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Maybe I should wait to write this until I’ve actually completed my PhD. But, since I’m nearing the half-way point, and not new to theological studies, but mostly since I’ll be one hundred years old in fifty years and my health is already waning, I thought I’d better put this on paper while it was fresh in my head.

The last thing the world needs is another spiritually dead academic to lead another generation away from the wonders of God.

  • Having a connection to a local church is vital – and not just filling up a pew. Involved, serving, teaching. This is as important as any course or seminar available to you. Christian community is the incubator for discipleship and theological studies should be discipleship on steroids. Submit to spiritual disciplines and become a disciple of Christ.
  • Seek out professors and people who are praying people. Yoking to a dead man will soon kill you. One of the things we loved about sending our boys to the House of Prayer in Kansas City for their bachelor degrees was the dean of the school said they require their instructors to be in the prayer room every day— they want the students to see the back of the head of the professor in the prayer room two hours for every hour they see the front of the professor’s head in the classroom. If you can’t find a spiritually vibrant supervisor, make sure your area of study puts you at the feet of the vibrant. Be suspicious of theology that comes from people both living and dead, who weren’t often on their knees and tender before God.
  • Ask God to speak to you and to lead you, to guide your search, highlight what you need to see/find/understand. Ask for discernment – eyes to see, ears to hear what the Spirit is saying to you– , ask his help understanding and articulating such that you can tear down speculations that set themselves up against the knowledge of God. Ask God to make you a voice, not an echo – to give you a new word and a now word. I used to pray before pastoral counselling sessions and preaching and because I now have a long history with God giving me the right things to see/say, I now pray before reading and writing. And, I ask God to activate the testimony and revelation that has been resting and dormant in the Cloud of Witnesses. The greatest source of underutilises encouragement in the Body of Christ comes from the Cloud of Witnesses. You do understand, don’t you, that theological studies puts you in the midst of testimony and encouragement of the Cloud of Witnesses?
  • At some point long past I wrote on the blank page in the back of my Bible; “if you don’t shout it when you are preparing it, they won’t shout when you are preaching it… preparation must be worship.” I feel the same about theological studies. In my office at the university I have on the bulletin board this clipping from J.I. Packer… “Any theology that does not lead to song is, at a fundamental level, a flawed theology.” My supervisor is a Christian Ethicist who is writing books on things like: Singing the Ethos of God.

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I have a friend who recently got a PhD and when I asked what the focus was he rattled off something that he obviously wasn’t passionate about and then said; My dissertation was read by two people and maybe they really didn’t even read it all that close and it will never be read again.

It made me sad. Basically, he made no contribution to the Kingdom with the stewardship of time he was given to dive deep into the things of God. He used the time to get a degree so he could get a job in a university. And to think parents like myself have paid top dollar to send our sons and daughters to the universities to sit at the feet of these dry wells.

My wife had one concern with me taking this hiatus from ministry and pursuing the PhD… that I’d spend a few years working on something that will make no Kingdom difference. I can report that God has me on the trail of defining and laying the foundation for an obedience movement which is something the Body of Christ has yet to see. We’ve seen movements of all sorts–– holiness movements; monastic movements; ecumenical and social gospel movements; Zionist and restoration movements; faith, charismatic, health/wealth and signs and wonders movements; missions movements; and the Church globally is enjoying a prayer movement presently taking shape in a variety of ways including a New Monasticism movement.

However, in two thousand years, has the Church ever seen an obedience movement where a generation of Christians takes the Sermon on the Mount seriously? No. If God has me on the trail of this theme, maybe it is because those days are soon to come.  When I study these things, there is some shabba (special sauce :-), anointing) on them and to handle these sacred things with prayer has become vital to me.

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The end game of good theology is worship and devotion. If you don’t arrive there in your study of God, you haven’t glimpsed him. Good theology is anything but dry and boring. It’s not hard to tell if a theologian is correctly grasping the revelation of God- they are people of prayer and worship. This is the litmus test of good theology and a good theologian. The reason those around the Throne sing holy, holy, holy endlessly throughout eternity is because every nano-second a new and overwhelmingly mind-blowing and beautiful aspect of God’s nature is revealed. The best theologians begin the day asking God to show them what the angels saw that made them cry HOLY!

Those were sentiments I shared recently on Facebook. Today I’d add we’ve come to a correct grasp of a theology of the cross when we come to tears. What provokes this post is that I find myself in the middle of a classical European theological school where we are still trying to make sense of guys like Hegel who looked at the cross and broadcast to the world: God is dead. His followers pressed the seeds of his atheism into full bloom intentionally influencing religion, education, media and economy (Marx). I won’t rehearse all that here but rather move right to my point.

Seems to me there are three reactions to the Cross. First, some reject it as foolishness. The message of the Cross is a profound offence, a scandal and foolishness to the perishing. The second reaction is we are indifferent. We take the Cross out of it’s central place and put up big screens instead. We don’t mention it or the blood but rather try to reach the world by telling them how to have better marriages and sex lives. The problem with that is God reached the world through the message of the Cross not messages on better marriages and better sex lives. The third reaction is we are moved to tears.

For years I preached through Lent without any real feeling about it all. Then I heard John Stott teach on the Cross of Christ and at one point he started to weep. I prayed that God would reveal to me what Stott saw in the Cross. Could it be said that theologians who occasionally tear up when talking about the Cross are the ones who raise up a generation of pastors who have Good News share with the world?

Kristen and I are so thankful for Alan Hood and his Excellencies in Christ course. At Thomas and Melody’s graduation last summer the young gal who gave the valedictorian speech mentioned this course. She said one day early on during her time at IHOP-KC, her and her class mates came out of the course crying and profoundly moved. Another student walking by in the hallway asked what course they were coming from. She replied, “Alan’s Excellencies course.” The other student said, “Oh, you’re at the Cross.”

 

Despite the fact that eighteen months have gone by, two weeks ago I absorbed yet another blow for refusing to join those who were critical of the Lakeland Outpouring. It’s not that I didn’t see anything about it I didn’t like – I frequently said if it was my “outpouring” I’d change about six things. But I sensed the Lord didn’t want me in the seat of scoffers. And because I stood where I stood, Todd Bentley’s sin became a black eye for me too.

With that in mind you’d think I’d hesitate to be one of the first to lend my enthusiasm to what has been transpiring at IHOP in KC since last Wednesday. And, in case you are wondering, I won’t hide my connections there. Kristen and I are from Kansas City – we enjoyed and were later hurt by things that unfolded during our time at Kansas City Fellowship in the 80’s. We left it all and came back.  We’ve paid a high price even in the last couple years for our refusal to distance ourselves from there. My son Caleb is in his second year of a four year program in the Bible school there. I’m delighted he is part of what they are now calling the IHOPU Student Awakening. He’s been deeply touched. Yesterday, at work, he led a witch to Jesus. I’m thankful, and confident he’s on the right track.

Last week, yet another letter was written criticizing Church at the Gate and my connection to IHOP. Nothing new. Nothing I haven’t heard before or that I wasn’t personally involved with in the 80’s. It was the typical stuff… I heard from a friend who has a relative who lives in Kansas City who has a friend who went to an IHOP event… And, then people who probably struggle to pray one hour a week start in criticizing a man who prays ten hours a day.

Before you jump to conclusions about IHOP-KC, think about this… just like IHOP-KC (10 yrs of 24/7 prayer), and the Moravians in Herrnhut, Germany (120 yrs of 24/7 prayer, starting in AD 1727), and the 3000 Celtic monks in Bangor, Ireland (300 years of 24/7 prayer, starting in AD 555), etc., let’s imagine that your little circle of Christians started praying twenty-four hours a day, seven-days-a-week and this went on for ten years seamlessly. Now, reflect on these questions:

  1. Do you think your group would look different than it does right now?  If so, how so?
  2. Do you think your group would stand out and be criticized by Christians who have no grid for what they see happening in your group?
  3. Would parents of students involved have concern that their son or daughter spending four hours a day in the prayer room is cult-like?
  4. Do you think your group would develop it’s own vocabulary that is foreign to those not a part of it?
  5. During these extended times in God’s presence, do you think God would underscore stuff in Scripture that is outside what your circle of Christianity presently views as orthodoxy?
  6. Has “evangelicalism” produced what God wants in the last fifty years? We are known by our fruits.
  7. What will it look like when spiritual awakening hits our college campuses?

Remember, a fanatic is one who loves Jesus more than you.

What is happening at IHOP-KC is God. We are agreed that the level of zeal for the Lord on display there far surpasses what what is normal in evangelicalism.

My favorite critique is to hear that someone says I’ve gone off the deep end. What a compliment.  I hunger for the deep things of God. They can stay in the shallow end with their floaties.  Let me make my point visually. I first thought to do this cartoon a couple years ago when someone commented to me — “I hear Church at the Gate is pretty radical.” I chucked and said, “Compared to what? Compared to the Bible? Hardly. Despite my wholehearted labor these past fifteen years, the Bible calls for a far more radical devotion yet.” I titled the cartoon – Is Church at the Gate radical?

Is Church at the Gate radical?

I’m going to start posting some on the IHOPU Student Awakening.  I snuck down there (Nov. 2-4) during the Global Bridegroom Fast to see my son Caleb who is a second year student at IHOPU. My drive home was one of the strongest times I’ve been with the Lord in a long time. It was hard to come home. ((I also went to KC to see my brother who has been in a battle for his eyesight. He was prayed for twice at IHOP while I was there and was delivered of a spirit of self-hatred at an IHOP Joseph Company meeting there on Saturday.))

This first post I’ll just paste the statement on the Awakening found on their website. My commentary on all of this will start in a subsequent post.  I’ll also embed a video clip of Wes Hall who gives context to what has been happening there.

On November 11, during a 9:00am class of first-year students, led by Allen Hood and Wes Hall at International House of Prayer University (IHOPU), the Spirit moved in their midst with physical healings, deliverance, and a spirit of joy. That class, on November 11, continued for more than 15 hours. The word spread quickly, and over 2,000 people spontaneously gathered in the auditorium from all over the Kansas City area, as deliverance and physical healings increased. The meeting continued well past midnight. Recognizing that the Spirit was moving, the leadership of IHOPU canceled all classes for the next few days so that we could gather to receive all that the Spirit wanted to do.

We recognize that the Holy Spirit is awakening our students and many others. In each of these meetings, many people are being set free from addictions, shame, depression, demonic activity, and every sort of emotional pain. We are also witnessing an increase of physical healings, as God is touching and restoring bodies inside the building, as well as healing people watching via the webstream. Moreover, we greatly rejoice as we are seeing lost souls being added to the kingdom of God during these meetings. We are receiving many testimonies and reports that this move of the Spirit is spreading to other churches and prayer rooms that are joining with us each night via the webstream.

It all began on November 4, on the last day of the monthly Global Bridegroom Fast at the International House of Prayer of Kansas City (IHOP–KC). A move of the Holy Spirit began to stir during the student chapel at IHOPU, as students testified about receiving deliverance from self-hatred, shame, and depression. Students began to experience supernatural joy at the revelation of God’s love for them. A powerful spirit of joy rested on many the next day at the IHOPU student-led 6:00am prayer meeting, and the Spirit continued to move throughout the week in our classes and during the faculty meetings.

What started during our IHOPU student chapel on November 4 is continuing today. Visitors are pouring in from many places, with some driving over 1,000 miles overnight to participate in these meetings. Consequently, on November 12, we moved the Prayer Room to our Forerunner School of Ministry sanctuary from 6:00pm to midnight each night, to accommodate more people. We will continue these nightly meetings as the Holy Spirit leads us. We earnestly pray that this awakening will continue, as our nation is in desperate need of another great awakening in this hour.

Throughout history, college and university campuses in our nation have been an epicenter and a catalyst for spiritual awakening. Since the 1700s, our nation has witnessed multiple moves of the Holy Spirit that have touched and awakened students on college campuses, including Princeton University, Yale University, Asbury College, Wheaton College, and more than a dozen other college campuses. These spiritual awakenings often progressed beyond the campuses and resulted in a great number of souls being added to the kingdom of God. History also attests to a strong correlation between spiritual awakening and missionary movements. We pray that this spiritual awakening that is touching IHOPU and the rest of our IHOP–KC Missions Base will break out all over our nation in different cities.

Here’s the video.

 

For those who are not used to seeing a grown man heave and twitch under the power of God, I’ll point you to my friend Randy Bohlender’s blog this morning where he notes this is God because that isn’t typical for Wes. In the Book of Acts, the only grid people had to process when they saw people affected by the weighty presence of God was to conclude they must be drunk.

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