Like young Timothy, we all need to be encouraged to persevere in the ministry to which God has called us. We can become discouraged and fearful when we face the inevitable hardships, resistant or hostile people, and frustrations of the ministry. These are simply the realities of ministry. Yet God the Holy Spirit, the same Spirit who calls us to serve God, can renew our strength and remind us of the true and eternal value of our work.
This is an exciting time in history to serve God. Our enemy, Satan, has overplayed his hand by brutalizing the people of the earth for centuries. The earth and its people are crying out for relief and salvation from the evil forces and destruction which continue to victimize them. God wants to use us to continue Jesus’ ministry of Liberation! To the sick and diseased, Jesus brought healing; to the spiritually oppressed, Jesus brought deliverance; to those separated from God, he brought forgiveness and restoration. It was always Jesus’ plan to continue to vanquish the power of the evil one by using flesh and blood people like you and me. There is no greater calling! John Wimber
Our Theme: ON MISSION.
So, what do you want to do with the rest of your life?
I remember attending my very first Vineyard healing conference in Mansfield, Ohio, in March of 1985. Our church in Evanston, IL, had first come into contact with John Wimber and the Vineyard churches just the year before (1984). It turned out that one of our senior pastors at the time was suffering from a serious heart disease and a relative of his who lived in southern California recommended that we check out this guy named John Wimber who had a healing ministry in Anaheim, California. Our church at this time was made up of about one hundred or so fairly typical Bible-believing, Jesus-loving twenty-somethings, gathering to worship in the northern suburbs of Chicago. To be honest, we all believed in healing that came from Jesus, but we were just a bit skeptical of those wild-eyed Pentecostals with their name-it-claim-it healing ministries like the ones we had seen on TV. But this John Wimber fellow surprised us! He just didn’t seem to fit the typical stereotypes we knew that we wanted to avoid. So after several months of checking Wimber and the Vineyard out, we invited a couple of his associates to come to Evanston in the fall of 1984 to introduce us to some of the kingdom basics that Wimber had been teaching successfully for several years at Fuller Seminary in California. Many of those basics we began learning back then are the same subjects we’re discussing here in this book! Our church family so enjoyed this first exposure to Wimber’s material, we decided to send a couple of our pastors out west to attend his first “Signs & Wonders & Church Growth” conference held in January 1985.
Suffice to say that our pastors came back hooked for life. Wimber’s sound biblical approach to the supernatural wonders of God was nothing less than impressive and our church in Evanston, IL, bought in lock, stock, and barrel. By March of that year, several of us were invited to attend a leadership conference to be held in Mansfield, Ohio. The main speaker was one of John’s associates. So Sandy and I headed east to Ohio, not really certain what we’d find as we attended this weekend conference.
As I sat there listening to Blaine Cook, one of Wimber’s associates, teach about the kingdom of God, my heart started to stir. Sandy and I had been Christians most of our lives, but had never really been exposed to the concept that regular, everyday Christians, living in our day, were called and commissioned to step into Jesus’ kingdom ministry, where healing the sick, casting out darkness, and speaking words of hope became our job description as followers of Christ. Like Wimber’s quote above says:
This is an exciting time in history to serve God. Our enemy, Satan, has overplayed his hand by brutalizing the people of the earth for centuries. The earth and its people are crying out for relief and salvation from the evil forces and destruction which continue to victimize them. God wants to use us to continue Jesus ministry of Liberation! To the sick and diseased, Jesus brought healing; to the spiritually oppressed, Jesus brought deliverance; to those separated from God, he brought forgiveness and restoration. It was always Jesus’ plan to continue to vanquish the power of the evil one by using flesh and blood people like you and me. There is no greater calling!
By the conference’s end, Sandy and I were both convinced that we needed to spend the remainder of our days here on earth joining with Jesus in his mission to bring hope and promise to this darkened world around us. Cook ended the conference by calling people forward who sensed that they were to spend the rest of their days serving Jesus in this capacity. I remember going forward and standing in the ministry line that Sunday morning. I had closed my eyes and had placed my hands in front of me, palms up. My prayer was “Oh Lord, here I am. I’m just a fat guy from Evanston, IL, managing a Logos Christian Bookstore. I don’t have much to offer you, Lord. I’m not seminary trained. I’m not all that biblically-literate, I’m just a guy from Iowa, now living in Illinois, with a music education degree that I’m not even using, but here I am. Use me.”
With my eyes closed, I felt the hand of someone covering my heart. I heard the voice of Cook say, “Lord, put a hook in his heart!” I felt a rush of power in my chest. I thought I might fall down, but I kept my cool (like the staunch Presbyterian I’d learned to become over the years) and just let God do whatever he wanted to do. No other words were spoken, but deep inside, I knew that the Holy Spirit was ordaining me into Jesus’ kingdom ministry. Suddenly, I started to weep uncontrollably. Wow, was I embarrassed! Yet I knew it was God stirring something inside me that, even to this day, I know is still there and is still very pro-active.
For about four months after that power encounter with Jesus, I had a hard time not crying whenever I heard the name Jesus spoken. Embarrassing as that was, I knew that I was in a season where God was inviting me into things I’d always believed were there, but until I heard it talked about from a biblical perspective from guys like Wimber and his friends, I never believed folks like me could actually play.
Hmm. Even as I write this, I wonder how many of you out there today reading my words, need to hear a similar invitation into the kingdom ministry and mission of Jesus of Nazareth? An invitation, just like the one I heard from the Holy Spirit back in March of 1985 in Mansfield, Ohio.
“Lord, put a hook in the heart!”
Ohh-ohh. You need a hanky? I certainly hope so!
Father God, there’s still a lot of kingdom work out there waiting for those who will respond to your invitation. I, for one, Lord, am thankful for your invitation you extended to me in March of 1985 and I bless your holy name for the empowerment of your Spirit, which has allowed me to stay on course for nearly thirty years now. Keep leading, Jesus, and I will follow. For your name’s sake. Amen!
QUESTIONS FOR YOU TO PONDER
- So what will it look and feel like for me today to know with certainty that Jesus still has his kingdom hook in my heart and that he has no plans to ever let go?
- Where is he leading me today, and am I willing to fully trust him as he leads?
So what is God speaking to you today as you ponder the Wisdom of Wimber?
Between Easter 2016 and the end of August, we are sharing with you a blog series we call The Wisdom of Wimber: As I See It. In order to keep all 64 blog sessions organized, we suggest you bookmark our Wisdom of Wimber page for ease of use. Might we also suggest that you order a copy or two of our book by the same title! It’s available in both paperback and e-book formats…and will soon be available in Spanish! Click here for more info. ENJOY!
If you like what you’re reading, might we suggest you share this page with others!