Friday, May 09, 2008

What’s Going on Here?

Perhaps you’ve heard of the Lakeland Outpouring? What started as several nights of meetings has become at the time of this writing, a global phenomenon where multiplied thousands have been touched and healed through an outpouring of the Holy Spirit. What’s going on here has been fed by what’s going on in Lakeland, but actually started several weeks before anyone here went to Lakeland.

During a weekend of meetings with Surprise Sithole with Iris Ministries last April, there was a palpable hunger for God released and every meeting ended with a pile of people on the floor, crying out for more of God’s presence, power and glory. The presence of God in those meetings was profound! Lives were changed; people were delivered and set free of many bondages as we became desperate for Jesus!

So, coming AFTER our meetings with Surprise, a few weeks ago, I began hearing reports by email about a "REVIVAL" or "OUTPOURING" going on in Lakeland, Florida under the ministry of Todd Bentley. Now, I am pretty much used to folks in the ministry exaggerating the effect or outcome of meetings and I was skeptical, to say the least. After the reports kept coming in and after watching snippets of several services on GodTV, I was relatively sure in myself that this was NOT a major move of God. I saw so much flesh and what I believed was hype that when people began emailing and calling asking for my opinion, I told them, "It doesn't really look like the real thing".

Several people I know attended the meetings and all said the same thing, "The TV doesn't do it justice, the presence of God is AWESOME. Go!" I was still unconvinced and struggled with some of the ministry style and verbiage being thrown around at the televised services. What started to convince me was seeing John Kilpatrick and Steve Hill at the meetings and make reference to the glory of God they were feeling there. That was all it took. I went to Brownsville in 96 and experienced the glory of God there firsthand.

So on Monday night, April 28th, I made the decision to go and check it out. If I had any doubts about the authenticity of what was going on there, they all faded away when I sent an email out to our church, telling them that I was going. When I pressed "send" the presence and glory of God fell on me so strongly that it almost took my breath away. And it's been on me ever since. We spent two days in Lakeland and attended two services. The healings are real. One young lady that we met in line is a missionary in Africa. She was born deaf and during one of the services, she received her hearing! The presence of God is REAL. During worship especially, the glory or "weight" of God's presence would descend on us. Several times, it got so strong that it almost hurt! Yes, there is flesh and I wouldn’t do or say many things that are done and said in the meetings, but God met us there!

During one of the services there, Bobby Conner prophesied that this glory would be incredibly contagious and transferable and would be stronger at home than it was at Lakeland. Before we even got home we experienced this. I picked up the phone the day after our first service and called my Dad to tell him what God was doing and as I spoke to him the power of God fell on him and he had to pull his car over to the side of the road, the presence of God was so strong. I spoke to another friend from Oklahoma and just speaking about what God was doing, the presence of God fell on him in his car as he shook and vibrated under the Presence of God!

What was different about this presence that we were feeling in that it came back to our hotel rooms with us! It came back to our bedrooms and was with us in the car! The electricity and weight of God’s presence was so strong one morning down there that it took me almost 15-20 minutes to get my contacts in, I was crying so much!

Our team came straight from the services in Lakeland and most of the team went to an impartation service that we were holding at the church that evening. Would you know that the same presence, power and glory that our team experienced in Lakeland came home with us and got all over our church body too?! Many folks in our church that have seldom or ever experienced the manifest presence of God shook, cried and vibrated under the electric glory that God has graced us with! We have been walking in a wonderful level of healing and the miraculous, but this took things up a notch! Miracles are so easy in the glory!

I came straight from Lakeland and had to honor a previous ministry trip I had scheduled in Alabama, although I wanted to be home with our home church. A couple from our church came with me, folks that had not been to Lakeland and before our first service in Alabama I released on them what was on me. In the booth at Applebee’s they shook and nearly fell out in the glory of God as the “weight” or “kabod” of God’s presence came on them!

In Alabama, many of the folks there had not even heard about what has been going on in Lakeland. The same glory of God that we experienced fell in those meetings, and even stronger! The Sunday service in Alabama ended in an almost 3 hour pile of quivering, sobbing and vibrating humanity, all deeply under the presence or “weight” of God.

Since then, we have been having meetings every night for several days and in each service, the presence of God gets stronger! Several healings have happened during the services, most even without prayer! But what is stealing the show is the presence of the Lord. Many have reported that the presence they are feeling at home or in our services is STRONGER than what they felt in Lakeland. I would agree!

What hit me the day before we left to go to Lakeland I had felt only one other time. I went to a conference in Toronto in 2004 and while there, the presence of God came on me resting like a weight. It actually feels like someone is sitting on my chest. Breath is almost labored, but gloriously so! It feels like trying to breath under water! In Toronto, this presence cam eon me for about 15 hours and during that time, the Lord spoke some things to me that have dramatically altered the course of my life, producing good fruit.

When I hit the send button on the email to our church, the presence came again. It came and it has not left! It literally feels like a weight resting on you. In this atmosphere, the Lord has started showing us that it’s the glory of God! In the Old Testament when the glory of God is mentioned, most of the time a Hebrew word, “Kabod” is used. The literal translation of the word Kabod is “weight”. What’s been happening here is that the literal “weight” of God’s presence is coming in people and not leaving! It’s messing with our lives as even the most basic tasks become quite difficult under the weight of God’s presence. Tommy Tenney has talked about the glory of God and said, “The anointing (for ministry) is exhilarating and invigorating, the glory is incapacitating!” But in a wonderful way! It’s like God saying, “Thanks for all your help, but I’ll just step in and take care of things”.

Moses cried out for the Presence of God in Exodus 33 and asked that God’s presence would go with them.

“And he said to Him, If Your presence does not go with me, do not carry us up from here. “ Exodus 33:15

That is exactly what God s doing. His presence is walking with us and we and others around us are aware of it! Isaiah 60 says,

“Arise, shine; for your light has come, and the glory of Jehovah has risen on you. For behold, the darkness shall cover the earth, and gross darkness the peoples; but Jehovah shall rise on you, and His glory shall be seen on you.” Isaiah 60:1, 2

That word for glory is "Kabod” or “weight” Isaiah 60 is being fulfilled! We have declared this scripture and certainly the times and peoples of earth are dark! But God’s glory (weight) is here, resting on His people! We have prayed and asked God to send His glory and He has! Rejoice!

"The voice of him who cries in the wilderness, Prepare the way of Jehovah, make straight a highway in the desert for our God. Every valley shall be exalted, and every mountain and hill shall be made low; and the crooked places shall be made level, and the rough places smooth; and the glory of Jehovah shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together; for the mouth of Jehovah has spoken." Isaiah 40:3-5

For years we have done exactly this. We’ve cried out against injustice, we’ve sought to bring equity to the world’s system. We have attempted to bring the high things low and the low things high and make the crooked placed straight. But NOW, in God’s timing, the glory (or weight) of God is being revealed!

Exactly what Jesus did. When Jesus started His ministry he went to his hometown, was handed the scriptures and quoted this scripture,

"The Spirit of the Lord is on Me; because of this He has anointed Me to proclaim the Gospel to the poor. He has sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to proclaim deliverance to the captives, and new sight to the blind, to set at liberty those having been crushed, to proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord." And rolling up the book, returning it to the attendant, He sat down. And the eyes of all in the synagogue were fastened on Him. And He began to say to them; Today this Scripture is fulfilled in your ears.” Luke 4:18-21

Jesus was AWARE of the Spirit of God RESTING UPON HIM. He took this power, presence and glory to the lost masses, preaching the Gospel to the poor, healing the sick, binding the brokenhearted and proclaiming the year of the Lord’s favor! We should do likewise!

So when the glory or “weight” of God comes upon you, DRINK DEEPLY! Let it permeate; let it saturate you until you are AWARE of this fact, “HE IS WITH YOU! HE IS IN YOU!” Rest in His presence! Don’t be so quick to jump up and “work”. Let His glory overshadow you and change your nature, habits and desires! Fall in love with Jesus!

On a personal note: The presence and glory of God has rested on me for over a week now and I can barely sleep and hardly even want to eat, which is impressive because I am a big boy! Within one week of feasting on the glory I have lost 13 pounds! This is the most genuine and tangible presence of God I have EVER felt. And it's incredibly contagious and transferable! MANY in our church have reported the glory resting on them for days now changing their habits, desires and lifestyle! All we want is more of Jesus!! Now tell me that's not an authentic move of God!

Ryan Lawson


Mary Sue said...

I want to comment, but am sitting shaking at my desk at work trying not to cry, so caught up in the sweet, awesome presence of God. Everything Ryan says is true. I was in the service on Wed. 5/7. Ever since then if I talk about or think about or type about it, God's presence / glory shows up, and I can hardly do anything. It is His tangible, weighty glory. I told Ryan in an email that for me it was like electricity and fire all mixed together - beholding the awesome Glory of God and being so overwhelmed by it. This is the strongest I've been "hit" in some time. You just don't want to come out of His glory, and it goes with you where ever you are. Can't wait till the service tonight!! (Friday 5/9) More, Lord!!! We want more of YOU!!!

andrew said...

Thanks for this commentary on the Lakelands Revival and your experience in your own church Ryan. It has been very helpful and insightful. May the power of the Holy Spirit in you all lead to ongoing community transformation!!!