Tonight is going to be part one of a recap of the One Thing Conference we attended in Kansas City, MO. One Thing is an annual conference that has been held for many years with this one being the last one for the foreseeable future. Initially we were not going to attend, primarily because of cost, but the Lord prompted us to go, and I am glad we did.
The conferences in the past had very well known speakers, who had thriving ministries, but this conference didn’t have that. It was different. The theme of the conference was “Reset”. The only known speaker outside of the International House of Prayer Kansas City community was Francis Chan who said he came to see what was happening, and got pulled into the discussions. Yes, Lew Engle of The Call, was there, but he is also a part of the community, but the reset was not just for the Prayer Community which we are a part of, but for the church universal.
IHOPKC represents thousands if not millions of people. The prayer movement that has been birthed through it as well as those it partners with, huge ministries with worldwide reach. This conference was a call to shake up the church to move away from the machine that it has created, back to the principles that it was established on by our Lord Jesus Christ.
I thank God that he has given me insight and others associated with The Furnace locally who have had similar revelation from the Holy Spirit that in the days in which we live, we are entering into the generation that will see the glory of Jesus Christ manifest into His Church in the full expectation of His promises for us. It is at our doorstep. We will be the church He envisioned.
Mike Bickle the Director of the International House of Prayer in Kansas City said that the past three years he has spoken to his leadership that something needed to change. He said things weren’t right. In all appearances to me, they were going through the motions of ministry with a need to break free. They were not doing anything wrong, they were fulfilling their mandate, but in the Spirit, Mike as well as some of the other leadership knew there must be change even when they could not put their finger on the issue.
It took a group of Chinese to come to Kansas City, one thousand of them, to meet with leadership that brought a shake up. They called the meeting, "The Convergence."
From my perspective, we are blessed here in America, and that blessing has put some of us to sleep spiritually all the while, we have created a machine that never stops nor sleeps. We are always in motion, and to a point that we only hear our own voices within the machine, and not the voice of God. We think we know the answers to everything because of our knowledge, but really we are really blind to the truth, and are spiritually numb and don't even know it.
Now I am not saying this is IHOPKC by any means, but for the church overall it looks that way.
The Chinese came in and really messed up our narrative. They were in a different zone. A different state of being spiritually. To look at them, they are our future in the good that will come, but also the not so good. It is a story of a move of God, but through a persecuted church. There were people there at the convergence as well as the conference we attended who had been in prison numerous times with some having been brutalized and tortured for their faith by the Chinese Government. Their life was lived for Christ, and they refused to give up that life and paid the price. Many lost homes, businesses, and jobs because they were followers of Jesus Christ. Them coming to the initial meeting, weeks earlier, and they being at the conference, was causing a reawakening. An awakening of purpose, but not through a machine created by a corporate church, but purpose by a church that hears God.
In the leadership summit we attended before the conference began, the focus was on reestablishing what was real. Reestablishing who we are as a church, a movement, and what our primary objective is, that we needed to just go back to the Word of God and do what Jesus said and what He did.
In both the Summit, and Conference we were brought first to Luke 10:38, the story of Mary and Martha of Bethany.
As Jesus and his disciples were on their way, Jesus came to a village where a woman named Martha opened her home to him. She had a sister named Mary. Mary sat at the Lord’s feet listening to what he said while He was in the home. Martha her sister had issue with that. Martha was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made. She came to Jesus and asked, “Lord, don’t you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me!”
“Martha, Martha,” the Lord answered, “you are worried and upset about many things, but few things are needed—just one thing. Mary has chosen what is better or the best portion, and it will not be taken away from her.”
We as a Body of Christ need to again sit at the feet of Jesus just like Mary of Bethany and listen to what He says. The writer Luke points out that Martha was distracted by many things, and so are we. We have so many directions we seem to need to go, but there is only one direction, one place where we need to be, and that is at the feet of Jesus. That One Thing is what is important.
This was a primary theme for the conference, focus on Jesus.
Francis Chan was there, love that guy and his spiritual insight, and he was on a panel to answer questions in the main conference the first day and I believe it set the tone for the rest of the conference. Like most conferences with panels, it seems that everyone always has an answer or wants to speak and give an opinion. But Francis with revelation from the Holy Spirit, spoke some profound words for us in the church directed at the panel.
When the first question was asked, it was deferred through two people then given to Francis to answer, and in humility, he said, “I told Jesus earlier that I was only going to speak if asked to. I was not going to give my input because I can, but wait upon the Lord for His direction and prompting so that my words would be from the Holy Spirit.” (in the Bradley paraphrased version) He said “We talk too much, and listen to little.” And he brought up some scripture on that point. It shut the panel up and us, for 10 or 15 minutes. It wasn't until the Holy Spirit spoke did the panel continue, but it brought everyone to just wait upon the Lord and let Him control the meeting which lead to Him controlling the whole conference.
It seems we always have something to say if led by the Spirit or not, and it is time we listen, and if the Spirit gives us nothing, we say nothing. We keep silent. That theme was present throughout the conference and it was evident, because what was said was so profound. It cut to the heart and in your Spirit, you knew that what was spoken was a Word from God. I think I wrote down more words than I have ever in a conference.
When you sit at the feet of Jesus and cut yourself way from distractions, and listen…… the Holy Spirit will speak. Then you can speak, and when you speak, your words will be full of truth, and full of power and anointing because you are not speaking on your own.
But back to Martha of Bethany. We as the Body of Christ need to reevaluate what is important in this day. What is important for us as Followers of Jesus Christ. From my perspective for myself, is that I need to get at the feet of Jesus and not move from there until He says to move, and I need to keep my mouth shut unless the Spirit of God speaks to me to open it. I talk too much, and as an obedient son, I should do only what I am led to do by my Father in Heaven. I do not want to move out of a posture of humility before Him and pridefully do something He did not want me to do or do something before the appointed time. Martha was doing what she always did, but should have stopped just for a moment to sense or even ask what the Master wanted.
Here at The Furnace, we are not going to move on any new thing unless the Lord prompts not only me, but all of the leadership to move forward. I may be the Lead Under Shepherd here, but I am not moving unless there is unity in the Spirit with the other Elders and Pastors here.
We will not be moved by emotions or by our thoughts of time to feel that we must do something. Martha, Mary’s sister was moved by time and emotions. She was sincere, but disconnected. She was moving in the physical and not being aware in the Spiritual.
What was important? Martha did not see it. She was too focused on things that didn’t really matter. What are we doing that doesn’t really matter in our personal lives? What are we doing in the church that really doesn’t matter? Are we consuming our lives with “things”, but not focusing on the One Thing that is important?
In the leadership summit we talked about how corporate America has infiltrated the church. That’s nothing new. We have become a corporate entity; all the while the church was created to be a family entity. That was the only structure the church was to follow. It could not operate correctly any other way.
The corporate structure is a pastor killer, and with many pastors at the summit, they agreed. Hundreds if not thousands of pastors quit each year because of burn out and stress. The church is not set up to be a top down structure, it was set up to be across the board really, with a Father leading with other Fathers. It struck even this morning when I was reading over this about a good friend of mine who leads the Light of Christ Anglican Church here in town.
Eirik Olsen, or as he is called in his church, Father or Padre Eirik. He is just that. He and his other pastors and leaders are fathers to the church. Their wives are mothers. I believe we stick our noses up to the title because of abuses elsewhere, but I see some connection here to their role. Father Eirik is truly a great father to his church. He loves his people and nurtures them to follow Jesus.
With Fathers and Mothers running the house, (this is our house), family values are instilled into the children. Jesus values.
Now the children may be of any age, because most of the children will be spiritual children.
Fathers and mothers love and teach values to their children, and they teach them through life actions replicating Christ, and through the Word of God. The fathers and mothers do not teach or mentor the children to emulate themselves, but to emulate Christ as their lives are in Christ.
We have many issues today with "Mentors" attempting to make clones, and we have many clones out there in church land, where men and women talk like and look like and act like certain individuals with flashy personalities, when we are born to be unique, and have a life that is unique in Christ Jesus.
There are so many today in the church that can only identify themself in someone else or in a ministry, when they should identify themselves in Christ alone.
We have clone churches run by clone men and women, creating other clones and the world around them sees little impact because it is about the personality, and not about Jesus.
We really need a family whose identity is in Christ alone so we can start another pure Jesus movement. Doing what Jesus did, because we know His heart, and we can hear His voice, because we spend time sitting at His feet saying nothing so we can hear His voice when He speaks.
Mary of Bethany sat on the floor at Jesus feet. It was a good place. Humbly sitting before her Lord. She said nothing and just listened. We need to learn to get into that place, even if we don’t hear for a while. Even if we think we are in the desert and may feel alone. In the desert we empty ourselves out.
It reminds me of Moses, and I don’t know if I said this the last time we met, but I know I have spoke to a couple people about it here lately.
Moses was a prince of Egypt, as well as a prince of the Hebrews. He was highly educated in life, and government, and even warfare. At age forty, he went out into the desert to the land of Midian, which is the western part of Saudi Arabia. For forty years Moses was a shepherd for his Father in law Jethro the Priest of Midian. So for forty years, God emptied Moses of his past, and his knowledge, his pride, and self will. When Moses took the sheep to Mt Horeb, which he may have done many times before, this time, Moses was ready for God to use. And you know that from a statement that Moses said to God; right after God said He was going to send Moses to deliver the children of Israel from the Egyptians. Moses said, “Who am I that I should go?”
Moses was in a place of humility, and empty of self. The desert was not a bad thing, it was a good thing, and it was in the desert that Moses heard God, because his heart was ready, and there was no noise. Just him, and God.
It may not be forty years for us, and some may say it feels like it, but maybe weeks, or months, or maybe years until our hearts are in that place. And in that place of silence beneath the feet of Jesus where there is no noise, He will speak. And His speech will be profound and life changing.
Spiritual Fathers and Mothers need to arise in the humility of the Lord to love on the children that will come into their households. That was a point that resonated through the conference. But it was not only the position of the parents in the children’s lives; it is the position of the children to open themselves up to come under the wings of the parents.
There was much repentance on both sides as parents and children recognized they did not follow through on their relationships. We are quite aware of that in the church today.
Our elders have seemed to be ignored in many instances because younger leaders think that they need new blood to attract young people, but on the other hand, there are elders who have retired themselves. Young leaders at times think the elders think old so they aren't used, but we also have a retirement mentality in the current generation of baby boomers. Today I know of pastors retiring in their 60's, but I've always thought that in the Kingdom of God no one retires from active service to the Lord.
Elder Father and Mothers need to arise to raise up a new generation of empowered followers of Christ, and the younger need to come under the “parents” and honor them by learning from them.
1 Peter 5:5-6, “Likewise, you who are younger, be subject to the elders. Clothe yourselves, all of you, with humility toward one another, for “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.” Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you,”
Ephesians 6:1-24, “Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. “Honor your father and mother” (this is the first commandment with a promise), “that it may go well with you and that you may live long in the land.”
The words in the Greek for "parents" in obey your parents in the Lord" is "Fathers", honoring your father and mother is plural, your fathers and your mothers. It is not just for your blood parents, but those who have been in a place of authority over you.
At the conference there was quite the discussion on this concerning the generations today and their thoughts an interaction, but when you look at a family dynamic, we know what to do. Especially for the younger. A son honors the father by making them look good and by listening and having dialog so they can grow, same with the women.
And a statement that hit me that I wrote down was to “love one another to honor your father or mother, and do not work to fulfill your dreams alone. Let the Lord open the door through the relationship.”
Spiritual Fathers and Mothers are used by the Lord to impart wisdom and direction through their relationship with Jesus Christ.
Our Sons and Daughters need to follow the Philippians 2 road having the humility of Christ, but also having the likeness that the Apostle Paul spoke of Timothy. Beginning with verse 19, the Apostle Paul said:
“Now I hope in the Lord Jesus to send Timothy to you soon so that I also may be encouraged when I hear news about you. For I have no one else like-minded who will genuinely care about your interests; all seek their own interests, not those of Jesus Christ. But you know his proven character, because he has served with me in the gospel ministry like a son with a father.”
Timothy as a spiritual son had his identity in Christ from the Apostle Paul’s fathering. It was evident in his life, all the way to the end of it. We need that today throughout all generations.
We need family desperately. Family brings unity, because unity comes from oneness. That is what Jesus prayed in John 17:20-23.
“I pray not only for these, but also for those who believe in Me through their message. May they all be one, as You, Father, are in Me and I am in You. May they also be one in Us, so the world may believe You sent Me. I have given them the glory You have given Me. May they be one as We are one. I am in them and You are in Me. May they be made completely one, so the world may know You have sent Me and have loved them as You have loved Me.”
Oneness is giving up yourself for the sake of others. Oneness comes from being in the Presence of God. When there is oneness, theology, and philosophy, and religion do not matter because revelation from God of the truth of His nature, and the truth of our calling come out of His Presence through the Holy Spirit. The Apostles did not follow philosophy, or even a set of doctrines that were wrote out. They had the first commandment down pat, and did what the Spirit led them to do because of relationship. Revelation of the Words of Jesus and living them out caused them to change the world around them.
We need to contend for oneness. We need to contend for family. And this is a vision of The Furnace. To be a family, to be one. We have said it before, and we say it again, we want community, but it will be a community of fathers and mothers loving and developing children to be like Jesus and hear Jesus and know His heart, and know His love. Out of that, a close family is built, and the family will have the heart to expand the family.
I have more to say next week. I will be speaking out Isaiah 62, and a whole bunch more as we get into this new year of excitement. I am excited. This is a year of new beginnings, and growth, and kingdom living.