Sometimes we don’t realize the significance of certain moments until later when they become landmarks in our spiritual journey that encourage us where we are and where we’re going. They remind us God is always faithful so we do not let circumstances limit or discourage us—they remind us He has been with us all along.
In the 1980s, I had a vision of flickers of light all over the city of Houston, which I believe represented individual saints praying, interceding, and calling on God for revival. Then I saw the effects of a great wind, representing the Holy Spirit, fanning all these flickers into a huge fire and blowing embers all over the world.
Then the scene shifted to a hub of activity, what I would describe as organized chaos. From this hub, things were going all over the world from Houston. It was like an illustration of the flights coming out of an international airport hub that you would see in an airline magazine. I began to believe God was going to do something in Houston.
In the early ‘90s, people like Leonard Ravenhill and others began proclaiming that something so significant happening in Houston someday that people from other nations would gather and spend time here, then they would take what they received and spread it all over the world.
In 1996, we hosted Prayer Mountain, where we crossed racial, denominational, and generational lines to worship, pray, and fast together for the last 40 days of the year. During those 40 days, many of us kept sharing that Houston is a birthing city and a city of John the Baptist forerunners, as we see in Psalm 110:2-3:
The Lord shall send the rod of Your strength out of Zion. Rule in the midst of Your enemies! Your people shall be volunteers in the day of Your power; In the beauties of holiness, from the womb of the morning, You have the dew of Your youth.
In 2000, while attending the All Nations Convocation in Jerusalem, we were assigned gates of the Old City to pray for. On behalf of Houston, I felt led to go to the Ein Kereim gate, noted for being the birthplace of John the Baptist, the forerunner who prepared the way for the coming of the Lord, because I believed Houston would be a forerunner city, birthing and sending forth revival to the nations.
Who would have thought that, today, Houston would be the most diverse city in America and home of the most diverse university in America? The nations are here! When God does something here, it impacts the world.
Real Church, Real America
There is a battle in the heavenlies that we often see evidence of in the natural. God’s intention is for a spiritual move of God that will sweep the nation/s bringing many to salvation. When Hurricane Harvey hit, people reminded me that many times during Prayer Mountain, I said, “The water level of Houston will rise so high that it will overtake the city and begin to crest over, and the vermin, ants, and spiders will come out of hiding. God will do a cleansing in the city, and from that the nations will know Jesus Christ is Lord.”
I would never have expected this to happen the way we are seeing it now, but God can use anything to accomplish His Word.
We have been involved with relief work for many, many disasters, but the dynamics with Harvey were different from anything we’ve ever experienced. It was the most bizarre, unprecedented storm to ever happened in this country that we know of, with flooding from the levees to the lakes to the bayous. We had to get a new strategy from the Lord. We divided the impacted region into quadrants to begin mobilizing relief because the extent of the damage was so massive and we couldn’t even get out of our own quadrants.
Yet, in the middle of all that devastation and in the middle of a nation that has been very divided by racial and political tension, God had a redemptive plan. As others began to look at Houston, they saw the strength of God’s grace upon His Church and, for a moment, we were able to change the narrative. People saw red, yellow, black, and white working together regardless of political party or religion. The whole nation saw the Real Church, and the world saw the Real America.
In the midst of adversity, God did something beautiful to get the Church to be the Church. We’re becoming a Church Reconciled and a Church United to bring healing to a nation divided and impacting the nations of the world.
The Holy Spirit, in Scripture, is often depicted through water, oil, and wind. In Houston, we have all of these attributes in the natural. We’re the energy capital of North America (oil); we have two major international airports that are hubs to nations (wind); the Port of Houston is called the gateway to the nation (water). If we have all of these right here in the natural, how much more does God want to do in the spiritual?
Years ago, James Goll was speaking to a group of pastors and intercessors at a local church, when the Lord impressed upon him to share that one day Houston would be known around the world as a city where somebody cares and that people would be connected together like a stringer of pearls.
In 2005, Hurricanes Katrina and Rita sent 250-300,000 evacuees to our city. We received and embraced them as our neighbors and our friends regardless of racial background, political beliefs, ethnicity, or denomination. I Corinthians 1:3-5 says: Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort those who are in any trouble, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God. For as the sufferings of Christ abound in us, so our consolation also abounds through Christ.
That’s what we see happening again, neighbor helping neighbor. It becomes a tangible expression of Christ to the world when they see the Church working together, like a city on a hill.
USA Today reported the CEO of VOAD as saying that “80% of all recovery happens because of non-profits, and the majority of them are faith-based.” Our local, state, and national governments have great infrastructures and there is a lot they can do, but they are not equipped to do what you and I can do.
There are some in the media who have been trying to get us to criticize other churches and ministries in regard to relief efforts, and it really bothers me when Christians undermine other Christians. When we stay in our lane and do what God called each of us to do, the Kingdom advances!
Duncan Campbell is quoted during the great Hebrides Revival as saying: “Revival is neither more nor less than the impact of the personality of Jesus Christ upon a church or community. The whole area becomes God-conscious.”
What ha God been doing? He’s bringing revival! It’s not how we expected it to come, but revival is here! The nations are seeing the Church in revival in the midst of difficulties because we are impacting the personality of a community–Christ is being reflected in and through the Church!
We often see people trying to re-write history or give it a new spin. But those who live the story tell the story, and you can’t un-spin what has been happening every day as the Church in Houston touches the nations of the world. You can’t un-spin or re-spin the fact that we’ve got black brothers helping white brothers, or Hispanics helping Asians. These are the pictures indelibly imprinted in the mind and psyche of the nation, and they are predominantly because of the personality of Christ flowing through the Real Church and impacting our very culture.
Jesus said it well in Luke 21:
Then He said to them, “Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. And there will be great earthquakes in various places, and famines and pestilences; and there will be fearful sights and great signs from heaven.” (v. 10)
He’s talking about Harvey and Irma and Maria; about the earthquakes in Mexico; about tsuanmis, typhoons, and wars. Then in verse 13, Jesus speaks to the Church:
“But it will turn out for you as an occasion for testimony.”
We can’t change what happened, but we sure can take a posture before God to be that witness and use it as an occasion for the testimony of God and the Church.
Every great revival and awakening usually came around a time of great difficulty. The 1857 revival occurred just before the Civil War, and 10% of the population of America at the time got radically saved. What would happen if 10 percent of the 323 million people in America today had a revelation of the work of the cross? Wow!
Many people believe we’re on the very crest of another civil war in our country with all of the bickering, fighting, racial tension, political divides. We have the far left vs. the far right, the white supremists vs. the anarchists, and others who are trying to destroy the very foundation our country was built on. The Church has also been divided because we began listening to the voices of the world rather than going back and hearing the voce of God. We may not have the best foundation but it’s better than anywhere else in the world, and we can fix the cracks in the foundation if we work on it together.
THE ECLIPSE & ELUL
I feel a sense of destiny today more than ever. Signs in the skies have significance, and It’s not coincidence that the Hebrew month of Elul began on the day of first major solar eclipse in the North America in 99 years. Elul, which means “fall housecleaning,” is a time of cleaning the home in preparation for the Jewish Holy Days. It’s also a time of cleaning out our lives, re-evaluating what’s going on, and getting all the cobwebs out.
As many in our city began to do that, I believe God saw a church in Greater Houston that could handle what was coming. He saw a Church that could change the narrative, one that could divert all the negative attention toward the personality of Christ revealed through the Real Church, in the Real America. As the flood waters rose, the Church rose to the occasion. Interestingly, the name “Harvey” means “battle-worthy.”
As the Church prepares for her final battle—I see her standing up and saying, “No matter what, we will shine the light of Christ! We’re going to be a reflection of Christ in the midst of whatever anybody goes through, and we’re going to love everyone in Christ regardless of whether they agree with us or not. They don’t have to like us; we’re going to love them anyway.”
AN UNSHAKEABLE KINGDOM
I believe, through these recent events, we’ve gone through a huge cleansing. We’ve recalibrated, re-established, and reviewed our lives. And something has been birthed. It’s been a difficult pregnancy, but something was birthed in revival. There’s a multi-ethnic, multi-generational Church moving forward as one to be forerunners and to prepare the way for awakening and revival and the coming of the Lord Jesus Christ.
A few years ago I did a YouTube piece on “The Unshakeable Kingdom” out of book of Haggai, Romans 8, Psalm 2, and Hebrews 12. The earth itself is groaning! There has been such an acceleration of natural disasters: tsunamis, typhoons, hurricanes, famines, fires…and it can overwhelm our hearts. Not only has the earth been shaken, but so have all of the institutions we’ve trusted—financial, government, media, and more. Nothing has been left unshaken. And the nations are raging with conflicts from ISIS, North Korea, Russia, and more.
But Hebrews 12:28 tells us:
Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, let us be thankful and so worship God acceptably with reverence and awe…
Are you still in awe of God in spite of it all? He knows you by name, and how many hairs you have on your head. And in His sovereign grace, He handpicked each of us to be here for such a time as this. Together we share a corporate anointing in the midst of a corporate attack against the Church. He picked you and me for the privilege of reflecting His love to the nations of this world.
Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven. (Matthew 5:16)
God wants relationship, He wants people who will be in His presence and anointed by the power of the Holy Spirit; people who will go forth and be what He has called us to be in very real and tangible ways. We have a window of opportunity right now. To win the soul of a nation and a generation, we the Church must maintain a posture of humility by staying low in His presence and drawing near to hear what He is saying so that we can obey quickly when He speaks. When we do this, people will see something different about us.
Now is not the time to shrink back! We must continue speaking and preaching God’s Word and seeing Him work through whatever circumstances may arise. Let us be reminded always, in the midst of the crashing waves, to run to Lord, to the place of refreshing.
The nation and the world are watching. The narrative is changing. The Church Reconciled is becoming the Real Church, and people are beginning to see a tangible expression of Christ in and through the Church. The personality of Christ is impacting the community through the Body of Christ.
It’s our moment, Church. It’s revival time!