So, I’ve been mostly AWOL these past few days because my church had a conference going on Sunday-Tuesday. And if you’re a follower of Jesus, you know that it’s important to pull away from the world when you’re seeking to hear from and encounter the Lord. So that’s what I did. I needed to focus and allow Holy Spirit to set some things straight in my spirit and my flesh. And man is that He did.
Holy Spirit wasted no time. It was the night before the conference was scheduled to start and my family had taken the conference speaker, Pat Schatzline, and his assistant, Daniel, to dinner. For most of dinner, it was a lot of getting to know each other. My father, the pastor of my church, and Pat Schatzline had miraculously connected in the earlier part of the year. Now, you’ll have to believe me when I say the fact that we connected was a miracle. My church is not a big church. By any means. On average, we run 30-40 people any given Sunday. And about 20-25 at our Wednesday services. And you may not know Pastor Pat, but he’s a pretty big name in Pentecostal/Charismatic circles. Him and his wife, Karen, have written many bestselling books and they travel all over the world to speak at conferences and camps. They’ve witnessed thousands upon thousands come to Christ, be delivered from bondages of sexuality, immorality, addiction, and more. They’ve witnessed thousands more healed from sicknesses, diseases, and illnesses. Pastor Karen herself was healed miraculously of leukemia. Pastor Pat was set free from the grip of severe depression and anxiety. So the fact that these big names in the Christian world not only agreed to come to our church and speak, but actively sought us ought? Well, that’s nothing short of a miracle. And, in many ways, it was a confirmation to my family and I that God has His eye on us. We’re not invisible.
So it all started that Saturday night around the dinner table as we got to know each other. And I think my whole family can agree that instantly we felt a kinship with Pastor Pat, his family, and his ministry. Because in modern American church culture, where churches and pastors are more concerned with popularity and numbers and being seeker-sensitive, it’s hard to find people who boldly preach the whole Gospel: grace + truth, forgiveness + repentance, relationship + reverence, the cross + the altar, heaven + hell, sanctification + holiness, the anointing + the glory. My family being birthed in the fires of the Brownsville Revival that broke out in 1995 in Pensacola, Florida… Pastor Pat’s message spoke to the deepest places of our hearts.
But that was only the beginning. There came a point at dinner, after we’d all eaten, where Pastor Pat turned to me, then my brother, then my sister and begin to speak words of knowledge (a gift of the Spirit) about things that he, a veritable stranger, couldn’t possibly know. I’ll keep the specifics private because, well, they’re personal. But believe me when I tell you that the things he identified in us were absolutely through the unction of the Holy Spirit. He spoke words of knowledge over my parents too, things that only God could know about what we’ve faced in our church and the direction we desire to go. Then, he began to release prophetic words (another gift of the Spirit; it is predictive in nature and conditional upon the faithful prayers of the recipient) over each of us.
And that was only the first night. I knew something was stirring in me. When we got home, I ran into my room and began to cleanse my space of things of compromise that I had given access to. Because I didn’t want anything to stand in between me and what God wanted to say or do in my life over the next few days. The presence of God is not worth a thing this world has to offer.
The next day, Sunday morning, signaled the beginning of what would be considered by us a landmark moment for our church. The worship was explosive, the message was poignant, and the altar call began to awaken something inside each of us that would culminate on the final night. Something was being birthed within our church.
That night, people came early. Way early. Service didn’t start until seven and I had already been there since 5:30 to get things prepared and to make sure I had plenty of time to pray and prepare the atmosphere. People started showing up at six. This was huge for our church because, often, people wouldn’t arrive until a few minutes before the start of service. The fact that people were hungry enough for a move of God that they would come an hour early was huge. As pastors, we’ve been praying that a prayer movement would be birthed within our church. That our community would begin to understand afresh the importance of prayer, intercession, and warfare. And I believe we’ve begun to see that happen.
The message Sunday night was on offense. Now, this doesn’t seem like your typical revival meeting message, but the thing is if you study the history of every great awakening, tent revival, our Holy Spirit outpouring, you’ll discover that there is one common reason that these outpourings ended: offense. Church splits. Rebellion. Church hurt. Offense is the killer of revival. So, of course, before a church can even begin to pursue revival we must first deal with the issues of offense that are stopping up our wells and preventing us from receiving more from the Lord.
The altar call that night was an emotional one as people dove and fell to the floor, weeping and repenting, humbling themselves at the altar. Offering up the issues of their flesh as a sacrifice on this spiritual altar moment. And the smell of burnt flesh, just like in the Old Testament, was a pleasing aroma to the Lord.
Monday. I woke up expectant, throughout the day in prayer. Something was happening. At this time, the enemy had already started trying to distract me. But I identified his tactics and warred against them. That night, Pastor Pat released a message on “The Hidden”, those who feel forgotten, isolated, and invisible. He spoke of how our isolation is sometimes God’s protection and sometimes his preparation. And when he gave the altar call, he called those of us to who have been “Hidden” to come forward. It was time, like Joseph as he ascended from captive to ruler, to rise and be Remnant in a broken, messy world. In that moment, something unlocked within me.
As I played piano during the altar call, as I sang out prophetically along with Pastor Pat, he came over to me, pointed at me and looked me straight in the eye and answered the question I’d been asking the Lord this whole time: God, heal my ears! (I’ve had severe hearing loss since I was a toddler and am dependent upon hearing aids to hear.) And this is what Pastor Pat said: “I’m going to heal you, but right now I don’t want you to hear what they say.” I don’t know who “they” is, but I knew exactly what He was talking about and in that moment I was so grateful for the wisdom of the Lord that He would delay my full healing only for the sake of my spirit. And then he began to pray over me concerning the mantle and anointing the Lord has placed on my life. He began to pray that I would begin to have dreams, visions, and senses of the same things he does every night when he goes to bed: the cries of the lost and broken masses. And he began to pray that a fire would be birthed deep within my belly that would be far greater than anything I’ve ever experienced.
That night, our church began to wake up.
Then came Tuesday. The final day. From the moment we woke up, we could sense there was a supernatural shift coming. Something was going to happen. We took Pastor Pat to lunch that day before he had to withdraw from the world to prepare for the night’s service. Again, I won’t share the words of knowledge and prophetic words that he released over my parents and myself. I fought tears as I listened, soaking up every word. Knowing that the Lord sees me and that He has something for me. Something huge.
That night, everything changed.
It was an unusual message. Pastor Pat released a word called, “I resign… when He walks in.” Our perspectives began to shift as he spoke of the difference between the anointing and the glory. So many of us realized that we had settled for the anointing, when we had yet to encounter the glory. The message was profound. The message was convicting. It was raw. It was eye-opening. He played a video compilation of words from revivals past and then called us into the altars. I dove from my seat and fell on my face hard enough to give my forehead a pretty decent carpet burn. Words cannot begin to describe the sound the erupted from that tiny sanctuary. The sounds of weeping and wailing and a hungry, desperate people crying out for the glory of God, His very nature and character, to press into us and crush us. The glory of God had come and interrupted us.
We lay there for 30+ minutes. Teenagers and adults alike cried out to God through tears, praying in tongues, interceding, pulling down heaven. By the end, my voice was raw. When I had prayed until my last breath, I tried to peel myself up off the floor, but – and I have never experienced this before, though I have heard many accounts from others – my body was much too heavy. It was like in that moment I had gained 200 pounds and couldn’t pick myself up off the floor. So I lay there longer. Tried again. Failed. Lay there longer. Tried again. And was finally able to move to a sitting position. I could barely keep my eyes open as I searched for a tissue and one of the ladies in our church brought me one as I stumbled around. I was in the aisle, so I had to move out of the way and, boy, that was hard too. I fell against the first row of chairs, shoving it back, and finally held still long enough to let myself adjust. My father called everyone to stand for the closing prayer and my sister had to help me to my feet. But I continued to sway, unsteady under the crushing weight of what had invaded the room.
I had come face to face with the glory of God. My life was interrupted. There were three things that the Lord did in me over the course of these four days: 1) He reminded me of the weight and the importance of the mantle I carry, my calling to the ministry. 2) He convicted me of areas of mixture in my life where I had allowed worldliness entry into my space. And 3) He gave me a glimpse of who He truly is.
But the best is yet to come.
(Note: All four services were live-streamed on my personal Facebook page and are made public. I strongly encourage you to watch them all. They will change you.)