mostly a “learned-leader” with some qualities of a “natural leader.” I think I also discovered why I battle the aforementioned complacency issue as well.

The treat of day one, however, was the evening service with Reinhard Bonnke–a true giant of the faith. The short video prior to his taking the stage was enough to make a Presbyterian shout. Bonnke claims 74 Million people have been saved from Hell through his ministry via the simple proclamation of the Gospel across the globe.

That’s just an astounding number. And watching his videos through the years, I believe the reports.

Bonnke talked a bit about his age and the successor to his ministry, Daniel Kolenda (Tuesday speaker). There were moments in the message where Bonnke’s heart was revealed in such a way that you could feel his burden for souls. Not just souls on other continents either.

His emphatic statement, “America shall be saved” brought much of the near-capacity crowd to their feet.

Bonnke continued, “Africa has given me incurable faith for America.”

The statement “incurable faith” messed me up. I’ll have more on that topic in a later blog post, I guarantee it.

Only an evangelist like Reinhard Bonnke could give a compelling altar call for salvation at a conference primarily for pastors and church leaders. About 20 people responded too. The night services are open to the public, so I’m fairly certain those that responded were not backslidden preachers, but you never know.

In all, day one was incredibly refreshing content-wise. It was also a treat to spend much of the day with my parents and some friends in the ministry. Not to mention meeting many folks face-to-face that I had only met via social media prior to Monday’s opening sessions.

Day one of Ruach was nothing short of incredible. I’ll have more as the week progresses.

*My next few posts will feature my reflections on Ruach Conference 2014 hosted by Redemption Point Church in Chattanooga, Tennessee. These posts are not official recaps. Just my thoughts.

The Church: Being the hands and feet or sitting in the seat?

Sunday morning has come and gone for now. Don’t worry, though. You’ll get another opportunity next week. Chances are that seat is really comfortable. It’s likely right in the middle of your comfort zone. No pressure. No work. No hassle. Just come and enjoy the show for a little while.

No doubt that is the definition of Christianity for some.
While I’m thankful that those of you who hold to that view are at least hearing the Word preached, I want to challenge you to broaden that perspective.

I’m churchy, man. I’m more churchy than Noah was arky. But if Sunday morning is the central focus, what happens in my church Monday thru Saturday? Does it cease to exist as a force? If the Church is a living, breathing organism, what happens when the lights are out and the alarm is armed?

From a Kingdom perspective, the church building is just the rallying point. It’s the hub where you get energized to be the Church, not the destination where you merely have church.

In 1 Corinthians 12, Paul said “Ye are the body of Christ, and members in particular.” Surely that was only for the leadership though, right? The pastor should be doing all that stuff while the rest of us spare parts count down the days from Sunday to Sunday. Not even hardly.

Think about what Christ did in His earthly ministry. He ministered to the poor. He mended the brokenhearted. He set captive people free. He healed. He saved. He delivered. He preached good news. And nowhere in the Gospels does Jesus tell His followers that all that stuff should stop as soon as He leaves.

As a matter of fact, John records Jesus saying, “He who believes in me, the works that I do he will do also; and greater works than these he will do (John 14:12 NKJV).”

The only qualifying statement Jesus made about who would do these works was “whoever believes in me.” He didn’t say, “Only those who go through seminary” or “those who lead churches”. That covers everyone who believes, from the pew-warmer to the pastor, and from the church-goer to the choir leader. Jesus was talking about the Church.

The Church has the hands that serve the community. It has the feet that carry the Gospel and the eyes that burn with passion for souls. That is the Church–the body of Christ.
I know it’s easier to sit in the Sunday seat inside the building we call “church”. And it’s certainly more comfortable.

Being the hands and feet of Jesus is what we are called to. Let’s get busy being what we’re supposed to be–the Church.

Victory Formation Christianity: Playing it safe til He comes

It’s as frustratingly maddening as it is sweetly exhilarating. If you’re on the winning side there’s no greater sight. If you’re the loser, you’d rather stick a needle in your eye than watch as it plays out. It’s football’s Victory Formation.

When the outcome of a football game is no longer in question late in the game, the team with the lead usually goes into an offensive formation that completely protects the quarterback as he takes the snap and almost immediately takes a knee to just keep the clock running. The losing side usually has no timeouts left and no hope of a comeback when the winning side begins this formality.

The Victory Formation is the winning side’s way of making sure they don’t turn the ball over causing a potential miraculous comeback-win for the opposing side. The Victory Formation is playing it safe.

Unfortunately, the Victory Formation mentality has crept it’s way into the Church.

It appears that time may be getting short. The return of the Lord might not be that far away. There are signs all over the place.

Ebola, ISIS, Israel, Russia, Syria, Iran, and the spread of radical Islam all point toward our blessed hope and His glorious appearing. Whether that means His return happens next year, next decade or even longer, we’re in the fourth quarter of time.

Because of this perceived shortness of time, many Christians seem content with running out the clock from the Victory Formation while a handful of ministers and leaders continue the trench-warfare that comes with snatching people out of the fire (Jude 1:23).

The hour is too late and the stakes are too high to live out our Christian faith from the Victory Formation. 

Sure, it’s a safe way to play the game. There’s almost zero chance you’ll end up losing possession of the football. Might as well take a knee and run out the clock, right?

In Luke 19, Jesus gives the parable of the 10 talents. In the parable, Jesus says a man of noble birth was going away to become king and he gives 10 servants one talent each with the instruction “Occupy til I come.” Occupy meaning put this money to work or continue conducting business until I return as King.

The story continues with the nobleman returning to find one servant who earned 10 talents off the original amount given to him. The next servant had gained five. The final servant hid his only talent in a cloth and did nothing with his master’s money. He played it safe because he was scared of his master.

The telling reason Jesus gave this parable is all the way back in verse 11. Luke says “he went on to tell them a parable, because he was near Jerusalem and the people thought that the Kingdom of God was going to appear at once.”

So it’s possible the people had a penchant to play it safe since they thought the Kingdom coming in power was imminent. Maybe the underlying attitude among the followers was one of complacency or worse–safety.

Aslan, the Lion in C.S. Lewis’s classic children’s story The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe represents Jesus. As the inquisitive children ask about Aslan, Mr. Beaver replies, “Course he isn’t safe. But he’s good. He’s the King, I tell you.”

Lewis got that one right. Jesus is anything but safe. Following Him is anything but playing it safe. As a matter of fact, Jesus Himself said, “If anyone wants to come with Me, he must deny himself, take up his cross every day, and follow me. (Luke 9:23)” Does carrying your own method of execution sound safe to you?

It’s not time to play it safe. It’s not time for the Victory Formation. There’s still a war over men’s souls. There is still a battle to fight. There’s still a devil loose.

Yes, we already have ultimate victory. We’re marching from victory to victory. But truly following the King is anything but playing it safe.